Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sean Connery 007 Number One!

Yes, it's official. Sean Connery gave the world the number one portrayal of Ian Flemming's iconic British secret agent James Bond 007 as voted by you visiting Warlocks!

Now, there is no doubt that Connery brought to the screen character a certain suave fortitude and a sense of class that has never quite been matched. But there were many other elements that brought that character to life on the screen and solidified the early Bond films and influenced the entire genre of the 1960's spy.

When talking about those early films starting with Dr. No (1962) and going all the way up to Diamonds Are Forever (1970) it would be impossible to not mention the other three pillars of this series; music composer John Barry and production designer Ken Adams and James Bond creator himself, Ian Flemming

Scenery, Scenery, Scenery

The production design of Ken Adams helped define the mod space in which our British Agent faced his foes and bedded his women. Adams use of a sleek spacious modern architecture being sure to include the ceiling (rare for the time period) and forced perspective added a sense of spectacular realism and power to both the good and the evil. Many of the sets in the early films left just as much of an impression with the viewer as did the beautiful women and the action. Scenes depicting Goldfinger's Kentucky ranch or SPECTRE's headquarters or even the unforgettable rocket launchpad beneath a volcano (with an actual rocket!) bound Bond in the 60's.

Adams would be brought back in the later Bond films form time to time and you'd always be able to catch his style. But his edgy sets from the 60's defined not only a genre but an era.

Double 'O' Music

The other consistent element in these early Bond films were the scores written by John Barry. His sweeping violins contrasted nicely with his modern swinging jazz sounds of drums, trumpet and electric guitar. Barry's sounds added that level of class, sex-appeal and action that rounded out the film version of the characters and situation. Though he didn't score the theme for the first film Dr. No, he did compose the famous guitar / horn blasting James Bond theme (often attributed to Monte Norman). His themes for Goldfinger, Thunderball and Diamonds Are Forever (as well as the others) carried the viewer to the far exotic locals where Bond would face off with the deadly agents of SPECTRE.

John Barry would be brought back for many of the modern Bond films in the 70's and beyond. John Barry passed away earlier this year.

Words, Bond's Words

It would be impossible to write about James Bond without mentioning his creator Ina Flemming. Flemming's novels were violent, sexy and quite thrilling as the movies were to become but always ground in a certain realism (which the later films parted with). The development of the character which continued from book to book with the classy pulp style of Flemming wasn't afraid to take chances with his character making him quite human and vulnerable to love and death. One major aspect of these early James Bond films were they're close adherence to the original Flemming novels. Of the first seven films, five of them remained quite true to the novels (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball and On Her Majesties Secret Service) which helped solidify the film character. The other two films, You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, parted from the novels taking only the title and the villain and going off into more fantasy adventures (which defined all the films from the early 70's onward). The books were thrilling cold-war spy dramas and the early films, although updated somewhat to the 1960's, enhanced that with the actor, music and set design and set the tone for action films to come.

Perhaps one of these other actors could have carried the early films as well as Connery. With the aid of Barry, Adams and Flemming himself it's possible that could have been the case. It was done with On Her Majesties Secret Service staring George Lazenby (a Bond film fan favorite that perhaps could have been better played by Connery?), but Connery's charisma and natural class cemented him and the series into the exploding pop culture of the 60's.

And to help you get through your Tuesday, the Bond girls


  1. Love those set designs... makes me want to run a 60's spy game right now.