I don’t remember much about the theater we were in, except that it was fancy and big enough to have a balcony, like the movie palace I would be involved in helping to run twelve years later, when I was all grown up and in New York.
In Mexico that summer, I sat with other Senior Girl Scouts, sixteen and in our green uniforms. “Muchos American women!” a man in the lobby exclaimed, whistling low while demonstrating his partial command of English. I suppose there was a reason we’d decided to see Goldfinger in this underwater, under-the-tongue sort of way. I can also remember hearing snatches of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” coming from a taxicab radio. It was the zeitgeist, all mixed up and filtered through another culture.
We never showed Bond movies in the previously-mentioned theater I later took a hand in running, in 1976. The Man With the Golden Gun (starring Roger Moore as Bond) had come out in 1974, and it would have been possible for us to show it two years later. But we were, after all, a “buck fifty” movie house, second-, even third-run; and Bond was, after all, pre-feminist, and, more important for our neighborhood, he was a white man with a gun. There were enough of those in police uniform.
At our theater, Staten Island’s St. George, whose 2,672 seats a team of us only succeeded in completely filling briefly — for the week we showed the remastered Exorcist — action movies did sell tickets; but they had to have a gritty street feel, like Taxi Driver or Dog Day Afternoon.
Bond belonged to the period before things got tough, before all those assassinations (Kennedy, Malcolm X, King, then one more Kennedy). Before ‘Nam claimed so many lives, and the Beatles broke up, and rock morphed into punk.
Single-screen movie palaces by that time had stopped somehow being first-run show places, but we didn’t know it. So, for a year, we had a time of it, working together without pay, watching Robert DeNiro, and Melanie Griffith (Smile) and Jack Nicholson (Cuckoo’s Nest) and Cleavon Little (Blazing Saddles) and Al Pacino, and Dustin Hoffman and Sissy Spacek and Gladys Knight and so many others find or continue to claim their places in the showbiz cosmos. Bond belonged to the era before, to the mid-sixties and its cold war, and to the ignorance America could no longer afford.
I just read Anthony Lane’s October 18 New Yorker review of the latest (final?) Bond movie, No Time to Die, starring Daniel Craig. Bond is so old he isn’t 007 anymore, and his replacement (Black, a woman) threatens to shoot him in his only reliable knee! The movie just sounds sad, but the review is brilliant.