Bond Never Dies: Festival examines a cultural icon

“The name’s Bond, James Bond.”

Everyone knows those iconic words of the martini-slugging, woman-chasing 007, but if not for Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, Ian Fleming’s super-spy might not have uttered them on the silver screen.

Broccoli was the longtime producer of the James Bond films, and one of the key reasons the franchise flourished. A man who initially struggled to find a career, Broccoli became involved in film production, and, in the late 1950s, took an interest in adapting Fleming’s James Bond novels into films. Partnering with Harry Saltzman, who owned the rights, Broccoli oversaw the production of all the Bond films until his death in 1996.

In celebration of what would be his 100th birthday, the USC School of Cinematic Arts is presenting “James Bond: Behind the Scenes with the World’s Favorite Secret Agent,” a three-day festival running from Nov. 6 through Nov. 8, celebrating Bond, Broccoli and the lasting legacy of each of them. Hosted by film professor Rick Jewell, the festival features a movie marathon, an exhibit of Bond props and two panels.

“I read somewhere that at least half the people on this planet have seen at least one Bond film, so the pictures have certainly affected people’s lives,” Jewell said. “I became [a Bond fan] when I saw Goldfinger in 1964; it’s still my favorite Bond film … I am teaching this semester, for the third time, a class on the James Bond films.”

Moderated by Jewell, the panels on Nov. 7 and 8 will examine both Bond and Broccoli in their current context. The first, “James Bond Today,” features Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, the screenwriters behind the last four Bond films, and Marc Forster, the director of the latest film, Quantum of Solace.

“I want to explore the new directions the series has taken since Daniel Craig became 007,” Jewell said. “I believe the last two films are fascinating when placed in the context of the 20 Bond pictures that preceded them, and who better to talk about that subject than the two producers plus the two writers of Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace and the director of the latter picture.”

The second panel, “Cubby Broccoli, Producer,” looks back on the longtime producer and his work. Panelists include Broccoli’s family members and current Bond producers Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson, as well as screenwriter Tom Mankiewicz (Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun) and actors Richard Kiel (the steel-crushing Jaws) and Maud Adams (the title character of Octopussy).

“All of the panelists knew and worked with Cubby and will talk about his approach to producing and the special qualities that made him one of the greatest producers in motion picture history,” Jewell said.

The film festival, located at the Norris Cinema Theatre, features nine films, showcasing all six actors that have played Bond. The festival starts off with the first film of the series, Dr. No — Sean Connery’s Bond debut.

The screenings also include George Lazenby’s brilliant, if underrated, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Sir Roger Moore’s iconic The Spy Who Loved Me and Pierce Brosnan’s franchise-revitalizing GoldenEye.

Capping off the event on Sunday night is a screening of Daniel Craig’s modern classic Casino Royale.

Alongside the film festival, there will be an exhibit of Bond props and memorabilia in the George Lucas Building on campus. Though the film festival only runs through Nov. 8, the exhibit continues through February.

“Like many James Bond fans, we had a list of ‘iconic’ props and photos that resonated with us,” said Sandra Garcia-Myers, curator of the exhibit. “We couldn’t get the larger pieces like the rocket pack and the Aston Martin but EON Productions, the producer of the James Bond films, worked with us to provide the most bang for our Visions and Voices budget.”

Although without the Aston Martin, the exhibit still features many classic Bond props.

“Among the iconic Bond items in the exhibit are Oddjob’s steel rimmed killing hat from Goldfinger, Rosa Kreb’s knife-toed shoes from From Russia with Love, and Daniel Craig’s blood soaked tux from Casino Royale,” Garcia-Myers said.

For a film franchise that is 47 years old, and a character that has existed since 1953, James Bond has constantly evolved and adapted to the times, constantly staying relevant.

“James Bond has certainly been a reflection of it’s times,” Garcia-Myers said. “The character is, at once, a reflection of old fashioned British colonialism and chauvinism, 1960’s sexual liberation and a certain end of the century nihilism.”

Jewell sees Bond’s character as constantly modern and engaging.

“Bond is a magical creature who lives in the moment and yet never really changes,” Jewell said. “He is always tough, smart, youthful, witty, professional, sexy, but also able to mobilize the most cutting-edge gadgets, adjust to the most daunting social and geopolitical changes.”

When it comes to the enduring legacy of the franchise, Jewell only sees more possibilities ahead.

“I suppose eventually James Bond will run out of gas and they will stop making films about his adventures. But I don’t think this will happen any time soon. This is already the longest-running, most financially successful series in motion picture history,” he said.