October 26th marks almost 50 years to the day that Dr No was first released onto the cinema-going public. It also marks the day that the latest Bond movie, Skyfall, hits the cinemas. The new movie has received great reviews from critics, in what promises to be one of the best Bond movies yet; taking in the grit and action of the previous Daniel Craig outings, crafted with the characters and technology that we love from other Bond movies together with the director, writers and star's determination to return to the thrilling realism of the original Ian Fleming novels.
In the Telegraph this week there is an interesting piece by Charlie Higson about the James Bond phenomena, filled with fun facts and figures for the series. For instance, Pierce Brosnan uttered the immortal line "Bond, James Bond" five times in his cinematic career as the secret agent; Daniel Craig has said that line once in two movies. The 22 Bond movies (discounting Skyfall) has seen locations in 55 cities and 44 countries. Roger Moore ordered the most Vodka Martinis and he bedded the most women; but then it was the Seventies.
Most interesting of all is the box-office takings for the series.
The least successful movie is not hard to guess, Licence To Kill, which recorded takings of £180m in 1989 and marked the end of Timothy Dalton's brief sojourn in the series. The woeful Die Another Day, which brought Pierce Brosnan's 7 year reign to an end, took a massive £345m, no doubt because of the invisible car and awful Madonna theme tune.
Top Ten Bond Movies (figures adjusted for inflation)
Live and Let Die
You Only Live Twice
The Spy Who Loved Me
Diamonds Are Forever
Quantum of Solace
From Russia With Love
Half of the top ten star Sean Connery as James Bond, with Daniel Craig and Roger Moore sharing the other half of the list. Interestingly, George Lazenby's movie still performed better than Timothy Dalton's even though he was dumped after just the one performance. There is some suggestion that he got too big for his boots.
So, other than being most peoples choice as the best Bond, Connery is certainly the most successful in financial terms.
Anticipation has been growing since the London Olympics and the producers could not have picked a better year to unleash the next movie. Britain is currently enjoying an unusual season of national pride brought on by our Olympic heroes and Bond has been part of that. What better advertising do you need than an appearance with the Queen.
The trailer looks great. Daniel Craig looks the part as Bond, and though he may lack the charm of Roger Moore, he certainly has the charisma, as well as looking as if he could kill you any minute. That's the Bond that we need at the moment; we need a hero; we need a fighter and we need someone who has intelligence as well as the grit. Daniel Craig gives us that, I hope that Skyfall delivers in spades.