My Favorite Bond Films

Nov 12 2008

007_gun_barrel.jpgWith the release of the next chapter in the Daniel Craig reboot of James Bond coming to theatres this Friday (Nov. 14th), I thought I'd put up a list of my favorite Bond movies. It gets pretty hard to pick, and I've actually made two lists one of my top picks as an adult, and one with an eye to nostalgia, as I've been watching James Bond since I was about 8 years old. My my second list is made with an eye to my love of action and adventure. Lastly, I'll mention a few total turkeys in the franchise as a "bonus" third list.

 

The Serious List

Goldfinger -- Goldfinger is widely regarded as the most popular Bond film. 'nuff said.

Thunderball -- Thunderball is a close second ;-) The underwater battle was a huge undertaking that is still considered a benchmark in underwater stunt planning and execution.

GoldenEye -- GoldenEye took Bond into to the 1990's: the mess that Russia had become just after the fall of Communism, the pathos of the Bond character as his macho attitudes no longer "just worked". 
Also while watching it in the movie theater in middle school my friend and I, being huge computer dorks, caught an OS/2 boot screen logo during flash on one of the workstations in the end sequence when the pen grenade goes off.

From Russia With Love -- Early Connery, but fairly true to the literary Bond, and pretty darn good suspense moments on the famous Orient Express. The gagdets aren't really gadgets, rather they are fairly realistic and practical spy gear that would have been used in the era.

Doctor No -- Connery is a bit rough around the edges in his first outing but is a pretty hardcore realistic secret agent, no fancy gadgets yet.

Casino Royale -- A much needed reboot of the series made Bond relevent to the 21st century and gave him the chance to let audiences see him in a raw, less worldly, state. The only gripe is that the gambling game was changed to poker to pander to the craze that was sweeping the USA circa 2005/2006.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service -- A pretty darn good film, which follows the novel fairly closely. It looks at a different side of Bond, he gets married! Also kudos to Australian model George Lazenby who was given a crash course in Bond style and then told to fill Sean Connery's shoes.

The Nostalgia List
(in no particular order)

Never Say Never Again -- The unofficial Bond film of 1983, this was a re-imagining of Thunderball. I have a soft spot for NSNA, the theme is a pretty catchy early '80s lite rock song. Sean Connery was enticed back into the role after 12 years. This version is a bit campy, but fun and Sean Connery does better at being Bond then Roger Moore had in most of his official series movies.

Octopussy -- The official MGM/UA Bond film of 1983. This one is actually pretty decent, Roger Moore and Maud Adams (Octopussy) have good chemistry and it doesn't try too hard in the gadgets or at being a hardcore spy intrigue.

Moonraker -- A silly space romp, to an 8 year old kid who loved Sci-Fi and James Bond, add some good moments with Jaws, and this was pretty darn cool.

For Your Eyes Only -- Roger Moore actually trying to be a spy and taking it fairly seriously. One of Moore's best.

The Spy Who Loved Me -- This is the classic Roger Moore film, lots of nice little moments and Moore's trademark quips aren't old yet.
A personal favorite line is "Keeping the British end up, sir", when Bond is found nude wrapped up in a blanket with his Russian secret agent counterpart in a Jetson's style underwater escape pod.

The Living Daylights -- Timothy Dalton deserves a shoutout for taking the role back onto a serious course after the utterly ridiculous A View to a Kill. Dalton was a gritty, and sometimes reluctant secret agent. Dalton was known to study the novels closely while preparing for the role. He is also considered by many to be closer than the other actors to Ian Fleming's physical description of Bond in the novels. Added to this is a fun '80s pop theme from A-ha and some great footage of Vienna, Austria.

The Stinkers
(again in no particular order)

A View to a Kill -- Despite a killer '80s theme song by Duran Duran, this one stunk to high heaven. Roger Moore is clearly too old (he was 58 at the time!) and really shouldn't have still been doing the part. Christopher Walken makes a scene chewing ham out of Max Zorin. Throw in the slightly scary Grace Jones, and a screaming helpless bimbo role filled a little too well by Tanya Roberts, and you have a real mess of a movie.

Diamonds Are Forever -- Connery was clearly bribed with tons of money to come back after OHMSS and it shows he doesn't care much. To make this really bad, Blofeld, Bond's bald arch nemesis, not only had hair, but seems to have become a foppish man who smokes cigarettes through a thin long holder like a 1920s socialite, rather then a ruthless and criminally intelligent leader of a global terrorist organization.

Live and Let Die -- Roger Moore's first Bond film which really only starts to make sense when placed in it's historical context of the early 1970s. This was basically Bond does Blaxploitation. It's pretty painful to see the stuffy, proper, "honky" Bond try and hang in Harlem. Mix in voodoo, tarot cards, heroin, and a villain that uses latex masks to maintain two identities, and this is a lot of hokey "jive-turkey" Bond. 

Die Another Day -- Oh poor Pierce Brosnan, I like him, but he got just terrible, terrible scripts after GoldenEye. His last movie is the worst. We get stupid villains like a diamond encrusted Korean dude, terrible gadgets, and a really forced Madonna cameo. The only interesting portion of the movie is the first 30 minutes or so when Bond makes a critical mistake (something we almost never see him do) and he becomes a POW of the North Koreans. The credit sequence is a stylized version of his torture by the North Koreans, this and his disgraced return to freedom and his initial detective work are pretty darn good, but it all goes down hill fast from there.


So what are on your top lists? Disagree/Agree with mine?
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