How many of the thousands upon thousands of film posters created through the years are striking enough that fans can summon the poster’s image upon simply hearing the movie’s name? Jaws, of course. Shepard Fairey’s brilliant work for Walk the Line. Pulp Fiction. Metropolis. Alien. The 40-Year-Old Virgin. See? Wasn’t that easy?
Then there are movie posters — the vast majority, in fact — so banal and unimaginative that they barely register even as one is looking right at them.
But when a film franchise has been around as long as the James Bond series has, and when the number of titles in that franchise gets into the teens, and then into the twenties, chances are pretty good that the posters created for those movies will include some inspired gems, as well as at least a handful of duds. With that in mind, TIME considers almost two dozen Bond posters — including foreign-language offerings that are among the most graphically arresting of the bunch. (All of the posters here, and hundreds more, can be seen in the mammoth new book, James Bond: 50 Years of Movie Posters, from DK Publishing.)
Not all of these posters are terrific. In fact, some of them, especially those of the more recent variety, are kind of…interesting. But what’s wonderful about every one of them, no matter how brilliant or insipid they might be, is that for five decades the elements that have come to define a Bond film — intrigue, espionage, sex, chase scenes, absurd gadgets, cartoonishly evil villains and more sex — have hardly varied. The cinematic Bond might be 50 years old now, but at heart, he remains what he’s always been: a bad, bad boy.
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