As Kingsley Amis wrote in 1965, “We don’t want to have Bond to dinner… We want to be Bond.” James Bond, the world’s ultimate lover/spy, has thrilled millions with the exciting trinity of cinematic “martinis, girls and guns”. No matter what his current incarnation, Bond, like the Doctor in Doctor Who, can be played by a canny Scot, a suave Irishman or even an athletic Australian but he will always be James Bond. And that character shines immediately and vividly through the film’s posters.
According to Meg Simmonds, James Bond archivist at EON, the production company that produces the movies, visual design for Bond is key, “The design process starts very early and continues throughout the film-making process to the very end. For Bond films – I’d say the average time it takes is about one year.” It’s the visual imagery of Bond’s fantasy formula that keeps us wanting more.
Posters for James Bond movies contributed hugely to the franchise’s success. According to Reel Art Press founder and editor-in-chief Tony Nourmand, the author of several official books on James Bond poster art, artwork was the first thing Bond lovers saw of the upcoming film. It was the visual elements that reeled them in - and there are some very interesting examples of Bond for sale in the Original Film Posters Online sale (28 August–4 September).
This poster for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, “is a concept art work,” says Nourmand. “You see a silhouette. They didn’t want the world to know who the new Bond was going to be.” The man became, of course George Lazenby, but as a teaser, it kept fans keen to see who was cast as the new Bond.
Nicolette Tomkinson, a poster expert from Tomkinson Churcher Art Consultants agrees that James Bond posters play a unique role in our culture. “As Bond is the longest running film franchise, everybody has grown up with 007 and has their favourite film. The posters play an important part in illustrating how Bond has changed since the release of Dr. No in 1962. The unique combination of cultural significance and visual appeal gives the poster a special place in the eye of a collector.”
Bond’s appeal stretches from the popular books by Ian Fleming to the current iteration of Daniel Craig. “From every country, every age group, all walks of life,” says Nourmand, “Bond is a favourite. My five year old nephew’s favourite Bond film is Goldfinger.” He’s in good company. Steven Spielberg admitted that his ownership of an Aston Martin DB5 is because his favourite Bond film is also Goldfinger - and that’s the only reason he has it. “What is Bond’s secret? I’ve worked with EON and they are very particular with what they allow and not allow,” Nourmand says, “But really the franchise is one of those freaks of nature.”
The Original Film Posters Online sale will be on view in our New Bond Street galleries throughout August.