The circumstances could not have been more different, but the underlying thrill was familiar. Ian Fleming first introduced the world to James Bond in 1952, and 007 came to life on screen in 1962 with the release of Dr. No. Fifty years later Bond shows only a few signs of slowing in Skyfall, the 23rd official installation of the series that hit theaters this weekend. While I don't recall seeing Dr. No in person, I do remember many a summer evening getting ready for a night at the drive-in to take in the latest Bond installment. My mom would fire up the pressure cooker and pop up plenty popcorn, long before the microwave made its debut. We would watch as the bottom of the brown paper grocery bag soaked through with greasy goodness and we coated our small fingers with butter and salt. It was a slice of summer heaven, and I even got to don my movie goin' PJs before clambering into the back seat of the station wagon. Mom always suggested we bring pillows and blankets, likely knowing the moment inevitably would come when the pillows would double as eye-muffs, mom instructing me to cover my eyes while Bond pursued his latest female conquest. Dad was in charge of finding the best spot in the lot, making sure it included a working speaker fastened securely to our window for the latest in surround - the car - sound.
Opening night of Skyfall provided a similar memorable experience, although there were no brown paper bags in sight. Instead, we travelled over the pass to the CineBistro in Vail where we were wowed by the cushy leather seats, the sharp dressed waiters and the chance to order up a pre-movie martini (shaken, of course). Still, the start of the show featured the eerily distinctive Bond music that easily transported me back though time, first to the station wagon and then through the decades of different Bond actors and distinctive Bond girls, arriving nearly 50 years later to dinner and drinks in Vail.
The Bond series has managed to entertain through the decades, bringing pop culture to the screen and allowing fans to escape into a two hour adventure. Judging by its opening three day gross of an unprecedented $87.8 million dollars in the United States alone, 007 still has what it takes to draw a crowd. Some film critics even suggest Skyfall is the best Bond ever, sure to stir a debate between true Bond aficionados.
Not surprisingly, one of the plot undercurrents was the evolution of espionage. Gone was the "Q" of old, with exploding cigarette cases, along with (nearly all) of the cigarettes. Enter the new age "Q", a computer whiz half Bond's age, devoid of any of the deference "Q" used to bestow on Bond. At one point "M" is called upon to defend the use of live agents, like Bond, in this advanced age of technology. While I won't give away the story, the film's director found a suitable answer, although it's my guess the question will again surface if Bond continues his roll for another 50 years.
It makes me wonder where our kids might catch a Bond film 50 years from now. I bet my folks wouldn't have imagined a theater like the Cinebistro, and I wonder what I missed seeing movies with my pop for a dime back in the 1940s. I sure hope buttered popcorn and chocolate candy never become a distant memory. In fact, it all makes me want to order up Diamonds are Forever on Netflix, fire up the corn popper, put on PJs and travel back in time. Martinis optional, but if the kids are along I'll make sure the pillows are placed strategically nearby.
Cindy Bargell is a mom and attorney who lives outside of Silverthorne with her husband and two children. She welcomes your comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.