A Summer Without James Bond

Sean Connery as BondEveryone has a favorite James Bond something – a girl, a gadget, a bad guy, and certainly a favorite James Bond. Even Roger Moore has his fans.

Moore took over from the widely popular Sean Connery, known for his debonair charm and suave style with or without a gun in hand, in Live and Let Die. (1973).   This was after George Lazenby gave it a go in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) and Connery returned for one last appearance in the role for which he set the bar in Diamonds Are Forever (1971).

Moore had a more light-hearted approach to the character and could do wondrous things with his eyebrows, but he wasn’t the first choice for 007.  The producers approached Clint Eastwood, who had established his character Dirty Harry in, well, Dirty Harry.  They also looked at Adam West, better known as Batman, and Burt Reynolds, fresh from his success in Deliverance.  All men passed, believing a Brit should fill the role. Really!  What had producer Albert J. Broccoli been thinking?

In total, Moore made seven James Bond movies, the last being A View to a Kill (1985).  He was 45 years old when he became a secret agent and 58 years old when he announced his retirement, making him the oldest and longest–lasting actor in the part.  He must have been doing something right.  Along the way, he made other movies including Cannonball Run (1981), ironically meeting up with Burt Reynolds, whose career path had gone south via Smokey and the Bandit.  Moore’s character was a millionaire mama’s boy so obsessed with Roger Moore that he had plastic surgery to look like his hero.  Perfect casting.

Timothy Dalton was the next Bond.  He exhibited a tougher, rougher persona, closer to the spy’s guise in the Ian Fleming novels, prevailing over Sam Neill and Mel Gibson who were also being considered.  Pierce Brosnan, who was also a strong contender at the time, couldn’t get out of his Remington Steele contract.

That Brosnan eventually played Bond, James Bond, was preordained. He had met Broccoli on the set of For Your Eyes Only (1981,) as his first wife was in the film.  The producer declared, “If he can act, he’s my guy.”

Brosnan started with GoldenEye (1995), out-gunning Liam Neeson, Hugh Grant, and, again, Mel Gibson, and ended with Die Another Day (2002). Dame Judi Dench also made her first appearance in GoldenEye as M, the cold, blunt, analytical MI6 chief and Bond’s boss.  By the way, Dench lasted another four movies (who says men age better than women?), her character meeting her death in Skyfall  (2012) despite Daniel Craig’s best efforts as Bond to save her._8637

Ah, Daniel Craig.  Producer Barbara Broccoli, Albert’s daughter, had her eye on him after seeing him in the 2004 crime thriller Layer Cake, but no one has a headlock on James Bond.  Hugh Jackman had been approached for the role, but he wasn’t interested. “I was about to shoot X-Men 2 and Wolverine had become this thing in my life,” Jackman explained, “And I didn’t want to be doing two such iconic characters at once.”

Any doubts about Craig’s suitability were quashed when he showed up in a tuxedo in Casino Royale (2006). Yes, a new Bond was back in town.  Unfortunately, he won’t be in town this summer or next, but Bond 24, the working title of the 24th James Bond movie, will be released September 2015.

Looking for action and adventure now?  Wolverine is in theaters July 26.

© 2013 Susan Marg – All Rights Reserved

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