Fifty years ago today Sean Connery exploded on screen as James Bond, 007, in Dr. No and changed the face of movies and pop culture with a special mixture of danger and sex. It’s James Bond Day and there’s a lot going on, from the release of the Golden Anniversary Blu-ray box set (from Fox Home Ent.), to the launch of Adele’s Skyfall theme song on iTunes, to the premiere of the new documentary, Everything or Nothing: The Unknown Story of 007 (on EPIX), to the launch of Sky Movie’s HD Bond event on cable in the UK, to new clips, a vlog, and a 50th trailer, to the Academy Bond music event tonight hosted by Jon Burlingame (author of The Music of James Bond from Oxford).
The charismatic Scot, who glided like “a panther on the prowl,” was both rough and refined. He provided the greatest wish-fulfillment fantasy in movie history as the glam world savior. He had complete power and freedom to break all the rules with his license to kill. He was the ultimate insider/outsider, hero/anti-hero, with complete power and freedom. While nobody expected Bond to last this long (“And anyone who says he did is a liar,” Connery proclaimed), he’s managed to endure the Cold War and survive into the 21st century because he still fulfills our fantasy of power and freedom. George Lazenby (the one-off, heartbroken Bond), Roger Moore (the party Bond), Timothy Dalton (the brooding Bond), Pierce Brosnan (the neo-classical Bond), and now Daniel Craig (the post-modern Bond) have kept Bond different yet the same, which we can see even more clearly in the pristine Blu-rays. The fantastical, hyper-real world of Bond was kept alive, thanks to the passion and persistence of producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman and currently Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli.
Skyfall screenwriter John Logan suggests the timing is perfect because “it is a movie that is about who James Bond is in the modern world.” Indeed, for the first time we have a character arc and an opportunity to explore his inner demons as a result of his dangerous profession. You can read more about the 50-year evolution of Bond in my book, James Bond Unmasked, featuring interviews with all six actors.