1965: Time describes Bondomania

For James Bond fans, 1965 was quite a year.

In the U.S., Goldfinger played well into the year after a December premier; United Artists circulated a double bill of Dr. No and From Russia With Love; the television special The Incredible World of James Bond (airing in the timeslot of The Man From U.N.C.L.E., then at its peak of popularity and which had also benefitted from Bond) drew a big audience; and in December, Thunderball hit theaters.
Here’s how Time magazine described it all in the June 11, 1965, issue:

JAMES BOND IS BACK … TO BACK! screamed the ads and the marquees. Dr. No and From Russia with Love, both less than three years old, were being double-billed across the U.S. In the New York area, they jammed 26 theaters, grossed $650,000 for the week. The same crowds, the same large grosses in Boston, Buffalo, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington; at the drive-ins, traffic rivaled the commuting hour.

What makes the box-office figures the more astonishing is that both films are grossing nearly as much the second time around as the first. Sparking the revival is the success of Goldfinger, the third Bond film, still finishing its first run and heading for a gross that now seems likely to reach $30 million.

Bear in mind, Goldfinger had a budget of around $3 million, so that was a pretty fast return on investment, as the MBA types would say.

What’s more, as the ads forThunderball said, James Bond does it everywhere!

In England, all three films broke box-office records, and Ian Fleming’s last book, the posthumous Man with the Golden Gun, has already climbed to the top of the bestseller list.
There seems to be no geographical limit to the appeal of sex, violence and snobbery with which Fleming endowed his British secret agent. In Tokyo, the queue for Goldfinger stretches half a mile. In Brazil, where From Russia broke all Rio and Sao Paulo records, one unemployed TV actor had only to change his name to Jaime Bonde to be swamped with offers. In Beirut, where Goldfinger outdrew My Fair Lady, even Goldfinger’s hat-hurling bodyguard, Oddjob, has become a minor hero.

Not everyone was happy about Bondomania, however.

British Columnist Malcolm Muggeridge is also appalled. While admitting that Bond’s “instant appeal to attractive women, his dash and daring and smartness combined with toughness, make him every inch a hero of our time,” he also notes that “insofar as one can focus on so shadowy and unreal a character, he is utterly despicable: obsequious to his superiors, pretentious in his tastes, callous and brutal in his ways, with strong undertones of sadism, and an unspeakable cad in his relations with women, toward whom sexual appetite represents the only approach.”

Well, to each their own. Meanwhile. star Sean Connery had his own observations.

Nor is Connery backward about claiming that he has helped the James Bond image along no end. “You must realize,” he says, “that Ian Fleming’s books began coming out after the war and rationing and all that, and they had all this selectivity of detail of eating and drinking. It was marvelous journalism. But Ian told me it was nothing but padding. You know, vodka must be shaken and not stirred, that kind of razzmatazz. But he did write with a bit of size.” The only thing the Fleming books lacked, in Connery’s view, was a sense of humor. “I discussed it with Ian, and he thought there was humor in them. But Terence Young and I did not. So we injected some.”

If you want to read the entire article — and since this is a 007 Web site and it’s the 45th anniversary of Bondomania — you can CLICK HERE. Note a glaring error in the final paragraph.

One Response

  1. “Thunderball” marks the peak of Bondmania in the Sixties and the beginning of the gadget era for 007.

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