Kansas City has the Royals, but you don’t get much more royal than being the world’s most famous MI6 secret agent. It was announced last week that the 24th official James Bond picture is going to be produced. I thought I would take some time off from sports to take a look at the incredible James Bond franchise and the men would starred in the lead.
The James Bond movie franchise is now more than 50 years old. These movies have withstood the test of time as action/adventure mainstays. The formulas are basically the same and they will never win any golden statuettes – but who cares?
We love everything about them – the sexy opening credit montages with their slick pop singer theme songs, the memorable villains, with their nefarious schemes of world domination, the wildly implausible plots, the incredible action sequences that stretch the imagination, the cool gadgets and vehicles, the glib, cheesy one-liners, and the glorious Bond girls.
And, of course, the leading men who have portrayed James Bond.
Not counting a spoof version of Casino Royale in 1967, starring David Niven, and the non-Eon production of Never Say Never Again (starring Sean Connery), there have been 23 “official” Eon Productions Bond films, starring six different actors as 007. Here is how I rank the actors who portrayed the iconic James Bond:
6) Timothy Dalton – He appeared in just two Bond films in the late 1980’s, and I just never bought into Dalton as 007. I just don’t know if it was a disconnect with the story lines, or if it was Dalton himself, who was so different than his predecessors. I must not have been the only one because Dalton only lasted the two films, and it was rumored at the time that the franchise was finished. Of course, that wasn’t the case. Dalton wasn’t terrible; he just wasn’t as good as the rest of the actors in the role.
5) George Lazenby – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was the only installment featuring Lazenby. This film seems to be the least known of the Bond films but it was not because of Lazenby himself. I have thought his performance was underrated, and if he had been in more Bond films, he might have rated higher on my list. He was sufficiently suave and he handled the action well. I wish he would have had more opportunities to impress.
4) Roger Moore – If you discount Connery’s Never Say Never Again, Moore’s seven movies as Bond are the most of any of the actors. Moore wasn’t Connery and he didn’t try to be. He was his own Bond. No Bond was as flat out dapper as Moore was in this role. Unfortunately, Moore starred in some of the worst Bond movies made (Moonraker). There always seemed to be something a bit campy (more so than usual) about some of those flicks in the 70’s. They just didn’t seem as good overall. Maybe that was just me. I think Roger Moore was a good Bond; it was the movies that didn’t quite hold up as well.
3) Pierce Brosnan – My wife totally disagrees with me on this one. Brosnan has been on her “List” (Friends reference) since his Remington Steele days. I loved Brosnan as Bond; he may have been the most suave and debonair Bond ever. Goldeneye was a great movie for the 007 series to sort of re-boot with a new Bond and Brosnan carried off the role with aplomb. A lesser talent may have ruined the franchise forever. Brosnan re-established Bond as a box office powerhouse in his 4 movies in the lead role. As good as Brosnan was, he still falls to third on a very tough call for me. There was little wrong with Brosnan’s portrayal; it’s just a very tough list.
2) Daniel Craig – Some may disagree with Craig this high but I love his brooding, darker, more physical 007. His is the perfect portrayal for the modern era. He isn’t a slick and charming as his predecessors, but he isn’t totally lacking in these areas either. The story lines for Craig have done a great job playing to Craig’s 007 persona, which are certainly less campy and much darker than many of the plots in the past. Craig’s Bond is also an emotional one, with a storm of anger brewing just below the surface. He was a terrific choice to move the franchise forward, as well as making the character itself more modern – a proper 21st century spy, if you will . I am thrilled he is on board for the 24th installment, and I hope he does several more.
1) Sean Connery – Could there be any other choice? The original 007 had all of the attributes others have sought in their portrayals – smart, funny,suave, debonair, physical. Connery made the role seem so seamlessly easy. He was James Bond. Maybe the biggest criticism for Roger Moore was that he wasn’t Sean Connery. While that is unfair (it would have been a huge mistake to try to duplicate Connery’s Bond), it is also true. Connery could pull off any line, serious or cheesy, with equal believability, and he was the ultimate ladies man. There have been some terrific James Bonds over the 50 plus years, but none can top the original.
There you have it. This was not as clear cut a task as it may have seemed. For me, if Craig can stick with the role for a few more films, he could overtake Connery. I love the direction he is taking the roles for this generation. Brosnan was a hard one to leave out of the top two because he was really good and he saved the franchise. Still, Sean Connery, 51 years after he starred in Dr. No, is king of the Bonds. He has had a long and successful career since his 007 days, but he will always be James Bond.
For more James Bond content, as well as movie and entertainment news and rumors check out Flicksided.com. There you will find a feature article on who should play the next Bond villain in the upcoming movie.