The recent heat wave has made me think back to the hot summer days of my childhood. No one I knew lived in a house cooled by a central air-conditioning system; I didn’t even know such a thing existed. My father bought a small, window air conditioner for our living room when I was about 10, but it made so much noise that if you wanted to have a conversation or hear the TV, you had to turn it off.
No, for the kids in my neighborhood, when it was too hot to run around and play outside, we went to the movies.
For about 35 cents we could spend all afternoon in a cool, darkened movie theater – I was lucky enough to live near three of them. Throw in Bugs Bunny, buttered popcorn and a box of Raisinets, and it was as close to heaven as I would get all year.
On one of those sticky summer days in 1962, my Mother decreed it too hot to play outside, handed me a whole dollar bill (wow!!) and said, “Here, take your little brother to the movies.” We were out the door like a shot to the Terminal Movie Theater, which was the closest.
We had no idea what movie was playing, and we didn’t really care. We would have watched anything. After about 15 minutes of cartoons, the movie started.
I don’t remember much about the first few minutes of the film, until the camera zooms in on a group of people playing cards in a casino. A man’s perfectly manicured hands appear encased in white French cuffs protruding from a black tuxedo. He turns over some cards. He has won.
When the loser asks to whom she should pay her debt, the camera pans up to the man’s face. Cigarette dangling from his mouth, he says, “Bond…James Bond,” and my 10-year-old heart skipped a beat.
And, then, we were on a beach and Ursula Andress emerged from the sea in that skimpy bikini and kick started my little brother’s adolescence years ahead of schedule.The movie was “Dr No,” and the James Bond Legacy was born.
|Bond Leaning on His Aston Martin DB5 - "Goldfinger" 1964|
In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the release of “Dr No,” the Barbican Centre in London is showcasing the clothes, the cars, the gadgets and the girls that make up the Bond Legacy. The exhibit runs until September 9th.
As hard as it is to believe that it’s been half a century since Agent 007 uttered those iconic words and Honey Ryder stepped out of the sea into the fantasy lives of millions of adolescent boys and men all over the world, it’s even harder to believe that Sean Connery was not the first choice for the role.
Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, was dead set against having a Scottish bodybuilder (3rd runner-up for Mr. Universe) cast in the role of his mythic hero.
|Bond in Signature 3-Piece Suit - "Goldfinger" - 1964|
But Director Terence Young, who knew he had the right man in Connery, convinced his friend, Fleming, that the right tailoring would make all the difference; and so the right tailor, Anthony Sinclair, set to work to create the classic Bond image.
|Sean Connery in Louis Vuitton Ad|
I mean no disrespect to the wonderful actors who have taken up the mantle of 007 that Sean Connery laid down after his last Bond film in 1983; but for me, Sean Connery will always be “Bond….James Bond.”
And so, I raise my box of Raisinets in salute.
“Happy Birthday, Mr. Bond. You still make my middle-aged heart skip a beat.”