With the recent announcement of a new James Bond film heading our way in 2012, Skyfall starring Daniel Craig in his third outing as 007, I thought I would list for your consideration my own Top 10 all-time favorite Bond films.
So sit back, have a martini (shaken, not stirred) and consider these 007 classics:
10. GoldenEye (1995): The 17th entry into this grand series and the first to star Pierce Brosnan as superspy James Bond. The film was released after a long (for us fans, too long) six-year hiatus caused by legal disputes. Brosnan had wanted to play the role earlier, but legal strings from his TV work kept that from happening. Here, I thought, is a bloke who will stay with us awhile. (Oh well …) The film also recast M and for the first time a woman played the role, with Judi Dench replacing Robert Brown. GoldenEye was the first Bond film made after the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, which provided a background for the plot.
00 Rating: ½ golden bullet out of 5
9. Moonraker (1979): The 11th film and the fourth to star Roger Moore, Moonraker may not make many Top 10 lists because of the innate silliness of storytelling at that time, very over-the-top. Still, in this Star Wars era, the film went out of its way to pay homage to the giant sci-fi flicks of the time and in so doing became the highest grossing movie of the series with $210,308,099 worldwide, a record that stood until .. well, GoldenEye!
00 Rating: ½ golden bullet
8. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974): Truly a good outing in this ninth entry into the series, the second to star Moore as Bond. The film has Bond sent after the Solex Agitator, a device which can harness the power of the sun, while facing the assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee, for you old Hammer Film horror guys). The movie also introduced an icon, Herve Villechaize as Nick Nack, Scaramanga's dwarf manservant and accomplice. Villechaize would go on to play the memorable Tatoo in ABC’s Fantasy Island. In the film, Scaramanga is Bond’s equal in every way. Some regard this as one of the low points in the canon. Not me.
00 Rating: 1 golden bullet
7. Octopussy (1983): In this film, the 13th in the series and the sixth to star Moore, our hero is assigned the task of following a general who is stealing jewels and relics from the Russian government. (Oh those Russians!) This leads him to a wealthy Afghan prince, Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan), and his associate, Octopussy (Maud Adams, one of the best Bond girls ever). Bond uncovers a plot to force disarmament in Europe with the use of a nuclear weapon. While I loved Jourdan's performance, the elegance of the film locations in India, the stunts on aircraft and train and every second of Q, I could do without the gorilla costume and Tarzan yell.
00 Rating: 1 golden bullet
6. Casino Royale (2006): Finally, this franchise gets around to making creator Ian Fleming’s property, Casino Royale, which had been previously made as a 1954 TV show and a 1967 unrelated satirical film. The 21st in the film series, this is the first to star Craig as Bond. Casino Royale reboots the franchise, establishing a new timeline and narrative framework not meant to precede or succeed any previous Bond film (although elements of the plot do run into the subsequent film, Quantum of Solace). This allowed the film to show a less experienced and more vulnerable Bond and for the first time in the series the character of Miss Moneypenny does not appear.
00 Rating: 2 golden bullets
5. Quantum of Solace (2008): The 22nd Bond release, features Craig’s second performance as Fleming’s superspy. In this go-round, Bond battles wealthy businessman Dominic Greene (Mathiey Amalric), a member of the Quantum organization, posing as an environmentalist who intends to stage a coup d’etat in Bolivia to seize control of the nation's water supply. Bond seeks revenge for the death of his lover, Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), and is assisted by Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), who is also seeking revenge. Snazzy with a capital “snazz”!
00 Rating: 2 ½ golden bullets
4. From Russia with Love (1963): The second film in the series, the one that really launched today’s Bond franchise, From Russia with Love of course starred Sean Connery in his second outing as 007. Winning critical and fan acclaim, Bond this time is sent to assist in the defection of Soviet consulate clerk Tatiana Romanova in Turkey, where SPECTRE (love us some fluffy white kitty) plans to avenge Bond's killing of Dr. No. This is considered by many the best James Bond flick. As you can see, not here – although it is great!
00 Rating: 3 ½ golden bullets
3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): On Her Majesty's Secret Serviceis the sixth outing for the superspy, although the first one not to star Sean Connery. Following the decision of Connery to retire from the role, Eon Productions selected an unknown actor and model, George Lazenby, to play Bond. In the film, Bond faces Blofeld (Kojak’s Telly Savalas), who is planning to sterilize the world's food supply through a group of brainwashed “angels of death.” Along the way, Bond meets, falls in love with, and eventually marries – yes, for the first and only time – Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg of Avengers fame). It is sad more people have not seen this film, because it is Bond-in-True-Love, with a wonderful song by the great Satchmo, Louis Armstrong, and the most shocking and emotional end to any 007 film. Truly an unexpected tear-jerker.
00 Rating: 3 ½ golden bullets
2. Dr. No (1962): The film that started it all! Britain’s Agent James Bond is sent to Jamaica on an investigation into the death of a fellow British agent. The murder trail leads him to the underground base of Dr. Julius No, who is plotting to disrupt an early American manned space launch with a radio beam weapon. Dr. No was produced with a low budget, but was a financial success. While critical reaction at release was mixed, over time the film received a reputation as one of the franchise's best installments (No. 2, IMHO). The film was the first of a successful series of soon-to-be 23 Bond films. Dr. No also launched a successful genre of “secret agent” films, TV shows and even comics books that flourished in the1960s (take a bow, Col. Nick Fury). And those Bond girls? Jamaica-me-crazy!
00 Rating: 4 golden bullets
1. Goldfinger (1964): Filmed partially in nearby (to me at least) Lexington, Ky., Goldfinger was Connery’s third outing in as many films as Bond. The film also stars Honor Blackman as Bond Girl Supreme Pussy Galore and Gert Frobe as the title character, Auric Goldfinger. The musical score, the horror of a live person killed by gold paint (Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson even made the cover of Life magazine), the nostalgic (nowadays) look at 1960s Lexington and environs, and a battle at Fort Knox! What more could a Bond fan (especially one from Kentucky) ask for?
00 Rating: 5 golden bullets!
Those are my Top 10 Bond films. How about yours? Comment below and start your list. And no popcorn!