Anticipating new tweaks on the familiar elements became part of the films' appeal, rendering them both instantly recognizable and eminently spoofable, as Mike Myers' pitch-perfect Austin Powers movies proved.
The films' producers at EON Productions — today run by Cubby Broccoli's daughter and stepson, Barbara Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson — have become expert at honing the formula. They are masters of suspense, drip-feeding details about each new film — title, locations, guest stars — to eager fans.
Like its hero, the series has had many near-death experiences. Connery quit acrimoniously after six films. There was a long-running legal battle with screenwriter Kevin McClory over rights to the Thunderball script. The result was the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again, which saw 52-year-old Connery return after a decade away from the role.
Former model George Lazenby lasted just a single film —On Her Majesty's Secret Service from 1969, a dark-hued tale that ranks among many fans' favorites. Moore took Bond in a lighter direction during the 1970s.
Audiences didn't warm to Timothy Dalton's tougher, meaner 1980s Bond, but Pierce Brosnan's suave superagent — circling the globe in ever more futuristic vehicles, including an invisible car— fit with the optimistic post-Cold War era.
Just as 007's clothes have evolved with changing fashions — from Connery's lean '60s suits to Moore's flares to Craig's Tom Ford formalwear — producers have tried to find Bonds to mirror the mood of the times.