Monday, December 22, 2014

50 Years of James Bond

50 Years of James Bond

What do you think?
Who is your favorite James Bond?
Daniel Craig
Pierce Brosnan
Roger Moore
George Lazenby
Timothy Dalton
Sean Connery
Who is your favorite James Bond villain?
Le Chiffre - Casino Royale
Mr. Big - Live and Let Die
Jaws - The Spy who Loved Me
Red Grant - From Russia with Love
Oddjob - Goldfinger
Auric Goldfinger - Goldfinger
Who is your favorite James Bond girl?
Honey Ryder - Dr. No
Pussy Galore - Goldfinger
May Day - View to a Kill
Kissy Suzuki - You Only Live Twice
Xenia Onatopp - Goldeneye
Valenka - Casino Royale
Gary Thompson on the first 23 Bond films (click title for each movie's opening credits)

An obscure actor named Sean Connery, former body builder and soccer player, gets the lead in the first film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s spy novel series, made for less than $1 million. It grossed the then-considerable sum of $60 million and launched a franchise. It featured the famous gun-barrel opening shot, the twangy signature guitar riff, and Ursula Andress in a teeny weeny bikini. 

Soviets try to kill Bond — sending a super-agent played by Robert Shaw. His fight with Connery on the train is the best of the Bond series. The first Bond movie to feature the action vignette before an elaborate opening credit sequence, which is now the formula.

Purists believe it to be the best. Because it is. Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) wants to turn Ft. Knox radioactive. Oddjob is the franchise’s best henchman, Honor Blackman has the quintessential bond babe name (“Pussy Galore”), Shirley Bassey sings the best Bond theme song. Frobe and Connery have the best Bond movie exchange. “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” 

Bond in the Bahamas, where SPECTRE is ransoming some stolen warheads. The price? $100 million, prompting the Dr. Evil joke decades later. Adjusted for inflation, this is the most profitable Bond movie ever. That’s Tom Jones singing the title tune.

Bond in Japan, where SPECTRE is building a missile inside a fake volcano. Plot has Connery in Asian make-up, which still looks goofy 35 years later. (We’re looking at you, “Cloud Atlas.”)  Screenplay by Roald Dahl, whose first draft had Bond battling a giant peach. 

Connery takes a break, replaced by Aussie George Lazenby. Alternate title: “You’re Only Bond Once.” This time, Bond gets married, to Diana Rigg. 

Connery returns, hits Vegas, finally defeats SPECTRE and hooks up with Jill  St. John. The movie’s noted for its bad reviews and hint of homophobia in the persons of two gay hitmen.  Connery swore he’d never do another. 

Live and Let Die (1973)

Roger Moore takes over as franchise ditches Cold War spy plots for a more contemporary theme — 007 is investigating heroin traffickers in Harlem and New Orleans with the help of first black Bond girl, Gloria Hendry. Fans voted Paul McCartney’s theme song the best ever. They’re wrong. 

Christopher Lee appears as one of the series’ better villains, a hitman/businessman who wants a piece of Bond. His henchman Nick Nack is played by Herve Villechaize.

Bond chases down more stolen nukes. Curt Jurgens is the villain, with an assist from Richard Kiel, making his first appearance as the steel-toothed Jaws. Carly Simon sings “Nobody Does It Better.” 

Sci-fi angle (stolen space shuttle) is seen as an attempt to exploit the “Star Wars” craze. Lois Chiles playes Bond girl Holly Goodhead. In inflation-adjusted dollars, one of the most expensive in the series.

Bond tries to retrieve sunken launch codes for British nuclear submarines (always with the nukes), assisted by Carole Bouquet. Some action at an Olympic training facility with a skater named Bibi Dahl. Bond beats up biathlete and hockey player assassins. Title song by Sheena Easton was written by “Rocky” composer Bill Conti.

 

Yes, children, before there was Octomom, there was Octopussy. One of the most ridiculous in the series — Louis Jourdan is the bad guy. And his evil scheme isn’t armament, it’s  DISarmament. Maud Adams is the Bond girl in the title role. 

 

Connery returns to this franchise asterisk — made outside the traditional producing cabal, enabled because of a legal battle stemming from credits for “Thunderball.” It could only be made as a remake of sorts. Connery’s last spin. 

 

Moore era comes to merciful end. Christopher Walken plays megalomaniac trying to obliterate Silicon Valley. Tanya Roberts is the girl, Grace Jones makes an appearance, Duran Duran does lame theme song. 

 

 

Timothy Dalton takes over for pushing-60 Moore, tries to recapture the spirit of the original Ian Fleming novels. If you remember Maryam d’Abo as the Bond girl, you need another hobby. 

 

A rare “R”-rated Bond, with Bond (Dalton in his last appearance) going after Robert Davi in the poorest-performing Bond outing at the box office. Carey Lowell and Teresa Soto are the eye candy, and Benicio Del Toro has a small role. 

 

After its longest on-screen vacation, six years, Bond returns with Pierce Brosnan, again looking for stolen weapons. Judi Dench makes her first appearance as M. Audiences liked it — one of the better performing Bond movies. With Sean Bean, Famke Janssen. 

 

Bond tries to stop Rubert-Murdoch-ish media mogul (Jonathan Pryce) from  starting war between U.S. and China. Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher.

 

Robert Carlyle uses nuke threat to pump up oil prices. Last movie to feature Desmond Llewelyn as gadget guy Q. Fans regard Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) as perhaps worst Bond babe, though Sophie Marceau turns up as well. 

Get another Bond. Diminishing returns catch up with Brosnan, and the series gives itself over to outlandish product placement. Brosnan gives up the ghost, and it’s a good move for him. He’s become a much more interesting actor since leaving the series. Halle Berry in an orange bikini is a highlight.

 

Reboot brings in Daniel Craig, returns Bond to his original tough guy roots. Smashing financial success. 

 

Despite off-putting title and nonsensical plot about the Bolivian water supply, the most expensive Bond to date showed the franchise to be as strong as ever.