While we wait for the release of NO TIME TO DIE this year, I’m taking a look at some of the most recognisable and iconic imagery from the Bond Movie Posters. Most films have multiple poster designs, so I’ve tried to focus on some of the most recognisable.
My retrospective reviews of the films can be found by clicking on the film titles below.
DOCTOR NO (1962)
OO7. Bond! Guns! Girls! Exotic Locations!
The first film has to establish the Bond character for the screen, rather than that of the books. The poster uses bold yellow as a background and puts in place the staples of the Bond movies – Bond looking directly at us, the gun in hand, exotic locations, the villain, and a range of risque poses from female figures suggesting a hint of sex.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)
The second poster dispenses with the bold yellow background, but provides even more of the other Bond elements – this time Bond is huge, the darkness of his tux allowing a contrast to the lettering on top. He continues to look straight into our souls, and still has the smirk. We see helicopter action, iconic Istanbul and some quite provocative poses from the film. And now Bond holds the gun across his chest, near his chin. Get used to that pose!
The Goldfinger poster is quite different, but uses the striking imagery of a gold-painted female, with images projected onto her body – a direct connection to the opening titles of the film and an iconic scene from the film itself. Designer Robert Brownjohn, who used the projection technique for the opening titles of “From Russia With Love” riffed on that idea, upgrading it to show projections from the Bond films and the images of Bond and Pussy Galore are prominent. This time Bond points the gun at us.
Note that Connery now has his name above the title – a credit that would persist for most of the remaining Bonds.
Thunderball goes for all-out action. The biggest Bond film yet crams in an awful lot of detail – fights on ships, explosions, an underwater clinch, sharks, helicopters, knife-wielding bikini-clad women, and a missile launching motorbike. Bond himself smiles less, and looks off to the side for the first time. The gun is placed near the chin again and he wears a rocket pack. It’s an interesting evolution away from the “girls” and leaning into the big explosions which would come to be a feature of the franchise. Notice that Connery’s name is the same font size as the title (although not bold).
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967)
SEAN CONNERY IS JAMES BOND. Underlined in red. Above the title and the same font. And he appears on the poster twice. This poster devotes a third of it’s space to the titles and to Connery, gun pose, looking at us. Strangely the same pose is on the main image as Bond is flying towards us in “little Nellie” no hands on the controls! The imagery shows only one major incident from the film, the helicopter attack – although the volcano lair is there too. Action, guns, explosions and Connery. The poster promises what audiences wanted.
Connery had gone. And a total unknown was Bond. So the poster had to reassure audiences: FAR UP! FAR OUT! FAR MORE! and JAMES BOND 007 IS BACK! All of this above the title, and with Lazenby’s name far below.
The poster is similar to YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and the dedicated artwork shows a violent, action -packed ski chase with a huge explosion in the background. Look Closely and you can see Blofeld in the bodsled. Bond and Tracy are in the new customary non-realistic poses, particularly as they are both ski-ing! Bond does however have the tux and holds the gun near his chin – in a reassuringly familiar Bond pose.
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971)
Following On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, George Lazenby refused to return. EON Productions managed to get Connery back, and the poster reinstates his name above the title. The contract between the yellow lettering and dark background works, and the montage on the left highlights explosive action from the film’s finale, although you do see the moon buggy and even astronauts.
An older looking Bond stands with the gun pose but this time is flanked by two voluptuous females in their underwear who bear no resemblance to anyone in the film. One of them holds a handful of diamonds near Bond’s groin, some gems spilling across to the other woman’s hand.
After a few years away, the Bond “girls” have returned more sexualised than ever. It was the seventies, and the Bond Poster tropes we’ve seen were about to be pushed even further.
Next Time: James Bond Movie Posters – The Moore Years.
My favourite? From Russia With Love.
For my views on the poster for the other Bond movies, please see the links below: