James Bond: A Gentleman for the Ages

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November 9, 2012 by pfrancis207

Dr. Ian Fleming would be proud. Despite having been dead for almost 50 years, the British author has lived on through one character, whose various portrayals (good, bad, but never ugly) have charmed the world over. That character first appeared in Fleming’s 1952 novel “Casino Royale” and debuted on the silver screen in 1962 in “Dr. No”.

That character is James Bond, and despite this blog’s status as an ode to the American gentleman, I must give credit where credit is due: James Bond is one of the greatest fictional gentleman in our history. And with the latest Bond adventure, “Skyfall”, debuting today in theatres nationwide, I think it’s only fair to give Britain’s greatest super spy a moment in the sun.

For starters, Bond has been portrayed by some of the most handsome gentlemen in film. Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig have all been cast as 007 (see below), with Moore appearing in the most films (7). However, Connery is widely regarded as the greatest actor to play King’s Road’s most famous resident. 

As a character, Bond is a complex potpourri of a variety of influences, namely those of Fleming himself and conservative British military attitudes. Bond is suave, debonair, never awkward, always intense. From his suits to his gunmetal cigarette case, James Bond was “swag” before swag even entered the pop culture lexicon.

Of course, much is made of James Bond as a womanizer. However, despite having intimate relations with a different woman in just about every film, Bond treats them with great respect and admiration, knowing that, due to the precarious nature of his position in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, maintaining a relationship is not an easy thing to do. Bond was married once, though, to countess Teresa Di Vicenzo in the novel and film “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. However, her death at the end of that film (the sixth in the series) opens up the appearances of many more “Bond Girls” in the series.

The magic of James Bond would cease to exist however, if not for the style and grace of those men who have portrayed him. Sean Connery, for example, was knighted by the Queen of England in July 2000 and just a year earlier (at the youthful age of 69), Connery was voted as the sexiest man of the century by People Magazine.

George Lazenby, who played Bond only once in the aforementioned “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, was a model prior to his casting for the film in 1969. Roger Moore, who portrayed 007 for 12 years from 1973 to 1985, was an unknown actor prior to his casting, but his performances in such Bond classics as “The Man with the Golden Gun”, “Moonraker” and “Octopussy” shot him to superstardom. But it has been his charity work with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) for which he was knighted by the Queen in 2003.

Pierce Brosnan, an Irish actor who rose to fame in the ’90’s for his work as the dastardly British spy, has also worked with UNICEF Ireland since 2001, teaming up with fellow countryman Liam Neeson for the “Unite for Children, Unite against AIDS” campaign in 2008. His work with Greenpeace for worldwide nuclear disarmament even led him to boycott the French premiere of his first Bond film “Goldeneye” in 1995 due to their stance on nuclear weapons.

As “Skyfall”, Daniel Craig’s third film in the series, premieres tonight amidst mountains of hype (Moore has even proclaimed it as “the best Bond ever made.”), let us not forget that for the past 50 years, this character (and moreso the actors that’ve played him) has symbolized everything that is gentlemanly and honorable.

On that note, I’ll have a martini… “shaken, not stirred.”

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