James Bond is the embodiment of the popular imagination of gentlemen luxury. Who would not want to live like a globetrotting man of mystery? To that end, men spend much of their disposable income on limited edition James Bond S.T. Dupont lighters or Rolex watches. While each portrayal of the Martini-loving British spy had his own preferences, Sir Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan placed him firmly in the camp of cigar aficionados. As Pierce Brosnan poses with a J.C. Newman Cigar Co. Diamond Crown Classic cigar on the cover of the January 2021 issue of Cigar & Spirits magazine, the classic George Lazenby On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) quote comes to mind, “This never happened to that other fellow.”
The Original James Bond
Ian Fleming began writing the James Bond novel series in 1952 at Goldeneye, his estate in Jamaica. Hand-rolled cigars assisted the novelist as he created a genre of spy fiction novels that would span the twentieth century. According to Fleming’s novels, Bond enjoyed handmade cigars. Besides being Bond’s birthplace and the filming location for Dr. No (1962) and Live and Let Die (1973), Jamaica was one of the first harborages for Cuban cigarmakers fleeing the Castro regime. General Cigar Co. took over the Jamaican Cifuentes y Cia factory in 1969 and manufactured dozens of brands there until 2000.
Cigars on the Silver Screen
The majority of the Bond movies were produced when public smoking was legal and encouraged. Most Sir Sean Connery Bond films feature some sort of reconnaissance scene in a smoking room. In Goldfinger (1964), Bond is offered a cigar at the Bank of England but refuses in favor of a handrolled cigarette. Several Bond villains smoked cigars, such as Emilio Largo in Thunderball (1965), Franz Sanchez in Licence to Kill (1989), and Xenia Onatopp in Goldeneye (1995). Bond is given an underwater breathing gadget disguised as Romeo y Julieta cigar tube in Thunderball (1965).
The first official Bond to smoke a cigar, however, was Sir Roger Moore. In Live and Let Die (1973), Moore’s Bond lights up a Montecristo No. 1. Moore, a cigar aficionado himself, believed that a cigar smoking Bond would help distinguish his portrayal from Connery. Connery eventually smoked a cigar onscreen as Bond, but it was in the unofficial Never Say Never Again (1983). When Moore smoked again in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), he smoked a Montecristo No. 3. Moore, known for the quirky villains and gadgets in his run as Bond, allegedly had an article of his contract which guaranteed him an unlimited supply of Montecristo cigars while on set.
Pierce Brosnan’s run as bond lasted from 1995 to 2002, coinciding with the tail end of the Cigar Boom in the early 1990’s. Because of this, cigars are featured prominently in the Brosnan Bond films. The World Is Not Enough (1999) opens with Bond being offered a Romeo y Julieta Churchill in a Bilbao bank. In Die Another Day (2002), Bond visits a cigar factory in “Cuba” to gather intelligence. Due to American legislations, the filming was actually done in a cigar factory set in Spain. In the cigar factory scene, Bond walks past employees only production areas to ask for a discontinued cigar (a code word for his sleeper agent contact).
Brosnan developed his palate for cigars while filming television shows in the late 1980’s and by the time he was enjoying the height of his Bond fame he was a regular at several prominent London cigar clubs. As he lit up his Diamond Crown Classic during his Cigar & Spirits magazine interview, it was a reminder that his good taste in cigars has not changed.
Daniel Craig has yet to smoke onscreen in his portrayal of Bond but set pictures from No Time to Die (2021) feature the actor smoking a cigar. Hopefully, Bond’s good taste in cigars will also remain unchanged.
About Holden Rasmussen
Holden Rasmussen is a Museum Associate at the “El Reloj” Factory Museum. His duties include conservation, collection management, gift shop sales, and docent work. He is a new college graduate who has worked and volunteered at museums and archival facilities in different parts of the country. Holden enjoys the American outdoors, French electronic music, Yugoslav militaria, Japanese comics, and Cameroon tobacco.
They say a premium cigar takes three years and two-hundred hands to prepare. The development of a cigar brand requires tenfold more effort.
The Marion factory produced several million cigars a year, its humidors having room for six-hundred thousand cigars at any given time.
To a large extent, Tampa cigarmaker unions and factories were integral to setting the standards for modern cigar production.