20 April 2010

The Curse of the Even Bonds?

by Tyler Weaver.  Follow me on Twitter.

I'm a James Bond nut.  Especially the Fleming novels, Connery's From Russia With Love, Lazenby's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, both Dalton films, and both Craig Bonds.  So it was with much fear that I read the news yesterday that "James Bond 23," to be directed by American Beauty's Sam Mendes (as much as I love that film, my favorite film of his is the vastly underrated Road to Perdition, with some stunning imagery by the late Conrad Hall), is on indefinite hold due to MGM's financial woes. 

What was glossed over in all the articles I've read was an eerie coincidence. 

There's a curse in the Bond world.  I call it the Curse of the Even Bonds*.  Every even numbered James Bond suited up for one to two films maximum.  Let's lay it out:

007.1: Sean Connery (1962-1967, 1971 1983)  Connery played Bond in what are considered the "classics" of the canonical Bonds (those produced by Albert R. Broccoli's Eon Productions)).  Dr. No.  From Russia With Love.  Goldfinger.  Thunderball.  You Only Live Twice.  Diamonds Are Forever.  

1983 is in italics because though Connery returned to the role in 1983's Never Say Never Again, that film was produced outside the Eon Production family, and not considered canon.

007.2: George Lazenby (1969).  Lazenby was the first of our "Even Bonds."  Plucked from obscurity to be Sean Connery's heir apparent, he starred in my favorite Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (see my article In Defense of the Bastard Bond from September).  He left the role after only one film, paving the way for Connery's lackluster return in Diamonds Are Forever.

Cut short because: Lazenby was an idiot who listened to the advice of an idiot.
007.3: Roger Moore (1973-1985).  My least favorite of the Bonds, and as far removed from Fleming's original creation as you can get.  Nonetheless, he's a popular Bond, and starred in seven canonical Bonds - Live and Let Die, The Man With the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and A View to a Kill

007.4: Timothy Dalton (1987-1989).  One of my favorite performers as Bond.  He was intense (somewhat), and he was as close to the Fleming "Bastard Bond" as we had gotten up until that point.  As he's an even Bond, he lasted two films before legal issues killed the Bond franchise until 1995's Goldeneye, and Dalton declined a return engagement.

Cut short because of: Legal issues between MGM and Eon.

007.5: Pierce Brosnan (1995-2002).  Originally set to take on the role in 1986 following Moore's retirement from the role, Brosnan's Remington Steele contract bit him in the ass, and prevented him from being Bond.  He started off strong with Goldeneye, and slowly descended into shitsville with Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough, and the final nail in the Brosnan coffin, Die Another Day.  A damn good actor - just too pretty for Bond, and never really threatening.  That was rectified with Bond 6. 

007.6: Daniel Craig (2006-??).  I had long hoped for Daniel Craig to take on the Bond role, ever since first being exposed to his acting chops in the aforementioned Road to Perdition, then cementing it with Matthew Vaughn's wonderful Layer Cake.  Two years later, he suited up as the new 007 in the best Bond film since On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Casino Royale.

Cut short because of: ??

See why I'm scared?

Craig is the best Bond since Connery, perhaps even surpassing him.  He's brought a hard edge to the series, and has made the role his own.

It would be a shame to see all of that go down the tubes as MGM's interminable money woes work themselves out.  "Bond 23," with Sam Mendes at the helm (now being romanced by Disney to take on Oz, The Great and Powerful, a prequel to The Wizard of Oz, possibly starring Robert Downey Jr.) had the potential to be a fascinating and intriguing bit of film.

I'm not screaming apocalypse, but I am putting out the warning - it's happened before.

* This could technically be called "The Curse of the Odd Bonds," since Connery was in fact the second actor to take on the role.  A 1955 American television production of Fleming's then-just-released Casino Royale starred American actor Barry Nelson in the role and Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre.  I won't even attempt to sort through the multiple-director clusterfuck that is 1967's comedy version of Casino Royale.

Tyler Weaver is a filmmaker, writer, contributor to the pulptone.com website, and is the founder and EIC of Multi-Hyphenate... which you're reading right now.  He's currently making new things and yaks about that and more on Twitter under the creative guise of @tylerweaver.


Oli said...

Lazenby was an idiot how?

Interestingly, I heard an interview with him where he said his agent told him not to do more than one because he'd get typecast.

So yes, he was an idiot for listening to his agent.

I love BOND, it's such a great series. Craig is a great Bond, as was Brosnan before him but, barring Goldeneye on his debut, he never got the stories he deserved.

Tyler Weaver said...

He listened to bad advice from a friend of his, who told him because of "Easy Rider" and movies like that, that the James Bond series would be dead in a few years, and he shouldn't waste his time.

There have been a lot of stories about why - bottom line, you're right. He listened to bad advice, didn't know how to handle the fame, and was, well, an idiot.

He would have made a great Bond had he continued with the role.

Thanks for reading!

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