Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Beatles and Bond - 50 years ago today!

Yes we are still in a '60s groove: "Let's do the time warp again ..."

Its a double celebration this weekend here in London. The first James Bond film DR NO opened 50 years ago yesterday at the old London Pavilion cinema, ushering in that 50 years of Bond, guns, glamour, gadgets and stunts and those Bond girls and villains. It was also the weekend of the release of The Beatles first single "Love Me Do" - those unmistakable opening chords are still so effective for me .... just like that first track on the first Beatles album: "I Saw Her Standing There".  I was 17 so of course I was in raptures over it, and those early singles like "Please Please Me", and B-sides like "This Boy" and that double-sider "Can't Buy Me Love/You Cant Do That" and those early albums. (Today's kids will say "what is a B-side?").
That great year 1962 really began the '60s with that explosion into colour and music and glamour with the first Bond film and that first Beatles single. I had the Beatles look down pat at 17 in '63 with the hair and sending my "Films & Filming" penfriend Mike in Worthing the cash to send me a pair of Beatle boots. A HARD DAY'S NIGHT in 1964 was genuinely revolutionary as Richard Lester showed us the Fab Four up close with those songs like the first pop videos with the film cut to the music - even more so with those self-contained numbers in HELP! with the Beatles in colour, and those great songs like "Another Girl", "Ticket To Ride" - and the other albums tracks like "Drive My Car" and "Norwegian Wood".  In the space of a few years The Beatles went from that early moptop group to the psycheldics of "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane". Listening to "Love Me Do" now it stands out and is certainly different to the rest of the pop of the time. Then came those mature classics from their middle period like "In My Life", "Eleanor Rigby" and "She's Leaving Home" ... as well as  those later epics like "Come Together", George Harrison's classic "Something", "The Long and Winding Road" - as iconic as the Stones "Midnight Rambler" or "Gimme Shelter".
Their third film THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR is unveiled on British television tonight, for the first time in 33 years (and is out on dvd on Monday). We saw it in black and white that Christmas 1967 - as most people did not have colour television yet - everyone wanted to see it after being dazzled by "Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" but of course this surreal off-the-wall pre-Monty Python comedy (as the Beatles dipped their toes into the counter-culture of '67 London) was not what the family audience then expected from their "light entertainment" from the BBC. It mystified if not enraged most people - we loved the songs though, and the cast on the bus plus Victor Spinetti and others. It will be marvellous to see it again, with some documentary programmes as well. Their cartoon YELLOW SUBMARINE was much more acceptable to families, if just as surreal, but of course by then they were nearing the end as a group, as LET IT BE proved .... while we still endlessly played the "Abbey Road" and "White" albums ...
PS: having now seen THE MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR again I have deleted it from my tv hard drive, as its not something I would ever want to see again - it is just as baffling and exasperating this time around 45 years later ... plotless, scriptless, surreal but not in a good way - one needs to be in on the joke or the acid as the Fab Four fool around as wizards or watching the folk on the bus ... it is just like an extended home movie haphazardly put together - as we wonder at the moptops looking so young.... of course back in that pre-video age in 1967 it was only shown the once but we all had the double EP soundtrack which was the thing to have, the movie itself was of no consequence. We loved THE YELLOW SUBMARINE though and LET ME BE remains a fascinating document of the group's breakup.

I liked the early Bond films too - DR NO, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, GOLDFINGER - they still hold up marvellously well. "The First Lady of Bond", Eunice Gayson who plays Sylvia Trench was the first female attracted to Bond at the gaming table and asks his name, as we first hear "Bond, James Bond". (Eunice, now  a colourful 84, has a book out and has been on tv discussing the film). Connery may not have been Ian Fleming's choice but he is just right, as the rather thuggish new hero for the new age. A shame though Fleming, already ill then, did not live to enjoy the franchise's success - he died 2 years later aged 56. The Bond books were great reads though, as everybody thought from President Kennedy down ...

This was also the Cold War era with the Russians involvement with Cuba (see TOPAZ review below).  The Cuban Missle Crisis confronted us with the threat of total destruction, after that things were never quite so frightening again. The arrival of Bond and The Beatles seemed the start of a new era, like TV's satirical show "That was the week that was", and a new type of cop show "Z Cars". The first newspaper colour supplement (with cover photos of new model Jean Shrimpton) also started a new era in publishing. I loved those early "Sunday Times" colour supplements. Carnaby Street was getting underway with John Stephen and Vince's shops with new mens' fashions, teenagers did not have to look like their parents any more ... it would soon be Mary Quant and the mini skirt, and The Rolling Stones were also playing their first gigs before their hits in 1963, the year Beatlemania really took grip. Marilyn Monroe's death too in 1962 seemed to indicate the end of the old Hollywood as a new era of stars stepped out ...

DR NO captures the era nicely and has some witty flourishes as well as Ursula Andress becoming iconic. We get more of the same in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE with Lotte Lenya's Rosa Klebb and Robert Shaw's hitman, and of course GOLDFINGER delivers on every level. I did not see all the later Bonds, but particularly liked THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. I bought the dvd of DIE ANOTHER DAY but still have not seen it. We like Daniel Craig, his CASINO ROYALE was a stupendous evening in the cinema, so we are indeed looking forward to SKYFALL which should be as dynamic and successful as THE DARK KNIGHT RISES - the Bonds really became rather a joke back in the Roger Mooore/Pierce Brosnan era - we barely saw them on TV, but they have certainly revitalised the franchise now! Adele's theme song is also dynamic and up to the standard required, and with Bardem, Fiennes and Finney on board and directed by Sam Mendes it should sizzle. 

My IMDB pal Jerry was at a Movie Fayre last weekend which was a celebration of GOLDFINGER where Honor Blackman, Shirley Eaton and Tania Mallet were selling autographs for £15 each! Also Britt Ekland, Eunice Gayson and Tania again were publicising the releases of the Bonds on blu-ray. They are still big business then. At the other end of the scale Christie's had an invitation-only auction of Bond items - Craig's La Perla blue swimtrunks went for £44,000!

Meanwhile its back to "Love Me Do" and those Beatles classics and that MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR.

I am now on a week's holiday in Ireland, so back next week with some tough '50s thrillers like UNDERWORLD USA and FIVE AGAINST THE HOUSE....

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