Thursday, October 04, 2012

50 years of 007: Bond on Bond 

“I don't believe in Bond as a hero. It's a load of nonsense. How can you be a spy when any bar you walk into, the bartender says, ‘Ah, Mr. Bond. Shaken, not stirred?’”
— Sir Roger Moore 

Ian Fleming's impression of James Bond.
Source: Daily Express
This morning Sergio Angelini, a discerning reviewer of books and films, reminded me that Friday, October 5, is the 50th anniversary of the James Bond films. In a well-written piece titled Fifty shades of James Bond, he tells us which 007 movies worked their magic the best. You can read his article over at his blog Tipping My Fedora.

Jeff Flugel at The Stalking Moon gives us two opposing views of Bond films in twin posts titled Bottom of the Barrel Bonds and 50 Years of 007: My Best Bonds.

If you want something official, then head over to 007, the official James Bond site, and look Inside the World of Bond.

If you’re looking for trivia, then you stay right here and check out what each of the six Bond actors have to say about the other, in order of their screen appearance—Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. Connery made a comeback twice: in Diamonds Are Forever in 1971 and the rather forgettable Never Say Never Again, a 1983 remake of his previous Bond flick Thunderball, 1965. 

Of all the actors who played 007, Roger Moore is by far the funniest, not least because he says, “I like Bond. But it's silly to take it seriously. It's just a great big comic strip.” I like his self-deprecating humour.

Connery on Craig, Brosnan and Dalton
Craig's a great choice, really interesting—different. He's a good actor. It's a completely new departure.

I thought Pierce Brosnan was a good choice. I liked GoldenEye.

Timothy Dalton never got a handle on the role. He took it seriously in the wrong way. The person who plays Bond has to be dangerous. If there isn't a sense of threat, you can't be cool.

Lazenby on Brosnan
If Pierce Brosnan walked into a room, I doubt anyone would look up. But this is the '90s and women want a different man, a man who shows his feminine side. Pierce definitely has that. 

Moore on Craig
People don't realise how physically demanding the role is. I'm still amazed how many people ask me to this day if I did my own stunts. I tell them if I did or Sean did or Pierce did then we would have been physically dead by the end of the first reel of every film! I have seen Daniel Craig in a number of films. He is a thundering good actor. The movie Casino Royale showed me that he is one hell of an athlete. 

Dalton on Moore and Craig
Roger Moore was brilliant but the movies had gone a long way from their roots; they had drifted in a way that was chalk and cheese to Sean. And I think Daniel Craig will work well. I think he's going to be terrific, he's got danger and vulnerability. 

Brosnan on Connery
Well, I was very aware of being within the confines of a very iconic character. I’d seen the men who’d gone before me, and I’d seen the careers that they had afterward and the lives that they had lived as actors. Now, Sean (Connery) was the man for me—he was the Bond of my generation and the only one that I wanted to try to emulate, but with the firm knowledge that I couldn't do what he did, that I’d have to do what I do. But within my time of service to her majesty in that role, I always knew I wanted to have a career thereafter. And so, since then, that’s what I've been busy with. A working actor, just chipping away, chipping away.

Craig on Connery
Sean Connery set and defined the character. He did something extraordinary with that role. He was bad, sexy, animalistic and stylish, and it is because of him I am here today. I wanted Sean Connery's approval and he sent me messages of support, which meant a lot to me.

Barry Nelson 
Spare a thought for the American actor who was the first to play James Bond in a 1954 adaptation of Ian Fleming's novel Casino Royale for a television episode called Climax! This was some eight years before Sean Connery's Dr. No, the first official 007 flick. Nelson apparently played James Bond as an American named Jimmy Bond. I don't know much about Nelson or his brief role as Bond, so readers are welcome to enlighten me.


  1. I need to read the rest of the Bond books. I've only read three but really enjoyed all of them. I have a few more around here.

    1. Charles, I don't think I've read more than a couple of Fleming's novels shadowed as they are by the overpowering influence of the Bond movies. I do come across an occasional Fleming paperback every now and then, and I'll probably buy a few.

  2. Thank you kindly for linking to my blog, Prashant! I enjoyed the many quotes in your article from Bond actors dishing on each other. The Lazenby quote is hilarious if unnecessarily cruel; the man still has an ego the size of a house, but he was a good Bond, and I think he does have a point about Brosnan.

    As for the Fleming novels, it took me years to appreciate them for how different they are from the more wild and colorful film series. They're actually pretty great reads. I took DR. NO with me on vacation once and it was a complete hoot. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is also very, very different from the movie version, quite atmospheric and full of interesting asides on Japanese culture.

    1. Jeff, you're most welcome. I enjoyed reading your posts on the James Bond movies. I do need to revisit some of the early Bond films that I saw a long time ago. Of all the 007 actors I found Roger Moore the most entertaining. He injected an element of humour in his role. To expand upon his above quote, Moore says, "What kind of serious spy is recognised everywhere he goes? It's outrageous. So you have to treat the humour outrageously as well. My personality is entirely different than previous Bonds. I'm not that cold-blooded killer type. Which is why I play it mostly for laughs."

      Here's another funny one: of his acting range, Moore quips, "Left eyebrow raised, right eyebrow raised." He's that in all his films, including JB.

      I haven't read too many Ian Fleming novels but I'm sure the movie versions are far more glamourised than the author might have intended. And I don't really know how many of the early Bond films are true to the novels. You've already cited one instance.

    2. Hi Prashant! I too enjoy the Moore films, they're very entertaining; however, as much as I like the man himself, I can't really take him too seriously as Bond compared to the likes of Connery.

      Speaking of the flms that hew more closely to the novels, ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE is a very faithful adaptation of the book. And as Fleming sort of wrote THUNDERBALL after the fact, it too jibes with the movie pretty faithfully.

    3. Jeff, I don't think Moore took himself seriously as James Bond either. I remember, though, a lot of filmgoers in India, especially women, took a fancy to him in the 1980s; which wasn't suprising as there was really no one between Connery and him, leaving aside Lazenby, and then Prince Charles came along on an official state visit and for a while it was "Oh Charles!" instead of "Oh James!"

      Of all Roger Moore's 007 films, I remember OCTOPUSSY the most, partly because it starred Kabir Bedi, a prominent actor in Bollywood, and because sections of the film were shot in the famous Lake Palace Hotel at Udaipur in the desert state of Rajasthan, northwestern India.

      And then Moore starred in the action film SEA WOLVES that was partly shot in my backyard (literally behind my house) in Panjim, the capital of the tourism state of Goa. I was there for fourteen years before migrating back to Bombay (Mumbai) where I was born and where I live now.

      Thanks for the further insight into Fleming's novels and their film adaptations. I'm going to be looking out for some of his paperbacks.

  3. Hi Prashant - thanks very much for the nod in my direction, very kind (as always). With regards to the Fleming novels, I think CASINO and LIVE & LET DIE are the best of the early ones, with FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and GOLDFINGER probably the best overall. After that the books get increasingly gimmicky (Bond gets married, Bond gets brainwashed, Bond as seen by a subsidiary character etc etc)

    1. Sergio, you're welcome, indeed! I'm not all that familiar with Fleming's novels having read not more than two or three a long time ago. His yellowed paperbacks are still available in used bookstores and I intend to pick up a few one of these days. I'll try and start with the titles you mentioned.

  4. Great post, Prashant. It is so interesting to read what each Bond thought of the others. That is some swipe Lazenby took at Pierce Brosnan. Ha!

    My favorite is CASINO ROYAL with Daniel Craig.

    Of the old days, I like GOLDFINGER best.

    1. Thank you, Yvette. I like trivia related to books and films, especially with wit and humour in it. You know, Brosnan was only 16 when Lazenby became Bond in ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. Lazenby was only 30 when he got into 007's shoes while Brosnan's turn came when he was 42 and was certainly more successful, and profitable, of the two. I liked GOLDFINGER too. Auric Goldfinger reminds me of an overgrown, obnoxious kid chomping on a burger.

  5. Did you know that the actor David Niven played Bond in a spoof version called Casino Royale

    1. Parrish Lantern, I certainly didn't know David Niven played Bond in a spoof. One can picture him in one, though. Thanks for bringing it to my notice. I'll check out the link.