A Reflection by Victor Lana
In an article in the August 19th issue of Entertainment Weekly, Pierce Brosnan says, “One phone call, that’s all it took.” Thus, the Irish actor was told his services as James Bond, Agent 007, were no longer required. Brosnan can be credited for reinvigorating the Bond movies after a time in the 1980s where they seemed redundant and rather lame.
Of course, the question will always be asked: who was the best James Bond? Many people hold that Sean Connery set the standard and that Brosnan picked up where he left off; however, I grew up with Roger Moore as the James Bond I knew. He did, after all, play 007 from 1971-1985. As a kid I knew of Sean Connery, but it was Moore who was in the first Bond film I saw in the movie theater, and I was a fan after Live and Let Die.
Roger Moore’s portrayal, while somewhat stiff at times, was still enjoyable and more comical than any of the other Bonds. Being a big man, he seemed to be able to hold his own against rather large villains, most particularly Richard Kiel’s Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me, as well as the smallest (and in my opinion the funniest of all Bond villains) Herve Villechaize in The Man with the Golden Gun.
While Moore was my favorite, I recognize Sean Connery’s hold on the character now as I have seen the first Bond films, thanks to AMC’s Bond marathon. Connery had a smoldering sexuality that is evident in his love scenes, but he also had a sort of dashing good looks that were just made for a casino as he rolled dice in a white tuxedo. My all time favorite Bond moment comes during the film Goldfinger when Connery is strapped to a table with a laser beam coming slowly toward his groin. Bond asks if this tactic is expected to get him to talk. That is when Goldfinger, played by Gert Frobe, responds, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” Just a classic moment with a classic villain that is pure magic.
I don’t know how George Lazenby got the job in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but he seemed to have no chemistry with leading lady Diana Rigg and makes Moore seem positively animated. Timothy Dalton, who assumed the role after Moore retired, was not much more lively in his two go arounds as the man with a license to kill. While an attractive fellow, he did nothing to leave his mark in the role and it seems almost as if the producers were just waiting for Brosnan to become available.
Who will be the next Bond? Let’s hope that someone will be selected that can somehow capture the essence of 007: a bit sophisticated, very handsome, keenly intelligent, and inherently dangerous. If I could nominate anyone, it would be Christian Bale, who has reinvigorated the Batman franchise this summer. Perhaps he can do the same for Bond. James Bond.
A list follows of the actors who played Bond and the films they appeared in. An asterisk follows my favorite film in each group, except in the case of Lazenby, whose one and only Bond film I didn’t appreciate. David Niven played 007 once in Casino Royale, thus he appears in the list below, but that film was a comedy and not part of the franchise being discussed here.
Sean Connery Dr. No (1962), From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964)*, Thunderball (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Diamonds are Forever (1971), Never Say Never Again (1983).
David Niven Casino Royale (1967)
George Lazenby On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Roger Moore Live and Let Die (1971)*, The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983), A View to a Kill (1985)
Timothy Dalton The Living Daylights (1987), License to Kill (1989)*
Pierce Brosnan GoldenEye (1995), Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)*, The World is Not Enough (1999), Die Another Day (2002)
Copyright © Victor Lana 2005