“50 years ago today, on October 5th, 1962, Dr. No, a fairly low-budget, modest spy thriller starring a Scottish actor known for the Disney film Darby O’Gill and the Little People, was released in the U.K.” So begins Oliver Lyttelton‘s extensive history at the Playlist of James Bond, from the germ of an idea up to that day half a century ago.
A new documentary, out in the U.K. today, Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007, picks it up from there. “The story of this franchise is extraordinary,” writes Nigel Andrews in the Financial Times. “A former English wartime spy, Ian Fleming, writes a series of novels about an English postwar spy—pulp thrillers with a public-school edge—and in 1962 a screen adaptation starring an unknown Scot blows the roof off the world’s box office. Stevan Riley’s film subpoenas every character witness available, from the Bond actors to two American presidents, both Bond fans, the late R. Reagan and the living B. Clinton. Everyone swears to 007’s complexity and variety as a hero: something you can hardly argue with since he has been played by a Scot, a Welshman, an Irishman, an Australian and two Englishmen from opposite ends of the class scale.”
The Telegraph‘s Tim Robey notes that “only Sean Connery, whose falling out with producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman is a major part of the story, is a no‑show. Roger Moore graciously concedes that his predecessor was the better Bond, and everyone backs Timothy Dalton as the most underrated, even if Licence to Kill was an unpleasant series nadir.” More on the doc from Peter Bradshaw (Guardian, 3/5), Tom Huddleston (Time Out, 3/5), and Anthony Quinn (Independent, 2/5; it’s also there that Jason Horowitz argues that it’s actually Moore who was the best Bond—the Telegraph, though, is sticking with Connery).
Meantime, here comes Skyfall, premiering in London on October 23 and opening stateside on November 9. Chances are you’ll have seen the trailer and heard the new theme sung by Adele, “who was born to sing a Bond theme,” argues Jen Yamato at Movieline. Her review of the tune is the best of the bunch, as it breaks down the song’s “musical DNA” to map the echoes of previous Bond themes. Julie Miller‘s got a new clip from the film over at Vanity Fair, which has put Daniel Craig on its cover and posted a photo gallery: “Bond’s Birthday.”
Update, 10/7: For Slant, John Semley reviews Bond 50, a “fancily packaged, and, given the sheer volume, reasonably priced box set, which collects all 22 EON-produced Bond outings—so, no Casino Royale from 1967 or Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery’s non-canon 1983 return to the role. En route to its golden anniversary, the Bond franchise has entrenched itself. It’s the longest-running, and second-highest grossing property (after Harry Potter) in the history of the cinema, and even more importantly, an enduring, generation-spanning touchstone of 20th-and-now-21st-century popular culture. It’s hard to imagine movies without Bond, and vice versa. Like an old friend from high school you can run into once every few years and pick up right where you left off, Bond abides.”