How honest should former 007 crew members be?

Martin Campbell, two-time 007 director who helmed the new Green Lantern movie, has caused a bit of a stir among James Bond fans. While promoting his new film, Campbell got asked about what he thought about Quantum of Solace, the 2008 followup to 2006’s Casino Royale that Campbell directed. His answer, in interviews such as the one he did for Crave Online he spoke plainly:

Crave Online: What do you think of the way they’ve taken the Bond series after Casino Royale with Quantum of Solace?

Martin Campbell: Oh, I thought it was lousy. And hopefully this next one will be terrific. Sam Mendes is directing it and I’m sure it’ll be terrific.

Crave Online: Why didn’t you like it? Were there themes from Casino Royale you were hoping they’d pick up on?

Martin Campbell: No, I just thought the story was pretty uninteresting. I didn’t think the action was related to the characters. I just thought overall it was a bit of a mess really.

Message board of Bond fan Web sites, Facebook and other Internet destinations lit up. Some fans have suggested Campbell was unseemingly, ungentlemanly and just plain nasty to Eon Productions, which makes the 007 films.

A couple of observations:

1. Campbell was asked by an interviewer about his opinion and he evidently answered honestly. At the very least, it wasn’t the canned pap that comes as actors, directors and producers stick to planned talking points. Also, Campbell didn’t criticize QoS director Marc Forster, or anyone else associated with the 2008 film by name. Some fans felt Campbell was personally dissing Forster.

2. Campbell isn’t the only former crew member of a Bond film to stray into candid remarks. A few examples:

Ken Adam: The seven-time Bond production designer told U.K. film historian Adrian Turner part of the reason he left the series after 1979’s Moonraker. “The production team had changed and, in my opinion not for better — except for Cubby Broccoli who is an old friend and who I worked for even before the Bonds. I just would not have felt comfortable being associated with some of the new people involved.”

Adam didn’t name names. But this was around the time that Michael G. Wilson, Broccoli’s stepson, was taking on greater responsibility with the movies. He was “special assistant to producer” in The Spy Who Loved Me (credit in small type) then was promoted to executive producer (credit in big type) in Moonraker. He added co-screenwriter to his titles with 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, which Adam didn’t participate in.

Guy Hamilton: The director of four Bond movies, including Goldfinger, told Turner that producer Albert R. Broccoli was “the tit and bum man” of the early Eon Productions team of producers. Interesting description for someone who’d eventually win the Irving G. Thalberg Award, a big deal in Hollywood. Hamitlon also told the film historian that producer Harry Saltzman, Broccoli’s partner for the first nine 007 films, “had the subtlety of an ape.”

Guy, tell us what you really feel.

The point is that people, even when they’re doing what they love for a career, have mixed feelings about individuals and situations.

In Campbell’s case, he’s 70 years old. In terms of Bond, his two films, GoldenEye and Casino Royale, were the 007 debut for Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig and big hits. That’s a big legacy for the Bond series.

But, you may ask, isn’t he closing the door to doing another Bond movie?

Eon has made all of three films since 1999. Campbell has little incentive on waiting on another opportunity from Eon. The number of films he has left is probably pretty limited; to cite some superstar directors, Howard Hawks’s last film was released when he was 74, while the last films of John Ford and Alfred Hitchock came out when each director was 75. Also, as we said before, Campbell’s remarks weren’t personal and were tamer than others.

For some Bond fans, though, honesty may not be the best policy. James Bond films are a type of fantasy. Straight talk by people who used to work in the franchise remind us it’s still a job, a job that has frustrations and trying moments like other jobs. That disrupts the fantasy.

3 Responses

  1. Although QoS is cut like a Bourne film it still has some good scenes but it is Daniel Craig that commands the viewer’s attention. We, the audience, are glued to him because we want to see what he might do next that has so far surprised us since his debut as OO7. Campbell’s style is opposite from Forsters but the two directors are gifted non-the-less. However, Campbell may get lambasted over his Green Lantern film which seems to be getting a so-so review.

  2. I totally agree with Campbell.

  3. I’m with Campbell on this. There is no comparison between his work and the last two Bond films. This is the guy who reinvented Bond twice. He knows what he’s talking about.

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