The James Bond film franchise turned 50 on Friday with the release of a revealing new documentary about its turbulent past and the first listen of the new theme tune performed by Adele.
The premiere of the first Bond film, Dr. No, was held in London on Oct. 5, 1962, and starred Scottish actor Sean Connery as the suave and brutal super-spy working for British intelligence to thwart the plans of an evil megalomaniac.
By the time the third movie in the franchise, Goldfinger, hit the screens two years later, Bond was a cultural phenomenon generating the kind of public excitement more often associated with British pop group the Beatles.
The character was quickly adopted by the British public and further afield as the embodiment of sophistication and courage, and his dress sense, taste in fast cars and beautiful women and catch phrase “shaken, not stirred” entered mainstream culture.
Not everyone liked Bond. The films have often been dismissed as sexist for the seemingly endless line of scantily clad women who fall into bed with Bond, and several have been panned by the critics.
However, Bond’s lasting appeal was underlined this summer when actor Daniel Craig, as 007, and Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II appeared together in a short, comic scene at Buckingham Palace in a highlight of the London Olympics opening ceremony.
Over the past five decades, EON Productions, formed by the central partnership of Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, has made 22 Bond movies which have amassed around US$5 billion at the global box office.
The 23rd film, Skyfall, gets its world premiere in London later this month and Adele’s theme tune for the movie starring Craig on Her Majesty’s secret service hit the airwaves on Friday to mixed reviews.
Also released on Friday was Everything or Nothing, the documentary directed by Stevan Riley that charts Bond’s passage through studio collapses, personality clashes and the end of the Cold War which could have spelled disaster for the series.
Instead it has adapted to the modern era with a female spymaster M, played by Judi Dench, and a tough and serious 007 in the form of Craig.
That constant reinvention has been one of the franchise’s greatest strengths, with six actors playing the role in the official Bond movies.
Meanwhile, James Bond lovers have spent thousands of pounds for pieces of memorabilia from the spy movies at a London auction.
Christie’s auction house is selling the items to coincide with the 50th birthday of the Bond movies.
Among the items under the hammer Friday in London was the complete works of Ian Fleming, Bond’s creator. That fetched ￡91,250 (US$147,197), handily beating estimates of between ￡10,000 and ￡15,000.
A navy, wool Tom Ford suit worn by Daniel Craig in the new Skyfall film sold for ￡46,850. It was estimated to sell for between ￡2,000 and ￡3,000.
Proceeds will go to several charities, including the UN children’s fund, UNICEF.