Bond, James Bond! Those are the immortal words heard in over 20 movies with the suave super spy James Bond who has shown up on movie screens since “Dr. No” with everyone from Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore to Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig in “Quantum of Solace.” It’s one of the longest movie franchises in history with a guy who has the best gadgets, the most beautiful women (good or bad), and the biggest array of bad guys to fight. Bond has done it all and has no signs of stopping any time soon! I thought it would be fun to get my network of operatives together and go over our favorite actors who have played Bond and left their mark on Agent 007 forever ...
“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” 1969
Oh, George Lazenby, we hardly knew ye. The only actor to don the tuxedo once, Lazenby lives in infamy as a one-shot James Bond. Though pale in comparison to Sean Connery, Lazenby actually makes a decent 007 – and more importantly, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is one of the best films of the series. And its most tragic (until “Quantum of Solace,” maybe), but we’ll get to that later.
We meet Lazenby-as-Bond in a traditional action-packed pre-credits sequence, in which the spy rescues beautiful damsel in distress Contessa Teresa “Tracy” diVicenzo (Diana Rigg). Pausing to pick up the shoes she lost during the melee, Bond breaks the fourth wall and mugs for the camera, “This never happened to the other guy” – the first of a few such tongue-in-cheek references to the Bonds Before.
Tracy is a formidable match for Mr. Bond, a far cry from the helpless dames who’ve fancied him in the past. Perhaps that’s because Tracy is in reality the daughter of Draco, the head of a European spy syndicate. Bond pursues Draco because of his connection to archenemy Blofeld (he of “You Only Live Twice” and “Diamonds Are Forever”), here played by Kojak himself, Telly Savalas. I’d get more detailed about the plot, but it’s a James Bond film – and I only have one page in the newspaper to spare.
By the end, Lazenby’s Bond does something he’s never done before – truly falling in love with Tracy. And even more monumental, he marries her – making “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” unique in that regard as well. Of course, we can’t have our favorite License to Kill tied down with a wife and kids, so just as soon as James and Tracy marry, she’s cut down by a spray of bullets courtesy of Blofeld. It’s a rare, tragic and compelling ending for a Bond movie.
Lazenby may have only been Bond once, but he made a great first impression. Throw in Emma Peel herself (well, Diana Rigg, anyway) as a worthy love interest, and you’ve got one unforgettable 007 flick.
Even though it was filmed well before my time, the Guy Hamilton-directed, James Bond classic “Goldfinger” remains my favorite of all the legendary 007 flicks. There are several factors for this, namely the fact that Sean Connery has always been my favorite Bond actor and the entire movie is filled with memorable dialogue. My favorite?
“Do you expect me to talk?”
“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”
Released in 1964, the film finds Connery, as British M16 agent James Bond, reprising the role for a third time and features all of those things which, combined, produce a Bond classic. The women, the cars (an Aston Martin DB5 no less), some memorable villains and more than its fair share of action and humor (not to mention the assortment of gadgets typical to the Bond franchise). In fact, “Goldfinger” is considered by many to be the first of the Bond movies to feature gadgets, now a staple in each and every Bond flick that has followed.
Connery is exceptional as always as the “shaken, not stirred,” Martini-loving Bond and Gert Fröbe (Goldfinger), Harold Sakata (Oddjob) and Honor Blackman all put in great performances.
I’ll admit I have yet to see the latest three or four Bond movies, primarily due to the fact that they just don’t have the same feel to me as the older material. I suppose, to me at least, that it’s a classic case of “they don’t make them like they used to.”
This is a true Bond classic and one to be enjoyed.
“Live and Let Die” 1973
Growing up, I spent a lot of time watching James Bond movies with my Dad. Sean Connery was his, and therefore my, favorite Bond. Roger Moore always seemed to pale in comparison, and I could never comprehend the decision to make the switch. It wasn’t until much later - when I had the chance to see two television shows Moore starred in prior to his 007 days. After seeing episodes of “The Saint” (the series which propelled Moore to international stardom in the 60’s) and “The Persuaders” (in which he starred opposite Tony Curtis), though, I got it.
Moore’s first appearance was in the 10th James Bond film, 1973’s “Live and Let Die.” Once I could more fully appreciate the 45-year old Moore in the starring role, it became one of my favorite films in the franchise.
Sent to New York to investigate the death of a few fellow British intelligence agents, Bond finds himself pitted against Dr. Kananga, a.k.a. Mister Big. The villainous drug lord, played by Yaphet Kotto, is keen on flooding the market with heroin grown in the Caribbean island nation where he is also dictator. Kananga’s secret weapon is Solitaire, a virginal clairvoyant with the gift of reading tarot cards, portrayed by an impossibly young Jane Seymour.
Like so many Bond girls before her, the nubile young woman succumbs to the British agent’s charms, and loses both her virginity and the gifts which made her so valuable to Kananga. This particular affront leads to her being offered as a sacrifice in voodoo ritual led by Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder), whose deep, menacing laugh still haunts a few of my nightmares.
Bond, of course, saves the day and rescues the recently deflowered maiden, but only after engineering his own harrowing escape from an alligator infested lake the bayous of Louisiana and battling a metal-clawed henchman.
In short, it’s classic 007 Roger Moore-style, with a bit of voodoo magic thrown in. Definitely worth watching during the next James Bond marathon, which is without a doubt, coming soon to a cable channel near you.
“Golden Eye” 1995
The first James Bond movie that ever really captured my imagination was “Golden Eye.” Maybe I was just at the right age when it hit the theaters, but I had never paid much notice to the older films apart from a few iconic clips here and there. Today I’ve peeled through nearly every single Bond film – some painful, some spectacular. But it all started with Pierce Brosnan as Bond, James Bond.
But this wasn’t a solo accomplishment by Brosnan; the movie had great characters that were well cast. One reason I enjoyed the film so much may have something to due with the fact that I fell in love with actress, Izabella Scorupco, also known as Bond girl, Natalya. A lone scientist of a destroyed Russian weapons center, her soft accent, red hair and vulnerable demeanor make her the better of the distressed Bond heroines.
Another huge plus for the movie was the excellent villain, 006, Alec Trevelyan, played by Sean Bean. I’ve always liked him as an actor, but even more when I saw him play the bad guy.
The storyline is fairly typical: Nuclear space weaponry is poised to destroy all the electronic inventions of England and the West, causing a world wide financial melt down. While Alec plans this attack from his secret jungle compound, Bond and Natalya break in to save the day.
The film’s action doesn’t disappoint, like the tank chase scene in a busy European street. The movie also contain a level of real tension I think a lot of the newest flicks have lost. All around maybe not the best Bond movie ever made, but probably the better of my generation.
“Casino Royale” 2005
In the past 10 years or so, Hollywood has been on the “reboot” kick with some of the biggest franchises including “Nightmare on Elm Street,” “Friday the 13th,” and even “Batman.” Sometimes if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Once in a while, a good idea comes along to do such a thing. “Casino Royale” was just the right one to do it. As everyone knows, Bond came from a famous book series by author Ian Fleming. What better way to reinvigorate the franchise than with the story of how James Bond got his start?
As we open up, Bond (Daniel Craig) is getting his “OO” status given to him and sets his eye on taking down a terrorist. After a lengthy chase, he corners him in an embassy and blows it up. “M” (Judi Dench) starts having second thoughts about his promotion. A lot of people think he’s just the type who likes to shoot first and ask questions later, but he knows what he’s doing. The terrorist he was chasing, it turns out, was being hired to blow up an airline in Miami and he worked for a money man named Lachiffe (Mads Michaelson) who is using money given to him to make a killing (no pun intended) in the stock market.
Bond is able to stop the saboteur hired to take down the airline. Now Lachiffe has to find another way to get his money back and he has to do it playing in a high stakes poker game at the “Casino Royale.” “M” sends Bond in with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) to win the game and find out who Lachiffe is working for. Will Bond be able to stop him?
I really loved this one. Showing how Bond was started in a modern setting makes it interesting. Even though every Bond movie has really had the gadget theme played up, this time around the gadgets are given a modern real world feel to them. This makes it possible for Bond to do it himself and I enjoyed that approach. He still has a thing for the ladies and he really fell in love with Vesper. This really gives you an idea of why Bond doesn’t have a lasting relationship. The story continued on into “Quantum of Solace” and the first time a Bond movie has had any kind of continuation. Craig is under contract to do two more Bond movies and we’ll have to see where it goes.
I really enjoy the team ups with the crew and we’ll have another one for the end of the year as well as our top five that starts the new year off. There are still more DVDs coming before we wrap up 2010 to go into Year 6. Join us next time, Patrollers!