October 5 is Global James Bond Day. Exactly 50 years ago, Dr No (1962), the first Bond film opened in London. And as the 007 franchise completes a golden run, fans across the world can ‘Bond’ with the best, through a day-long series of events that range from an online and live charity auction organised by Christie’s in London to a film retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. There’s a Bond Music Night in LA that will be hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and a design exhibition on Bond styles over five decades at TIFF, Toronto.
On October 23, the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, will have its world premiere at London’s Royal Albert Hall, followed by a UK release three days later, before opening in India on November 2. Before that, you can bring the secret agent home, as beginning September 24, all 22 previous films will be made available on Blu-ray in one comprehensive collection, BOND 50.
Back to the beginning
A documentary by Stevan Riley, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, is lining up to take you back to the beginning. To three men, producers Albert R Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and author Ian Fleming, and a dream.
James Bond was the author of a book, Birds of the West Indies, which Ian was reading. He zeroed in on the “flat, quiet” name, but, ironically, there was nothing “quiet and flat” about the first Bond, Sean Connery. The six-foot-two-inch Scot had worked as a
bricklayer, a coal shover, a cinema usher, with the Royal Navy, and as a two-scene actor before Dr No turned him into one of the highest paid stars.
Writer Ian Flemming didn’t want him cast him as Bond in Dr No, believing him to be too “unrefined”, he was pushing for Cary Grant instead. But he later agreed that Sean was the right choice.
Sean was paid a $1.25 million base salary, plus an estimated 12.5 per cent of the profits, to make a comeback in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), a desperate move triggered off by the debacle of Bond No 2, an Australian by the name of George Lazenby. He was the highest paid model in the world when he was signed as Sean’s replacement, but served only once ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ though in later years he did Bond take-offs in TV spoofs.
007 and seven Moore After Diamonds Are Forever, the producers were ready to go once more with Sean. When he wouldn’t be tempted, they opted to Live And Let Die (1973) with 45-year-old Roger Moore who went on seven missions. He fought sharks, serpents and Sumo wrestlers, trekked over Swiss snows to edge of China and vaulted into outer space. But he never ordered a Vodka Martini, shaken and not stirred. Instead he opted to sip upon Bourbon and smoke cigars in an effort to set himself apart from Sean.
Roger officially retired on December 3, 1985, admitting that it was embarrassing getting intimate with actors young enough to be his daughters. Sean agreed, having been persuaded to make a comeback with a rehash of Thunderball in 1983. “I was 54, which is just about acceptable to play Bond. After that, it becomes silly to jump around as if you are 30 or 40. It requires the stamina of a rugby player,” he was quoted as saying when he accepted Never Say Never Again (1983). He didn’t say ‘aye’ to another Bond again.
Timothy Dalton could have made his debut with Bond a decade earlier, but left it to Moore to erase Sean’s appeal before appearing in The Living Daylights (1987) and License to Kill (1989). Dr No had been titled License To Kill when released in Italy. In April 1994, after a five-year gap due to legal issues, he made way for Pierce Brosnan who might have pipped him to the Bond post in 1986, had his TV series, Remington Steele, not made a return. It’s said that his contract prohibited him from appearing in any other movie in a tux but he did wear one in The Mirror Has Two Faces (1996) that followed his first 007 outing, GoldenEye (1995).
Daniel Craig is the blonde Bond who’s already proven himself in Casino Royale (2006) and Quantum of Solace (2008). Four years later, he readies for another, Skyfall. And despite speculations that at 43 he may be a little too old to Bond it, Daniel, if the buzz is to be believed, has been snapped up for two more Bond adventures. If true, that means that even after half a century there’s little likelihood of the world becoming Bond Free.