On the run between screenings, I gulp down an espresso and check my e-mail. What's this? A note from my editor: "Anything Reel Timey to say about Daniel Craig, the new Bond?"
(The scoop has been attributed to London's Daily Mail. My apologies to Cubby Broccoli's heirs if the tabloid has jumped the gun.)
Anyway, if he is the new Bond: Well done. Craig is rugged, brooding, English, and, as you'll see from my scribblings over the last four years, easily the most fascinating actor to assume the mantle since Connery.
Further thoughts (7:48 p.m.): He's a bit of rough trade, is Daniel Craig. A lot different than Pierce Brosnan—who I liked more and more, but who was fatally undermined by his too-convincing turn as the foppish Remington Steele. Timothy Dalton was peevish—the sort of Bond who'd look at his watch and exhale noisily: A good actor, but no generosity of spirit. Roger Moore had no edge—and after Connery, no edge meant no sexual threat. And as Moore got older and fatter and looked less and less like his stunt double, he became the drag-show Bond--pure camp.
If Daniel Craig does not have the men's-club aristocratic airs of Fleming's Bond, let's remember that neither did Connery, who was Scottish to boot.
Further further thoughts (4:55 a.m.): Many thanks to those who reminded me that Fleming's Bond is half Scottish. I read several of the books in my misspent youth, but that piece of information was muddled with memories of Connery. Robert Pauley argues that Fleming's Bond and the cinema's Bond are even further apart than I have suggested; the former isn't a men's-club sort at all, and likened to Hoagy Carmichael with a "cruel" and "saturnine" mouth. He adds that the "broad, beefy" Craig is wrong, too, and puts himself squarely in the Clive Owen camp. I agree that Owen would make a fascinating Bond, but think that Craig is enough of an actor--and a chameleon--to find the pulse of the character again. Also: Please no more e-mails about Layer Cake. I didn't write about it, and the quotes below are all recycled...
Further further update (7:55 a.m.): Dr. Richard Leung writes: "Actually, Bond's half-Scottish heritage is mentioned only once in the books, in You Only Live Twice, published in 1964, after the film series was already underway. It was Fleming's way of retrofitting Bond to be closer to Connery, not the other way around." See how much you learn from reading this column?
We've almost left Daniel Craig behind, but here are all those squibs from my old reviews:
In Road to Perdition (2002): "Also at the wake is a morbid, glowingly blue-eyed creature identified as Rooney's son Connor (Daniel Craig), who might as well have 'PSYCHO MORON' projected on his forehead. That a loose cannon wields so much power in so tightly organized an outfit is meant as one of the eternal mysteries of fathers and sons; the real reason, of course, is that without a senseless maniac there would be no movie."
In Sylvia (2003): "Craig finds an affecting middle ground between caddishness and conscience—the balance is all the more remarkable because people argue over the proportions of each in [Ted] Hughes today, five years after his death."
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