Monday, 8 October 2012

(YET ANOTHER) CHARITY SHOP BOOK REVIEW

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Due to massive demand – or put another way; due to no demand at all, here is the next instalment of the charity shop book review*; (Don't worry, sooner or later I'll realise no-one gets it and change the name.)(While trying desperately to pretend it was dropped because I fancied a change.)
Tum-te-tum... yep.

Sinclair McKay, 'formerly assistant features editor of the Daily Telegraph' is the author of, apart from other things, A Thing of Unspeakable Horror: The History of Hammer Films – but I didn't call you to this place for a book on silly old horror filums...NO, that would never do...

The Man With The Golden Touch (Aurum, Hardback £18.99/£1.99 Cats Protection League ISBN – oh go and get a pen then...ready?, good; ISBN 978-1-84513-355-9) is, as you might well suspect from previous offerings/disappointments/outrages a book on James Bond films – the tag-line goes; 'How the BOND films conquered the world' – handily proving I'm not making this up...
Its a big old brick of a thing at 369 pages, there's some rare piccies, most of which I'd never seen before and an index for those of you with too much time (Although, I'll be honest and state that books without indexes are maddening if you need to refer to them in a hurry).


TROLLOPS, COUNTDOWNS & CATS
Basically the book can be summarised as a film by film critique of the series with some interesting facts and anecdotes added – (it omits only Quantum of Solace as it was published in 2008). Its all well-written, but one thing that I particularly appreciated was Mr.McKay (UK Readers born before 1968 add Porridge jokes here please) (All the rest, Google it – or Doogle it if Scottish) yes, Mr.McKay (Still with me?) actually likes his subject. Not far back, I reviewed a similar tome, Simon Winder's The Man Who Saved Britain – and the contrasts are clear; Winder, although much loftier in tone and vocabulary, sneers at Fleming and his creation – sort of a disgruntled toff, sniffily dismissing another toff while pretending not to have the social advantage a University edumacation brings. I treasure both books to be sure, but McKay's is much warmer and accessible.
O.K. I'd better explain; during the read I became aware that McKay was born somewheres around the late sixties, possibly even the same 1967 that saw my gurgling entrance – hence he's – wait for it – A Child of the Seventies! - yes the awful and badly worn phrase that tells people what your era of cultural reference will be. Lets face this; we become people in a certain decade, everything we know and feel, our experience and viewpoint is formed and crystallises in that decade. For McKay – and self handily, it's the Seventies, hence he gets the Bond films of that era in the same way I do. I apologise for those of you from later/earlier on, by now you must feel like a tramp outside a posh restaurant – i.e. horribly excluded.

The title of this bit? - at the end he sums up the Bond films neatly with the observation that they all seem to have girls of easy virtue, ticking countdown timers on bombs and a fair few feature a certain feline... (Try saying those last six words over and over when drunk...)

The problem; it's this; what have Molly Wildflash, the Queen Mary and golden lasers have in common? - well, Molly Wildflash was the Doctor in The World is Not Enough, The wreck of the Queen Mary featured in The Man with the Golden Gun and Goldfinger menaced Bond with a golden laser beam. Go and get the films from your DVD shelf – no, go on, I'll wait... Seen them? - (Lets say we did...) O.k. Then; four things are now apparent; I was lying about the Doc, the Ship and that laser – and you don't actually have the DVD of Goldfinger. No-one does.(It'll be on some time this month...)
What's my point? - well, in the book, Sinclair (We're on first name terms now) does tend to – in British parlance – drop a few. Put simply, he makes quite a few errors on details. (Warmflash/Queen Elizabeth/Red laser if you ever do wonder). He really does himself an injustice here, because this is a cracking read in other respects. Pernickety? ME? - it depends on where you stand on this.

As an aside, Sinclair does rather give the game away; any pretence of being an artful critic is dented a touch by his admission that during a screening of The World is Not Enough he leapt up and, pointing excitedly exclaimed “My Flat!” as the famous boat chase zoomed through the Docklands area of the Thames. Oddly, this is the only note of approval for any of the boat chases – he really doesn't seem to be a fan of water at all; describing boat chases as being inherently dull, underwater scenes boring and super-yachts are always 'naff'. Naff is also a word reserved for those staples of Bond the Casino. Basically James Bond's second homes, the casinos and hotel rooms of the series are painted as 'naff' or variously horrid; Sinc (Affectionately shortening forename now) has a point though as some of these places are, on closer inspection, quite nasty. I disagree with his verdict on Scaramanga's yacht-bedroom though... I think it is a masterpiece of Seventies chic and style; if I ever win the Lottery that wall hanging is mine!.

Finally – Sin (Too short?) is right when he finishes the book in upbeat fashion, with his statement that four of the most cheering words in the English language are...

JAMES BOND WILL RETURN

*In America, I believe these shops are called Goodwill Shops or similar – basically they are shops that sell second-hand books, clothing and bric-a-brac donated by the public for various Charitable causes. Hence the title of these posts.

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