In honor of Quantum of Solace, here’s a short history of my life, measured out in Bond movies.
Goldfinger. Wow, a toy car that has guns and an ejector seat! I am a little kid and nothing could possibly be cooler. Not even robots.
Thunderball. It’s all about the Aston Martin. Even the producers know it, because it makes an appearance in scene one, bizarrely shooting water out of its exhaust pipes. I am seven now and this is cool, cool, cool. But the movie is long, long, and half underwater. I fall asleep.
You Only Live Twice. Takeme takeme takeme! No? Why the hell not? I fume with impotent rage in the backseat of our Chevy Impala as we drive past the theater. Aw Daddy, doncha love your little Eddie?
Dr. No/From Russia With Love. Reissued with Goldfinger. Mom and Dad dump me at the Saturday matinee… undoubtedly to get rid of me for six hours. Excellent plan. It’s a win-win.
OHMSS. Doesn’t have Connery, so who cares? It’s the end of the 60s. We have all the time in the world.
Diamonds are Forever. Connery is back; this is big. Now I’m 13, and my father takes the whole family. But it’s Easter Sunday and I am sitting next to my grandmother, who is also a minister. Awkward. You know something? Dad can be kind of passive aggressive.
Live and Let Die/The Man with the Golden Gun. Watergate, the weary end of Vietnam, cutesy ragtime music on the radio, and Roger Moore as James Bond. Nobody who lived through the 70s will ever be nostalgic about it.
The Spy Who Loved Me. Wow, a submarine Lotus. I’m a jaded teen now, but this is hot. Ditto Barbara Bach in her black dress. Plus I am old enough to drive myself and my friends to the movies. Things are looking up.
Moonraker. I see this on my first big travels alone, in a grimy grindhouse on a drizzly, icy summer day in San Francisco. The audience is 90% homeless and drunk and happy to be indoors, even watching this gawdawful movie.
For Your Eyes Only. Bonding with Sean MacFalls, who I meet working a loading dock and who is as big a fan as I am. Around this time I see Thunderball on TV while stoned and notice how badly made it is.
Octopussy. Roger Moore is assuming the leathery appearance of an old satchel. Sean MacFalls calls the movie an All Time Low. Little do we know that next up will be…
A View to A Kill. I am married now. Rebecca yells rude things at the screen about Roger Moore’s lack of sex appeal. That’s my girl.
The Living Daylights. Tim Dalton is a breath of fresh air. The new Aston Martin has some cool gadgets… The Pretenders song at the end is terrific. Things are looking up again.
License to Kill. I’m a dad now. Can’t be bothered, except to note that Dalton looks shamefaced about being in this crappy movie. The violence is sickening; the sex is non-existent. Oh, right, it’s the Reagan era.
Goldeneye. Six years have passed. We’ve moved to New Jersey. My coworker does a hilarious impression of Tina Turner growling out the title song. She also imitates Connery’s lascivious Bond. I have a pretty big crush on my coworker. But I skip the movie.
Tomorrow’s World is Not Enough and Dies… whatever those Brosnan movies were called. As a martini drinker, I notice Pierce orders them wrong. I realize I am more sophisticated than the man playing James Bond. And that’s just not right.
Die Another Day. It’s cold and rainy outside the theater. Manhattan is a bleak, sad, empty place after 9/11. Tough room… but then, every single man in the audience groans in unison as Halle Berry wades out of the Cuban surf. And we feel better.
Casino Royale. As played by Daniel Craig, James Bond is battered, vulnerable, and at long last a real man. This is the first Bond movie that Rebecca actually likes. Afterwards she asks me to make her a Vesper. Once you’ve tasted it, that’s all you want to drink.