With the Spectre of the next Bond film looming on the horizon, here at ORWAV we’ve been revisiting that age-old question: just who is the best Bond*? Is it Sean Connery, the man who defined the role? Or George Lazenby, whose sole appearance is nevertheless one of the most emotionally powerful Bond films? Perhaps it’s Roger Moore with his indefatigable English charm? Or Timothy Dalton, with his grittier, everyman take on the part? Maybe Pierce Brosnan is as good as it gets for you, with his suave demeanour and great gadgets? Or is the incumbent, Daniel Craig, our reluctant hero, the back-to-basics champion of the role?
Over the last week, our writers have argued their cases and now it’s your chance to vote for your favourite Bond. Extracts from all our articles are included below, as well as links to each of them. Choose wisely, and good luck 007.
Right. Let’s get this done quickly and not waste any time or, heaven forfend, an entire feature on this “debate”: Sean Connery is the best Bond. No ifs, no buts, no “Timothy Dalton brought a much needed edge the franchise had long needed following the relative latter-period malaise of the Moore era, and it was simply unfortunate that his tenure coincided with the ’80s AIDs crisis and a re-evaluation of Bond’s nocturnal habits etc etc”. No. None of that.
George Lazenby’s audacious ascent to the role of Bond is the stuff of legend. The tale reads like one of Frank Abagnale Jr.’s ingenious cons from Catch Me If You Can. After seeing Dr. No in 1962, and despite having no acting background whatsoever, Lazenby became obsessed with becoming the next James Bond. With just a handful of commercial appearances under his belt, upon hearing the role was up for grabs, Lazenby snapped into action. He set about styling himself as a carbon copy of Sean Connery’s Bond. He acquired an unwanted suit, tailor-made for Connery, got his hair cut by the same barber, and even purchased the classic James Bond Rolex watch. He then sought an audience with Broccoli.
Moore, in contrast, is a boorish uncle. When his films do “cool”, it still seems surreal. He’s a fine spy, to be sure, but as his series wears on it becomes clear that his skills were never in being an action man but in his disarming knack for stilted conversation, like an over-confident office manager flirting across the M&S till. He is a ridiculous, laughable figure and as the actor ages into the ’80s (the chronological 1980s that is, not his 80s), his famous libido becomes leerier and leerier – the archetypal English creep. Yet the charm remains. He is confident. He really has something, largely because he thinks he has something. He’s probably pissed. Roger Moore’s quinquagenarian Bond may as well have been played by Peter Stringfellow.
From the off, Dalton makes the character his own; he shrugs off the cheesy jokes and eyebrow raising of Roger Moore, instead casting Bond as a more serious professional who gets the job done by any means necessary; one of his first lines is “stuff my orders”, which sets the tone to come. Some things never change of course, as he retains a distinguished taste for women and drink, as always. The Living Daylights is a decent first outing for Dalton, in which he clearly carves a fresh identity for himself and the character, though there are still traces of the previous film’s style due to John Glen carrying over for his fourth outing as director.
Young and handsome, with an arsenal of guns and gadgets at his disposal and a tongue smooth enough to get him into or out of any situation, even before the pre-title sequence was fully underway it was clear that this was a new Bond. Taking the best bits of the previous four double-oh-sevens, they created a chimera of charisma, confidence, courage and confidentiality. His name? Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan.
Craig’s Bond portrayal is nothing short of a renaissance for the series, which had become somewhat tired and hackneyed after Brosnan’s spate of wielding the Walther. The references had become overbearing, Q was a member of Monty Python, and the plots Bond found himself involved with were on par with the most ludicrous of the Moore era. Bond was just a brand which was wheeled out every two years for some popcorn-munching blockbusting fun. The true meaning of Bond had been lost to poor scripts, silly fights and daft gadgets. Craig’s Bond would blow away, in just one film, all the tropes and criticisms levelled at the 007 series since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
*Please send all fan-mail for Tom Bond to email@example.com