Serial, Super Serial: An Introduction to James Bond

Bond

I am pleased and honored to be taking over the reins for the next Super Serial, this on one of the most important film franchises/series of all time. Spanning 22 (+2) films over 46 years (and counting), the James Bond film franchise is certainly the most prodigious continual series to ever exist. Unlike any other set of films, it has earned huge successes and survived giant failures all while cycling through a number of tones, directors and stars.

Whether or not the films will ever go down as the best in cinema history, there is no denying cultural impact of the series. It isn’t too crazy to say that we wouldn’t have spy thrillers today if it wasn’t for Bond — we certainly wouldn’t have the multiple spoofs that have come around because of him. Even when we think that Bond is done — whether it be by the hand of MGM’s financial troubles or George Lazenby — he just keeps coming back. This has helped create an interesting arc in the series, something that I will hopefully explore throughout the serial run. On the surface, the best thing about Bond is that he means different things to different people, depending on when Bond was first encountered. Kids growing up today know Bond as a brooding blond, while my parents know him as a swinging spy.

Looking at all 22+ films at one time will prove to have some advantages — at least when you’re writing an ongoing blog about them. As the series progresses there will be a number of comparisons that can be made between the films, like the “Bond Girls,” the villains, the theme songs and, of course, the Bond himself. Each week’s post will talk broadly about the particular film in the scope of the series, but I’ll also specifically touch on these categories to provide insights into what makes a film successful or not. Because some of the films will be radically different than others, there will be plenty of fodder to argue over, and I’m expecting plenty of reader participation.

Even with all these undeniable reasons as to why Nerdy Nothings should be producing a weekly serial on James Bond, there is another reason why I think this will be a lot of fun. Of all the films I’ve seen in my life (and, believe me, it’s a lot), the James Bond franchise has remained the biggest on my list of shame. Sure, I’ve seen random scenes on television during the Thanksgiving marathons, but I haven’t seen one James Bond film from start to finish. It has gotten to the point where I feel I should actively avoid seeing any James Bond films just because I’ve held out so long. Instead, what better way to watch these films than blowing it out as a blog serial? The answer is there is no better way.

Here’s a rough outlook as to the series and then a question that I’m posing to the readers:

Sean Connery:
Dr. No (1962, Terence Young)
From Russia with Love (1963, Terence Young)
Goldfinger (1964, Guy Hamilton)
Thunderball (1965, Terence Young)
You Only Live Twice (1967, Lewis Gilbert)

George Lazenby:
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969, Peter R. Hunt)

Sean Connery (again):
Diamonds Are Forever (1971, Guy Hamilton)

Roger Moore:
Live and Let Die (1973, Guy Hamilton)
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974, Guy Hamilton)
The Spy who Loved Me (1977, Lewis Gilbert)
Moonraker (1979, Lewis Gilbert)
For Your Eyes Only (1981, John Glen)
Octopussy (1983, John Glen)
A View to Kill (1985, John Glen)

Timothy Dalton:
The Living Daylights (1987, John Glen)
License to Kill (1989, John Glen)

Pierce Brosnan:
GoldenEye (1995, Martin Campbell)
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997, Roger Spottiswoode)
The World Is Not Enough (1999, Michael Apted)
Die Another Day (2002, Lee Tamahori)

Daniel Craig:
Casino Royale (2006, Martin Campbell)
Quantum of Solace (2008, Marc Forster)

Outside of the 22 films produced by EON Productions, there are two films that have been made that I think should definitely be looked at. First is the parody film also called Casino Royale that came out in 1967. Since this is obviously way outside the Bond film universe, I think it would be best to view this after the series is over — it could provide an interesting look at how the Bond parody was perhaps prophetic for the future of Bond. The other I am looking for some advice as to when it should be viewed. In 1983, Sean Connery came back to be 007 for one last time in Never Say Never Again. It isn’t technically a part of the series because of very boring inside-baseball dealings with the production companies, but I think it should definitely be viewed. The question is, when? Should I see Never Say Never Again in its chronological place, after the series or directly following Thunderball, of which it is, for all intense and purposes, a remake? My gut tells me at the end of the series, but I’ll put it out there to the Bond experts to steer me right.

This is going to be a long, hard journey that I hope you take with me. Over the next few months there may be some bumps in the road, but I will be a much more knowledgeable cinema viewer when it’s all done. And you will be, too.

tags: james bond, super serial

  • Marc Fishman

    I’m on board for the ride. I personally suggest doing all the Bond “proper” films first, then move to the parody/insider issues ones… and maybe, just maybe touch on any spy thrillers you HAVE seen, and how they relate/compare to the Bond franchise… what was BETTER than Bond, and what wasn’t?

  • Aaron Pinkston

    Excellent, Marc — glad you’ll follow the series.

    I think as I’ve started to watch the films, I think it makes sense to see Never Say Never Again in its chronological place.  Since it’s about half-way through the series, it’ll be a decent break from the Eon films, which have fully gone overboard by that point.

    As far as films outside the Bond franchise, if I do a conclusion post to the series, this is definitely something I’ll consider — although my general knowledge of spy films isn’t the greatest.

  • kikklu

    I thing james is so coll and a type of an agent and good luke foor the next mission

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