The Queen isn’t the only one with a big anniversary this year. While Elizabeth is celebrating her 60th year on the throne, James Bond has been on Her Majesty’s Secret Service on movie screens for half a century.
The official day, marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of Dr. No in 1962, is October 5, but celebrations are already underway.
On Monday, producers of the movie franchise kicked off an elaborate seven-day tour of Bond movie locations in England. According to 7 Days of Bond on the official 007 website, Roger Moore, who played Bond in seven of the movies, placed a golden briefcase containing a box set of all 22 films in the series on Blu-ray into an Aston Martin DBS, the same car that appeared in 2008′s Quantum of Solace. The Aston Martin is of course well known to Bond fans; it’s a car that has been featured in more than half a dozen of the films, beginning with Goldfinger in 1964.
The briefcase will travel 900 miles, ending its trip in London next week to coincide with the set’s release in the UK on Sept. 24. (The set will be released in the U.S. the next day, Sept. 25.) Bond girl Britt Ekland (The Man With the Golden Gun) and Richard Kiel, aka Jaws, are scheduled to deliver the case to an HMV store on Oxford Street at precisely 10:07 a.m. next Monday.
The first leg of the briefcase’s trip was shared by the very first Bond Girl, Eunice Gayson, writes the Independent. You’ll remember her from the Dr. No casino scene in which Sean Connery introduces himself to her – and to the world – with the now legendary phrase, “the name’s Bond, James Bond.” She was also in From Russia With Love one year later.
Gayson was originally tapped by director Terence Young to play Miss Moneypenny, but because she was starring in the original London stage version of The Sound of Music, she couldn’t take the role of M’s assistant.
Still, she says happily, “I had that lovely scene with Sean that I wouldn’t have had if I was Miss Moneypenny.”
On Monday, Gayson, now 84, received the briefcase in the Scottish Highlands, at Eilean Donan Castle, which was used as the headquarters of the Secret Service in The World is Not Enough.
Gayson was then transported, via Aston Martin DBS, to town of Lochgilphead in Argyll, which stood in for Turkey in From Russia With Love.
A nearby hill named Barrachuile was where 007 fought against a helicopter. Bond expert Brian Pendreigh pointed out to the Independent the exact rock that Sean Connery hid behind during the fight. Pendreigh also explained that that the film’s climactic motor boat chase was filmed at the nearby Loch Craignish, because of bad weather and difficult filming conditions in Turkey. Yet even in Argyll, there were significant production problems, including a crew helicopter crash into a loch (fortunately, no one was seriously hurt) and a car accident resulting in injuries to Bond Girl Daniela Bianchi’s face that delayed filming for several weeks.
In other James Bond related news:
• If crew members of Skyfall, the new Bond movie, are to be believed, filming conditions in Turkey this time around were quite different than they were nearly five decades ago. The official 007 website posted this Skyfall Turkey locations videoblog:
Skyfall, which opens in the U.S. on Nov. 9, is the third Bond movie to be filmed in Turkey. In addition to From Russia with Love, The World is Not Enough was also filmed there.
• There’s been one very noticeable absence from the Bond anniversary celebrations. The New York Daily News is reporting that Sean Connery has refused to participate in any of the 007 festivities. According to the paper’s sources, Connery believes that he was cheated out of millions of dollars.
Connery’s total earnings for his six MGM Bond movies are $3 million, said the News, while Forbes puts the franchise’s total worth at more than $1 billion.
Connery was so angry that he wouldn’t go to producer Cubby Broccoli’s funeral.
“The rift with Connery is already apparent in the international trailer for the Blu-ray trailer of the Bond films,” writes the Daily News. “The nearly two-minute promo almost wipes Connery out of 007 history. It shows Connery onscreen for less than five seconds.”
“Sir Sean is and remains retired,” Connery’s press representative Nancy Seltzer said. “He has not given any current interviews regarding the anniversary of Bond.”