One of the things I’ve always enjoyed about the early James Bond movies is their choice of super-villains. The best were mad, megalomaniac geniuses (usually trying to take over the world!) with a clever wit, a flamboyant sense of style, and often a very cool ‘lair’. But what if the classic stars of the 30’s and 40’s had been available in their prime to play these villains.
This discussion occurred to me when I thought of how great it would be to see my favourite actor Claude Rains as a Bond villain. His skill at creating three-dimensional (and even sympathetic) villains would have been perfect for the kind of classy bad guy that we loved-to-hate in the Bond films. What I love about Rains’ villains is that they were so suave and charming, often with a puckish sense of humour. Always urbane and civilized, and then suddenly quite menacing. (Those secret glares he gives Cary Grant in Notorious are deadly… and if looks could kill in Deception, Bette Davis would not have survived her wedding reception piano recital.)
He even had a villain-stroking-a-cat scene long before Blofeld!
Clearly, Claude Rains would have been a worthy nemesis for Mr. Bond.
So which classic actors would you choose to play a Bond villain?
Yes, you're so right. I'll have to check out "The Big Night". I also noticed Tucci is in the Hunger Games, which I haven't seen either.
Douglas Fairbanks, Sr. Too bad they didn't have a silent version of Bond then!
Yes, Mad! I also had thought of John Barrymore; he played a great Sherlock Holmes in 1922, and at that time he had it all..the chops, the physical prowess, and a look women went mad for.
The studios back then always made sure their stars were "bigger than life" in every way; and always a bit remote in order the fantasy remain intact. These days, anything goes; and too much is exposed.
The box office was the bottom line always, but the grooming and maintenance of the stars, the scripts, etc. and hiring brilliance was a huge priority. It was advantageous for them to enhance their image by, as MGM aptly defined it: "Ars Gratia Artis". Some of the more talented stars of today I'm sure wish their art could be cultivated in such an environment, but they're too used to being independent.