One of the things I picked up during my trip to Tokyo that I wanted to share with readers is a Japanese film magazine from 1965 called Eiga Story, found at a flea market table in Ueno Park amidst tons of other old film magazines and comics. On the cover is a photo of Hayley Mills, who’d been a child star in Disney movies (e.g. POLLYANNA and THE PARENT TRAP), and had finally graduated to teenage roles at the time, getting her first screen kiss that year in THE TRUTH ABOUT SPRING. I opened the magazine on the spot and was happy to see excellent-looking color spreads devoted to popular Hollywood films and stars of the time with b&w entries devoted to numerous releases in Japan of Hollywood and European films. Since I was going to films regularly in 1965 and had even seen some of these films during their initial release, I was curious to see what Hollywood films got the most hype during their release in Japan.
Recently, a song was played on the radio entitled “Merry Go ’Round,” by up-and-coming country singer Kacey Musgraves, and it reminded me of the kinds of songs that used to be featured on movie soundtracks in my youth. In these films, there was usually a sequence where the song played over a piece of action as a character is traveling or making stops or having a lovers’ rendezvous and the lyrics usually commented on the action, either directly or obliquely. The songs that came to mind right away were the following: “Everybody’s Talkin’” performed by Nilsson in MIDNIGHT COWBOY (1969), “Come Saturday Morning,” performed by the Sandpipers in THE STERILE CUCKOO (1969), and “I Got a Name,” performed by Jim Croce in THE LAST AMERICAN HERO (1973).
The release of SKYFALL, the 23rd “official” James Bond film, coincides with the 50th anniversary of the release of the first James Bond film, DR. NO, in England on October 5, 1962.
I would prefer to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Bond on May 8 next year, since that would be the 50th anniversary of the U.S. release, which is what I remember, but we won’t have a new Bond film next May. I chose to re-watch a few classic Bonds before going to see the new one, just to remind myself what drew me to the films in the first place.
45 years ago this month, I went to see the fifth James Bond movie, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967), when it finally came to the Fairmount, one of my neighborhood theaters. It was a single feature, very unusual for this theater, but interest was so high they didn’t have to book a second film (although other theaters in the neighborhood ran it with second features). They’d even raised the prices for this showing so I wound up paying kids’ price even though I was 14 (I was short enough for my age to get away with it) and sat with my 12-year-old sister Claire in the children’s section, presided over by a matron in a white dress and white gloves and wielding a flashlight. This film marked the first time American audiences got to see ninja action in a mainstream studio film. We’d never even heard of ninjas before this film. It was also the first time most kids got to see people fight with samurai swords in an action scene in a big-budget feature film. When the climactic assault by Bond and the ninjas on SPECTRE’s volcano rocket base began, the crowd in the theater went completely nuts. We’d never seen anything like this before and kids were roaring and applauding and cheering and jumping up and down like I’d never seen an audience react before. (Two little wise guys behind me simply exclaimed “Ooooh!” in unison every time something happened.)