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December 15, 2021
Bye-Bye 007: Where Is 008 When We Really Need Him?
Sean Connery: Everyone knows which role he owned.

(This article first appeared in the American Spectator at https://spectator.org/bye-bye-007-where-is-008-when-we-really-need-him/?fbclid=IwAR3xkUhlHK2S-cRYuck-7ckp3vEBOKNVja_lJiydtDzit8o8r3Pwyw3kGFM)

By: John C. Wohlstetter, Senior Fellow

Time to take a break during the holidays—impossible during last year’s kerfuffle after the 2020 election—and hence the delay in publishing this piece on a legend who left us on Halloween 2020; and quite a bio he had--before and after his cinematic alter ego.

Those of us who remember seeing the early films realize how risqué they were for the time, and how comparatively tame they seem now. The series should have been cancelled no later than after Roger Moore's GQ-style 007. Connery made his last Bond film in 1983, Moore in 1985. Bond hanging up his Super-Spy spikes at 23 would have been plenty.

Nothing much has come along since. Bond has become an empty vessel into which anyone can be placed. How would Sir Ian react to the just-released LGBTQ 007? How many stunt-driven car chase scenes, how many ridiculously protracted digitally-created fight scenes, do we need to see?

Yet much was added to Fleming’s characters early on, by the original actors playing supporting roles. "Q" (Desmond Llewelyn), MI6’s fictional acerbic armorer (2:39); Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), the trusty secretary with a crush (3:06) on 007; Bernard Lee, the formidable MI6 chief, “M.” The spy agency’s intrepid crew faces arch-villains galore: Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya)--who'd have thought that the sinister director of SMERSH (acronym for smiert shpionam,—“death to spies”) was the lovely lass married in youth to composer Kurt Weill, who gave us the immortal tune, Mack the Knife? Lenya’s instrument for dispatching 007 to the hereafter was psychopathic killer Donovan “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw). Then came Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), who cheated at cards and golf, losing to 007’s slicker cheating both times; and his thuggish bodyguard, karate-killer Oddjob (pro wrestler Harold Sakata), carved seemingly from granite, only to be electrocuted by 007 just in time to save Fort Knox; and for perennial menace, who could have topped Jaws (Richard Kiel), a worthy successor to earlier film Frankensteins.

All hail, Connery Bond belles: Ursula Andress, whose legendary Playboy pictorial and penchant for displaying her ample charms earned her the sobriquet, Arsula Undress; Daniella Bianchi, first runner-up to 1960’s Miss Universe; Honor Blackman, who had the honor of being the first Bond belle to flip 007 on his keister; Shirley Eaton, best known for her being painted a suffocating gold; and Lana Wood, whose “plentiful” charms (2:37) livened up a dice game. But their feminine charms extraordinaire.often did not include their actual voices. Incredibly, from 1962 to 1979—Dr. No through Moonraker—many Bond-belle voices were voice-overs by German-born Nikki van der Zyl, including that of Brit Shirley Eaton. Van der Zyl’s voice was thought sexier than those for whom she dubbed.

Moore-era Bond femmes like Jane Seymour (Live and Let Die, 1973); Swedish-Polish Ford model Maud Adams--Octopussy, 1983 & The Man With the Golden Gun, 1974; Britt Ekland (also in TMWTGG), another sexy Swede, whose wedding night gift to husband Peter Sellers was a near-fatal coronary, offered audiences "Moore" of the sexy same. How many players --if any--from later Bond flicks match the cavalcade on these lists? Those of the later Bond flicks I passed idle time on nights in hotel rooms with limited video fare and inadequate light for reading.

Central to the success of Bond films was nonpareil set designer Ken Adam. He worked on all Connery Bond films save 1963’s From Russia With Love and 1983’s Never Say Never Again. He created the spectacular supertanker set (4:17) for 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, on the then-largest sound stage in the world. In 1965’s Thunderball, Adam’s underwater stagings (9:18) offered a technology showcase in small submersibles and the hydrofoil Disco Volante—“flying fish”). Adam was set designer for film classics Around the World in 80 Days (1956), Ben-Hur (1959) and Dr. Strangelove (1964). Work on Strangelove precluded his working on From Russia With Love. Besides his film work, the German-born Adam was one of three German expatriates to fly RAF combat missions in World War II.

No appraisal of the great era of Bond films would be complete without mention of the music. Two songs stand out above the rest: 1964’s Goldfinger, composed by John Barry, whose Bond music and conducting work spanned 26 years. With lyrics by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, it was sung memorably in the film’s opening title sequence (2:49) by Shirley Bassey, spiced up by the nude (though shadowed) image of Bond girl Margaret Nolan. The 1977 Marvin Hamlisch/Carol Bayer Sager jazz-rock Nobody Does It Better, in the title sequence (2:43) for The Spy Who Loved Me, showcased superstar Carly Simon’s nonpareil rendition.

Add four cool instrumentals. The world-famed James Bond 007 Theme was originally a song from a failed musical, composed by thespian Monty Norman; the tale of the tune (5:47) is a lulu. John Barry arranged and orchestrated