Effingham Daily News, Effingham, IL

November 5, 2012

Happy Birthday, Mister Bond

Ryan Ellis
Effingham Daily News

EFFINGHAM —     No name is more synonymous with espionage than James Bond.

    This month, the new Bond movie “Skyfall” will hit theaters to mark the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie, “Dr. No,” which came out in 1962.

    First off, I’m gonna say that I’m not sure why my Aunt Debbie introduced a 10-year-old to a character with a knack for flirting with seemingly loose women and a very strong martini addiction. But hey, I loved every second of it. So far, I haven’t developed any addictions other than a love of bad puns and good bourbon.

    Bond has changed a lot since Sean Connery first played him in “Dr. No,” the movie that started a 22-film phenomenon. When I was younger and hadn’t read any of the original novels, I always wondered how MGM (or Metro-Golden-Mayer) could keep making films on a character my friend Shauna deemed “James Gigolo Bond.” Not only did I wonder why they kept making them, but how the films kept doing so well in theaters.

    After seeing all the movies, I was interested enough to read the novels. It was then I realized Bond was a period piece. The primary concerns in the novels were Soviet Russia and nuclear weapons. It’s still a good read, but I mean … c’mon, you can’t run a story like that now.

    For better or worse, the stories were updated to what was going on in the world at that specific point in time. So, whether you’re watching Sean Connery’s 1967 film, “You Only Live Twice,” getting your fill of British-American space race propaganda or seeing Timothy Dalton’s 1989 film, “License To Kill,” to learn how prevalent cocaine was in the ’80s, the fact is it’s how the movies have kept going and how they’ve been kept fresh.

    Taking novels that were written in the ’50s and ’60s and converting the stories into plots for films set today cannot be easy. For the most part, I’d say the films have been done pretty well, except Roger Moore’s 1979 film, “Moonraker.” Bond never went to outer space!

    So, to my friend Shauna, who is probably going to roll her eyes, laugh and then slap me for putting her in my column, that’s how Bond has lasted so long.

    Ever since I started watching these films, I’ve always heard older people gripe about one Bond not being as good as another. The primary argument is that nobody is better than Sean Connery. Between an interview about him that I can’t remember where I watched and late night boredom spent on Wikipedia, I’ve learned Connery didn’t want to play Bond as many times as he did. Bond’s either been portrayed by someone who exemplified the times or by whoever was willing to play him over and over again (cough … cough, Roger Moore).

    But now, the new guy is in. Well, I guess he’s not really “The new Bond” anymore, he’s just Bond. Daniel Craig, “The Blonde Bond” as he’s called in every review I’ve read of the two films he’s done so far, “Casino Royale” and “Quantum of Solace.”

    It seems old habits die hard because everyone I talk to compares Craig to Connery. I’m not sure about most people, but everyone I know in the military comes home in incredibly good physical shape. I really don’t think a secret agent in this century would be a skinny, chain-smoking alcoholic.

    I’ve grown up with Bond and had many arguments over it with many people. I think people argue over who’s the best because honestly, it’s really fun. I feel like it’s nothing more sacred than tradition for Bond fans to bicker over who’s the best and I’ll continue to do so.

    Overall, MGM has made many movies that have been passed from generation to generation. Bond continues to stand the test of time due to the devotion of fans and the innovative plots that have capture audiences. So to you, I say, Happy Birthday, Mister Bond.