In one of those "where does the time go?" moments, I noticed a few days ago that legendary actor Sean Connery turns 90 later this month.
Ironically, about the same time I stumbled across a release saying the new James Bond film -- the famed secret agent and cinematic series that Connery made famous -- would be released in late November. (Well, hopefully, that is, considering the pandemic has already forced three postponements for the debut of "No Time to Die," the 25th installment of the 007 series that dates to 1962.)
The James Bond films have always fascinated me since my parents took me to see "Thunderball" when I was in the sixth grade. I have been a Bond fanatic ever since.
Personally, I think Daniel Craig is the finest Bond ever. "No Time to Die" will be his fifth and final romp as Bond. His darker, brooding Bond figure has resonated well with 007 fans, making the secret agent a much more believable figure in a film series that, through the years, had become more comic-book and fantasy-oriented.
Craig also reestablished a strong -- and believable -- action-oriented premise to the Bond films. Craig has emerged as a major box-office star through his work in his previous Bond films: Spectre (2015), Skyfall (2012), Quantum of Solace (2008) and Casino Royale (2006).
Craig's rise to the best Bond ever should never overshadow Connery's contributions to the legendary film figure. Connery's rather flip approach and his reliance on brains over brawn -- for the most part, anyway -- were perfect for the time the Bond series was launched.
Connery portrayed Bond seven times, beginning with "Dr. No" (1962), "From Russia With Love" (1963), "Goldfinger" (1964), "Thunderball" (1965) and "You Only Live Twice" (1967). He later appeared in two other 007 efforts, "Diamonds Are Forever" (1971) and "Never Say Never Again" (1983).
Connery's first three Bond films are considered groundbreaking for their concept and approach, helping the 007 character rank No. 3 among the American Film Institute's list of greatest heroes in cinematic history. The AFI list was produced in 2003, and I have a feeling if it is ever revisited Bond will move up the rankings since Craig had yet to play 007 at the time the list was put together.
For those wondering, the No. 1 AFI hero was Atticus Finch (Gregory Peck) in "To Kill A Mockingbird" (1962). No. 2 was Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (1981), the first of multiple Indiana Jones-themed films.
Here's one man's ranking on the five main actors who have played James Bond over the past 59 years:
1. Daniel Craig: Craig has delivered what fans and critics alike had long been waiting for -- "a caustic, haunted, intense reinvention of 007," so aptly described in one review.
2. Sean Connery: He was the epitome of the 1960s secret agent. Women craved him, men wanted to be him and obviously, moviegoers adored him.
3. Roger Moore: He's the best of the rest, but could have been so much of an impact series star. His role, however, was molded into a lightweight secret agent whose most important role was delivering one-liners.
4. Pierce Brosnan: He brought back some needed sophistication to the franchise, but a rather boring personality -- at least for this type of role -- that left him with a lukewarm degree of success.
5. Timothy Dalton: Dalton's portrayal of Bond was darker and more serious than his predecessors (though not to the same degree or level as Craig), and it simply didn't work well in the late 1980s. Dalton's films were largely criticized for their comparative lack of tongue-in-cheek humor, which is a must for any Bond movie.
We'll continue to revisit the Bond franchise in the coming weeks and months as the release date for "No Time to Die" draws closer.