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Question Time – In conversation with Danny Morgenstern

Danny Morgenstern is what you would call a literal jack of all trades – dance instructor, event organiser, dedicated family man, James Bond expert and author of no less than twelve publications on the subject of agent 007. Let’s see if we can break through the reserves of a man who has been asked pretty much every question in the book.

The Bond Bulletin: Let’s start with an easy one Danny. When and how did you become a Bond fan?

Danny Morgenstern: That started very early. I’ve probably seen scenes from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. That must have been around 1986. Then, in 1987, my grandfather took me to see Live and let Die. From then on there was no stopping me.

Author and James Bond expert Danny Morgenstern

The Bond Bulletin: You are the author of two large German encyclopedia volumes on James Bond – ‘James Bond XXL’ – plus ‘James Bond for wise guys’ as well as the very successful ‘007-XXS’ pocketbook series with 9 titles at present. How do you collect, bundle and process this immense knowledge over and over again?

Danny Morgenstern: ‘James Bond XXL’ is a lexicon, so no great writing performance, just really a lot of work. For over six years, I alphabetically sorted everything that had something to do with 007. Everything the novels provided me with, every detail that could be seen in the films and all the trappings. ‘James Bond for wise guys’ was completely different: My goal was to closely examine James Bond and, at the same time, show how much general knowledge can be found in the films and novels and what you only notice at second glance.

The ‘007-XXS’ series has become my hobby, and this year will see the release of volume 10 with ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’. Each book is dedicated to one of the films and examines the development from novel to script and finally to the big screen. Naturally, numerous pages are also dedicated to the film music and the people responsible for making the film.

“I always like to be inspired by the ideas of others when putting together an event and then weigh up whether it is feasible or financially viable.”

The Bond Bulletin: Your event series ‘Mission Bond’ is happening every year in Braunschweig, Germany, with great success. Everything began in 2012 with ’50 years of Dr. No’. Now, in the eighth year, ’50 years of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ will follow. How do you manage to over and over again offer the audience a spectacular event and how complex is it to put together?

Danny Morgenstern: I feel like it’s getting more and more complex every year and it’s complicated to get sponsors. All of this just works out with the support of friends, Bondfans and acquaintances. I always like to be inspired by the ideas of others when putting together an event and then weigh up whether it is feasible or financially viable. The guests know that a good show is put on for them and James Bond is always good entertainment. Meanwhile, the event series has become a sure-fire success. The planning for the upcoming ‘Mission Bond’ usually begins the day after the last event.

The Bond Bulletin: Have you ever turned someone into a Bondfan who was not a fan before?

Danny Morgenstern: I guess so. Many of my dance students saw their first Bond films through the events in Braunschweig.

Danny Morgenstern and German actor Götz Otto during the “50 years of Thunderball” event in 2015

The Bond Bulletin: Is there anything, in your opinion, that the last James Bond films lacked and, if so, what should the producers change in the future?

Danny Morgenstern: It would be presumptuous of me to exercise criticism with such a successful series as this. I like to forgive less successful movie moments, because extraordinarily well-executed scenes are always presented as a contrast.

The Bond Bulletin: As mentioned in the introduction, you are also a dance instructor. Should Bond dance again and if so, why would that be desirable?

Danny Morgenstern: Following Thunderball and Never Say Never Again, a dance scene would be nice if it fits into the story, but I doubt that Daniel Craig is very good at this kind of movement – he’d better fight.

The Bond Bulletin: Dancing can be romantic and erotic. Have you ever experienced or created situations in your private life or marriage where you acted like Bond would probably do or did in any of the films?

Danny Morgenstern: I don’t think so. My life is exciting and varied enough, so it is hardly necessary to assume another role.

The Bond Bulletin: Suppose you were allowed to play a Bond villain … what would your name be? Can you think of one?

Danny Morgenstern: The Bond villains in the films often have “evocative names” because Fleming has assigned them in the novels. “Morgenstern” sounds not bad at all – especially since it is also the German word for the spiked mace, a medieval weapon.

“Once you understand that a misstep will always have consequences, you refrain from it.”

The Bond Bulletin: James Bond was thrown out of the elite boarding school Eton at the tender age of 13 after he had seduced a maid. What was your nastiest misstep?

Danny Morgenstern: Once you understand that a misstep will always have consequences, you refrain from it. I do not want to make myself any better than I am, but I think I have no skeletons in my closet.

The Bond Bulletin: If you imagine Bond as a real person whom you had a business lunch with tomorrow, would you get along well or would you question his motives, lifestyle or character?

Danny Morgenstern: When it comes to the cinematic bond, I would really get along well with the 007 as Roger Moore embodied it. All in all, I would also agree with Bonds way of traveling, the sense of good food and the consumption of world-class wines.

The Bond Bulletin: The master question for someone who has probably garnered more knowledge about 007 than anyone else: Can you solve the mystery of why there is a young girl in the limo of Colonel Jacques Bouvar at the beginning of Thunderball ?

Danny Morgenstern: Strictly speaking, there are two other people in that car apart from the driver. I guess it’s probably the same person who already closed the door behind Tatjana Romanova when she went to see Rosa Klebb in From Russia With Love. The other person is definitely the man in Saida’s dressing room in The Man with the Golden Gun who is visible when the mirror moves during the fight scene (laughs).

With that delightful answer, which will surely prompt some to do a bit of the good old freeze framing, we’d like to thank Danny for his time in answering our questions and wish him a lot of continuing success with all his projects.

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