Friday, October 5 marked the 50th anniversary of the world premiere of Dr. No, the first James Bond 007 movie. Starring Sean Connery, it debuted in 1962, the same day the first Beatles single ("Love Me Do") was released in the UK, thus marking Great Britain's official return from the depths of World War II, more than 20 years after the fact. England was once a great empire again, if only in the annals of pop culture.
Dr. No was the first movie in the James Bond film series, but the sixth of Ian Fleming's books. As the new documentary, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, which premiered on cable network EPiX Friday night shows, the film was the product of an unlikely duo of producers, Harry Saltzman, a French-Canadian, and Long Island born Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, whose family brought the vegetable namesake to America. EON (both the title of the documentary film and the company Saltzman and Broccoli created) is probably one of the best movies about movies that I've ever seen. Written, produced, and directed by Stevan Riley, the film includes interviews with all the Bonds (except for Sean Connery), and a warts-and-all approach to the entire Bond saga. It contains candid discussions about creator Ian Fleming (and his lawsuit with Bond producer wannabee Kevin McClory), George Lazenby's honest assessment on how he blew the biggest--and really only--major role of his acting career, the very public divorces of both Connery and Saltzman/Broccoli and of Saltzman and Broccoli and much more. It's exciting, well-written and documented and at times even touching, not a word you'd think of in association with a character who is supposed to be a cold-hearted killer. The film follows timeline starting with Fleming's creation of the books, through the first miserable US TV adaptation of Casino Royale (with American agent "Jimmy Bond") and into the Connery/Lazenby/Connery/Moore/Dalton/Brosnan/Craig years. In-depth interviews with the Broccoli step-children--Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, who still control Bond's movie destiny--and Saltzman children paint a vivid portrait of the two larger-than-life personalities who sheparded 007 onto the big screen.
My own personal love affair with James Bond started in the summer of 1964 with Goldfinger, when I was way too young to get the double entendre built around Pussy Galore's name. (Nowadays I'm still waiting for the fourth Austin Powers movie: Cameltoe.) But the car! Oddjob's crazy neck-breaking hat! I was hooked for life. Fifty years later, it all still works (some films much more so than others), and Skyfall (showcased in a 15-minute Secrets of Skyfall mini-feature after the documentary on EPiX) looks to be one of the best Bonds ever. Even if Adele's new song is less than inspiring, I can't wait for the new movie. In the meantime, this documentary and the Bond 50 Blu-Ray set, will tide me over quite nicely.