The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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The first-ever James Bond film's lobby card didn't hold anything back: say hello to Sean Connery, and we also promise many scantily clad women. Cue the sound of money flowing into cash registers. Dr No (1962)

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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One of the cards for 1963's From Russia With Love eschewed the man altogether, focusing instead on actress Daniel Bianchi, who played the unwitting pawn Tatiana Romanova.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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A rare moment of Bond weakness on the lobby card for Goldfinger (1964) - short-lived weakness to be sure, as you may be able to tell from Connery's cocky-as-hell smirk.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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What do feet have to do with killing bad guys? Well, you'll never know till you watch, will you? Another fine example of manipulation in this Thunderball (1965) card, starring Connery and actress Claudine Auger.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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When writer Roald Dahl - yes, really - wrote the script for You Only Live Twice (1967), did he envision a visual depiction that resembled an orgy fantasy? Probably not, but the illustrative style was a throwback to the earliest days of lobby cards.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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We feel for George Lazenby; not only was this his only turn as Bond, but in this lobby card for the film On Her Majesety's Secret Service (1969), he is also relegated to the corner, with the villain getting prime real estate. His name isn't even on the card.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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Diamonds are Forever (1971) brought Sean Connery back as Bond, and this time the villain is held down on some sort of scary device in this Spanish lobby card. Notably, Roger Ebert and other reviewers were critical of this movie for its 'campiness'.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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In this poster for his first Bond film Live and Let Die (1973), Roger Moore protects a woman - actress Jane Seymour - and brandishes a gun, with a cringeworthy blaxploitation cast in the background.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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The lobby card for The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) doesn't feature Bond, the man with the golden gun, or the golden gun. But you do have an over-the-top screengrab of a flying car from the film - presumably action was all you needed to identify a Bond film.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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Champagne, a gun and a barely-clad woman: it doesn't take rocket science to tell this is a Bond film. Barbara Bach brandishes a gun at Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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Moonraker's (1979) fight scene takes place in a space station; the janitor overalls do nothing whatsoever to illuminate what's going on.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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Two Bond staples - the tux and poker - show up on this French lobby card for For Your Eyes Only (1981) which, curiously, has Roger Moore slightly out of focus, whether for stylistic reasons or because they simply couldn't be bothered, we can't say.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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The India connection: Roger Moore returned in 1983's Octopussy, set extensively in Udaipur, Rajasthan. The requisite bling and Eastern 'exotica' were on display in the film, even if not on the lobby card.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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A fantastic publicity still meets a terrible film shot in this card for A View to Kill (1985). It's safe to say Moore's last stint as Bond was somewhat overshadowed by stunning Jamaican actress Grace Jones who, despite being the villain's lady and not the Bond girl, was featured in this card and much of the promotional material.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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This Spanish lobby card for The Living Daylights (1987) is a study in contrasts - a fully-dressed Timothy Dalton, and barely-clad Kell Tyler as the Bond girl. Still, it's superior to this other beguiling poster for the same movie.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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Timothy Dalton's second film as Bond, License to Kill (1989), was the first one not to use the title of an Ian Fleming story. This German lobby card looks more like a marital dispute gone wrong, doesn't it?

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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By the time Pierce Brosnan took over the role of Bond - seen here for the first time in 1995's Goldeneye - the concept of lobby cards had already started to fade as trailers and movie posters became the norm.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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For instance this German lobby card for Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) did away with all the fanfare, and just had Pierce Brosnan's beautiful face. It'll do, lobby card, it'll do.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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So many Bond films but no M? Finally, here's a suited-up Brosnan accompanied by Dame Judi Dench in The World is not Enough (1999). Also tucked in the corner are the Bond girls, for those who insist.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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Ok Bond girl enthusiasts; happy now? In Die Another Day (2002), Brosnan and actress Halle Berry show that diamonds can be both sexes' best friends.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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And finally, hello Daniel Craig. By the time Casino Royale (2006) released, with Craig as the sixth actor to play Bond, lobby cards had pretty much been blown to oblivion by posters, trailers and Twitter announcements.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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But the passing of time also meant better technology and the chance to make more visually-stunning movie posters. We may be nostalgic for the lost era of the lobby card but can't help love this gorgeous poster for 2008's Quantum of Solace, starring Craig and Olga Kurylenko.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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This stark, simplistic poster for Skyfall (2012) had no action, no supporting cast, no Bond girl, no location and no villain on display, signalling a return to personality-led promotion. Something was clearly working: this has since become the highest grossing Bond film of all time.

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

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Feminism wins! We're kidding - mostly. But the simple-yet-stunning new poster of Spectre - due out this November - puts Craig front and centre, reminding us that all you really need for a Bond movie to work is a good Bond. (Just in case, though, the highly anticipated movie also features Christopher Waltz, Ralph Fiennes, Monica Bellucci and Lea Seydoux.) It's also the first time there's an age-appropriate Bond girl: Bellucci is 50, to Craig's 47.

JAMES BOND RETROSPECTIVE

The lost art of lobby cards: 24 James Bond films in one spectacular photo story

Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB

There's a new Bond film in town - or at least, in the works - and we got a first look at the mayhem last week when the trailer of Spectre hit YouTube.

But long before there were trailers and teasers and posters and Twitter chats there was still film promotion - except it looked spectacularly different.

Cue the lobby card: sent out by the publicity departments of Hollywood studios in sets of eight to twenty images to promote the content of a new release. Their purpose: to lure movie-watchers to whatever release was lined up next in theatres across the country and the world.

The earliest-known lobby cards date to 1908 and were little more than sepia or two-toned 8X10 cards mounted on easels near the ticket counters.

As movie-making evolved, however, that sophistication reflected in card design as well. They started to become more dramatic, vivid, graphic. They started to reflect geographical and cultural distinctions as well - German lobby cards for the same film often looked incredibly different from an American card for the same film.

And they evolved through a host of sizes and stylistic techniques - eventually settling for the 11X14 size, with 8 cards being the norm for a regular film and 16 scenes being depicted for major productions.

Perhaps no film franchise is better to examine lobby cards through than Bond films.

53 years, 24 films, 6 different men playing one OTT character. No matter what the storyline or era, much about James Bond stays the same: sharp suits and sexy women, guns and glamour, exotic destinations and illustrious villains, and the cutting-edge grownup boy toys of the day.

If the lobby cards for Bond films reflected the consistency of these attributes, they also reflected the unique visual language of each era. They went from understated and illustrated to cut-out, graphic and vivid; from delicate artistry to theatricality to, in their latter days, a strong focus on photographic technique.

If Bond has schmoozed, boozed and bruised his way through five decades, lobby cards have been around to capture what stayed the same - as well as what was different.

Each time a new actor took on the role of 007, the dominant characteristics of Bond changed and with it, the visual language of the film. When Roger Moore took over from the suave Sean Connery, the screenwriters gave him a more melodramatic sensibility - think Bollywoodesque fight scenes, flying cars and fight scenes in space. It's no accident that Octopussy, as much Bollywood as Hollywood, was during this time.

If Bond has schmoozed, boozed and bruised his way through 5 decades, lobby cards have captured what stayed the same

Timothy Dalton, cast for two Bond movies, played possibly the most ruthless, violent version of Bond in The Living Daylights (1987) and License to Kill (1989) - the latter one of the most contentious Bond films ever - some call it the greatest while others think it simply wasn't 'Bondian'.

The concept of lobby cards had already started to fade in the UK and US by this time but in other European countries they were still going strong at the time Pierce Brosnan came on the scene in 1995 with Goldeneye.

Brosnan's Bond may have had all the action and coldblooded charm required of the character but it added a more playful flirtatiousness that also owed itself to other, more global changes: the cold war was over and MI6s M was now a woman. Bond was now taking orders from Dame Judi Dench who memorably called him 'a sexist, misogynist dinosaur - a relic of the Cold War'.

Brosnan played Bond for three more films and opinion on him was sharply divided. He echoed much of he criticism of his own portrayal in an interview to The Telegraph and admitted he hates watching himself as 007. "I felt I was caught in a time warp between Roger [Moore] and Sean [Connery]," said Brosnan. "It was a very hard one to grasp the meaning of, for me. The violence was never real, the brute force of the man was never palpable. It was quite tame, and the characterisation didn't have a follow-through of reality, it was surface. But then that might have had to do with my own insecurities in playing him as well."

Unfortunately, by the time Daniel Craig took over as 007 in 2006's Casino Royale, MGM had completely stopped manufacturing lobby cards - the last were in the late 90s.

Craig's brooding, gritty performance was a departure from the gadget and innuendo-heavy films preceding it and critics mostly loved him. And then in 2012 there was Skyfall, marking the 50th anniversary of Bond films and it fittingly became the highest-grossing Bond movie of all time, earning more than $1.1 billion worldwide. Directed by Academy Award winner Sam Mendes, Sir Roger Moore called it "the biggest Bond film there has ever been", and tipped Craig to become the best Bond in history.

Before you make up your mind how you feel about that, take a visual journey down five decades with this striking selection of two dozen lobby cards - though the last three are actually film posters - to see which avatar of 007 caught your fancy most.

- with inputs by Shobhna Iyer

Priyata Brajabasi

Priyata Brajabasi @PriyataB