Friday, November 9, 2012

Not James Bond -- ISRAEL Bond

As we note the opening of "Skyfall," the best James Bond movie since "Goldfinger," let's take a moment to pay tribute to the first great James Bond spoof: "Loxfinger."

It came out in 1965, the year after "Goldfinger" made Bond the most popular action hero in films. According to the book, author Sol Weinstein gained his knowledge of the subject by working for the CIA (Catskills Institute of Acne); he appeared in a trenchcoat on the back cover, smoking a cigarette and holding a very dangerous-looking slingshot.

The title character, Lazarus Loxfinger, was an alleged humanitarian with a suspiciously Germanic accent who talked about finding a "final solution" to the Israeli-Arab conflict. He was investigated by Oy-Oy-Seven, the Hebraic secret agent Israel Bond. (That was a 1960s joke: American Jews were expected to buy bonds to support their counterparts in Israel.)

The book riffs merrily on Bond conventions: Israel Bond beds lovelies with names such as Poontang Plenty, answers to a boss named Emma -- sometimes called M -- and fights off assassins from world-dominating organizations with tortuous acronyms, like the Syrian Corps of Heroes for Murdering Unmercifully Craven Kikes. (Work it out for yourself.) There's even a genetically altered dolphin, Agent D, who speaks in one-liners.

For all the comedy, most of which is 1960s-centric, there's a serious undertone about the jeopardy of being Jewish in a volatile part of the world: Israel had been founded just 17 years earlier, and the turmoil in the Middle East would erupt in a famous war two years later. The book's not meant as social commentary, but it turns out to be.

Like the Bond movie series, Weinstein continued to crank out sequels that were less and less necessary. (Although "Matzohball," his "Thunderball" parody, sustains the premise decently.) He eventually ended up writing comedy for TV ("The Jeffersons," "The Love Boat") and, according to the Internet Movie Data Base, turned 84 in July. The 11-year-old boy who laughed over "Loxfinger" when it first came out -- and missed all the double entendres -- still holds a fond thought for him.