Turning James Bond into a Sex Symbol

La-Perla-Swimming-Trunks

The sexual emphasis of the Bond films was always placed more on the Bond girls than on Bond himself. That changed in Casino Royale when Daniel Craig was put into a pair of skimpy blue swimming trunks. Sean Connery’s Jantzen swimming trunks in Thunderball were definitely on the skimpy side, but that was typical for the 1960s. Most men in recent decades wear larger board shorts, but Daniel Craig’s swimming trunks fit tightly with a low rise and short inseam. They go to the extreme of men’s swimming trunks without being swim briefs. These swimming trunks are the “Grigioperla” model from La Perla. They are light blue in the front and navy in the back, have a navy stripe on each side, and have a navy waistband with a light blue drawstring.

32 thoughts on “Turning James Bond into a Sex Symbol

  1. Well, not exactly. The shot of Connery in FRWL when he first meets Romanova is pure beefcake, and the producers regularly showed off his body, at least until Thunderball. More accurate to say that they made a choice to stop doing it with older Connery, and for whatever reason with Lazenby, Moore, Dalton and Brosnan. Agreed that they’re making more of Craig’s body, but I wouldn’t call it something new to the series.

    • Connery goes topless is every one of his Bond movies. Crab Key, Tania’s seduction, Dink’s massage, Spa seduction, Tiger’s bathhouse, Tiffany’s seduction and multiple times in NSNA. He was probably also topless recording his voice for the 2005 FRWL computer game – he just can’t keep his shirt on.

    • Agreed, Scott. It’s incredible to me the vitriol that Craig has gotten on some sights for…umm…being attractive to women. The most ridiculous thing that I would read is how Craig in his trunks in CR are “homoerotic”. So when a woman is made to look attractive in a Bond film is that…lesboerotic?

      An old girlfriend’s mother told me that when she was younger Connery was most absolutely a sex symbol to her and her friends. They raved about seeing him with his shirt off, or in swim trunks, in his (presumably early) films and would fantasize furiously about him having his way with them. So Bond being a sex symbol is certainly not anything new, even if it hasn’t been common among all of the Bond actors.

      And finally, if those trunks in CR helped speed the demise of baggy board shorts then more power to them!

    • I’m rather tired of that double standard myself. It’s like men can’t be made to look sexy or seductive at all these days without being “gay”. Honestly, I see nothing wrong in giving people who like men a little eye candy for once. We’re oversaturated with the reverse as it is.

  2. I agree, Scott. I think there is no doubt that one of the main selling points of the early Bond films was Connery’s looks and physique. It was as important as the Bond girls. He had a lean and athletic muscularity, not a beefed up body builder’s shape artificially formed in the gym ( like Daniel Craig). As for the others, apart from Lazenby they were all a complete embarrassment when they took off their shirts, particularly poor old Roger! It didn’t really matter any more because the films were then about gadgets, not individuals.

    • While I agree that Connery (early on) and Lazenby were the most physically imposing Bonds, I thought “poor old Roger” didn’t look half bad when he took off his shirt at Hai Phat’s house in TMWTGG. I suspect most members of this discussion group wouldn’t mind looking like that, either!

    • “He (Connery) had a lean and athletic muscularity, not a beefed up body builder’s shape artificially formed in the gym ( like Daniel Craig).”

      Interesting comment considering Connery WAS a bodybuilder in the 50’s. He actually competed in the Mr. Universe contest.

  3. Connery’s various trunks obviously had a much longer rise than the ones worn by Craig in Casino Royale (and Skyfall), but otherwise there are definite similarities. As Matt rightly points out, most men favor an oversized “board short” style swim suit, which was especially the case back in 2006. However, recent years have seen an emergence of smaller, more fitted suits, and this scene in Casino Royale has probably had a lot to do with that.

  4. Craig has changed considerably between Casino Royale and Quantum/Skyfall. He himself admitted that his prep for Casino hadn’t put him in a good spot for dealing with all the stunts and he took a lot more damage than he needed too.

    Though his bulked up physique looked good for him on the beach and crashing through plasterboard walls, he appears much more comfortable in the other films, plus it seems a much more fitting build for a spy. Muscular and athletic without being too large.

    • Absolutely agree with you here, I remember reading somewhere that his training for QOS reflected more athletic movements (like plyos and boxing) as opposed to bulking up in the gym just by lifting weights. I think he’s at his best in Quantum — slightly smaller, more defined but just as fit. Anybody read anything about his Skyfall training regimen? I haven’t heard as much about that.

  5. I happened to be watching Tomorrow Never Dies yesterday. Brosnan has a scene taking a bare-chested impromptu shower with Michelle Yeoh. It’s not the true beefcake shot you see with Craig, but he’s definitely trying to sell tickets to the gun show.

  6. I have to agree that the young Connery was certainly cast as a sex symbol in a way none of the other actors until Craig were. And Roger Moore, for all of his other virtues, was not physically imposing the way the younger Connery and Lazenby were. And Pierce, for all of his efforts in his post debut films to bulk up, was also not physically imposing like Connery though I know a number of women who found him sexy.

    I disagree with the at least implicit criticism over Craig’s physique. His Bond has a SAS background, adding realism to our post 9-11 Bond films (a controversial move here I know). The prior Bonds (Fleming’s, Connery’s, and Brosnan’s) were recruited to SIS from the Royal Navy (Definitely Moore’s, as stated in Spy), or from naval intelligence. Craig’s physique is in keeping with this revised background.

    And praise to Casino Royale if it had anything to do with lessening the popularity of board shorts, which I always found uncomfortably long.

    • Christian, I agree. The modern Bond would be seriously fit and trained like a Royal Marine. Fleming’s Bond both smoke and drank too much, a bit like Connery. Craig’s physique is probably true to character, it’s just that being significantly shorter he looks more muscle bound. However, from a purely aesthetic point of view, if you put Connery next to Craig in their swimming trunks on a beach, there is only one winner as far as 99% of the female population go.

    • Christian, your analysis is not quite accurate if I recall correctly. EON’s official updated dossier for Craig’s Bond released with Casino Royale indicates that he came to MI6 from the Special Boat Service and Naval Intelligence, which is essentially a faithful update of Fleming’s original background for the character. One must remember that Fleming’s inspiration for Bond was the Naval Intelligence commandos he worked with during the war, the very type of units that evolved into modern special forces like the SAS and SBS. Craig-Bond’s “SAS” background is nothing new, it has been there all along.

    • Brandon,

      I can’t find that information online, but the Special Boat Service does ring a bell. I backtrack to the extent I am inaccurate on that point.

      Fleming’s Bond has quite an enigmatic pre-SIS history, as detailed in John Griswold’s “Ian Fleming’s James Bond: Annotations and Chronologies for Ian Fleming’s Bond Stories.” Griswold’s infers that Bond was recruited into the Special Operations Executive from the Admiralty, and that the SOE, in Fleming’s fictionalized world, was merged into SIS after the War. Roger Moore’s Bond seems to actually be navy man, based on his dialogue with Admiral Hargrieves in The Spy Who Loved Me.

      In any event, today’s Bond, in a post Bourne, Dark Knight, and 9/11 world, would be much more fit than the other actors who portrayed him. And I suspect Connery, if we were born in 1980 and playing Bond today, would be in much better shape (and note that I think his physical condition excellent pre-1966), similar to his body-building days as that, for better and worse, is what is demanded of actor’s today.

    • An interesting detail about Fleming’s Bond is that he was a Commander not of the Royal Navy (RN) but of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. (RNVR or otherwise known as the Wavy Navy, due to the curly sleeve rings). These were civilians with a university background (like Fleming’s Bond, Cambridge) and many of them (especially civilians with a degree in law or the humanities) were a part of the Naval Intelligence Division in the Admiralty in the Second World War, just like Fleming himself. There is even a RNVR regimental tie, just like the one Moore sports in LALD with the famous chesterfield coat, but with wavy instead of straight stripes.

    • Just for the sake of accuracy, Fleming’s Bond did not go to Cambridge. That was invented in the You Only Live Twice script.

  7. Somehow in Dr. No Bond manages to go topless in the hotel, as was previously posted here, as well as in the last act when he has to rip his t-shirt to protect his hands from burning. The photo of Craig above is a reference to Ursula Andress’ introduction in Dr. No. And Sir Sean was a bodybuilder.

    • It’s the reference to Ursula Andress that makes me see this scene as sexualising James Bond more than ever before. It’s done in a more obvious way than in most of Sean Connery’s shirtless scenes.

  8. On the subject of appearance. What did you think of Craig having facial hair when wearing the glen plaid? Surely this is not correct?

    • I think you are confusing “in character” with “incorrect.” While James Bond would normally not be seen unshaven at the office, I can’t imagine that it is some how improper to wear a beard with a glen plaid suit. Many men maintain beards in professional settings.

    • I’m referring to poorly groomed stuble in this case. I like a proper beard like Patrick Grant’s but this is just unkempt. But then as we all know this was the least of the mistakes.
      Cheers

    • Well, Ryan, I think the comparison is between two different things. Stubbles are not the same as a beard and, at least here in Los Angeles, are quite “in” and stylish. Full beards – not so much.

    • Stubble may be “in” right now, but it’s never stylish. I agree with Ryan – the current predilection for stubble we observe in Esquire and the other men’s magazines is yet another example of the juvenilization and slobbification of modern man.

    • Dan and Ryan, I agree wholeheartedly with your analysis of the stubble trend, which I find to be utterly ridiculous.

      Yet, I think it’s important to note that as far as Skyfall is concerned, Daniel Craig’s stubble is not some pathetic attempt to pander to today’s facial hair trends. Rather, the his unkempt appearance is a plot device used to illustrate the fact that he is a burned out agent at that point in the film. The stubble also gives rise to the memorable scene with Moneypenny and the straight razor in Macau. Indeed, Bond is presented to us as “cool” once he has had a close shave and emerges in the iconic black tie.

  9. Regarding swimwear, I was speaking to a female friend about this last night and she was ecstatic that our “high street” stores (Club Monaco, H&M) are FINALLY carrying more trim swim trunks. Amazing that it took this long – I starting wearing square cut trunks like those in CR the summer afterwards (although in more subdued colours) and always got incredibly favourable responses to them. Mind you, the women that I know are not the type who would hang around, or be attracted to, “bros”.

    We were talking about a trend that I saw last year for the first time, and I wonder if anyone else has seen this or if it’s peculiar to Toronto. I started to notice bro-types not only wearing baggy board shorts two sizes too big, but with heavy, thick cotton boxer shorts or boxer briefs visible above the waistline. At first I thought they were wearing shorts, but they were indeed swim trunks – and then they’d jump in the pool in this outfit! I was surprised that the weight of their water-logged underwear didn’t cause them to drown, and couldn’t imagine how uncomfortable it would be to sit around in that having a beer poolside afterwards.

    Has anyone else seen this, or is this a local phenomenon?

    • Fully agree and yes, decent swimwear which you describe is on the way back. It is undoubtedly the most flattering and most appreciated by the opposite sex. The monstrous board shorts we had to endure for so long are on the way out.

    • I’m partial to normal length (2″ above the knee-ish). Drawer string and pockets. Great with camp collar shirt and penny loafers around pool. Loafers may not be ideal for tbe beach.

  10. A good example of Bond swimming trunks are the one Brosnan wears in Goldeneye in the scene with Xenia in St. Petersburg. Simple, classic, timeless and perfectly wearable today.

  11. Depends on what you mean by board shorts. Most of the ones I’ve seen lately (non-elastic waistband, no liner) aren’t very baggy or long.

  12. Let’s not forget that Bond is on mission here, albeit without orders or backup from M. He’s scouting out the Dimitrios estate from the sea. What better cover than a tourist enjoying his beach time? Lots of men in his age group work out, so I don’t see why that makes him stand out. Note he keeps the Seamaster 300M on. And why not? It’s a fine Swiss dive watch, not a yuppie toy. If he is ex SAS or SBS he would be well trained in amphibious missions.

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