Donald Clarke

Whingeing about cinema and real life since 2009

The next Bond film is called Skyfall.

The Bond films are perhaps the only movies that can generate press conferences a whole year before release. Earler today, Daniel Craig (current 007), Judi Dench (ongoing M) and Sam Mendes (upmarket director) gathered in the Corinthia Hotel to announce …

Thu, Nov 3, 2011, 22:06

   

The Bond films are perhaps the only movies that can generate press conferences a whole year before release. Earler today, Daniel Craig (current 007), Judi Dench (ongoing M) and Sam Mendes (upmarket director) gathered in the Corinthia Hotel to announce that the next film in the series would journey out under the title Skyfall. The news disappointed some Bond purists. The Craig films have, to this point, taken their titles from Ian Fleming works. Casino Royale was, of course, the first novel. Quantum of Solace was a previously unfilmed story. The 007 team still had the option to draw on three remaining Fleming titles: Property of a Lady, Risico and The Hildebrand Rarity. The first and last might have worked nicely. Still, after the fiasco that was Quantum of Solace, the producers probably did need to signal a shift in direction. Never before has so much initial good will — bequeathed from the fine Casino Royale — been so rapidly squandered. Explaining the cryptic title, Barbara Broccoli, longtime Bond producer, commented: “It has some emotional context which will be revealed in the film. You’ll have to wait and see.”

Skyfall? Skyfall? I don’t like it. The full-length Bond novels, like Raymond Chandler’s books, always had delicious titles. This suggests one of those dire corporate rebrandings from the turn of the century. Remember when the British Royal Mail was relaunched as Consignia? It didn’t mean anything and, ultimately, it just ended up annoying people. I suppose it does, at least, lend itself reasonable comfortably to a proper theme song. One can just about imagine Shirley Bassey belting out that word in full throated shrieks. Nobody made any effort to write a song entitled Quantum of Solace. Maybe they should have had a go. More than a few phrases rhyme with Max Planck.

Anyway, nobody seems to have heeded the advice that I have been putting Broccoli’s way (at no cost) for the last decade or so. Post-war comfort food of the most deliciously naughty type, Fleming’s books now take on the quality of genuine period pieces. Look back at them and you are reminded that, rather than being swinging sixties entities, they are thick with the prejudices and repressions of the Macmillan years. Surely, the time has come to launch a Bond series set in the original era. Come to think of it, since I first mentioned this to Broccoli, the folk who run American TV have cottoned on to the appeal of those years and forced the world to swallow fags, booze and casual sexism in Mad Men (and now Pan Am). The Bond team should really have got there first. Mr Fleming practically invented that class of cool.

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