Saturday, May 19, 2012

50 years of 007

Ian Fleming's creation has been around since 1953, when Casino Royale was first published. So technically the most famous spy on the planet has been around for 59 years.  But this year is special because it marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on film.

The Spy Who Loved Me was the first Bond film I saw at the movies. I was ten years old at the time. Super-cool action sequences (the pre-credits ski jump still ranks as one of the best stunts ever filmed)…exotic locations…Barbara Bach in that stunning black dress…Jaws...the Lotus Esprit… By the end of the film I was hooked for life.

For the record: Yes, Sean Connery will always be awesome for being the first, but as a fan of the books I must admit that current 007 Daniel Craig is my favorite Bond, truly capturing the spirit of the character created by Ian Fleming. Casino Royale is arguably the best Bond film ever made.

That said, On Her Majesty's Secret Service remains my all-time favorite Bond movie. Director Peter Hunt delivered a real tour de force: Breathtaking camerawork, cutting-edge editing, and some of the most exciting ski sequences ever captured on film--enhanced by John Barry's amazing score. George Lazenby gets a lot of flak, but he's actually okay in the lead role--faring especially well in the action sequences. Diana Rigg more than makes up for Lazenby's shortcomings in the acting department.

My favorite Connery Bond is From Russia With Love. A Cold War spy thriller, it's a pretty faithful adaptation of Fleming's novel. The climactic hand-to-hand fight sequence between 007 and the assassin Grant (played by Robert Shaw) aboard the Orient Express is a highlight of the film. In those two minutes director Terence Young and editor Peter Hunt crafted one of the greatest and most brutal fight scenes in all cinema.

This past week the teaser poster was released for Skyfall, the 23rd film in the longest running series in movie history. With director Sam Mendes at the helm, Daniel Craig in the lead, and a score by Thomas Newman (one of my favorite composers), I'm pretty stoked for this next Bond outing.

The teaser poster is cool enough, as were the teasers for Daniel Craig's last two outings, Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace

But I still miss the classic artwork of the ad campaigns of yesteryear, which really fueled the imagination. In celebration of cinema Bond's anniversary, here are some of my faves. Cheers!

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