Monday, February 13, 2023

The Other Fellow: The Men with a Spy’s Name

In 1966, a talented jazz and blues bassist recorded an album of Bond themes. He had more right than anyone to indulge in such a gimmick, because his name was Bond, Jimmy Bond. Sadly, he is not covered in this documentary about Bond namesakes.  As usual, jazz musicians get overlooked by the media. However, there are still some interesting stories in Matthew Bauer’s The Other Fellow, which releases this Friday in theaters and on VOD.

Most of Bauer’s interview subjects say their name can be both a curse and a blessing. For many, it is more of a curse. Yet, some at least one gent actually changed his name to “James Bond.” That would be the Swedish James Bond, whose Bond obsession was partly motivated by a resentment of the father who abandoned his family.

It turns out the James Bond name can be a real drag when you get pulled over by the cops. It is a real bummer when you are a “James Bond” wanted for murder in South Bend, Indiana—especially if you happen to be another James Bond living in South Bend, even more so when you work with a non-profit that helps disabled children experience hunting, with live firearms. It is definitely a name that stands out and amplifies unfortunate situations.

Yet, the most powerful sequences in
Other Fellow involve a battered mother, whose relation to the Bond name is not immediately evident. It is a harrowing story, but her resilience and cleverness is edifying. For the most part, Bauer focuses contemporary Bond namesakes, so there is no Jimmy Bond (even though he is quite notable, having recorded with Chet Baker, Nina Simone, and Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee).

However, Bauer duly documents the genuine original James Bond, the American ornithologist, whom Fleming identified as the source of the Bond name. In fact, the late Gregory Itzin (who played the dirtbag President Charles Logan in
24) portrays the American Bond in some rather endearing re-enactment sequences.

It might sound like
The Other Fellow is a contrived film built around simple coincidences, but there is more to it than a few men who share a famous name. In fact, the stuff with the ornithologist Bond and the formerly abused mother are very much worth any viewer’s time. Consequently, The Other Fellow is not just recommended for Bond fans when it releases Friday (2/17) in theaters and on-demand.