Friday, October 5, 2012

50 Years of Bond-age

Today has been designated Global James Bond Day to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the first Bond film, Dr. No. To commemorate this I’ve assembled a best and worst list.  These are purely the personal opinions of a huge fan of the series and not based on any poll or scientific research.

Best film:  From Russia, with Love.  This is a solid action thriller, faithfully based on one of Ian Fleming’s best novels. It also introduced the arsenal of gee-whiz gadgets that have been a part of every 007 film since.

Worst:  The Man with the Golden Gun.  Poorly acted with lame action sequences and the original book wasn’t all that great, either.

Best song from a Bond film:  Nobody Does it Better from The Spy Who Loved Me. Runner-up would be We Have All the Time in the World, beautifully sung by Louis Armstrong in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Worst:  The title track from Man with the Golden Gun.  Inane lyrics warbled by 60’s holdover Lulu. “He has a powerful weapon, he charges a million a shot”?  Give me a break!

Best Bond girl:  Ursula Andress in Dr. No.  Has anyone ever worn a bikini better?

Worst:  Tanya Roberts in A View to a Kill.  A painful example of chewing the scenery while screaming “Help me, James!”

Best villain:  A toss-up between Oddjob in Goldfinger, and Robert Shaw in From Russia, with Love.  Both put poor Sean Connery through two of the most brutal fight scenes ever filmed.

Worst:  Christopher Walken in A View to a Kill.  Can anyone watch this travesty and not think Walken was on medication during filming?  Maybe he actually read the script.

Best line:  In Goldfinger, when Bond is strapped to a table about to be cut in half by a laser beam, he says “Do you expect me to talk?”  Goldfinger replies “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

Best plot not based on one of Fleming’s novels:  License to Kill, a timely and exciting story about drug smuggling and revenge.

Worst:  Moonraker, which sent Bond into outer space to battle the bad guys.  Paging Luke Skywalker!

Trivia Question:  Who was Ian Fleming’s original choice to play Bond in Dr. No instead of Sean Connery?

Answer:  Although many actors were offered the part but turned it down (including David Niven, James Mason, Cary Grant and Patrick McGoohan), Fleming wanted American actor James Stewart to play his British secret agent. I can hear it now:  “Uh – B-Bond.  Uh – J-James –uh-Bond.”

Tim Smith is an award-winning, bestselling author whose books range from romantic thrillers to contemporary erotic romance. His website is www.timsmithauthor.com.


Tina Donahue said...

I loved Sean Connery in the Bond films. IMO, he was and always will be the best Bond. Will never forget in Goldfinger when he happened upon the young woman who was helping Goldfinger cheat at cards. The theme song's playing (very sexy) in the background, Connery comes into the room like a stalking panther, the girl gasps, "Who are you?" and he says "Bond, James Bond." GOD - it was great.

Read the books. Liked them too.

Adele Dubois said...

My favorite 007 is Pierce Brosnan. He is, and will always be, the perfect James Bond. When Daniel Craig took over the role, I was pleasantly surprised at how terrific he was. The best Bond film of all time has to be 'Casino Royale'. The first 15 minutes of the film are especially amazing! And Daniel Craig's bright blue eyes... :gulp:


jean hart stewart said...

Great to read such an unusually and interesting column. Pierce was good, but Sean was the best.

Fiona McGier said...

I'm going to play devil's advocate.

Disclaimer: I've never read any of the books, but my husband and sons make me see all of the movies.

First of all, I hate the James Bond personna as played by all of them except Pierce Brosnan. He actually projected humanity and feelings into his Bond. The rest of them made me feel like they were the typical alpha-holes that as a woman you learn to recognize and run away very quickly from! Considering his women are as easily replaced and forgotten as his underwear, and many get killed right after he "has his way with them", running away is always the best choice!

I can really identify (NOT!)with piteously squealing, "Help me James! Oh, help poor, little, helpless me whose only function in life is to fill a teeny bikini with bits only YOU get to enjoy, since I'll be dead right afterwards! I have no substance or purpose in life other than eye-candy!" And he might respond with a slight tensing of a cheek muscle. Bond has the emotional range of a chunk of cement.

This is male-fantasy stuff...the kind guys think about while one hand is busy. The action scenes are great, the story's sometimes okay.

As for Daniel Craig? Meh. he looks like his nose has been broken in one-too many bar fights.

Fiona McGier said...

I almost forgot...the only female I've ever liked to identify with in a Bond flick was Grace Jones. When she shoved him onto the pillow she told him, "I get to be on top!" or something like that. Now that's a woman after my own heart!

Tim Smith said...

Thanks for the responses.

Fiona, your rant is why I specifically did NOT include a "Best Bond actor" category. If you read carefully you may have noticed that I also made no references to Bonds sexist qualities, which I admit do exist. They're in the original books, too. Yes, the films are geared toward action junkies, but so was "Rambo" and "The Terminator."

This was supposed to be a fun post, folks - lighten up!

Smith. Tim Smith.

Fiona McGier said...

For the record, I've never seen a chick flick--I'm an action movie junkie, though I avoid things specifically war-driven, like Rambo. I loved the Terminator and almost everything else with Ah-nold in it, despite his sexist qualities. At least his movie characters are often bumbling and funny. And the female characters are usually tough-as-nails, not just decorations, so there's someone I can identify with.

I'm the only one who needs to lighten up, I guess, since I'm the only one who was negative. I must be getting too caught up in the political fever of the times, since I'm registering new voters everyday until Tuesday. I've been discussing with young people why they need to vote...why their voices count and they should use them. And how to remain silent about something you feel deeply about is akin to condoning it.

I'm sorry. I'll be quiet now, and you can resume your regular programming.

Lisabet Sarai said...

Hi, Tim!

Great post! I just got back from my trip and had a chance to check it out.

I definitely agree with many of your evaluations - especially "Nobody Does It Better". Talk about a sexy song!

James Bond books definitely fueled my erotic fantasies when I was in junior high. There was not explicit sex, but when Fleming wrote about Bond's hand straying across the girl's stomach... well, it was enough to give poor adolescent me goose bumps!

And I have to say, Sean Connery remains my favorite Bond. Daniel Craig, especially, leaves me cold.