Sixties City Index Page
James Bond 007 Sixties City
James Bond 007 Sixties City
   


With an output of over 20 main feature movies the James Bond series is one of the most successful franchises in the history of film. Initial production budgets for the first six films, the ones made during the Sixties, varied from $1million to $9million and the box office value of these films was $603,600,000 which, allowing for inflation, equated to about $4,050,327,000 in 2012. The 'official' Bond films were produced by EON, a company formed by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. (Cubby) Broccoli, as was Danjaq, the company which actually held the naming rights, but there have also been three 'unofficial' James Bond productions and many other spoof take-offs that took advantage of the basic Bond recipe of 'super' spies, gorgeous females, futuristic (for the time) gadgets and explosive action. From a relative box office point of view, Thunderball is the most successful Bond movie to date, no doubt assisted by the fact that its production budget was well in excess of any of the other Sixties productions. Despite their popularity and financial success, the Sixties Bond films won only two academy awards - Best Sound Effects for Goldfinger in 1964 and Best Visual Effects for Thunderball in 1965.

James Bond 007 Sixties City

Sean Connery - James Bond The first film, Dr.No, was made in 1962 using the basic storyline from creator and author Ian Fleming's sixth Bond novel and stuck fairly closely to Fleming's concept of the character, which is also generally true of the first half dozen or so films before taking on a more 'tongue-in-cheek' approach after the departure of Connery from the title role. Even so, the nature of the Bond films utilises the concept of a 'super-villain' or organisation rather than dealing with the very real, but less entertaining, undercover 'cold war' espionage of the period. Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1953 and produced them at the rate of one a year until his death in 1964. The original films are very much influenced by Sixties attitudes with an endless stream of gorgeous women on both the 'good' and 'bad' sides, all started by Ursula Andress emerging from the sea with a dagger strapped to her bikini in 'Dr. No', making the 'Bond girl' an instant icon of the times. In order to maintain the main character's persona of being somewhat aloof and possessing the confidence of an almost total self-control, Bond does appear to be somewhat misogynistic but, despite that fact, many of the powerful characters and roles within the films were female roles and displayed, to some extent, the expanding liberation of women that was gaining some momentum during the decade. The characterisations and relationships within the movies really need to be viewed with this in mind, an understanding of more relaxed Sixties attitudes and what was then deemed to be acceptable behaviour.

The early films were co-produced by Broccoli and Saltzman on location and at Pinewood Studios, except for Thunderball, which Kevin McClory produced while Broccoli and Saltzman became executive producers. Distribution was handled solely by United Artists until 1981 when they were bought by MGM. Other than the official EON productions, there have been three other films featuring the character of James Bond: a 1954 American 1-hour television movie version of Casino Royale, produced by CBS; a 1967 spoof version of Casino Royale, starring David Niven and produced by Charles K. Feldman and Never Say Never Again, produced by Jack Schwartzman, which reprised Connery in the Bond role in a remake of the Thunderball story. Monty Norman composed the soundtrack for the first film and the main 'James Bond theme' which was actually arranged by John Barry, although he was only credited for the performance itself.

Sean Connery was nowhere near being first choice for Bond - Patrick McGoohan (Danger Man) had turned down the part,
'Mr.Universe' Steve Reeves turned it down because it paid only a fraction of his normal salary and Connery was only chosen by the producers in preference to Richard Johnson. Connery had also been a 'Mr Universe' contestant and had won a bronze medal in the lightweight division of the competition in 1955. Despite the varied ways in which the character has been portrayed by a number of excellent actors over the years, for most people it is the image of Connery that springs to the mind of most people, even now, as soon as the name James Bond is mentioned and this has always gone hand-in-hand with the Sixties ideal of fashionable style, from the trilby hats and elegant suits even to the simple beachwear of some scenes - timeless 'class' - which is one characteristic that has been maintained throughout the series of films.

Ian Fleming
Cubby Broccoli
Harry Saltzman
Kevin McClory
Monty Norman
John Barry
Pinewood Studios
Ian Fleming
Albert R. Broccoli
Harry Saltzman
Kevin McClory
Monty Norman
John Barry
Pinewood Studios
On the 'grisly' side, Connery still holds the record for the most Bond 'kills' - 59 - two ahead of Pierce Brosnan's 57 and 8 ahead of Roger Moore. At present, Daniel Craig is coming along well - only 29 as of this date but with a similar kills per film ratio to Connery. There are a number of almost iconic 'features' associated with Bond films, established over the years, threads that run throughout the series regardless of the decade or production 'style' - the highly stylised opening credits for each film, the 'theme song', the main 'James Bond theme', the 'Bond girls', the cars and high-tech gadgets supplied by 'Q' branch and, not least of all, some classic much-quoted dialogue one-liners. 'Do you expect me to talk? No, Mr.Bond, I expect you to die!'. The movies not only gave audiences the stunts, thrills, chases, fights and explosions that followed Bond through dangerous missions in exotic locations, but in the same way as its Sixties contemporary, Star Trek, provided a glimpse into the future with high tech gadgetry that included miniature missiles, tracking devices, space stations, any amount of miniaturisation and laser guns, many of which are only now, half a century later, becoming a reality.
Love them or hate them, for whatever reason, they are an integral part of the history of cinema and both a timeless window into the world of escapism and a mirror reflecting many aspects of the cultural times in which they were produced.


also see Bill Harry's Sixties pages on Sean Connery as 007 , Diana Rigg and both the 'Golden Girls' Margaret Nolan and Shirley Eaton




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