Globetrotting though the long history of the 007 feature film series — as covered in American Cinematographer.
After 59 years and 25 official motion pictures, James Bond movies remain a reliable box-office draw. The British superspy’s globe-trotting adventures promise an escape from the mundane drudgeries of daily life — a tour of exotic locations spiced with life-threatening thrills, tricked-out cars, fabulous settings populated by beautiful people, and a hero whose arrogant charisma, mordant wit and snobbish connoisseurship might stir deep-seated feelings of envious inadequacy in the male demographic.
The modern era’s more enlightened Bond, as portrayed by Daniel Craig, has curbed some of the character’s more chauvinistic tendencies. Prior to his fourth outing as 007 in Spectre (2015), Craig told The Guardian, “Hopefully my Bond is not as sexist and misogynistic as [earlier incarnations]. The world has changed. I am certainly not that person. But he is, and so what does that mean? It means you cast great actresses and make the parts as good as you can for the women in the movies.”
Beyond this evolution, Bond has retained the lethal efficiency, raffish charm and libidinous inclinations originally envisioned by author Ian Fleming. The outlandish plots of Bond’s big-screen adventures virtually ensure that filmmakers working on the franchise will face daunting logistics spurred by an ethos of ever-escalating spectacle.
The first 007 film, Dr. No (1962), is more modestly scaled and grounded in reality than most of the entries that followed; by the 1969 arrival of the action-packed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the sixth Bond film, and the first covered in the pages of AC), cinematographer Michael Reed, BSC had to contend with scenes in which Bond eludes gun-toting assassins chasing him on skis, survives an avalanche, hangs suspended from gondola cables, and grapples with iconic villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld in a hurtling bobsled.
Other productions have left us with equally indelible movie memories: brutal hand-to-hand combat in the close quarters of a train compartment; a megalomaniac gold fetishist’s attempt to rob Fort Knox; Bond accelerating a car through a complete midair flip while traversing a broken wooden bridge; attacks by assassins whose weapons include a razor-brimmed bowler hat, a solid-gold gun, steel teeth, and a dagger protruding from a shoe; supervillain lairs constructed atop mountains and under the sea; cars that can turn invisible or transform into a submarine; and a series of ingenious gadgets that include a weaponized briefcase, X-ray glasses, a ski-pole rifle, a laser-equipped wristwatch and a crocodile-shaped mini-submersible.
Over the years, the promise of jaw-dropping visuals has lured a succession of other top cinematographers into service, including Ted Moore, BSC; Freddie Young, BSC; Oswald Morris, BSC; Alan Hume, BSC; Alec Mills, BSC; Phil Méheux, BSC; Adrian Biddle, BSC; David Tattersall, BSC; French cinematographers Claude Renoir and Jean Tournier; Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC; Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC; and Hoyte van Hoytema, ASC, FSF, NSC.
For the latest Bond production, No Time to Die — our cover story in April of 2020, planned for the film’s original theatrical release date — Linus Sandgren, ASC, FSF reported for duty alongside American director Cary Joji Fukunaga, the first non-British director to helm an official Bond movie. (American Irvin Kershner helmed 1983’s Never Say Never Again, which was made outside the canon of 007 films supervised by EON Productions — as covered in AC Oct. 1983.)
Our article on No Time to Die — finally opening worldwide on October 8, 2021 — continued a nearly unbroken streak of AC coverage dating back to The Living Daylights in 1987, along with a number of previous productions.
Sit back and enjoy the collection below with an expertly crafted martini — shaken, not stirred.
Articles from AC’s coverage:
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service - Michael Reed, BSC
The Spy Who Loved Me - Claude Renoir
For Your Eyes Only - Alan Hume, BSC
Moonraker - Jean Tournier
The Living Daylights - Alec Mills, BSC
Licence to Kill - Alec Mills, BSC
GoldenEye - Phil Méheux, BSC
Die Another Day - David Tattersall, BSC
Casino Royale - Phil Méheux, BSC
Quantum of Solace - Roberto Schaefer, ASC, AIC
Skyfall - Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC
Spectre - Hoyte van Hoytema, ASC, FSF, NSC
No Time to Die - Linus Sandgren, ASC, FSF
AC Archive subscribers can also read each of these in their original form. See each post for respective issue details. Not a subscriber yet? Do it now.