A secret agent in a circus-clown suit is pursued toward the East German border by knife-wielding twins. A knife finds its way into the clown’s back, but he survives and makes it to the British Embassy, where he falls dead as a Fabergé egg rolls from his hand.
The opening of Octopussy, the 14th official James Bond movie, filmed near Checkpoint Charlie, may be the only scene in the series having even the remotest connection to the Berlin Wall. (For most of the rest of the film, Roger Moore’s 007 hobnobs with an Indian prince with terror intentions on a nuclear scale.) The absence of East German intrigue may seem odd, considering that Ian Fleming’s suave creation was the 20th century’s most famous spy, and that the first 007 movie, Dr. No, came out a year after the Wall went up. But the Broccoli family, producers of all the official Bond films from then to now, was a conglomerate of fantasy-spinners. They knew that audiences loved to see the impossible: a cocksman with an Oxbridge education, the spy as solitary superhero. And with a worldwide audience lapping up the franchise, why write off the whole Communist world by casting Soviets as villains? So Bond found villains in rogue warriors, not cold warriors. Indeed, in A View to a Kill released in 1985, two years before Ronald Reagan charged Mikhail Gorbachev to “Tear down this wall!” “Comrade Bond” is awarded the Order of Lenin.
You could call the whole Bond mystique the cinema’s answer to the Cold War: no international fracas was so dire that it couldn’t be solved by a gentleman stud who knew that Dom Perignon ’53 should only be served at 38 degrees Fahrenheit. Especially as incarnated in six of the first seven films by Sean Connery, Bond comprised equal parts of Jack Kennedy’s playboy glamour and Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Philosophy. He was the Cold War’s sexiest byproduct. And unlike John Le Carré’s Alec Leamas, he wouldn’t be found dead near the Berlin Wall.
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