History, Legacy & Showmanship

007… Fifty Years Strong: An Interview with James Bond Historians

June 10, 2013 - 12:01 am   |   by
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Let us continue the James Bond 50th anniversary celebration, shall we?  Last autumn, around the time Skyfall was being released to theaters, the Blu-ray set was hitting retailers and the anniversary hype was in high gear, I had this idea that it might be interesting if I could round up a few of my James Bond historian friends, turn on a recorder… and talk James Bond, and then perhaps turn that into an article.  It didn’t happen (primarily for logistical reasons).  But a few months later the next best thing did happen. That is, separately-conducted interviews that have been edited into a round-table format.

In the information age it seems everyone is an expert.  There are millions of fans of the James Bond movie series and quite a few of them no doubt are an expert on all matters related to the series.  In my view, though, the real experts – the best of the best – are the ones that have taken their passion and knowledge of all things James Bond to the next level and have succeeded in writing books on the subject (and in some cases producing documentary films).  As such, I thought it would be an interesting experiment to ask a handful of these experts the same set of questions pertaining to the subject of the James Bond movies and why the series has endured.  Interviewed for this article were Jon Burlingame, John Cork, Bill Desowitz, Paul Duncan, Charles Helfenstein, Mark O’Connell, Lee Pfeiffer, Steven Jay Rubin, Bruce Scivally and Dave Worrall. 

First, some introductions that establish the credentials of the participants.

Jon Burlingame is the author of The Music of James Bond (Oxford University Press, 2012).  He also authored Sound and Vision: 60 Years of Motion Picture Soundtracks (Watson-Guptill, 2000) and TV’s Biggest Hits: The Story of Television Themes From Dragnet to Friends (Schirmer, 1996).  He writes regularly for the show-biz trade Variety and has also been published in The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.  He started writing about spy music for the 1970s fanzine File Forty and has since produced seven CDs of original music from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. for the Film Score Monthly label.

John Cork is the author (with Bruce Scivally) of James Bond: The Legacy (Abrams, 2002). He also wrote (with Maryam d’Abo) Bond Girls Are Forever: The Women of James Bond (Abrams, 2003) and (with Collin Stutz) James Bond Encyclopedia (DK, 2007). He is the president of Cloverland, a multi-media production company, producing documentaries and supplemental material for movies on DVD and Blu-ray, including material for Chariots of Fire, The Commancheros, The Hustler, and many of the James Bond titles. Cork also wrote the screenplay to The Long Walk Home (1990), starring Whoopi Goldberg and Sissy Spacek.

Bill Desowitz authored James Bond Unmasked (Spies, 2012). He is the owner of Immersed in Movies (www.billdesowitz.com), a contributor to Thompson on Hollywood at Indiewire and contributing editor of Animation Scoop at Indiewire. He has also contributed to the Los Angeles Times and USA Today.

Paul Duncan is the editor of The James Bond Archives (Taschen, 2012).  He has edited over fifty film books for Taschen, and is currently preparing The Charlie Chaplin Archives for release in 2014.

Charles Helfenstein is the author of The Making of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (Spies, 2009) and The Making of The Living Daylights (Spies, 2012).

Mark O’Connell is the author of Catching Bullets: Memoirs of a Bond Fan (Splendid Books, 2012).

Lee Pfeiffer is the author (with Philip Lisa) of The Incredible World of 007: An Authorized Celebration of James Bond (Citadel, 1992) and (with Dave Worrall) The Essential Bond (Boxtree, 1998/Harper Collins, 1999).  He also wrote (with Michael Lewis) The Films of Harrison Ford (Citadel, 2002) and (with Dave Worrall) The Great Fox War Movies (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2006).  He is the founder (with Dave Worrall) of Cinema Retro magazine.

Steven Jay Rubin is the author of The James Bond Films: A Behind-the-Scenes History (Random House, 1981) and The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia (McGraw-Hill, 2002). He also wrote Combat Films: American Realism, 1945-2010 (McFarland, 2011) and has written for Cinefantastique magazine.

Bruce Scivally is the author (with John Cork) of James Bond: The Legacy (Abrams, 2002). He has also written Superman on Film, Television, Radio & Broadway (McFarland, 2006) and Billion Dollar Batman: A History of the Caped Crusader on Film, Radio and Television from 10¢ Comic Book to Global Icon (Henry Gray, 2011). He teaches screenwriting, film production and cinema history and theory at the Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago and Columbia College.

Dave Worrall is the author (with Lee Pfeiffer) of The Essential Bond (Boxtree, 1998/Harper Collins, 1999) and is the publisher of The James Bond Collector’s Club magazine.  He also wrote (with Lee Pfeiffer) The Great Fox War Movies (20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, 2006).  He is the founder (with Lee Pfeiffer) of Cinema Retro magazine.

And now that the participants have been introduced, might I suggest you begin playing your favorite 007 soundtrack album and prepare a martini (shaken, not stirred, of course), and then enjoy this conversation with some of the world’s foremost experts on all things James Bond…

Bond 50 on Blu-ray

Michael Coate (The Digital Bits):  Why is the 50th anniversary of the James Bond movie series worthy of celebration?

Jon Burlingame:  There have been plenty of character and story franchises throughout film history, but none that have lasted as long (especially under a single aegis) or proven as resilient as James Bond.  He emerged as a Cold War hero and has managed to change with the times, both in terms of geopolitical background and filmmaking trends. 

John Cork:  First off, we got a great Bond film for the anniversary!  Second, because Bond makes us happy.  He still represents everything we aspire to in so many ways – some level of invincibility, some form of the love we have for the very British combination of adventure, dry humor and good taste.  We celebrate them because, for better or worse, they changed the film industry.  And, finally, the anniversary gave us some wonderful examinations of the series in book form – Charles Helfenstein’s wonderful look at the mid-way Bond, The Living Daylights; Bill Desowitz’s unique view of Bond through the eyes of the actors who played 007; Jon Burlingame’s vibrant history of the music of 007, a book only he could have written; and Paul Duncan’s official archive work that is really quite spectacular.

Bill Desowitz:  It’s the longest-running franchise and a cultural legacy about power and strength and survival that continues to have an impact.  And it’s a testament to survival and durability and lasting appeal.  In an era where so much is disposable and so little consensus, Bond continues to be there for us as cinematic comfort food, as a tradition that gets passed down from family to family, from generation to generation, particularly from father to son.  It was a thrill taking my two sons to see their first Bond in a theater (Quantum of Solace), and they eagerly awaited Skyfall.  They also enjoyed seeing some of the earlier movies in a theater during the 50th anniversary celebration last year.

Paul Duncan:  As far as I am aware, this is the only film series to last fifty years.  Not only has it lasted, it has thrived, developed, and regenerated itself, creating the template for the modern action film.  It has given so much pleasure to so many people around the world, that it seems appropriate to celebrate the achievement.

Charles Helfenstein:  It’s a celebration of quality from start to finish – from Ian Fleming’s superb research, action packed but elegant writing to the Broccoli mantra of putting every dollar on the screen.  While the series has had some dips in the road, it is a remarkable fifty-year streak of compelling entertainment.

Mark O’Connell:  Because half a century in any industry is an achievement.  And it is half a century that has been marked with success, creative savvy and industry fortitude as the good ship 007 navigates through evolving studio and box office pressures.  Despite its global reach, the Bond franchise is still run by the smallest corner shop in an age of corporate superstores.  The industry of Bond – the employment, merchandise, tourism, the artistry, what it represents for cinema owners the world over – is a crucial cog in the history of popular culture.

Lee Pfeiffer:  There is no other film series that comes close to surviving fifty years.  There have been characters like Batman and Superman that have been in films for decades before Bond, but these were not consistently done by the same production company.  What makes the Bonds unique is that Eon Productions has been behind every one of the “official” 007 films.  The series has thrived through decades, despite the public’s fickle behavior towards pop culture icons.  Every time the series seems to be running out of steam, the producers find a way to reinvigorate.  It’s quite remarkable, really. 

Steven Jay Rubin:  In the case of the James Bond films, celebrating a 50th anniversary is a huge toast to the consistent quality, popularity and historical significance of the series.  For over fifty years, the Broccoli family has provided a motion picture product that has enthralled generations of moviegoers, never alienating the family adventure audience that has been its stock in trade.  The films can be violent and sexy, but the producers have never crossed the line, providing the closest thing we have today to a stamped guarantee of entertainment for the entire family.

Bruce Scivally:  Never in the history of cinema has there been another series that has remained vital for so long and has been produced by the same family.  The first Tarzan movie was released in 1918, and Tarzan movies are still being produced, but the films are not part of one unbroken series from the same producer.  The same goes for Sherlock Holmes.  James Bond, however, has been on cinema screens since 1962, and all of the films have been produced or executive produced by Albert R. Broccoli, his stepson Michael G. Wilson or his daughter Barbara Broccoli.

Dave Worrall:  Any institution that relies on commercialism and has proved to be successful and profitable is worthy of celebrating.  In the film industry even more so, as fads generally burn themselves out.  It’s a great achievement.

Coate:  To what do you attribute the enduring appeal of the series?

Burlingame:  During its first fifteen years the films were made by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who – against the odds – kept making movies (with three different actors playing 007) that people wanted to see, continually upping the action and outrageousness quotient.  In subsequent years, with Broccoli alone in charge, Bond remained popular (and that continues today with Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli in charge).  The character is in many ways a hero for the ages, as someone who battles evil on behalf of all of us; accomplishes feats that the average guy wishes he could; and is as attractive to women as he is admirable to men.  That’s a movie hero any producer would wish for.  And by watching and employing what’s working in other successful action films, Bond filmmakers have also managed to stay current while keeping their own very specific approach.

Cork:  Style.  Bond films almost always feel different, but not like, say, an Iron Man film, where one has no foot in reality. Bond’s world isn’t the world as it is; it is the world as we would like to imagine it. 

Desowitz:  Bond’s power and freedom are very thrilling and sexy, and are underscored by the iconic elements of the franchise.  It’s also comforting to have a world savior protecting us while at the same time rebelling against the very authority that sanctions him with a license to kill.  As Pierce Brosnan told me, “...he remains somewhat timeless, somewhat trapped within a period of time as well.”  And the producers have managed to find actors to convey different personalities in keeping with the times.  Today, Daniel Craig is very much a post-9/11 Bond reaching back to the angst of the Fleming books.

Duncan:  I think the enduring longevity of James Bond is a tribute to the good business practices and artistic sensitivities of the producers.  Harry Saltzman and Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli began the series with Dr. No in 1962, Cubby continued on his own from The Spy Who loved Me, then with his stepson Michael G. Wilson, and finally Michael and Cubby’s daughter, Barbara Broccoli, evolved the series from GoldenEye onwards to the latest film Skyfall.  Not only do they put all the money up on the screen, but they are smart enough to give the directors, actors, production designers, special effects supervisors, and stunt people the creative freedom to experiment and try new things so that they produce their best work for the movies.  The result is that these four producers have an incredible track record that no other production company can match –  twenty-three films over fifty years and every one of them made a profit, because every one of them entertained a worldwide audience.  Over the years, the series has been “rebooted” as a new actor takes over the role of Bond, or because of changes in the market, but the cinema Bond always remains very close to Ian Fleming’s depiction of Bond in the novels.  This is the secret of the franchise’s success – you don’t mess with a proven formula.  I think this is also the reason why Daniel Craig’s interpretation of Bond has been so successful – he is probably closer to Fleming’s Bond, and Connery’s original interpretation, than any of the other actors who have played the role.

Helfenstein:  James Bond is an aspirational character, the ultimate male fantasy.  We want to own the coolest gadgets, vanquish the evil doers, wear the most stylish clothes, thwart death with aplomb, and make love to the most beautiful women.  The Bond films let us do that.

O’Connell:  Quality.  Integrity.  Style.  And then some more integrity for good measure.

Pfeiffer:  The producers always seem to find the right Bond for the right era.  It’s inconceivable that audiences today would accept Roger Moore’s overtly humorous interpretation of the role, but it’s just as valid to say that Daniel Craig would have been considered far too somber for audiences in the 70s and 80s.  There is also a first class, larger-than-life feel to all of the Bond movies, even the weakest entries. 

Rubin:  Brand recognition combined with consistent quality equals enduring appeal.  We have few guarantees in our movie choices and most of those are short-lived. People will stick with a quality product, just like they’ll stick with their favorite radio station, steak house, liquor of choice and route to work.  We want comfort in selection and the Bond films do that more effectively each year.  The fact that grandparents can share their love of a character with grandchildren also doesn’t hurt.  After fifty years, the Bond movies have a terrific following.  Who hasn’t seen at least one Bond movie?

Scivally:  The 007 films combine the classic appeal of hero epics in the St. George and the Dragon mode with the tough, cynical anti-heroes of American noir fiction, like Mike Hammer.  When the films came along, they added humor to the mix, plus a kind of transparent consumerism and embracing of technology that made the films seem very modern.

Worrall:  Initially, pure guaranteed entertainment of the highest order.  The audience have never been short-changed, and the producers have worked hard to up the ante every time.

Coate:  If Ian Fleming or Albert Broccoli were alive today, how do you think they would feel about how the series has played out?

Burlingame:  Fleming was a practical man and I suspect that, while he might have distanced himself from the increasingly outrageous storylines and “superman” aspects of the Bond persona of the 1970s and beyond, he would have seen the films as a financial boon and a constant source of new readers for the old books.  I have no doubt that Broccoli would be very pleased with how his children have handled the Bond cinema legacy; they have taken what is essentially a family business and continued to thrive well into the 21st century.  Bravo to them.

Cork:  I think Ian would have been mortified by the Bond of the 70s and 80s, resigned to the Bond of the 90s and eternally grateful for the Bond of Daniel Craig.  That’s my perception of Fleming’s feelings. Personally, had the 70s and 80s tried to play Bond as the same character in From Russia With Love, the series wouldn’t have lasted.  I was fortunate to have known Cubby a bit, not closely, but honored to have conversations with him about Bond.  He would be over the moon, but not about the content of the films.  He would have been so honored and proud that Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli have carried on his legacy and made it their own.  They didn’t screw it up, and that would have meant the world to him. 

Desowitz:  I think Fleming would be pleased that Bond has returned to the conflicted spy of his books; Broccoli would be proud that his children have found great success and prestige with their own Bond suited to the times.  By the way, Harry Saltzman would be proud as well because the serious touch is in keeping with the dramatic side that appealed to him as a producer.  There’s a kitchen sink element to Craig’s Bond that harkens back to Saltzman’s signature.


Duncan:  Ian Fleming would have been happy to see that the character he created, which in no small part was based on himself, had been so successful and so universally recognized throughout the world.  It would be interesting to speculate about his role in the development of the character – because surely he would have continued writing Bond – and his input into the film plots and screenplays, but I think ultimately he would be pleased to allow Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman to continue making the films as they saw fit.  Albert Broccoli were keenly aware of the audience, and the global reach of the films, so would have been proud of the way that his stepson and daughter have continued his legacy, by developing the character of Bond, and finding new markets for the films.

Helfenstein:  I think both men would be immensely proud of their legacy.  Ian for the fact that his character has become not just a phenomenon but a cultural touchstone, a synonym for cool and high tech.  Cubby for the fact that his children have taken his production company and the Bond series to even greater heights.

Bond 50

O’Connell:  I think Cubby would be most proud of the efforts of his children and the wider creative Eon family.  I am so glad he got to see the revival of the series with GoldenEye as well as the suggestion of a new momentum to the series when Tomorrow Never Dies was in its early stages.  The now oft-overlooked importance of instinct is all over the Daniel Craig films.  That was something Cubby nurtured in the Bond family.  There is a determination to get these films right – from the admin staff via the studio technicians up to the director.  Of course, Fleming would not have recognized how the films evolved, yet the legacy of his creation – the fresh canvas it allows each new film – is testament to the baton of character and storytelling Broccoli, Saltzman and their colleagues then ran with.

Pfeiffer:  I would think Fleming would have been appalled by most of the films that came out after his death in 1964 because of the increasing emphasis on hardware and gadgets.  However, Cubby would have been over the moon.  Back in 1994, most of the pundits thought reviving Bond for GoldenEye was absurd in the post-Cold War era.  But Cubby told me he felt it was time to turn the franchise over to “the kids,” Barbara and Michael.  He had full confidence they could make Bond relevant again.  Although he was very ill, he did have the satisfaction of seeing his prediction come true.  I think he would be overjoyed at seeing how popular Bond is with the younger audiences.  This man lived and breathed 007 and was always eager to talk about the series. 

Rubin:  Ian Fleming would be absolutely stunned that the series has lasted this long, after all his book titles ran out in the 70s.  He would be happy for his heirs, but seriously surprised that Bond could endure.  Cubby wouldn’t be surprised, because he knew how the business worked.  Give the public what they want, and they’ll keep coming.  He would be very happy with Barbara Broccoli and Michael Wilson’s stewardship.  Come to think of it, if he took a look at the price tag, he would be stunned, as would most producers from his era.  Hard to believe that a film like Dr. No cost $1 million, the price of craft service and lunch on the last film.

Scivally:  Almost immediately after creating 007, Ian Fleming set about trying to interest producers in bringing James Bond to movies or TV.  I believe he would be delighted that the film series has carried on for so long, and kept interest in his original novels alive.  And I’m sure Broccoli would be very proud that, under the stewardship of Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, the series has not only continued but thrived.

Worrall:  I think Fleming would be amused, and Cubby very proud.

Coate:  Which was the first James Bond movie you saw and what was it about it or subsequent films that made you a fan?

Burlingame:  I saw Thunderball and You Only Live Twice at a drive-in, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in a theater, in the late 1960s.  I was hooked on the music even before seeing the films, however, as the title songs were playing on the radio and I was already a fan of composer John Barry.  I bought the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service album immediately and the other Bond soundtracks soon after.  Plus, I had been a spy-TV fan from 1964, having watched and adored The Man from U.N.C.L.E. from the very beginning, so I was primed for the big-screen experience fairly early.

Cork:  The first film I have any memory of seeing in any movie theater anywhere was From Russia With Love.  I was three.  I didn’t become a real fan until I saw Live and Let Die when I was eleven. 

Desowitz:  I remember my parents taking me to see Goldfinger in ‘65 in the [San Fernando] Valley and it was one of my most memorable childhood filmgoing experiences.  I found it uniquely fun and exciting.  I even whispered that Bond should grab the cable during his fight with Oddjob.  That same year I caught up with Dr. No and From Russia With Love at a drive-in double-bill.  I was pretty much hooked.

Duncan:  My first Bond film was Sean Connery’s Diamonds are Forever whilst on holiday in Ilfracombe in Devon.  I got the Corgi Aston Martin DB5 as a present for my birthday, and then my dad took me to see a double bill of Thunderball and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  I loved the cars, the stunts, the exotic locations, but most of all I loved the confidence and humor of James Bond.  As I grew older, from The Spy Who Loved Me onwards, I made sure that I saw the films when they were released.  As each new actor was introduced as Bond, it seemed to rejuvenate the character, and the series.

Helfenstein:  My first memories of Bond films were from watching them on TV, sadly the butchered ABC versions.  But I was hooked.  The first Bond film I saw in the theater was Moonraker.  While its fidelity to Fleming’s work is, shall we say, lacking, it is still an entertaining film, and quite a thrill for a nine-year-old.  I wanted his wrist dart gun SOOO badly!

O’Connell:  On one of our Divorced Parent Sundays my Dad took a very reluctant me to the Guildford Odeon to see Octopussy upon release.  But I wanted to see Return of the Jedi again and had quite an anti-Bond tantrum in the cinema’s foyer and got wedged in the turnstiles trying to push my way out.  But Dad quite rightly stood his parental ground – something which made absolute sense in the months and years that followed.  As Cubby Broccoli’s sex and sari actioner unfurled before me I became instantly infatuated with Bond.  All the facets that some sniffy fans dismiss – the tuk-tuk chase, the gymnastic assault, the crocodile and fold-up jet – were perfect filmic fodder to get a seven year old hooked on a series.  It was not long after I fully fathomed that my grandfather Jimmy had worked with Cubby Broccoli and the Eon family for years.  I was then drip-fed nuggets of news, posters and merchandise from A View to a Kill which ramped up my anticipation.  It was – and still is – the traditions of a Bond film’s genesis that reminds me why I am a fan.  The announcement of a title, the first poster, the first photograph, the first play of the song… the Bond machine has rarely changed in how it fanfares itself.  And Skyfall was such a reminder of the global pull and weight of a new Bond film.  What other series of films makes BBC News headlines with the launch of a title song or first trailer?!

Pfeiffer:  The first Bond movie I saw was From Russia With Love in 1963.  I didn’t want to see it; I thought it was a love story.  As an eight-year-old boy, I was only interested in the second feature, Twice Told Tales starring Vincent Price, who I always admired.  By the time Bond unspooled, I was hooked and very frustrated when I found out there had been an earlier 007 movie that I didn’t see.  I finally caught Dr. No when it was released in ‘65 as part of a double feature.

Rubin:  I saw Goldfinger at Christmas 1964 after reading the book – a time when I first started to see movies based on books I read.  At that time, those little colorful Signet paperbacks were on everybody’s desk in my junior high.  Goldfinger was just the coolest movie to see and it delivered big time.  Sean Connery was terrific with those throwaway lines, Shirley Eaton and Honor Blackman were sexy as hell, and Goldfinger himself was a bigger than life villain with a totally wicked henchman in Oddjob.  Plus the car, oh yeah, the car.

Scivally:  The first 007 film I saw was Goldfinger, which I watched on television.  Bond’s cool, his way with women, and his Aston Martin made an indelible impression, especially since I was just entering puberty and Bond is the ultimate male power fantasy figure.

Worrall:  Goldfinger.  It was the sense of the fantastic made to feel as though it was realistic.  Never once, when I watched You Only Live Twice for the first time did I feel as though the plot was outlandish.  It was played seriously and meant to be plausible.  Today, of course, it would be classed as over the top.

Coate:  What compelled you to write your 007 books?

Burlingame:  The one aspect of Bond that has never been properly, or thoroughly, chronicled was the creation of the songs and scores that made such an indelible contribution to the series.  I knew all of the composers and many of the songwriters, having written about film music for over twenty-five years, and the 50th anniversary of the franchise seemed like the right time to tackle the subject.

Cork:  I was very fortunate.  I got a call asking me if I would be interested.  Working with Bruce Scivally, Maryam d’Abo and Collin Stutz on the books I worked on made the jobs all much more enjoyable!

Desowitz:  I had the unique opportunity to interview all six Bond actors, beginning with Brosnan for a piece about The World is Not Enough, paired with Michael Apted.  For the 40th, Variety assigned me to interview other actors, so with a lot of patience and persistence, I snagged Sean Connery by phone on the set of his last film, The League of Extraordinary Gentleman, which is the last in-depth interview he’s granted about Bond.  After that, nothing stopped me from getting George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, and Roger Moore, as well as more time with Brosnan at the Die Another Day junket.  Then, at the last moment, I scored a USA Today assignment to interview Craig at the Casino Royale junket, and I re-purposed some of my interview material with the other five for the first and only piece featuring all six actors.  I subsequently interviewed Craig again at the Quantum junket.  Interviewing all the Bonds has been a journalistic highlight: they were all friendly and gracious with their time, and I learned a lot about their individual approaches and challenges and highlights.  So, with the 50th anniversary approaching, I thought it would be fun and instructive to use my interview material as the basis of a book-length exploration of how Bond has evolved, so that’s how I came to write James Bond Unmasked, using my interview material combined with blow by blow plot synopses and commentaries about each film.  I thought it would be a handy reference for the casual fan and I’m grateful that Charles Helfenstein (The Making of The Living Daylights and The Making of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) agreed to publish the book.  I’m currently working on a Skyfall chapter for an updated e-book edition that will be available on Amazon in the fall.

Duncan:  Twelve years ago in my job interview with publisher Benedict Taschen, he said, “I’ve always wanted to do a big James Bond book,” so it was an idea that had always been there.  Then over three years ago he brought it up again, and a couple of months later I got a call from Eon asking if we’d like to do the book for the 50th anniversary of Bond.  I said, “Sure, when did Benedict contact you?”  But he hadn’t.  Taschen and Eon had the same idea at the same time.  It was one of those great moments of synchronicity.  There have been hundreds of books published about James Bond, and I thought that maybe the world did not need another one.  But Eon said that we could have complete access to their vast archive – over a million photos, and over 100 filing cabinets – so I thought that maybe I could find something new for fans to read.  I spent thirty months researching the archives, and decided to present the book as an oral history of how the films are made.  I think the resulting book, The James Bond Archives, gives an accurate picture of the inventiveness, perseverance, and humor the cast and crew needed to employ to get the movies onto the screen, on schedule, and hopefully under budget.  Although James Bond is the figurehead of the series, he is supported by a vast number of people, and I wanted to explain how the series works, and why it works.  

Helfenstein:  I suppose the polite word is passion.  More accurately obsession.  I wanted to research my favorite Bond films in extreme detail – from the story’s origin in the notebooks and manuscripts of Ian Fleming, through to the screenwriting stage, including the many interesting alternate scripts that were written but not filmed, through the casting and pre-production, the location and studio filming, on through post-production, release and marketing, and finally how the film altered the Bond series history.  When we “consume” a Bond film as viewers, we have a finished product.  All the creative decisions have been made.  I wanted to shine a spotlight on the remarkable journey a Bond film takes to the screen, and the reasons and influences behind those creative decisions.

O’Connell:  I had been toying with writing a reappraisal of the series.  But that could have been a very dry opinion piece and no one wants that.  So when I bit the bullet and saw the personal story of a pop culture childhood flanked by 007, dads, sons, chauffeurs, the Broccolis and a Roger Moore fixation staring me in the face it suddenly fell into place.  Of course the fiftieth anniversary presented a publishing window, but my publishers and I always said that need not be make or break.  In the end, it proved perfect timing.  But you cannot plan for that.  Finally, I believe the number of films in the Bond series greatly supports people’s fascination and fondness for them.  It is easy to become a fan of a series that has so many episodes to discover.  I wanted to write a book that looked at the life of being a fan from the perspective of each film, hence the title Catching Bullets.

Pfeiffer:  I actually wrote two official Bond books.  I had become friendly with Cubby in 1989 and he was eager to read a book about John Wayne that I had done, as he liked Duke very much.  Upon reading it, he asked me to write a history of the 007 films.  It was quite an honor.  I asked my friend Phil Lisa to co-author with me and the response to the book was very good.  It was titled either The Incredible World of 007 or The Incredible World of James Bond...believe it or not, I can’t remember.  But it was a great deal of fun to do.  We went to Cubby’s house in Beverly Hills to interview him and spent a wonderful afternoon there.  The second book, The Essential James Bond, was done at the suggestion of myself and Dave Worrall.  I think it came out in the late 1990s but it was reprinted and updated after that.  It was phenomenally successful and actually made the bestseller list in the UK.  Due to some rights issues between Eon and the publishing company, it hasn’t been updated since but I probably should pursue having a new edition put out at some point in the future.  Dave and I don’t do many books any more because our magazine, Cinema Retro, takes up so much of our time.


Rubin:  I had started to get a reputation in film history circles as someone who could do original research, particularly from the articles on 1950s science fiction classics that I was writing for Cinefantastique magazine in Chicago.  I would interview the original filmmakers for classics like Forbidden Planet, War of the Worlds, Them! and The Day the Earth Stood Still.  I would also try to collect rare behind-the-scenes stills to help tell the story.  Having purchased John Brosnan’s excellent book, James Bond in the Cinema, I realized that there was very little behind-the-scenes information on a series that by 1977 was nearly two decades old.  I realized that there was an opportunity to be the first to chronicle the history of the James Bond films.  I dove right into the research and received excellent initial cooperation from Cubby and Michael.  Although we had a falling out, my first book, The James Bond Films: A Behind-the-Scenes History was a success as was the follow-up, The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia.

Ian Flemming's Casino Royale - First Edition

Scivally:  I co-authored James Bond: The Legacy with John Cork for a simple reason: I was asked.  Being a huge Bond fan, there was no way I was going to say no.

Worrall:  Lee (Pfeiffer) and I had the knowledge and passion, which we wanted to share with others at a time when no serious Bond film book had been written.

Coate:  Do you approve of the way the 007 movies have been handled on their Blu-ray release?  Any thoughts on the 50th anniversary boxed set?

Cork:  Ha!  I don’t get to approve or disapprove!  It’s great they are all out on Blu-ray.  I would have loved to have done rebuilds on all the documentaries that were not rebuilt to HD 16:9 in 2008, and I would have loved for all the special features my company produced to have been on the Casino Royale Blu-ray, but these are quibbles.  Overall, it is a pretty spectacular release. 

Desowitz:  I thought it was great to have a Blu-ray box set of all the films and have since added Skyfall to the placeholder to complete the filmography.  I think the HD upgrade has made for superior home entertainment viewing and that the late John Lowry did a tremendous job overseeing the digital work.  I wish there would’ve been more 50th anniversary material and it would’ve been ideal to have the previous bonus material remastered in HD.

Helfenstein:  I’m pleased the films are all available in high definition in an attractive package, though I am a bit disappointed that supplementary materials were not presented in high definition.  I contributed on some of the supplementary materials for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, including the documentary on the aerial filming, which came from my collection.  Some of my Fleming collection can be seen in the Fleming documentary on The Living Daylights disc. I was also disappointed at some of the odd Photoshopped images on the inside and outside of the packaging of the set.

O’Connell:  I am never one to get excited about being able to own films again I already own.  Apart from completist reasons (which is exactly why box-sets sell).  But saying that, I was kindly given one of the Bond Blu-ray sets and it is a gorgeous representation and record of fifty years of 007.  The individual menus design and sections could have benefited from more of a visual flourish, but it is the films themselves where the value of such a set comes alive.  When watching the 1980s Moore films I felt vaguely reminded of seeing them for the first time with a depth and color to even fairly innocuous scenes teleporting me instantly back to the Regal Cinema, Cranleigh.  With a beautifully rendered set like this you really see and hear the creative decisions of everyone involved on a Bond.  In reproducing the series in such a contemporary way, they curiously become the best time capsules of what these Bond movies were in their day.

Pfeiffer:  Regarding the Blu-rays, I’m embarrassed to say I haven’t watched any… except I caught the end of Thunderball on Blu-ray.  The others still sit here sealed.  It’s not a lack of interest, but a lack of time.  We get inundated with DVDs to review for our magazine and the Cinema Retro web site and there aren’t enough hours in the day to get to them all.  Consequently, I have almost no time to revisit movies I’ve seen many times.  Some day, I’ll have to make time for an all-day Bond Blu-ray marathon.

Rubin:  I’m not really a techie when it comes to quality of the image, etc.  But I believe the Bonds have always been in good technical hands when it came to distribution.  John Cork’s documentaries have been a first class special feature and a pleasure to watch.

Worrall:  Apart from Skyfall, I have not had time to watch them. However, it was a good marketing ploy, as many people I know bought the boxed set as they had never bought a Bond film on DVD before.

Coate:  Which actor is the best James Bond?

Burlingame:  All six have displayed great strengths and the occasional weakness.  I like them all to varying degrees, although I think Timothy Dalton tried to hew closer to the Ian Fleming conception of the character than his predecessor; and I suspect that Daniel Craig will someday be listed as the only one who can touch, and maybe even better, what Sean Connery did with his initial performances as Bond.

Cork:  Ha, again!  I go round and round on how to answer this question.  I love Connery’s Bond, but would he have been right in The Spy Who Loved Me?  No.  I am at a point where I just embrace them all. 

Desowitz:  For me Connery will always be the best:  he gave us something extraordinarily sexy and dangerous, a fun combination of upper class and working class sensibilities that touched a cultural nerve.  Bond never would’ve lasted if he had been played by anyone else.

Duncan:  There is no “best” since it is all a matter of personal preference, and each actor has his own interpretation.  The early Sean Connery films show Bond as a lean hunter, and feel close to the Fleming Bond.  George Lazenby had the best story, and did everything right, but suffered in comparison to Connery.  If he had continued, Lazenby, with director Peter Hunt, would have made a sharper, muscular, and perhaps darker series of films.  Roger Moore was flippant and good fun, making hard work seemingly effortless.  Timothy Dalton was closer to Fleming’s Bond, but the audience didn’t seem ready for his intense performance.  It’s a pity because he has some great moments, especially in Licence to Kill.  Pierce Brosnan combined the suave wit of Roger Moore with the grit of Sean Connery and I’m sure that for many he is the ideal film Bond.  Daniel Craig’s Bond is being formed by his experiences over the course of the movies, much as in the novels, and this is one of the reasons audiences find his interpretation has a pleasing psychological complexity. 

Ian Flemming's Dr. No - First Edition

Helfenstein:  The safe answer is Sean Connery.  My answer is it depends on your mood, and Cubby Broccoli alluded to this when he said, “Each generation finds what it needs in him.”  Can I have Sean’s charisma, George’s swagger, Roger’s humor, Timothy’s intensity, Pierce’s charm, and Daniel’s physique all rolled into one?

O’Connell:  The best should always be whoever we have now.  That never bodes well for the more recent predecessors, but neither does forever pinning the character of Bond back to the mid-1960s and a very different era of screen heroism and masculinity (which was itself rooted in Fleming’s early 1950s thoughts on the same).  Some Bonds are played by movie stars (Brosnan, Moore, Connery) and others are played by movie actors (Dalton).  But Daniel Craig is possibly the first to straddle both.  And he does so with ease – cleverly and carefully making the drives and passions of a very internal character the most external they have ever been.  Like a vintage champagne – not quite vintage the initial year it is produced – I believe Daniel Craig will be one of the defining Bonds.  Unlike any Bond actor before him Daniel Craig emerges as less a movie star fulfilling a tempting contract and more of a movie actor with a creative ownership and pride over the character and the direction of the franchise like never before.  It was Craig who approached Sam Mendes.  It was Craig who championed Adele and was grinning beside her like a schoolboy when she bagged the Golden Globe.  And it will be Craig who no doubt has a necessary say on what happens with Bond 24.

Pfeiffer:  Asking which actor is the “best” Bond results in a politically correct answer:  they are all good in their own way.  Sentimentally, those of us who grew up in the 60s inevitably believe Connery is and always will be “The Man.”  However, I think all of the actors were excellent in their own way.  In terms of dramatic skill, I’d have to rate Daniel Craig as the best of the group.

Rubin:  You generally favor the Bond you grew up with, so I tend to extoll the virtues of Sean Connery who brought a great deal of panache and sex appeal, let alone the two-fisted machismo that Harry and Cubby required of their lead.  However, I am a huge fan of Daniel Craig, who has brought a ton of gravitas to the role of Bond, along with a great deal of physicality that matches Connery frame by frame.

Scivally:  I feel there is no “best.”  Each actor who has played the role has been right for the era in which he took it on.  My favorite is Sean Connery, but I believe that Connery’s interpretation of the character would not have worked in the 70s and early 80s, when Roger Moore struck just the right note of self-mockery for the lighter-toned entries in the series.  As action films became grittier, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig all fit the tenor of their times.

Worrall:  The one suited to the style of the moment.

Coate:  Who is the best 007 villain?

Burlingame:  I’ve always liked Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger, so bizarre (for 1964) and completely believable as the mastermind of a brilliant if mad scheme.  That’s tough to pull off.

Cork:  I love Goldfinger for so many reasons, but it is hard to top the cast in From Russia With Love, and Silva was fantastic! 

Desowitz:  Goldfinger was the most fun villain we love to hate the most.  The golf match and laser scenes are the best cat-and-mouse games between Bond and his nemesis.

Duncan:  I love the way that Auric Goldfinger is the hero of his own life, and looks down upon the troublesome James Bond as a minor player.  Goldfinger is not interested in Bond until it becomes apparent Bond may have information that interfere with his plans.  He dialogue and attitude are great fun to watch, and beyond cliché.  Well written and well played.  The Bond villain is now a tricky character to write because so many have come before, and been played so well.  Elektra King is the best of the modern villains because of her ambiguity, the way in which she is both soft and evil at the same time.  It could also have something to do with my crush on Sophie Marceau.

Helfenstein:  Ernst Stravro Blofeld.  Four men have played him, five if you count John Hollis, six if you count Anthony Dawson.  The same number of men as Bond. Every hero needs an arch enemy, and Blofeld is the textbook definition of a super villain.

O’Connell:  Until recently I would have easily have claimed Charles Gray’s Blofeld or Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin.  I adore Gray’s banter and poise – all tinged with a suggestion of tedium at the ineptitude of the world’s superpowers.  And Walken has those rolling eyes doing all the work as his foppish frame strives to gentrify a botched Nazi experiment.  But now I would have to circle Javier Bardem’s Raoul Silva.  It feels kneejerk to pin him as the best 007 villain, but if anyone put the Persian cat amongst the SPECTRE pigeons it was Bardem in Skyfall.  I remember seeing it for the first time with Mark Gatiss (who is steeped in the history of British horror literature and cinema).  We both looked to each other in shocked awe at Silva’s entrance, the lasciviousness of his delivery (“we can either eat each other” – cue a knowing smirk) and a compelling through-line that was damning Silva as much as asking us to sympathize with him.  The character is proper creepy.  The literal jaw-dropping moment really got under my skin (though that could be the result of my own childhood dental work traumas).  There was a baroque grotesqueness and horror to Silva which the Bond series has not really done before (aside from maybe Mendes’ clear influence and favorite, Live and Let Die).  Silva is testament to the Craig era and a marvelous junction of writer, director and actor pulling off what, on paper, could have been all ham and  no bite.  Silva has both.

Ian Flemming's Goldfinger - First Edition

Pfeiffer:  My favorite “main villain” has always been Gert Frobe as Goldfinger, but for “supporting villain” it’s Robert Shaw’s Red Grant… he’s the only baddie who you thought might actually kill Bond. 

Rubin:  Goldfinger was, to me, the quintessential obsessed villain.  Of course, everything about the film, Goldfinger, is just about perfect.  Hard to believe that they were ready to shelve it, in favor of Thunderball.

Scivally:  My personal favorite villain is Goldfinger.  Gert Frobe was a superb actor, and brought an energy to his villainy that made it seem like cracking good fun.

Worrall:  I preferred Goldfinger, Largo and You Only Live Twice’s Blofeld.  Larger then life, but believable.  However, the villains in all of the Craig Bond films have been terrific.

Coate:  Best Bond girl?

Burlingame:  Pussy Galore.

Cork:  I always go with Ursula Andress as Honey Rider, but so many of them get my pulse to rise. 

Desowitz:  Mrs. Bond, Diana Rigg, the former Mrs. Peel, is my favorite. She matches the spirit and romance and tragedy that underlies Bond.

Duncan:  The Bond template requires Bond to meet a good girl and a bad girl, and invariably the bad girls are much more interesting – they are sexy, independent, intelligent, fierce and, most importantly, more fun.  It seems to me that Bond has a much better time with the bad girls rather than the wimpy good girls.  But there are a few very capable, intelligent, fierce, funny good girls in the series, most notably Pam Bouvier in Licence to Kill, Natalya in GoldenEye, Wai Lin in Tomorrow Never Dies, and Jinx in Die Another Day.

Helfenstein:  Diana Rigg as Tracy.  Untouchable in the rankings of Bond girls.  The only woman that Bond would hang up the PPK for.

O’Connell:  Without a hesitation, Maud Adams’s Octopussy.  I am biased in all sorts of ways (this author was very obsessed by that film and leading lady) but if anyone channels that classical Bond glamour tinged with a bit of Fleming autumnal regret and experience, it is Maud’s Octopussy.  A good Bond woman should tell us about Bond himself.  The best 007 leading ladies – Diana Rigg, Honor Blackman, Michelle Yeoh, Eva Green, Bérénice Marlohe and Maud – have all laid bare the whims and wiles of Bond way before they let us into themselves.  And Maud was and still is a very elegant, dignified ambassador for the series.  It was no accident she was invited back to test other Bonds and of course complete her own 007 film trilogy.  I grinned like a mad Mr. Wint all weekend when she said she would gladly write a few words for my book.

Pfeiffer:  My favorite Bond girl is and always will be Ursula Andress… you just can’t compete with that iconic introduction.

Rubin:  Claudine Auger as Dominique Derval.  Best wardrobe or, should we say, lack of wardrobe.

Scivally:  The first Bond film I saw in a theater was The Spy Who Loved Me, and Barbara Bach’s Anya Amasova remains my favorite Bond girl, because she held her own against Roger Moore’s 007.  But, as an Avengers fan, I also like Diana Rigg’s Tracy di Vicenzo – more because I like Rigg than because I like the character.

Worrall:  The one with the biggest chest!  No, seriously; Eva Green in Casino Royale was brilliant, as was Diana Rigg in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.


Coate:  Best theme song?

Burlingame:  We Have All the Time in the World by John Barry and Hal David, sung by Louis Armstrong in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

Cork:  Why pick favorites?  Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die was one of the reasons I became a fan.  Goldfinger, The Look of Love, Nobody Does It Better; this was the soundtrack to my life.  Heck, I love Where Has Everybody Gone and Another Way to Die!  It just depends too much on my mood.  Some days are a We Have All the Time in the World day; some days are Mister Kiss Kiss Bang Bang day! 

Desowitz:  The Bond Theme.  It personifies everything about Bond and the moment you hear it, fifty years of memories are instantly recalled.

Duncan:  My son loves Madonna’s theme for Die Another Day, which a lot of fans dislike.  My son loves it because it’s the only theme that’s not a power ballad.  Madonna’s theme song is a modern song, with beats and electronic stuff that I know nothing about.  Curiously, it also works well with the title sequence – which shows Bond being tortured using scorpions.  For me, the theme song has to work with the title sequence, within the film, and not necessarily work alone on the radio.  The best two are Goldfinger, where director Guy Hamilton made Shirley Bassey hit certain words and phrases in sync with the images, and Skyfall, where the Adele’s song invokes both the mood of the moment, and foreshadows the story to come.

Helfenstein:  Goldfinger.  As Marvin Hamlisch once said, if you’re dead, you wake up for the opening horn blast of Goldfinger.

O’Connell:  I think Bassey’s Diamonds are Forever is a flawless piece of movie music – speaking volumes about the wit, sexuality and twilight world of Bond, his women and foes.  And All Time High reminds me of falling in love with Bond music via my Dad’s car stereo and a soundtrack cassette from Cubby’s office.  But Duran Duran’s A View to a Kill is the one for me.  It was the first time I was aware that a Bond song had a cult, drive and cache of its own – one which was my first indicator of the size and scale of the cultural phenomenon of Bond.  The song was everywhere in the hot London summer of 1985 and is a decade defining hit, with or without Bond.

Pfeiffer:  Favorite song is Goldfinger – nothing original about that, but You Only Live Twice is a close second. 

Rubin:  Goldfinger.

Scivally:  The best theme song is The James Bond Theme from Dr. No, but I also like the instrumental theme of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the powerful vocals of Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me and The World is Not Enough.

Worrall:  From Russia With Love thru You Only Live Twice are inseparable.  Skyfall is pretty close, too.

Coate:  Best 007 gadget?

Burlingame:  The original Aston Martin DB5.

Cork:  While I love Little Nellie, I could see crashing it at high speed.  The rocket-belt would get me killed.   I’d love to see all guns made signature guns, so that would be my most favored to become real.  But for me personally, I’d like the mini-rebreather.  How cool to be able to snorkel, see something interesting and just have that little gadget in a swim-trunk pocket?  That’s the one I’d use. 

Desowitz:  The Aston Martin DB5.  It’s the perfect extension of Bond’s personality, and its return and destruction in Skyfall had palpable emotion tied to it.  In fact, losing the car is the only thing that angers Craig’s Bond.

Duncan:  The only answer to this is the Aston Martin DB5, although I often harbored dreams of owning a Lotus Esprit and visiting faraway exotic islands, where I would meet Ursula Andress and/or Raquel Welch.

Helfenstein:  The jet pack.  I defy you to find a cooler image than Connery wearing the jet pack on the Thunderball poster.

O’Connell:  Can I claim the DB5?  It is an extension of Bond and his tailoring, with its silvery grey suit, side gill pockets and bullet-diverting lapels.  Like Bond, it can be regenerated, says “007” quicker than any Walther PPK or glass of Diet Vesper and is a bespoke, yet totally cinematic fiction (DB5s do not outrun Ferraris!).  That moment when Craig pulls off the cover in the London lock-up to reveal the glistening DB5 got the biggest applause at the premiere.

Pfeiffer:  The most iconic gadget has to be the ejector seat in the Aston Martin DB5.  I remember how the audience howled in delight and surprise when it was utilized.

Rubin:  The Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger.  Thank God that Bond’s Bentley “had seen its day.”

Scivally:  The Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger has to be the best gadget, because it set the standard that all other Bond films would follow.

Worrall:  The Aston Martin DB5, obviously.

Coate:  And… best 007 movie?

Burlingame:  I’m very fond of the sole Lazenby film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  But from the Connery era, it would have to be Goldfinger; from the Moore era, probably For Your Eyes Only; from Dalton, The Living Daylights; Brosnan, Tomorrow Never Dies; and Craig, Casino Royale.  As you can imagine, musical choices and approaches influence my thinking.

Cork:  I know it sounds like a wimp-out, but I have numerous favorite Bond films.  I think the first four are great films.  They created a cinematic identity for James Bond that endures to this day.  Without those first four films (Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger and Thunderball), it is unlikely we would still be watching James Bond films.  To be more specific, if You Only Live Twice had been made in 1967 as the first James Bond film, even with all its spectacle and production value, I don’t think the series would have endured for very long.   I think Skyfall and Casino Royale are brilliant films that both honor and re-define the Bond genre.  Having a thirteen-year-old son, it has been great to hear him and his friends talk about Bond and Skyfall, to see how that film works for them, just as it was great to sit in theaters and listen to audiences react to the film.  I don’t know that there has ever been a better-directed Bond film than Skyfall.  It really is a fantastic film.  But my favorite?  Some nights I want to watch Live and Let Die, or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  Some nights I want to watch the 1967 Casino Royale.  I don’t really try to rank them.  That always frustrates folks, but it is just the way it is. 

Desowitz:  Even though Goldfinger was my first Bond movie and had a great impact on me, my favorite is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service because it took Bond to a whole new emotional place.  It didn’t matter that Sean Connery wasn’t Bond, his presence still hung over the franchise and George Lazenby, despite his youth and inexperience, provided a fresh vitality and vulnerability as 007, falling in love for the first time, and Diana Rigg, still evoking memories of Mrs. Peel from The Avengers, was a wonderful match.  Even Telly Savalas shined as Blofeld, even though he seemed miscast as well.  Peter Hunt found the right mixture of action and drama in Fleming’s best book and made what I still think is a transcendent Bond film.

Duncan:  I have grown up watching Bond movies, so obviously my concerns and my appreciation of the movies has changed during this period.  So although I first loved the humor of Diamonds are Forever and The Spy Who Loved Me, I also loved the gadgets, the stunts, the woman, and the sheer chutzpah of the productions.  Now almost fifty, I think that the film that really sticks out for me is Casino Royale.  It has character and story as well as all the expected Bond trappings.  Everything about that movie just clicks.

Helfenstein:  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service:  the only Bond film that deserves the term masterpiece.  Sumptuous scenery, hyper-kinetic action, a diabolical villain, an ethereal Diana Rigg, and a cocky Bond devastated by a gut punch of a tragic ending.  Ian Fleming’s world perfectly captured on film.

O’Connell:  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  Obviously Goldfinger and From Russia With Love are the golden standards, the templates which saw the Bond movies carved forever on the tree of popular culture.  But Secret Service proved the series could be both franchise and individual episode.  It also demonstrated how it could recast, regenerate and survive.  It is a Bond film where everyone – the designers, songsmiths, directors, stunt teams and editors – are at the peak of their game.  It also, of course, gave some soul and even lyricism to the 007 project.  James Bond may not want to let us into his emotions but the James Bond films can.  And to achieve all of this as the suited hero was fleeing out of fashion is another tick in its favor.

Pfeiffer:  My favorite Bond film is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service… beautifully scripted and featuring bold direction by Peter Hunt plus what is arguably John Barry’s best score.  I also think George Lazenby did a terrific job, given the fact  he had no acting experience. 

Rubin:  Ironically, Goldfinger was the first Bond movie I ever saw and I still consider it the best.  In pure tone, excitement and humor, it had all the right touches.  A truly perfect Bond film.

Scivally:  My favorite James Bond movies are the two that involve the least gadgetry and are the closest in spirit to the Ian Fleming books they’re based on: From Russia With Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  From Russia With Love has a superb cast and feels more like an espionage thriller than a comic book spy adventure, while On Her Majesty’s Secret Service presents George Lazenby’s more vulnerable interpretation of Bond, has a terrific ski chase sequence, and features Diana Rigg as Traci di Vicenzo, the only woman able to get Bond to commit to marriage (although his pending nuptials don’t keep him from taking advantage of the crumpet at Piz Gloria!).  That said, I think Goldfinger is an immensely entertaining film that still holds up beautifully nearly fifty years after its release, and defined the James Bond formula for most of the films that followed.

Worrall:  Impossible to say.  Depends what mood I’m in.  On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Casino Royale, Goldfinger, You Only Live Twice and Skyfall are in my top five.

Coate:  And, finally, do you think we will live to see an era where there are no more James Bond movies?

Burlingame:  Not in our lifetimes.  The fact that Skyfall made $1 billion worldwide only suggests that filmgoers’ appetite for Daniel Craig, and prominent filmmakers tackling Bond stories, hasn’t diminished at all.  I see the franchise continuing for decades, very likely with a new generation of Broccolis at the helm.

Cork:  That question is far above my pay grade.  In 1962/3, no one could have seen where Bond would go.  I have no clue what the next fifty years will bring!

Desowitz:  No, I think Bond is in good hands with Michael Wilson and Barbara Broccoli, and when the time comes, the mantle will be properly handed down.  And the franchise is too much of a moneymaker for the industry to let it die.  And there will always be a fan base to keep Bond alive.

Duncan:  Bond is a pure wish fulfillment character.  All the men want to be like Bond, and all the women want and desire Bond.  Bond lives life to the full – he enjoys the sensuality of food and women, and revels in the tension of gambling and racing fast cars – because his dangerous job means that each day could be his last.  Characters who are unambiguous about their course in life are very attractive.  We would all like to live life to the full like James Bond, so I see no reason why Eon should stop making movies about him and his adventures.

Helfenstein:  If I have to resort to making them with action figures, there will always be James Bond movies.

O’Connell:  Only if hell freezes over.  Which will then make a superb location for a Bond film.  So – no – evolution won’t actually let that happen!  Of course it would be naïve to assume they will last forever (and I have had that selfish thought, “but what if I die and the films continue?!”).  I don’t think Eon and the Bond camp look too far ahead.  They never take anything for granted.  Even talking to Barbara Broccoli on the eve of Skyfall’s release suggested an understandably guarded stance on assuming success and jumping the gun on any future plans.  The best hope for Bond’s future is perhaps evidenced in the past and present of how these films are made.  Who learns the ropes on them, who understands those vital notions of integrity, character and Fleming… it all strengthens the generations holding up this franchise.  That is its best hope of continuing.

Pfeiffer:  As I’ve written before, the only constants in life are “death, taxes and the next James Bond movie.”

Rubin: There are only three things certain in life – death, taxes and the James Bond movies.  I will guarantee that.  James Bond is forever.

Scivally:  I think it is inevitable that the series will eventually run its course, but I believe that time is a long, long ways off.  So far, the Bond producers have managed to keep the series both popular and profitable.  As long as that remains the case, the movies will continue to be produced.

Worrall:  Depends on how old you are!  I reckon, if Eon persuade Chris Nolan to direct Bond 25, which would be Craig’s fifth, and possible last outing, they might sell-out and retire like Lucas did with his Star Wars franchise.  Without Barbara and Michael at the helm I do not think the series could continue in the same vein that we have become used to.

The latest installment in the Bond franchise: Skyfall

---end---

- Michael Coate

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Warner celebrates Hanna-Barbera’s 60th with a Diamond Collection DVD re-brand, plus Chuck, Black Sails: Season... fb.me/3bUplSczv