James Bond lives on: Fifty years of 007
Daniel Craig has played Bond in three films, including 'Skyfall' opening Friday.
Ursula Andress co-starred as Honey Ryder with Sean Connery as James Bond in "Dr. No" (1962).
Timothy Dalton, as James Bond, right, and Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier in "Licence To Kill."
Pierce Brosnan as James Bond with Jinx, played by Halle Berry in "Die Another Day"
George Lazenby, right, as James Bond and actress Diana Rigg in "On Her Majesty's Secret Service."
Britt Eklund and Roger Moore star in the James Bond thriller "The Man With the Golden Gun."
Share with others:
Even Queen Elizabeth II has, like Ursula Andress, Jane Seymour and Halle Berry, played a Bond girl, although only during the opening of the Summer Olympics and with a little help from a stunt double.
Her majesty had been queen for a decade when the first big-screen James Bond movie, "Dr. No," premiered in London in October 1962.
Fifty years later, 007 prepares to return in "Skyfall," the 23rd adventure in the longest-running film franchise in history and now starring Daniel Craig. He wears a tuxedo as well as any one 007, but he's cut from a different cloth than predecessors such as Sean Connery, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan.
"In lieu of the bons mots assigned to Connery, Moore and Brosnan, Craig communicates in grunts and sullen, conceivably soulful, laser stares," veteran Time magazine film critic Richard Corliss writes in a new book, "50 Years of James Bond" from the editors of LIFE (Time Home Entertainment, $27.95).
"For this 007, spying is no game; it's work, a job that has become a compulsion. Craig's 007 is a brute: Rambo in a tux and, even more so, a Bourne-again Bond."
As we approach Friday's opening of "Skyfall," a look at some facts and figures about the debonair spy who has a license to kill -- at the box office:
Bye, bye birdie: Writer Ian Fleming, whose novels (he called them fairy tales for adults) inspired the movies, borrowed the name James Bond from the cover of a book about the birds of West Indies. Cary Grant agreed to do one Bond movie but no more and James Mason said he would do two but not a series, thus paving the way for five unknowns to be tested and Mr. Connery to land the role.
The Elite: Only six men have shaken and stirred us as James Bond on the big screen.
Mr. Connery, the actor most associated with the role for moviegoers of a certain age, starred in "Dr. No," "From Russia With Love," "Goldfinger," "Thunderball," "You Only Live Twice," "Diamonds Are Forever" and (often considered an unofficial entry due to its producing origins) "Never Say Never Again."
It was one and done for George Lazenby with "On Her Majesty's Secret Service," while Roger Moore rolled a seven: "Live and Let Die," "The Man With the Golden Gun," "The Spy Who Loved Me," "Moonraker," "For Your Eyes Only," "Octopussy" and "A View to a Kill."
Timothy Dalton starred in a pair, "The Living Daylights" and "Licence to Kill" while Pierce Brosnan doubled that with "GoldenEye," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "The World Is Not Enough" and "Die Another Day."
Daniel Craig, called by the PG's Barry Paris "a blue-eyed cross between Steve McQueen and the young Kirk Douglas, with a brutish touch of Bruce Willis for good measure" when he appeared in "Casino Royale," subsequently anchored "Quantum of Solace" and "Skyfall."
Billion-dollar baby: It wasn't the first, nor the most recent, but "Thunderball" was a ticket-selling machine. Its worldwide gross, once adjusted for inflation, is $1,028,640,000, proving it lived up to its poster promise: "Look Up! Look Down! Look Out! Here Comes the Biggest Bond of All!"
You only live once: Mr. Lazenby said walking away from the film franchise "was not a clever thing to do, career-wise." The silver-haired native of Australia, who once was a male model, had the misfortune to be cast in a Bond story that required him to take a bride (Diana Rigg) and lose her; the uncharacteristic show of emotion made him and the audience clearly uncomfortable.
Sensational swimwear: The first Bond girl was Ursula Andress, who as a bikini-clad Honey Ryder emerged from the waves and asked a stranger, "Looking for shells?" Bond replied, "No, I'm just looking."
The scene was later mimicked by Halle Berry in "Die Another Day" in 2002. By the time Mr. Craig became the face of the franchise, he was showing off his physique in navy and powder blue trunks, which recently fetched nearly $72,000 at a charity auction in London. The BBC reported that, in introducing the swimwear, Dame Judi Dench joked, "All I'm going to tell you is they're unwashed."
Moore wanted less: Mr. Moore wasn't happy with the progression from comic-book to intense violence during his Bond run. That was especially problematic for the actor who was never good with guns and would blink before the weapon went off, a TV documentary called "The James Bond Story" once noted.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: Each Bond adventure has come with at least one villain but Ernst Stavro Blofeld -- bald, with a disfiguring scar down the right side of his face and a white Persian cat with a diamond collar on his lap -- inspired Dr. Evil in the "Austin Powers" spoofs.
Oscar love: Not much. "Goldfinger," released in 1964, won the Academy Award for sound effects and 1965's "Thunderball" took the statuette for special visual effects.
The most recent nomination was in the category of best original song. "For Your Eyes Only," from 1981's movie of the same name, lost to "Arthur's Theme." Other movies scoring one to three nominations each: "Moonraker," "The Spy Who Loved Me," "Live and Let Die" and "Diamonds Are Forever."
Two tix in IMAX, please: "Skyfall" is the first of the two dozen movies to get the IMAX treatment. Look for it at theaters such as the Pittsburgh Mills Cinemark in Frazer near Tarentum.
Nobody does it better: Adele sings the "Skyfall" title tune, written with Paul Epworth.
A lucky number: "Skyfall" is the seventh time Ms. Dench will play M, James Bond's boss.
Q reporting for duty: In "Cloud Atlas," Ben Whishaw plays five roles. In "Skyfall," he has just one as he becomes the fourth actor to play Bond's quartermaster, aka Q, following in the footsteps of Peter Burton, Desmond Llewelyn and John Cleese.
Old-school wheels: Bond's signature car is the Aston Martin DB5, entrusted to him on the "Goldfinger" mission and ready to roll again in "Skyfall."
First Published November 4, 2012 12:00 am