“Bond. James Bond.”
With those words, Sean Connery created a character that defined the Cold War era of the early ’60s and created a franchise that has lasted into this century. Part of it was the character of James Bond, no doubt. Born from the pen of former World War II British Naval Intelligence Division officer Ian Fleming, Bond was the “blunt instrument” used during the Cold War to keep Western nations safe from foreign adversaries. He wined, he dined, he drank martinis, he romanced, and he also got violent when necessary, all for King or Queen and country.
But Connery brought him to vivid flesh and blood. He had clever quips, lethal weapons, a winning smile and the best gadgets. Men wanted to be him, and women wanted to be with him. It was basically that simple.
Connery understood it. “Bond came on the scene after the War, at a time when people were fed up with rationing and drab times and utility clothes and a predominantly gray color in life,” Connery, who served in the British Navy as a teenager, told Playboy in 1965. “Along comes this character who cuts right through all that like a very hot knife through butter, with his clothing and his cars and his wine and his women.”
While a role like Bond can typecast many actors, it only enhanced Connery. He went on to many more substantial roles and even returned to Bond for a final run with the somewhat ironically titled: Never Say Never Again.
When I was a kid, Bond seemed way too adult for me. I could watch spy series on TV, like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. or Secret Agent, and I was fine. But for some reason I’ve now forgotten, we would always go to San Angelo to visit relatives in the summer and I would go to the movies with my cousins. One summer we went to see Elvis movies. An older cousin told me I needed to go so I could learn how to kiss girls. I’m not sure that it taught me that, but it did teach me I needed to get a guitar and play to attract girls. Kissing? I’m not sure I learned much there.
My cousins also took me to see my first James Bond film. Thunderball was opening that summer and I was transfixed by the gadgets, funny lines, beautiful women, tension-inducing music and underwater action scenes. The film had everything.
Since I lived in the days before VCRs or cable channels that play Bond movies almost on constant rotation, I decided to dive into the books. My parents didn’t have them and neither did my other reliable library, my aunt’s house. But a friend of mine’s dad had a copy of Dr. No and I borrowed that and read it. I don’t remember how old I was, but I didn’t always understand what was happening. I do remember one scene where Bond enters a house and asked for a girl by name. The proprietor of the house told Bond the girl was “engaged.” I thought it meant the girl was about to get married, so Bond couldn’t talk to her. I remember asking adults if “engaged” had another meaning. They all avoided a straight answer and probably were snickering behind my back.
So why did “Bond. James Bond.” become such a defining phrase? First, do you know what a line like that is called? It’s called a diacope. Diacope is when a word or phrase with one or more words in between is repeated. It works by making a phrase memorable and even rhythmic.
Here’s another famous one from some guy named Bill Shakespeare: To be, or not to be!
It’s almost become a cliché to end a scene or a book or a comic book with a diacope. “The horror. Oh the horror.” Or something like that.
The “Bond. James Bond.” occurs when the character is introduced, and it comes with the Bond theme from Monty Norman. It’s a great intro. It started something that clicked with our culture for more than 50 years. It wouldn’t have happened without the powerful, imposing presence of Connery.