Licenced to thrill
He is machismo personified. Women want him and men want to be him. Since his debut on the big screen 50 years ago, James Bond has constantly kept fans on the edge of their seats, in fact, 007's latest adventure, Skyfall, is the highest-grossing Bond film of all time.
Ian Fleming's creation has made household names out of the likes of Sean Connery, Roger Moore and more recently, Daniel Craig. On the other end of the spectrum, it was the death knell for the big screen career of George Lazenby who relinquished the role of MI6's favourite agent after just one film. How is it that Bond has continuously stayed in the list of top fictional characters on the big screen? The short answer: 007 is smooth. He is never shaken or stirred and makes any lethal situation seem like a piece of cake. He has got the looks, the swagger and the phrases to win over the ladies. The spy we love also has nifty gadgets - everything from submarine cars and jetpacks to silent guns and video watches.
None of his apparel is ever ordinary - a pen doubles up as a smoke bomb and when Bond needs to make a call, all he does is look at his wrist watch. We have put together some of our favourite Bond gadgets. At the time of their debut some were a bit farfetched, but with the progression of technology, we are not far away from mimicking Q's inventions. From what it seems, we all have a chance of being the next 007.
Gerard Peter Editor-in-Chief
From jetpacks to submarine cars, we celebrate 50 years of James Bond gadgets
Only a few months ago, the world's most famous spy celebrated 50 years of being on the silver screen. And for half a century, the James Bond movie franchise has fascinated us with its futuristic gadgets. Here are just a few novelties that have become synonymous with the English spy.
TEXT: GUIDO HOGENBIRK
001 UP, UP and away
GADGET? ROCKET JETPACK
MOVIE? Thunderball (1965)
After overcoming a villain, Bond took to the air to reach his car, using a jetpack. The transport vehicle was real and manufactured by American aeroplane company, Bell Aerosystems. The tank was filled with enough hydrogen peroxide to keep a stuntman in the air for 20 seconds at a speed of about 15km/h. The jetpack was later used again twice: during the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Los Angeles (1984) and Atlanta (1996).
002 CLOCK WATCHER
GADGET? A WATCH WITH A SCREEN
The baddies were in for a nasty surprise when Bond touched his watch in Octopussy. This watch was the Swiss Army of timepieces. It contained a rotary saw to cut ropes in Live And Let Die (1973).
Most important, the watch was also magnetic, giving the super spy a hand when disrobing his female conquests. Seiko was tasked with making a watch for the movie. The watch broadcast images captured by a mini camera. Real video watches were made a few years later, however picture quality was poor. Most watch companies have given up this application since the introduction of smart phones and iPods.
003 PUT A FOOT IN IT
GADGET? DAGGER SHOE
MOVIE? From Russia With Love (1963)
Her Majesty's favourite spy doesn't often lose when it comes to gadgets. Still, Bond got a fright when femme fatale, Rosa Klebb, attacked him with her shoes. Her dagger shoes contained a hidden knife that shot out from the tip of the toe. This knife was not only sharp but also covered with poison to do extra harm when wounding someone. The shoes later reached a sort of cult status. A few movies adapted the shoes as a reference to the Bond classic, such as the comedy western, Wild Wild West (1999). The most famous dagger shoe is worn by The Joker in the Batman movie, The Dark Knight (2008).
004 TAKE AIM AND SHOOT
GADGET? DIY GUN
MOVIE? THE MAN WFTH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974)
To have a golden gun is really cool, but the gun of Francisco Scaramanga in The Man With The Golden Gun is the cat’s whiskers. To make the gun, a pen is inserted into a lighter, a cigarette box acts as a clip and the villain’s cufflink is the trigger. The weapon can only be loaded with one golden bullet at a time, however. But these bullets are very deadly. The top of the bullet will flatten as soon as it hits a body, resulting in an enormous open wound and great loss of blood. By the way, the strangest Bond prop in history also features in this movie: a fake nipple. When Bond has to imitate Scaramanga he has to do everything to look like him. That includes sticking on a fake third nipple.
005 FIND IT FAST
GADGET? NAVIGATION SYSTEM
MOVIE? Goldfinger (1964)
Who can forget the obligatory visit to Q’s laboratory before any James Bond mission? There is usually a car ready full of gadgets, from missile guns to ejector seats. Arguably, the most beautiful car ever featured in Bond movies was the Aston Martin DB5, seen for the first time in Goldfinger. The car had a smoke canon and could squirt oil on the road to slow down any pursuer.
It also had machine guns near the headlights, an ejector passenger seat and revolving number plates to change into‘GOLD FINGER’, ‘JB007’ or ‘BMT216A’.
The Aston’s interior was also ahead of its time: it contained a real GPS system. The original Aston Martin DB5 was auctioned for about R30 million in 2010.
006 TALKING POINT
MOVIE? Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
It’s hard to imagine life without them, but cellphones were very special in 1997. The little device was part of Bond’s bag of tricks for the first time in Tomorrow Never Dies. But this cellphone, manufactured by Ericsson, was used for more than just making calls. The phone contained a stun gun and could only be used after scanning Bond’s fingerprint. The device also broke safe codes. The best feature was that Bond could control his BMW 750i remotely with the phone. This is perfect if your car is too far for you to make a quick getaway.
GADGET? SUBMARINE CAR
MOVIE? The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Bond gets into a white Lotus Esprit in The Spy Who Loved Me. After a hot pursuit the car lands in the water. No worries though.
With the push of a button the car converts into a submarine. The underwater Esprit was specially made for this film. The original car was auctioned off in 2008. According to the auction catalogue: “The Lotus was like an underwater elephant in a porcelain cupboard without a reverse gear and brakes. The film crew ran more risk of being run over in the open water than when | they filmed on dry land.”
The car fetched a good Rl,38 million.
What’s your favourite James Bond gadget? Send your choice to email@example.com
After 50 years of spying. 007 still hasn’t been out of the top fictional characters to hit the big screen
Pedal to the metal
Smooth lines, curves, easy on the eye and a joy to ride. No, it's not the Bond girls but rather 007's cars that have become synonymous with the super spy. In Sky fall, Bond rolls back the years by driving an immaculate 1965 Aston Martin DB5. Of course, it does come with all the bells and whistles. The DB5 rates as one of Bond's best looking cars but to compare, here's a list of five other classic Bond cars:
1) Recently voted the most iconic car of all time, the Aston Martin DB5 appeared in Thunderball, Goldfinger and more recently Casino Royaie. It was originally introduced in 1963. Its film debut was in the 1964 movie Goldfinger, starring alongside Sean Connery. Its distinctive silver livery, streamlined bodywork and large front grill was new for its time.
However the aesthetically pleasing body hid a vast array of lethal surprises to confound even the most troublesome of Bond's
enemies. You may remember a scene in Goldfinger where one rear brake light spurted oil onto the road. And the other released triplespiked nails to burst the car tyres of the pursuing villains. Other clever features devised by Q included a revolving licence plate, an exhaust that expelled smoke-screen canisters and wheel hubs that revealed knives to slash car tyres.
2) The white Lotus Elite used by Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) surprised everyone with its ability to be driven underwater.
In an attempt to escape a pursuing helicopter, the Lotus was driven off a pier into the sea. At the time you would have thought this was the end for the car. But with typical Bond creativity the car tyres retracted and it was transformed into an operational submarine, complete with fins and a periscope. The persistent helicopter soon meets its demise with a missile fired from the car beneath the water.
3) The Living Daylights (1987) saw a return to the Aston Martin. This Aston Martin V8 had a powerful engine to complement its macho looks. It used a fuel injection system that replaced carburetion. Due to the compact nature of this new technology, the car could be designed with a flat bonnet, unlike the curved bonnets of its predecessors. As with any
Bond car there were a number of clever additions including self-retractable spikes in the car tyres for extra grip on icy surfaces, lasers behind the front hubcaps and missile launchers behind the headlights.
4) It was a bold move not to use a British-manufactured car in The World Is Not Enough (1999), but the BMW Z8 soon won over Bond fans. Its retro styling and red leather interior were backed up by a 400bhp V8 engine that had a top speed of 158mph. Hidden accessories included missile launchers in the side vents and a windscreen that displayed important data. The car could be operated remotely using the key chain.
5) The Aston Martin was back in Die Another Day (2002) starring Pierce Brosnan. This time it was the V12 Vanquish, sometimes referred to as a DB9 on steroids. The classic styled V12 nearly met its match when confronted with the villain's Jaguar XKR. But the front-mounted Gatling gun, rocket launchers in the doors and bombs in the boot soon put paid to that. Two other clever features, which eventually won the battle for Bond, were the car's ability to become invisible and the spikes hidden in the car tyres. The latter helped the car drive up an ice wall to avoid the fast approaching enemy, causing the Jaguar to have an unceremonious demise at the bottom of a lake.
- Aston Martins have starred in 11 of the 23 Bond films. Skyfall is the fifth Bond movie to show a DB5.
- The car was produced from 1963 to 1966 with a six-cylinder, 282bhp engine. It goes from 0-100 in 7.1 seconds, with a top speed of 240km/h.
- Aston Martin only built 1,059 DB5s at a cost of approximately R54,000. A DB5 used in Goldfinger sold for R37 million at an auction in 2010.
We couldn't resist. No Bond feature is complete without mentioning the Bond girls. Here are a few lesser known facts about these often dangerous beauties.
- In Never Say Never Again, Sean Connery did his sex scenes with the real actress who played Fatima Bush, Barbara Carrera, because she refused to use a body double.
- The oldest Bond girl to date is Honor Blackman, who was 37 years old when she starred in Goldfinger.
- The most popular and recognised Bond girl, Pussy Galore, was actually a lesbian in the Ian Fleming novel. This is why
she ignores Bond at the start of the movie.
- While filming love scenes with Roger Moore for Live And Let Die, Madeline Smith was being watched by Moore's overprotective wife on set.
- Casino Royale is the first Bond film in which 007 is without a Bond girl at the end of the movie.
Photo: Pussy Galore actually preferred females.
The alpha males
To date, 6 actors have donned the 007 cap and formed a culture of BONDage in the process
Almost no-one ever thought that Connery could pull off the character of James Bond, but the British actor did not only bag the role as a gentleman spy, but is considered as the best James Bond actor to date. His portrayal definitely set the bar for succeeding actors to wear the suit. He starred in the first 7 James Bond movies, most of which are considered to be representative instalments of the franchise.
Rising up to the iconic portrayal of Connery proved to be a difficult task for George Lazenby. Without much acting experience and maturity to face up to the studio setting, the former model was plagued with issues over his performance as Bond. His performance in On Her Majesty's Secret Service killed his career as a James Bond actor in just one movie.
In the 70s Roger Moore made a complete physical transformation to fit the role. The producers of the franchise only agreed to cast him if he shed some pounds and cut his hair short. Why didn't they just get a thin, clean-cut actor in the first place? Unlike his predecessor, Lazenby, Moore starred in 7 James Bond movies.
In the two James Bond movies he starred in, Dalton depicted Bond as a more serious, dark and reserved secret agent, a far cry from the flamboyant persona that Roger Moore created. His extreme masculine appeal made fans root for his version of Bond.
Another Englishman took over and this time, it was an actor who was never stereotyped as Bond for his acting flexibility. Brosnan was able to strike a balance between a tough and flamboyant portrayal of Bond and he proved himself as a legitimate James Bond actor in four films.
The latest James Bond actor has been criticised for being the first blonde and blue-eyed Bond. As is evident in his portrayal in Casino Royale, Craig had a different take on our favourite secret agent. With a more real, tough guy depiction of Bond in Skyfall, he finally managed to get the respect of his detractors.
Who is your favourite James Bond? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Right on time
Nothing is ever standard issue for James Bond. Here's a pick of Q-Branch issue watches that do more than tell the time.
What? Seiko H357 Analog Digital Display
Movie? For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Useful because? Contained a built-in satellite phone to receive calls direct from MI6.
What? Omega Seamaster
Movie? The World Is Not Enough (1999)
Useful because? It has a high-power laser diode, capable of cutting through two inches of steel.
What? Rolex Submariner Wristwatch
Movie? Live And Let Die (1973)
Useful because? It could unzip a dress and was also a bullet guard.
Are you more Austin Powers or James Bond? Take the quiz to test your 007 knowledge.
1. Which baddie only had 1 line to speak in the 2 Bond movies he starred in?
2. Who is the oldest James Bond?
3. Which American president listed From Russia With Love among his top 10 favourite novels of all time?
4. What did Bond study at university?
5. Part of Roger Moore's contract in Live And Let Die demanded an unlimited supply of?
6. How was Pierce Brosnan involved in the Bond films of the ‘80s?
7. What is Sean Connery's favourite Bond film?
8. What is Little Nellie in You Only Live Twice?
9. What type of gun does James Bond carry?
10. What words are always seen at the end of the credits of a James Bond film?
11. Bond creator Ian Fleming also wrote which popular children's story?
12. What was the nationality of Bond misfit, George Lazenby?
13. What is the motto of the Bond family as found on their coat of arms?
14. Where is Dr. No's secret lair?
15. Which 2 actresses who had been Bond girls have won Oscars?
16. What was the license plate number on the Rolls Royce in the Bond movie Goldfinger?
17. What is the name of the Havelock family's parrot in For Your Eyes Only?
1) Actor Richard Kiel, who appeared as Jaws in Moonraker and The Spy Who Lwed Me
2) Roger Moore. He was born in 1970
3) John F Kennedy
4) Oriental Languages at Cambridge
5) Hand-rolled cigars
6) His wife played Countess Lisl in For Your Eyes Only
7) From Russia With Love
8) A fold away helicopter
9) Walther PPK
10) James Bond Will Return
11) Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
13) The World Is Not Enough
14) Crab Key. According to local legend, it is inhabited by a dragon.
15) Halle Berry and Kim Basinger
17) Max. The parrot repeats the name of where Kristatos is going to hide, and so proves extremely useful to Bond.
[Source: Braintainment January - February 2013, P. 1-2, 34-37. Copyright © 2013 Panorama Publications (Pty) Ltd. (South Africa)]