Can you name a famous spy? James Bond, perhaps? Little did Ian Fleming know when he created James Bond, 007, the culture and phenomenon that would be created along him. It’s a truly remarkable from his first scenes in Casino Royale, James Bond will take a leap into the movies and will last over three decades and continue his legacy into the future, strong as ever before.
After the release of the first movie Bond fans started emerging from all over the world. Each movie thereafter would only create more and more fans desperately wanting to see the next installment of 007. It was here the Bond culture began.
For over three decades Bond fans have been going to the cinemas to see their favorite spy save the world. Children play with toys based on vehicles or gadgets in the movies. Children and grown men act and pretend to be James Bond, saying behind those dark sunglasses looking into the shiny mirror, “The name’s Bond….. James Bond”.
Yet, why do people do this – pretend to be James Bond? Why does James Bond appeal to us? And do these people really know who James Bond is – the history behind him?
To answer these questions, lets first look at James Bond, and the history of the Bond movies.
James Bond’s literary father, Ian Lancaster Fleming was born in London on May 28, 1908. As young man, Fleming tried journalism as a career and achieved fame with his coverage of a spy trial in Russia during the 1930’s. He later moved away from journalism and into a career in banking only to become bored and to rejoin the newspaper as a journalist. Fleming was sent to Russia to cover news for The Times, but in actual fact was working undercover as a spy for the British government.
With the start of World War II, Fleming joined the British naval intelligence, excelled and gained a position of commander. As the war prolonged he continued to excel in his work and later headed a secret commando squadron which performed numerous high profile missions which he had developed. Towards the end of the war, Fleming visited Jamaica only to fall in love with the island. It was here, where Fleming after the war, would settle down with his newly brought gold plated typewriter in 1953, and write his first novel, Casino Royale in which James Bond entered the world.
Within the pages of Casino Royale, James Bond appears for the first time as a sophisticated and sensitive man and he has great anxieties for being a killer. His darker side beomes clear throughout the book as being “emotionally cold and distant to the opposite sex and his views on women are strong and chauvinistic”. Casino Royale also shows the violent and most ruthless side James Bond. These characteristics however were not seen in the movies.
Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli along with Harry Saltzman purchased the screen rights to produce the 007 movies. Broccoli then created Eon Productions and secured a deal with Arthur Krim, president of United Artists for one million dollars to produce the first in a series of 007 movies. From this Broccoli creates a legend and will continue to work on all of the James Bond movies until his death in 1996.
The first James Bond movie, “Dr. No”, was released on October 5, 1962 in the UK (May 8, 1963 in the US) and starred Sean Connery as James Bond. Connery continued to be make another four movies of James Bond: “From Russia with Love” (1963 UK, 1964 US), “Goldfinger” (1964 UK & US), “Thunderball” (1965 UK & US), and “You Only Live Twice” (1967 UK & US).
The first two Bond movies, “Dr. No” and “From Russia with Love” showed the more realistic James Bond by placing him in realistic situations. Goldfinger was the turning point to the James Bond movies as it was the first time when James Bond saw more emphasize on gadgets and weapons. Humor was also added to the script and the real-life spy stories were removed from the movie. Unfortunately, Ian Fleming passed away only a month premature to the Goldfinger release date and never saw the new portrayal of James Bond.
Over the years, James Bond has changed faces as new actors replace the previous ones. Each time a face changed, the portrayal of Bond changed as each actor brought difference characteristics to Bond. The first face change 007 saw was in 1969 in the movie, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and was played by an Australian model, George Lazenby. Lazenby who had no previous acting experience impressed the producers in a screen test and won the role of Bond. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” screenwriter Richard Maibaum downplayed the use of gadgets and stuck more closely to the original novel written by Ian Fleming. This allowed Lazenby to develop Bonds character on screen and allows further character building for future Bond movies to come. Broccoli offered Lazenby another role within the next Bond movie but was turned down. The first time actor felt the Bond scene “was all too intense”. Without a James Bond, and movie waiting for production, the producers set out looking for another James Bond.
Broccoli and Saltzman wanted Sean Connery to play James Bond again and with the rejection from Lazenby offered Connery a chance to play Bond. Connery had had a series of movie flops of non-James Bond movies and needed money to fund The Scottish International EducationalTrust. Therefore Sean Connery came back to the sets for the seventh installment of 007. Connery received a record salary of $1,250,000 in addiction to a portion of profits from the movie. He gave the entire amount to the Educational Trust. “Diamonds are Forever” (1971 UK & US) saw more humor than the previous movies and once again sending the Bond movies away from theoriginal characterwritten by Fleming, and this will continue for over a decade.
Sean left the sets of 007 for the second time and yet again, a new Bond had to be found. The producers knew they were not going to choose an unknown actor, like they had previously done with Lazenby, so it came down to two men: Roger Moore, and Timothy Dalton.Ultimately Roger Moore was chosen to play Bond for the next seven movies: “Live andLet Die” (1973 UK & US), “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974 UK & US), “The Sky Who Loved Me” (1977 UK & US), “Moonraker” (1979 UK & US), “For Your Eyes Only” (1981 US & UK), “Octopussy” (1983 UK & US), and “A View to a Kill” ( 1985 UK & US).
During the years of Roger Moore the screenwriters moved so much away from the sophisticated, ruthless James Bond, and turned him more into a comedian. Bond was placed in ridiculous settings which often didn’t make sense and story lines were weak. Moonraker fit both of these, where James Bond actually becomes an astronaut and completes his mission in space with plenty of one line standup comedy jokes. With high criticisms that James Bond has gone too far from the 007 formula, Broccoli set out to make For Your Eyes Only, a more realistic movie. Bond goes back to battling the enemy with his wits and rather by the use of the gadgets.
Bond’s next movie, “Octopussy” is considered one of the best Roger Moorefilms due to the great screenplay and the exotic characters played withinthe movie. Here again, Bond is using his wit to save the world and keeps all the silly humor at a low. Moore made one more movie, “A View to a Kill”, which was a mistake as this truly brought down his career as Bond. Badscreenplay and ridiculous villains turned this into an awful James Bond movie.
A search for the fourth James Bond was undergo shortly after Moore’s last disappointment. There were many candidates for the job, but it seemedalmost certain Pierce Brosnan was going to take the role as he had experienceof playing a detective in the TV series Remington Steele. Unfortunately,NBC brought the show back to life and Brosnan had no choice due to his contractbut to cancel on Broccoli and go back to the series. Therefore the nextcandidate, Timothy Dalton, took the place of 007 in Bond’s 15th installment.
Dalton was a serious actor and Broccoli knew he would shift the Bondmovies from the genre of comedy back to the “genre of serious thrillers” .Dalton read Fleming’s novels before entering the production sets whichgave him the ability to give 007 his dangerous edge back. On screen,Dalton plays Bond to his original intent by Fleming; sophisticated, dangerous,and ruthless.
This shift of genres was long overdue and the serious 007 was back! Dalton was able to make two Bond movies: “The Living Daylights” (1987 UK & US), and “Licence to Kill” (1989 UK & US). “Licence to Kill” is considered by some, one of the greatest Bond movies ever made, and others believe “it simply wasn’t ‘Bondian'”. Dalton plays 007 in the most ruthlessand violent ever seen on screen. Bond is revengeful, merciless, and of course, fearless – what every Bond should be. Dalton plays Bond’s charactertrue to that of Fleming’s James Bond. What makes “Licence to Kill” even more true to reality, is the villain Bond is chasing. He is not a “power-crazed megalomaniac” as in most Bond movies, but simply a very powerful drug barren, who ultimately has brutally murdered two of Bond’s closest friends. As usual Bond outwits the drug barren with minimal use of gadgets supplied by Q (Q stands for “Quartermaster”, a technology/gadget advisor), who has a more leading role within this particular movie, and avenges his friends.
The Bond movies were back with their great screenplays, decent use of gadgetsand the realistic spy scenarios. However it was another six years untilthe next Bond movie was released. Unfortunately Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)and United Artists were undergoing huge structural problems and a lawsuitwith Sony Pictures also stopped production of 007.
The lawsuit was filed by MGM to stop Sony Pictures from producing a JamesBond movie. Sony Pictures said McClory, a collaborator to Thunderball,had rights to James Bond and had brought those rights for $2 million andtherefore could make their own Bond Movie. This lawsuit was fought in the courtsfor years with ultimately MGM winning the case.
By this time, Dalton’s contract was over and he had gone to work on other movies. This is a shame to the Bond industry as Dalton had played Bond so perfectly. Nevertheless, the producers were out looking for the next, and fifth James Bond. A familiar name was mentioned to Broccoli, and after some negations, Pierce Brosnon was chosen to play Bond.
Brosnon who had originally been picked for “The Living Daylights” was now able and wanted to be the James Bond. Therefore he only took $1.2 million for the role whereas, other contenders for the role, such as Mel Gibson, were offered $15 million. Ultimately this gave more money to put intothe actual production of the movie. Brosnon had a passion for Bond for a few reasons: His first wife, the late Cassandra Harris, was a Bond girl inthe movie “For Your Eyes Only” and secondly, when Brosnon was young he lived in Ireland with his family and grew up without television and movies.When his family moved to London when he was 10 years old, he saw his first ever movie, Sean Connery’s, Goldfinger. With his first introduction tothe big screen being a James Bond movie, Brosnon felt it was apart of him to actually be Bond himself.
Brosnon the current James Bond, started his 007 career in 1995 with Goldeneye. Originally he was thought to be ” a mistake–Brosnan’s star has set. And I question whether there’s much life left in Bond after the Cold War”, an opinion from a Box office analyst. However, Brosnon proves him wrong. Bond is played so elegantly by Brosnon that Bond has all the action, seriousness and relative ruthlessness, but still manages to carry the charm and sophistication and, can also beautifully pull off the comical one-liners without soundingfoolish.
The hit Goldeneye saw many changes to the Bond presence. The times hadchanged: the cold war was now over; no longer could overly sexy womenbe part of the main glamour – feminists would attack; and Bond had to be politically correct. Another significant change was MI6’s ‘M’, now played by Dame Judy Dench. It was a shock and many Bond fans thought, How could Bond take orders from a women? But clearly and perfectly scripted lines, M putsBond in his place by calling him “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur – a relic of the Cold War”. Brosnon saw his fair share of gadgets but were not too overplayed.
Bond returned with the 18th installment in “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997 UK & US), which started production even before Goldeneye was released. Unfortunately “Tomorrow Never Dies” saw a change in production crew. Albert “Cubby” Broccoli left the production of James Bond when he sadly passed away in 1996 from ill-health. This Bond movie was the first movie Broccoli was not apart of, however the movie had a dedication to him in the credits.
Brosnon continues to bring out character with his excellent portrayal of Bond, in his latest movie, “The World is Not Enough”. Again the Bond wit, charm, sophistication and ruthlessness brings out the best of Bond. Brosnon is truly one of the greatest Bond actors.
The 20th installment, “Die Another Day” was released and was definitelyan interesting movie. It started off well with an excellent opening anda surprising twist when Bond is actually caught and tortured. This gaveanother side of the spy story of entails when you are caught andshowed that James Bond is like any other spy and might not make it outof every mission.
Of course that realism changed when Q delivers Bond an invisible Aston Martin. The movie then just started to lose grip with reality. Bond is still a cold, collected spy but the realism within the movie disappeared and was topped off when Bond uses the ejector seat to flip the car from its roof and onto its wheels.
The other major change within “Die Another Day” was Halle Berry as Bond’s ally. For the first time Bond’s ally was another hollywood star as compared to the normal not-so-famous actress and this took away from Bond’s main presence within the movie. With the addition of computer animated stunts, unrealistic situations and loaded with famous hollywood stars the 20th installment of Bond brought it closer to the typical mainstream Hollywood movie.
The appeal for us to be like James Bond is clearly seen when people, including myself, will stand in front of the mirrorand say, “Bond… James Bond”. The reason Bond appeals to us, is because of his character, his life style and possessions that go along with him. He is a fantasy character many women want, so obviously us guys want to be.
Charm, elegance and sophistication are the traits that both men and women want. The men want the traits and the women want the man with the traits. They want to be charmed and knocked off their feet. They also want to be placed in some romantic danger that will get their heart beating. Bond can be seen doing this in many movies including “Goldeneye” when he is racing down the cliffs in Europe while racing Xenia Onatopp. The scene ends with some romance with his passenger, from rush to romance in seconds.
There is a traveling appeal also with Bond as he seems to rarely stay in the same location for long. He is constantly on the go traveling from one end of the planet to another. Many of the locations he travels to are some of the most exotic in the world. Bond will always end up on some romantic sunny beach on some nearly deserted island. Everyone dreams to be in such locations and only Bond can travel to them all.
The James Bond series has been continuing now for over 40 years. For decades people have grown up watching Bond and can still continue to watch it. People who saw Bond in the theaters as kids can now take their own kids to go watch these movies. It’s apart of them and people can continue together to share the moments of James Bond. People around us grew up with Bond and want to be apart and live in the fantasy world of James Bond.
Having an adrenaline rush or being action junkie is part of being a human. Some of us are daring enough to go out and do things whereas others just fantasize about doing it. Bond is that fantasy to many of us. No matter what, Bond will go jump out of a window in a tall building, he will dive off a mountain after a plane, he will bungee jump down a Russian dam, or he’ll drive around at high speed in anything that moves! We want to do that, but often times we just can’t. He is our dream character.
The rest of Bond’s appeal comes from his job of being a spy for the British government. We’ve been brought up with action hero’s and media has shown we have to fight to get what we want. Who else would you want to be other than James Bond so that we can fight and save the world. The action Bond faces is intense as he always lands in fights where he is completely outnumbered yet using his wit and power is able to overcome them generally come out of the mission.
Killing the enemy or getting out of sticky situations is a job for Q with his mastermind of gadgets. Practically every man wants Bond’s toys; from the rope releasing wristwatch to the Parker Pen – a class 4 grenade, from BMW 740 with missile launchers and re-inflatable tires to stealthy speed boats armed with torpedoes and navigation systems to the invisible Aston Martin. And of course, so much more! Its geek heaven for those who love these small gadgets. Bond uses these gadgets and sophisticated vehicles to escape or capture the villains, and always with style.
However, don’t forget the famous James Bond girls. Nearly every man wants to be surrounded by James Bond girls as they are beautiful, gorgeous and sexy. Its a dream come true to be with these beautiful women and lucky James Bond gets at least two in each movie.
Looking at the movie side of the appeal for Bond the producers generally know what’s needed. When you go to see a Bond movie, you expect to see spectacular stunts throughout the movie along with the James Bond wit. The stunts have been excellent and in the past few recent movies were very realistic and not computer animated. With each Bond movie in production, the stunt team know and work vigorously to come up with something new and shocking. That said, the latest movie has had some changes where things were not exactly realistic and there were some lame computer animated effects. But hopefully that will change in the next movie.
The character of James Bond was created during the 1950’s after World War II by Ian Fleming, who himself had once been a spy for the British government. Fleming never envisioned the creation of James Bond would start such a cultural following that will last for decades, and maybe even centuries. As the movies brought Bond to life, many actors portrayed him in variety of ways some for the good, and others for the worse. Bond’s character changed from being a serious to a humorous spy, and then back to the seriousness and ruthlessness that was once envisioned by Fleming. Overall with the latest Bond movies, Bond is back and serving the Bond audience with 007’s charm, wit and spectacular stunts.
Nearly every man wants to be James Bond so that they can fight against the evil villain and use the unique gadgets designed by Q, then save the world, and on top of that get the girl or two. The basic plot line for each Bond movie will basically remain the same but will continue to produce huge blockbuster hits!
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