Our modest proposal for Skyfall’s gunbarrel (if there is one)

There’s one thing Eon Productions could do for the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond movie, Dr. No, that could be done for minimal cost, evoke the series’ long history and might get at least some fans pumped up.

Bob Simmons, subbing for Sean Connery, performing the gunbarrel sequence that would be used in Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger.

Film a gunbarrel sequence to start out the movie with Daniel Craig’s 007 wearing a hat.

You remember the hat, don’t you? In about 10 seconds, the gunbarrel sequence evokes danger as the audience views Bond from the vantage point of an assassin attempting to kill 007. Bond, aware of the peril, turns and fires, and we see what’s supposed to be blood come down from the top of the screen.

Bob Simmons, Sean Connery’s stunt double, subbed for the star after title designer Maurice Binder had devised the gunbarrel logo to start off Dr. No. We don’t know if Connery wasn’t available. Regardless, Simmons looked enough like Connery (certainly at a distance and wearing a hat) so nobody would notice it wasn’t the star of the movie who walked out and suddenly fired at the audience.

Thus, began a tradition, that lasted 20 movies, through, 2002’s Die Another Day, where the gunbarrel logo started off a 007 film with some variation of The James Bond Theme. The hat disappeared when Roger Moore assumed the role with 1973’s Live And Let Die; it’s our understanding a version with Moore wearing the hat was filmed but it obviously wasn’t used.

Starting in 2005, producers Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli to make the series theirs, in effect declaring their independence from Eon Productions late co-founder Albert R. Broccoli. (“We need to generate something new, for ourselves,” Wilson told The New York Times in 2005.)

So the traditional gunbarrel was scrapped, with a new one (without the Bond theme) featuring star Daniel Craig just before the main titles. Wilson said in 2008 that “We’ll probably go back to the traditional style,” for Quantum of Solace. It didn’t turn out that way. Craig’s second gunbarrel came at the end of the movie, just before the end titles although with a traditional James Bond theme arrangement.

Daniel Craig

We don’t take it for granted the gunbarrel will back in any way, shape or form. Wilson, Broccoli and director Sam Mendes may decide to dispense with a gunbarrel altogether as far as we know. But *IF* one is included, having Craig wear a hat would be (pun intended) a tip of the cap to the past that’s subtle. The series did a special gunbarrel with Pierce Brosnan in Die Another Day, but it was hardly subtle. Brosnan “fired” a CGI bullet at the audience (and supposedly into the barrel of the assassin following Bond).

If Wilson is serious about Skyfall having “a magical Goldfinger feel,” then a traditional gunbarrel with Craig sporting a hat (as Simmons, Connery and George Lazenby did) would be a good place to start.

8 Responses

  1. Heck, go all the way with the minimal cost idea: use the Bob Simmons gun barrel sequence. (They are doing this movie on the cheap, after all.) I for one would think this is an outstanding homage to the 50th anniversary. Not that Babs and Mike are going to use my idea, but hey, anything is possible.

  2. @Mark: We’d settle for that. 🙂

  3. I don’t mind if he wears a hat or not, but I do want the gun barrel restored to its rightful place. I didn’t mind in CR so much as it fitted the reboot, but at the end of QoS was just plain wrong.

    I wrote an article 18 months ago, which created quite a bit of discussion regarding the gun barrel:

  4. That’s NOT the Quantum of Solace gunbarrel. That’s Craig in Pierce Brosnan’s gunbarrel. Here’s Craig’s correct gunbarrelhttp://img21.imageshack.us/img21/801/dcgunbarrel.png

  5. Our bad. Changed the caption to just say, “Daniel Craig” at this point.

  6. The QoS gunbarrel was made by MS12, the company behind the credit sequence for the same movie. I like the hat idea, but @Mark Henderson: the film ratio for the new Bond films is at 2.39:1 while Dr. No through Goldfinger and eventually Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun were shot at 1.85:1. The gunbarrel had to be reshot for Connery in Thunderball and for Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me. Maurice Binder would than reuse the same gunbarrel for later films. Having the original Bob Simmons gunbarrel would not work too well with the wider screen format. Whatever the final outcome for Skyfall, I do hope that the gunbarrel is back at the beginning with the Bond theme blasting the audience to the back of the theater.

  7. @Stuart: It is still doable, nostalgically speaking. Remember the opening of Superman-The Movie, where the opening had the old studio logo and a bit of newsreal-like footage? Then the rest of the film is in wide screen.

    Might be fun for us old guys to see. 🙂

  8. There should always be a gun barrel sequence at the beginning of every 007 film. They messed with 45 years of tradition. Why should we pay to see the next one if they don’t feature it correctly.
    Its like eating Oreo cookies without milk. Like cake without frosting. Soup without water. Just plain sucks.

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