The Man with The Golden Touch: How the Bond Movies Conquered the World by Sinclair McKay was published by Aurum. Is it a case of just one more writer jumping on the marketing train of Quantum of Solace and the James Bond bandwagon (or would that be a bondwagon)? Not quite.
Every other year or so, a James Bond movie comes to the cinemas around the world. We are all used to it and either adore it or ignore it. Like a meteorite, these movies are tailed by a trail of book publications, most of which are not worth the paper they are printed on. But they ride like passengers on the fame of the movies.
In his book, McKay tells the story behind the Bond movies. It is not a new story, others have done it before. It tells the story of the producers, Broccoli and Saltzmann, two creative genies with the talent to find the right people for the job. Out of it, he makes a good case for the claim that without the movies Ian Fleming would be forgotten and his books out of print. Due to the movies, his books are still found in book shops everywhere.
McKay gives us the full treat, taking us through every movie produced up to the present. It is obvious that he knows them well, and the facts are well researched. Having said this, I have to admit that I tend to disagree with him on most statements all the same. But that is a matter of opinion, not science. He is right, though, to attribute the timelessness of the movies to two sound producers. Broccoli and Saltzmann had the knack of concentrating on what mattered while ignoring the fads of time. Where most movies become hopelessly outdated after a few years, Bond movies just have aged respectfully.
I also agree with him that Thunderball was the most boring Bond movie ever. But how he could be kind to ‘poor’ Lazenby beats me. Despite being nice, McKay alleges Lazenby with selling minty chocolates before becoming an actor. And I for one violently disapproved of Roger Moore who should have played light comedy instead. McKay on the other hand is highly appreciative of Moore, though he sees that the errors in taste in these movies were many. His list of atrocities committed is quite impressive, actually.
Besides the producers and the actors, he pays tribute to the three men who set the style for Bond movies to this day, Adam, Barry, and Binder. I tend to think that the mixture of all these talents including Connery made the first movies so highly memorable. In a way, Quantum of Solace is still carried by these movies despite the many years that have gone by.
The book makes a good read, maybe because there is nothing really new in it. McKay has done his homework on details, obviously, and writes a droll style. It’s well worth a rainy afternoon. If it’s worth its selling price of £18.99 I must leave up to you. I would rather wait for it in the library on a day I have nothing better to do.
Quantum of Solace: The Source
Roger Moore Biography
Being Politically Incorrect