BOND. JAMES BOND. – Rich Paschall

A few years ago I set out to watch all of the “official” James Bond movies in order, the EON Productions films, that is.  I saw the other 3 as well. As I finished the films of each actor, I wrote down my thoughts on the movies.  This took place over a couple of years, as procrastination left a time lag between actors.  In some cases, I was also chasing down the DVDs.

There will be a lot of talk about Bond 25 for the next year as it will soon go into production and will be released in the fall of 2019. 

First, let’s go back to the start.

The Sean Connery Years, Rich Paschall

If you remember the very beginnings of the James Bond movies, then you have to admit this: When you hear that often used introduction, you immediately hear in your head the iconic music which has been a staple of so many Bond movies.  James Bond, Sean Connery and that music are forever intertwined.

James Bond was created by writer Ian Fleming in 1953 in the novel, Casino Royale.  He wrote a dozen novels and two short story collections.  The character was adapted for television, movies, comic strips and video games.  Connery set the bar high as the first James Bond in the films.

Since the first novel, Casino Royale, had been sold for a television production, and later a spoof starring David Niven (1967), the first movie had to start elsewhere.  Interestingly, it is the 6th novel, Dr. No, that is the basis for the first James Bond feature film (1962).

Bond, James Bond

The film shows us a suave and debonair James Bond, although Fleming had not initially seen Bond as that type of character.  He envisioned his hero as a dull sort of guy to which things happened.  As the movies have shown, Bond stood up to whatever challenge he faced. He was not dull.

Dr. No not only introduces us to Bond, but it also introduces an organization, SPECTRE, that will be the evil nemesis in many of the Bond films. In the story, a British agent is killed in Jamaica and Bond is sent there to investigate the circumstance.  It leads him on to an island where Dr. No is planning an evil plot to destroy a USA Mercury space launch.  Yes, it is the early 1960s so this all makes sense somehow.

Connery gives a commanding performance as the British Naval Commander and “00” secret agent with a “License to Kill.”  It may be fair to say that without this strong start, the movie series may never have become what it is today.  Some of the sexist lines and double entendres featured in the early films, would never make it to the screen today, however.  The charm and wit of the central character have remained a feature throughout, even if some of the clever quips have been abandoned.  Dr. No gets high marks for adventure and intrigue, especially for the cold war era in which it was made.

Nothing highlighted the Cold War spy era like From Russia With Love (1963).  The second Bond film was based on the 5th Fleming novel.  The plot to steal a cryptographic device may seem terribly amusing now, but was high drama then.  Bond is sent off to another exotic locale, this time Istanbul, to take the “Lektor” device and avoid capture.  Again SPECTRE is the enemy, a beautiful girl is caught up in the intrigue, and chase scenes and suspense are en vogue.  This is a worthy second entry to the film series. The first two films were directed by Terrence Young.

Most critics will agree that the third Bond film, based on the seventh Fleming novel, is among the best of the Bond features.  This time Guy Hamilton is brought in to direct as Bond is off to investigate the activities of Auric Goldfinger, a gold smuggler and suspected financier of terror.  Goldfinger (1964) contains a rather fantastic plot involving the robbery of Fort Knox.  The double meaning dialog is on full display as Bond (Sean Connery) tries to seduce Goldfinger’s personal pilot, Pussy Galore, in order to defeat the evil plan.  The villain’s henchman, Oddjob, becomes a film classic for his derby hat with the rim of steel blade.

Terrence Young is back to direct the 4th Bond film and Sean Connery is back again as the hero of Thunderball (1965).  They are given a budget more than double Goldfinger and you would think this would bring great benefit to the production.  Sadly, it does not.

Based on the ninth Fleming novel, the atomic age thriller finds Bond in search of two stolen atomic bombs taken by SPECTRE. They are to be ransomed back to the Western World or the countries will pay the ultimate price of having the bombs hit strategic targets.  It is a race against the clock which includes exotic locales and another gorgeous “Bond girl.”   Every film features a beautiful woman who just happens to get caught up in the intrigue.

The film spends too much time on chase scenes.  While the back drop of the Bahamas may have seemed to liven up the chase, the mere length and pacing of these sequences points out the need to find a film editor.  The climactic battle in the water may have worked had it not been excessively long.  When you wonder if the darn thing will ever end, you know some of this mess should have been left on the cutting room floor.  The Bond mission is successful, he ends up with the girl, and the movie finally ends after 130 minutes.

The story itself was under legal battles shortly after the publication of the 1961 novel of Thunderball.  Fleming was taken to court over ownership of the story.  Two others had co-authored a script for the story years earlier with Fleming. It did not sell and Fleming used it as the basis of his novel.  An out of court settlement was reached that led to plans of a rival Bond production years later and more court battles.  Could another studio actually take a Bond story and produce a one time rival Bond film?  They did it using the same story.  How could they possibly make such a thing successful?

More on the Connery years Tuesday, and the making of a second Thunderball.

Categories: film, Movies, Rich Paschall

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

22 replies

  1. Reblogged this on Serendipity Seeking Intelligent Life on Earth and commented:

    Still relevant and thus reblogged.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on rjptalk and commented:

    With the passing of the first James Bond, we thought it was a good time to look back at the Sean Connery years. His success made all the other Bonds possible. Be sure to click on “view original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of my review.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The Connery movies had an EDGE to them. This Edge was not restored until Craig came in.
    Much of what in between was pretty bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dalton definitely had an edge to him. He did not give us the same type character as the previous 3.


    • Connery was the gold standard — in EVERYTHING he did. Marilyn and I frequently watch “The Wind and the Lion” for Connery, Candice Bergen and Brian Keith. Old fashion entertainment at its crackerjack best with Connery dominating every scene – even when he’s not in it. Brian Keith’s TR admiration of Connery’s character is exhibit A of Sir Sean’s personality heft.
      Connery even gave credence to mediocre films like “Shalako” – an ill conceived western with an international cast.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. My objection has always been that the books were short, not overly complicated, and were good, tight stories. If they had used ONE of them, it would have been a better movie with a better script.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks Rich, that’s a little bit of history I wasn’t familiar with.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. a great survey – looking forward to the rest

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. More Tuesday and Moore Friday!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love James Bond, and although my husband is driven crazy by the constant re-runs we watch mostly Sean Connery, my favorites are Thunderball and Dr. No. I am addicted, and this article is right up my alley…tell me more. Yes, I tried to watch them in order as well. His friend Felix L. is always someone different, same name though, and they don’t really flow from one to another, confusing to me. I love the times, 60’s and 70’s, the dress/styles of women. True, regarding his treatment of women, and remarks, but I think a modern version today, to be realistic, would have to express much more foul language, and more sexual encounters, and violence/blood with abandon, than those older films do.
        Thank you for some clarity in the plots. I love all of the Bond men, but Sean Connery did set the bar high, there has not been any that top him yet, although I do think Pierce B. is # 2. He is sexy and has attitude, able to make action scenes more realistic, and the love scenes with him are more sensual, much better than the newest 007, Daniel Craig, he has a great build but not the sex appeal of Sean or Pierce, even George L. had a great deal of charisma, it would have been nice to see him remain, too bad. I can’t wait to read more.
        Who have they chosen for the next James Bond, do we know? I heard a few names, Henry Cavill (Superman) would be awesome, and Jason Stratham, I don’t know if names are correct, but OMG, could you imagine Jason S. as 007? he would rock, and he is a sexy man! Henry C. was great in Man from UNCLE, he was sexy, charming and a real ladies man, would be a great replacement 007 I think. I can’t wait, keep me posted, tell me more.

        Liked by 1 person

        • While they tried to maintain some continuity of the regulars, Felix kept changing. We’ll see where they go with the next story.
          Henry Cavill wants the job of 007 and Stratham’s name has been mentioned as well as a few others. None of this speculation actually comes from EON. They will not have to make a decision until 2020 at the earliest. A lot can change by then.

          Liked by 1 person


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