As a true fan of Bond, I could not let the opportunity pass to post about the latest trend – Bond, James Bond. This is the first installment in a series of posts about Bond – yes this Bond Girl has a lot to say on the subject… WARNING POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT.
October 5th 1962 was a stellar day in history. The Beatles released their first single “Love Me Do” and a handsome, English agent made his premiere on the big screen in the movie Dr. No.
This year we celebrate 50 years of Bond… 50 years of a great adventures, gadgets, fantasy and cinematography (let’s not forget the eye candy or should I say spy candy) that have been the foundation of this great movie franchise. The enduring hero, James Bond, was conceived in the imagination of British author, Ian Flemming. Between 1953 and 1964, Flemming wrote 12 novels and 2 short stories collections featuring this iconic fictional character.
Flemming’s Bond was tall and dark, an upper class Englishman who went to Eton. Yet, he was also a man with weaknesses and vulnerability, but that Bond was not always who we got in the movies. Over the past 50 years and thru 24 movies, we have seen many Bonds:
Sean Connery – 7 movies
George Lazenby – 1 movie
Roger Moore – 7 movies
Timothy Dalton – 2 movies
Pierce Brosnan – 4 movies
Daniel Craig – 3 movies…so far
The first actor to portray Bond was not the first choice for the role. The first choice was Cary Grant who was rejected due to his refusal to sign for more than one film. Rex Harrison, David Niven, and James Mason were also considered for the part. In the end it was Scottish actor and former body builder, Sean Connery, who landed the role and went on to be what many people consider to be the definitive Bond. Connery hails from the working class and had spent time in the Royal Navy. With a bit of polish he made the perfect 007 even though he was not an Eton lad and seemed far removed from Flemming’s Bond.
Other oo7s came and went – some more debonair than others, but each one bringing their own style to the character and making him relatable for the period in which the movies were released.
I have to admit that for me, Sean Connery was THE Bond…yes I said ‘was’… I liked the others, but I found Connery’s Bond to be a bit more accessible and likeable than the others. I liked his style and the grit he brought to some of the earlier movies – a grit that many say was not seen after From Russia With Love until 2006 with Casino Royale … enter Daniel Craig.
When Craig was cast many were against it. I myself had my doubts. How could they cast a short, blonde guy as Bond? Not to mention that he was not classically handsome like the past Bonds. Craig has more rugged good looks. Whether it is just a sign of the times in which we live, where many are body fascists, or that Craig felt it was important to look like he was actually able to complete the physical feats his character must endure, this 21st century Bond is also the buffest we have ever seen. Who can forget the scene where Craig wades out of the ocean in his blue swim suit? I’m sure that scene went a long way to winning many 007 fans over to Craig’s portrayal…picturing it now…………. but I digress…This Bond, Craig’s Bond, was so far removed from Connery – the one I had favoured above all others.
Oddly enough, despite his appearance, this short, rugged, sexy, blonde Bond has more in common with Flemming’s Bond. He is accessible and has a vulnerability that we see in the written 007 tales. Craig’s Bond, not unlike Connery’s Bond, is a working class type in a tux. This is not, however, where the comparison ends between the Connery and Craig movies.
Many feel that Craig brought back a grit and realism to the franchise – something that had not been seen since Connery’s early movies. In many ways I feel that Craig’s movies, in particular this latest release Skyfall, pays homage to the old Bond – Connery’s era. In Connery’s third movie, Goldfinger, we are introduced to the ultimate Bond car – the Aston Martin DB5. The car was featured in many movies but in later years had been replaced by other vehicles – BMWs and newer Aston Martins. In Skyfall, however, the movie theatre crowd cheers as Craig opens the storage unit to reveal our old friend the DB-5.
It’s back to basics in this film. Even Daniel Craig suits are designed along the same simple classic lines of the Saville Row suits designed for Connery in the 60’s. In Skyfall, the only gadget Q gives our hero is a radio device for tracking…surprisingly similar to the device given to Bond in Goldfinger as Connery is set out to defend Fort Knox. Another similarity between the two movies Goldfinger and Skyfall is the office occupied by M. At the end of Skyfall it is hard to miss that the ‘new digs’ for M are actually strikingly similar, if not the same, to the old office seen in many films including Goldfinger. Even the shaving is old school. When we were introduced to Bond we see Connery shaving with a Gilette Slim Safety Razor as many men did in those days. In later films, Roger Moore’s Bond is seen shaving with shaving cream or gel and cartridge razors. Thru the years Bond has moved along with the times, but true to form I don’t believe we ever see him shave with an electric shaver. Again Craig’s character pays homage to the past by showing loyalty to the bager and blade as he shaves. The safety razor might be gone, but he uses a straight blade instead – still definitely old school!
With all the similarities between the once believed definitive, Connery era Bond and this new modern Bond is it any surprise that many have fallen for Daniel Craig’s character and the resent movie offerings to the Bond franchise? I myself must admit that I am a convert. I feel that Craig’s Bond with his depth and vulnerability, showing the hardship of dealing with aging and the lifestyle of an agent, is so appealing. Let’s face it, like all bonds he was given license to kill …and seduce… but it seems as though with the last three movies Craig was given something the other Bond’s weren’t – The license to act.
In my opinion Craig is now the Bond to beat – or rather watch. The approach taken with Skyfall is a brilliant one, paying homage to the past, digging deeper into Bond’s persona and paving the way for the future for an undying iconic hero. The pendulum has swung from charming rogue who gets away with murder, to disco bond, to gentleman Bond and back again to Craig’s bond – roguish, rough and tumble with more depth. I look forward to next installment in the Craig Bond collection. Let’s pray we don’t have to wait 4 years for it. In the meantime I will sit back and watch Skyfall again with a keen eye watching for glimpses of the past, but looking to the future.
Coming up next week – Some fun with Bond Trivia..
Post and Photos by Lyndsay Jenkinson