The Art of Bond

James Bond Movie Posters: The Official Collection was compiled by Tony Nourmand and published in 2003. The book presents a lavish history of James Bond poster art from Dr No to Die Another Day and also supplies concept art that allows you to see the progression of the posters developed for each film. The other interesting about the book is that it allows to you to see the different posters used around the world for the same film. Certainly, the international variations are interesting to contrast and compare, the Japanese Bond posters in particular being great fun. The book is 216 pages long (paperback) and gives you several pages of art and text for each of the films in the series with the background detail on each campaign and the artists involved interesting to browse through. The collection is a reminder how just how wonderful the illustrated James Bond posters often were in the sixties and seventies, the Thunderball posters in particular providing some great art with the immortal legend 'Sean Connery IS James Bond!'
When you flip through the book you can clearly see that they lost the plot completely in the late eighties with Licence To Kill and the subsequent Pierce Brosnan campaigns also produced some very uninspired art and posters. The spectacular drawings gave way to cheap looking collages for some reason. This is a lavish book and, as a bonus, also includes art for the two unofficial Bond films Never Say Never Again and 1967's Casino Royale. Most most people will be familiar with many of the classic posters from the Connery and Moore films reproduced here but there is too a decent amount of stuff that should be new, especially the concepts that were thrown around in the planning stages of some of the key films in the series. One example is On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the first ever Bond film made without Sean Connery. They were obviously faced with an unenviable task in trying to persuade the public that someone else was going to be James Bond and the approach taken is rather interesting to look at here. Instead of declaring George Lazenby IS James Bond!, they wisely played down Lazenby and went for more of a shadowy, generic approach that stressed the mysterious character of Bond over and above the actor. Unused posters and teasers for OHMSS entitled '007 and Bride' (this was the film where Bond got married for the first and last time) are fascinating to look at here.

One disappointing aspect to the book is that some of the later films are glossed over a little in comparison to some of the more vintage entries. The two Timothy Dalton films suffer somewhat from this and it's a shame that unused art designed for Licence To Kill is not included in the book. Robert Peak designed fantastic teaser illustration and art for Licence To ill but it was all dumped for a cheaper and far less effective campaign and it would have been nice to see it in the book. Certainly, the US poster for Licence To Kill that did emerge must rank as one of the worst posters ever produced for Bond and gives you little clue that it's even promoting a James Bond film! The concepts for Live and Let Die are fun too, this film marking Roger Moore's debut in the role. What is interesting here is how similar the main early Moore posters are to Connery's last film Diamonds Are Forever. You can see that the approach they took with Lazenby is reversed and now they are very eager to trumpet the fact that Roger Moore (who was pretty well known and popular through The Saint in contrast to the completely unknown Lazenby) is the new Bond and put him front and centre of the campaigns.

The Bond posters used in the Far East are especially enjoyable when they appear because they are quite fond of the montage design with photographs from the films. Some of the Italian Bond promotional material is great too. A strength of the series is the way each film is carefully marketed to different territories around the world although, as Licence To Kill illustrates here, that doesn't always got quite according to plan, especially when meddling studios are trying to save money and leave you with a crappy promotional art campaign. One drawback with the book (or this edition anyway) for completists will be the fact that it only goes up to 2002's Die Another Day although I didn't find this a huge problem myself as the art for Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace was abysmal and one could argue those films are not part of the Bond series anyway, being more a sort of Bond 2.1 experiment that doesn't feel like a blood relative of the series of films presided over by Cubby Broccoli. Although the sixties version of Casino Royale is obviously not part of the official series it is fun to see a far out piece of art for it and also see something in relation to Sean Connery's 'renegade' return as James Bond in 1983's Never Say Never Again.

James Bond Movie Posters: The Official Collection is an attractive volume full of wonderful art and illustrations from 40 years of James Bond films and is the sort of book that Bond fans would be more than happy to have sitting on the bookshelf. Although the text is minimal you still pick up a lot of interesting stuff that doesn't feel recycled in the way that a lot of stuff in Bond books like this often come across. The early designs for individual posters and campaigns are great fun to look at and the book is of a good quality too and nicely presented and layed out. It's certainly a reminder that in terms of Bond posters the series has really gone downhill since the superb artwork that was commissioned for Connery, Lazenby and Moore. This is certainly a nice volume for anyone interested in the James Bond film series and its art and worth a look if you spot it at a good price.
- Jake 


c 2011 Alternative 007