Bond-ing with the Family

from Wikimedia Commons

Welcome back to Deep-Fried FridaySeveral months ago, my teen and tween boys asked if they could watch Goldeneye, the James Bond movie of the same name as a Wii video game they wanted. Since I grew up in a family of Bond fans, I simply wasn’t going to grab a 1995 Bond film and have my boys whet their appetite on that. No, no, that wouldn’t do! 

So these two young men were relegated to dealing with a Bond-fan mother who has also been accused of being a little anal-retentive (said charges are thoroughly denied–I’m a lot anal-retentive). We were going to watch James Bond from the beginning and in order.

That’s 22 films with the British agent known as 007. I have watched hours and hours of James wooing women, dodging bullets, and quipping double-entrendres that made me hope–often against hope–that my kids didn’t know what he meant. Here are some general takeaways about the series of James Bond films–those things the movie makers would have us believe:

Bad guys have poor aim; good guys land the first shot. James Bond has been shot at approximately 2,381 times. They all missed. You must not only suspend belief, but ship it to the far regions of the universe, to believe that 007 can outrun bullets over and over and that no sniper has managed to fatally wound him. But going in, we swallow whole the notion that bad guys miss, Bond doesn’t.

A few of the “Bond girls”

All women secretly desire a cad. Cad’s not a word we use often, but it is a man “who behaves in a dishonorable or irresponsible way toward women” (Dictionary.com). The message throughout the films is that Bond is irresistible to women–despite the fact that he  is clearly a playboy with little interest in a monogamous or continuing relationship (excepting Tracy and Vesper, who both come to a bad end). In Quantum of Solace, the “Bond girl” says after making love with James, “Do you know how angry I am at myself?”–showing us that even though she had every intention of not sleeping with the rascal, every girl is  inexplicably drawn to the charms of this cad.

Desmond Llewelyn as Q

Spies have super-cool gadgets. One of my favorite supporting characters is Q. I have been disappointed by his absence in the Daniel Craig movies (but I can discuss that later). Actor Desmond Llewellyn played Q through five different actors for Bond, and John Cleese took over in two movies with Brosnan in the lead role. Q’s role is to unveil what new gadgets the British MI16 has developed and to demonstrate their uses to the cavalier Bond. Of course, each gadget turns out to be exactly what Bond needs to complete his mission, even to the point of having an invisible car in Die Another Day. To which, most of us say, “puh-lease.” I can go for a skeleton key hidden in a wristwatch or a bullet-proof car with shooters in the front, but sometimes I had to tuck my eyeballs back into their sockets when the perfect and impossible gadget appeared and my eyes rolled back too far.

Chases are 40% of a spy’s job. I’ve seen James Bond in chases that involved cars, trucks, tanks, motorcycles, boats, skis, planes, helicopters, and more. If it moves, Bond apparently knows how to operate it–no manual or instruction needed. Destruction to streets, buildings, and nearby onlookers is irrelevant because all is okay if (1) James Bond gets away; and/or (2) James Bond nabs his target.

A well-made tux is easy to find. Has anyone ever seen Bond walk into a hotel with a suit bag? And yet, he always has a tuxedo at the ready for whatever posh event he must attend.

The world would end, if not for Bond. Remember all of that trepidation over the Mayan Apocalypse prediction for December 2012? Perhaps you didn’t know, but the end of the world really was eminent; yet, the destructive plot was discovered by MI16 and averted by the brilliant and athletic feats of secret agent James Bond. The battle was not covered by the news channels because it occurred on an unknown island where the evil mastermind had been building billion-dollar accommodations, researching and developing global weaponry, and housing scantily-clad women without anyone’s knowledge–that is, anyone except Bond.

I suppose I enjoy the Bond series for the same reasons I mock it: It is a rollicking ride steeped in fantasy and swagger. Action heroes do all of these things, but somehow Bond does it better. (Wasn’t there a song about that? “Nobody Does It Better”?)

And now, there’s the all-important question of Who is the best Bond? I will rank my preference:

  1. Sean Connery
  2. Pierce Brosnan
  3. Roger Moore
  4. George Lazenby
  5. Daniel Craig
  6. Timothy Dalton

If you wonder why Daniel Craig is so low on my list, I’ll give my take on his Bond movies. Craig is an excellent actor, but I am not convinced that Craig is Bond. He lacks the look, the attitude, and the line delivery. I understand that some of this is the choice of the film makers to reboot the series with Casino Royale so that it follows Ian Fleming’s character more closely. To me, however, that makes the last two movies I’ve seen with Craig great action films, but not the Bond I’ve come to know and love. I have yet to see Skyfall, but it is coming up as our last Bond-ing with the family activity.

Now in case you haven’t seen the whole series, here’s a list of what my family watched over the course of months as our schedule and Netflix rentals allowed:

When I asked Piper Bayard what my boys would think of Ursula Andress, she suggested, “Look at that big hunting knife.” Ah, sarcasm, Piper.

Sean Connery as Bond
Dr. No (1962)
From Russia With Love (1963)
Goldfinger (1964)
Thunderball (1965)
You Only Live Twice (1967)
Diamonds Are Forever (1971-Sean Connery)

George Lazenby as Bond
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

Roger Moore as Bond
Live and Let Die (1973)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Moonraker (1979)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Octopussy (1983)
A View to a Kill (1985)

Timothy Dalton as Bond
The Living Daylights (1987)
Licence to Kill (1989)

Pierce Brosnan as Bond
GoldenEye (1995)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
The World is Not Enough (1999)
Die Another Day (2002)

Daniel Craig as Bond
Casino Royale (2006)
Quantum of Solace (2008)

What do you think of the James Bond series? Who is your favorite Bond actor? Or who is your favorite Bond girl? What elements do you find appealing and which ones are unbelievable?

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32 thoughts on “Bond-ing with the Family

  1. LOL. Love this post!

    I think Holmes would say something more along the lines of, “Bad guys sometimes have good aim. That’s why good guys have kevlar.” I think he would also say that real spy work is often boring as hell, watching for days, weeks, or months from third world hell holes that even New York City project rats wouldn’t be caught dead in for that one glimpse of the bad guy that brings him down. They cut that part out in Bond. We cut it out in our novels, too. And that invisible car? Yep. It’s real.

    I like the Daniel Craig Bond best because he is most real as a person. At least from my perspective. Holmes assures me there are many personality types in his world, not just his. But personality-wise, the Craig Bond reminds me most of Holmes. He is deeply emotional and genuinely patriotic and decent to the core. And he’s not a ho.

    And of course you watch them in order from the beginning. 🙂

    1. I can’t believe I didn’t respond to this already. I meant to!

      I actually told our sons that I thought most spies were more like the city-based contacts that Bond always has–the guys who watch, make connections, gather intelligence, etc. I hope that Holmes at least has an Astin-Martin. That guy should drive something cool.

  2. I never could get in to JB, because they are just too far-fetched to be set in the “real” world. If a story requires that much suspension of disbelief, give me full-on sci-fi or fantasy! Or Austin Powers. 😀

  3. My favorite Bond was Pierce Brosnan. I have watched most of the Bond series, though I confess I haven’t seen Daniel Craig’s yet. I love them for the same reasons you mentioned. They’re unbelievably outrageous but I love the way they pull it off.

  4. The reason Bond is a cad is because that is how he appeared in the books. At least on screen you can use attractive actors to make it a bit believable. In the books, it was like,

    JB: “Hey baby.”
    Woman: “Oh I love you. Please sleep with me.”

    Leaving me going, what?!

    I liked Casino Royale, but hated Quantum. Even though I love action movies, I found the whole movie confusing and hazy. For the whole movie, I was sitting in the theater thinking “Who the hell is chasing who and who’s the bad guy?” That’s why I didn’t bother seeing Skyfall.

    I don’t know, but I preferred the old over the top James Bond.

    1. I can believe what you say. I read the book CASINO ROYALE and was surprised how icky Bond was to me. He seemed to have zero respect for women. At least, that’s how I took it…you know, being a woman and all.

      I think all of those action movies are getting confusing with numerous chases, explosions, camera angles, etc. I could barely follow the Bourne movies either. I wanted to yell, “Slow down! Who’s who?”

  5. I think you missed one-what about Connery in Never Say Never Again? Back to Q’s drawing board for you! I think Daniel Craig is a believably brutal Bond, closer to the feel of Fleming, but I love Connery too. 7 days of Bond always came on when I was studying for finals in college, and I remember it fondly as background noise.

    1. I didn’t include that Connery one on purpose because it was an official Bond movie from the franchise. We might still see it sometime, but it didn’t make the original list. Wasn’t it a remake of Thunderball or something?

      And I would to be at Q’s drawing board, Kathryn! 🙂

  6. My husband is a bigger Bond fan than me, and I think we might disagree over who made the best Bond. I think it was definitely Sean Connery (but I’m a Sean Connery fan overall so perhaps that colors my perception) 🙂 When it comes to unbelievability or what bothers me most, it’s definitely his cad ways.

    1. One of my best friends from college is a Bond naysayer. She doesn’t get the whole phenomenon at all. But she likes Sean Connery too. He made some other great movies! Marnie, The Untouchables, Highlander, etc.

  7. I love that you and your family watched them all in order! What a great idea. I don’t know who my favorite past Bond is. It’s so hard to choose! I like Sean, Roger, and Pierce for different reasons. I do love Daniel as the current one. 🙂 I love a few of the theme songs, too: Live and Let Die, For Your Eyes Only, and A View to a Kill are my favorites.

  8. I’ve read all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books, but I wasn’t really a fan of the movies until Daniel Craig started playing Bond. To me, he was the Bond of the books. Connery was probably closer in age to Bond when he started in the role and looks remarkably similar to Fleming’s concept of him (Wikipedia has the picture Fleming drew of him), but he seemed older, maybe because he was my parents’ age (and your parents always seem ancient when you’re young). Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan were still “The Saint” and “Remington Steele” in my mind, and I never saw Timothy Dalton’s or George Lazenby’s Bond.

    And for my money, the “James Bond Theme,” with the surf guitar, can’t be beat.

    1. That’s interesting about Craig being more like the Bond in the books. That seems to be the approach the film makers took. I thought that Hogey Carmichael was also an inspiration for how Bond was supposed to look.

      Cool info. Thanks!

  9. Not a Bond fan, but I adore Pierce Brosnan. Ever see his movie The Thomas Crowne Affair. I’d like to write a story like that someday. And he’s so easy on the eyes. 🙂

  10. I grew up with Roger, but clearly remember hoping Pierce would get his day and those were some great Bond films. However, once I found out Sean Connery was the original Bond, I fell in love with him all over again. So yes, Sean will always be my favorite. Daniel is so different, but man, he’s one sexy Bond.

  11. GREAT post!! I agree that Sir Sean Connery is my favorite Bond. Heck, I still swoon when I hear his voice today. Love him! I do like Daniel Craig though. I didn’t think I would. But I do. Maybe it’s his Bond movies… I’ve really enjoyed the last three. I don’t know. A Blond Bond. Who knew?

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