Fifty years ago (yesterday) Dr. No opened in cinemas, and movies were never quite the same. That was years before I born: James Bond has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My parents enjoyed the movies and they let me watch anything they were watching. It’s kind of funny that Bond has always been considered family entertainment. The character as he exists on screen—as opposed to the Ian Fleming novels, where he’s more emotional and persnickety—is ruthless, misogynistic and unpleasant, yet he’s a hero to many and the movies are enjoyed by all ages. It’s almost a holdout from the pre-rock ‘n’ roll era. James Bond was our father’s hero. He might be casually sexist and violent, but he’s still cool.
|Sean Connery as James Bond|
But if that was all there was to Bond, there’s no way he would have lasted and thrived through 23 films, the most recent, Skyfall, due to be released in North America on November 9. There’s no way I would have enjoyed the series as much as I had if it wasn’t constantly being tweaked, reimagined, while holding onto some core element of romance and danger. Maintaining this character alchemy is the brilliance of the people who run EON Productions, started by Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli and former secret agent Harry Saltzman in 1961 and now managed by Broccoli’s daughter Barbara and stepson Michael G. Wilson. They’ve very cleverly recast their character through the years, choosing directors who can tell a story without too definitive a visual style but still manage the punchy action sequences, the perfectly chosen exotic locations and twisty plots.
|Cubby Broccoli, Sean Connery, Ian Fleming and Harry Saltzman|
The power they’ve wielded has made Bond iconic. It’s pretty damn impressive, the longevity.
From now until the opening of Skyfall I’m going to be revisiting the 22 Bond movies, rating them all. Though, I will say this, the great things about James Bond movies is that even the bad ones are fun to watch over and over because of those familiar tropes. They never bore.
Oh, and for anyone reading this on Saturday night, don’t forget that the current Bond, Daniel Craig, will be hosting Saturday Night Live this evening at 11:30pm EST, 12:30am AST.