It has been 50 years since the first James Bond film was released. The franchise is one the most successful ones in history and its movies have been enjoyed by several generations. But few people know how it all started and how unexpected its success was.
Ian Fleming published his first book, Casino Royale, in 1953, the name for its main character was taken from the author of an ornithology book Fleming had when he was writing his novel in his villa in Jamaica. Ian Fleming was a naval intelligence officer during the Second World War. He never saw action, but he was involved in the planning for operation Mincemeat and operation Golden Eye. He later borrowed this name and used it to name his villa in Jamaica.
Ian Fleming wrote 12 novels, his novels were a success, and in 1961 he sold the filming rights to Harry Saltzman. Harry along with producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli established EON productions and started producing their first film: Dr. No.
The producers chose Sean Connery for the part of James Bond, however nor the studios nor Ian Fleming liked Connery. Fleming said about Sean “I’m looking for Commander Bond and not an overgrown stunt-man,” adding that Connery was an unrefined brute. However Terrence Young, director of Dr. No mentored Sean and when the movie was released Ian Fleming and the sudios were very impressed. The movie was an immediate success, so Sean Connery starred in another four James Bond movies. However, by the fourth movie conflicts between Sean and producer Harry Saltzman arouse. Sean left in 1967 and the producers started the search for a new James Bond.
The next Bond was George Lazenby, who got the part by sneaking in the producer’s office and asking them if they were looking for a new James Bond. When asked about his previous experience he lied them and said he had worked in Russia, Hong Kong, Germany… Lazenby went to the audition and passed with flying colours even though he was not a professional actor.
After the release of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service he got drunk on success and started binge drinking, smoking and partying heavily until some friends convinced him to join the hippie movement, which he did. After Lazenby left because James Bond was about war and he was a pacifist, the producers begged Sean to come back. Sean accepted to star in one more James Bond film.
In 1973 Roger Moore became the new James Bond. He is regarded as the best James Bond and he is also the one that has starred in more films. He appeared in 7 films from 1973 to 1985. He did very well at first, he even beat the James Bond movie Sean Connery did with other producers in 1983. However in his last movies Bond was starting to look like a caricature of himself.
In 1987 Timothy Dalton starred in The Living Daylights in which the Bond character goes back to its roots and appears more violent. The public did not like this new Bond; they preferred Roger Moore’s charming and witty James Bond. Dalton appeared in another movie in 1989 but as it happened with the first one, it wasn’t a big success.
With the end of the Cold War people thought that James Bond will disappear, and it nearly did. From 1989 to 1995 there were no James Bond movies. However in 1995 Pierce Brosnan starred in GoldenEye which was a success. He made 3 more movies after that and all of them were praised by movie critics.
Pierce Brosnan retired in 2002 and in 2006 a new James Bond was announced: Daniel Craig. The main issue the public had with Daniel Craig was that he was blonde. There was even a boycott campaign against the movie. In spite of this his first movie Casino Royale was a success as well as his last two movies Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.
James Bond has become a global phenomenon and it influences industries like the automotive and clothing industry. At the beginning its success was not clear and the franchise has had some crisis moments, nevertheless after 50 years James Bond movies are more popular than ever.
- JAMES BOND. (2012). Retrieved December 12, 2012, from http://www.ianfleming.com/james-bond-2/
- Ian Fleming. (2012). Retrieved December 12, 2012, from http://www.ianfleming.com/ian-fleming/
- Turner-Dave, K. (2012). A brief history: 50 years of James Bond films. 26 October 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2012, from http://blogs.independent.co.uk/2012/10/26/a-brief-history-of-50-years-of-james-bond-films/