James Bond turns 50

Never mind that  Bond is 50 years and a senior citizen, her majesty has still not retired him. And neither do the ladies find him old. ERVELL E. MENEZES pays a tribute to the world’s most famous and longest serving spy.

James Bond turns 50

The name is Bond, James Bond.” And how many times has one heard that line glibly uttered by MIC agent code named 007. It has by now become the spy thriller folklore and the vision of Sean Connery, the first and unmistakably the best of all and along with Roger Moore, has acted in the most number of Bond films, seven.

The name of the first film was “Dr No.” Since then there have been 23 Bond films and the latest is “Skyfall” with the first blonde Bond played by Daniel Craig in his second outing. The others have been George Lazenby (1), Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton (2), Pierce Brosnan (4) and now Daniel Craig. “Skyfall” will be directed by Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes,

James Bond turns 50

In the 1960s and 1970s when nudity was still a rarity the Bond films became associated with the 3Gs, guns, gadgets and girls, not necessarily in that order. And almost like clockwork our hero would be frolicking with them on the beach or busy in bed when he would duty would call and he had to reluctantly leave.

And Sean Connery, with his lilting Scottish accent, was the epitome of manliness with hair on his chest, a shapely and trim body, he came to be associated as “the Bond” in the manner of Tennyson’s “Brook” a la “men may come and men may go…etc”.  Sean did very well in “Woman of Straw,” alongside the established sex siren Gina Lollogrigida and was none the worse for it.

The thing about these Bond films is that they always had something new in them. Like Bond emerging from a plane with the Union Jack as parachute. The Bond girls too were exquisite, carefully chosen like Honor Blackman, Britt Ekland, Maud Adams, Barbara Bach, Tanya Roberts, Lois Chiles, Claudine Auger and of course Ursula Andress “often referred to as Undress”), as Honey Ryder, the first and most ravishing of them all.

That entry of hers coming out of the water in a bikini dripping copiously is one of the most repeated shots in cinema. This is how one magazine describes it:

“Bond (Connery) is awakened to the sound of a girl’s voice singing ‘Underneath the mango tree’ on the Crab Beach rising Venus-like from the water with great sea-shells she was poaching.” A description that just couldn’t have been bettered. Especially the “rising Venus-like!

James Bond turns 50

After that there were many sexy sirens who came and went, including our own Freida Pinto who only caused a false alarm, They had cute puny names like Pussy Galore when the first name only referred to a cat, the four-legged one. Of these Barbara Bach and Britt Ekland were gorgeous, the others also-rans, but all game on disrobing, showing cleft and with bed more than breakfast on their minds.

The First producer was the Italian Albert Brocoli who did a great number of them and was followed by his daughter Barbara who along with Michael G. Wilson is planning the golden jubilee celebrations. There was one non-Bond film, a spoof, in which the stiff upper lip Brit David Niven played the lead role.

This writer met one of the Bonds, Roger Moore who was in India for the shooting of “Octopussy,” He had also come earlier along with Gregory Peck, David Niven and Trevor Howard for the shooting of “The Boarding Party” in Goa in the early 1980s.

After the death of Ian Fleming died in 1964, six other authors who wrote authorised fictional versions of the sourced material were Kingsley Amis, Christopher Wood, John Gardener, Regnard Benson, Sebastian Faulks and Jeffrey Denney.

But James Bond has certainly made a mark in the spy genre and he stands for all that’s cool, sexy and passé and all those who have played have made it big in films except the Australian George Lazenby who has sued the producers for taking him off after only one film and thereby ruined his career. Lazenby may have a point but as in life all this happens, you win some and you lose some but the show goes on.

And Bond, James Bond was surely licensed to thrill too.

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