Back in the cinema again with 007

Back in the cinema again with 007

Just got back from watching No Time to Die, Daniel Craig's fifth and final appearance as James Bond and the 25th film in the franchise. It was quite a decent send-off for Craig and entertaining enough to sit back and enjoy my first visit to a cinema in a couple of years.

Admittedly I found the film a bit confusing and gave up on the plot early on, not that plots really matter in Bond films. It always comes down to 007 saving us all from a lunatic who wants to destroy the world. Bond films tend to have pantomime villains, but in No Time Rami Malek takes on a less flamboyant persona which may not appeal to some.

I'm not a huge fan of the traditional Bond fare of car chases or lengthy shootouts, but enjoyed the verbal exchanges between Bond and M (Ralph Fiennes) and Q (Ben Whishaw).

Despite liking the early Bond films with Sean Connery, I gave up watching them after a while because they had become rather silly. OK, they have always been silly, but the early ones had a certain novelty value. Then in 2006 I went along to see how Craig handled it as the new Bond in Casino Royale. I was pleasantly surprised. He's got a great face for a start, looking like someone who has just remembered he left the kettle on at home.

Craig has since embraced the role, giving us a more vulnerable Bond who sometimes messes up and doesn't have much time for painful double entendres that littered the earlier films. As in his previous efforts, in No Time Craig takes on some emotional dialogue which he pulls off quite well.

One word of warning. At two hours and 43 minutes No Time is bit of a bladder-burster. When the final credits came up there was a noticeable sprint for the bathroom.

Dr No

It's a scary thought but back in 1962 I queued up to watch the first Bond film, Dr No, at the Odeon cinema in my hometown of Reading. Nobody knew it then, but it was the launch of the most successful film character of all time.

It is hard to explain the impact of that first Bond film suffice to say that it was so different to anything before. It was fast paced and slick with exotic locations and Connery was a perfect fit as Ian Fleming's spy hero. There was also that essential cinematic mix of violence and sex. Even the James Bond Theme by John Barry was a bit special and those guitar riffs still send a chill up the spine.

There was a lot of excitement among us schoolboys as word got around about the iconic scene in which Ursula Andress emerges from the sea in her white bikini, observed by a suitably impressed Connery. That became the leading topic of conversation in school for the next few months. Any pupil who had not seen Dr No was a social outcast.

A taste of honey

What might be forgotten is that bikinis were not a common sight in those days -- well, not in my part of England anyway. I can safely say that I had never seen any of my neighbours wearing a bikini … thank goodness. In 1962 bikinis were still regarded as a bit naughty, but after Dr No bikini sales soared although sadly not everyone wearing them looked like Ms Andress.

An article in Modern Girl Magazine around that time said it was, "inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency would ever wear such a thing." However, in the US, Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable had no qualms about bikinis, while in Europe Brigitte Bardot, Sophia Loren and Anita Ekberg did their bit for the cause.

And from the time Honey Rider stepped out of the Caribbean sea bikinis were here to stay.

Cool customers

Visiting the cinema was a main source of entertainment in my early days in Bangkok. It was an inexpensive way to spend an evening but a good opportunity to enjoy some air conditioning. There were no shopping malls and few department stores and cinemas were often crowded in the daytime with people escaping the heat.

The cheap seats were about six baht and even the posh ones were only 20-30 baht. So it didn't really matter what the film was like, just as long as the air-conditioning was working.

People would go to the cinema to enjoy an afternoon nap, have a natter with friends and on occasion, even to watch the film.

There were no multiple-complex cinemas in those days so when a big film came out at the weekend there would be massive queues and the ubiquitous ticket touts would have a field day.

Cinema buff

According to my dilapidated diary, in 1969 I went to the cinema, primarily in Bangkok, a staggering 52 times. It may seem over the top, but it was cheap, cool and sometimes entertaining if there was a half-decent film. I think the pick of the bunch was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid -- yes, that was a scary 52 years ago.

Others worth the six baht were Rosemary's Baby and the great spaghetti western, Once Up a Time in the West. However Return of Dracula was definitely motivated by air-conditioning.

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Roger Crutchley

Bangkok Post columnist

A long time popular Bangkok Post columnist. In 1994 he won the Ayumongkol Literary Award. For many years he was Sports Editor at the Bangkok Post.

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