on the big screen for 60 years – RSI Swiss Radio and Television

Fascinating, disruptive, always surprising and always topical … The bombast is not infrequently wasted when it comes to citing facts and protagonists of the big screen. But for a character like James Bond it really fits perfectly. Especially on a day like this: exactly 60 years after the first appearance in the cinema of the character created by Ian Fleming.

Blessed among the Bond-girls on duty: Sean Connery, here surrounded by Molly Peters, Claudine Auger, Martine Beswick and Luciana Paluzzi, on the set of

Blessed among the Bond-girls on duty: Sean Connery, here surrounded by Molly Peters, Claudine Auger, Martine Beswick and Luciana Paluzzi, on the set of “Operation Tuono”, blockbuster in 1966 (keystone)

In fact, the theatrical release of “Agent 007, license to kill” (Dr. No). A film that, in the face of a non-stratospheric budget, recorded unexpected and copious receipts: costing one million dollars, it collected almost 60 and revealed above all to the general public the depth and talent of Sean Connery. It was the beginning of a saga that, amid ever more compelling plots, futuristic gadgets and agitated but not mixed cocktails, would have imposed James Bond as an authentic 1960s fashion phenomenon. The Scottish actor played him in five other films always crowned with success: memorable, in particular, “From Russia with love” (1963), “Mission Goldfinger” (1964) and “Operation thunder” (1965).

Roger Moore's debut as 007:

Roger Moore’s debut as 007: “Live and Let Die”, filmed in 1973, starring Jane Seymour making her first appearance on the big screen (keystone)

In 1967 Connery, fearing to be too identified with 007 by now, decided to hang up the tuxedo and pass his hand. It was then the turn of George Lazenby in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969), shot largely in Switzerland. According to many, the retrospectively most beautiful film of the entire series. Certainly the most unfortunate, between collections in sharp decline and an interpretation, that of the Australian model, which did not fully convince the public, nor the critics. After a fleeting reappearance of Connery in “A Cascade of Diamonds” (1971), he then fell to Roger Moore the task of guiding James Bond in the 70s with humor, elegance and good-naturedness. The Moore era, which lasted until 1985, was notable above all for an increasing use of special effects and impressive action scenes: emblematic, in this sense, films that hit the box office such as “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), “Moonraker, space operation” (1979) and “Octopussy” (1983).

The James Bond of the 90s: the one brought to the screen, for 4 films, by Pierce Brosnan

The James Bond of the 90s: the one brought to the screen, for 4 films, by Pierce Brosnan (keystone)

After a parenthesis that lasted a couple of films with Timothy Dalton, an actor of theatrical extraction who ensured the series peaks of high acting, it was necessary to wait until the first half of the 90s to give a renewed impetus to the character. It was therefore to embrace the legendary Walther PPK Pierce Brosnanwho interpreted 007 in a very meaningful way in four films of the series: from “Goldeneye” (1994), with its spectacular prologue shot at the Verzasca dam, to “Death can wait” (2002), played by the Northern Irish star with Madonna and the charming Halle Berry.

Daniel Craig, after successfully playing James Bond in 5 films in the series, said goodbye to the character last year following the success of

Daniel Craig, after successfully playing James Bond in 5 films in the series, said goodbye to the character last year after the success of “No time to die” (keystone)

The arrival of Daniel Craig, it was 2005, was accompanied by not a few controversies and perplexities: after all, there were many who did not recognize in the actor the credibility necessary to play James Bond. But the exceptional success of “Casino Royale” (2006) immediately revealed how successful the choice of producers had been. Craig stunned everyone with a superb acting performance and was easily confirmed in the role for four more episodes of the saga. With “No time to die”, released in theaters with a considerable delay due to the pandemic crisis, Craig last year bade his farewell to the iconic secret agent. But for many of him he remains the absolute most convincing interpreter: for the measured but intense acting, and for having effectively grasped those lacerations of the character that emerge well from Ian Fleming’s novels.

And now? Which actor will have the honor – and the burden – of bringing such a legend to the screen? Many names have been made, but without confirmation whatsoever. What seems clear, at least for the moment, is that James Bond will be subjected to a systematic reboot. It will not only be a question of identifying a new actor, but of reworking the overall profile of the character in depth: to make it more current and more adherent to the expectations of an audience that loves continuity, but also to be amazed. To what extent will such an arduous operation be successful? Doubts and questions are certainly not lacking. But in any case it will really be another story. All to follow.

Alex Ricordi


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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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