James Bond and I go way back — to 1964 to be precise.
On Thursday, filmdom celebrated the 50th anniversary of Bond movies, honoring the release of “Dr. No” in 1962.
In 1962, I was 9 years old, too young to see a Bond film. In 1964, I was still too young to see a Bond film, but my sister took me anyway.
I was not immediately smitten by “Bond, James Bond” as portrayed by Sean Connery in “Goldfinger.” There was this line: “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done, such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”
It did not play well with me or my sister or her friend. We were, after all, Beatlemaniacs.
Still, the intrigue, the sophistication, the quips, the characters lured me aboard the Bond bandwagon. I started reading Ian Fleming’s books, all of them, which presented a problem: How could I be a Bond girl when I grew up while preserving my “reputation?” I would be the only virtuous Bond girl, I decided, and kept reading, pausing only long enough to wonder if my stick-thin frame would ever fill out a bikini.
At 12, I found aspects of “Goldfinger” shocking and disturbing. Just as I began to warm to character Jill Masterson, Bond discovered her quite dead, spray-painted gold from head to toe.
As Bond explained to M: “She died of skin suffocation. It’s been known to happen to cabaret dancers. It’s all right as long as you leave a small bare patch at the base of the spine to allow the skin to breathe.”
I filed that tidbit away for future use. I was young, I could end up a cabaret dancer if I failed as a Bond girl.
As I’ve said before, my coworkers have dubbed me “Prudence McPrudingham” because, for a liberal, I have a surprising puritanical streak. So you can imagine one of the character’s names in “Goldfinger” caused young Prudence a great deal of distress. Frankly, I am still appalled.
I remained a Bond fan, never missing a movie, up through “Live and Let Die,” then I lost interest. Not because I didn’t like Roger Moore, who I recently found out is older than Sean Connery, but because the movies started to seem silly and sexist.
About 2005 I read that an actor named Daniel Craig had been cast as the new James Bond. A blond Bond? Some couldn’t fathom it. Craig proved his critics very wrong when “Casino Royale” was released, and for the first time in decades I saw a 007 film in a movie theater.
Some say Craig is the perfect Bond, and I’m not going to disagree. He even has Queen Elizabeth on his team.
Look for me at our local movie theater shortly after “Skyfall” premieres. I’ll be the one wincing at the double entendres.
Happy anniversary, Mr. Bond.
Jan Hearne is the Press Tempo editor. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.