Pop Rocks

Pop Rocks: James Bond Drinks Beer, Civilization As We Know It Ceases to Exist

Skyfall, the 23rd "official" James Bond film, hits theaters in November. In keeping with Eon Productions' apparent desire to distance the franchise from its occasionally cheesy past, this new movie is chock full of some cinematic heavy hitters. Oscar winners Javier Bardem ("Raoul Silva") and Dame Judi Dench ("M") share the marquee with nominees Ralph Fiennes ("Mallory") and Albert Finney ("Kincade"), and it's being directed by Sam Mendes, Academy Award winner for American Beauty.

But while they're classing up the cast, Eon is going lowbrow on the beverages, replacing 007's signature vodka martini with...Heineken? Former Bond George Lazenby, for one, is not pleased:

Lazenby tells us, cutting the martini in favor of a Heiney breaks a sacred tradition -- and to add insult to injury, "It's not the best beer out there, either."

Lazenby adds, it's sad filmmakers will always "go where the money is."

Here's where I could make a joke about Lazenby never playing 007 again and OHMSS making less than half of the previous Bond movie (You Only Live Twice), but that would be positively Blofeld-ian. At any rate, it's not that big a deal, because today's James Bond is already a significant departure from the incarnation that first appeared in theaters 50 years ago.

The short version of the beer thing is that Skyfall producers signed a (reported) $45 million product-placement deal with Heineken, meaning he won't be ordering his favorite drink shaken, not stirred anymore.

Well, he can, if he's keen on playing a little Beer Hunter.

TMZ further reports "devoted Bond fans everywhere are pissed." Why this includes Lazenby, whose own experience as Bond was apparently an unpleasant one, eludes me. You have to preface every mention of the guy's name with "former James Bond actor" because otherwise nobody would know who the hell he was. Producer Albert Broccoli didn't like him, and he essentially told his manager he didn't want to play Bond again, even before OHMSS was released (he felt the Bond franchise would be out of place in the more "sophisticated" '70s...well played).

This hasn't stopped the actor from milking his portrayal at conventions for the last 20 years, however.

All this alleged anger seems misplaced, anyway. For example, the "Vesper" from Casino Royale isn't a purely vodka martini (there's also gin and Lillet). I understand Fleming probably never described Bond drinking a beer, but he also described the character as smoking upwards of three packs of cigarettes a day. Quick: When was the last time you saw 007 smoking a butt in a movie? I'll give you a hint: It was in one of the Timothy Dalton ones.

How "pissed" were "devoted fans" when Roger Moore more or less forced Eon to let him portray Bond as a cigar smoker (Rog loved him some cigars)? The character smoked cigarettes in every movie prior to Moore's casting, and never -- or rarely -- smoked cigars in the books.

The real problem is the increasing American-ization of the property. From changing baccarat to Texas Hold 'em in CR to the outrageous suggestion that 007 would deign to drink something as common as beer. Never mind that maybe two dozen people in the entire world are conversant in the game of baccarat, or that Bond is an alcoholic. Dalton drank a fucking Budweiser in License to Kill, for crying out loud. And why was that? Because there was a product-endorsement deal with Anheuser-Busch in place for that movie.

Oh, and Craig already had a Heineken in Quantum of Solace. And why was that? Because Heineken has been a sponsor of Bond movies since Tomorrow Never Dies.

Lazenby (and every other "outraged" fan, of whom I've yet to see any except on TMZ, and I hang out on both the MI6Community and CommanderBond.net forums) conveniently forgets that product-endorsement deals have been part of the Bond franchise almost since the beginning. Along with Aston Martin, Rolex and Dom Perignon, Lazenby's sole film included deals with -- wait for it -- Jack Daniel's and Ford Motor Company. At least Heineken's a European brand, you hypocrite.

I seriously doubt, on the 50th anniversary of the first Bond movie, that there will be no martini in Skyfall. We'll have some nifty gadgets (Q is back, it seems), one or two cool chase scenes, Bond girls, a theme song by a band nobody will be listening to in three years, and Daniel Craig uttering the line, "Bond, James Bond." If he also decides to have a beer at some point, the franchise won't come to an end (or should I say the...sky won't fall?).

That's reserved for whenever they make Bond gay. Or black.

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Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar