Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

eBm: Favorite “Bond, James Bond.” Introductions

james-bond_actors

Okay, it’s now 2013 and there’s no Bond film on the immediate horizon. Argh! Perhaps, I’m merely venting my hangover from last year’s 50th anniversary celebration and the more than successful 23rd iteration in the distinguished series (24th, if you count Irvin Kershner’s contribution). Given that I covered some of my favorite aspects of the James Bond movies over the decades in a post from last year, you’d think I’d been exhaustive.

Not quite.

There’s all kinds of things one could list or grade in regards to these films. I am sure I’m not the first, nor certainly be the last, to bring the following some scrutiny. Of all of the six actors to have played OO7 in this movie series, each had a moment to shine in their introductions. Specifically, their initial chance at expressing this now immortal line for the camera:

“Bond, James Bond.”

So, I’m going to rank them here, purely as an arcane exercise in what I’ll call excessive Bond minutiae (eBm™, for short). What the Hell? The holidays are over, we’re all back at work or school, and it’s cold outside (except for you, Hawaii…). I decided to make it a video exercise on YouTube, at that. (yes, all rights reserved) Any excuse to play with iMovie, I guess.

You may notice this will coincidentally follow my grading of the actors who’ve played Bond, in general (with one exception). Let’s get to it then.

The Lower Tier

George and the good ship OHMsS

6Yes, it’s my third highest Bond (see here), but has my least favorite utterance of the line. Lazenby’s vocalization just rings a little impudent to me. No doubt not helped by the actor’s now self-admitted mistakes during the production. He wasn’t assisted either by having to deliver the dialogue on some stage with a projected beach set in the background. Nowhere near where the stunt and scene occurred. It takes the audience right out of the movie, IMO. That, and George Lazenby (as Bond) just are not anywhere near the best. But, at least it did have the best Bond girl (Diana Rigg) and story.

Roger that… Live and Let Die

5Bond as a Blaxploitation movie. Hmm… Roger Moore may have had more bites of the apple with the role, and obviously uttered those three words more than any other actor bar none, but his delivery always rang tongue-in-cheek too often for my tastes. Too casual to be a real statement for the character. Yet, at the very least here, Roger had a distinct quaint charm (with Jane Seymour as Solitaire, in particular). And his delivery served as a good counterpoint to what was being thrown his way in this sequence. It’s better than George’s take, that’s for sure, but little else.

Tim’s The Living Daylights

4If the producers wanted to say something about a new era of the franchise, after Roger’s oh so late departure, then this was a really ambitious start. At least for some of us fans. Timothy Dalton‘s debut had much going for it. And the filmmakers re-used the ploy of not having him utter one word of dialogue throughout the sequence till he comes to the post-action scene at the end with the girl on the boat (à la George in OHMSS). Its weakness? That girl in the boat, surprisingly. Belle Avery as Linda was too blasé and stilted — okay, the bikini notwithstanding. She comes off a bit pretentious, as well. To say nothing of, the underrated Tim cut-off too quickly on-screen with the opening titles sequence that followed. It just could have been ended better.

The Upper Tier

Pierce has a Goldeneye

3Now with this, Pierce Brosnan‘s introduction, we harkened back to the classic line’s roots. Immediately familiar to long-time Bond fans, situating this sequence in a high-end casino and at a Baccarat table honored history and set the tone handsomely for the newcomer. No doubt helped by another beautiful brunette, this time Famke Janssen, sitting opposite the new Bond. Brosnan’s appeal and comfort with the character was fairly obvious, and benefitted from producers giving the actor more reign (and cheek) with his back and forth with Xenia Onatopp, one of the top-tier Bond girls and henchmenwomen.

Daniel Never a Gamble… Casino Royale

2Instead of stepping in as another replacement (as had been done four times previously), Daniel Craig ushered in the reboot, and overhaul, of the venerable series. In doing so, producers went back to the beginning, Ian Fleming’s first novel, as the source story-wise. Out went the threadbare template, to grand effect, especially with this début aspect. And with that, the now legendary intro didn’t arrive until the very last scene, in fact. Needless to say, Craig now as the broodier, edgier OO7, delivered the line in spades. Inasmuch as the one on the receiving end was a male (the only one in this entire set), Jesper Christensen as Mr. White, the casual menace in Craig’s recitation was more than fitting, and one worthy of a Bond villain, in truth.

No Topping Sean… Dr. No

1Just because it was done here first isn’t the sole reason Sean Connery is at the head of the class. No, it’s because the scene, the actor, the whole damn thing, made for one of greatest entrances in cinematic history. Simply, it set the standard, and the rationale, for including that very line in every subsequent movie in the James Bond franchise. Connery’s tempo hasn’t been surpassed either: “Bond,” [lights his cigarette, pause a beat to snap his lighter shut, then finish with] “James Bond.” Perfect rhythm and delivery. Even the repartee with the brunette, Brit actress Eunice Gayson, became a touchstone. In actuality, she’s the forgotten key to this whole piece of dialogue. It’s the woman who set the criterion. Bond was merely responding in kind at the Baccarat table after seeking out her name. She rejoined with a more than confident bearing,

“Trench, Sylvia Trench.”


What order would you place them?

20 Responses to “eBm: Favorite “Bond, James Bond.” Introductions”

  1. Colin

    Pretty much agree with that Michael. Connery’s delivery in Dr No is perfect and, as you noted, the context is everything.
    The only change to your order I might make would be to swap Brosnan and Craig around, but it’s just nitpicking really.

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Thanks so much, Colin. The top three really do separate themselves from the rest. Each has a distinct quality. Certainly, numbers two and three could have gone either way with me, too. Nothing was going to touch my number one, though.

      Reply
  2. youjivinmeturkey

    Actually, I’m In Firm Agreement With Your Order. Roger May Be My Favorite Bond, But The BEST Bonds Have Been Connery And Craig. But Connery’s Delivery In Dr.No Is The Iconic Image That Enters Into My Brain When I Hear Anyone Utter Those Words… “Bond… James Bond.”
    Great Post!
    -B.

    Reply
  3. Fogs' Movie Reviews

    excessive Bond minutiae :D Heh. It certainly is, but I approve!
    :D

    A good ranking. I’d flop Craig and Brosnan (Brosnan’s Goldeneye utterance was one of the best) but aside from that, this is an airtight ranking!

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Thanks, Fogs. Yeah, Brosnan’s delivery in Goldeneye is more than worthy for the top-tier. Ever since Craig has come onboard, he’s gotten short shrift. And that’s too bad really.

      Reply
  4. Paula

    I am in complete agreement. Stray observation: Brosnan in GOLDENEYE is not really the same as Brosnan by the end. Also, someday I’ll learn how baccarat is played ;)

    Reply
      • Paula

        I just think that Brosnan’s version of the character was more like the books’ for GOLDENEYE and got steadily closer to Roger Moore’s version as he went along through his other movies in the series. Just my opinion. Admittedly, I don’t like those ones other than GOLDENEYE, which is one of the best, and I haven’t seen them in a while.

        Reply
        • le0pard13

          I see. Good point regarding Brosnan’s transition through his stint as OO7 in the films. Now that you mention it, I agree with your assessment. No wonder I have Goldeneye higher up in my ranking than his others. Thanks for the clarification, Paula.

          Reply
  5. mummbles

    Loving the list, I will hold back my rankings until I have seen more. Oddly enough I have still never seen a Bond movie starring Roger Moore. I do think Connery is the best though with Craig and Brosnan close behind

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Thanks, mummbles. Let me know when you caught up with Moore as Bond. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

      Reply
  6. sanclementejedi

    Somehow you managed to create the exact same order that I would have set up. Great minds think alike and all that jazz ;-)

    Reply
  7. ruth

    Awesome post! You can’t top Sean, surely, I love that he got the idea from a woman :D I actually like how casual Dalton’s intro was at the boat, but you know he can do no wrong in my eyes. Brosnan always comes across as trying too hard, like he just couldn’t wait to utter those lines.

    Reply
  8. Dan

    Yeah, you can’t beat Sean Connery. He set the bar very high. I love Eunice Gayson too so it is great to see her get a mention – she’s one of my favourite Bond girls if not other reason than she set the ball rolling…

    Reply
    • le0pard13

      Great to hear, Dan. Yes, I’m a fan of Eunice and what she created starting with that one sequence. Thanks so much for the comment, my friend.

      Reply

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