Bond, James Bond. One of the most iconic names in cinema. Why has this series lasted for over 50 years? What sets it apart as a franchise that can almost always be counted on to be a box office success?
|Franchise||No. of Movies||Total Domestic Box Office||Total Worldwide Box Office||First Year||Last Year||No. of Years|
|Marvel Cinematic Universe||21||$3,593,035,726||$9,064,124,991||2008||2019||11|
|Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings||6||$1,852,429,850||$5,895,819,745||2001||2014||13|
|Fast and the Furious||8||$1,288,761,483||$3,899,849,616||2001||2017||16|
|Pirates of the Caribbean||4||$1,279,211,336||$3,710,254,215||2003||2011||8|
The James Bond series were authored, beginning in 1953 by Ian Fleming, who wrote twelve novels and two short-stories, featuring this now world known spy. The first film release in 1962, Dr. No, introduced the character by simply uttering his name in a reoccurring setting, the casino. Although James Bond wasn’t hugely different from the standard American western, pitting a hero against great odds, exotic locations, beautiful women, elegance in fashion, all established a popular theme. The franchise repeats a formula, often imitated or spoofed, but largely successful in spite of some overly dramatic acting, relying on gadgets to save Bond, and the bevy of Bond women with sexually suggestive names. Although chase scenes have always been a feature, the placement of unrelated action sequences in the beginning of each film, set these movies apart from other movies in the 1950’s and 60’s.
So much of todays modern adaptations of heroes vs. villains borrow heavily from these ingrained cinematic motifs. These include, dangerous stunts, high speed chases (usually involving but not exclusively cars), exotic locations, beautiful fashionable women, expensive high tech gadgets, firearms, explosions, and at some point Bond is required to wear a tuxedo. He always dresses in expensive fashions, while enjoying fine dining and signature alcoholic beverages. Lastly, don’t most of us know the theme music? Title music was almost always a hit with the public, but the James Bond theme is part of the memorable moments in any of the films.
Inevitably, there’s a final confrontation between Bond and the villain du jour. The villains are compelled to confess their master plan to Bond as if he were their priest. The dialog follows this formula with slightly different words; “this is the end of the world, this is the end of civilization as you know it, Mr. Bond!” The timing of this confession couldn’t be better because, even though there’s usually not a backup rescue group, Bond has managed to find a way to escape the clever capture / trap of this evil genius. Evidently none of them have figured out, just kill him and monologue after.
Despite the predictability of the plots, and the various actors who have portrayed him, people continue to flock to the theaters rather than wait for the Blue Ray or DVD to be released.
- Barry Nelson played Bond in a 1954 television production of Casino Royale
- Sean Connery – 7 Movies
- David Niven in the 1967 spoof of Casino Royale
- George Lazenby – 1 Movie
- Roger Moore – 7 Movies
- Timothy Dalton – 2 Movies
- Pierce Brosnan – 4 Movies
- Daniel Craig – 4 Movies to date
An unknown actor played Bond in the earliest film sequences. James Bond, played by stuntman Bob Simmons, casually walks along a white backdrop and is seen through a gun barrel. Aware that he is being watched, Bond quickly turns and shoots the assassin which dissolves the backdrop into red. This sequence became a trademark of the series.
Speaking of Trademarks.
Should you bother to go see the current bond film, SPECTRE?
Of course you should, if you’ve read this much of this blog, you’re likely a fan. I will say this much about this latest film, Daniel Craig is Bond. In my opinion, he’s the best one so far. I know there are thousands of critics of any film, but Craig moves, looks like a tough protagonist, and can act with the appropriate emotional context for any of the films he’s played this role. Roger Moore, when questioned about Daniel Craig after seeing ‘Casino Royale’ said, “he did more action in the first 30 seconds of the film than I did in 14 years of playing Bond.”
This film isn’t all that different when you consider my description of Bond films. This movie plays well in context of our time, something which doesn’t hold up well when you go back and look at movies such as Dr. No. They may have fit well for that era, but Craig, along with the writing and cinematography, work very well now. For long time fans, there’s nothing that will really surprise you but the villainy is good, the set pieces are shot beautifully, action is excellent, and the story line holds together, despite some people who love to criticize. SPECTRE brings together all of the elements found in the first 3 films, packages them neatly with adequate explanation, set against the changes in spy craft forced by government austerity and modern tools. Maybe it’s not riveting, if you want to compare it to the pageantry of a Marvel or Harry Potter film, but it’s certainly closer to some of the reality in a modern world, 50+ years after Dr. No.
As Marvin Hamlisch once wrote, in the Bond theme for the “Spy Who Loved Me”, sung by Carly Simon, “Nobody Does It Better.”
If you’re familiar with all of the Bond films, compare your ranking to that of someone else.
(Not mine, I disagree with the order)
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