Only one actor ever came back alive from playing Bond. And that's Connery. And the return to the land of the living took him about three decades.
Moore lingers on in a strange twilight world.
Lazenby has returned to the obscurity from which he came.
Dalton has disappeared off the face of the earth.
I never liked Bond- not even as an inky schoolboy. I hated his smug brutality.
There'a scene in The Man With the Golden Gun that gives the game away. Bond is in conference with the professional hit-man Scaramanga (the ever wonderful Christopher Lee.) It goes something like this.
Scaramanga: We are much alike, Mr Bond.
Bond: What do you mean?
Scaramanga: We both kill for money.
Bond (losing his cool- a sure sign that a raw nerve has been touched): Bullshit. I only kill on the orders of my government.
OK. Freeze it there. We're supposed to be impressed by Bond's superior morality. But Bond is a government assassin. And The British Government is the fount of all goodness and wisdom? Yeah, right. Not even in the 70s did we believe that. A goon who kills on government orders is doubly a goon because he has surrendered his mind to the machine. Earlier versions of the lone wolf hero- Sherlock Holmes, Richard Hannay, Philip Marlowe- remained free agents. They picked their own adventures. They could look authority in the eye and- when conscience dictated- defy it. Bond has forfeited that right. He is an unreflecting automaton, bought and sold, and Scaramanga is far and away the better man.
It's weird how the Bond franchise keeps rolling and rolling. It's a triumph of branding over experience. We look at the logo not the product.
The Connery Bonds are the gold standard. Actually they're not all that good. The early 60s was a bad time for commercial film-making and, set beside a prime 40s noir, things like Dr No or Goldfinger look limp and flabby.
And then things went down hill.
Bond is to action adventure what the Carry-on series is to comedy.
Hey, Jude, Clive, you're doing fine, both of you. You've got burgeoning careers; you've got credibility. Don't throw it all away.