Why do we like James Bond so much?
Is it the gadgets? The women? The fact that he can drink a martini without grimacing? Ultimately, it comes down to the fact that James Bond epitomizes cool. He wears a tuxedo with so much confidence and charm it makes women risk their lives for a chance of having him notice them. Sean Connery is the true originator of this version of Bond. The version created by Ian Fleming was a “blunt instrument wielded by [the] government… quiet, hard ruthless, sardonic, fatalistic.” – essentially, the ultimate assassin who enjoys card games, fast cars, and drinking, and while he enjoys women, does not risk his job for them. He is a dark mystery with a big chip on his shoulder and a license to kill. Connery made him more of a lover, a comical figure who solves crime in the most ridiculously over-the-top manner. The character continued to evolve until we reach Pierce Brosnan, a punfest with 87 gadgets per movie. Daniel Craig reinvented the character in a manner much more true to the original literary character. He is cold, cruel, effective, and just as fun to watch. However, there is no match for Sean Connery’s charm.
Sean Connery is arguably just a cool as Bond. He served in the Royal Navy, was a model and a body builder, and turned down a career as a professional footballer to become an actor. He became an international sensation after he starred in the first James Bond film, Dr. No, in 1963. He played the gentleman spy in a total of six movies. After his fifth movie, he vowed never to play James Bond again, only to return in Diamonds Are Forever after George Lazenby unsuccessfully filled the role in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. (Fun Fact – he was paid a record amount for his appearance in Diamonds, all of which he donated to charity). No matter how much Connery tried to distance himself from the role later in life, his perfect portrayal of the world’s favorite spy cannot be forgotten. Now, if you have to be typecast, is James Bond such a terrible thing to be?
Connery Film of Choice: Goldfinger
I can’t downplay enough how difficult it was to choose a single Connery film to review. Before Casino Royale came out, From Russia With Love was without a doubt my favorite Bond film. I nearly chose Dr. No simply because it was the first film, and it’s hard to talk about Bond girls without mentioning Honey Ryder and her iconic white bikini. In the end, the combination of laser beams, a woman named Pussy Galore, and weaponized bowler hats was too good to pass up. Let’s take a closer look at the third installment in the Bond film series.
This film begins with Bond finishing a mission. In one of the most hilarious entries ever, Bond enters the film with a duck hat perched on his elegant head. After setting an extremely loud timer, Bond has a quick costume change into a classic white tux and calmly lights a cigarette while his bomb goes off.
Sneaking around? Check. Explosions? Check. Looking super suave in white tux while having secret spy convo? Check. Now onto the girls. The writers are quick to ensure all the important Bond elements are present.
“Why do you always wear that thing?”
“I have a slight inferiority complex.”
Puns ensue, and a shocking bout of hand-to-hand combat later, Bond is exiting the room, striding toward his next mission. Bond is asked to observe a man named Auric Goldfinger who is a person of interest to MI6 involved in gold smuggling. Bond, after figuring out Goldfinger’s method of cheating at cards, humiliates him, forces him to lose his money, and sleeps with his girlfriend. Classy move, James. Goldfinger is angry, and in a moment of insane revenge, paints his girlfriend gold, killing her via skin suffocation. Let me repeat that. Skin suffocation. Because we use our skin to breath. Sorry, I’ll stop.
Sorry, I don’t know how that got there. But now that we are talking about it again, couldn’t they have strangled her with a golden rope? Or hit her in the head with a brick of gold?
Look, I’m not saying everything in Bond movies has to make sense. I’m just saying that when the villain is a lunatic, his lunatic plans shouldn’t work.
Anyway, Bond continues to pursue Goldfinger. He casually meets up with him for a game of golf, which involves both men cheating and a defenseless statue getting decapitated. Goldfinger warns Bond that if they meet again, things will not be so pleasant. With further investigation, a car chase involving a woman with very poor marksmanship and a tricked-out Aston Martin ends with Bond, strapped to a metal board with a laser between his legs, shouting, “Do you expect me to talk?”
Goldfinger curtly replies, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”
This is one of the most iconic moments in Bond history.
The movie culminates in a hysterical jail escape by Bond and a comical plan to kill everyone who lives in Fort Knox with nerve gas dispersed by a team of beautiful pilots led by a woman named Pussy Galore. It’s every bit as ridiculous as we expect and love. To his credit, Bond mentions that Goldfinger “is quite mad.” Thanks, James. That wasn’t super obvious or anything.
Overall, this movie is excellent. It has everything we have come to know and love about Bond movies, from the gadgets to the girls. The biggest failure of this film was the incredibly long set up of the Fort Knox heist. We have to watch an inexplicably large team of bad guys set up a surefire flop for what seems like 30 minutes. Finally, we get to the exciting fight scene between Bond and Oddjob. And when Goldfinger squeezed out the airplane window like old toothpaste, I laughed for five solid minutes.
These movies were never intended to be realistic. Even Ian Fleming himself called James a combination of all the best spies he knew, and set him up as an invincible hero for the western world during the 60s. The comical elements in these films, while sometimes going a bit too far, can’t be faulted for being generally outlandish. After all, this is a fictional character. If we can’t watch our heroes battle off a maniac with a lethal hat while handcuffed to a bomb, why go to the movies at all?