Document Type

Thesis

Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2019

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

History

Committee Chair

Dr. Stephen Moore

Second Committee Member

Dr. Daniel Herman

Third Committee Member

Dr. Chong Eun Ahn

Abstract

The topic of this thesis are spy films that were produced during the Cold War, with a specific focus on the James Bond films and their numerous imitators. The goal is to explore why these films were popular, particularly during the decade of the 1960s, and how these films and characters were used to address a number of anxieties that faced the United States in this period. The character of James Bond in these films established the dominance of a particular character type and provided a sense of wish fulfillment for a certain segment of the audience. His presence asserted that the fight of the Cold War and containment was in capable hands, and that those who fought it were having fun doing it. The Bond globetrotting superspy media figure was one that soon came to dominate the culture. Policymakers, politicians, and the CIA used the image of Bond to their benefit, as Bond’s popularity coincided with Kennedy and Johnson’s foreign policy strategy of flexible response, which favored elite strike forces rather than nuclear warfare as a way to address conflicts during the Cold War. Domestically, magazines from Life to Playboy, promoted the idea of the “Bond lifestyle,” and the perceived benefits that came from modeling one’s life after a superspy. The Bond media figure demonstrates that Cold War militarization took many forms and that characters from pop culture can have a significant impact on how people view themselves and the world around them.

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