Nobody Does it Better: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of James Bond by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman
A Forge Book
Review by Lee Sobel (12/2/20)
5 out of 5 stars
Calling all James Bond freaks: this book is for you!
I loved this book but I have to be honest, I haven't even thought about the James Bond movies in a million years -- okay maybe not that many but certainly a few. I saw one or two of the Daniel Craig movies a few years back and while I thought them enjoyable, it just seemed like action movies using the "James Bond" name and not what I remembered of the suave, sophisticated Bond films that starred Sean Connery and Roger Moore, who somehow seem huge in my memory as the definitive Bonds. As I read this very thorough and enjoyable oral history of the James Bond franchise, it made me yearn to watch all of these movies again (some of which I actually had never seen). I remember seeing The Spy Who Loved Me when it first opened and I was just turning 15 years old -- the perfect age to get pulled into an exciting, colorful and imaginative spy movie. No wonder I bought a
trench coat and started making little super 8mm films with my friends where I pretended to be a spy. Happily, The Spy Who Loved Me still held up for me when watching it again. The other Bond movies, less so. For some reason, Connery always stayed in mind as the epitome of the cultured 007 with the license to kill and in watching his films again, I was startled to realize how much of a brute he was and how completely misogynist these movies are. Women and treated as eye candy and Connery bats them around viciously, often forcing himself onto women who are in fact out to kill him after getting down with him. The joke that every woman who sees Bond MUST have him, really wore thin on me. Even I know that some form of foreplay is required to turn a woman on -- but Bond was having none of that. If Connery's version of Bond is an ape in a tuxedo, then Roger Moore who I have now come to like better than Connery, plays it like the whole thing is a joke and his light touch is just a little too light for me. All the other actors who played Bond just seemed like they were doing their best to copy Connery. So in the end, as enjoyable as a lot of these movies are, there are too many things that bother me in them and I just don't feel they ever found an actor who was good looking enough for me to believe that women would swoon wherever he goes -- sorry I don't agree that Connery was handsome enough. His skin looks awful in a lot of closeups and as the movies progress his hair looked more and more like a crappy toupé which undoubtedly it was. I say all this, yet I do love these movies at the same time and I sincerely hope that my above comments don't offend any fans who love every frame of these movies.
About the book itself, it's so well done that it's almost too much of a good thing for me, personally. Weighing in at 720 pages this is already like a phone book and I'm giving it 5 out of 5 stars because it's so complete - it must have taken years to collect and edit all the interviews the authors did. I was a bit surprised that there is not a single photograph in the book, given that the Bond movies are so visual, so if you're someone who likes to look at pictures more than read text, this may not be the book for you. For those of us who like to read, you're going to learn more about the James Bond movies than you'll ever need to know.