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The Moments of Bond

Marty Schroeder | Wednesday, November 29, 2006

No figure has been more intriguing or more controversial, depending on how you look at it, than the British secret agent, James Bond.

The ubiquitous “Bond – James Bond” has become legendary, as has the shaken not stirred vodka martini. Based on the novels by Ian Fleming, this Cold War warrior has been on the big screen since 1962’s “Dr. No.” The job of portraying this suave assassin has been a prized job that many an actor has sought. Spanning the timeless Sean Connery to the latest incarnation with Daniel Craig, the men who have played Bond have brought their own style and flair in adding and compounding on the Bond legend.

Sean Connery was the first Bond and is considered by many to be the best. He told women what he wanted in a less politically correct age, and more often then not – they gave it to him. Either macho or misogynist, Connery’s Bond always saved the day from the evil lurking around the corner whether it be Russian or otherwise.

And he always got the girl.

His debut was the aforementioned “Dr. No,” but the most famous of Connery’s Bond films include “From Russia With Love,” “Diamonds Are Forever” and the immortal 1964 “Goldfinger.”

Following the Scottish Connery came Australian George Lazenby, who was only involved in one film, 1969’s “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Fans of the novels hailed this film as the best Bond interpretation, but film fans who had been used to seeing Connery thought Lazenby acted poorly and lacked chemistry with the female lead, Diana Rigg. Whatever the cause of Lazenby’s poor reception, he was shelved and replaced by an older Connery in the 1971 film “Diamonds Are Forever.”

After this single Connery reprise, Englishman Roger Moore became the third incarnation of Bond and the first Englishman to play the English character. His Bond was more humorous and self-depreciating than Connery’s Bond – who delivered the trademark one-liners in a more stoic fashion. Moore’s films ranged from the unbelievable – with 1974’s “The Man With the Golden Gun,” in which a golden gun kills automatically with one shot – to the ridiculously sublime, when 1979’s “Moonraker” took James Bond to space.

James Bond needed a return to earth, so to speak, after the campy Roger Moore and so Timothy Dalton was brought on as Bond. He was meant to bring more credibility to Bond but only made two films – 1987’s “The Living Daylights” and 1989’s “License to Kill.” He was officially considered James Bond until 1994 in spite of only making these two films.

With the Dalton experiment ending in failure, Bond needed to be brought to the modern era. They found who many thought to be the best since Connery – an Irish actor named Pierce Brosnan.

Directed by Martin Campbell and released in 1995, the first and best Brosnan Bond film was released to critical and financial success – “GoldenEye.” In the spirit of Cold War Bond, the women were now powerful and wanted to bed him as much as he wanted to get them there. Brosnan was suave, but with the devolution of his villains he left after 2002’s “Die Another Day,” in which he starred opposite Halle Berry.

The newest Bond is yet another Brit. The blond-haired, blue-eyed Daniel Craig stars in the recent release of “Casino Royale,” which presents a reimagining of the franchise.

It tells the story of how Bond became 007. Craig promises to bring a tough rather than suave attitude to Bond as opposed to his predecessors. Love and revenge seem to be some of the major themes of this most recent film and the critical reviews have been extremely positive.

With new direction and stories, Bond seems to have found new life and a new persona – but he will always still be Bond … James Bond.