February 2009

The Modern Bonds

With 22 films featuring the character, James Bond is undeniably a permanent fixture in pop culture. He has been played by seven different actors who took direction from fourteen different directors. It's easy to understand how the character could have changed so much over the years. But there's more to Bond's transformation than just the crews who brought him to the screen. In the end, the cinema versions of James Bond reflect the changing values and perceptions of the culture that bears them. Throughout the 60's Sean Connery's Bond was slick and not just a little laconic. It was like watching Frank Sinatra battling spies with a tiny gun. Of course, that's exactly what the martini-drinking swinger crowds of the 1960's wanted. He was an antidote to the restrictive suburbanism that had taken over Western (and especially American) society. Since then, Bond has seen many permutations that build on that initial style. But something strange happened in the 1990's. Up until 1989, there had been a new Bond film practically every year and a half since Dr. No.