Question about older Bond movies, to those who saw them back then

ActionableMango

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I'm curious about the cheesiness or "camp" in some older Bond movies. Were these movies considered to be cheesy and full of camp at the time, or were they reasonable for the era in which they were screened?

The specific era I'm referring to is from You Only Live Twice to Moonraker (1967-1979). They seem very campy today (don't get me wrong, I love them). But I'm wondering if (A) it was considered totally cheesy in the 60's and 70's, or if (B) back then was it just a reasonable sci-fi extrapolation of the era's technology and they were in fact serious "non campy" movies.

If I had to guess, I'd lean toward serious. It seems like there was a lot of technological optimism in the 50's-70's... flying cars, supersonic passenger jets, weather control, atomic powered everything, space colonies. If those things were serious considerations, then was it really a stretch to have a hollowed out mountain rocket platform, laser space suits, gigantic space stations, and underwater lairs?
 
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a2jack

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Part of it was, we were in love with dazzing cars, fantasy women, and just being the martini sipping, (was it stirred, not shaken ?) cool guys. LOL a2
 

chown33

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If you're looking for camp, try some of the Matt Helm movies from that era, starring Dean Martin.


On the more realistic side of things, I always wondered about those giant "evil lair" complexes, specifically, how did they get built? Those things are huge, and would take a massive amount of construction, performed by a very large number of skilled people, with a large amount of heavy machinery and materials. Is there a huge Evil Amalgamated contractor that designs and builds them? Do they sub-contract to Moderately Unpleasant subs? Does the overall contractor also have a non-evil front organization?
 

HDFan

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I'm curious about the cheesiness or "camp" in some older Bond movies.
No. The Batman TV series was certainly camp in the sense you sorta knew that the actors were laughing as they said/did those ridiculous things. It was clear that the Bond films were outrageous, but they came up with such interesting things you just enjoyed them and went with the flow. I will never forget the film which began with a helicopter dropping a wheel chaired villan on it's runner into a smoke stack ....
 
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Scepticalscribe

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I'm curious about the cheesiness or "camp" in some older Bond movies. Were these movies considered to be cheesy and full of camp at the time, or were they reasonable for the era in which they were screened?

The specific era I'm referring to is from You Only Live Twice to Moonraker (1967-1979). They seem very campy today (don't get me wrong, I love them). But I'm wondering if (A) it was considered totally cheesy in the 60's and 70's, or if (B) back then was it just a reasonable sci-fi extrapolation of the era's technology and they were in fact serious "non campy" movies.

If I had to guess, I'd lean toward serious. It seems like there was a lot of technological optimism in the 50's-70's... flying cars, supersonic passenger jets, weather control, atomic powered everything, space colonies. If those things were serious considerations, then was it really a stretch to have a hollowed out mountain rocket platform, laser space suits, gigantic space stations, and underwater lairs?
Yes, they were camp, but it was a very specific form of camp - it was a knowing, irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, sardonic, somewhat amoral perspective on life, an escapist fantasy (very much a male fantasy, I would add), an antidote to those earnest - and somewhat moralistic wartime movies, and the bleak realism - and neo-realism - of some of the 50s movies.

However, these movies were very much of their time, a time when (like the 20s) - when it was considered okay to indulge yourself and they were peopled or staffed, or inhabited (apart from superiors and antagonists) by individuals who were very much not the wartime generation - Bond was a male icon for a new generation, a postwar generation - if he was in his thirties in the 1960s, then, he most certainly was not flying Spitfires (or serving as a naval officer aboard destroyers) during WW2.

But, yes, it was camp, it was escapist, self-indulgent, male fantasy, and very much of its era, which is one of the reasons I would argue that Bond hasn't aged as well as - perhaps some other heroes.

It was also not only camp, but profoundly irreverent, which was very much the tone of the 60s, a fantasy as glossy as a holiday brochure, a life lived without accountability or personal (no wives, or children) or professional (that 00 prefix again and what it allowed) constraints (apart from the presumed loyalty to one's country/secret services), a life of fast cars, elegant flats, exotic travel (in a world where most people still didn't get to travel too much - the package holiday had yet to be invented), and idealised exotic (and yes, fast) women, who themselves - with the more widespread availability of safe birth control, could also be seen to live lives free from constraints or consequences (at least sexually; apart from being sexually available, most women in the early Bond movies didn't have much agency).
 
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JamesMike

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If you're looking for camp, try some of the Matt Helm movies from that era, starring Dean Martin.


On the more realistic side of things, I always wondered about those giant "evil lair" complexes, specifically, how did they get built? Those things are huge, and would take a massive amount of construction, performed by a very large number of skilled people, with a large amount of heavy machinery and materials. Is there a huge Evil Amalgamated contractor that designs and builds them? Do they sub-contract to Moderately Unpleasant subs? Does the overall contractor also have a non-evil front organization?
Your mention of the Matt Helms series brings back memories, and they were campy.
 
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ActionableMango

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On the more realistic side of things, I always wondered about those giant "evil lair" complexes, specifically, how did they get built?
Henchmen!

The loyal henchmen get a cut of the loot, and the disloyal ones get thrown in the shark pool.

Oh, you said realistic.
 

MacNut

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Henchmen!

The loyal henchmen get a cut of the loot, and the disloyal ones get thrown in the shark pool.

Oh, you said realistic.
Every Bond movie the villain always told Bond the elaborate plan. Why bother if you intend to kill him. Seems like a waste of time to give away your secrets. It’s not like Bond would ever escape and thwart his plans.
 
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Scepticalscribe

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Every Bond movie the villain always told Bond the elaborate plan. Why bother if you intend to kill him. Seems like a waste of time to give away your secrets. It’s not like Bond would ever escape and thwart his plans.
Ah, yes, the Bond villain: Invariably far too loquacious, incautious, and indiscreet.

Bombastically bursting with what they consider to be great and unmatched wisdom, but also with a desire to dominate or destroy the world and - as an entertaining aside - to aesthetically annihilate Mr Bond.
 
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Apple fanboy

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Ah, yes, the Bond villain: Invariably far too loquacious, incautious, and indiscreet.

Bombastically bursting with what they consider to be great and unmatched wisdom, but also with a desire to dominate or destroy the world and - as an entertaining aside - to aesthetically annihilate Mr Bond.
By annihilate you mean NOT shoot with a gun, but find some slower way to bring about his demise that gives him a chance to escape.

Regarding the campness I’d blame Roger Moore. His acting style never really worked for me. Didn’t like The Saint or his Bond Movies.

However I like the way the Bond franchise evolved over the years. Judy Dench as M was inspired.
I think whoever comes after Daniel Craig has a tough act to follow.
 

Zenithal

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Mission: Impossible series is like that, too. Good luck finding a DVD collection of the series, though.
 

Scepticalscribe

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By annihilate you mean NOT shoot with a gun, but find some slower way to bring about his demise that gives him a chance to escape.

Regarding the campness I’d blame Roger Moore. His acting style never really worked for me. Didn’t like The Saint or his Bond Movies.

However I like the way the Bond franchise evolved over the years. Judy Dench as M was inspired.
I think whoever comes after Daniel Craig has a tough act to follow.
Oh, yes, agonisingly slow, exquisitely painful and exceedingly and unnecessarily complicated and - inevitably, therefore - doomed to fail.
 

Zenithal

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All 7 seasons are on Prime:

View attachment 868011

(I know, I know, you don't have Prime, yada yada yada ... :D)
We do have Prime, actually. Someone recommended the show several years back and it wasn't available for stream then, but I found a new DVD set which I ordered.

With all the ordering we do, it makes sense to have Prime.
 

LBM4

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Sep 26, 2019
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Yes, they were camp, but it was a very specific form of camp - it was a knowing, irreverent, tongue-in-cheek, sardonic, somewhat amoral perspective on life, an escapist fantasy (very much a male fantasy, I would add), an antidote to those earnest - and somewhat moralistic wartime movies, and the bleak realism - and neo-realism - of some of the 50s movies.

However, these movies were very much of their time, a time when (like the 20s) - when it was considered okay to indulge yourself and they were peopled or staffed, or inhabited (apart from superiors and antagonists) by individuals who were very much not the wartime generation - Bond was a male icon for a new generation, a postwar generation - if he was in his thirties in the 1960s, then, he most certainly was not flying Spitfires (or serving as a naval officer aboard destroyers) during WW2.

But, yes, it was camp, it was escapist, self-indulgent, male fantasy, and very much of its era, which is one of the reasons I would argue that Bond hasn't aged as well as - perhaps some other heroes.

It was also not only camp, but profoundly irreverent, which was very much the tone of the 60s, a fantasy as glossy as a holiday brochure, a life lived without accountability or personal (no wives, or children) or professional (that 00 prefix again and what it allowed) constraints (apart from the presumed loyalty to one's country/secret services), a life of fast cars, elegant flats, exotic travel (in a world where most people still didn't get to travel too much - the package holiday had yet to be invented), and idealised exotic (and yes, fast) women, who themselves - with the more widespread availability of safe birth control, could also be seen to live lives free from constraints or consequences (at least sexually; apart from being sexually available, most women in the early Bond movies didn't have much agency).
I wouldn't call it "campy". It WAS def male fantasy, escapist and self-indulgent, but that was the point of Bond films, based on the books. The acting and graphics of the 60's and 70's Bond Films was typical of mid to high budget action movies of the time.
 

D.T.

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We do have Prime, actually. Someone recommended the show several years back and it wasn't available for stream then, but I found a new DVD set which I ordered.

With all the ordering we do, it makes sense to have Prime.
Oh I thought you were saying it was impossible to find it on DVD, that’s why I suggested Prime - didn’t realize you already owned it - maybe it will be helpful for someone else ;)

Yep, we’ve had prime for as long as it’s been offered (and Amazon customers since ‘98) as we do a significant amount of ordering from Amazon - I mean we had orders come in, just this week Tue, today (Wed) and one coming in tomorrow. It’s a fantastic perk that it includes their video service (and originals like The Boys :p)
 

Zenithal

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Oh I thought you were saying it was impossible to find it on DVD, that’s why I suggested Prime - didn’t realize you already owned it - maybe it will be helpful for someone else ;)

Yep, we’ve had prime for as long as it’s been offered (and Amazon customers since ‘98) as we do a significant amount of ordering from Amazon - I mean we had orders come in, just this week Tue, today (Wed) and one coming in tomorrow. It’s a fantastic perk that it includes their video service (and originals like The Boys :p)
Yeah, our recycling bin is always full of their boxes or those envelope sleeves. I try to order anything we'd want in a particular week in a single order just so they can put it all in one box. It works out sometimes.
 

Scepticalscribe

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I wouldn't call it "campy". It WAS def male fantasy, escapist and self-indulgent, but that was the point of Bond films, based on the books. The acting and graphics of the 60's and 70's Bond Films was typical of mid to high budget action movies of the time.
Of course it was campy; it was a stylised, irreverent, and superficially glamorous world of improbably good looking individuals, (apart from the surreal antagonists), spies, fast cars, gadgets, travel, intrigue, and sexual and personal relationships without accountability or consequence (either physical or emotional), pure male fantasy.

Actually, Ian Fleming had built (and designed) a house on Jamaica which he called "Goldeneye" long before he wrote the Bond books, all of which were written there.

And there, in the 1950s, he created a hospitable yet louche world - where celebrities, aristocrats, leading politicians and some Hollywood stars turned up, where Fleming entertained them.

The real world in which spies dwelt in that era was far more dangerous, yet banal, and mundane, (and that admixture of danger and mundanity was typical) and was a lot nastier, uglier and more sordid than the superficially glamorous world of Bond.

Moreover, those who worked in that world seemed to agree that "Smiley's People" (John le Carré) was a lot more realistic than the world depicted in the Bond movies.
 
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miami.best21

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Oct 10, 2019
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Remember back in the days all the movies were basically the same E.T. Close Encounters, cheesy special effects, the awareness of people were somewhere else. In 10 to 20 years, the Marvel movies today would be so cheesy, just like StarWars episodes 1,2 and 3.

James Bond movies were about adventure, people were not questioning things.

Take a look at this....

Fact: the score was not added to this scene. Chuck Norris naturally emits an inspiring soundtrack while doing anything cool.
 
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Roller

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Some of these series and movies (Get Smart, In Like Flint) were intentionally played for laughs. Many of the others, including most of the Bond films and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., had elements of both. We knew that much of what we saw on the screen was over the top, but some of the technology seemed quite possible, if inaccessible to most.
 

Tomorrow

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I will never forget the film which began with a helicopter dropping a wheel chaired villan on it's runner into a smoke stack ....
If I remember correctly, this was For Your Eyes Only, one of my favorites in the series.

As for whether these movies were seen as "campy" at the time, I don't know if that's the right word for it. They were definitely the epitome of the classic "this guy is much cooler than you could ever hope to be" trope (see also The Most Interesting Man in the World, The Man Your Man Could Smell Like, Tony Sinclair, etc.), but taken to a WAY over-the-top level. The folks making these movies (and Ian Fleming himself) had to have known that nobody could be too serious about a series where the hero ends up with women named Honey Rider, ***** Galore, Holly Goodhead, or Octopussy.

To me, the singular moment that stands out the most was at the end of The Spy Who Loved Me, where Bond and Agent XXX end up in a mini-sub or something that just HAPPENS to have a bottle of Dom Perignon on ice in front of a circular sofa, just waiting for them to [fade to credits].
 
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LBM4

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Of course it was campy; it was a stylised, irreverent, and superficially glamorous world of improbably good looking individuals, (apart from the surreal antagonists), spies, fast cars, gadgets, travel, intrigue, and sexual and personal relationships without accountability or consequence (either physical or emotional), pure male fantasy.

Actually, Ian Fleming had built (and designed) a house on Jamaica which he called "Goldeneye" long before he wrote the Bond books, all of which were written there.

And there, in the 1950s, he created a hospitable yet louche world - where celebrities, aristocrats, leading politicians and some Hollywood stars turned up, where Fleming entertained them.

The real world in which spies dwelt in that era was far more dangerous, yet mundane, (and that admixture of danger and mundanity was typical) and was both a lot nastier and more sordid than the superficially glamorous world of Bond.

Moreover, those who worked in that world seemed to agree that "Smiley's People" (John le Carré) was a lot more realistic than the world depicted in the Bond movies.
The definition of "campy" differs from you to me. When I say something is "campy", I'm talking 1960's Batman TV show. It's ridiculous looking (i.e. climbing the side of a building, where you can tell the camera is simply tilted sideways.) The scenes a badly acted and everything is cartoonish in style. That, to me, is campy. Bond films had legitimate actors, stunts that could be believable, and at least legitimate scripts. Clint Eastwood spaghetti Westerns were similarly styled action films (without the tech).