Ok, so you want to watch some James Bond but are unfamiliar? I’ll outline a few courses of study. One caveat: don’t watch these if you want high level cinema; these are fantasy films, period. And there are some obvious mistakes (example. ..no this wasn’t “cheating”; I am sure that all players would know that a “5” is not a “9”; the film editors really screwed up here)
And yes, at times, the plots are downright ridiculous, the plot holes a mile wide and there is miraculous TV feed.. you HAVE to suspend realism to enjoy these. And the social background; very non-pc; after all, the first film dates from 1962. Bond sexually harasses women, sometimes hits them (ok; can be spy stuff, but often these are women he ends up sleeping with), and there are extreme cultural/racial stereotypes at times (e. g. the women eating dinner scene in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service).
With that in mind, here are my “Bond courses of study”
Bond appreciation course: get a minimal idea of what it is all about; primer for iconic Bond moments and characters. Yes, this leaves off some of my favorites.
- Goldfinger (several iconic lines, a very famous henchman: Odd Job, Sean Connery’s Bond personified.
- From Russia With Love (SPECTRE is in this one, Cold War theme; a “spy yarn.”
- One of the Roger Moore Bonds; he plays the character in a distinct way; I’d say one of the “Jaws” movies, either:
a. The Spy Who Loved Me (a Bond favorite) or
b. Moonraker (Bond in Space; gadgets and a “special unit to save the day” at he end)
- Goldeneye: one of the highest rated Bond movies and a good representative of the “modern Bonds”; a Pierce Brosnan Bond.
- Casino Royale (Craig, 2006); note there is a 1967 spoof version, and a 1954 “made for TV” version….I like the latter.
Bond 101 course: for potential Bond majors. Find out more about the series; fill in some of the gaps and get a bit deeper into it.
- Dr. No. The first Bond film; where “Bond, James Bond” starts.
- From Russia with Love
- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the background in this film is built on in later films..and, while it was made AFTER “You Only Live Twice”, in Bond chronology, it actually comes before. It is the only George Lazenby Bond.
- You Only Live Twice: the villain’s base is iconic, as is Blofeld.
- The Spy Who Loved Me. (I am leaving off “Live and Let Die” as optional; it is Roger Moore’s first Bond, but I think that LALD is an “off the main sequence” film. )
- Moonraker (one of the cheesy but fun Moore ones)
- For Your Eyes Only (references On Her Majesty’s Secret Service at the start..) ; a solid spy yarn
- One of the Timothy Dalton Bonds: The Living Daylights (Cold War) or License to Kill (very dark but a very human Bond; this is one of my personal favorites)
- A second Brosnan Bond: either The World is Not Enough or Tomorrow Never Dies.
- Casino Royale (Craig)
- Skyfall (another Daniel Craig Bond)
Master’s Degree in Bond
Ok, you REALLY want to go all in but don’t have quite the time to watch them all.
So, my course looks like this: All 15 of the ones listed in the previous list (e. g. both Living Daylights and License to Kill, both World is Not Enough and Tomorrow Never dies. To these 15 we add:
Thunderball (early Connery Bond, after Goldfinger; quite good, especially if you like scuba)
Diamonds are Forever (I think it is fun; Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are good henchmen) This one gets panned by the critics though.
Live and Let Die (the first Moore Bond)
Man with The Golden Gun (great villain)
Quantum of Solace (Daniel Craig)
Extra credit: the 1954 version of Casino Royale (only 50 minutes) Bonus: they explain the rules of Baccarat.
The ones I left off:
Casino Royale, the 1967 spoof; I found it funny but many did not.
Octopussy: second to last Moore Bond; it irritated me when I first saw it but if you don’t take it too seriously it can be fun.
Never Say Never Again: a “non-Eon” Bond (not “official”); a reprise for Sean Connery in a role that he is too old for; it is similar to Thunderball, but with missile warheads instead of free fall atomic bombs carried by a British Vulcan bomber.
View to a Kill: Moore’s last Bond; he is 58 and kind of old for the part. The villain and chief henchwoman get praise though…not sure I want to see Grace Jones in a thong though.
Die Another Day: parts of this film “jump the shark” (all of the ice hotel stuff, or the surfing past iceburgs shot…invisible car….but there are parts that work too.
SPECTRE: ugh..it has its moments but..well, like the other Bonds it is probably worth a look.