Preparing for Skyfall

A beginner’s guide to James Bond’s 50-year history.

A beginner’s guide to James Bond’s 50-year history.

By Chris Harcus
[associate culture editor]

(Left to right) Bond through the years: Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig.

For 50 years, James Bond has graced the big screen with his trademark suave attitude, shaken-not-stirred martinis, and never-ending stream of sexy co-stars. In celebration of Bond’s 50 year anniversary, and the anticipation of the upcoming Bond movie Skyfall, we here at The Runner have decided to look back at the variety of actors who have portrayed Bond during his impressively long tenure in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and pick the best film each Bond had starred in.

Sean Connery (1962-1967, 1971): Easily starring in the most critically wellreceived Bond movies of all-time, Sean Connery was the first actor to introduce James Bond to film with 1962’s Dr. No. However, Bond did not become a household name and cinema staple until the release of 1964’s Goldfinger. Featuring classic characters such as Oddjob and Pussy Galore, the introduction of the Aston Martin as James Bond’s car, and a famous dialogue exchange during an iconic laser-torture scene, Goldfinger was filled with memorable moments that cemented James Bond as a cultural juggernaut that remains as relevant now as it was 50 years ago.

George Lazenby (1969): Being the only actor to portray Bond for a single movie, George Lazenby is frequently forgotten in comparison to the other famous actors who have portrayed the character. Thankfully, Lazenby’s single Bond movie, 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, turned out to be generally well-received by critics for its exhilarating action and a surprisingly strong romantic sub-plot. Unfortunately, the reaction to Lazenby’s portrayal of Bond was not nearly as positive; many critics noted that excluding the action scenes, Lazenby’s performance was wooden and lacked the charisma that was expected from James Bond. It wasn’t surprising when Bond returned in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever, Lazenby was a noshow, and Connery once again took the role of Bond.

Roger Moore (1973-1985): Holding the record for the longest period spent being Bond, Roger Moore starred in seven films over his 12-year tenure as Bond. While Roger Moore’s Bond films were frequently criticized for their slapstick, campy tone, the 1977 classic The Spy Who Loved Me toned down the slapstick humour to widespread critical acclaim. Praise was particularly focused on Roger Moore’s performance, the exceptional set pieces and the impressive gadgetry Bond used, such as the iconic submarine car. The Spy Who Loved Me is also known for the famous dental work of Bond villain Jaws, as well as perpetuating the stereotype that all evil villains have underwater lairs.

Timothy Dalton (1987-1989): Timothy Dalton’s short time as Bond was known for the sudden shift from the campy tone of Moore, to a much grittier, darker side of Bond. Starring in only two movies, Dalton was at his best in 1987’s The Living Daylights, which was praised for its return to a more realistic tone similar to the early Bond films. Notable for the movie was the darker depiction of Bond, a move that was generally well-received by most audiences and critics. However, The Living Daylights successor, 1989’s Licence To Kill, was heavily criticized for being for being too dark and violent, with many considering Bond’s actions out of character.

Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002): Following a six year hiatus, James Bond was rebooted with Pierce Brosnan starring as the titular character in 1995’s critically acclaimed Goldeneye. Generally regarded as a modernization of the franchise, Brosnan’s Bond was praised as a sleeker, wittier Bond that abandoned the dark undertones that defined Dalton’s portrayal. Goldeneye, Brosnan’s most acclaimed Bond film, was positively received for its action and stunts, as well as its use of computer-generated special effects, which was a first for the series. However, Brosnan’s later films were frequently criticized for overusing special effects and neglecting plot and characters.

Daniel Craig (2006-present): Debuting in a massive amount of controversy over Daniel Craig’s lack of traditional Bond characteristics, 2006’s Casino Royale silenced naysayers by stripping back the CG and gadgetry while focusing on a grittier, realistic tone. Currently one of the most well-received Bond movies of all time, as well as the highest grossing Bond film to date, Casino Royale acted as a reboot that placed Bond in a new timeline with no relation to any of the previous movies in the franchise. Generally regarded as an edgier, unrefined Bond, Craig’s performance was praised for his reinvention of the famous character. Casino Royale’s follow up, Quantum of Solace, had a much more mixed reception, with critics particularly lamenting the weaker plot.