12 September 2022
It has been 60 years since James Bond first hit the silver screen.
Six actors and nearly US$7 billion later, it's one of the highest-grossing movie franchises in history.
Camana Bay Cinema is celebrating 60 years of Bond by showing all 26 movies through 10 Nov. as part of its Classics @ The Cinema series.
As such, we asked Dart Content Manager Ben Holliday to try to answer the eternally unanswerable – who is the best Bond?
* Spoiler Alert *
The name’s Bond. James Bond.
An iconic line of dialogue that instantly evokes imagery of a handsome actor, clad in Savile Row’s finest, accompanied by that iconic theme.
Yes, the one you’re humming right now.
Created by British novelist Ian Fleming in 1953, the James Bond franchise has grossed nearly US$7 billion, with the character’s iconography plastered across T-shirts, video games and the inevitable branded martini glass.
To date, six actors have had the opportunity to make an indelible mark on the character (we're excluding David Niven in the 1961 "Casino Royale" not made by Eon Productions, which produces the Bond series). While the gadgets and swish suits are undeniably part of the iconography of Bond, it’s the archetype established by original Bond star Sean Connery and its variations that have kept generations of viewers transfixed on the character’s big screen exploits.
But which Bond is best? It’s time for this writer to throw his odd-job-styled hat into the ring.
6. George Lazenby
Lazenby had the thankless task of following in Connery’s footsteps. A growing disinterest in the role saw the studio look to recast 007, ultimately choosing the unknown Australian model. While "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service" was received with mixed reviews upon release, time has been kind to the film with fans appreciating the more grounded approach to Bond when compared to Connery’s later exploits. So why is he so low on the list? A glass of hubris, shaken not stirred, saw Lazenby turn down a seven-picture deal, listening to an agent who believed the character was a thing of the past – advice that aged like milk.
5. Timothy Dalton
Dalton’s interpretation of the character stripped away the boyish charm of Connery and the warm whimsy of Roger Moore, leaving behind a ruthless assassin more in line with Fleming’s original version of the character. Rooted in the action movie cliches of the 1980s, Dalton’s Bond traded in secret lairs for drug cartels, often dispatching them in brutal fashion. Many will argue he was the prototype for Daniel Craig’s Bond, but Dalton simply lacked the magnetism required to make a long-lasting impression on audiences.
4. Roger Moore
A polarising figure among Bond fans, Moore took the character in a wild new direction. The leading man in three of the greatest Bond movies to ever grace the silver screen – "The Spy Who Loved Me," "Live and Let Die" and "For Your Eyes Only" – Moore’s reign saw the franchise lean heavily into the tropes of the 1970s, with slapstick comedy and flamboyant villains taking center stage. Many criticised him for staying in the role well into his late 50s, leading to uncomfortable dynamics with Bond girls 30 years his junior – something Moore also looks back regrettably on. Regardless, his interpretation of the character went on to inspire our next chap in the tux…
3. Pierce Brosnan
Brosnan was perfectly suited to play the character, synthesizing elements of Connery and Moore to create a Bond believable as both ladies’ man and hardened killer. With the Cold War in the rear-view mirror and critics questioning the relevance of the character, Brosnan’s Bond was the first to grapple with existentialism. The concern was short-lived, as Brosnan brought Bond kicking and screaming back into relevancy, before going on to fight Madonna in a fencing duel. That isn’t a typo.
So why isn’t he higher on the list? The Irish actor has only one genuinely great Bond outing under his belt with "Goldeneye."
2. Sean Connery
The man, the myth, the legend. The first actor to play Bond is still considered the archetype of masculinity. Handsome, sophisticated, brutish, resourceful, ruthless and playful. His working-class roots, time served in the Royal Navy and short-lived career as a bodybuilder helped give him the physical presence and swagger that cemented Bond as an icon. The fast cars, gadgets from Q, chemistry with Moneypenny, nefarious villains, glamorous locales and even more glamorous Bond ladies. It’s all there in 1962’s "Dr. No," and continues to be the blueprint for all Bond actors 60 years later.
1. Daniel Craig
Lambasted upon his casting in 2005, Craig was considered too ugly and thuggish to play the character, but the critical mauling of "Die Another Day" forced the studio to reboot the character, giving Craig and the filmmakers room to explore what it means to be Bond. Rageful, arrogant and cold when we first meet him, this Bond trades his routine quips for self-deprecation and apathy for love. The self-preserving mask of indifference slips just enough that we get to see the man beneath — fallible and broken like the rest of us, trying desperately to do the right thing in a world rampant with chaos.
Craig’s tenure is refreshingly deconstructionist, removing what many would consider to be core tenets of Bond, going as far as introducing a female 007 and a Secret Service that sees him as surplus to requirements. Broken and battered, it’s fitting that only Craig is bestowed a villain worthy of a secret lair, and a gadget-laden DB5 before making the ultimate sacrifice in "No Time To Die."
James Bond finally grew up and that is why Daniel Craig is the finest actor to ever don the tux. No pressure on the next actor take up the mantle…
This article will also be featured in the September/October 2022 print edition of Camana Bay Times.
Did Ben nail his ranking of the Bond actors?
Who do you think is the best Bond?
Send us your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org or post on social media using the hashtag #camanabay and we'll publish them in the next issue.