An engaging chronologic compendium of James Bond films begins with a lengthy scene from the agent's first appearance, that occurred on a live U.S. television program, "Climax" from 1954, with Barry Nelson playing American gambler "Jimmie Bond", in a loose interpretation of Casino Royale, Ian Fleming's first novel, with Peter Lorre cast as the primary villain. Significant biographical information concerning Fleming is related, such as his fondness when a boy for English adventure serials; and the reason for his selection of a name for 007, i.e., he believed that the author of a book describing birds of the West Indies had a properly prosaic appellation that Fleming was seeking to borrow to contrast with the extravagant actions that the English secret agent would be performing. An uncredited narrator points out that FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is the most textuary to the novelist's body of work, as well as having the most realistic scenario, but when the fourth in the series, THUNDERBALL, was released, gadgetry had become predominant, helping to spawn a large number of weak imitations and spoofs. Each of the films is given coverage through the two excellent titles starring Timothy Dalton, and it is underscored that the 1970s efforts featuring Roger Moore are cartoonish, representatively so in a decade that also may thus be accurately defined, while inflation of the stuntwork and explosives that characterize the Bond films from the 1980s are noted as being inferior substitution for story values that distinguish the early Sean Connery affairs.
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