THE BIBLE OF ‘BOND, JAMES BOND’ [BelserVerse, Part 3]: The Friends Who Love The Spy.

Previously in Part 2

JaDarrel “The” Belser
@TheBelser

We spoke of the formation of the Bond films production company (EON Productions) as well as the traditional Bond formula. In this discussion, we mentioned a number of Bond’s friends and co-workers that help in his adventures. Now, we will get a chance to talk about them in full detail.


MISS MONEYPENNY

Lois Maxwell was the first to portray Moneypenny and continued for fourteen more Eon-produced Bond films from Dr. No in 1962 to A View to a Kill in 1985 opposite Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore.

She was followed by Caroline Bliss, Samantha Bond and (currently) Naomie Harris, who played opposite Timothy Dalton,  Pierce Brosnan and  Daniel Craig respectively. The four have all made different interpretations of Moneypenny just like the six actors who have played Bond.

M

The first actor to portray M was Bernard Lee, who appeared in eleven Bond films from Dr. No in 1962 to Moonraker in 1979.  However, in  1980,  Bernard Lee became ill with stomach cancer and was unable to appear in the then -upcoming Bond film,  For Your Eyes Only.  Unfortunately, Bernard Lee passed away on 16 January 1981. Out of respect for Lee’s contributions to the franchise, no new actor was hired to assume the role of M in For Your Eyes Only. Instead, it was re-written so that M is said to be on leave, letting Chief of Staff Bill Tanner take over the role as acting head of MI6 and briefing Bond alongside the Minister of Defence.

Lee was replaced for four films between 1983 and 1989, by Robert Brown. Judi Dench took over the role of M from 1995’s GoldenEye until 2012’s Skyfall. In Skyfall, Gareth Mallory, played by Ralph Fiennes, takes over as M at the end of the film after the death of Dench’s character and is the current actor in the role of M.

Here is a nice tribute to Judi Dench’s M done by the BBC.

Q

Peter Burton was the first actor who played the part in Dr. No

NOTE: Burton’s character was not called Q, but “the Armourer”, Major Boothroyd. 

Q’s first appearance is seen in the clip below, giving Bond his trademark weapon, The Walther PPK.

Burton was unavailable for the filming of the second Bond film From Russia With Love. As such,  he was replaced by Desmond Llewelyn. Llewelyn played Q for a total of seventeen Bond films.

NOTE: Llewelyn appeared in more Bond films than any other actor and he worked with all the James Bond actors except Daniel Craig.

Llewelyn’s last film was The World Is Not Enough in 1999 where his version of Q was given an on-screen farewell shown in the clip above.  Desmond Llewelyn passed away in a car accident on December 19, 1999, three weeks after the premiere of The World Is Not Enough.

 After appearing as Q’s assistant in The World Is Not Enough,  Monty Python legend John Cleese took over as Q  for Pierce Brosnan’s last Bond film,  Die Another Day. For Daniel Craig’s third film, Skyfall, the character was re-introduced with the role’s current actor, Ben Whishaw.

FELIX LEITER

Bond’s closest field agent ally in both the novels and films is CIA operative Felix Leiter. The character was so well-like by Fleming that of the twelve novels Fleming wrote, Leiter appears in six of them. Leiter appears in nine Eon Bond films: four out of the six Connery films, one film with Moore, both Dalton films and none with Brosnan (The Brosnon Bond’s CIA contact was Jack Wade), but returned for Craig. In the Eon series, there were no Leiter film appearances for two large time gaps: from 1973 to 1987 and from 1989 to 2006. Leiter did not  reappear until the reboot of the franchise with Casino Royale.

NOTE: in the second  Bond book, Live and Let Die, Leiter was attacked by a shark and lost his right arm and half his left leg.  In the film series, the shark attack occurs in the 15th Bond film. Licence to Kill.

The Many Faces of Felix Leiter

Although other recurring characters in the Eon series,  like M, Q and Moneypenny, had continuity within the actors, the character of Leiter does not.  In the nine Eon films in which Leiter makes an appearance, there have been seven different actors playing the role.

Only two actors have played the part twice: David Hedison and Jeffrey Wright. Wright’s first appearances also made him the first African-American actor to play the part in the Eon series, although Leiter was also played by Afro-American actor Bernie Casey in one of the non-Eon films, Never Say Never Again.

In the next chapter, we will explore the lovely ladies that have had their hearts stolen (and beds shared) by James Bond. UNTIL NEXT TIME!!!

James Bond Will Return in: GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS!!

-JaDarrel Belser

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