The Other Fellow (2022)

What an incredible idea for a film. Matthew Bauer, who directed this and co-wrote it with Rene van Pannevis, went around the world to learn what it’s like to actually have the name James Bond. The title for this movie comes from George Lazenby’s line in his lone appearance as 007: “This never happened to the other fellow.”

James Bonds appear — from an inmate to a theater director, a man who runs a Bond museum in Sweden to even a woman who took the name to keep a violent ex-lover from finding where she’s gone — and even the story of how Ian Fleming took the name from the ornithology author who wrote the definitive book on the birds of West Indies is told in this exploration of what’s in a name, particularly when that name is so famous.

Is it a blessing or a curse to be named after — or have the same name — as MI6’s top agent? That’s what this film gets to the bottom of, yet Bauer does it in an exciting way that lets you know the people behind the names, several of whom have stories that rival anything Fleming wrote.

It also tells how Mary Bond, the wife of the namesake of Bond, wrote to Fleming regarding the use of her husband’s name. The author wrote back saying, “I must confess that your husband has every reason to sue me. In return, I can only offer your James Bond unlimited use of the name Ian Fleming for any purpose he may think fit. Perhaps one day your husband will discover a particularly horrible species of bird which he would like to christen in an insulting fashion by calling it Ian Fleming.” She replied by writing the books How 007 Got His Name and To James Bond With Love, both of which feature very spy action-looking covers.

Perhaps the wildest story in this is about Gunnar Schaefer, who changed his name in 2007 to Gunnar James Bond Schäfer. After having a childhood with a father who escaped Germany at the end of World War II, he found a new father figure in Ian Fleming and his creation. Today, he runs a museum out of his auto parts store that houses many Bond props.

Bauer spent a decade on this and had the goal that none of these people would just be the name Bond, but instead you would see them as individuals. He has succeeded beyond measure.

Also: If you have a problem with a black James Bond, there already is one in this. Get over it.

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