60 Years of Bond

60 years of Bond films

Bond has become a British institution, recognised around the world, and the long-running spy film series all started 60 years ago. As a lifelong fan of the films, having grown up like most cinemagoers with Bond, Art & Hue is raising a martini to toast the British agent.

To help celebrate the iconic spy’s 60th anniversary, here’s a collation in this blog post of Art & Hue’s previously-launched pop art prints featuring Bond actors & actresses who have appeared in the film franchise over the years.

From Connery in “The Frightened City” to the most recent actor to play the spy, Daniel Craig CMG, take a look at the article below in homage to 60 years of Bond.

60 years of Bond

2022 marks 60 years since the first ever Bond film when “Dr. No” started filming on the 16th of January 1962 and premiered in October of the same year.

Gadgets, glamour, and guns – they’ve become familiar to global audiences and no spy film or TV show can use them without being aware of the British agent’s legacy.

The year before the first ever Bond film “Dr. No” started production, Connery cut a dash as a London gangster in the British film noir “The Frightened City”.

Seduction, guns, judo, and drinks – with hindsight it makes perfect sense that Cubby Broccoli would want to cast the vital Scotsman as Bond after seeing Connery steal this tale of London crime gangs and protection rackets.

2022 marks 60 Years of Bond

The Frightened City pop art print
The Connery Years
Connery‘s first outing as Bond, “Dr No”, with Zena Marshall & Eunice Gayson, was a confident and successful debut which led to “From Russia With Love” (the theme was crooned by Matt Monro), in which Eunice Gayson returned as the same character.

With Shirley Bassey performing the bombastic theme song, “Goldfinger” was to follow with Avenger Honor Blackman, plus Shirley Eaton & Margaret Nolan; then “Thunderball” with Earl Cameron and a belting theme sung by Sir Tom. Ostensibly Connery’s final Bond film, “You Only Live Twice” featured Tsai Chin & Ric Young, before the hunt was on for a new actor to take on the part.

It’s a testament to Connery’s performances that he helped firmly establish the film series which is still entertaining audiences 60 years on.

Connery Years of Bond
George Lazenby
Despite only making one film appearance as Bond, George Lazenby‘s 1969 outing is a memorable one.

Regarded by many to be the best Bond film of the classic era, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” has it all – Diana Rigg, Joanna Lumley, Anouska Hempel, Jenny Hanley, Julie Ege, George Baker, Panton lighting, a mountain-top lair, a Christmas song, a beautifully poignant love song by Armstrong which still influences & resonates to this day, and arguably the best John Barry soundtrack ever.

Appearing in the final Bond film of the 1960s, Lazenby got a mixed response at the time (one critic of Lazenby’s wrote that they should have have let Diana Rigg continue as Bond, Tracy Bond) but the film has stood the test of time and endures as an influential & inspirational classic.

The longest-running Bond film, until “Casino Royale” with Daniel Craig was released, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was the first film directed by Peter Hunt who had previously worked as the editor or second unit director on films including “Dr. No“, “Goldfinger”, & “The Ipcress File” with Michael Caine.

As a classically trained performer, who returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company after The Avengers, Diana Rigg makes the viewer believe that Bond could very easily fall in love with Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo.

Lazenby Rigg Bond
Her supreme acting talent clearly rubbed off on Lazenby who holds his own in the film, particularly in the more emotional scenes such as the tragic ending.

Once it was clear there were to be no more Bond films with Lazenby, Connery was persuaded to return for “Diamonds are Forever” in 1971. Shirley Bassey returned also, the only singer to perform more than one theme (she would return for a third time with “Moonraker”).

The Moore Era
Before taking on Bond in the 1970s, Moore was well known to audiences as the suave Simon Templar in “The Saint” which ran throughout the 1960s.

From 1962 until 1969, “The Saint” is one of the most productive 1960s British television series, second only to “The Avengers” in the amount of episodes.

Both shows were made at Elstree Studios and Roger would frequently visit the set of “The Avengers” to have a cup of tea with his good friend Patrick Macnee or surprise Linda Thorson.

Debonair and charming, it’s no surprise that Moore was approached to take on the role of Bond when Connery had decided to move on, but it wouldn’t be until after George Lazenby had a go and Connery had reprised the role that Moore would step into the part in 1973 for “Live & Let Die” with Madeline Smith.

Fresh from “The Wicker Man“, Christopher Lee & Britt Ekland reunited to join Moore in “The Man with the Golden Gun” (Maud Adams also appeared in the film and would return in “Octopussy”), which was followed by the barnstorming success of “The Spy Who Loved Me” with Caroline Munro, George Baker, & Valerie Leon.

Moore Years of Bond
If John Barry had been available to write the music, it may well be considered to be the best Bond film of the classic era.

The stylish sci-fi of “Moonraker” with Lois Chiles followed, then “For Your Eyes Only” & “Octopussy”. Moore’s final outing as Bond was “A View to a Kill” with Patrick Macnee & Grace Jones.

Timothy Dalton & Pierce Brosnan
Dashing Welsh actor Timothy Dalton took up the mantle in “The Living Daylights” and “Licence to Kill” before the films paused for six years with studio issues to take care of.

The classically trained actor is renowned for his theatre work, as well as cult projects such as playing Prince Barin in “Flash Gordon“, and brought a different dimension to the role in an era of the “new man”.

When the time came to bring Bond back to the screen, Pierce Brosnan stepped into the spy’s shoes for “Goldeneye”, essentially the first film of the Barbara Broccoli & Michael G. Wilson era.

Timothy Dalton
Pierce Brosnan

As custodians of the Bond series, it’s reassuring that Broccoli & Wilson have respectfully nurtured the series from “Goldeneye” to date, successfully capturing the essence of timeless Bond yet making them relevant for the year in which each film is released. They were both awarded CBEs yesterday in the 2022 New Year Honours list for services to film, to drama, to philanthropy and to skills.

Brosnan returned for “Tomorrow Never Dies”, “The World is Not Enough” (the first appearance of John Cleese in the Q department), and bowed out with “Die Another Day” which marked 40 years of Bond.

The Brosnan era introduced Judi Dench as Bond’s boss M, a nod to Stella Rimington perhaps, the real-life female head of MI5 at the time. M’s importance increased and featured prominently in “Skyfall”.

Daniel Craig
Going back to the source material of Ian Fleming’s novels, Daniel Craig‘s Bond burst into cinemas in 2006 with “Casino Royale” (written by Fleming 70 years ago).

The film’s tone and action impressed cinemagoers and marked a more physical yet emotionally-complex spy. (Keep an eye out for 60s supermodel Veruschka at the casino table).

The stylish “Quantum of Solace” followed (David Arnold’s score during the opera sequence influenced a new era of film soundtracks), after which “Skyfall” and “Spectre” led to even more critical praise and box office success.

Portraying the character from 2006 until last year’s release of “No Time to Die”, out of all the six Bond actors, Daniel Craig has been Bond for the longest time. Craig was awarded the CMG yesterday in the 2022 New Year list, an honour normally reserved for real-life spies & diplomats, mirroring the CMG that Bond was awarded in Ian Fleming’s canon.

Daniel Craig
Future Bond?

With the end of Daniel Craig’s tenure as Bond, speculation is rife as to who will don the spy’s tuxedo.

Many names have been posited, from Robert Pattinson & Tom Hardy (it was impossible not to think of Bond with Pattinson in a sharp suit during the action scenes of “Tenet”, or with Hardy during the snow scenes of “Inception”) to Henry Cavill (a superman from UNCLE) & Rupert Friend (who has already successfully demonstrated his spy skills in “Homeland” & “Hitman: Agent 47”, coupled with the debonair smile of Moore).

It’s more than possible that the Bond films move in a whole new direction which no pundits are thinking about currently.

Whoever Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson anoint as the new lead in the future, under their stewardship, they’re sure to make the right choice.

When Craig was initially announced as the spy, there were some detractors who decried the appointment of a blonde Bond. They have since had to eat their words given the global success and acclaim the Craig era has attracted.

Hope you’ve enjoyed Art & Hue’s homage to the iconic spy in this article to mark the 60th anniversary of Bond.

Below, Bond Girls, Pinewood, unofficial Bond films, royal Bond connections, and the Carry On’s pastiche.

Happy 60th birthday to the Bond films! & Many Happy Returns

Six Bond stars

Along with the people involved in the films, the buildings of Pinewood have a special association with Bond.

Home to the films since the very beginning, the studios have grown with Bond’s production needs, adding sound stages, water tanks, and screening theatres to accommodate the film behemoth.

The studios’ close link with Bond is everywhere you turn at Pinewood, including the Bond sound stage on Broccoli Road, The Roger Moore Stage, Goldfinger Avenue, and the John Barry Theatre.

Heatherden Hall, Pinewood’s grand white building, has featured in Bond films over the years, including “From Russian with Love”, “Goldfinger”, and “Octopussy”.

Pinewood was home to Ken Adam’s stylish sets for the films, and the studios enabled the production designer to take filmmaking to new heights.

Literally in the case of the volcano lair for “You Only Live Twice” as it was one of the largest sets ever to be built at the time (45 metres tall with room for a helicopter to land in it) and could be seen from miles.

Pinewood Studios Gatehouse pop art print by Art & Hue

The studios celebrated their 85th birthday in September. Charles Boot bought Heatherden Hall at auction on the 25th of September 1934 and Pinewood was officially opened on the 30th of September 1936.

Art & Hue had the pleasure to visit Pinewood to access the Studiocanal archives – take a look at the blog post from 2016 here.

Unofficial Bonds
As well as the official Bond films, there have been two unofficial entries:

“Never Say Never Again” (which starred Barbara Carrera, Valerie Leon, & Max von Sydow) with Connery reprising the role 12 years after “Diamonds Are Forever”;

1967’s “Casino Royale” which saw Peter Sellers & David Niven both play the secret agent.

The cast of the madcap bonkers film included Orson Welles, David Prowse (in his film debut), Ronnie Corbett, Bernard Cribbins, Duncan Macrae, & Caroline Munro, with Burt Bacharach’s classic music played by Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass.

1967 Casino Royale
Bond Girls
Bond girls gallery

Britt Ekland appeared alongside Moore in his second outing as Bond, “The Man with the Golden Gun” in 1974.

Also starring British cinema icon Christopher Lee as the villain, the film had a powerful song performed by Lulu featuring memorable lyrics.

Britt Ekland has appeared in many iconic productions including “The Wicker Man“, also starring Christopher Lee, which is frequently described as the best British horror film, as well as a classic scene in Jennifer Saunders’ “Absolutely Fabulous” with Joanna Lumley set in Joe’s Café, also featuring Lulu.

Valerie Leon appeared in two Bond films, in a supporting role as a receptionist in “The Spy Who Loved Me” with Moore, and got frisky with Connery in “Never Say Never Again”, when he reprised the role of Bond in 1983.

Other Bond girls include Anouska Hempel, who appeared in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” alongside Jenny Hanley & Julie Ege; and Shirley Eaton, who was painted gold in “Goldfinger”, as was Margaret Nolan for the title sequence.

Carry On Spying
The Carry On films never missed an opportunity to parody, or generally ride the coattails of, successful films. “Carry On Screaming” lampooned Hammer horrors, and “Carry On Cleo” even used the same sets of Liz Taylor’s Cleopatra when they were left at Pinewood.

Given the success of Bond, it’s no real surprise, and in many ways a complement, that the Carry On team turned their sights on the spy.

Carry On Spying” parodied spy films, including “The Third Man” and Bond, with Charles Hawtrey’s character called Charlie Bind.

There’s some crossover with the Carry On films, which is the most prolific British film series (yes, more films than Bond) – Margaret Nolan, Madeline Smith, and Valerie Leon appeared in both Bond and Carry On, glamourous actresses who could also do comedy.

Carry On Bond connections
Her Majesty The Queen
Finally, there’s one presence that has always been a part of the Bond films, that of Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II.

Bond and the intelligence departments are always working on behalf of Queen & Country, operating as part of Her Majesty’s secret services. The ministerial symbols & grand architecture of British institutions appear in the films, which contrast with the concrete minimalist lairs of Bond villains.

From Lazenby raising a drink in apology to a portrait of The Queen in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” to Buckingham Palace appearing in “Die Another Day”, the Monarchy and State are ever-present even when not directly referred to.

The first Royal premiere of a Bond film was for “You Only Live Twice”, attended by The Queen. Since then, there has been a royal premiere of all the Bond films (apart from “Tomorrow Never Dies” & “The World Is Not Enough”) with Prince Philip, Princess Anne, Prince Charles, Princess Diana, Harry, and the Duke & Duchess of Cambridge attending over the years.

The Queen also attended the premieres of “Die Another Day” & “Casino Royale”.

Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth II

We learnt recently, from royal biographer Gyles Brandreth, that The Queen has seen all the Bond films and Angela Kelly, the Queen’s dresser, wrote that it was The Queen’s own suggestion that she should speak to Bond during the Olympic opening ceremony.

When The Queen turned to say “Good Evening Mr. Bond”, you could palpably feel the naturally-sceptical British public fully get behind London 2012.

60 years of Bond films

Comments are closed.

This website needs cookies to work correctly. Click the UNDERSTOOD button to use essential cookies or click Read More for info.