The Evolution of James Bond Continues

Craig, Daniel Craig: The new James Bond recalls the early days.

hide captionCraig, Daniel Craig: The new James Bond recalls the franchise's early days.

Sony Pictures

Michele Norris talks with NPR film critic Bob Mondello about the evolution of James Bond. The 21st official Bond film, Casino Royale comes out today, with a new Bond.

The 2006 model of 007, played by Daniel Craig, doesn't even mind if his martini is shaken or stirred. Mondello says Craig's Bond is a return to the style and humanity of the early days of Sean Connery.

He's Shaken, We're Stirred

Daniel Craig and Eva Green in 'Casino Royale'

hide captionIn Casino Royale, Daniel Craig shows movie goers James Bond's softer side, as the British spy falls in love with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green).

Sony Pictures

Daniel Craig brings us a new James Bond in Casino Royale. He's not only rugged, fearless and — when the chips are down, as they often are in this poker-faced thriller — a lethal weapon. He's also vulnerable.

This blond 007 falls in love, and wonders whether that might not be better for him than being a globe-trotting killer. This not only shakes him up, it shakes up the franchise in its 21st official outing. Bond as a human being? Who'd'a'thunk?

Of course, this Bond wasn't even born by the time Sean Connery had churned out five double-oh epics. The series already had turned silly by that time, with motorboats flying over bridges and car tailpipes turning into machine guns.

Craig brings it back to life, not with gadgets — all he has is a nifty glove compartment — but with derring-do that gets daring-done with panache. The chase on a construction crane is pretty breathless.

But his finest moment may be when he finds his girlfriend shaken after a machete battle in a stairwell (how's that for low-tech?), sitting in her bloodied evening gown in a shower.

Most men would turn the water off and pull her into their arms. Craig's Bond does something none of the blown-dry pretenders since Connery would ever have done: He joins her in the shower, not for sex or to make a joke, but because he's starting to fall for her, and she clearly needs a shoulder to lean on. And she leans.

A moment or two later, he's back playing poker. And not long after that, half a world away, a building is falling down around their heads.

But that moment of tenderness has done what decades of special effects haven't been able to do: made you care about what happens to 007.

How Well Do You Know Your Bond Title Songs?

Bonus Quiz

Six sets of eyes of James Bond stars.

hide captionSix sets of eyes of James Bond stars. Can you name them?

Getty Images

When is a James Bond score not a James Bond score? Careful listeners to the corresponding audio piece will notice that I mentioned that the new Chris Cornell song is the 18th Bond title song. Now, I consider the core canon of James Bond films to number 21, counting the newest. But a search of various databases will turn up at least 23. Why the difference? The 21 I'm counting as the core canon are those produced by Broccoli/Saltzman, later just the Broccoli family (all of which I'll just refer to as EON Productions). I have nothing against the two non-EON films (1967's Casino Royale and 1983's Never Say Never Again), but I can never truly enjoy their scores because neither was allowed to use the famous "James Bond theme", whose use is controlled by EON. So all references that follow come from the core canon, following the rule of thumb: "If you hear the James Bond theme, it counts."

Quiz Time!

Ready to earn your license to thrill? (Or at least amuse or annoy your friends?) Answer these five questions:

1. Which singer has contributed to the most James Bond title songs?

A. Anthony Newley

B. Shirley Bassey

C. Madonna

2. Which lyricist has written the lyrics to the most James Bond title songs?

A. Leslie Bricusse

B. Tim Rice

C. Don Black

3. Not counting the new Casino Royale, the name of which James Bond film is NOT part of the title song lyrics?

A. The World Is Not Enough

B. Octopussy

C. The Spy Who Loved Me

4. The lyrics of which James Bond main title song take the longest (word count only) to reach the film title?

A. Tomorrow Never Dies

B. The Spy Who Loved Me

C. The Living Daylights

5. How many James Bond main title songs begin with the name of the film?

A. 2

B. 5

C. 4

READ THE ANSWERS

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