COMMENTARY: James Bond and me

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

I received a telegram from Albert R. Broccoli, the Bond film producer, expressing his regrets he and his crew couldn’t be in “wonderful New Orleans again” (they had shot “Live and Let Die” there in 1971) but wishing us a great evening. And we made Nell Nolan’s coveted social column in the Times-Picayune, right up there with all the snooty Uptown soirées.

Subsequent James Bond Birthday Parties grew in scope. George Lazenby, whose one appearance as 007 in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” made him an instant Trivial Pursuit question, appeared at one. So did Lois Maxwell, the original Miss Moneypenny, whom we took to Audubon Zoo during her visit, where she bought us hotdogs and ice cream. Two were held aboard streetcars chugging along St. Charles Avenue.

I’d like to think this Bond thing’s an innocent obsession, rather like collecting shot glasses or Bing & Grondahl Christmas plates. I’ve got tubes full of Bond film posters, editions of the novels in multiple languages (including Icelandic), 007 toys and games, and am hoping Santa brings me the new Blu-ray set of the all the movies.

But my interest in the character goes beyond the Aston Martins, Saville Row suits, Rolex watches and winsome lady friends. I suspect it has to do with Bond’s embodiment of the sort of quiet, no-nonsense hero who knows his duty and does it without much hoopla, sometimes getting his heart and body injured in the process.

Bond reminds me of men from the Great Generation, such as my dad, who marched off to World War II, as did Bond, recognizing it was their duty, not expecting any glory. Actually, someone expressed this better.

“He’s our modern-day version of the great heroes who appeared from time to time throughout history;…People who all went out and put their lives on the line for the cause of good,” President Ronald Reagan said in a 1983 Bond TV special. “James Bond is a man of honor. Maybe it sounds old-fashioned, but I believe he is a symbol of real value to the free world.”

Isn’t that the sort of hero we — and our kids — should be looking up to? Sometimes it seems there aren’t many left. But as long as one can walk up and say, “My name is Bond. James Bond,” there’s hope for the world.

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