It’s a banal truism to say that the Bond movies are reactionary narratives festooned with phallic symbols. The movies’ makers were in on the joke — Ayn Rand, who adored the books, was appalled by the film versions’ campiness — but that hasn’t stopped amateur psychoanalysts from scrutinizing the Bond movies’ pistols, cars, and rockets through Freudian, Jungian, and Lacanian lenses for four decades now. Forget the phalli — what’s with the uterine imagery in these flicks? The caves, the tight spots, particularly the tubs and showers! In this all-too-typical scene from Thunderball, Bond (Sean Connery) discovers a lathered-up Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) in a hotel bathroom. This is ostensibly an erotically charged moment… but how can it be so when Bond isn’t shocked to find Fiona there, nor is she horrified to be found? The next morning, after a night of apparent passion, it is revealed that they’d both been faking it. Poor misunderstood Bond. He’s no phallic narcissist seeking power and control; instead, he’s a hopeless neurotic endlessly and fruitlessly seeking to discharge psychic tension via a sex/death-enabled return to the womb.
An occasional series analyzing some of the author’s favorite moments in the positioning or movement of actors in a movie.
THIRTIES (1934–43): It Happened One Night (1934) | The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) | The Guv’nor (1935) | The 39 Steps (1935) | Young and Innocent (1937) | The Lady Vanishes (1938) | Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (1939) | The Big Sleep (1939) | The Little Princess (1939) | Gone With the Wind (1939) | His Girl Friday (1940)
FORTIES (1944–53): The Diary of a Chambermaid (1946) | The Asphalt Jungle (1950) | The African Queen (1951)
FIFTIES (1954–63): A Bucket of Blood (1959) | Beach Party (1963)
SIXTIES (1964–73): For Those Who Think Young (1964) | Thunderball (1965) | Clambake (1967) | Bonnie and Clyde (1967) | Madigan (1968) | Wild in the Streets (1968) | Barbarella (1968) | Harold and Maude (1971) | The Mack (1973) | The Long Goodbye (1973)
SEVENTIES (1974–83): Les Valseuses (1974) | Eraserhead (1976) | The Bad News Bears (1976) | Breaking Away (1979) | Apocalypse Now (1979) | Caddyshack (1980) | Stripes (1981) | Blade Runner (1982) | Tender Mercies (1983) | Monty Python’s The Meaning of Life (1983)
EIGHTIES (1984–93): Repo Man (1984) | Buckaroo Banzai (1984) | Raising Arizona (1987) | RoboCop (1987) | Goodfellas (1990) | Candyman (1992) | Dazed and Confused (1993)
NINETIES (1994–2003): The Fifth Element (1997)
OUGHTS (2004–13): District 9 (2009)
READ MORE essays by Joshua Glenn, originally published in: THE BAFFLER | BOSTON GLOBE IDEAS | BRAINIAC | CABINET | FEED | HERMENAUT | HILOBROW | HILOBROW: GENERATIONS | HILOBROW: RADIUM AGE SCIENCE FICTION | HILOBROW: SHOCKING BLOCKING | THE IDLER | IO9 | N+1 | NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW | SEMIONAUT | SLATE
Joshua Glenn’s most recent books (2012) are UNBORED: THE ESSENTIAL FIELD GUIDE TO SERIOUS FUN (with Elizabeth Foy Larsen); and SIGNIFICANT OBJECTS: 100 EXTRAORDINARY STORIES ABOUT ORDINARY THINGS (with Rob Walker).