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Looking Back on the James Bond Franchise Through James Bond Day

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Sean Connery as James Bond in Licence to Kill, holding a gun up to his face and smiling

The official Global James Bond Day, also known as 007 Day, marked the 58th anniversary of the first film in the series, Dr. No, which was released in 1962.

The franchise is rolling towards six decades of being a part of World cinema; it contains a total of 25 main films marking an impressive accomplishment in filmography.

To properly honor James Bond Day, here is a list containing take-aways from the movies. Things that you may perhaps make use of in your own life, or maybe a savory piece of trivia worthy of admiration that you can hold on to.

The Connery Years — and That One Lazenby Film:

Dr. No (1962):

Indiana Jones has ophidiophobia, and Michael Schenker wrote an album called Arachnophobia, which are just some simple reminders that fear is often genuine.

In Dr. No, Quarrel is killed by the “dragon” rumored to exist in the Bahamas, which is actually a fire tank, a presence that is the product of the film’s antagonist, Dr. No.

One may realize from watching the film that Quarrel could have saved himself, but his death emphasizes how significantly fear can influence not only our reactions to a situation in general but our reaction time as well, should we choose to react.

Some people simply freeze in fear, an element dramatized in media entertainment, while some are quick to react carelessly or otherwise, which is best illustrated in horror films. If you are a true Bond enthusiast, why not start your 007 Day by watching the film that started it all?

From Russia with Love (1963):

Arguably one of the best takeaways from this film is that you’ll always be presented with bait in a high-stakes situation, and under general circumstances, taking it will work against you. Bond does manage to flip Tatiana Romanova, although one could argue that it is more of a decision she makes on her own.

A fair comparison could be made to Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, since she initially antagonizes Batman, as well as encourages his capture, but later digs into her conscience to assist him for the greater good.

Your Global James Bond Day is not complete without acknowledging the film’s heroic transition from evil to good that pleasantly stuns fans today.

Goldfinger (1964):

Many college campuses across the country have students who intend to be service members, or who were once service members, and Goldfinger is a 007 Day reminder to not underestimate the power of the U.S. military.

Their response at the tail end of the film illustrates how absurd antagonist Auric Goldfinger’s plan to destroy Fort Knox from the inside really was. But, of course, the art of storytelling left him only a few seconds from being able to achieve that goal.

Thunderball (1965): 

It’s completely reasonable for one to think that people would not deliberately attempt to steal nuclear weapons from a major power to satisfy their own goals; that is exactly what Thunderball decided to investigate.

You Only Live Twice (1967):

Ninjas were once crucial warriors in Japanese warfare during the samurai era, and You Only Live Twice gives them a modern touch with guns.

The more grim undertone presented in the film, though, is that the world’s nuclear powers are truly one warhead launch away from permanently changing the state of the world and its environment.

Even without some organization like SPECTRE, we still live under this threat, which is arguably more dangerous than if SPECTRE or something like it was real.

Questions for our dear philosophy majors are as follows: Does living twice include the afterlife? Do you even live in the afterlife? How does one live twice?

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969):

It’s fairly difficult to avoid noticing all the sports being tossed around in this film, especially since Bond participates in three during the important points in the film.

Sports can help establish the amount of time a person needs to participate in an exercise-oriented activity each day, and different skills from different sports can be manipulated for use in other tasks, with everything from focus to reaction time.

By college, it’s fair game to say that a significant portion of people, if not the majority, have an understanding of this concept, while others simply find another way to activate or reinforce the skills that are of interest to them.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971):

Taking place mostly in Las Vegas, there couldn’t be a more appropriate location for the vices that Bond films have to offer. People who can be considered as “evil” are more likely to have body doubles, something the film establishes more than once.

The Roger Moore Years:

Live and Let Die (1973):

If you’re a Beatles fan, you’ll recognize the title sequence, as Paul McCartney penned the track of the same name. As Bond investigates mysterious deaths, spy fans can enjoy typical 007 action and adventure that Global James Bond Day remembers.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974):

One could argue that the most satisfying part of the film, especially if you’re a Star Wars fan, is seeing Count Dooku many years before he would get to be that character. Sir Christopher Lee plays the antagonist, Francisco Scaramanga, whose pistol is just as unique as Count Dooku’s lightsaber hilt.

This film is also the only one in the series where a side character that actively contributes to the plot is a dwarf.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977):

The British and Soviet spies find out that they are looking for the same person, believing along the way that each other is the problem.

As the saying goes, the enemy of your enemy has great potential in being your friend. Karl Stromberg’s plans to start World War III are defeated, although he nearly succeeded, as nuclear warheads were launched only to end up destroying each other in flight.

Moonraker (1979):

Tim Curry once said that he would go to the one place not corrupted by capitalism: space. Unfortunately for him, villain Hugo Drax made sure capitalism would get him and his plan there.

Drax actor Michael Lonsdale, who had an extensive French film career along with what he has done in English (including Moonraker), passed away on September 21st.

For Your Eyes Only (1981):

The concept of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” could not be more true in Roger Moore’s 1981 appearance as Bond. He unknowingly works with his enemy, Aristotle Kristatos, who only allows the relationship to happen because of his plan to dispose of Bond at the right moment.

Bond’s “enemy,” Columbo, turns out to be the person he needs to work with if he has any hope of securing the ATAC device.

With Kristatos about to conduct the handoff with the Soviets at the end of the film (as the ATAC is a British device), Bond is able to acquire it just seconds before the handoff and eliminates the value of the ATAC by destroying it.

The Soviets’ reaction illustrates the relationship that Bond has built over the past several films with General Gogol, as the two mitigate Cold War tensions whenever possible.

As a whole, For Your Eyes Only arguably has some of the most enjoyable side characters in the entire franchise, at least in regard to allies, whether it be Columbo and his pistachios or Melina Havelock and her crossbow. Watch it this James Bond Day to decide for yourself.

Octopussy (1983):

It goes without saying that the film’s title automatically catches one’s attention. Like Pussy Galore from Goldfinger, there is a female character that also has a name with the word “pussy” in it: Octopussy, the cult leader.

For obvious safety reasons, do not let an octopus make contact with your face. In fact, that rule applies to virtually every sea animal, especially nowadays.

If you are fond of the performing arts, you ought to pay attention to the second half of this film, as well as how it is foreshadowed in the beginning sequence.

A View to a Kill (1985):

There isn’t a better Bond film for 007 Day to encourage you to think about Silicon Valley, given that it’s the setting. Christopher Walken remains mysterious as usual with his character Max Zorin, while Dolph Lundgren makes his film debut in a minor role.

A monopoly in big tech, or in any industry, for that matter, should not be held with open arms for Americans, yet progress so far this century makes it appear that this direction is being taken.

Duran Duran’s theme song for the film is arguably one of the best in the entire series; Americans, in general, seemed to think so, with the song going to #1 on the Billboard charts.

The Timothy Dalton Years — Perhaps the Coldest Bond of Them All

The Living Daylights (1987):

The ideal way to lure you in here is the fact that a-ha (the creators of your good old favorite “Take On Me”) wrote the title track for Dalton’s debut as Bond.

The film is the only one in the series where Bond slips in a war that was active at the time: the Soviet-Afghan War, which would go on for another two years after the release of the film.

Licence to Kill (1989):

Bond has his license to kill revoked in this film due to an infraction, but decides to pretend that he has it anyway. The antagonist, played by Robert Davi, will look quite familiar to those who have watched Die Hard, as this film was released the year after Bruce Willis’ compelling debut as John McClane.

It is also the only film in the series where Bond fights a cartel, in contrast to other kinds of criminal organizations, and makes an engaging addition to your Global James Bond Day bingeing.

The Pierce Brosnan Years:

GoldenEye (1995): 

GoldenEye was meant to be Dalton’s third Bond film, but it took so long to make that the role shifted to Pierce Brosnan. Thus, the Brosnan era was in full swing.

What better way to honor 007 Day than by watching Brosnan’s first Bond film as he saves the earth from a fatal space weapon?

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997):

This film is particularly interesting because the plot surrounds a media company’s broadcasting rights in China; it is worth making a comparison to the current day, as companies like Disney seek the approval and happiness of China as much as possible.

The World Is Not Enough (1999):

If you pay attention carefully, you will notice that this phrase is used all the way back in Lazenby’s film. The joke in the conversation where this phrase is used points to Bond’s lifestyle.

Many of the Bond films have a healthy reminder that the friends you make along the way always have a purpose, and it’s in your best interest to allow them to display their higher competence for the skill required in the given situation.

For example, Dr. Christmas Jones, who has to be one of my favorite allies in the whole series, has a nuclear physicist background that allows her to not only defuse a nuclear bomb in a tunnel but also do so while moving at 80 miles per hour.

And because being in confined spaces once is not enough, the final combat scene takes place inside a submarine. Your October 5th is not complete without the protagonists’ courage and skill that James Bond Day treasures.

Die Another Day (2002):

Madonna seeming to have little to no prior songwriting experience for this film’s theme song, even after so many years in the industry, is a surprise — just like quite a few other things in the film. It is technically the first film where an entire country, North Korea, is treated as the villain.

The Daniel Craig Years — the Noticeably Shorter and Also Blonde Guy:

Casino Royale (2006):

The remake of the non-EON Casino Royale served as Daniel Craig’s Bond debut. Some may remember the film all too well for the torture scene in which Bond is ironically saved by someone that he must kill at the end of the film.

Chronologically, the film is meant to take place at the earlier parts of Bond’s career, but technological progress and the number of films in the series at this point make it appear otherwise.

Quantum of Solace (2008):

There literally is not a better film to talk about fire safety with, as Bond nearly dies after trapping himself in a burning building.

While Bond films tend to have impressive environments, this film is noticeably dull and overall the least impressive of the Craig films, which probably explains all the times that it randomly happened to be on television.

Skyfall (2012):

With the fate of Judi Dench’s M proving that “I’m fine” is one of the greatest common lies of all time, the best thing you can do is acquire as many details as you can for a high-stakes situation, and perhaps even treat it like an L.A. Noire case, if it comes to that.

It is interesting to note that Adele released her 2012 song of the same name, better known as the film’s theme song, on October 5th to celebrate James Bond Day.

Spectre (2015):

A lesson that stands out the most in this film is that there will always be times where you cause pain and suffering to people you know because one course of action was considered better than the other; it is a deep test of your moral consciousness.

On the other hand, doing good things for one person can be the same as doing bad things for another, which sparks an endless line of ethics questions, such as what can even be considered as justice and goodwill.

No Time to Die (2021):

The title speaks for itself; if one was to die, they would not be able to see the film. Bond can’t afford to die either, so I look forward to seeing what is offered for the end of the Craig era.

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