The very first Bond film, “Dr. No,” premiered on this very day 50 years ago. A half-century later, as we await the 23rd installment of the franchise, “Skyfall,” on Nov. 9, it’s clear nothing can ever vanquish the series’ fetishistic allure. The Bond films were never narratives in the traditional sense, which explains their longevity: As much as twisty, winking spy capers, they were vehicles for conveying a singular material culture, defined by everything from Bond’s sunglasses and cigarette lighters to the women he fancied. The plot of “ Quantum of Solace ” was incomprehensible, its visual grammar an incoherent garble. So what? The important thing is that Daniel Craig instinctively knew how to wear those Tom Ford suits.
The 007 films may have been taken down by Harry Potter as the most successful series of all time. But it’s safe to predict that Bond will always reign supreme — not just because the protagonist is elastic enough to accommodate six leading men, but because his stuff is cooler, sexier, more cinematic. Wizards’ wands and Quidditch Quaffles can’t hold an everlasting candle to a dry martini and a fast car.