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The James Bond series focuses on a fictional British Secret Service agent created in 1953 by Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short-story collections. Since Fleming died in 1964, eight other authors have written authorized Bond novels or novelizations: Kingsley Amis, Christopher Wood, John Gardner, Raymond Benson, Sebastian Faulks, Jeffery Deaver, William Boyd, and Anthony Horowitz. The latest novel is With a Mind to Kill by Anthony Horowitz, published in May 2022. Charlie Higson wrote a series on a young James Bond, and Kate Westbrook wrote three novels based on the diaries of a recurring series character, Moneypenny.
The character—also known by the code number 007 (pronounced “double-oh-seven”)—has also been adapted for television, radio, comic strip, video games, and film. The films are one of the most extended, continually running film series. They have grossed over US$7.04 billion in total at the box office, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film series to date, which started in 1962 with Dr. No, starring Sean Connery as Bond. As of 2021, there have been twenty-five films in the Eon Productions series. The most recent Bond film, No Time to Die (2021), stars Daniel Craig in his fifth portrayal of Bond; he is the sixth actor to play Bond in the Eon series. There have also been two independent productions of Bond films: Casino Royale (a 1967 spoof starring David Niven) and Never Say Never Again (a 1983 remake of an earlier Eon-produced film, 1965’s Thunderball, both starring Connery). In 2015, the series was estimated to be worth $19.9 billion (based on box-office grosses, DVD sales, and merchandise tie-ins), making James Bond one of the highest-grossing media franchises ever.
The Bond films are renowned for several features, including the musical accompaniment, with the theme songs having received Academy Award nominations on several occasions and three wins. Other essential elements that run through most films include Bond’s cars, guns, and the gadgets Q Branch supplies him with. The movies are also noted for Bond’s relationships with various women, commonly called “Bond girls.”
Creation and inspiration
Ian Fleming created the fictional character of James Bond as the central figure for his works. Bond is an intelligence officer in the Secret Intelligence Service, commonly known as MI6. Bond is known by his code number, 007, and was a Royal Naval Reserve Commander. Fleming based his fictional creation on some individuals he encountered in the Naval Intelligence Division and 30 Assault Unit during the Second World War, admitting that Bond “was a compound of all the secret agents and commando types I met during the war.” Among those types was his brother, Peter, who had been involved in behind-the-lines operations in Norway and Greece during the war. Aside from Fleming’s brother, several others also provided some aspects of Bond’s makeup, including Conrad O’Brien-ffrench, Patrick Dalzel-Job, and Bill “Biffy” Dunderdale.
The name James Bond came from the American ornithologist James Bond, a Caribbean bird expert and author of the definitive field guide Birds of the West Indies. Fleming, a keen birdwatcher himself, had a copy of Bond’s guide, and he later explained that to the ornithologist’s wife.
“It struck me that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I needed, and so a second James Bond was born.” He further explained:” When I wrote the first one in 1953, I wanted Bond to be an incredibly dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument when I was casting around for a name for my protagonist, I thought by God, [James Bond] is the dullest name I ever heard.”Ian Fleming, The New Yorker, April 21, 1962
On another occasion, Fleming said: “I wanted the simplest, dullest, plainest-sounding name I could find, ‘James Bond’ was much better than something more interesting, like ‘Peregrine Carruthers.’ Exotic things would happen to and around him, but he would be a neutral figure—an anonymous, blunt instrument wielded by a government department.”
Fleming decided that Bond should resemble American singer Hoagy Carmichael and himself. In Casino Royale, Vesper Lynd remarks, “Bond reminds me rather of Hoagy Carmichael, but there is something cold and ruthless.” Likewise, in Moonraker, Special Branch Officer Gala Brand thinks Bond is “certainly good-looking … Rather like Hoagy Carmichael. That black hair was falling over the right eyebrow. Much the same bones. But there was something cruel in the mouth, and the eyes were cold.”
Fleming endowed Bond with many traits, including sharing the same golf handicap, the taste for scrambled eggs, and using the same brand of toiletries. Bond’s preferences are also often taken from Fleming’s own, as was his behavior, with Bond’s love of golf and gambling mirroring Fleming’s own. Fleming used his experiences of his espionage career and all other life aspects as inspiration when writing, including using names of school friends, acquaintances, relatives, and lovers throughout his books.
It was not until the penultimate novel, You Only Live Twice that Fleming gave Bond a sense of the family background. The book was the first to be written after the release of Dr. No in cinemas, and Sean Connery’s depiction of Bond affected Fleming’s interpretation of the character, henceforth giving Bond both a dry sense of humor and Scottish antecedents were not present in the previous stories. In a fictional obituary, purportedly published in The Times, Bond’s parents were given as Andrew Bond, from the village of Glencoe, Scotland, and Monique Delacroix, from the canton of Vaud, Switzerland. Fleming did not provide Bond’s date of birth, but John Pearson’s fictional biography of Bond, James Bond: The Authorized Biography of 007, gives Bond a birth date on November 11, 1920, while a study by John Griswold puts the date as November 11, 1921.
Novels and related works
Ian Fleming novels
While serving in the Naval Intelligence Division, Fleming had planned to become an author and had told a friend, “I am going to write the spy story to end all spy stories.” He wrote all his Bond novels during January and February each year. On February 17, 1952, he began writing his first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, at his Goldeneye estate in Jamaica. To distract himself from his forthcoming nuptials, he started the story shortly before his wedding to his pregnant girlfriend, Ann Charteris.
After completing the manuscript for Casino Royale, Fleming showed it to his friend (and later editor) William Plomer to read. Plomer liked it and submitted it to the publisher, Jonathan Cape, who did not like it as much. Cape finally published it in 1953 on the recommendation of Fleming’s older brother Peter, an established travel writer. Between 1953 and 1966, twelve novels and two short-story collections were published two years after his death, with the last two books—The Man with the Golden Gun and Octopussy and The Living Daylights—published posthumously. All the books were published in the U.K. through Jonathan Cape.
1953 Casino Royale
1954 Live and Let Die
1956 Diamonds Are Forever
1957 From Russia, with Love
1958 Dr. No
1960 For Your Eyes Only (short stories)
1962 The Spy Who Loved Me
1963 On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
1964 You Only Live Twice
1965 The Man with the Golden Gun
1966 Octopussy and The Living Daylights (short stories; “The Property of a Lady” added to subsequent editions)
After Fleming’s death, a continuation novel, Colonel Sun, was written by Kingsley Amis (as Robert Markham) and published in 1968. Amis had already registered a literary study of Fleming’s Bond novels in his 1965 work The James Bond Dossier. Although novelizations of two of the Eon Productions Bond films appeared in print, James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me, and James Bond and Moonraker, both written by screenwriter Christopher Wood, the series of novels did not continue until the 1980s. In 1981, the thriller writer John Gardner picked up the series with Licence Renewed. Gardner went on to write sixteen Bond books in total; two of the books he wrote were novelizations of Eon Productions films of the same name: Licence to Kill and GoldenEye. Gardner moved the Bond series into the 1980s, although he retained the characters’ ages as they were when Fleming left them. In 1996, Gardner retired from writing James Bond books due to ill health.
1981 Licence Renewed
1982 For Special Services
1984 Role of Honour
1986 Nobody Lives for Ever
1987 No Deals, Mr. Bond
1989 Win, Lose or Die
1989 Licence to Kill (novelization)
1991 The Man from Barbarossa
1992 Death is Forever
1993 Never Send Flowers
1995 GoldenEye (novelization)
In 1996, the American author Raymond Benson became the author of the Bond novels. Benson had previously been the author of The James Bond Bedside Companion, first published in 1984. By the time he moved on to other, non-Bond-related projects in 2002, Benson had written six Bond novels, three novelizations, and three short stories.
1997 “Blast From the Past” (short story)
1997 Zero Minus Ten
1997 Tomorrow Never Dies (novelization)
1998 The Facts of Death
1999 “Midsummer Night’s Doom” (short story)
1999 “Live at Five” (short story)
1999 The World Is Not Enough (novelization)
1999 High Time to Kill
2001 Never Dream of Dying
2002 The Man with the Red Tattoo
2002 Die Another Day (novelization)
After a gap of six years, Sebastian Faulks was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to write a new Bond novel, which was released on May 28, 2008, the 100th anniversary of Fleming’s birth. The book—Devil May Care—was published in the U.K. by Penguin Books and by Doubleday in the U.S. Ian Fleming Publications then commissioned American writer Jeffery Deaver to produce Carte Blanche, posted on May 26, 2011. The book turned Bond into a post-9/11 agent, independent of MI5 or MI6. On September 26, 2013, Solo by William Boyd, set in 1969, was published. In October 2014, it was announced that Anthony Horowitz was to write a Bond continuation novel. Set in the 1950s, two weeks after the events of Goldfinger, it contains material written but previously unreleased by Fleming. Trigger Mortis was released on September 8, 2015. Horowitz’s second Bond novel, Forever and a Day, tells the origin story of Bond as a 00 agent before the events of Casino Royale. The book, also based on unpublished material from Fleming, was released on May 31, 2018. Horowitz’s third Bond novel, With a Mind to Kill, was due to be published on May 26, 2022.
2008 Devil May Care
2011 Carte Blanche
2015 Trigger Mortis
2018 Forever and a Day
2022 With a Mind to Kill
Charlie Higson started the Young Bond series of novels, and between 2005 and 2009, five books and one short story were published. The first Young Bond novel, SilverFin, was also adapted and released as a graphic novel by Puffin Books on October 2, 2008. In October 2013, Ian Fleming Publications announced that Stephen Cole would continue the series, with the first edition scheduled for Autumn 2014.
2006 Blood Fever
2007 Double or Die
2007 Hurricane Gold
2008 By Royal Command & SilverFin (graphic novel)
2009 “A Hard Man to Kill” (short story)
The Moneypenny Diaries
The Moneypenny Diaries is a trilogy of novels chronicling the life of Miss Moneypenny, M’s secretary. Samantha Weinberg writes the stories under the pseudonym Kate Westbrook, who is depicted as the book’s “editor.” The trilogy’s first installment, subtitled Guardian Angel, was released in the U.K. on October 10, 2005. A second volume subtitled Secret Servant, was released on November 2, 2006, in the U.K., published by John Murray. A third volume subtitled Final Fling, was released on May 1, 2008.
2005 The Moneypenny Diaries: Guardian Angel
2006 Secret Servant: The Moneypenny Diaries
2008 The Moneypenny Diaries: Final Fling
In 1954, C.B.S. paid Ian Fleming $1,000 ($10,090 in 2021 dollars) to adapt his novel Casino Royale into a one-hour television adventure, “Casino Royale,” as part of its Climax! Series. The episode aired live on October 21, 1954, and starred Barry Nelson as “Card Sense” James Bond and Peter Lorre as Le Chiffre. The novel was adapted for American audiences to show Bond as an American agent working for “Combined Intelligence.” In contrast, the character Felix Leiter—American in the novel—became British onscreen and was renamed “Clarence Leiter.”
In 1973, a B.B.C. documentary Omnibus: The British Hero featured Christopher Cazenove playing several such title characters (e.g., Richard Hannay and Bulldog Drummond). The documentary included James Bond in dramatized scenes from Goldfinger—notably featuring 007 being threatened with the novel’s circular saw rather than the film’s laser beam—and Diamonds Are Forever. In 1991, a spin-off T.V. cartoon series, James Bond Jr., was produced with Corey Burton as Bond’s nephew, also called James Bond.
In 1958, the novel Moonraker was adapted for broadcast on South African radio, with Bob Holness providing the voice of Bond. According to The Independent, “listeners across the Union thrilled to Bob’s cultured tones as he defeated evil master criminals in search of world domination.”
The B.B.C. has adapted five of the Fleming novels for broadcast: in 1990, You Only Live Twice was adapted into a 90-minute radio play for B.B.C. Radio 4 with Michael Jayston playing James Bond. The production was repeated sometimes between 2008 and 2011. On May 24, 2008, B.B.C. Radio 4 broadcast an adaptation of Dr. No. The actor Toby Stephens, who played Bond villain Gustav Graves in the Eon Productions version of Die Another Day, played Bond, while David Suchet played Dr. No. Following its success, a second story was adapted, and on April 3, 2010, B.B.C. Radio 4 broadcast Goldfinger with Stephens again playing Bond. Sir Ian McKellen was Goldfinger, and Stephens’ Die Another Day co-star Rosamund Pike played Pussy Galore. The play was adapted from Fleming’s novel by Archie Scottney and was directed by Martin Jarvis. In 2012, the story From Russia, with Love was dramatized for Radio 4; it featured an entire cast again starring Stephens as Bond. In May 2014, Stephens again played Bond, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with Alfred Molina as Blofeld and Joanna Lumley as Irma Bunt.
In 1957, the Daily Express approached Ian Fleming to adapt his stories into comic strips, offering him £1,500 per novel and a share of takings from syndication. After initial reluctance, Fleming, who felt the strips would lack the quality of his writing, agreed. Fleming commissioned an artist to sketch how he believed James Bond looked to aid the Daily Express in illustrating Bond. However, the illustrator, John McLusky, felt that Fleming’s 007 looked too “outdated” and “pre-war” and changed Bond to give him a more masculine look. The first strip, Casino Royale, was published from July 7, 1958, to December 13, 1958, and was written by Anthony Hern and illustrated by John McLusky.
Most of the Bond novels and short stories have since been adapted for illustration, as well as Kingsley Amis’s Colonel Sun; the works were written by Henry Gammidge or Jim Lawrence, with Yaroslav Horak replacing McClusky as an artist in 1966. After the Fleming and Amis material had been adapted, original stories were produced, continuing in the Daily Express and Sunday Express until May 1977.
Several comic book adaptations of the James Bond films have been published through the years: at the time of Dr. No’s release in October 1962, a comic book adaptation of the screenplay, written by Norman J. Nodel, was published in Britain as part of the Classics Illustrated anthology series. D.C. Comics later reprinted it in the United States as part of its Showcase anthology series in January 1963. This was the first American comic book appearance of James Bond and is noteworthy for being a relatively rare example of a British comic being reprinted by a relatively high-profile American comic artist. It was also one of the earliest comics censored on racial grounds (some skin tones and dialogue were changed for the American market). With the release of the 1981 film For Your Eyes Only, Marvel Comics published a two-issue comic book adaptation of the film. When Octopussy was released in the cinemas in 1983, Marvel published an accompanying comic; Eclipse also produced a one-off cartoon for Licence to Kill, although Timothy Dalton refused to allow his likeness to be used. New Bond stories were also drawn up and published from 1989 onwards through Marvel, Eclipse Comics, Dark Horse Comics, and Dynamite Entertainment.
Eon Productions films
Eon Productions, the company of Canadian Harry Saltzman and American Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli, released the first cinema adaptation of an Ian Fleming novel, Dr. No (1962), based on the eponymous 1958 novel and featuring Sean Connery as 007. Connery starred in a further four films before leaving the role after You Only Live Twice (1967), which was taken up by George Lazenby for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). Lazenby left the role after just one appearance, and Connery was brought back for his last Eon-produced film, Diamonds Are Forever.
Roger Moore was appointed to the role of 007 for Live and Let Die (1973). He played Bond six times over twelve years before being replaced by Timothy Dalton for two films. After a six-year hiatus, during which a legal wrangle threatened Eon’s productions of the Bond films, Irish actor Pierce Brosnan was cast as Bond in GoldenEye (1995); he remained in the role for a total of four films through 2002. In 2006, Daniel Craig was given the part of Casino Royale (2006), which rebooted the series. Craig appeared in a total of five films. The series has grossed well over $7 billion, making it the fifth-highest-grossing film series.
In 1967, Casino Royale was adapted into a parody Bond film starring David Niven as Sir James Bond and Ursula Andress as Vesper Lynd. Niven had been Fleming’s preference for the role of Bond. The result of a court case in the High Court in London in 1963 allowed Kevin McClory to produce a remake of Thunderball titled Never Say Never Again in 1983. The film, directed by Jack Schwartzman’s Taliafilm production company and starring Sean Connery as Bond, was not part of the Eon series of Bond films. In 1997, the Sony Corporation acquired all or some of McClory’s rights in an undisclosed deal, which M.G.M. subsequently acquired on December 4, 1997. M.G.M. announced that the company had purchased Never Say Never Again rights from Taliafilm. As of 2015, Eon has full adaptation rights to all Fleming’s Bond novels.
The “James Bond Theme” was written by Monty Norman and was first orchestrated by the John Barry Orchestra for 1962’s Dr. No, although the actual authorship of the music has been controversial for many years. In 2001, Norman won £30,000 in libel damages from The Sunday Times newspaper, which suggested that Barry was entirely responsible for the composition. The theme, as written by Norman and arranged by Barry, was described by another Bond film composer, David Arnold, as a “bebop-swing vibe coupled with that vicious, dark, distorted electric guitar, definitely an instrument of rock ‘n’ roll … it represented everything about the character you would want: It was cocky, swaggering, confident, dark, dangerous, suggestive, sexy, unstoppable. And he did it in two minutes.” Barry composed the scores for eleven Bond films and had an uncredited contribution to Dr. No with his Bond theme arrangement. A Bond film staple is the theme songs heard during their title sequences sung by well-known famous singers. Shirley Bassey performed three Bond theme songs, with her 1964 song “Goldfinger” inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008. Several of the songs produced for the films have been nominated for Academy Awards for Original Song, including Paul McCartney’s “Live and Let Die,” Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better,” Sheena Easton’s “For Your Eyes Only,” Adele’s “Skyfall, Sam Smith’s “Writing’s on the Wall,” and Billie Eilish’s “No Time to Die.” Adele won the 85th Academy Award, Smith the 88th Academy Award, and Eilish the 94th Academy Award. For the non-Eon-produced Casino Royale, Burt Bacharach’s score included “The Look of Love” (sung by Dusty Springfield), which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song.
In 1983, the first Bond video game, developed and published by Parker Brothers, was released for the Atari 2600, Atari 5200, Atari 8-bit family, Commodore 64, and ColecoVision. Since then, numerous video games have been based on films or original storylines. In 1997, the first-person shooter video game GoldenEye 007 was developed by Rare for the Nintendo 64, based on GoldenEye. The game received highly positive reviews, won the BAFTA Interactive Entertainment Award for U.K. Developer of the Year in 1998, and sold over eight million copies worldwide, grossing $250 million, making it the third-best-selling Nintendo 64 game. It is frequently cited as one of the greatest video games.
In 1999, Electronic Arts acquired the license and released Tomorrow Never Died on December 16, 1999. In October 2000, they released The World Is Not Enough for the Nintendo 64 and 007 Racing for the PlayStation on November 21, 2000. In 2003, the company released James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing, which included the likenesses and voices of Pierce Brosnan, Willem Dafoe, Heidi Klum, Judi Dench, and John Cleese, amongst others. In November 2005, Electronic Arts released a video game adaptation of 007: From Russia with Love, which involved Sean Connery’s image and voice-over for Bond. In 2006, Electronic Arts announced a game based on the then-upcoming film Casino Royale: the game was canceled because it would not be ready by its release in November of that year. With M.G.M. losing revenue from licensing fees, the franchise was removed from E.A. to Activision. Activision subsequently released the 007: Quantum of Solace game on October 31, 2008, based on the film of the same name.
A new version of GoldenEye 007 featuring Daniel Craig was released for the Wii and a handheld version for the Nintendo D.S. in November 2010. A year later, a new version was released for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 under the title GoldenEye 007: Reloaded. In October 2012, 007 Legends was released, which featured one mission from each of the Bond actors of the Eon Productions series. In November 2020, I.O. Interactive announced Project 007, an original James Bond video game, working closely with licensors M.G.M. and Eon Productions.
From 1983 to 1987, a licensed tabletop role-playing game, James Bond 007: Role-Playing In Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was published by Victory Games (a branch of Avalon Hill) and designed by Gerard Christopher Klug. It was the most popular espionage role-playing game of its time. In addition to providing materials for players to create original scenarios, the game also allowed players to have adventures modeled after many of the Eon Productions film adaptations, albeit with modifications to provide challenges by preventing players from slavishly imitating Bond’s actions in the stories.
Guns, vehicles, and gadgets
For the first five novels, Fleming armed Bond with a Beretta 418 until he received a letter from a thirty-one-year-old Bond enthusiast and gun expert, Geoffrey Boothroyd, criticizing Fleming’s choice of firearm for Bond, calling it “a lady’s gun—and not a very nice lady at that!” Boothroyd suggested that Bond swap his Beretta for a 7.65mm Walther PPK and this exchange of arms made it to Dr. No. Boothroyd also advised Fleming on the Berns-Martin triple draw shoulder holster and a number of the weapons used by SMERSH and other villains. In thanks, Fleming gave the MI6 Armourer in his novels the name Major Boothroyd and, in Dr. No, M, the Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service, introduces him to Bond as “the greatest small-arms expert in the world.” Bond also used a variety of rifles, including the Savage Model 99 in “For Your Eyes Only” and a Winchester .308 target rifle in “The Living Daylights.” Other handguns used by Bond in the Fleming books included the Colt Detective Special and a long-barrelled Colt .45 Army Special.
The first Bond film, Dr. No, saw M ordering Bond to leave his Beretta behind and take up the Walther PPK, which Bond used in eighteen films. In Tomorrow Never Dies, and the two subsequent films, Bond’s primary weapon was the Walther P99 semi-automatic pistol.
Fleming gave Bond a battleship-grey Bentley 4+1⁄2 liter in the early Bond stories with an Amherst Villiers supercharger. After Hugo Drax wrote off Bond’s car in Moonraker, Fleming gave Bond a Mark II Continental Bentley, which he used in the remaining books of the series. During Goldfinger, Bond was issued an Aston Martin DB Mark III with a homing device, which he used to track Goldfinger across France. Bond returned to his Bentley for the subsequent novels.
The Bond of the films has driven several cars, including the Aston Martin V8 Vantage during the 1980s, the V12 Vanquish and D.B.S. during the 2000s, and the Lotus Esprit; the BMW Z3, BMW 750iL, and the BMW Z8. However, he also needed to drive other vehicles, ranging from a Citroën 2CV to a Routemaster Bus.
Bond’s most famous car is the silver-grey Aston Martin DB5, first seen in Goldfinger; it later featured in Thunderball, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, Casino Royale, Skyfall, and Spectre. The films have used many different Aston Martins for filming and publicity, one of which was sold in January 2006 at an auction in the U.S. for $2.1 million to an unnamed European collector. In 2010, another DB5 used in Goldfinger was sold at auction for $4.6m million (£2.6 million).
Fleming’s novels and early screen adaptations presented minimal equipment, such as the booby-trapped attaché case in From Russia, with Love, although this situation changed dramatically with the films. However, the effects of the two Eon-produced Bond films Dr. No and From Russia with Love affected the novel The Man with the Golden Gun through the increased number of devices used in Fleming’s final story.
For the film adaptations of Bond, the pre-mission briefing by Q Branch became one of the motifs that ran through the series. Dr. No provided no spy-related gadgets, but a Geiger counter was used; industrial designer Andy Davey observed that the first ever onscreen spy gadget was the attaché case shown in From Russia with Love, which he described as “a classic 007 product”. The gadgets assumed a higher profile in the 1964 film Goldfinger. The film’s success encouraged further espionage equipment from Q Branch to be supplied to Bond. However, the increased use of technology led to an accusation that Bond was over-reliant on equipment, particularly in the later films.
Davey noted that “Bond’s gizmos follow the zeitgeist more closely than any other nuance in the films” as they moved from the potential future representations in the early films to the brand-name obsessions of the later films. It is also noticeable that, although Bond uses several pieces of equipment from Q Branch, including the Little Nellie autogyro, a jet pack, and the exploding attaché case, the villains are also well-equipped with custom-made devices, including Scaramanga’s golden gun, Rosa Klebb’s poison-tipped shoes, Oddjob’s steel-rimmed bowler hat and Blofeld’s communication devices in his agents’ vanity case.
Cinematically, Bond has been a significant influence within the spy genre since the release of Dr. No in 1962, with 22 secret agent films released in 1966, attempting to capitalize on the Bond franchise’s popularity and success. The first parody was the 1964 film Carry On Spying, which shows the villain Dr. Crow being overcome by agents who included James Bind (Charles Hawtry) and Daphne Honeybutt (Barbara Windsor). One of the films that reacted against the portrayal of Bond was the Harry Palmer series, whose first film, The Ipcress File, starring Michael Caine, was released in 1965. The eponymous hero is a rough-edged, petty crook turned spy and was what academic Jeremy Packer called an “anti-Bond” or what Christoph Lindner called “the thinking man’s Bond.” The Palmer series was produced by Harry Saltzman, who also used vital crew members from the Bond series, including designer Ken Adam, editor Peter R. Hunt, and composer John Barry. The four “Matt Helm” films starring Dean Martin (released between 1966 and 1969), the “Flint” series starring James Coburn (comprising two films, one each in 1966 and 1969), while The Man from U.N.C.L.E. also moved onto the cinema screen, with eight movies released: all were testaments to Bond’s prominence in popular culture. More recently, the Austin Powers series by writer, producer, and comedian Mike Myers and other parodies such as the Johnny English trilogy of films have also used elements from or parodied the Bond films.
Following the release of the film Dr. No in 1962, the line “Bond … James Bond” became a catchphrase that entered the lexicon of Western popular culture: writers Cork and Scivally said of the introduction in Dr. No that the “signature introduction would become the most famous and loved film line ever.” In 2001, British cinemagoers voted it the “best-loved one-liner in cinema.” In 2005, the American Film Institute honored it as the 22nd greatest quotation in cinema history as part of their 100 Years series. The 2005 American Film Institute’s ‘100 Years series recognized the character of James Bond himself as the third greatest film hero. He was also placed at number 11 on a similar list by Empire and as the fifth greatest movie character of all time by Premiere.
The 24 James Bond films produced by Eon are the most extended continually running film series of all time. Including the two non-Eon-produced films, the 26 Bond films have grossed over $7.04 billion, making it the sixth-highest-grossing franchise to date. It is estimated that since Dr. No, a quarter of the world’s population has seen at least one Bond film. The U.K. Film Distributors’ Association has stated that the importance of the Bond series of films to the British film industry cannot be overstated, as they “form the backbone of the industry.”
Television also saw the effect of Bond films, with the N.B.C. series The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which was described as the “first network television imitation” of Bond, mainly because Fleming provided advice and ideas on the development of the series, even giving the main character the name Napoleon Solo. Other 1960s television series inspired by Bond include I Spy and Get Smart.
Considered a British cultural icon, James Bond had become such a symbol of the United Kingdom that the character, played by Craig, appeared in the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics as Queen Elizabeth II’s escort. From 1968 to 2003, and since 2016, the Cadbury chocolate box Milk Tray has been advertised by the ‘Milk Tray Man,’ a tough James Bond–style figure who undertakes daunting ‘raids’ to secretly deliver a box of Milk Tray chocolates to a lady. Bond has been commemorated numerous times on a U.K. postage stamp issued by the Royal Mail, most recently in their March 2020 series to mark the 25th Bond film release.
“Bondmania,” a term deriving from the adjacent “Beatlemania” and initiated in 1964 following the enormous success of Goldfinger, described the clamor for Bond films and their related products, from soundtrack L.P.s to children’s toys, board games, alarm clocks playing the Bond theme, and 007-branded shirts. Throughout the film series, some tie-in products have been released. In 2018, a James Bond museum opened atop the Austrian Alps. The futuristic museum is constructed on the summit of Gaislachkogl Mountain in Sölden at 10,000 ft (3,048 m) above sea level.
The real MI6 has an ambiguous relationship with Bond. The films may attract applicants unsuited for espionage while dissuading more qualified candidates. While serving as Chief of S.I.S., Alex Younger said that if Bond were to apply for an MI6 job, “he would have to change his ways.” Younger said, however, that the franchise had “created a powerful brand for MI6 … Many of our counterparts envy the sheer global recognition of our acronym” and that being depicted to global audiences as a “ubiquitous intelligence presence” was “quite a force multiplier.” The Russian Federal Security Service envied Bond, creating an annual award for fictional depictions of Russian spies.
The James Bond character and related media have received criticisms and reactions across the political spectrum and are still highly debated in popular culture studies. Some observers accuse the Bond novels and films of misogyny and sexism. Other critics claim that Bond films reflect imperial nostalgia. Geographers have considered the role of exotic locations in the movies in the dynamics of the Cold War, with power struggles among blocs playing out in the peripheral areas. In September 2021, No Time to Die, director Cary Fukunaga described Sean Connery’s version of Bond as “a rapist.”