He is a stone-cold killer. A womanizing sexist pig. An elitist snob. And a hero to generations of moviegoers the world over. He is Bond, James Bond.
Agent 007 of Her Majesty’s Secret Service returns this week in one of the most successful film franchises in history. Spectre, starring Daniel Craig in his fourth and maybe final outing as England’s super spy, is the 24th “official” Bond movie. It opens in theaters Friday.
James Bond has evolved a bit since Sean Connery first played the role in 1962’s Dr. No. But this man will never truly be an agent of change.
He is and always will be an arrested-development male fantasy — a dangerous playboy in a world of treacherous missions, exotic locations, maniacal villains, beautiful women and death-defying thrills.
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Let us celebrate many of the things — from A to Z — that make Bond uniquely Bond.
A is for … Aston Martin DB5, the most beloved of Bond’s cars. Connery’s Goldfinger version of this vehicle was equipped with twin machine guns, a bulletproof shield, a radar screen, revolving license plates, an oil-slick release mechanism and a passenger ejector seat. Craig’s Bond won his Aston Martin in a card game.
B is for … Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, the American producer who teamed with Harry Saltzman and was instrumental in launching one of the highest-grossing film franchises in history. Since Broccoli’s death in 1996, his children Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson have continued to produce the movies.
C is for … Connery, Sean Connery, the Bond against whom all others are measured. He was suave yet tough. He had irresistible sex appeal, but he gave off dangerous vibes at the same time. Connery played the role in six films in the 1960s and early 1970s. To this day, it’s the defining performance of his career.
C is also for … Craig, Daniel Craig. The film series got a “reboot” in 2006 when the current Bond took over in Casino Royale. This 007 is rougher around the edges than Connery’s other successors, more like a Special Forces agent than a gentleman spy. Judging Craig’s box-office success, it was a smart choice.
D is for … diabolical villains, who include Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe, Goldfinger), Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya, From Russia With Love), Blofeld (Telly Savalas, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean, GoldenEye), LeChiffre (Mads Mikkleson, Casino Royale) and Silva (Javier Bardem, Skyfall).
Ian Fleming worked for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division during World War II.
E is for … EON Productions, the name of Broccoli and Saltzman’s company, so chosen because they felt they were taking a risk with this film series. EON is an acronym for “Everything or Nothing.”
F is for … Ian Fleming, the English novelist who wrote the first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952 and followed with 11 more novels and two short-story collections. He worked for Britain’s Naval Intelligence Division during World War II, so he knew a thing or two about the spy business.
G is for … the “Gun Barrel” sequence featured at the beginning of nearly every film. Viewers see Bond through the barrel of the gun of a would-be assailant, but 007 turns and shoots first, besting his opponent. The scene is usually accompanied by Monty Norman’s guitar-riff-driven James Bond Theme.
H is for … Honey Ryder of Dr. No. Played by Ursula Andress, she was the first Bond Woman. The sorority includes Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi, From Russia With Love), Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman, Goldfinger), Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh, Tomorrow Never Dies) and Vesper Lynd (Eva Green, Casino Royale).
I is for … “I admire your courage, Miss …?” This is the first line ever uttered by Bond, directed at Sylvia Trench across a gaming table. He soon identified himself with his trademark line: “Bond, James Bond.”
The henchman Jaws was such a fan favorite in The Spy Who Loved Me that he returned in the follow-up, Moonraker.
J is for … Jaws (played by Richard Kiel), the giant metal-mouthed henchman. Jaws was such a fan favorite in The Spy Who Loved Me that he returned in the follow-up, Moonraker. Other memorable henchmen: Oddjob (Harold Sakata, Goldfinger) and Red Grant (Robert Shaw, From Russia With Love).
K is for … Fort Knox. Goldfinger’s crazy “Operation Grand Slam” scheme was to detonate an atomic bomb inside the vault, which would make the American gold supply useless for decades, while giving him and his Chinese employers the upper hand in the ensuing economic meltdown.
L is for … Felix Leiter, Bond’s CIA buddy. First played by Jack Lord (in Dr. No), twice by David Hedison (Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill) and most recently by Jeffrey Wright (Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace). He’s an important character in Fleming’s novels but usually frustratingly forgettable in the films.
M is for … Roger Moore, who took over as Bond in 1973’s Live and Let Die. Many 007 fans think of Moore as “Bond-lite,” because he was quicker with a quip and more reliant on gadgets than brute force. But without him carrying the load in seven films over a span of 12 years, the series might have died.
N is for … Never Say Never Again. This is the “unofficial” Bond movie, released in 1983 with Connery again in the leading role, more than a decade after he vowed to never make another 007 flick. The plot and characters were lifted directly from Thunderball.
O is for … the office, where M and Miss Moneypenny are beloved regulars. M is Bond’s boss (played by Bernard Lee in the first 11 films and Judi Dench in seven recent outings). Moneypenny, who is forever pining for Bond, is M’s personal secretary (played by Lois Maxwell in the first 14 films).
P is for … Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England. This is where the 007 Stage, one of the largest film stages in the world, is located. First used to shoot the supertanker scenes in The Spy Who Loved Me, it was most recently used to re-create London’s Westminster Bridge in Spectre.
Q is for … Q, Bond’s weapons and gadget man, played by Desmond Llewelyn in 17 films. Often irritated by Bond’s flippant behavior during briefings, he often scolds him with a “Pay attention, 007!”
R is for … romance. Of all the women Bond has romanced, only one of them won his heart. She was Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. In George Lazenby’s only outing as Bond, our man actually proposed to and married this girl. Alas, she is murdered by movie’s end.
Spectre’s boss is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, usually played as a bald, cat-lugging villain who inspired the “Dr. Evil” character in the “Austin Powers” movies.
S is for … Spectre, the crime syndicate and terrorist organization that Bond has battled on a recurring basis, dating all the way back to Dr. No. Spectre’s boss is Ernst Stavro Blofeld, usually played as a bald, cat-lugging villain (which served as inspiration for Mike Myers’ Dr. Evil in the “Austin Powers” comedies).
T is for … title songs. The Bond movies have had some great ones: Shirley Bassey’s Goldfinger, Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die, Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me), Sheena Easton’s For Your Eyes Only, Duran Duran’s A View to a Kill and Adele’s Oscar-winning Skyfall.
U is for … Universal Exports. This is the “cover” company name that Bond often drops when traveling abroad as an agent. He first referenced it in Dr. No and did so again as recently as Quantum of Solace.
V is for … vodka martini, Bond’s favorite cocktail, served “shaken, not stirred.” A notable exception was You Only Live Twice, when the drink was served “stirred, not shaken.” According to Casino Royale, the drink requires gin and vodka, Kina Lillet instead of vermouth, and a lemon peel instead of an olive.
W is for … Walther PPK, Bond’s gun of choice in almost every movie, replacing the Beretta that he initially favored in Dr. No.
X is for … Agent Triple X (played by Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me). Actually, this is for the crazy, innuendo-driven female character names the filmmakers cooked up over the years, which include Plenty O’Toole (Diamonds Are Forever), Holly Goodhead (Moonraker) and Xenia Onatop (GoldenEye).
The actors playing James Bond have been Sean Connery, Dainel Craig, Roger Moore, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.
Y is for … You Only Live Twice, a terrific turn of phrase for a Bond title, although it has been proven to be quite inaccurate. Played by six actors, Bond has had six lives! In addition to Connery, Craig, Moore and Lazenby, the other actors in the role were Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan.
Z is for … Zero-Zero, as in Bond’s Double-O Seven designation, which gave him a “license to kill” and a license to thrill.