Friday, October 5, 2012

50 years of Bond, James Bond.

From the moment Sean Connery first claimed the name, the world has been in love with the superspy from Great Britain. And now, in his 50th cinematic year, Bond is back in SKYFALL, the third outing for the surprisingly good Daniel Craig. In celebration of this, I think I will do a list similar to what I did for Star Trek a while back: My Bond Favorites

It should be noted that I consider the cinematic Bond separate from the literary character. I am almost ashamed to admit that I have never read any of the original Ian Fleming novels (something I hope to remedy someday), but I have read a number of the John Gardner ones, and even one of the Raymond Benson ones. However, my favorites below are restricted to the movies, which I have loved since I was a kid. When my friends and I would play pretend, they would all pick superheroes like Spiderman or Superman or the Hulk. I always chose to be James Bond.

Favorite Bond Movie
This is a really tough one. I like most of the Bond films, each to a greater or lesser extent. Part of me wants to stick with my long-running favorite, GOLDFINGER. But honestly, CASINO ROYALE probably tops it (the Daniel Craig one, not the David Niven parody). So, I am going to go with that. The opening action is amazing, the villain is suitably evil, and the whole plot is exotic without taking itself too seriously. But it’s really the subplots that make this movie so awesome. It’s an origin story of sorts, and so we get to see Bond as he develops into the cold and sophisticated agent we all know and love. The only downside to the movie is when they wreck the Aston Martin. I almost cry every time I watch that.

Favorite James Bond
Even though I love Daniel Craig, and I think each actor brought something unique to the role, I have say that I am still a Sean Connery fan. Craig runs a close second, but Sean is still the best, IMHO. He is the measuring stick to which all others are compared. He is the most masculine Bond, making him the archetypal character that every man wants to be, and every woman wants to be with. My 9-year old daughter, who is also a big Bond fan already, saw a picture of Sean as Bond, and even she remarked that he was quite handsome. Who can argue with that?

Favorite Bond Theme Song
There have been some hits and misses in theme songs. But, generally, most have been at least decent. My favorite, though, is almost a tie between “Goldeneye” by Tina Turner and “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell for Casino Royale. Tina’s voice is sultry, and the song is at once sexy and menacing. But Cornell’s intense mixture of metal and big band wins out as the one theme song that just screams Bond Film.

Favorite Supporting Character
Characters have come and gone in the Bond universe, and even though there are recurring characters in a lot of films, only a couple have been played by the same actor more than once, or even a couple of times. My favorite, by far, is Desmond Lewellyn’s Q. Like Connery, Desmond created a character that was the standard by which all future versions would be measured (of which there are only two to date, including the latest, introduced in the forthcoming SKYFALL). When I heard that he passed away in 1999, I shed tears. Because a part of the Bond legacy was lost forever.

Most Underrated Bond Movie
As I’ve said, I’ve liked most of the Bond films. But, I think the one film that deserves more praise than it gets is Timothy Dalton’s first outing, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS. This was a return to a more gritty Bond, and was a welcome change from the clownish Roger Moore days. Dalton’s Bond is often regarded as most closely resembling Fleming’s literary character, for his gritty and intense portrayal. The action is very well-done, the sets suitably exotic, the Bond Girl cute as a button, and it marked a return to Bond driving an Aston Martin, with a really cool, gadget-filled chase scene. I even like the theme song a lot, sung by A-Ha.

Best Bond Movie Quote
Bond movies have always been rife with quips and one-liners. But the one exchange that stands out as my favorite comes from GOLDFINGER:

James Bond: Do you expect me to talk?
Auric Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

So, who else has some Bond favorites they would like to share?


Keith said...

I agree that The Living Daylights is underrated. I also think Dalton was a great Bond. Roger Moore stayed too long in the role. I must admit to being a little hostile to Dalton at first. I was a big Remington Steel fan, and when Pierce Brosnan was picked to be Bond, I was thrilled. Then Remington Steel was picked up for another season, and Brosnan had to turn the role over to Dalton due to contractual obligations. Of course, the producers wrecked the last season of Remington Steel, or I would have had a different attitude. But Dalton did a good enough job to win me over, and Brosnan took over the role after him.

You're right, though, that Connery is still the best, with Craig a close second.

Tom Doolan said...

Ironically, Remington Steel was picked up again BECAUSE of the announcement of Brosnan being the next Bond. The same thing happened when word got out that Tom Selleck was originally cast as Indiana Jones. He had to back out because of Magnum PI.

For me, Brosnan and Dalton are tied for third, followed by Lazenby (really wish he would have done a couple more), and lastly Moore. I never liked Moore much.

Keith said...

I remember something about RS being renewed because of Brosnan landing the bond role. It's too bad they didn't do the series justice and wrap up the mysteries in Steel's past that drove so much of the show in an intelligent manner.

I didn't know that about Selleck being tapped to play Indy, though. Now that's a parallel universe I would love to visit.

Paul R. McNamee said...

As of now, my favorite movie is Thunderball and my favorite Bond is Daniel Craig.

(Casino Royale is a close, close second. I think Thunderball wins out for the sheer numer of really hot Bond girls in a single outing.)

Before that, I really liked Timothy Dalton, though both of his movies weren't completely up to par. (In hindsight, his hairline really could have used help in License to Kill, too)

Yeah, Roger Moore. That was the Bond era when I grew up, but looking back - and having read about half of Fleming's Bond books now - he is the weakest of the bunch. Some of his movies I just can't sit through anymore.

Minotaur said...

Boris Grishenko's line from Golden Eye leaps to mind.

"I am invincible!" Right as the plant blows :P Makes me giggle every time.