Burt Reynolds as Bond

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/04/13/burt-reynolds-as-bond.html


Weird. But yet another argument that Connery is Bond.

Then again, Connery was at one point considered for The Sound of Music.


I saw the headline, and I laughed.

Then I realised that it was a deepfake. Which means it’s not what I’d hoped - some kind of audition tape that would be hilariously inappropriate.

But now that I’ve thought about a Burt Reynolds Bond audition, I’m not going to watch the video. There’s no way it could be as hilariously bad as my imagination’s product. :smiley:


Would it really have been any worse than Roger Moore?

I keep thinking of “View To a Kill” – a shame of a movie to waste Grace Jones and Christopher Walken on.

Would Burt have made it better or worse?


Who was the better Bond?

“The name’s Ferguson. Turd Ferguson.”


Go watch him in Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Made just three years before Dr. No. He’s suave AF even when he’s supposed to be a salt-of-the-earth kind of guy, even with his…intermittent Irish accent. My favorite Bond is Craig, but Connery is a close second; the character in the books is a bit more rough around the edges, which Craig does better, IMO.


Each Bond is different, and caters to a different audience. So ranking the various Bonds is sort of a pointless exercise really. Personally, I think that Dalton and Lazenby are vastly underrated, and that the worst Bond was probably Brosnan. But that’s personal preference, and everyone is welcome to differ.

Moore’s bond was problematic because of his age when he filmed it. If you watch the television series The Saint, you can see exactly why they wanted him as Bond. He was also beset by starting in a period in which the films weren’t quite sure what they wanted to be, and chased the latest trend - be it blaxploitation (Live and Let Die), kung-fu (The Man with the Golden Gun), science fiction in space (Moonraker) and so on…

All of the Bonds so far have had a certain set of fundamental qualities. He must be British, have a somewhat “military bearing”, be at least of the Officer Class, have a dry wit, be understated when in opulent surrounds, and so forth. The exact list can, again, be argued about.

The problem with Reynolds as Bond is, frankly, that he’s not just American, but that he’s a Working Class Rogue.

Picture the scene. A bar at a casino, opulent in its marble and tasteful gold trim (so it’s not a Trump Casino - after all, it’s still in business). In the background a roulette wheel spins and cards are being played. A beautiful woman stands at the bar, in a long flowing - but figure-hugging - evening dress. As this is evidently the 70’s, let’s say she’s going to smoke. The camera zoomes in on her. She pulls out a cigarette case, plucks a cigarette and tries to light it, but her lighter fails. A hand reaches in, holding a replacement lighter, which flickers into flame on its first use. She lights the cigarette, and the camera pulls out to reveal our protagonist, James Bond. She thanks him, he replies it was his pleasure. He gestures to the bar staff - orders his signature drink, and asks if the lady would like anything. She doesn’t take drinks from strangers. “Bond, James Bond.”

So far, Burt Reynolds can handle this. No problems. I’d agree he’d be a fine bond. Even with a somewhat southern drawl.

Continuing the scene, the lady introduces herself, and asks for a gin and tonic. He leans across the bar, and adds “and a gin and tonic, for the lady”. And he winks.


That’s the part I just don’t think we can quite trust Reynolds with. That wink is going to happen at some point. And it’s just wrong for Bond. In Bond terms, a wink may as well be jumping up on the bar and pelvic-thrusting into her face whilst yelling “Giggity-giggity-giggity”, Family Guy style.

I have nothing against Burt Reynolds. He’s a decent actor. I can’t imagine Smokey and the Bandit or Cannonball Run without him.

I also don’t think that if he’d had the role instead of Moore, they’d have avoided problems. Many of them came from the production. In fact, if they’d gone for an American Bond with Reynolds at that time, it would probably have been even worse than with Moore, as they leaned into the Americana that such a drastic change of lead actor allowed them.

In that regard, one of the plus points of Moore is that he at least “held up the British End” across a series of wildly different films, providing something of a solid foundation for the franchise to build on and around. Even if what they built was somewhat dubious. :wink:

Reynolds would have provided a very different foundation, and I just don’t think it would have worked at all.

(Edited to clarify one point.)


Well said!


And Connery isn’t? He’s the son of a lorry driver and a cleaning woman. He was in the Royal Navy for a few years, but as a rating, not an officer.

And OK, we can distinguish between the actor and the character, but it’s clear that Connery’s Bond isn’t Quite The Thing. Bernard Lee’s patrician M very much looks down his nose at him. And there’s that accent, which has obviously never been anywhere near Eton and Fettes.

Fleming was allegedly initially very unhappy about Connery’s casting, saying he wanted James Bond, not an Edinburgh bodybuilder, or something similar. It was only when Fleming’s girlfriend said that Connery had the requisite sexual charisma that he changed his mind (and retconned Bond’s background to give him a Scottish father).

Point being, whatever the differences between Connery’s Bond and a putative Reynolds Bond, it’s not a matter of class.


But perhaps Connery’s Bond aspires to be higher class, while Reynolds never could bring himself to care?


No, but an understanding of class would certainly help. I wasn’t describing the requirements of the actors, but the requirements of the role. And having grown up in 1940s/50s Britain, both Connery and Moore would understand exactly what the scripts were trying to portray. They had a familiarity with the society being protrayed.

In terms of casting, that’s invaluable. Reynolds may not have quite that edge in the same role.

In the same manner, even if Connery could deliver a suitable accent, he may not really understand the cultural background and motivations that the Bandit would have. I doubt that Connery or Moore would make a good Bandit at all, regardless of their acting chops - they’d need to be immersed into that culture - or at least near it - for a month or two in order to get the subtler mannerisms right.


He’d have looked too bulky in that nun’s habit.


i don’t know. if he can pull off the look of a wedding dress, he can make a nun’s outfit work.


So does this mean we can put Sean Connery in all the Bond films?


On the one hand, Ian Fleming wrote beloved children’s book Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang: The Magical Car.

On the other hand, I went to see Boogie Nights because I was in a serious blue funk and needed a good Burt Reynolds comedy to cheer up. No joy: in fact I came out of the theater truly shook up by the very disturbing fight scene:


That’s a fair point.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen any of Connery’s Bond films, but that’s not the impression I remember. The character clearly enjoys the material trappings, but doesn’t seem to take the actual mechanics of class seriously: it’s all something of a game. I like to think of this Bond starting his naval career on the lower decks, where his self-confidence and independence of spirit stopped just short enough of blatant insubordination to earn him a commission rather than an extended spell in detention quarters.

But I did get this impression about the literary Bond (and again, it’s been a while since I read any of the books). For him, the material trappings seem to be more about the status they imply. He is prosperous middle-class, rather than upper-class – his father was a trade rep for an arms firm – and I suspect he’s something of a projection of Fleming’s own social anxieties (Fleming’s grandfather, who died a wealthy banker, started out as the clerk to a Dundee textile merchant).

Sean can make anything work.



Burt…Burt Bond.

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That is a very convincing fake though. The Ministry of Truth will adopt that soon.

Every once in a while Burt surprised us with his talent. “Deliverance” and “Boogie Nights” come to mind. Not sure about Bond though. Connery’s 007 was suave and sophisticated in a very European way. The Saville Row suites. The Aston Martin. The Martini “shaken not stirred”. That style defined James Bond on film and all the other Bonds attempted the same persona. Burt Reynolds is very different. He is wholly American. He wears jeans and cowboy boots, drives a Firebird Trans Am, and prefers his beer from a bottle rather than a can. Connery used a Beretta or a Walther. Reynolds would use a Magnum. Connery would use a karate chop to the neck. Reynolds would use a fist to the face.
Burt Reynolds playing baccarat in Monte Carlo?

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