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Last Updated: Monday, 17 October 2005, 12:49 GMT 13:49 UK
You the critic: James Bond
The BBC News website asked for your critical assessments of the Bond movie actors, with a judgement on whether new Bond Daniel Craig will live up to your favourite's time in the role.

This kicks off a new and occasional series on the Entertainment section, where we plan to invite knowledgeable fans to contribute to our coverage of big news stories.

Of the many excellent pieces we received, we have chosen a suitably Bond-like seven for publication - two on Connery, one on each of the other Bonds and a missive from "Miss Moneypenny".

Thank you to everyone who sent in their thoughts, and especially to the seven readers whose pieces we've chosen. Click on the links below to take you directly to each piece.

Sean Connery

George Lazenby

Roger Moore

Timothy Dalton

Pierce Brosnan

'Miss Moneypenny'

Bond is a shark in a tuxedo.

Few actors can maintain that balance of sophistication and danger - Roger Moore was too amiable, Timothy Dalton never looked comfortable in a suit (or with a suave one-liner), and George Lazenby moved through the role like an arriviste.

Only Sean Connery kept that balance, and his self-assurance places him above Pierce Brosnan, who rarely relaxed in the part and instead projected a forced air of coolness.

Pauline Kael once described Connery's Bond as insolent - he backed up that insolence with violence and sly wit.

He wore a cruel smirk of bemusement at how easily women fell into his lap, gadgets did his bidding, and evil megalomaniacs toppled at his feet, and when any of these weren't pliable he was convincingly violent, but with a tiger's grace.

Connery could walk through hell, beat the devil to a pulp, and walk away quipping that his martini was too dry. He is an eternal power fantasy for men who want more than brute power.

Daniel Craig is the first Bond who can approximate Connery's self-assurance and air of sophisticated menace. Bond is not beyond his talent.

Most enticingly, his hardened looks and way of carrying himself show a side of Fleming's Bond that Connery never dared touch.

This is the Bond who smokes and drinks far too much, the Bond sometimes disgusted at being government assassin yet unable to envision himself as anything else, the Bond who rises from a hangover to see black spots before his eyes (as in the beginning of Fleming's Thunderball) and curses himself for being a dissolute bastard.

That Bond is Craig's - he could give us a three-dimensional view of 007 while preserving Connery's prowess.

Ihsan Amanatullah, San Francisco, California, USA

You noticed his body first.

He moved like a cat. Slowly, gracefully, every step smooth, purposeful direct.

When he walked into the room, he staked it out, measuring every possibility.

When he was first asked his name, his hooded eyes declared what? Boredom? Insouciance? A flip familiarity with his role already perhaps? "I admire your luck, Mr...?"

Sean Connery played Bond as a lazy predator - cruel, lean and amoral. The role fitted him like the tailored jackets whose cuffs he used to shoot.

Lazenby was always too awkward; Moore was too comic; Dalton was too clever and serious and Brosnan became bland - a victim of the marketing machine that engulfed the later films.

No, it was Connery - fresh, serious, (certainly up to Goldfinger) and believable. Witness the small moments: the raising of an eyebrow (sorry Roger, he got there first) when correcting M over the origins of brandy in Diamonds Are Forever, or the clenching of his mouth as he routinely places the explosives in the pre-credits of Goldfinger.

Time and again he accomplished great things with tiny movements on screen that had you glued to his frame from second number one.

He delivered his lines like he had just thought of them, witness any scene in Goldfinger - his performance is effortless, almost Carry On in a sense (how could it be otherwise when he discovers Pussy's name, or when driving Tilly Masterson, - she lies to him that she is an ice skater - and he smirks "lovely sport"?).

Connery played it for real, and never bought it for a second.

Daniel Craig..? Who knows? He has the same rugged features, possibly some of the cruelty, some of the charm. He will do in theory - as long as 007 Inc does not swallow up his performance and substitute style for substance.

Kevin Dolan, London UK

Bond films usually start with an expensive stunt, bearing no connection to either the film's title or plot and certainly never involving anything so impudent as engaging directly with the audience.

However in 1969 Bond, after disposing of several heavies on a sun-kissed beach without a hint of a gadget, turned to us and uttered: "This never happened to the other fella".

Alluding of course to Sean Connery, it was a confidently breezy changing of the guard, something sorely needed for the series at that time. So dawned the all-too-brief George Lazenby era.

That film was On Her Majesty's Secret Service (OHMSS). Lazenby's casting, along with that of Diana Rigg as the feisty love interest Tracy, the awe-inspiring stunts and the tender, tragic love story played throughout the film, made for what is for me the greatest Bond film.

Lazenby had exactly what it took to play the spy to perfection.

He had the looks (dark but trustworthy), the physique (tall and distinctly athletic) and, yes, the skill to be able to play the humorous alongside the ruthless.

He might not quite have been the "blunt instrument" as Fleming had originally described Bond, but his representation of Bond in OHMSS gave him something which Fleming rarely achieved in the books - an identifiable soul.

When compared to those coming before and after him, Lazenby remains the best.

Connery played him closest to the books, hard and casually misogynistic.

By 1985, Moore had reduced Bond to a creaking vaudeville act.

Dalton crucially lacked humour; his second and last Bond - Licence to Kill - suffered accordingly and was one of the least well-received Bond films.

Brosnan brought something new but made one film too many.

With Daniel Craig, though, I am looking forward to Casino Royale like a toddler waits for Santa.

He could bring a younger, fresher, harder Bond to us, but with a smattering of humour, too.

Those blue eyes will bring back the "kiss kiss bang bang" element to the franchise.

The spirit of Lazenby might return. I can't wait!

Sean Wilson, London, UK

To anyone born after 1970, Roger Moore is James Bond.

Granted, Moore had two major weaknesses: he never took himself (or the part) completely seriously and he couldn't throw a convincing punch to save his life.

These shortcomings, along with the misguided decision to cast him in A View to a Kill at the age of 57, have led many to speculate he just wasn't up to scratch.

But that's shortsighted opinion on the legacy of an actor whose charm and irreverence reinvented the franchise for the problematic 1970-80s audience.

No mistake, his early films were substandard - I still cringe when I think about the attempts to cash in on blaxploitation in Live and Let Die or, indeed, the very existence of The Man With The Golden Gun.

But his performance in The Spy Who Loved Me stands out as one that secured the franchise a place in cinematic history - only Moore could get away with responding to the plea of "I need you" from a beautiful woman with the quip "So does England".

But the cliche of Moore as a slapstick figure overlooks many of his finest moments - calmly pushing an assassin over a cliff in For Your Eyes Only, his brooding anger at the death of 009 in Octopussy and straightening his tie after ruthlessly killing an assassin on a Cairo rooftop in The Spy Who Loved Me.

Yes, Moore brought a more tongue-in-cheek tone to the series but it was this same ironic self-awareness that made the films so enjoyable and prevented the series from falling into the trap of being laughed at - rather than with.

I'm delighted that the producers have selected Daniel Craig to succeed Brosnan.

I first saw him on television almost a decade ago, in Our Friends in the North, playing the role of a scruffy middle aged, mentally ill, alcoholic drifter - a far cry from Her Majesty's finest secret agent - but his talent is unquestionable.

His performance in Layer Cake proves his ability to bring charm and sympathy to an otherwise cold and ruthless character.

Will the casting decision work? A new 007 triumphs when the audience is ready for a change, and - after the embarrassingly plot-less CGI pantomime of Die Another Day - I think we're ripe for one.

Paul Murphy, London

My chosen candidate for best Bond of all is certainly one of the more underrated actors to portray the super spy.

Timothy Dalton has long been criticised as an unworthy successor to the eyebrow arching Roger Moore, but on retrospect I believe his contribution to the series has been unjustly maligned.

Dalton inherited Bond at a time of change. The threat of Aids and the wane of the Cold War had left many wandering if the character was still relevant in the climate of the late 80s.

But Dalton delivered superbly, not trying to emulate his predecessors and creating what is, in many ways, the purest interpretation of Fleming's original character.

Gone is Moore's smug, and certainly geriatric, Bond and in his place is a strong and tangibly dangerous character.

Dalton is, even more than Connery, ruthless in the role. Whilst the trademark quips are undeniably played down, this manages to raise the credibility of what was already a much parodied character.

Other innovations were the introduction of more realistic villains. Robert Davi's turn as drug smuggler Sanchez was certainly one of the series' more gritty adversaries.

The plots saw similar reform with Dalton's 007 undertaking a mission of personal vengeance, catalyzed by one of the series more poignant moments - the savage attack on Bond's long term friend Felix Leiter.

Brief as his two-film stint was, Dalton returned the character to his roots and certainly redeemed some of his predecessor's more ludicrous efforts.

Craig himself faces similar challenges and has ironically been hired to do what Dalton was, then, criticised for; making Bond a more human character.

Post-September 11 there is again need for change and only time will tell if Craig, less suave then many hoped, can reinvent Bond for a whole new generation.

David , Birmingham, UK

With the post-modern 1990s out of the way - and with them their post-modern 007 - this new direction for James Bond may be the best thing to happen to the not-so-secret agent since Ursula Andress stepped out of the sea in dire need of a shirt.

Daniel Craig replaces Pierce Brosnan - an actor who gave Bond renewed financial success, if not always much in the way of originality. His films often felt like greatest hits packages.

But then Brosnan always felt like a greatest hits package himself - Connery's danger, Moore's wit, Lazenby's physicality and Dalton's vulnerability. We enjoyed him, this Bond for his time, but he rarely surprised us.

Daniel Craig, though - already his first feature is nothing but surprises. Casino Royale will portray Bond's first mission; no gadgets, no Moneypenny - and no experience.

This isn't a man who walks away from the villain's burning lair dusting off his safari suit and looking for the nearest blonde.

This is Bond Begins, and it may well do what this year's Batman film did for that franchise - ignore years of escalating nonsense and get back to two things: character and story.

Producers considered this move once before, when Dalton began his brief run, but the godfather of cinematic Bond, Cubby Broccoli, didn't believe audiences wanted to see 007 as an amateur learning his trade.

Now, against the odds, the team are banking on Broccoli being wrong. Craig's casting emphasises masculinity over leading-man looks, acting over action.

And returning director Martin Campbell has been keen to discuss the new film as a thriller, rather than an action picture.

Which is, of course, what started it all in 1962 - with a raw young Scot named Connery and a mystery story about a doctor called No...

Andrew Ellard, Ashford, Middlesex

Dear Sirs,

In response to your request for my opinions on all the staff who have held the post of 007 in the years I have worked in this office, I am pleased to offer the following observations:

I had only just joined the Department when Sean arrived. He was very rugged, and never once missed my hat-stand, but he was a little bit short and his accent put me off. That hairy chest! Ewww!

But he certainly knew how to treat a lady. Sadly that lady was never me.

Now I only met George the once, but he seemed like a nice enough chap. Such a lovely dimple in his chin, and that kilt! Wow!

The business with his wife was terrible. If only he'd asked me, I would have been a bit more careful than that Avengers woman. Of course, a girl can but dream!

And Roger. Well he certainly was handsome, if a bit, shall we say, angular around the jawline and rather lacking in charisma.

The aroma of Grecian 2000 and Brylcreem became a bit overpowering in the later years, and I'm not sure he would have been up to the job even if the situation had, shall we say, arisen. He was well into his 60s, you know, before he retired.

Who came next? Of course, it was Timothy. Well now, he was the dullest of the lot. I always had the impression he was going through the motions when he flirted with me, as if it was just something he had been instructed to do by his predecessor.

He only lasted two missions and I don't think M missed him after he left. "That Shakespearean one", he always called him. Another nice dimple, though.

I'll be very sad to see Pierce leave. His month's notice is very nearly up and I, for one, shall be getting a wee bit tipsy at the leaving party in the Vauxhall Tavern.

I may summon up the courage, after a sherry or three, for one last flirt. He's definitely been my favourite. Handsome, charming, debonair, I even think the new M has a small crush! She always reapplies her lippy when he's due in for a briefing.

I say new, but she's been in charge here for a good decade now. How time flies. I suppose I still have the Virtual Reality suite when a girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do...

Now, this new chap. I only met him when he came in for his second interview, but he seems like a dour individual, and balding!

At least he hasn't resorted to chemicals and potions like some of his predecessors, mentioning no names, I have signed the Official Secrets Act, after all!

Yours faithfully,

Millicent Eleanor Patricia Moneypenny.

(aka one Richard Gunn).



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