Welcome back to Deep-Fried Friday! Several 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.
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.
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:
- Sean Connery
- Pierce Brosnan
- Roger Moore
- George Lazenby
- Daniel Craig
- 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:
Sean Connery as Bond
Dr. No (1962)
From Russia With Love (1963)
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)
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
A View to a Kill (1985)
Timothy Dalton as Bond
The Living Daylights (1987)
Licence to Kill (1989)
Pierce Brosnan as Bond
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?