Watching a James Bond movie today is kind of like listening to one of those counterfeit rock and roll bands -- there may not be many of the original members left, yet they still bring back memories. Three authors and four actors later, the latest Bond flick, "Tomorrow Never Dies," is the 18th installment in the Bond saga. If that doesn't sound like a dubious distinction, think "Rocky XVIII."
One of the staples of James Bond movies is gadgets, which may explain why there are so many James Bond websites, and why so many of them use Java, Shockwave and other glitzy plug-ins that tend to crash your computer. From official sites that promote the movies, to unofficial ones devoted to Bond bloopers and Bond babes, there is little about the Bond phenomenon that can't be found online.
"The Official James Bond Home Page" <www.mgmua.com/bond> is hosted by MGM, which owns all the Bond films. It has the usual commercial fare -- stills and video, information about the movies, links to chat rooms, contests and, of course, James Bond merchandise. MGM's official "Tomorrow Never Dies" website <www.tomorrowneverdies.com> has much the same, along with a link to buy theater tickets online through Movielink.
"Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" <www.ianfleming.org/mkkbb> is the Web magazine of The Ian Fleming Foundation, a nonprofit corporation "dedicated to the study and preservation of the history of (Ian) Fleming's literary works, the James Bond phenomenon, and their impact on the culture of the Twentieth Century," whatever that is.
For a less reverent treatment of the Bond phenomenon, check out "The James Bond Movie Faults Page" <www.hj.se/~ed95frma/pages/faults.html>, which lists "all the faults, blunders, mistakes, bloopers, errors and flaws that exist in the James Bond movies." And there's a lot of them.
Perhaps the most comprehensive James Bond website is Kimberly Last's "James Bond, Agent 007 OHMSS" <www.mcs.net/~klast/www/bond.html>, which has information on all the James Bond books and movies and their authors (Ian Fleming, Kingsley Amis, John Gardner and Raymond Benson) and stars (Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan). There's also a nice page on Desmond Llewellyn, who has been in more Bond movies than anyone playing Q, the gadget man.
The site lists 25 elements of every formulaic James Bond movie, from the gun barrel in the opening credits to the Bond girl at the end, and has links to websites of real intelligence agencies like MI-5, the CIA and FBI. It also has information on a 1954 Americanized TV version of "Casino Royale," in which "Jimmy" Bond works for the CIA, and the 1964 movie spoof "Casino Royale" starring David Niven as Bond and Woody Allen as Bond Jr.
Finally, there's the Bond Girls: "They're beautiful, they're exotic, they're invariably scantily clad and they're always seductive," notes the introduction to "The Bond Girls" <www.dur.ac.uk/~dcs3pjb/jb/girls.html>, which has pictures and bios of many of them. It has some nice descriptions, beginning with the first Bond girl in "Dr. No," Honey Ryder, played by Ursula Andress, who "emerged from the sea in a skimpy white bikini singing 'Underneath the Mango Tree', and set the standard for all Bond girls to follow."
At Deepak Awasthi's "World of James Bond" website <www.deelight.com/bond>, you can see some fairly chaste shots of the latest Bond girl, Teri Hatcher. Then again, you can see Teri Hatcher a lot of places on the Internet. With a little searching, you can also find some websites with very unchaste pictures of some of the Bond women.
But the most definitive site on the subject is "The Bond Girls Dossier," a feature story by Paula S. Bernstein at TV Guide's website <www.tvguide.com/movies/mopic/wideangl/features/girls.htm>. "Why has the plum position of Bond Girl so often proven to be the career kiss of death?" Bernstein asks.
She asserts that "Once you accept the role of Bond Girl -- so precisely defined by time and tradition that to call them anything else would seem absurd -- your future options narrow to three." The three options are Honorable Discharge, "Escape from Bondage and launch (or continue) a successful career"; AWOL, "Parlay your Bond credentials into lowbrow but lucrative B-movie stardom"; and Missing in Action, "Vanish entirely, leaving obsessive fans puzzling and normal people not at all concerned about your whereabouts."
One may quibble over who gets placed in which category, for example,
Tanya Roberts rates AWOL, while Jill St. John is MIA, and Diana Rigg, Joanna
Lumley, Grace Jones, Carole Bouquet, Kim Basinger, Carey Lowell and Jane
Seymour all get Honorable Discharges. But from Ursula Andress to Britt
Ekland, Bernstein dishes some tasty gossip on them all.