If you really want to understand the vast changes that have occurred in America over the past 50 years, all you have to do is watch James Bond. Back in 1962, the first Bond movie, “Dr. No,” was released, catapulting Sean Connery to international stardom. Even President John F. Kennedy expressed admiration for Ian Fleming’s fictional British secret agent.
Connery’s Bond was ultrasuave but politically incorrect. The guy smoked constantly, drank, gambled and womanized without remorse. He was a rogue and couldn’t care less what anyone thought. He was also brutal, liberally exercising his license to kill in the cause of justice, of course.
Now we live in a new age, and we have a different James Bond: Daniel Craig. His Bond is a much more sensitive soul than was Connery’s. In the 23rd Bond film, “Skyfall,” Craig rarely smiles, goes about his business with grim determination and looks like he’s in the gym quite often. While Connery’s Bond spent his spare time chasing ladies and drinking martinis, Craig’s is apparently training for the triathlon.
However, the biggest difference between Connery and Craig is the former seemed to be having fun racing around the world doing the bidding of the British government. Craig does not seem to be having a lot of laughs. In fact, Craig is a major brooder, and so is his boss, played by Judi Dench. Watching these two have a conversation is like watching Dr. Phil yell at some guy who just abandoned his family.
Nevertheless, “Skyfall” is a huge moneymaker, especially overseas. The formula is this: Blow things up every 10 minutes. It’s kind of like the old Elvis movies where The King broke into song every eight minutes no matter what was happening in the storyline. They needed to fill up an album, so Elvis sang on cue.
Perhaps the biggest difference between “Dr. No” and “Skyfall” is the subordinate casting. Ursula Andress was the femme fatale in “Dr. No.” She spent the entire film in a bikini except for about three minutes when she wore a robe. Andress, a Swiss actress, did not say very much. But she liked James; that much was clear.
The ladies in “Skyfall” also like James. I think. But they were shuttled in and out of the film so quickly, it was hard to tell. Dealing with the opposite sex cuts into Craig’s brooding time, and we can’t have that.
Also, the villains say something about our changing world. Joseph Wiseman played “Dr. No.” Yes, he was a mean guy, but he wasn’t very menacing. The worst thing he did was give a henchman a tarantula to put in Bond’s bed. That could never happen today because PETA would picket.
In “Skyfall,” Javier Bardem is the bad guy, and the script implies that he may be gay. But it’s not really clear. What is certain is that Bardem is a computer wiz bent on killing Dench. While Dr. No wanted to dominate space, Bardem simply wants a little revenge for a past slight, a hallmark of many bloggers.
My sentiment lies with Connery. Craig is better than Pierce Brosnan, but he doesn’t have Connery’s charisma. The old guy wins.
• Veteran TV news anchor Bill O’Reilly is host of the Fox News show “The O’Reilly Factor” and author of the book “Pinheads and Patriots: Where You Stand in the Age of Obama.”