For over five decades, film lovers have flocked to see the smooth secret agent, James Bond. As one of the most famous fictional spies in the world, you don’t have to see the movies to know a little bit about 007.
The James Bond movie franchise is one of our firm favourites. Bond’s appeal stretches across generations and six different actors. Although a lot has changed since “Dr. No” in 1962, we still can’t get enough of “Bond. James Bond.”
Created by author Ian Fleming for his 1953 novel Casino Royale, the first in a series of books featuring the British Secret Service agent with the codename '007', James Bond is undoubtedly one of cinema's most iconic and recognisable characters.
Appearing in a total of 12 novels and two short story collections by Ian Fleming – as well as several more by other authors since Fleming's death – James Bond's first on-screen appearance came in an episode of long-forgotten 1950s TV show Climax!, for which Fleming adapted Casino Royale into a 50-minute TV special aired in 1954, starring Barry Nelson as the suave secret agent with a license to kill.
However, it was film producer Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli and his company Eon Productions that transformed Fleming's creation into the on-screen icon we know today, using the sixth of Fleming's Bond novels to create Dr. No in 1962 and introducing us to Sean Connery's 007 with the immortal line: “The name's Bond. James Bond.”
Since then, the James Bond movies have become the longest-running film series in history with a total of 24 films over the last five decades (not including the non-canonical Never Say Never Again and the 1967 Casino Royale, starring David Niven). He's big business too - as of 2016, Bond is the third-highest grossing movie franchise of all-time.
The men behind the bow-tie
So, why are we just as in love with Bond as we were over five decades ago? What's the secret to his enduring success?
When Bond first burst onto cinema screens in the early 1960s he was a unique combination of action hero and sex symbol – or, to use an oft-repeated quote: “Women want to be with him, men want to be him.” Obviously, cultural attitudes have changed a lot since those days and one of the keys to 007's enduring appeal is that Bond has evolved with the times.
With six different actors playing 007 over the years, each has put their own unique spin on the character whilst maintaining the core essence of Bond. From Sean Connery's womanising playboy, through Roger Moore's smooth-talking know-it-all to Daniel Craig's battle-scarred hero, each have managed to stay true to Bond's combination of toughness, style and class.
Bond's girls, guns and gadgets
Ever since the release of Dr. No, 'Bond Girls', as they have become known, have played a huge part in the James Bond legacy. They have been his sidekicks, his enemies, his friends and – sometimes – his weakness. In the early days, many of Bond's women - particularly the ones imagined by Fleming – were portrayed as glamorous side attractions with risque names like Holly Goodhead, Pussy Galore and Plenty O'Toole. More recently though, Bond girls are often a match for the man himself - who could forget Halle Berry's kick-ass NSA agent, Jinx, or Grace Jones as the terrifying May Day?
But just as iconic as Bond's girls are his never-ending supply of gadgets, supplied by the ever-resourceful Q. Played for years by Desmond Llwelyn, then later by John Cleese and Ben Whishaw, Q branch has delivered no end of tools and gadgets over the years, from poison dart-firing pens to exploding key-rings – not forgetting his trusty Walther PPK pistol, of course.
King amongst all these, however, are Bond's cars, usually tricked out with optional extras like machine guns, ejector seats and all sorts of other goodies to help him keep the upper hand over his enemies. Bond's cars have become almost as famous as his girls, from Roger Moore's amphibious Lotus Elise to Pierce Brosnan's remote-controlled BMW 750iL and, of course, Sean Connery's iconic Aston Martin DB5.
The James Bond theme songs
This is one series of movies that just wouldn't be the same without its theme songs an over the years the Bond films have become famed for their powerful musical accompaniment. Since John Barry's iconic surf-guitar riff opened the credits of Dr. No, penning a Bond theme has become something of a bucket list item for many songwriters, with some of the biggest artists in history from Paul McCartney to Madonna having created an opening tune for 007.
On par with the cars, gadgets and glamorous women, the title song is a key part of every Bond film and with hits like Shirley Bassey's 'Goldfinger', Duran Duran's 'A View To A Kill' and Adele's 'Skyfall' – the first Bond theme to win an Oscar – all having featured on the films' opening credits, the songs of the 007 films have been almost as successful in their own right.
“Bond. James Bond.”
Whether or not Daniel Craig will return as 007 for the next instalment remains to be seen, but until then here's a recap of all the films in the Bond canon so far...
1. - Dr. No (1962)
2. - From Russia with Love (1963)
3. - Goldfinger (1964)
4. - Thunderball (1965)
5. - You Only Live Twice (1967)
6. - On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
7. - Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
8. - Live and Let Die (1973)
9. - The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
10. - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
11. - Moonraker (1979)
12. - For Your Eyes Only (1981)
13. - Octopussy (1983)
14. - A View to a Kill (1985)
15. - The Living Daylights (1987)
16. - Licence to Kill (1989)
17. - GoldenEye (1995)
18. - Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
19. - The World Is Not Enough (1999)
20. - Die Another Day (2002)
21. - Casino Royale (2006)
22. - Quantum of Solace (2008)
23. - Skyfall (2012)
24. - Spectre (2015)