Ok, for reasons I do not quite understand, I made it a point to watch every James Bond movie that I had not seen before, and rewatch those I had not seen in full.
And I’ve enjoyed it quite a bit. As part of the fun, I’ve discovered some fun “fan resources”; obviously something that is close to 60 years old has SOMETHING going for it.
And like most Bond fans, there are things I love, and things that make me roll my eyes.
Yes, Bond is pure fantasy; somehow he can do everything than an expert does..when the expert was selected for aptitude and trains constantly.
Yes, the henchmen; most of them anyway, are incompetent. The Brosnan Bond takes a couple of guns and shoots up 30-40 heavily armed henchmen at once. Sure.
I admit that I do not like the action-shoot-em-up aspect when it is just Bond, or Bond and the partner of the movie.
It is sort of the Sir Galahad fantasy: Bond wins because he is on the side of right (well, ok, in one movie Bond’s wife gets killed at the end…and in this case, Bond didn’t make sure that Blofeld was dead when he had the chance to kill him and it came back to haunt him; similar can be said when the Dalton Bond had the chance to kill the drug lord Sanchez early in License to Kill and didn’t… sure he did burn him to death at the end but only after Sanchez had created a pile of bodies.
So speaking of Bonds: report on them..maybe even rank them. But there are 3 that I love and the rest are good…I will merely discuss.
I’ll discuss the villains and henchmen too and there are some that I feel are underrated.
But right now, I’ll list my favorite “come to save the day” units.
For those unfamiliar, the climax of many a Bond movie (some of them, NOT all of them) is a special group, sometimes military, sometimes paramilitary, sometimes private, that swoops in on the bad guy compound and helps save the day at the end.
This is spoofed at 1:54 of this clip of the Spoof version of Casino Royale:
I am not counting the British Navy ship in Tomorrow Never Dies that shells the villain’s sea vessel at the end.
My Top 7 “special units to save the day”
7. US Army protecting Fort Knox in Goldfinger. They pretend to be gassed but snap out of it and take out most of Goldfinger’s force.
6. CIA-Marines in Diamonds are Forever: they attack the sea platform hosting the controls to Blofeld’s space laser.
5. Mujahideen in Living Daylights: they attack the Russian airfield at just the right time.
4. US Marines in space: Moonraker. They attack the space station where Drax (the villain) is going to launch poison gas globes to kill us all and to repopulate the world with genetically perfect people.
3. Navy Frogmen in Thunderball: they attack the Spectre frogmen who want to set off an atomic bomb off of the coast of Miami.
2. Captured submarine sailors (British, Russian and American) who overrun Stromberg’s super submarine capturing ship. And the surviving US Submarine torpedoes Stromberg’s sea hideout
1. The Ninjas in You Only Live Twice who overrun and capture Blofeld’s crater where he sends spaceships to capture Russian and US spaceships in hopes of starting a nuclear war.
15. Alec Trevelian (006): Goldeneye. He is a rogue British agent and a match for Bond.
14. Sanchez: License to Kill: chilling drug overlord.
13. Kristatos: For Your Eyes Only: spoiler alert: he is a surprise traitor.
12. Carver: Tomorrow Never Dies: evil media mogul whose greed leads him to kill and try to start wars.
11. Frost: Die another Day: spoiler alert: surprise traitor.
10. Moon-Graves: sort of a surprise: evil North Korean gone rogue; even kills his own father.
9. Boris: Goldeneye. Evil computer wizard; a highly competent nerd gone over to the dark side.
8. Emile Locque: cold blooded hitman; IF you were on his kill list, he’d kill you with the remorse of a shark.
7. Klebb: From Russia, with Love: rogue Soviet intelligence officer with the shoe blade.
Now we get to my all stars:
6. Dario: License to Kill. The actor who played him can ACT. He is one of the few bad guys that gave me chills; damn, I don’t want him in my city. Evil just oozes through his pores.
5. Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd: Diamonds are Forever. Psychotic gay couple who kill for a living, and enjoy every minute. No, not as believable as Dario…but..there is something chilling about mixing humor with such darkness.
4. Roul Silva: Skyfall. You DON’T want to be on his bad side. He was almost as chilling here as in No Country for Old Men.
3. Elektra: The World is Not Enough. oh-boy…merciless…charm you then finish you off. Technically, she wasn’t the chief villain, but she really was.
2. Grant: From Russia with Love. Sculpted, highly intelligent, highly disciplined super competent killer. If you are on his hit list: adios.
1. Odd Job. Has a non-speaking part, but he has that smug, amused look (“you expected THAT to hurt me?”) Some call him “unbelievably strong.” But the actor (Harold Sakata) on a silver medial as a light heavyweight in Olympic weight lifting…he didn’t just *play* a strong man. This guy really could rip you in half.
Here is a reasonably complete list:
My favorite kills:
Dr. No: RJ Dent. Here the professor picks up a gun but Bond knows he has already used up his bullets ..and then kills the evil prof. “you’ve had your six.”
From Russia, with Love: kills Grant on the train in an epic rail car fight.
Goldfinger: kills the powerful Oddjob by electrocuting him; uses a cut wire to electrify the bars that Oddjob’s steel rimmed hat is stuck on.
Her Majesty’s Secret Service: an anonymous henchman chasing Bond is lead to ski right into a snow blowing machine…”He had a lot of guts”
The Spy Who Loved me: Sandor attempts to kill Bond; doesn’t; huge fight and Sandor is left teetering on the edge of a roof. Bond gets information he wants and then pushes Sandor’s hand away, allowing him to fall to his death.
Moonraker: the henchmen (Jaws and someone not named) attempt to kill bond by standing him on a crashing plane without a parachute. Bond aerial dives after the the anonymous henchman and steals his parachute in mid air.
For Your Eyes Only: hitman Emile Locque gets away but Bond catches him wounded with his car dangling off of a cliff. Bond throws a dove trinket at him reminding him that Locque killed a friend of his, and then shoves the teetering car off of a cliff.
For Your Eyes Only: Apostis: henchman almost gets Bond by intelligently knocking out his climbing pegs as he ascends up a cliff to get at the evil guys.
Living Daylights: Nercos: serial assassin who openly taunts Bond; but Bond ends up fighting him on a plane with an open cargo door; Nercos ends up handing by Bond’s boot and Bond cuts his laces allowing Nercos to fall to his death.
License to Kill: Ed Killifer: traitor cop is paid off to let a loathsome drug lord escape. He also kills. In this case..when the water about to be killed by a shark and offers Bond a lot of money to save him. Bond throws the money at him, telling him to keep it.
License to Kill. Bond kills Dario by getting him to fall into a grinding machine.
License to Kill: Sanchez is about to finish Bond off. Bond shows the lighter of a friend that Sanchez maimed (and killed his wife) before setting the fuel drenched Sanchez on fire.
Goldeneye: Bond kills rogue 006 (and former trusted friend) by letting him fall to his death…”For England? ” “No. For me.”
Tomorrow Never Dies: Prof. Kaufman: hitman is hired to kill Bond and make it look like a suicide. Bond turns the tables. Kaufman says “I am just a professional doing my job.” Bond responds “Me too.” and kills him.
Tomorrow Never Dies: Evil arch villain Carver is killed by Bond when Bond shoves him in front of a lethal screw propeller, used formerly as a type of torpedo.
World is Not Enough: Bond kills Elektra (who he had slept with and saved at times) by shooting her when she disobeys his command and orders the operation to continue. Prior, she says “you wouldn’t kill me; you’d miss me.” Bond kills her and says “I never miss.”
Die another day: a two-fer: in the epic plane scene, Bond kills Moon/Graves by using his electrically charged artificial hands to shock him as he hangs on to the plane. Meanwhile, in the other concurrent battle, CIA agent Jinx (female) kills rogue turncoat British agent Miranda Frost with a knife.
Quantum of Solace: Bond drives Greene out to the desert, gets the information, and strands him there, with only a can of motor oil to sustain him. Later, we learn that he indeed drank the oil but was killed by other bad guys. Note: Greene killed someone else by oil.
My Favorite Bond films
Now this is not a comprehensive list or ranking; you can find fun ones here (superfan site) here , here and here (fan rankings). And these are just MY preferences (which seem to be in line with what the fans like).
Just a short note to start out: it seems as if I love EVERY Connery Bond movie, was lukewarm on the Lazenby one (liked aspects of it) like the first 5 Moore ones (Octopussy and View to a Kill…not so much), liked both Dalton ones, liked aspects of the Brosnan ones (too much shoot-em-up vs. Stormtrooper caliber henchmen), and liked two of the Craig ones.
- From Russia with Love
- You Only Live Twice
- Diamonds are Forever
- Moonraker (yes, I know the critics panned this one but I liked it..even with the silliness)
- The Spy Who Loved Me
- For Your Eyes Only
- Casino Royale (Craig)
- License to Kill
- Living Daylights
- The World is Not Enough
- Tomorrow Never Dies
- Casino Royale (1954 live shoot made for TV)
Note: if you think I am crazy or blind, I am listing by what *I* enjoy. Yes, the Craig Casino Royale is a better movie than some that I like more (the two three “space” movies, whose plots are downright ridiculous)
And yes, MY list is very closely correlated with chronological order.
I won’t rank these but just lay them out there:
Goldfinger: Oddjob and Bond fight to the death.
Goldfinger: “No Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!”
From Russia with Love: Grant and Bond’s epic fight on the train.
From Russia with Love: Klebb’s death
Dr. No: “You’ve had your six” when Bond kills the evil professor.
Thunderball: the underwater fight at the end.
You Only Live Twice: Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond. My friends call me Tiger.
You Only Live Twice: Kill Bond, NOW.
You Only Live Twice: the Ninjas attack.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: skiing scene: one ski. Epic.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: henchman falls into the snow blower.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: Bond holds his freshly killed wife at the very end.
Live and Let Die: Mr. Big gets blown up (completely ridiculous)
Man with the Golden Gun: Bond “persuades” a gunsmith to talk to him.
The Spy Who Loved Me: Bond sends Sandor to his death off of the top of a building.
The Spy Who Loved Me: submarine sailors save the day (toward the end)
Moonraker: opening scene when Bond steals a henchman’s parachute.
Moonraker: Bond persuades Jaws to help him.
For Your Eyes Only: Bond kicks an assassin’s car off of a cliff (it was teetering)
For Your Eyes Only: Bond overcomes Apostis’s attempt to kill him as he climbs the side of a cliff.
For Your Eyes Only: Bond throws the coding machine off of the cliff so that no one gets it.
Never say Never again: “who sent you?” (hopeless assistant shows up when Bond wasn’t expecting him
Never say Never again: “That’s top secret …who did you know about that? ” “From a Russian translation of one of your service manuals. Sorry about that.”
Living Daylights: Bond pulls back on a kill when he realizes the sniper isn’t a competent professional.
License to kill: Bond throws the briefcase full of money at the crooked US agent.
License to kill: druglord blows up a henchman in a pressure chamber.
License to kill: Bond sets Sanchez on fire…”Do you want to know why?”
Goldeneye: “For England James?” “No..for me”
The World is Not enough: “you wouldn’t kill me. You’d miss me.” “I never miss.”
Tomorrow Never Dies: ” I am just a professional doing a job.” “Me too.”
Tomorrow Never Dies: Bond dispatches the evil Carver with the screw torpedo.
Die Another Day: the double header at the end when Jinx kills Frost and Bond kills Moon/Graves
Casino Royale: the sinking building.
Casino Royale: Bond gets tortured while sitting on a chair.
Skyfall: scene at the end when Silva has M captured but gets killed.
Quantum of Solace: Bond drives Greene out to the desert and leaves him with a can of motor oil.
Spectre: at the end..Blofeld: “finish it.”
There seems to be a type of villain/henchman that frequently appears in Bond films: this is best personified by Grant in To Russia with Love, Hans in Diamonds are Forever and Stamper in Tomorrow Never Dies.
If was fun to watch the social norms change with time. The early Bond movies could not be made now; for example, while it would probably be ok to torture an an enemy woman for information (on film..I am NOT talking about the actual ethics), it wouldn’t be ok for said woman to fall in love with him.
Homosexuality is treated as a negative thing (Diamonds are forever, From Russia with Love)
Culture stereotypes are used (From Russia with Love: “Gypsies”, Japanese in Diamonds are Forever)
In Goldeneye, the new M calls the Brosnan Bond as a non-pc relic of the Cold War.
My comments on the Bond actors:
I am not counting the spoof one (Casino Royale in 1967)
Connery: smooth, ruthless when necessary, but could show fear (e. g. when he was about to be cut by a laser in Goldfinger, or when physically overmatched by Grant and Oddjob)
Lazenby: I liked the moment when he sort of froze at dinner when a young woman wrote her room number on his leg..in lipstick (he was wearing a kilt) and his moment with his slain newlywed wife was well acted. The skiing: kudos to the professional skier for that one.
Moore: priceless facial expressions; he was good until he got too old for the part. He showed anger (Sandor and Locque kills), “oh boy” (when he was hit on by an underage skater in For Your Eyes Only) and fear (when Apostis came close to killing him)
Dalton: I enjoyed his character the most. He showed the full range of emotions, killed only when he had to; showed conflict on his face. I really liked him and sorry he only did two of them.
Brosnan: in his movies, I didn’t care for all of the Rambo style “shoot up the incompetent henchmen” action stuff, but that’s on the screen writing. I liked his interactions on an individual level and probably would have liked him better in, say, a “license to kill” script.
Craig: ironically, the most athletic Bond had trouble passing his physical exam in the script! He mentioned that he played the plot a bit more psycho as the Bond of the novels really did use drugs and they couldn’t show that directly.
Bonus Barry Nelson played Bond in a Casino Royale “live for TV” episode in 1954. His character didn’t have the super human qualities of the movie Bonds and gets by with thinking quickly, remembering stuff, and guts. He gets tortured and doesn’t recover “on the spot”; he doesn’t overcome 10-1 odds, no gadgets, etc.
Bond Villains and Barbells
Yes, Harold Sakata (Oddjob) was a silver medalist weight lifter in real life (light heavyweight, 1948 London Olympics)
And he was so popular after the fact that he was featured in a commercial!
But barbells appeared in other spots:
From Russia, With Love, Grant used them in his conditioning:
And in the Man with the Golden Gun, the hitman had a full gym with a barbell and squat rack:
Submarines and nuclear reactors were prominently featured: Dr. No had a swimming pool nuclear reactor (NOT used for power in real life), The World is Not Enough featured a stolen Soviet submarine and a plot to melt the reactor down, and of course, The Spy Who Loved Me featured stolen submarines, and Bond was taken aboard a US submarine in Never Say Never again. …and I believe taken aboard a British sub in You Only Live Twice.
And yes, space lasers were featured in Diamond are Forever, Goldeneye, and Die another Day. (who said Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene was crazy?)