The first 007 movie , starring Sean Connery and Ursula Andress came out in 1962, forty-six years ago. It is difficult to imagine that the James Bond movies have been with us that long. Over the years, many different actors have played the suave, ruthless spy and each portrayal has been slightly different. Different directors have also given us their take on the Bond persona.
Roger Moore, who appeared as James Bond in more films than any other actor , has a new memoir coming out ( ” My word is my Bond”, Collins, $ 27.95 ) and was critical of the way the character is now portrayed by Daniel Craig. Moore said that the series has become too violent and that he himself played Bond as a ” lover and a giggler” , whatever that means.
Moore has a point about the excessive violence in recent Bond films. I saw Casino Royale, the first Bond movie starring Daniel Craig and it was violent, extremely violent. The action sequences were fantastic and they had you on the edge of your seat but there was no comic relief as in previous Bond films. Coming out of the theater, I felt exhausted rather than exhilarated. Reading the reviews, the latest Bond epic appears to be more of the same. This is not to say that I liked Roger Moore’s portrayal of the British superspy. Moore’s portrayal was almost a caricature. He just didn’t fit the image of a ruthless secret agent. His hair never even got mussed during the action sequences and he looked too namby-pamby to be James Bond, 007, the secret agent with a license to kill. The puns and double entendres ultimately became boring and the increasingly exotic gadgetry became yet another joke.
I did read the James Bond novels when they came out in the mid fifties. They were a success because they were set in glamorous locales, featured beautiful girls ( good and bad) , unspeakably evil villains, gripping action and a British secret agent who would stop at nothing in the defense of Queen and country. After all this time, I can’t remember the nuances of the James Bond character so I cant say whether it was author Ian Fleming or Sean Connery ,the first actor to play Bond , who imbued him with that enthralling mix of virility, cruelty and humor. The humor was an essential part of Bond’s popularity because it mitigated his ruthlessness and made him more palatable. To my mind, Sean Connery was the best of the Bonds though it is possible that he defined the character , having been the first to play him. There have been many others who succeeded Connery but none who supplanted him. Here is my rating of the various Bonds, from worst to best. I am not including David Niven who played Bond in the first Casino Royale. That picture was an ill conceived farce and doesn’t deserve to be included in the list of Bond films.
Bond actors( Worst to Best)
Geoge Lazenby played 007 in only one film ( On Her Majesty’s Secret Service). Good looking but a wooden actor.
Roger Moore.( 7 films) Played Bond with a comic edge that detracted from the character.
Timothy Dalton.( 2 films) Intense, believable but too aloof.
Pierce Brosnan. (4) Closer to what I imagine james Bond would be like but a little too long in the tooth to be wholly believable.
Daniel Craig (2). Certainly believable as a killing machine. I just wish he had more depth
Sean Connery. ( 6. Seven if you include the unofficial ” Never say Never Again). The original and still the best !