Entertainment Weekly magazine just had a cover about the cinematic James Bond turning fifty. (The literary 007 is actually older) but as I looked at the picture of Sean Connery, I had to wonder what happened to that version of male hero. 007 doesn't seem to be quite the man he was.
Not that there's anything wrong with Daniel Craig, or any of the other Bonds who succeeded Connery. Geroge Lazenby was a great looking Australian model, but he could only sustain one film. Then, Roger Moore took the reins and brought an extra measure of tongue-in-cheek humor to the role. Timothy Dalton always seemed as if there were someplace else he wanted to be. Just when Pierce Brosnan accumulated sufficient gravitas to be believable as Bond, the producers dropped him for Daniel Craig. Daniel Craig... a blond Bond? Hmmm.
What was it about Connery that so indelibly branded him as 007? Somebody once said that Connery was the only Bond who could be menacing. But there was more to his allure than that.
The Connery 007 drank, smoked, drove fast and killed in cold blood. You could never envision him having a mani-ped, or twizzling product-infused hair into the tonsorial architecture favored by many men today. Though he dressed well, he was no dandy. I just couldn't imagine him in a 3-way mirror checking to see if his slacks gave his glutes the proper perky silhouette. Connery was well built, but naturally athletic - without the over-sculpted gym-rat physique of Jersey Shore males — and Daniel Craig.
In one Craig 007 film, he lost his lady love and cried and pitched a boo hoo party. An admirable display of emotion for some other character perhaps, but would the real 007 ever involve himself that deeply? Who wants an emotionally available secret agent? Bond was never meant to be Mr. Right, he was Mr. Right Now and that may have been his most attractive attribute.
Since the character is a runaway fantasy, what nincompoop would want the pyrotechnic life-on-the-edge narrative to morph from Aston Martins and gunfights into wedding bells, a picket fence, orthodontic bills, 529's... oh, I'm making myself ill here. The whole point of a 007 fling would be the bittersweet, white-hot good-bye because without that, reality sets in.
I need a cold martini and a hot dose of the vintage, old school JB. The one who slapped his girlfriend's butt in Goldfinger and kicked Blofeld's cat in Diamonds Are Forever. Funny how twisted our cultural mores have become. 007 can still annihilate any number of human enemies and do gargantuan box office. But if he kicked that cat today, he'd be finished.