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Spend Father's Day With Bond, James Bond

By Rob Christopher in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 6, 2012 2:20PM

Sean Connery with a lady friend in Dr. No, via DVD Beaver
There's a throwaway moment in American Beauty where Kevin Spacey's character whines about having to watch his daughter's cheerleading squad perform. His complaint? "I'm missing the James Bond marathon on TNT." Exactly.

It's easy to think of the James Bond movies as something you gorge on at home, playing in the background while you're doing other things. Seeing the originals in the theater, with an audience and so forth, restores to them their intended function as social entertainment. It was one of several epiphanies we had while reading Sinclair McKay's excellent book The Man with the Golden Touch. It examines the entire James Bond series from multiple vantage points, covering not only the behind the scenes "making of" aspects but also detailing what it was like to grow up watching the movies--as an audience member in the theater. Experienced in a group of people, the classic James Bond movies are colorful, finely tuned thrill rides; and their tropes and conventions are still being recycled for pretty much every action blockbuster you can name.

You can't get more "dad" than Sean Connery or Roger Moore globetrotting to exotic locales and battling sinister henchmen along the way. Skyfall comes out in November, so it's especially propitious that the Music Box is showing four of the 007 flicks over Father's Day weekend. Their choices (Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Live and Let Die, and Octopussy) all have their defenders. Dr. No, the first Bond movie, is rather straightforward compared to what would follow. It's just a cracking good adventure story, fleetly told. Highlights include Ursula Andress wading ashore in a bikini and the initial appearance of Ken Adams' incredible production design. From Russia with Love, released the next year, remains one of the all-time best. There's Lotte Lenya's peerless villianess and some brutal hand-to-hand combat on a train. Live and Let Die was Roger Moore's first appearance in Bond's loafers as well as a curious, brazen attempt to co-op the current success of the blaxploitation genre. The end result is pretty uneven; however Yaphet Kotto is dynamite as Mr. Big, and we love the scene where Bond uses crocodiles as stepping stones. Octopussy is grand escapism, with Louis Jourdan aces as a silky villain. Double entendres abound: there's the title character, nicely played by Maud Adams with just the right touch of mystery, and Rita Coolidge singing the movie's theme song. "All Time High," indeed.

All in all, in our book debating Connery vs. Moore is a pretty awesome plan for Father's Day weekend.

The Music Box Theatre is at 3733 N. Southport Ave.