Rewind

Fifty Years of Bond, James Bond

He's the most famous spy in the world. James Bond was created by Ian Fleming, a former intelligence officer who wrote spy novels. Those best selling novels morphed into a movie franchise. The film Goldfinger was released 50 years ago last fall and is still considered one of the best.
British actor Sean Connery in 1982 (AFP/Getty Images)

He's suave, he's popular with ladies, he likes his drinks shaken, not stirred and he doesn't hesitate to kill when he needs to. We know all that. But fifty years ago, it was all still thrillingly new.

He is arguably the most famous fictional spy in popular culture. James Bond was invented by a former naval intelligence officer called Ian Fleming who wrote a series spy novels that morphed into an enormously successful movie franchise. There are 23 movies in the James Bond film franchise, with a 24th film due out in the fall of 2015. But in 1964 the world was just getting to know the third James Bond movie.

Goldfinger premiered in North America in December of that year. It starred Sean Connery, in his third outing as Bond.

Goldfinger was an immediate success and is hailed by aficionados as the best Bond movie of all time. And of course that song, performed by Shirley Bassey, made it even better.

On this program, an interview with both Sean Connery and Ian Fleming, a look at the plausibility of some of the gadgets that appear in the Bond movies and a man who's said to be the real life inspiration for Mr.Bond.

The first clip is from 1964. Goldfinger had just been released, and CBC film reviewer Gerald Pratley was, well, less than impressed. Gerald Pratley was anything if not honest. His opinion on the title song "Goldfinger" was not shared by most people. In fact, it catapulted Welsh singer Shirley Bassey to international fame.

A few decades later, there was a rather different review of Goldfinger and a few other classic Bond movies from the aptly named film columnist Cathi Bond. The year was 1995 and the show was Definitely Not the Opera

Cathi isn't alone in her love of Sean Connery. Something about that Scottish burr perhaps. Connery appeared in seven James Bond movies in all.

Sean Connery in CBC Production of MacBeth, 1961 (CBC Still Photo Collection/Albert Crookshank )

Sean Connery was no stranger to the CBC back in the 1960s. In 1961 he starred in a CBC TV production of MacBeth. And in 1965, while filming Thunderball, he appeared on the CBC television program Your Show on Shows with Rita Greer Allen to talk about life as the international man of mystery and the why the role of James Bond was just another job for him.

The 1964 Aston Martin DB5, driven by Sean Connery in Goldfinger and Thunderball, is expected to fetch at least $5 million US when it is sold at auction in October. ((RM Auctions/Associated Press) )

The James Bond franchise is known for its ingenious, hi-tech gadgetry. In Goldfinger, Bond`s car is the famous Aston Martin, tricked out with an ejector seat and hubcaps that transform into blades to slash enemy tires. All designed by a clever inventor with the ingenious name of Q. Um, no relation to the CBC Radio show.

British James Bond Stamps ( EPA)

In 1986, Jay Ingram, host of Quirks and Quarks wanted to know if those nifty gadgets could be real, or if they lived firmly in the realm of science fiction.

He talked to Dr. Joe Schwartz, a chemistry professor at Vanier College. According to Dr. Schwartz back in the 1980s, some of the stuff in Goldfinger was indeed scientifically viable. So, back to the inventor of all that stuff, Q. In fact, Q was based on a real guy called Charles Fraser-Smith, who worked for the British government during the second world war.

Michael Enright talked to a man called David Porter  who had written a biography of Charles Fraser-Smith.

Q wasn't the only Bond character based in reality.Merlin Marshall was an intelligence agent who was said to be the real-life inspiration for James Bond. In 1978, Minshall talked about his connection to Bond writer Ian Fleming.

It's the 50th anniversary of the release of Goldfinger, which was the third James Bond film. There's been an ocean of writing and talking about the Bond phenomenon since then. But even back in the early days, people were trying to figure out what Mr. Bond meant for society. The year is 1963, and we turn to the CBC television program 701. In discussion are host Al Hamel and journalist Lister Sinclair.

Bond (Sean Connery, left) fights with Oddjob (Harold Sakata) in Goldfinger. ((Express Newspapers/Getty Images))

And then, the author himself, Ian Fleming. He talked to Munroe Scott on This Hour Has Seven Days.

When Goldfinger opened 50 years ago, the title song was an immediate hit. It was performed by the Welsh singer Shirley Bassey, and it made her name.

In 1968, singer Shirley Bassey left the U.K. for tax reasons. She currently lives in Monte Carlo. (Frank Tewksbury/Getty)

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