Today the world is celebrating the super suave British spy who needs only one introduction: Bond…James Bond. Yes, it’s Global James Bond Day which marks the 50th anniversary of Dr. No, the very first 007 film, and is also the much-hyped lead up to the release of the newest Bond flick Skyfall on November 9th. As part of this worldwide Bond-a-palooza, the Museum of Modern Art in New York City is rolling out 50 Years of James Bond, a month-long retrospective of all 22 Bond films donated to the museum by Bond producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. (Yes, Bond fans, all 22 films!) We caught up with Anne Morra, the film curator who organized the retrospective, to get her take on the iconic franchise and the actors who have suited up to play her Majesty’s most famous secret servant.
How has the character of James Bond changed since his debut in ‘Dr. No’ in 1962?
Great question. Each Bond actor has put his stamp on the secret agent, but at all times, Bond is devoted and loyal to Her Majesty, takes his assignments seriously, loves freely and gets the bad guy. It seems that the scenery around James Bond morphs and evolves, but his character remains pretty true to the way Ian Fleming created him.
Every Bond fan has a favorite actor who played him. Can you tell us how each 007 approached the role?
Sean Connery’s Bond was ever suave, a bit chilly even with the ladies but completely irresistible at the same time. Connery seemed born to wear a bespoke tuxedo! No one delivers the iconic “Bond. . .James Bond” line like Connery. It must have been a difficult moment for the other five actors to say it for the first time.
I like George Lazenby’s portrayal of Bond. He makes fun of the “other guy” and does so with a wink. Lazenby was pretty much selected to be a replacement Bond for his brawny good looks and not his acting. He was a model and had little or no acting experience. Other than the ruffled tuxedo shirts he was saddled with, Lazenby is not a disaster.
Roger Moore had the suave secret agent thing going on from his days on TV in The Saint. He was a more verbal Bond; in that he did a lot more talking than Connery and what he did say was often ironic.
I believe Timothy Dalton was brought in to be a Bond that could deal with the large, action, adventure movies that flooded the cinemas in the late 1980’s like Lethal Weapon and Die Hard. Dalton was young and fit enough to do the stunts and also keep the suave factor going in the franchise.
Pierce Brosnan was sort of like Roger Moore in that he had a popular TV career, but he always struck me as wanting to break out of the Bond mold that came before him, but for whatever the reasons, he couldn’t.
Daniel Craig is a great choice for the modern Bond. Craig is a terrific actor and his portrayal of Bond is so much closer to Connery and it seems they share an interpretation of Bond from Fleming’s texts. Bond is much broodier and moody and I think you see that with Craig’s portrayal.
50 years later, why do fans still love James Bond?
Bond films continue to captive the audience 50 years later because Bond is a character who is always on the side of right, he doesn’t shy away from a fight, he always gets the girl and drives a snazzy car. He is heroic, albeit flawed, and an object of desire. The Bond legacy goes way beyond film history; he is a pop culture icon that transcends language, politics and geography. Just the simple logo of 007 with the Walther PPK gun that was designed by Joe Caroff is iconic. Everyone knows that symbol and what it stands for.