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TOUGH AS STEELE, BUT NO 007 . . . : Compared to Connery, Brosnan Comes Up Double O Zero

I don’t normally take this show-biz stuff too personally, but I find myself getting more than a bit worked up when the topic of Pierce Brosnan as James Bond is raised.

Brosnan is a nice-looking fellow and he’s got the right accent, but I’m not sure his resume as a hero--much less his physicality--holds up under close scrutiny. This licensed-to-kill business is a lot different than running some prissy Century City detective agency, as he did on “Remington Steele.”

A women friend summed up the problem this way: “Fred Grandy could play James Bond better than Pierce Brosnan.”

Or, as one of my teen-age daughter’s friends put it: “Pierce Brosnan is not buff enough to play a dude James heroic Bond.”

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(Roughly translated, that means that Polite Pierce is a tad too wimpy for the role.)

Let’s talk about some minimum job requirements:

Looks--"Nice-looking” doesn’t count when it comes to saving the free world from the bad boys at SPECTRE. Nor would Soviet spies and villainous henchwomen have tumbled to our side if Sean Connery had been “cute.” Pierce Brosnan is the kind of guy you wouldn’t mind your daughter dating. If Sean Connery came to the door I think you might insist on going along as chaperone; and obviously, you’d be packing heat.

Voice--Pierce Brosnan, meet Tom Selleck. Those are fine voices you two have for public speaking or occasional whiney voice-overs, but sorry, gentlemen, they do not exactly turn criminals’ corpuscles into ice floes.

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Shoulder width--This is one of the few areas where our latest James Bond, Roger Moore, is at least passably acceptable. Like Connery, Moore looked good in a tux and had some physical presence. Put Brosnan in a white dinner jacket and he looks like he’s decked out for the ninth grade prom.

Body hair--Anyone appointed by the prime minister of the U.K. to waste enemies of the people should not be so highly evolved as to be able to get by with an occasional shave. (Are you listening Don Johnson?) A believable James Bond should have to shave his neck to get dressed. And he should have sufficient chest hair to conceal a microdot, or, in a pinch, one or two small automatic weapons. (Roger Moore failed this one so badly we’ve never in seven movies seen him shirtless in full view.)

I don’t take these things lightly. Years before my awkward junior high friends and I had our consciousness raised by other, more potent unifiers, Connery as Bond was a galvanizing pop-cultural influence. We were fit only to dream about girls, but as long as we were fantasizing we could throw in a Walther PPK and a raised eyebrow, care of 007.

(Thankfully, so as not to frighten impressionable young men, Bond was a pure fantasy: Nowhere in his womanizing was there a hint of such related issues as child-rearing, mortgage payments or having to take them to the “right” restaurants.)

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So it is with a feeling of nostalgia as well as a sense of responsibility for today’s youth that I implore producer Albert (Cubby) Broccoli to reconsider. You blew it once, Cubby, when you cast Moore, as suave a Bond as author Ian Fleming had always envisioned but minus the requisite menace or danger or animal sexuality. Those are still important qualities for an icon like Bond, even if there just for men to bounce off of in this enlightened age.

Aaaaaa, who am I kidding? The same guys who ran around with me at age 12, brandishing croquet mallets as if infrared-scoped rifles, have not changed much in 20 years. Once in a while, especially when wearing tuxedoes, we still like to drive a little too fast, pretend that the stick shift has a secret ejector-seat button and, raising one eyebrow we stare down the enticing villainess in the passenger seat as we offer our name: “Bond. James Bond.”

Could Pierce Brosnan ever do that?


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