From 1962’s Dr No to the upcoming Skyfall, James Bond films have been guaranteed to thrill us, grip us, make as laugh and keep us on the edge our seats. And with the plethora of information available in books, on the DVDs and Blu-rays, and in the new cinema documentary Everything or Nothing, there isn’t a lot left to be said about Britain’s foremost secret agent and his cinema exploits. Undaunted, here I present 20 things that you probably don’t know about the James Bond films – surely even the most ardent fan will find a few unfamiliar factoids here.

They are presented roughly chronologically, so let’s begin with the very first Bond…

1. The First Cinematic James Bond Was… Bob Simmons

The first actor to play James Bond was Barry Nelson (who actually played CIA Agent “Card Sense” Jimmy Bond) in a fairly lack-lustre and under budgeted CBS television adaptation of Ian Fleming’s first James Bond novel Casino Royale broadcast in 1954. Felix Leiter, an American agent in the novels and future movies, was turned English and renamed Clarence and none other than Peter Lorre played Le Chiffre.

It apparently vanished without trace, so that in 1962 when Dr No opened in cinemas with Sean Connery playing 007, many audiences were introduced to James Bond on screen for the first time. But that’s not Connery doing the walk-turn-and-shoot in the “gun barrel” opening sequence designed by Maurice Binder, it’s stunt-man Bob Simmons, concealed under a trilby hat and shot in near-silhouette. Thus, he rightly becomes the first man to play James Bond in a movie. And let’s not forget, he was also preceded by Bob Holness – yes, that Bob Holness – in a South African radio production of Moonraker in 1956.

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This article was first posted on October 19, 2012