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50 Years of Bond

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(By Theresa Syn)

If there were any fictional character that deserves a global celebration, it would be the ever-famous Bond, James Bond.

October 5th, 2012 marks the Bond film’s 50th year on the silver screen, making it the longest running film series in history. From film screenings at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York to online auctions in London, various activities will be held around the world all in the name of Global Bond Day.

So what is it that makes this timeless classic work even after half a century? NFFTY takes a look at the journey of this film’s success.

The first James Bond movie, Dr. No. was played by Scottish actor Sean Connery. Although produced on a low budget, this Bond debut received high financial success. This sparked the start of the Bond revolution where Sean Connery went on to play Bond for the next four movies; Russia with love (1963), Goldfinger (1964), Thunderball (1965), and You Only Live Twice (1967).

Sean Connery as the first James Bond in Dr. No (Picture by: A Fistful of Cult)

To replace the famous Sean Connery whose name was already synonymous with the character Bond, producers of the next 007 film approached Australian George Lazenby (1968) who had a physique and several character traits that seemed to match that of Bond’s. However, he did not quite match up to the Connery’s delivery and left after one film, On her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)  saying “I will never play him again”.

George Lazenby in his only James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Picture by: Paul Davis)

Connery however made a comeback appearance in  Diamonds are Forever, after being offered a generous salary and a 12.5% of box office sales commission. Guy Hamilton, director of previous Bond film, Goldfinger, returned to direct the movie as well.

However Connery’s return was short and he was replaced by English actor, Roger Moore who starred in 7 – the highest number of Bond films; Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octupussy (1983) and A View to Kill (1985). Moore was said to fit the bill of the contemporary James Bond at that time and was voted “Best Bond” in a poll conducted at the Academy Award in 2004.

Roger Moore as the “Best Bond” (Picture by: Roger Moore Official Site)

After Moore’s retirement, British actor Timothy Dalton was then chosen to play the role of Bond in The Living Daylight (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989).

Timothy Dalton holding the Classic Bond weapon in Licence to Kill (Picture by: The Film Pilgrim)

The Bond series took a 6-year hiatus from 1989 to 1995 but was revived with the arrival of Pierce Brosnan who starred in GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), The World Is Not Enough (1999) and Die Another Day (2002). Producers had their eyes on Brosnan years ago during the casting of For Your Eyes Only in 1981 but Brosnan was unable to play the role of Bond due to other commitments.

Pierce Brosnan looking suave in a suit (Picture by: My Name is James Bond)

For the production for the next Bond film, the producers decided that they were looking for a younger actor to play Bond and casted Daniel Craig in 2006. However, this decision was met with some strong protests from dissatisfied Bond fans who felt Craig could not fill the shoes of the legendary James Bond. However, Craig’s performance in Casino Royale (2006) was shockingly superb which received favourable reviews from critics and became the highest grossing Bond film since Moonraker in 1979. The next Bond movie by Craig, Quantum of Solace followed shortly in 2008.

With the 23rd Bond film, Skyfall, set to be released on the 23rd of October 2012, it seems like the world can never get enough of the suave character and his heart-thumping adventures. To which we say, Happy 50th birthday Mr. James Bond, and hopefully another 50 years to come.

Check out the trailer of SkyFall here:

Who’s your favourite Bond? Tweet us at @NFFTY!

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