James Bond through the ages

21:16, Nov 15 2012
Bond through the ages
The first on-screen Bond was actually American Barry Nelson, playing Jimmy Bond in a TV episode of the show Climax!, but the first Bond of the famous film series was the Scottish Sean Connery. Between 1962 and 1967 he starred in Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, and You Only Live Twice, then returned for Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 following George Lazenby's departure.
Bond through the ages
George Lazenby starred in only one Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969. He announced his departure from the series prior to its release.
Bond through the ages
Roger Moore starred in seven Bond films between 1973 and 1985 - Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and A View to a Kill. The longest serving Bond actor, he is remembered for the humour he brought to the role.
Bond through the ages
Timothy Dalton starred in only two Bond films, 1987's The Living Daylights and 1989's License to Kill.
Bond through the ages
Irishman Pierce Brosnan was next in line, playing Bond between 1995 and 2002 in GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day.
Bond through the ages
Daniel Craig, the current Bond, is contracted on for two more films after the three he has starred in, 2006's Casino Royale, 2008's Quantum of Solace, and the soon to be released Skyfall.

The 007 movie franchise has turned 50 with the release of Skyfall, one of the best in the series that's already breaking box-office records overseas.

The previous 22 Bond films have grossed around US$5 billion, a sum even Ernst Stavro Blofeld wouldn't dismiss.

Daniel Craig, in his third outing, is as craggy as ever but he's also more three-dimensional, thanks to a Scottish-orphan backstory and a Freudian flourish involving Judi Dench's matriarchal M.

Sean Connery, for me and just everybody else, remains the best of the babe-magnet Bonds. He had style to burn. The only time Craig dresses up is when he has to infiltrate bad-boy billionaire soirees. (There's a lot of Bourne in this Bond).

Connery liked to swank it up because his James had a snobby sense of entitlement and he knew how good he looked in a tux.

Beginning in 1962 with Dr. No followed by From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice and Thunderball - before he got a bit long in the tooth - Connery had just the right curdling cruel mix of suavity and menace. Bond, he never let us forget, is licensed to kill.

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Connery grew in stature as an actor outside of the series but he was never so brazenly priapic as he is in these films. Who else, grappling with crime-ring queen Pussy Galore in "Goldfinger" could deliver a line like "You're a woman of many parts, Pussy" with a (sort of) straight face?

Still, the series was never dependent on Connery for its success. After Connery and before Craig, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, and Pierce Brosnan all had a go at it. The formula, always loopier than the Ian Fleming novels, has continually adjusted to the zeitgeist.

The early Cold War-era Connery films were top heavy with stateless master-race crazies seeking world domination. The "Star Wars" era resulted in the unfortunate "Moonraker," with its zero-gravity laser battles barely mussing Moore's cast- iron coif.

Nothing mussed Moore really, which is why he was the most freeze-dried of the Bonds - a debonair hologram. Even Brosnan, also afflicted with blow-dry suavity, had his ornery side. Moore became fully human only in The Spy Who Loved Me, when Jaws's chompers were bearing down on the aghast Bond's jugular.

In the eighties, with the advent of the violent Stallone- Schwarzenegger pulpathons, movies like For Your Eyes Only and License to Kill, the latter starring the moody, Hamlet-esque Dalton, emphasized ground-level crunch-and-thud theatrics.

In Skyfall, Bond, who doesn't seem to be especially computer literate, faces off against cyberwarriors. But throughout the series, no matter who his adversaries are - blatant or shadowy, high-tech or lowdown - Bond generally dispatches them the old-fashioned way: one on one.

He's battled baddies with cast-iron pecs and poison-tipped shoes (Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya, respectively, in From Russia With Love). He's fended off stainless steel incisors (Richard Kiel's Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker) and steel-rimmed bowler hats (Harold Sakata's Oddjob in Goldfinger). Mads Mikkelsen in Casino Royale literally cried tears of blood.

He's tooled around in autogyros, space-station shuttles, Aston Martins, Lotuses, even invisible cars.

The Bond series also has the distinction of being a pioneer in the dubious realm of product placement. Not for nothing was "Die Another Day" dubbed "Buy Another Day."

Throughout it all Bond remains the avatar of For King and Country sangfroid. He leapt to freedom in The Spy Who Loved Me in a Union Jack parachute. To kick off the London Olympics, Craig's Bond escorted the Queen herself from Buckingham Palace. It was a Rule Britannia joke the whole world was in on.

The Bond franchise has more global reach than the old empire ever did.

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