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Archive for the ‘James Bond’ Category

Following my last two posts about James Bond, I thought I would dip into the archives and re-post something from 6 years ago.  It is an idea I had at the time, it will never happen, but it doesn’t stop me talking about it.  Timothy Dalton is now in his 70’s, but thanks to the TV show Penny Dreadful has a higher profile than when I originally posted the article.  In a lot of ways I think he was the best Bond, but was let down by average films.  I suggested Quentin Tarantino as a director.  I still love his movies, but he is a very different director than he was back in 2010.  I think he is too self indulgent at this time in his career.  My new favourite director for this, or any Bond film is Denis Villeneuve (when he has finished with the Blade Runner sequel). 

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I noticed the other day that former James Bond Timothy Dalton recently celebrated his 66th birthday. This got me thinking it has been some time since I posted anything about James Bond.  So here it is in honour of Timothy Dalton’s birthday an idea for a slightly different Bond movie. 

James Bond, now in his 60’s has retired and is living in Jamaica. For his last few years in the secret service before retiring he took a job training prospective double 0 agents.  Bond receives news from Moneypenny that one of his former students (now 006) was killed on a mission.  Because of the nature of the mission and his undercover status the body has not been recovered and a funeral will not take place. He receives a letter from the agent sent shortly before he was killed.  Bond launches his own investigation and is blocked at every turn by his own government making Bond even more determined get to the bottom of what happened.

For added impact the movie should be made in total secrecy without anyone knowing it is about an older Bond.  In the usual build-up an announcement should be made implying a big name star, but not an obvious choice (I am thinking Colin Farrell) will play Bond.  He will in fact be playing 006 who gets killed at the end of an all action pre-credit sequence.  Enter the real James Bond, Timothy Dalton.  The film would be very plot driven with fantastic dialogue and the odd action set piece, very much like a good detective story. Along the way there can also be a subplot about Bond writing his memoires to the chagrin of his former employers (more on this in a later post).  There is a great opportunity to Have fun with the dynamic of an older Bond without turning the whole thing into a joke. And who could direct such a movie, there is only one man: Quentin Tarantino.

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Following my post about who might be the next Bond, here are a few people who could have been Bond.  I have stuck to British and Irish actors who have been in contention or mentioned since Timothy Dalton hung up his dinner jacket and Walther PPK in the late 80’s.

Ralph Fiennes: There was a time, around 1993 to 1996 (Schindler’s List – Strange Days – The English Patient) when Fiennes came from almost nowhere to become one of the best actors around.  In the last few years he has also added comedy to his repertoire.  He could have been the perfect Bond.  He was under consideration in both 94 and 04.  Did his appearance as John Steed in the terrible The Avengers 1998 end his chances?  He eventually became M, a character with enough hints at his back story to warrant his own movie.Ralph Fiennes james bond

Colin Firth: I have never considered Fiennes’ English Patient co star a contender for Bond, however, I was wrong so wrong.  Anyone who has seen him as Harry Hart in Kingsman will wonder what he he would have been like as Bond.Colin Firth James Bond

Idris Elba: Still in contention and would made a great Bond but as I mentioned in my last post, I think he is too old to get to get the chance now.Idris Elba james bond

Clive Owen: Made his name in the TV show Chancer (1990-91).  He was allegedly on the short (or possibly long) list when Pierce Brosnan got the part in the mid 90’s.  His name came up again in 1998 when he donned a dinner jacket for the film Croupier.  The part as The Driver in a series of BMW commercials cemented him as a fan favourite.  Now 51, he is probably too old, his last chance came and went when Daniel Craig was cast a decade ago.Clive Owen James Bond

Hugh Grant: His name came up a few times but he was never a serious contender.  Had he not become a star playing light comedy he could have been a good dramatic actor, the failure of Extreme Measures (1996) put an end to roles like that.  The Man From Uncle is a close as he is ever likely to get to Bond.Hugh Grant james bond

Liam Neeson: Reported to have turned the role down in 1994 because he wasn’t interested in making action movies.  He must have had a change of heart when he was offered Taken.Liam Neeson James Bond

 

 

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Have the frontrunners for the role as the next James Bond been auditioning for the part?  and more significantly do these roles suggest the type of Bond they will be?

Tom Hiddleston – The Night Manager: My new favourite for the part thanks to his performance the John le Carré penned TV show.  He is likely to bring more charm and sophistication than we have seen before with Bond.  There have been questions about him as a action star, I wouldn’t worry, similar questions were asked of Daniel Craig.tom hiddleston

Damian Lewis – Our Kind of Traitor: One time bookies favourite also appeared in an adaptation of a John le Carré story, Lewis’ character is more Harry Palmer than James Bond, or is it just the glasses that make me say that?  He is a good actor and I am sure he could be a good Bond, I just don’t see him in the part.

OKOT_JB_D06_00600.CR2

Michael Fassbender – X-Men: Apocalypse: My previous favourite seemed to have slipped out of the reckoning but it has suggested that he is still the producers favourite.  You may not think X-Men is much of an audition for Bond, however, Fassbender does show both emotion and comedy.  He would be perfect as the emotionally damaged Bond from the later Fleming novels.michael fassbender

Idris Elba – Bastille Day: His part as a European based CIA agent puts Elba front and centre as an action Bond.  I would still love to see Elba as Bond but think at 46 by the time we see Bond 25 he is too old to make more than two or three films.  Will the producers want a younger actor?idris elba

Also in contention:

Poldark star Aidan Turner is the current bookies favourite.  H enough about him to comment.  Jamie Bell is a great actor but I don’t see him as Bond.  Tom Hardy is another fan favourite.  He was great as Mad Max, I don’t see him as Bond.  Henry Cavill famously just missed out to Craig for Casino Royale (2006), a lacklustre performance in Batman v Superman won’t help his chances.  If the right script and the right director comes along, I wouldn’t discount Daniel Craig returning one last time.james bond daniel craig

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I have mentioned in a previous article that Daniel Craig’s James Bond has the biggest story arc of all the incarnations of the character.  This is clear to see, but it can also be observed in his co-stars.  There is a convention in Bond movies of two “Bond Girls”.  The secondary of them often appears first in the movie but is ultimately a disposable character.  Her normal role is to provide some cheap thrills for both Bond and the audience, move the plot forward and is then disposed of, sometimes terminally.  A look at these characters tells us a lot about how Bonds character develops across Craig’s four films. 

WARNING PLOT SPOILERS FOR ALL FOUR MOVIES 

The first such character that Craig’s Bond encounters is Solange (Caterina Murino) in Casino Royale (2006).  The wife of Alex Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian), who is in the employ of the films main villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen), Bond sleeps with her to get what he wants then leaves her to clearly knowing that his actions could have fatal consequences for her, ultimately they do! Bond’s cold detachment happens before his heart is thawed but ultimately broken by Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).Solange Caterina Murino

Quantum of Solace (2008) is a direct sequel to Casino Royale, but most importantly post Vesper.  Bond has allready met the movies primary character Camille (Olga Kurylenko) before the appearance of Agent Fields (her first name is revealed in the credits if you are interested) (Gemma Arterton).  After putting herself in the firing line of Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), she is abandoned by Bond who leaves with Camille to follow a lead.  Her death is clearly an homage Goldfinger.  Bond leaves a none field agent in danger without even thinking about it but does feel the need to avenge her, sending Green to a certain death when he may have been better questioning him.  This is a reckless broken Bond who is yet to find the humanity he must find before he can think about any idea of redemption.strawberry fields Gemma Arterton

Skyfall (2012), is a slightly different proposition, there is no primarily Bond Girl, the slot is instead filled by M (Judi Dench) and to a lesser extent Eve (Naomie Harris) who is later revealed as Moneypenny.  The secondary part is taken by Severine (Bérénice Marlohe).  Her death at the hands of Silva (Javier Bardem) is followed by a quip from Bond that has led to a lot of speculation.  Was this the cold pre Vesper Bond, or a tactic to distract Silva?  I have always believed the latter but understand other point of view.Severine Bérénice Marlohe

This finally brings us up to date with Spectre (2015).  Lucia Sciarra (Monica Bellucci).  In the pre-credit sequence we see Bond killing Marco Sciarra (Alessandro Cremona).  It is later revealed to be an unsanctioned hit, acting on orders from beyond the grave for the previous M (Judi Dench).  At the funeral he meets Lucia Sciarra who in true Bond fashion she falls into his arms (and into bed) before revelling vital information to further the investigation. After he has what he wants, instead of leaving her to die Bond calls in a favour from Felix Leiter of the CIA (who we haven’t seen since Quantum of Solace) to protect her.  The character is has a lot of similarities to Solange in Casino Royale, Bond’s more human and humane treatment is surely testament to the development of him as a person over the four movies.  Is Bond in love with Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) at the end of the movie? was Bond capable of love in Quantum of Solace and Skyfall?Sciarra Monica Bellucci

On a side note, A lot was made of an older woman in the part, the first to be older than Bond (Monica Bellucci is four years older than Craig, Bérénice Marlohe eleven years younger, Gemma Arterton eighteen years younger and Caterina Murino nine years younger) this was followed by great disappointed that she isn’t given a lot to do.  While this is true, it is better to have an actress like Bellucci lending a certain class to the part than a typical twenty-something as used in other movies. For example, Bellucci was considered for the par of Paris Carver in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), a part that ultimately went to Teri Hatcher.  Both Hatcher and Bellucci are eleven years younger than then Bond, Pierce Brosnan. 

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After the release of Skyfall I suggested a “Bond Week” eight seminal Bond films to watch over a week (one a day and two on Sunday), now I have a new Bond Week, with a difference or two.  The first Bond Week was an idea, a hypothetical list to immerse someone in the world of Bond movies.  The Second Bond Week consists of Daniel Craig’s four Bond movies, four movies that I watched over the past five days.  

Casino Royale (2006) was the film I hadn’t seen for the longest.  It confirmed my original thought, that it is the best of Craig’s Bond film.  Directed by Martin Campbell who also made GoldenEye (1995), Pierce Brosnan’s first and best outing as Bond.  The script is excellent with the perfect balance of action, grit and humour, it is everything Bond should be.  Weaving together three distinct stories including one that takes its plot outline from Flemings source novel. Made after The Bourne Identity (2002) but before its sequels the influence is clear but it is still 100% Bond.  Clocking in at 144 minutes the film never feels that long, surprisingly second billed Eva Green doesn’t appear until the hour and the film runs for a full 30 minutes after the death of the main villain Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen).james bond and vesper lynd

Quantum of Solace (2008).  I once described Quantum of Solace  as the perfect Bond film, it isn’t the best Bond film but it is everything you want from a Bond film.  The film is the closest Craig’s Bond ever gets to  the character from Ian Fleming novels.  At 106 minutes, it is the shortest of all 24 Bond films, this again goes back to the 250 page novels.  But most importantly, it does the bravest thing a film can do, it doesn’t try and be bigger and better than its predecessor.james bond and Camille

Skyfall (2012).  If Quantum of Solace is the perfect Bond film and Casino Royale is the best, Skyfall is the biggest.  Introducing Q and Moneypenny to the rebooted series, having two M’s and delving into Bond’s childhood, there is a lot going on.  The 50th anniversary Bond movie, it is filled with nods to the earlier films, despite this it still works as a film in its own right, not just a Bond film.  I’m sure it is the first Bond film for many viewers, it works as well for them as it does for existing fans.   There is an interesting departure from the Bond formula.  Dispensing with a primarily  “Bond Girl” Bond spends the final act with M (Judi Dench).James Bond and M

SPECTRE (2015) Having watched the first three on DVD, I have been back to see SPECTRE at the cinema for a second time.  Skyfall director Sam Mendes returns for what feels like an end of an era.  Bringing all the plots of the previous films together and attributing them to SPECTRE feels a little clunky and forced.  Take this aside and the film is great.  M (Ralph Fiennes), Q (Ben Whishaw) and Moneypenny (Naomie Harris) are given more to do then their characters can normally expect.  This break from formula shows real confidence by Mendes.  If it is Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, it is a fitting swansong.James Bond and Madeleine Swann

In this era of bindgewatching television, four movies in four days isn’t a big task, will I take on all 24 Bond movies in a month?  possibly one day.  Did I learn anything from watching the films back to back? probably not but it does lend a prospective to them.  Timothy Dalton is the closest to the character described by Ian Fleming; Pierce Brosnan looks like the character Fleming described; Sean Connery had the best of Fleming’s stories, but Daniel Craig has the best Story arc and the most consistently good movies.  Is Craig the best Bond? possibly!

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Two years ago I speculated on who would take over from Daniel Craig as James Bond. After championing him in 2010 I decided Idris Elba would be too old by the time the role became available.  I considered it to be between Michael Fassbinder, Henry Cavill, Tom Hiddleston or Nicholas Hoult if they wanted to try something new with a younger Bond.  I made the same mistake as everyone else.  Here are the current favourites for the part along with their odds according to an odds comparison website:

  • Damian Lewis 5/2
  • Tom Hardy 5/2
  • Idris Elba 9/2
  • Henry Cavill 11/2
  • David Oyelowo 12/1
  • Michael Fassbender 14/1damian lewis jaguar

So what’s the problem?  Take a look at the actors who have played Bond:

Daniel Craig’s most notable part before Bond was Layer Cake (2004), but he had already been announced as bond by the time it came out.  Prior to that he had starred in smaller films like Enduring Love (2004) and Sylvia (2003) or had supporting roles in larger films like Road to Perdition 2002 or Lara Croft: Tomb Raider 2001.  For many he was best remembered for the 90’s TV show Our Friends in the North.Daniel Craig

Pierce Brosnan was best known for the TV show Remington Steele and a string on low budget features and TV movies.   To be more precise, he was best known for missing out on Bond in the 80’s because of his commitment to Remington Steele.Pierce Brosnan

Timothy Dalton had had supporting parts in film as varied as The Lion in Winter (1968) and Flash Gordon (1980) but was still best known for TV movies and stage work.james bond timothy dalton

Roger Moore had been kicking around for a about 30 years, mainly on television,  before getting the Bond gig. He played the title role in Ivanhoe in the late 50’s.  In the early 60’s he replaced James Garner in Maverick  playing Garner’s cousin  Beau Maverick ( a part turned down by Sean Connery).  His most famous role was in the late 60’s as The Saint.  Then in the 70’s The Persuaders! alongside Tony Curtis.Roger Moore

George Lazenby was a martial arts instructor and reported to have been the highest paid male model in Europe.  Prior to James Bond his only acting credit was an episode of  the TV Series General Hospital.George Lazenby

Sean Connery had worked in TV, film and theatre for about a decade before his first outing as Bond in Dr. No, as far as I can see, it was his first significant role in a large feature film.Sean Connery

Can you see the problem?  Most of the actors who are being suggested are a little too A list or top end B list.  I’m not suggesting the next Bond will be an unknown, but if EON stick to their formula he won’t be a huge star.  The one exception has more of a TV background and has recently moved into pole position: Damian Lewis.  Dominic Cooper who played Bond creator Ian Fleming in a TV miniseries has been gaining some traction.  In a recent interview on the BBC radio 4 Film Program Bond casting director Debbie McWilliams spoke about how she had championed Rupert Friend to play a younger Bond in Casino Royale.dominic cooper as ian fleming

Whatever happens we must remember that Daniel Craig is still in the role and is unlikely to say anything until after SPECTRE’s cinema run and video release.  SPECTRE left it open for him to walk away or return.  Although I think he has been a great Bond, I think his job is done and it is time to walk away.  I’m sure there are will be lots of twists and turns before things are decided.  Until then:

I still stand by an idea I had back in 2010.  The next film should be a one off stop gap with Timothy Dalton returning as an older retired Bond before a reboot two or three years later with a new young Bond.  It will never happen, but I still think it is a great idea.

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Has Bond Given Up Drinking?

Bond is a heavy drinker, I believe there have been studies into how long he would survive drinking what is described in Ian Fleming’s novels.  But things have changed in SPECTRE, Bond tells Léa Seydoux’s Dr. Madeleine Swann that he drinks too much.  But I don’t remember him actually drinking anything in the film.  He pours a glass of champagne but then throws it on the floor.  He orders a Martini but doesn’t drink it.  spectre-lea-seydoux-daniel-craig

But what about earlier films? I mentioned in an earlier blog that James Bond Doesn’t just drink Martinis. He actually seems to drink more Champagne than anything. At times it is actually part of the plot or used to demonstrate Bonds character or knowledge. Although the rather cheesy commercial below will have you believe that Bond only drinks Bollinger that isn’t entirely true. The original character in Ian Fleming’s novels preferred Taittinger remarking in Cassino Royale “[1943 Taittinger] is probably the finest champagne in the world”

Bollinger In Bond Films

  • Live and Let Die: Bollinger
  • Moonraker: Bollinger RD ’69
  • View to a Kill: Bollinger ’75
  • License to Kill: Bollinger RD ’75
  • The Living Daylights: Bollinger
  • Goldeneye: Bollinger Grande Année 1988
  • Tomorrow Never Dies: Bollinger Grande Année 1989
  • The World Is Not Enough: Bollinger Grande Année 1990
  • Die Another Day: Bollinger ’61
  • Casino Royale: Bollinger Grande Année 1990
  • Quantum of Solacee: Bollinger

Other Champagne in Bond films

  • Dr. No: Dom Perignon ’55
  • From Russia with Love: Taittinger Blanc de Blanc
  • Goldfinger: Dom Perignon ’53
  • Thunderball: Dom Perignon ’55 (to accompany Beluga Caviar)
  • You Only Live Twice: Dom Perignon ’59,
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Dom Perignon ’57.
  • The Man With The Golden Gun: Dom Perignon ’64

Notable Champagne Scenes:

The Spy Who Loved Me, Bond:  Bond quips “Maybe I misjudged Stromberg. Any man who drinks Dom Perignon ’52 can’t be all bad

Goldfinger: shortly before being painted gold Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) is in bed with Bond, he gets up to get them a bottle of Champagne from the fridge bestowing these words of wisdom: “My dear girl, there are some things that just aren’t done. Such as drinking Dom Perignon ’53 above a temperature of 38 degrees Farenheight. That’s as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs.”

The Living Daylights: Bond delivers a Harrods hamper to General Georgi Koskov who has defected and is being hidden in a country house. “What’s this? From Harrods a godsend, the food here is horrible. What’s this, Caviar, well that’s peasant food for us, but with champagne it’s ok. And more – Bollinger RD – the best!” Bond explains he took the liberty of changing it as the brand on the list was “questionable”.

Die Another day: After fourteen months of captivity Bond walks into a posh Hong Kong hotel looking like Robinson Crusoe with tatty clothes, long hair and a bushy beard. He asks for a room, food and champagne, “If there’s any left, the ’61 Bollinger” Now that’s style, shame the films crap!

And with all this Champagne that Bond drinks do you think I can find a picture of him drinking it?

bond with martinibond with another martinigeorge lazenby

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