Ok, give us points for rarely avoiding the obvious.

The 23rd James Bond installment, Skyfall, opens in the U.S. today, and what better time to test your knowledge about what we consider to be the reel 007. The earliest one.

Hello, everybody.  Joe Morella and Frank Segers, your classic movie guys, hearkening back to the early-1960’s origins of the Ian Fleming spy series thanks to inspiration provided by a most entertaining article in the October issue of Vanity Fair. We like to think that the earlier titles in the series starring you-know-who are the best. Agree?

However you may regard Daniel Craig, the current Bond (and we have mixed feelings), Skyfall — directed by Sam Mendes and filmed in the U.K., Turkey and China — is well on its way to becoming the biggest franchise hit ever at the box office.

It has already played the foreign circuit for a fortnight now, and the results have been impressive.

Biggest offshore grosser of the franchise is 2006’s Casino Royale, also starring Craig, which bagged $432.2 million. Biggest Bond not starring the British actor was No. 20, 2002’s Die Another Day with Pierce Brosnan as 007, which drew $271.1 million.

(The biggest foreign grosser of the seven Sean Connery Bonds produced by Eon was No. 4, 1965’s Thunderball, $77.6 million).

The 22 previous Bond titles dating from the first, 1962’s Dr. No (which generated $43.4 million overseas) to 2008’s Quantum of Solace ($407.7 million), have tallied total foreign revenues of $3.277 billion.  That’s just foreign, not including domestic box office.

Enough about money.  Let’s talk about today’s quiz. As classic movie lovers, we take our inspiration from the Bond movies that star our man Sean Connery. He was there at the beginning, and without him, the series might well have folded early on.

Here are 10 multiple choice questions of varying difficulty, some fairly easy, some obscure.  Let’s see how you do.

A) What was the verbal response from Terence Young, the director of the very first Bond movie, to the casting of Connery as 007?  1)” Terrific!” 2) “Interesting but he may need work” 3) “Oh, disaster, disaster!” or 4) “He’ll do”?

B) Who did novelist Fleming prefer to play the leading role? 1) Cary Grant, 2) David Niven, 3) Charles Laughton, or 4) Laurence Olivier?

C) Which movie launched Connery into the Bond role? 1) Operation Snafu, 2) Macbeth, 3) Darby O’Gill and the Little People, or 4) Tarzan’s Greatest Adventure.

D) Which of the early Bond “girls” was described as even more beautiful in real life except that she had “a voice like a Dutch comic?”  1) Claudine Auger, 2) Shirley Eaton, 3) Daniela Bianchi or 4) Ursula Andress?

E) It may surprise you to learn that novelist Ian Fleming had trouble selling his books to Hollywood. Which producer told Fleming in the beginning that “these books are not even good enough for television?” 1) Mike Todd, 2) Joseph E. Levine, 3) Otto Preminger or 4) Irving Allen.

F) Which late night tv comic passionately kissed a Bond “girl” on camera to express his enthusiasm for the early pictures in the 007 series? 1) Jack Paar, 2) Ernie Kovacs, 3) Arthur Godfrey or 4) Johnny Carson?

G) Which actor, who later played Bond, was originally considered for the role of 007? (No multiple choices here as to NOT give away the answer.)

H)  Sean Connery and his Dr. No leading lady, Ursula Andress, become engaged while making the picture? True or false?

I) Which principal cast member of the early Bond films described the 007 role as that of a “dull, prosaic English policeman?” 1) Robert Shaw, 2) Harold Sakata, 3) Sean Connery or 4) Gerte Frobe?

J) In the mid-Fifties, CBS aired a tv adaptation of Casino Royale.  Who played Bond? 1) Ben Gazzara, 2) Dan Duyrea, 3) Paul Newman or 4) Barry Nelson?

Bonne chance. Answers next week.

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