The James Bond Films

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It’s hard to imagine a world without the James Bond films, which have been with us since Dr No hit the big screen in 1962, catapulting Sean Connery to fame and introducing us to an exiting and, for many, unimaginably sophisticated world.

The impact of Dr No on cinema audiences of the time was dramatic – there had never been anything like it before – and it took James Bond from being a successful success series to an unprecedented worldwide phenomenon.

Of course, while Dr No started it, it didn’t have everything we now associate with the James Bond films. John Barry was brought in to perform Monty Norman’s James Bond Theme, and in doing so created one of the most instantly recognisable audio brands ever, but it wasn’t until the follow up, From Russia With Love, that Barry’s soundtrack really began to take up those elements that we so much associate with James Bond today.

From Russia With Love, is arguably the best James Bond film, with a great cast and locations, as well as being faithful to the book. It is also the film in which SPECTRE is properly introduced, with Blofeld’s face obscured and our only way of positively identifying him being his white cat. And who can forget the claustrophobic fight on board the Orient Express?

By Goldfinger respect for Ian Fleming’s work was beginning to take a back seat to the possibilities offered by the big screen for Eon’s creativity, and while the story remains close to the novel, the third James Bond film begins to replace 007’s ingenuity with over the top gadgets in the shape of the Aston Martin DB5.

However it was Thunderball when the world went completely James Bond crazy – ironic since it had caused so many problems for Ian Fleming with the writ against him by Kevin McClory. It went on to become the biggest grossing Bond film for years when adjusted for inflation and all the elements converged into cinematic greatness – beautiful women, exotic locations and spectacular underwater photography; slightly OTT gadgets, Ken Adam sets, and a plot that was years ahead of its time; and what it has in abundance is a great John Barry score.

After that came You Only Live Twice, from which time the films jettisoned most of Ian Fleming’s input in favour of making the gadgets more unbelievable and starting to play it more for laughs. The exception to this of course is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which ditched the gadgets and remained faithful to the book. However, when it was relatively unsuccessful largely because the public wanted Sean Connery rather then George Lazenby, the producers must have had a change of heart.

They convinced Connery to return and they jumped right back on the path they were going down with You Only Live TwiceDiamonds Are Forever has more gadgets, more action and bigger sets, plus it predates Roger Moore in introducing some of the juvenile humour that lasted throughout the 1970s and 80s and blighted the James Bond films until the arrival of Daniel Craig.

The James Bond films

Dr No
Sean Connery, 1962

From Russia With Love
Sean Connery, 1963

Sean Connery, 1964

Sean Connery, 1965

You Only Live Twice
Sean Connery, 1967

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
George Lazenby, 1969

Diamonds Are Forever
Sean Connery, 1971

Live And Let Die
Roger Moore, 1973

The Man With The Golden Gun
Roger Moore, 1974

The Spy Who Loved Me
Roger Moore, 1977

Roger Moore, 1979

For Your Eyes Only
Roger Moore, 1981

Roger Moore, 1983

A View To A Kill
Roger Moore, 1985

The Living Daylights
Timothy Dalton, 1987

Licence To Kill
Timothy Dalton, 1989

Pierce Brosnan, 1995

Tomorrow Never Dies
Pierce Brosnan, 1997

The World Is Not Enough
Pierce Brosnan, 1999

Die Another Day
Pierce Brosnan, 2002

Casino Royale
Daniel Craig, 2006

Quantum of Solace
Daniel Craig, 2008

Daniel Craig, 2012

Daniel Craig, 2015

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