29th October 2015 jonbailey

The Top Ten Bonds

The latest bond extravaganza is out and Spectre, by all reports, is quite a come back for the franchise that previously released the lacklustre offerings of Skyfall and Quantum of Solace.  So to celebrate 007’s return to glory, we present The Top 10 Bonds.

Wait, what?! Ten? You read it right, what follows is for your eyes only…

10. Barry Nelson – Casino Royale 1954

Actually Barry did a laudable job as the Bond you’ve never heard of. Back in 1954 CBS produced a TV Special of Casino Royale. Legend has it that Ian Flemming was paid the princely sum of $1000 for the rights. Nelson starred alongside the exquisitely well cast Peter Lorre as Bonds protagonist, Le Chiffre. So quite disturbingly, the first bond was an American.

9. Bob Holness – Moonraker 1956

Continuing on from Nelson’s surreality, is Bob Holness. Yes, that Bob Holness of Blockbuster fame. Bob provided the voice for Bond in the 1956 radio production of Moonraker for South African Radio. Tragically, there is no known recording of his performance so we can only guess as to his suitability. That said, if Blockbuster was anything to go by, we reckon Bob could put the suave back into the role that was noticeably absent form Nelson’s rendering. We are sure he didn’t take the P out of the role.

8. Bob Simmons – Dr No 1962, From Russia with Love 1963

When it comes to the big screen, it’s a Bob Bond once again. The iconic opening scene of 007 walking on screen and being tracked by the gun barrel was originally filmed with Stuntman Simmons in the main role. This footage was used for Dr No and From Russia With Love and it wasn’t until Goldfinger that it was replaced with footage featuring Sean. Then again, when you think about it, the entire scene doesn’t make sense. Why doesn’t the gun just shoot before bond can retaliate, and more pressingly, why does the Gun bleed? Ours not to reason why James…

7. David Niven Casino Royale 1967

Whilst not officially of the Bond canon, the 1967 version of Casino Royale does indeed feature David Niven as “Sir” James Bond. Niven isn’t a completely bad choice for Bond, but the script certainly doesn’t fit the bill. In what is truly a child of the acid inspired 60’s the 1967 version feels like a early Austin Powers movie, only with all humour smashed out of it by a paisley covered brick. To watch it is certainly to experiences one of those “What where they thinking!?” moments. This is despite a cast of pedigree, including the genius of  Peter Sellers, Orson Wells and the screen presence of Ursula Andress, whom is clearly wasted on the wacky and insensible plot. If you are still on the fence about this one, just remember that it also starred Woody Allan. No Bond film should ever feature Woody Allan…just no.

6. George Lazenby On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

George had a tough act to follow when he appeared in the 6th film of the franchise. Connery had already defined the role, and whilst Lazenby was at the time, the World’s highest paid model, (famous for his Fry’s Chocolate ads) he fell well short of attaining Sean’s heights. It’s hard to blame Lazenby himself though as he wasn’t a professional actor. Sadly it shows in his performance. The actual film’s worth was open to interpretation and received mixed reviews at the time. Looking back now, it’s perhaps easier to see what is missing. It is Bond himself, Lazenby’s character could be anyone. In what was to prove fortuitous for the series, yet catastrophic for George, he was advised by his agent to only star in one Bond film as he had concerns over the franchises longevity. So George lived and let it die.

5. Timothy Dalton – The Living Daylights 1987, Licence to Kill 1989

The replacement to Moore, Timothy intended to show a grittier side of Bond, one closer to the novel’s character. Previously best know for his portrayal of Prince Barin in the wonderful campaganza that was Flash Gordon, Dalton was ostensibly of the theatre breed of actor. Despite his RSC background, Dalton never seemed to be able to mesh with the role and his own take on it. Dalton’s 007 seemed overly earnest and dramatic. Whilst this was a pleasant departure from Moore’s foppery, Dalton over-baked it to the point of neurosis. Those one liners so beloved of the franchise just didn’t seem right when delivered by Dalton. He needed soliloquy but only got bad puns. It was truly Bond on the edge, but it was the edge of credibility. To be fair to Dalton, the entire franchise was beginning to show its age, and for it to continue something would have to give. In Dalton’s case, he only lived twice in the role.

4. Roger Moore – Live and Let Die 1973, The Man with the Golden Gun 1974, The Spy who Loved Me, Moonraker 1979, For your Eyes Only 1981, Octopussy 1983, A View to a Kill 1985

Moore claims the title of the most prevalent Bond, appearing in no less than 7 films. Moore’s Bond was that of the posh 70’s playboy. Whilst Queen and County mattered to Roger’s James, they came a close second to shagging and boozing. Moore’s Bond possessed a certain humour and he would, more so than any other, offer up quippy one liners whilst killing beleaguered henchmen and bedding any female in 100 meters. He wasn’t afraid of slapstick either and his perfect nemesis, Jaws, was more than happy to play pantomime villain to his not so straight man. Whilst all of this was great, Moore remained trapped in the seventies. His white loafers and flares becoming as obsolescent as his misogyny and inappropriate uncle humour. However during his heyday he redefined Bond and made it his own. No mean feat considering he had to do this in the wake of Connery.

3. Pierce Brosnan – Golden Eye 1995, Tomorrow Never Dies 1997, The World is not Enough 1999, Die Another Day, 2002.

The Franchise realised it was becoming dated and finally had the chance to cast Brosnan in the role (He had been asked several times before). His début was in the sublime yet underrated Golden Eye. In Golden Eye we see Bond, yet again, reinvented. In undoubtedly the best opening sequence of the series, we see the old order crashing down. The Soviet topple buries Moore’s lounge lizard and something more believable emerges from the rubble of the Cold War. M is now a woman, taking bond to task over his chauvinism and right-hook espionage. ” I think you’re a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War, whose boyish charms, though wasted on me, obviously appealed to that young woman I sent out to evaluate you.” Seethes M. “Point taken” is the only response the admonished James can muster. Luckily it’s not all gloom and doom. The best Bond Girl villain of all time – Onatopp is supported by a genuinely interesting plot and its still decidedly a “Bond” film. Unfortunately Brosnan’s Bond requires a stellar script to shine. He lacked the physical presence of Connery, and the “Judo Chop, Hello Darling” of Moore. Brosnan pouted his way through the next three, so-so offerings without ever again reaching the heights of Golden Eye.

2. Daniel Craig – Casino Royal 2006, Quantum of Solace 2008, Skyfall 2012, Spectre 2015.

Craig was a controversial replacement for Brosnan. However, he silenced his critics with a Walther PPK to the face when he debuted in Casino Royal. Here they really had returned to Bond’s roots. Craig provided the gritty realism that Pearce never did. This was a feasible secret agent, someone not to mess with. His rugger toughness was perfectly balanced with silver spoon manners. Gone were the underground volcano lairs of previous offerings and instead we have the genuinely menacing Le Chiffre of Mads Mikkleson. Craig’s bond is ready to self-adminster defibrilation and after said heart attack, returns to the game neither shaken or stirred. In short he’s hard as nails, which is precisely what the role demanded for decades.He handles M well too. This Bond is a get the job done type. He doesn’t need submarine cars or jet-packs, just grunting determination. Disappointingly, after this reload of the franchise, the succeeding films start to slide slowly back into kitsch. The Hollywood explosions and gallows humour creep back in to their detriment. All may not be lost however. Critics are pouring praise on the latest release from Sam Mendes. Helped in no small part, by the limitless talents of Christoph Waltz as the archetypal Bond villain. What is so surprising is that this is a film that could of been made 50 years ago and yes, the volcano base is back. All the old elements of a true Bond film are here. The remarkable point is that Mendez, Craig and Christoph manage to pull it off.

 1. 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.

Sean Connery was Bond. In the first of the official canon, Dr No, Connery owns the role. He is the benchmark that all others must aspire too. Not bad for a Milkman from Edinburgh. What made Connery so good, was that he was just so damn cool. The epitome of style, sophistication and suave. Nonetheless, Connery could handle himself too. Delivering bodyblows to Oddjob and hurling Spectre Assassins out of train windows is all in a days work for Sean. Somehow, even his Scottish slur added to the role. On meeting the excellently named Pussy Galore (and her attendant female only flying troupe) he utters the iconic “I muscht be dreaming”. This momentary loss of RP just adds to the weight of the performance. In Connery’s films we were introduced to the very DB5, which Bond still drives today. It was John Barry’s scores that defined the Spy Film Genre, being  re-sampled in numerous subsequent works hoping to exude the style of the original. Connery stated that after Diamonds are Forever (certainly at that time, his weakest appearance) he would not return to the role. In another departure from the official films, he returned in 1983 with the catastrophic Never Say Never Again. (You can work out the choice of title). Gone is the 53 year old Sean’s youth and style. Instead we are presented with an extended 80’s TV commercial for Just For Men. Wearing enough make up to deflect bullets like the rear screen of his Aston, he remains an unconvincing agent that should of retired years ago. Thunderball this is not. If only Sean had kept his word…

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