"James Bond’s London" author Gary Giblin weighs in on the reaction to the casting of Daniel Craig in Casino Royale...

Opinion - Gambling on Bond
4th June 2006


They say there is no such thing as bad press, but you have to think that by this point, the makers of Casino Royale would be ready for at least a few kind words. The 21st Eon Productions James Bond film has generated more negative buzz than any film in recent history, save, perhaps the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez disaster Gigli. Critics have panned both leading man Daniel Craig and the back to the basics makeover.

Die-hard Brosnan supporters have set up an anti-Craig website, and the film’s producers have found themselves in the rather unusual position of having to defend both the dental health and the driving ability of their leading man. Yet, just as “pretty boy” Pierce re-energized the fading franchise, guiding it grandly into the 21st century, Craig, I suspect, will do jolly well for our James.

Remember: in 1995, professional pundits worked themselves into a lather over GoldenEye, proclaiming 007 an irrelevant, outdated relic, the very sexist, misogynist dinosaur that M herself dubbed Bond in the film itself. And we all know how that turned out.

Above: Eva Green and Daniel Craig

But let’s be fair and address the two issues that seem to be bugging fans (and feeding the press frenzy) the most: Daniel Craig as Bond and the “no gadgets” origin story. First, I must admit that Craig did not immediately strike me as Bond material. He is, as has been all too well reported, blond, relatively short, and in no immediate danger of winning a beauty contest. He stands, as it were, in rather stark contrast to all of his predecessors as Bond with the possible exception of Woody Allen.

Above: Hoagy Carmichael


But who said Bond has to be drop dead gorgeous? Certainly not Ian Fleming. Fleming compared Bond to American singer/songwriter Hoagy Carmichael (pictured opposite), and for those who haven’t seen the late performer on film, let me assure you, he was no Cary Grant.

Remember, too, that in his early literary adventures, Bond met, fell for, and bedded but one woman. He was not some kind of babe magnet who had to beat them off with a stick. Later, commencing with Goldfinger, Fleming upped the ante, creating the “three woman rule” that the filmmakers adopted (and expanded or contracted as needed). But even in Goldfinger, Bond didn’t actually sleep with all three women. So, in a sense, the “unglamorous” Craig can be said to be closer to Fleming’s own conception of Bond. (We’ll overlook the blond hair.) And, judging from location photos of the actor in action, as well as the current trailer, Craig certainly trumps both Fleming’s Bond and the earlier actors in one department: the guy is built like a brick casino.

In sum, generations of moviegoers have bought gritty tough guy heroes, from Bogart to Willis, so we shouldn’t esteem it the end of civilization if Eva Green slips under the sheets with the craggy Craig.

As for the film entering the “no gadget” zone, well, again, how many jet packs, ejector seats, laser watches, and submarine cars can you trace to the pages of Fleming’s oeuvre? None would be the short answer. (Flying cars are, of course, another matter.) Yes, I know that audiences have come to expect these things in a Bond movie, but just as certainly as they crave the familiar and formulaic, a fair share of filmgoers also crave novelty. And, as Batman Begins and the second Star Wars trilogy well attest, there is certainly a market for origin stories within the confines of established film franchises.

Right: James Bond escapes using the Rocketbelt in the opening credits of Thunderball.


So, those of us who have long championed the literary Bond, pining for more of Fleming’s version on screen and less of Eon’s, shouldn’t be half chuffed. My two favorite Bond films remain Dr. No and From Russia With Love—the least gadget-laden, most down-to-earth of the lot. Casino Royale looks to be cut from the same film stock. How can that be so bad?

About The Author
GARY GIBLIN is the author of “James Bond's London" and "Alfred Hitchcock's London". A native of Indiana, he is presently working on his second book "Alfred Hitchcock's London".

The views of this columnist and those expressed in this article are not necessarily those of mi6-hq.com or its owners.

Click here to submit your letters to MI6