COMMENTARY: James Bond and me

Brian & George Lazenby

A younger Brian Hughes, left, goes shopping in New Orleans with George Lazenby, whom he ranks as the best of the Bond actors for his portrayal of 007 in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" (1969).

File photo
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012 at 10:31 AM.

I didn’t mean to be a James Bond enthusiast. I never thought I’d drop quotes from 007 films in conversation with fellow enthusiasts, or have one-sheets from Bond films on the wall of my office, or make a mix of dinner music from Bond film soundtracks to play when we have guests to supper.

Lately I've been driving my colleagues Bond-crazy, playing the soundtrack albums, redecorating the men's bathroom with vintage 007 film lobby cards, browbeating our poor editor, Thomas Boni, until he'd let me run a James Bond trivia contest in the paper. But hey, a new Bond film only comes along every two or three years. I've got my tickets for "SkyFall" already.

Maybe it’s my parents’ fault. They gave me an Airfix model of James Bond’s Aston Martin DB5, complete with functioning gadgets, for my 10th birthday. (I made a horrible muddle of it, starting with accidentally gluing down the ejector seat. If I had just left it in the box untouched, it’d be worth a fortune today.)

Mom inadvertently got me reading the original Ian Fleming novels when she gave me money to buy a German-English dictionary for my high school language class. There was a display of the film edition of “Diamonds Are Forever” by the front door of the bookshop and I bought that instead.

The first 007 film I ever saw was “Thunderball,” Sean Connery’s 1964 fourth outing as 007, which was broadcast by CBS-TV. (I still have the page from TV Guide in which it’s listed.) I started collecting the soundtrack albums, slipping my high school art teacher, Ms. Miles, cash from my job at the A&P to buy them when she’d go to the mall.

And then came college. Tulane University had one of the nation’s foremost student-run film boards, and was one of a handful of campuses across the country with 35mm projection capabilities and Dolby stereo sound. Perfect for, say, organizing a marathon showing of every Bond film in one weekend, which I did. (We even borrowed a Lotus Turbo Esprit from a local dealer to park in front of McAlister Auditorium.)

Rereading John Pearson’s “James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007” my junior year, I discovered Bond’s birthday (Nov. 11) fell on a Saturday. A birthday party was in order. Invitations were sent out and about 25 friends crammed into my residence hall suite, appropriately festooned with Bond film posters.

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