RARA-AVIS: Re: Helm vs Bond

sonjim (sonjim@lodelink.com)
Fri, 29 Jan 1999 20:57:18 -0800 Don't forget it had been 10-15 years since anyone had to worry about where
the next meal was coming from, and that what they called, "the shooting
wars" had been fought. People were confused that Korea had been wrenched
from the military, and simply concluded, not prosecuted to the end. Weren't
wars, they thought, fought to be won? And what's this stuff about "brain
Routine, although comforting after the great depression and years of
fighting, had become tedious. Commutes, houses that looked like everybody
else's ran contrary to a vision of an earlier time. Affluence hadn't reached
the stage where one could jet off somewhere easily, but one could dream. The
Kennedy's made that dream even easier to have. So, grab a pulp novel, punch
up a pillow, and try to escape.
James Bond's activities provided the kind of systemic shock one only gets
with a perceived original--in any genre. Page after page you glimpsed a
virile freedom that left you exhausted and exhilarated at the same time.
Could one really corner the world's gold?
One would nod off and dream Bond dreams, and wake up anxious to tell a
friend about this impeccibly dressed adventurer. The ground swell of empathy
with Bond, even before his face became synonymous with Sean Connery's, made
the first screen depiction a shoe-in for success. The rest, well, we know
the rest . . . Matt Helm, coming second, seemed like a caricature of Bond,
and at his best he was always doing catch up. It seems to me that timing,
not the quality of the author's work, is at the base of the popularity

It is interesting that the Bond novels seem quaint and sometimes tedious
(see Bill Crider's remarks about the golf game) on reread, but there is no
denying the electricity they generated when they first hit the street. How
many people took up golf after reading Goldfinger? Pulled out granddad's
silver hip flask and charged it with Jack Daniels before a trip to the
links? If you first read about depressurization effects on an aircraft hull
in Goldfinger, your mind tends to muse--even today--about Oddjob's
"toothpaste" exit as you sit by a window seat. (Note that in the movie, this
situation falls to Goldfinger.) Ian, the journalist, Fleming perhaps was
just on a busman's holiday in the Bahamas, creating his "cardboard booby"
and enjoying visits there with the likes of Noel Coward, but for the rest of
us the world became a classier, infinitely more deliciously deadly place.


# To unsubscribe, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to majordomo@icomm.ca.
# The web pages for the list are at http://www.vex.net/~buff/rara-avis/.