A problem that a lot of movies suffer from is age. The Exorcist (1973) may be a classic but it’s nowhere near as shocking as it was back when religious sensibilities were still strong. Brief Encounter (1945) still stands as top-notch filmmaking but its nowhere near as gripping today where affairs and loose morals are common place. For some films growing old is a blessing, the characteristics of the time they were made increasing their appeal; think Sunset Boulevard (1950) for its fifties glamour or Breakfast At Tiffany’s (1961) for its sixties chic. Then there are those really rare movies that don’t age at all. Standing coolly in the middle of this selective club is James Bond 007.
Its 50 years to the day since England's number one secret agent first appeared on the big screen in Terence Young’s Dr. No (1962), nine years after writer Ian Fleming released his first Bond book, Casino Royale in 1953. Casting former Mr. Universe contender Sean Connery was seen as bit of a risk at the time. Producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman originally wanted Cary Grant for the role, whilst Fleming’s personal choice was Richard Todd. Ironically, Broccoli even considered Roger Moore but dismissed him at the time for being "too young and a shade too pretty”. Eventually the thirty year old Scotsman beat out five other contenders to secure a five film deal. Action cinema hasn’t looked back since.
Despite being half a century old Dr. No is still an essential piece of action cinema, more than holding its own against many a 21st century high octane wannabe. In many ways it was the first modern action film, the first to start a commercial franchise based around a central heroic actor, the first to lay down franchise traits that would follow from one film to the next. As cinema developed over the next five decades, so did the series and the action therein. And where Bond led, action movie cinema followed. Its only recently with the Bourne mimicking Daniel Craig films that the series has stopped leading the way and chosen to follow the action path of a direct competitor. Lets hope with the October release of Bond’s twenty third outing Skyfall (2012) our James stops being a trend follower and once again becomes an the action movie front runner.