LOS ANGELES – From the way he introduces himself to his preferred drink order to the kind of car he drives, everything about James Bond is deeply entrenched in pop culture.
In honor of Agent 007s 50th anniversary, heres a best-of list of all things Bond:
Best Bond girl: This is tough. Adorably sexy Honor Blackman played the Bond girl with the best name of all – Pussy Galore – in Goldfinger (1964) and action veteran Michelle Yeoh was fierce in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Eva Green as the smart and sultry Vesper Lynd in 2006s Casino Royale was the rare Bond girl who was truly his equal. (Its easy to pick the worst one: That would be Denise Richards as the allegedly brilliant nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones in 1999s The World Is Not Enough.) But just the vision of Ursula Andress striding from the ocean in Dr. No is so famous and so stirring, its hard to top: that bikini with a dagger strapped to her hip, the long blonde hair and those curves.
Most fearsome villain: Blofeld is the easy answer because hes appeared in so many Bond films. But Im picking Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979), played by 7-foot-2 Richard Kiel. Those teeth – they could do some serious damage.
Best theme song: Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me. This one just stands out after all these years. It still takes such a hold of you when youre listening to it. Its also one of several that would be nominated for an original-song Oscar.
Coolest gadget: The jet pack that allowed Sean Connery to zoom skyward to his escape in 1965s Thunderball was cool and forward-thinking. But its the car, of course, thats so readily identifiable as James Bonds most reliable and versatile weapon. Famously, he drives a silver Aston Martin but its come in various models, with an assortment of handy tricks and toys and been driven by several of the actors playing the part. Revolving license plates, bulletproof shields, tires that shoot spikes, headlights that hide machine guns, ejector seats – theyre probably safer than texting behind the wheel.
Best Bond: Supposedly the Bond you grew up watching first is the one you like best. Sorry, but I cant bring myself to pick Roger Moore. This is actually as tough as choosing the best Bond girl because each actor has interpreted the character in such different ways while still attempting to remain true to his essence. Sean Connery is the classic and he set the standard, and hed probably be the No. 1 pick for the majority of Bond fans. At this point, though, when I think of Connery, I think of Darrell Hammonds hilarious impersonation of him in the Celebrity Jeopardy sketches on Saturday Night Live. So Im going to do something kind of blasphemous here and say Daniel Craig has become my favorite Bond. People scoffed when he was chosen to star in Casino Royale. We cant have a blond Bond! came the outcry. But Craig can seriously act, bringing a welcome darkness to the character as well as being sexy, masculine and formidable in all the necessary ways.