Dann: Bad news in Bondtown, Raymond. MGM's money troubles have shelved plans to make the next 007 extravaganza that Oscar-winner Sam Mendes was hired to direct. Poor guy. First he loses Kate Winslet, then the 23rd James Bond movie.
Raymond: It's the 25th if you count the unofficial rogue pics "Casino Royale" from 1967 and "Never Say Never Again." It's too bad. I just hope we're not in for another six-year hiatus like the last time this happened. That was back from 1989 to 1995 when we lost fabulous 007 actor Timothy Dalton.
Contact information ( * required )
Dann: Dalton was very conscientious about taking 007 back to his roots from Ian Fleming's books. You should know all about those, since you've written six original James Bond novels, three short stories and three novelizations based on 007 screenplays. But sorry, Raymond, even if Dalton did channel the literary Bond, he can't touch Sean Connery, the first actor to play Agent 007.
Raymond: Absolutely. He'll always be remembered as the greatest Bond. I do like Daniel Craig, too. Like Dalton, he's attempting to go the literary route and play the character as Fleming wrote him. His first entry was "Casino Royale" four years ago. He was brilliant and his film was one of the best. But his second, "Quantum of Solace," left a lot to be desired.
Dann: You're being way too kind. The filmmakers tried to turn James Bond into Jason Bourne. ARGHHH! By the way, Raymond. I made a mistake. Connery wasn't the first Bond, Barry Nelson was. I'm amazed you didn't catch that and humiliate me as you like to do when I mentally fumble.
Raymond: Ah, yes, "Jimmy Bond," from the 1954 CBS TV adaptation of "Casino Royale." That title has had a tortured history of adaptations! The so-called spoof back in 1967 was atrocious.
Dann: Five directors! Ten contributors to the screenplay! Orson Welles' worst performance since his TV commercials for Paul Mason wine! The first "Casino Royale" was so bad, I'm amazed MGM ever used that title again. But the bouncy theme song by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass was a blast.
Raymond: The entire Burt Bacharach score was the only good thing about the picture. Which prompts me to mention the extraordinary work by composer John Barry for the early films in the official series. Production designer Ken Adam, Director Terence Young, Connery and Barry are the guys who made the series what it is today.
Dann: You mean made the series what it was in the 1960s, which was way better than nearly all of the Bond movies that came out up through the remake of "Casino Royale." The only thing more enduring than the James Bond character is the fan base of hard-core groupies who support 007 movies, no matter how insipid, brain-damaged or cheesy they get.
Raymond: Dann, doesn't that fan base include you and me? Admit it! There's something in every Bond flick, even the bad ones, that is entertaining. But you're right, the best ones were in the '60s. My personal favorite: "From Russia With Love."
Dann: Good choice, Raymond. But it can't hold a smoking gun barrel to "Goldfinger," the sassiest, brassiest, best Bond ever made. It's also the most influential motion picture of the 1960s decade.
Raymond: And underrated by the general population, but beloved by the fans, and me, is "On Her Majesty's Secret Service." I truly believe George Lazenby wasn't bad.
Dann: Sure, Raymond. Not bad - for an Australian model whose acting experience consisted of TV commercials.
Raymond: Anyway, if Bond 23 ever gets off the ground, I hope they come up with a cracking good story. That's what counts.
Dann: I've got an idea! Why don't they make movies of the Bond novels "Doubleshot," "The Facts of Death," "Zero Minus Ten" and "The Man With the Red Tattoo"? I hear the author isn't so bad.
Raymond: Aww, shucks, Moneypenny, that's why I love you.
• Daily Herald Film critic Dann Gire and Bond author/film historian Raymond Benson are the creators of Dann & Raymond's Movie Club. Join them 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 13, at the Arlington Heights Memorial Library for "Going the Distance: Hollywood's Greatest Sports Films."