Monday, 7 December 2015

Advent 007

James Bond! What's that got to do with Christmas? Well, a fair amount in the UK, mainly because of the unavailability of the 007 films before the advent of VHS [and therefore any DVD, streaming, YouTube, etc].

Since the mid-1970s the periodic screenings of the James Bond films [by ITV] at Easter and Christmas became a major event and a ratings winner until at least the mid-80s, and maybe later.

But I don't want to write too much about the whole series of 007 films here; as someone who had read and re-read all of the James Bond books before I'd ever seen even one of the films, I have a definite view about the Bond movies. Which is - they're a mixed lot; entertaining - more, or less; but overall a shallow set compared with the original Ian Fleming source material.

The book that's part of this Advent series is of course Ian Fleming's 007 Christmas story - 'On Her Majesty's Secret Service'. Well, it's Christmas-themed, anyway; it starts as the shops do in September and ends as the rest of us do, on New Years Day.

The film version of OHMSS is traditionally derided, but in reality it is one of the best 007 films ever made. Staying faithful to the book, the storyline needs little enhancement, only a skilful and intelligent transfer to film, which it gets. George Lazenby is very well cast as James Bond - arguably better than the subsequent Roger Moore. The studio sets and location settings are excellent, and the cast peerless. I like this film, almost as much as I love the book.

Back to that book. If you've never read it or indeed any James Bond book, this story is worth your while. It's superbly written and beautifully paced. Many editions are available, it doesn't matter which one you choose. The one pictured here is the paperback edition that I grew up with. I think that this edition-series has the best cover artwork set of all of the 007 issues.

If you fancy reading this up to Christmas why not try to find a copy soon; it's already December the 7th, so you haven't got all the time in the world.

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