GUEST POST: Obi-Wan De Souza on Bond
With the release of Skyfall imminent I’ve been trawling through its 22 predecessors and attempting to boil James Bond down to just one scene. What moment best defines this cinematic icon?
I suppose the obvious answer would be Sean Connery’s entrance in Dr No, where during a game of baccarat at the upmarket gamblers den Le Cercle at Les Ambassadeurs he responds to his saucy opponent’s introduction as “Trench, Sylvia Trench” with the immortal riposte that would serve as Bond’s calling card for the movies to come.
It’s as cool as an entrance could be and is rightly remembered as one of cinema’s great moments (especially being that it is capped with the Monty Norman orchestrated theme), but the real substance of the Bond character comes later.
What is that? Isn’t it about coolness and sex appeal? If so his introduction has it in spades. But for me, what makes the character is his machismo (especially as epitomised by Connery) and his potential for severe brutality.
So it is that I plump for a moment of ruthless violence. Having survived an attempt on his life via a tarantula, which gets smacked with a shoe (the first of countless fiendish, but ultimately useless attempts to assassinate MI6’s finest) Bond sets a trap for villainous henchman Professor Dent, who opens the door to his hotel room at night and fires repeatedly at Bond’s bed.
The camera angle holds Connery in the frame all along, such that the viewer is in no doubt as to his survival: the suspense lies elsewhere. Realising that Bond is not in the bed, Dent attempts one last shot. As it fails to go off he is met with the ultimate retort: “That’s a Smith and Wesson and you’ve had your six.” (Even better in Connery’s Scotch burr). Knowing that he’s up against an unarmed man, surely Bond has already won. But no he shoots him in cold blood hitting him a second time for good measure.
And ultimately that’s the point of the scene: to establish that Bond is a cold bastard who you battle with at your own peril. It also created the modern action hero. Where would Arnie, Stallone and Willis have got to without uttering a wisecrack or two in killing a bad guy.
Connery himself dispatched many more villains (followed by many more witticisms). Roger Moore later got to drop the bald muscle man Sandor from a roof with a flick of his tie in The Spy Who Loved Me (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLcXO8eCPV8); Pierce Brosnan didn’t let the sexy pout of Sophie Marceau save her from catching a bullet; and Daniel Craig’s introduction in Casino Royale involves something approximating to murder.
To paraphrase Moore’s Bond on antagonist Jaws: “His name is James Bond and he kills people.”