The Codename Theory
You know they say that you can find anything and everything on the Internet, but yesterday, despite hours of searching, I couldn’t find one decent picture of Carrie Fisher in the gold bikini from Return of the Jedi. Sure, there were a few blurry images and the odd poorly scanned photo, but they were nothing special, nothing to e-mail home about. I thought they’d be entire websites and message boards dedicated to it, after all, there are websites for “Traffic Cone Worshipping”, “Kermit the Frog: The Vegas Years”, and “Hitler’s Favourite Recipes”. But no, as completely and utterly baffling as it may sound, there are next to none on Princess Leia. Personally, I think that the lack of quality images on this subject is a disgrace. An absolute disgrace. When are they going to do something about it?
What you can find plenty of on the Internet though, is rumours and theories and speculation on all matter of subjects, including James Bond. Some of these are quite ridiculous, such as “Were Roger Moore and Maud Adams sleeping together during the making of The Man With the Golden Gun?”. I mean, come on, obviously they weren’t. Just look at the facts: Roger had a wife and a mistress at the time of that film. Does he really strike you as a three-timer? Ofcourse not. Get your minds out of the gutter people. Roger Moore is a gentleman, and would certainly have never cheated on his wife and mistress. Any suggestions otherwise border on slander quite frankly, and I for one won’t sit idly by while Roger’s good name is tarnished. It’s time that these baseless rumours and theories were squashed, once and for all.
Well, the rumours are pretty harmless I suppose, they’re usually dismissed by readers pretty quickly. Most people don’t believe that the costumes for Octopussy were made cheaply thanks to sweat-shop labour, or that Daniel Kleinman was using recreational drugs while designing the title sequence for The World is Not Enough, and they generally don’t believe the false rumours either. No, the rumours don’t concern me so much (except that nasty one suggesting that they didn’t really go into outer space when filming Moonraker. Blasphemy!), not as much as the theories anyway. There are many fan-created theories running around, concerning various aspects of the Bond series, the worst of all no doubt being “The Codename Theory”.
The Codename Theory proposes that “James Bond” is not a real person but a codename given by MI6, and that every actor to play James Bond has been playing a different agent using the “James Bond” codename. The intention of this theory is to explain why James Bond never ages, and why he changes his appearance every, well, every time there is a change in actors. I suppose it’s also open the door for a black or female or black female James Bond to be cast sometime in the future. This idea has generated a little bit of support among fans, but I personally have always despised it because it totally ruins the mystique of James Bond. “There’s only one man” after all. This Codename theory is gimmicky and pointless. Now everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and like I said, the theory does have some supporters, but I don’t buy it. It’s sort of like saying that Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer and George Clooney were playing different Batmans (or should that be Batmen?), or that Alan Reed and Henry Cordon were voicing different Fred Flintstones. But what the hey, we’ll play along.
So, every Bond actor played a different character who was assuming the codename “James Bond”? This would mean that there have been five James Bonds: Connery/Bond, Lazenby/Bond, Moore/Bond, Dalton/Bond and Brosnan/Bond. With Connery/Bond being the first, right? A bit odd then that Connery/Bond is replaced by Lazenby/Bond only to later on return. Perhaps Lazenby/Bond got compassionate leave after his wife died (his wife died, remember that for later)?. But Lazenby recognises gadgets from Connery missions (recognises, he’s not just clearing out his predecessors desk, hey, what’s that there in the bottom draw? Oooh, very kinky), so that’s not going to quite work. Perhaps Connery and Lazenby were playing the same character, while Moore, Dalton and Brosnan were playing different ones. This would mean that there have been four James Bond – ConneryLazenby/Bond, Moore/Bond, Dalton/Bond and Brosnan/Bond.
But in The Spy Who Loved Me Sheikh Hosein remembers Moore/Bond from Cambridge, which would mean Moore/Bond was using the Bond Codename during his University years, before ConneryLazenby/Bond. Did Moore/Bond possibly have a brief stint using the Codename before passing it on to ConneryLazenby/Bond, only to get it back 11 years later? Not likely. Maybe Moore was playing the same character as Connery and Lazenby, while Dalton and Brosnan were playing different ones. This would mean that there have been three James Bond – ConneryLazenbyMoore/Bond, Dalton/Bond and Brosnan/Bond.
The Dalton Era is the one that’s the most damaging for supporters of The Codename Theory, primarily because Dalton/Bond resigns from the Secret Service in Licence to Kill. Why did he get to keep the codename? According to the theory, shouldn’t he have relinquished the codename and gone back to whatever his name was before he replaced ConneryLazenbyMoore/Bond as James Bond. We’ll ignore this fact and assume that MI6 are slow with paperwork (M’s still waiting on that mini refrigerator she ordered for the office last September), but he was lucky that they didn’t give the James Bond codename to someone else while he was off hunting down Sanchez. The other thing about Licence to Kill is that Felix Lieter acknowledges Dalton/Bond as the one who “was married, a long time ago”. Perhaps Dalton/Bond was also married, perhaps to a hairy-knuckled Scotswoman named Gladys. Or Perhaps Dalton was playing the same character as Connery, Lazenby and Moore, while Brosnan was playing a different one. This would mean that there has been two James Bonds – ConneryLazenbyMooreDalton/Bond and Brosnan/Bond.
As we move along to Brosnan, I think you can see where I’m heading. There’s no dead wife references to save me this time though, but there is something else; Doesn’t the pre-title scene of the first Brosnan/Bond film, GoldenEye take place nine years earlier? Before The Living Daylights? Before Brosnan/Bond took over the codename. Is Brosnan playing ConneryLazenbyMooreDalton/Bond for this one scene ? Does Brosnan join the ranks of Charles Grey and Joe Don Baker with the honour of playing two different characters in the Bond series ? Probably not, since later on Brosnan/Bond clearly remembers the events of the pre-title scene. It’s also unlikely that Trevelyn (shouldn’t that be a codename as well?) would want to take revenge on “some else who just happens to be assuming the code name once used by the person who betrayed me”. Unlikely but not impossible I suppose, but it definitely seems that Brosnan was playing the same character as Connery, Lazenby, Moore and Dalton. This would mean that there has been one James Bond – ConneryLazenbyMooreDaltonBrosnan/Bond, James Bond, the one and only. Nobody does it better.
I think that’s sufficient evidence showing that they are all most probably playing the same James Bond, but I can’t prove it beyond all doubt I suppose. What I can prove beyond all doubt though, is that Robert Brown and Judi Dench were playing the same M. But that will have to wait for another day.
Until next time,