Dr. No Turns Fifty

May 8, 2013, marks the 50th anniversary of the U.S. release of James Bond's first film.

By Jennie Wood

Sean Connery as James Bond

Sean Connery as James Bond in Dr. No

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On May 8, 1963, Dr. No, the first film featuring secret agent James Bond was released in the United States. Released seven months earlier in the U.K., the film launched what would become one of the longest film series in history with 23 films as of 2013. It is also the second highest grossing series behind the Harry Potter films. With the most recent film, 2012's Skyfall doing well at the box office worldwide and winning two Oscars, James Bond is looking really good at fifty.

The Sean Connery Era

Sean Connery was not producer Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli's first choice to play Bond. Connery was third in line and received the part only after Patrick McGoohan rejected the role and the studio passed on Richard Johnson. Connery appeared in a total of seven films. He appeared in the first five, starting with Dr. No and ending with You Only Live Twice in 1967. He returned to the role in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever and again in 1983's ironically titled (in regards to Connery) Never Say Never Again.

Author and James Bond creator, Ian Fleming, initially doubted Connery's ability to handle the role and called him unrefined in the press. However, after the premiere of Dr. No, Fleming changed his mind and even created a backstory for James Bond's roots in the later novels that corresponded with Connery's heritage. It was eventually Connery's decision to vacate the Bond films. He grew tired of the role and the pressure of carrying a franchise.

The Many Bonds in Later Years

George Lazenby was the first actor after Connery to tackle Bond. Lazenby appeared as 007 in one film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. When it seemed clear that Connery was done with Bond, Roger Moore took on the role. From 1973 through 1985, Moore played Bond in seven films. Spending a total of 12 years in the role, he became the actor who played Bond the longest. Moore was also the oldest. He was fifty-eight when he retired from the role on December 3, 1985. He took a five year hiatus from acting after his last Bond film, 1985's A View to a Kill

Timothy Dalton was the next actor to step into Bond's shoes. He played the role in two films, 1987's The Living Daylights and 1989's License to Kill. After Dalton, Pierce Brosnan took over and played 007 from 1995 to 2004. Roger Ebert reviewed Brosnan's first turn as Bond in 1995's GoldenEye. In the review, Ebert said that Brosnan's Bond was "more sensitive, more vulnerable, more psychologically complete" than the previous ones. In 2004, Brosnan announced that he was quitting the role. Daniel Craig took over the following year. Born in 1968, Craig became the first actor born after the Bond films began being made to play the role. All five pervious Bonds publicly supported the casting of Craig.

So far, Craig has starred in three Bond films, all of which have been well received at the box office. Even the tradition of a title song for each Bond film is holding strong. For 2012's Skyfall, Adele recorded the title song. The song became a huge hit and won several awards, including an Oscar. With this kind of success, at age fifty, James Bond shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Information Please® Database, © 2007 Pearson Education, Inc. All rights reserved.

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