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 007’s 50th anniversary, here’s 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 2006’s Casino Royale was the rare Bond girl who was truly his equal. (It’s easy to pick the worst one: That would be Denise Richards as the allegedly brilliant nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones in 1999’s 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, it’s 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 he’s appeared in so many Bond films. But I’m 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 you’re listening to it. It’s 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 1965’s Thunderball was cool and forward-thinking. But it’s the car, of course, that’s so readily identifiable as James Bond’s most reliable and versatile weapon. Famously, he drives a silver Aston Martin but it’s 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 – they’re 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 can’t 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 he’d 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 Hammond’s hilarious impersonation of him in the Celebrity Jeopardy sketches on Saturday Night Live. So I’m 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 can’t 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.