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You Know Their Name

The Other Fellow

by Daniel Baldwin

In 1953, while writing Casino Royale, Ian Fleming decided to name his hero after an ornithologist who had written a book on Caribbean birds that he enjoyed. That name was Bond. James Bond. You know his name and you know his number, but what about all of the other folks out there who share the same name?

Our names are a part of our identity. Some of us like our names; others don’t. So too it goes for the other souls around the globe who are named James Bond. Matthew Bauer’s documentary The Other Fellow is their story. From an annoyed lawyer to a self-made raconteur to someone fleeing a real-life villain to another accused of murder, these people carry both the pleasure and the pain of being compared to the world’s most famous spy every time they introduce themselves.

Much like the Bond films, this documentary is a globe-trotting affair filled with beauty, grief, suspense, and yes, even product placement. In most hands, this could have been a cheap piece of cinematic fluff meant to grift some money off of Bond fans, but the filmmakers have managed to craft something far more meaningful here. Whether or not you sympathize with the varying trials and tribulations of its different subjects, The Other Fellow is a compelling and human look into identity – be it chosen or not – and how it affects a person as they go through life.

Why would someone intentionally change their name to James Bond? Well, as it turns out, there can be some very good reasons for that. Similarly, there are scenarios in which carrying that name could ruin your entire life because of the baggage it carries. Being Bond comes with a cost, be it a grand one or just the occasional annoying one in the form of bad jokes from strangers. For better or worse, such is the way of things when one shares a name with a celebrity (be they real or fictional), which is something yours truly knows a tiny bit about.

The Other Fellow is an intriguing and insightful look at how our names can shape our personality, our growth, our day-to-day lives, and ultimately our future. It’s an 80-minute dive into identity that, much like its subjects, just happens to evoke a certain 00 agent. It might not leave you shaken and stirred, but it’s worth a look.