James Bond has never lost his license to thrill. The British secret agent has survived confrontations with countless megalomaniacs and femme fatales over the past 50 years. But more impressively, 007 survived changes in times and fashion, and kept audiences coming back for more.
Skyfall, the 23rd film in the spy franchise, opens in theaters Nov. 9, with Daniel Craig as Bond in the action thriller that also stars Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem. A new boxed set, Bond 50 (1962-2012, MGM, PG and PG-13, $200; Blu-ray, $300), celebrates a half-century of adrenaline rushes by collecting all 22 previous films in one place.
It's a sleek showcase for a series that has earned nearly $5 billion at the box office and had broad cultural impact with its cars, gadgetry, fashion, music and exotic locales. The films are arranged chronologically starting with 1962's Dr. No starring Sean Connery and ending with 2008's Quantum of Solace starring Craig. Nine are on Blu-ray for the first time -- Goldeneye, Octopussy, The Spy Who Loved Me, You Only Live Twice, The Living Daylights, Tomorrow Never Dies, Diamonds are Forever, A View to a Kill and On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Each film comes on a separate disc with several hours of bonus features (122 hours total) that include commentaries with cast and crew, photo galleries, theatrical trailers, TV and radio ads and other features. They are sleekly packaged in a matching set of hardcover books, which fit into a slipcase depicting the six Bonds striking deadly -- though debonair -- poses. Inside the books, the films' slots are marked by its year and seductive lead actress. An empty slot has been left for Skyfall.
A bonus disc has two new features -- "The World of Bond," which looks at all the cars, women, villains, gadgets and music from the films; and "Being Bond" with reflections from Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Craig on how they approached the character. The disc also includes videoblogs from Skyfall with cast interviews and a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.
James Bond is the creation of Ian Fleming, who worked for British naval intelligence during World War II, and based the character on people he knew in the service. He introduced Bond in 1953's Casino Royale and featured him in 12 novels and two short story collections before he died in 1964. Eon Productions, which was founded by Harry Saltzman and Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, made all of the movies in this set, Skyfall and a yet-unnamed 2014 film.
While most of the films have not been direct sequels to one another, several characters and conventions have provided continuity. Bond's boss, M, was played by Bernard Lee in the first 11 films and has been played by Judi Dench for the past seven. Desmond Llewelyn was a reliable source of humor as gadget master Q in 17 films and Lois Maxwell was loyal M secretary/Bond torch carrier Moneypenny in 14 films. Other characters (played by a variety of actors) who have made frequent appearances include Bond's CIA pal Felix Leiter and arch villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld (with the blue-eyed, white Turkish Angora on his lap).
The spy almost always introduces himself early in the film as "Bond, James Bond," he wrecks almost every exotic car (including the famed Aston Martin D85) Q provides him with and, of course, those martinis are "shaken, not stirred."