CommanderBond.net
  1. Sir Roger Moore, 1927 – 2017, RIP

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    Today, along many terrible news, it is my sad duty to report the loss of Sir Roger Moore.

     

    You will, in all likelihood, be aware that most obituaries are in fact written long in advance, sometimes years. And at times – hopefully – even many years. It’s simply a custom of the trade; a sad duty, but evidently one you cannot escape.

     
    So when you are tasked with the assignment to write Roger Moore’s obituary you sit down one foggy morning in November 2015, a couple of memoirs and a stack of notes by your side – and only then you realise how daunting and depressing a task this is, to write a living person’s obituary.

     
    You start writing, go over the obvious facts, born where and when; grew up somehow; survived the war somehow, miraculously; education; career; early work. You mention the studies at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (where you cleverly let slip that Lois Maxwell was his classmate), you go over the first few step-stones (pebbles more like) of his budding career as extra, move on to small parts, arrive at his television work, Ivanhoe, Alaskans (do people even remember this?), Maverick. The Saint. The Saint. And more The Saint. Six seasons of TV history and you go on at great length how Moore spread out his charm and his presence over these years, how he gained worldwide fame, how he made the character his own and recommended himself for further parts.

     
    And on you move, the time is short, to Bond. To seven times of 007, twelve years of his work that would henceforth – in the public’s eye – overshadow everything else he did, whether it’s his non-Bond work or his private life. You mention the difference between his depiction of Bond and the literary character. You mention the famous raised eyebrow and how Moore, with his characteristic understatement, sold his own acting short to three expressions; and in so doing you illustrate his noble spirits and his sense of humour. And also how he was frequently underrated in his work. Not many actors can look at you from the wrong side of a set of crocodile teeth and keep a straight face. Moore could.

     
    Then you go on with the non-Bond parts and the work after Bond. With his commitment as UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, which he was appointed in 1991. You stress how he supported the United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund by visits to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras, where he saw in the field the desperate conditions under which children in these regions often had to suffer. How Roger Moore spoke out to raise awareness to these circumstances, how he became a voice on HIV/AIDS and the horrors of landmine terror in war torn regions around the globe. How he became an important public voice and fund raiser for numerous UNICEF projects and initiatives and how his activities helped the poorest and weakest, those most in need of protection and support. Our support.

     
    It was for these activities Roger Moore was awarded the C.B.E. and later the K.B.E. Rightfully so he was immensely proud of the recognition since this work more than anything else in his career directly influenced the lives and fates of a great number of children for the better.

     
    You cut the personal life paragraph about spouses and family short, mainly because it’s none of our business; also it’s a bit yellow-page-ish. Leave that to the others.

     
    And then you arrive at the end of the page, a whole life of 89+ years in a couple of paragraphs, mostly filled with facts anybody could look up on the internet today.

     
    And none of it would really capture how Roger Moore – Sir Roger Moore – has influenced so many of his fans. How in nearly all of his roles there was a basic humanity shining through, something that (for lack of a better word and doubtlessly betraying my naïveté here) I would like to call a ‘quantum of nobility’ – a kind of empathy and strive for the good we all would be capable of. Whether in his Ivanhoe armour or his Simon Templar three-piece suit, there always was a trace of it present. Not a doe-eyed ‘I’m-the-good-guy’ bigotry either, Moore never missed a chance for a quick mischievous wink that told us not to take him too seriously.

     
    But there definitely was a reason writing colleagues used the phrase ‘gentleman spy’ back in Moore’s day. And it had nothing to do with the dinner jacket. Or much less than people like to think today. Though the mere term “gentleman” seems almost so outdated now it’s probably on the verge of becoming one of the big insults of our brave new world – with Roger Moore many fans felt a grain of just this quality, the gentle character, the humane spirit, was always present. And not as a part of the role but as a part of the man himself. The kind of gentleman that didn’t disappear with the dinner jacket.

     
    Roger Moore did more than just depict the hero on screen; for the fans of my generation he was often also a first role-model – and surely not the worst you could think of. The absence of Roger Moore – a noble man in the best of ways and long before the ‘Sir’ was added – will also mark the end of an era.

     
    And finally you arrive at this sentence. And you realise you also arrived at the end of this obituary. And you are deeply sad for the loss that is yet to be, hopefully far in the distance. And you put the piece in the drawer and hope.

     
    Today, it was my sad duty to open this drawer and report the loss of Sir Roger Moore. We will miss you.

    Helmut Schierer @ 2017-05-23
  2. Chris Cornell, singer of Audioslave and Soundgarden, dies aged 52

    Chris Cornell at 2011 Toronto International Film Festival/courtesy Wikipedia

    Chris Cornell at 2011 Toronto International Film Festival/courtesy Wikipedia

    This morning we learn of the sudden and unexpected passing of Chris Cornell. He died Wednesday night in Detroit, only hours after a show according to this article in the Telegraph. Fans around the world are shocked by this tragic news.

    Chris Cornell was a creative force in his own right, as he proved during his years with Soundgarden and Audioslave, as well as with a successful solo career.  His theme to 2006’s CASINO ROYALE, You Know My Name, is a highlight of the James Bond theme songs and a favourite with countless Bond fans.

    CommanderBond.net crew and members hereby express our condolences to family and friends of Chris Cornell, a voice we will be missing.

    Helmut Schierer @ 2017-05-18
  3. The 007th Chapter: Role of Honour – Rolling Home

    Role of Honour 007th Chapter

     

     

     

     

     

     

    A literary musing in several paragraphs, cunningly delivered by Jaques Stewart.

     

     

    Through sad eyes clouded by disbelief, one often sees superfluous continuation 007 novels reviewed – with a pun I’ve just realised is a pun (bit thick, me) – as “gilt-edged” Bond.

     

    This is a guilt-edged 007th Chapter.

     

    You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.

     

    There are worse enterprises than these bolt-on Bonds. To some they bring joy, and a measure of pleasure to detractors; otherwise why read them? Masochism has more nourishingly gigglesome sources than “reading”. Is it for a “fan” to pick at (…potentially) well-meant endeavours, and sow undermining thoughts? Rest of humanity has established it needs no opinion of these books as it scrabbles for food, water and huge televisions. Is mine so necessary a pose? Pose is all it is; lazy sneering testing no orthodoxy, inflicting doubt in my intended victim – that’s you, hi – via the sly pretence of strained preening about a book. An onslaught with nothing to slay, and less to say. What purpose iconoclasm that dismantles no icon? Beyond a shrinking circle, these books pester few. Or is that the justification? “I wouldn’t, if you were better”. That’s bullying. One stares at the screen, wondering what one would “write” about a real concern. The screen stares back with “fnarr” and “Hotels; again” and points its accusing cursor, we two mutually aware that tackling something challenging would, as it cannot fail to do, expose paucity of intelligence and lay bare great fear. Instead I inflict frustration onto a subject inconceivably a deserving recipient of whatever it is I think I’m doing. I jump willingly into my oubliette of writing silly things via a perfidious avatar. At least I’m not posturing on Twitter; a sole redemption, with an added bonus that I cannot crave further attention by announcing that I am leaving it.

     

    The converse must, though, bear truth: celebrating these books is equally pointless, and hasn’t worked. Persons favouring them can (and do) suggest there’s responsibility as a “Bond fan” to laud provision of “more Bond”, but this exposes their irresponsibility in avoiding the issue whether these are sufficiently “Bond” to merit the word “more”. It’s not as if without these volumes “James Bond” will disappear from a public consciousness to which it is decades-nailed as lazy shorthand for gullible consumerism. Arguably, “Bond” is so much a cultural touchstone that it has outgrown the books and films. One view has it that continuing 007’s exploits in either medium is unnecessary as it has gone beyond both sources into some metacultural state and is dependent for survival not on the print or screen iterations, but on its continued adoption as a convenient style barometer for suits, cars, exotic holidays, music, advertising, contemporary sexual mores (hopefully), sunglasses, handguns (regrettably) and wristwatches (even more regrettably). Another, that such media may as well continue to be flung at us and do any old thing because if Bond is now independent of its dual genesis and viral within so much else, what damage can the occasional duff book or film really cause it? No-one’s going to care that Role of Honour isn’t super or SPECTRE is $300 million of Bond film and that’s all it is, when there are baubles to buy and subliminal personal delusions to feed. Perhaps that’s why new Bond often gets a “pass” despite its quality: we would shake our own purchase-cultivated self-worth if we were to think it crap. Some say it’s always best to be positive; presumably they’ve never had a blood test.

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2017-05-07
  4. …gilded tombs do worms enfold.

    The place Ian Fleming came to was peculiar. It had an Adam facade, yet it also was much larger than Boodles. It lay in the mid of woods stretching to the horizon, yet there also was a vast park with a golf course, and a beach reminding him of his own on Jamaica. And at times the place was situated at the side of a mountain range, peaks showing white against the blue skies. This recalled memories of one of his favourite books, though Fleming couldn’t tell exactly which one, or even whether he had written it himself or not. It occurred to him the question simply wasn’t important, and so he didn’t ponder it.

     

    When he arrived Fleming felt very anxious at first. But soon he calmed down. Everything was very civilised here, there were proper meals – though Fleming wasn’t all that fussy about food – there were other people, some of which were friends and loved ones, others just amiable chaps he had interesting conversations with. Fleming played golf often, alone and in company. He took long walks through the endless woods or along the paths between the mountains. He swam often and read a lot. Drinks were a pleasure again, without each glass calling for another. Fleming’s sleep was deep and quiet; his dreams never left a troubling aftertaste when he woke the next morning. In fact he didn’t remember having any dreams at all. Ian Fleming was at peace with himself and enjoyed being here.

     

    At times part of him did wonder what kind of place this was. But every time the question formed itself in his mind it just as soon lost all relevance. What did it matter? The days and nights went by, turned into a pleasant sequence of golden blurs, and Fleming admitted to himself he was much more at ease than he could remember having been for a long time.

     

    One day the usher appeared with a man at his table.

    ‚Ian Fleming?‘ the man asked.

    He seemed vaguely familiar and so Fleming rose.

    ‚I am. And you would be…? Please help me out, I have a feeling I should know you,‘ he said as they exchanged a firm handshake and his visitor accepted a seat at his table.

    ‚I am James Bond. I am your James Bond, the secret agent you invented. In a way you are my father.‘

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2017-03-21
  5. Season’s Greetings from CBn

    Heiko Baumann @ 2016-12-24
  6. Waltz on, Blofeld

    The new German bi-annual Zeit-Magazin Mann has an extensive Christoph Waltz interview as cover story of its premiere issue. Naturally, Waltz’s role in last year’s SPECTRE was also a topic. A brief excerpt:

     

     

    Financially, SPECTRE has been a huge success. It had a box office of $ 880 million, only one other James Bond film earned more.

     

    And yet, Waltz isn’t satisfied – with his own performance, with the result.

     

    ‘I cannot claim that I’ve really nailed Blofeld. Overall it held water, was okay. But it wasn’t what I’ve been looking for. I was searching for more inspiration.’

     

    He has been getting this vibe even before shooting started, but by then it was already too late.

     

    ‘An actor can only be really good when there are shared possibilities.’

     

    He refuses to be any more specific about it, but it’s clear what he means by that: apparently the chemistry between him and director Sam Mendes didn’t play out the way he would have wished for.

     

    How does one survive a PR spectacle such as James Bond?

     

    First he says ‘I’ve survived worse’ and then he adds ‘There is a tendency to excessiveness. I understand you want to invite as many guests as possible to a premiere. But does it absolutely have to be the Royal Albert Hall? That doesn’t really help the whole cause. In the end it’s a film, and it should remain a film. The next premiere will probably be a national holiday; it almost was this time. I don’t see what’s so bad about the Odeon at Leicester Square for a premier cinema?’

     

    At the end of SPECTRE his Blofeld is still alive – is a sequel with Waltz possible?

     

    ‘I don’t know about that, nobody knows. It wasn’t talked about, except in the press. Right now nobody even knows which studio will produce the next and if Daniel will return. All of that is filed under “carry on”‘

     

    Excerpt from Zeit-Magazin Mann No. 1 / 2016

    Translation by HS

     

     

    Helmut Schierer @ 2016-09-06
  7. The 007th Chapter: Icebreaker – Rivke

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart – this time cunningly presented as a rerun. It’s summer time after all…

     

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    A famous episode of Hancock’s Half Hour is “The East Cheam Drama Festival”. Hancock, Hattie Jacques, Bill Kerr and Daniel Craig Sid James grapple “Look Back in Hunger” and “The Life of Ludwig van Beethoven and the songs that made him famous” and, titweepingly magnificently, “Jack’s Return Home.” In a coruscating exposure of the zeitgeist, poverty-stricken Joshua (Hancock) and wife Martha (Hattie) are menaced by landlord Jasper Stonyheart (Sid). It’s complex. Their son Jack is presumed dead – impaled by “the Zulus” – but Martha claims she insured his life, so all is well. Inopportunely, Jack (Bill) returns home, penniless. So Martha shoots him. ©BBC Worldwide, amongst others (prob’ly).

     

    Hancock: Aha, me old darlin’, you’ve shot Jack.

    Hattie: Yes, and I took out a policy on you as well, so watch it.

    Hancock: Wait a minute, I have a surprise for you. For thirteen years, you have thought I am Joshua, your husband.

    Hattie: Well, aren’t you?

    Hancock: No; stand back while I take my wig off. There…

    Hattie: Good heavens! Frederick!

    Hancock: Yes, Frederick. What do you say to that, Jasper Stonyheart?

    Sid: I’m not Jasper, I’ve been wearing this wig and pretending to be Jasper. This is who I really am. There!

    Hancock: Good heavens! Jonathan!

    Sid: Yes, Jonathan. I didn’t trust either of you, especially you, Martha.

    Hattie: And you were right not to, Jonathan, for you see, I am not Martha!

    Hancock: Not Martha?

    Hattie: No! There, now do you recognise me?

    Hancock: Gad! It’s Gladys.

    Hattie: Yes, Gladys, the girl you wronged.

    Hancock: Then who pray is the poor wretch we’ve killed?

    Bill: Fear not! You didn’t kill me! I was saved by my silver cigarette case. There! Do you not recognise me without the wig?

    Sid: Yes, I should have guessed – Ronald!

     

    Welcome to Icebreaker.

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2016-07-12
  8. Contemporary, fun and familiar – Bond returns to the comics

    BY TIMOTHY WILLIAMS

    © Dynamite Entertainment

    © Dynamite Entertainment

    ALTHOUGH widely popular courtesy of his big screen exploits, James Bond has his origins in the literary world. The character debuted in 1953’s Casino Royale, where author Ian Fleming first introduced his cold-hearted assassin with a penchant for fast cars, women, liquor and good food.

    Although Bond is no stranger to comics, he has been absent from the format for quite some time. Dynamite Entertainment has broken this drought by publishing monthly James Bond comics as part of a ten-year licensing deal with Ian Fleming Publications. So far the results have been sensational. continue reading…

    Heiko Baumann @ 2016-06-10
  9. The 007th Chapter: Licence Renewed – King of the Castle

    A literary meditation by Jacques Stewart (yep, this one should have come before For Special Services, you get a cigar…)

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    In my youth (that’s not a location update) I set a “quiz” for my College. Brain-mashers like “Abbreviations excluded, name the only U.S state written using one line of typewriter keys” (Alaska; no-one knew (no-one cared)) and “Name the only country written using one line of typewriter keys”. Peru, but some “body” said Eire (fair point), another that “it’s Republic of Peru, actually, I know thart, actually, because I gap-yeared tharh, actually, licking yurts, communing with my spirituality, yah, and photocopying for my uncle at KPMG Lima.” There was such a fight. I encouraged it. Ectually.

    I also had a round on “James Bond”. This was 1993 (hence “typewriter”), with 007 as relevant and welcome as anything else dead for four years that sane folks hoped would never return, like Eastern European communism, that Dr Who children’s programme or the Ayatollah Khomeini (give him time). Select questions went:

     

    1. Which two Bond films to date do not feature a helicopter? (Child-like optimism to say “to date”, but child-like I was (rather than current lifestyle choice of childish), and brilliant. Precocious, smackable little weasel)

    2. Why is A View to a Kill unique amongst the Bond films? (Keep it clean. In early 2015, this answer still holds)

    3. Which author has written the most James Bond novels?

     

    There were others, such as Q’s I.Q. to the nearest five points (it’s five; trick question), something something watches something (it really doesn’t matter) and Anne Fleming’s inside leg measurement (loads of people knew it; some reputation, that) but I’ve forgotten the rest.

     

    Question 1? Yes, you, with the mittens…

    continue reading…

    Helmut Schierer @ 2016-05-09
  10. Guy Hamilton dies at 93

    According to various sources – here The Guardian – four time Bond director Guy Hamilton has died at the age of 93 at his home on Majorca.

    Guy Hamilton was a household name of British cinema at least since he directed The Colditz Story in 1955. A number of hugely successful films followed with Goldfinger, Funeral in Berlin, Battle of Britain and of course his further Bond duties at the helm of Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun. Earlier in his career he acted as director’s assistant and worked three times with director Carol Reed, amongst them on The Third Man.

     

    Our condolences to his family and friends.

     

     

     

    Helmut Schierer @ 2016-04-21
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