“Bond . . . James Bond.”
On Global James Bond Day (aka Oct. 5, 2012; aka the 50th anniversary of the day that Dr. No first premiered in theaters), what better way to honor the man that gave birth to modern action films than through the celebratory power of lists? Here, NCB’s two resident James Bond aficionados share their personal opinions on the best of Bond. We’ve got 007 lists featuring 007 topics with 007 spots each. How much more 007 can you get? Also, stay tuned. NCB will rank all of the Bond movies in a separate post.
Andrew Cumbee saw his first James Bond movie when his parents took little 11-year-old Andrew Cumbee to the movie theater in 1995 to see Goldeneye, starring Pierce Brosnan. While he thought it was the greatest movie of all time, his parents said, “Pft . . . you should see the old ones,” and picked up some Connery and Moore era films for him. An obsession was born. He’s now seen most of the films 25 to 30 times.
When Parker Adair was in kindergarten, he saw a trailer for Licence to Kill and immediately thought, “This guy is so cool,” not knowing anything about James Bond or even that the guy on TV was named James Bond. A few years later, he was introduced to his first Bond film, Never Say Never Again. One Christmas he was given Thunderball and learned how big this series was. Then he saw Tomorrow Never Dies in the theater and became an addict. In December 2007, he watched all 21 films (at the time) in order. He has now gone through Paul Kyriazi’s audio course, “How to Live the James Bond Lifestyle,” at least three times. He is beyond help.
The seven selected categories are as follows: Gadgets, Girls, Villains, Themes, Pre-Credits, Action Sequences and Actors. The were a few rules. And they were tough, even harsh, for a Bond fan. For gadgets, we didn’t count cars. That felt rigged in the DB5’s favor. Instead, we did count features of each vehicle. We lumped Villains and Henchmen together. They’re all bad guys, right? But that rule made it nearly impossible for Parker to hit the 007 ranking, turning in a 20 character list. Luckily, the editor wasn’t so hard-pressed in slashing that number to fit. We’ve also added some Honor(Blackman)able mentions where the contests were just too tough. By the way, if you get that joke, props. If not, just look at the cast list for Goldfinger. And then be horrified we made that joke because of its lameness. Anyway, let’s get started. As always, feel free to comment if you want to agree with us, found something interesting or if you just want to berate our reviewers for their choices.
Both our guys love Bond’s sub-car.
007. Fake Nipple from The Man with the Golden Gun – The whole film hinges on a fake nipple!
006. Submarine Car Feature from The Spy Who Loved Me – Oh, out of road? No problem.
005. Briefcase from From Russia with Love – Okay, I kind of feel like this one is cheating. The case is loaded with tear gas, sniper rifle, gold bullion and a throwing knife, all in a sleek and fashionable briefcase.
004. Keychain from The Living Daylights – Whistle one tune, it releases stun gas. Whistle another, it explodes.
003. Remote-Controlled Car from Tomorrow Never Dies – If I had a car like this, there’s no way that it wouldn’t explode Grand Theft Auto-style on my first use.
002. Watch Laser from Goldeneye – I still dream about having this feature on my watch every day. Not to serve any real practical use, but simply to burn holes in things.
001. Jetpack from Thunderball – It’s a jetpack!
007. Parker Jotter pen from Goldeneye — “I am invincible!”
006. Briefcase from From Russia with Love — The case itself is pure Q, but the items inside like the infrared scoped rifle are just as cool.
005. The Lotus Esprit’s Underwater Capabilities from The Spy Who Loved Me — The ultimate concept car.
004. “Felix” Lighter from Licence to Kill — The perfect gadget for that film. Used to avenge his friend.
003. Air Supply from Thunderball — Only now is this reaching reality after 47 years.
002. Bell Rocket Belt from Thunderball — Defined what it took to be a blockbuster.
001. Ericsson Mobile Phone from Tomorrow Never Dies — The original smart phone; the App Store still hasn’t caught up.
Honorable mention: The “Ghetto Blaster” from The Living Daylights
Will Berenice Malohe be on a future incarnation of these lists? Here she is in the new 007 flick, Skyfall.
007. Pussy Galore from Goldfinger – You can never leave Pussy off a list, right?
006. Elektra King from The World is Not Enough – A villain that really challenges and tricks Bond along the way. He never sees it coming.
005. Honey Ryder from Dr. No – The original. The bikini scene?
004. Tracy from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – When you watch the movie, it’s easy to see why Bond chooses Tracy to be his wife.
003. Xenia Onatopp from Goldeneye – Sexy and scary. Xenia is the quintessential evil Bond Girl.
002. Agent XXX from The Spy Who Loved Me – This one actually was a female James Bond, minus one fact: She was Russian and an enemy during the Cold War. The idea that Bond and XXX are competing against each other while working adds so much interesting depth to this non-traditional Bond Girl.
001. Camille from Quantum of Solace – Unconventional pick, sure. But I fell in love with Camille in Quantum. She’s a strong female character with a pitiable past. She’s very much a female James Bond.
007. Anya Amasova from The Spy Who Loved Me — Nobody does it better.
006. Paris Carver from Tomorrow Never Dies — The only good American Bond girl.
005. Vesper Lynd from Casino Royale — How the Tracy saga should have played out.
004. Contessa Teresa di Vicenzo from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service — Mrs. Bond.
003. Pussy Galore from Goldfinger — Tough leader of the female flying squadron.
002. Honey Ryder from Dr. No — Exotic. Iconic. Wish she was dressed like in the book.
001. Octopussy from Octopussy — Is there anything she can’t do?
Honorable mention: Queen Elizabeth II from the Olympics opening.
Oddjob is mad that he’s not on Parker’s list.
007. Max Zorin from A View to a Kill – Christopher Walken and his weird-ass delivery fit perfectly in the world of 007. The character is immensely interesting, too, starting as a Nazi experiment and eventually taking over the world of computer chips.
006. Oddjob from Goldfinger – Simply iconic with the classic hat-throwing gimmick.
005. Elliot Carver from Tomorrow Never Dies – This is one of the underrated classic villains. He’s even more relevant today when you look at how much money and “being first” controls the media.
004. Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me – Let’s ignore the direction they went with the character in Moonraker. Jaws is a horror villain in his first appearance. He’s the definition of over-the-top that came to define the series’ characters.
003. Red Grant from From Russia with Love – My favorite scene in film history is the final confrontation between 007 and Red Grant in this film. That’s because of the brilliant dialogue and the depth of character behind Grant that finally comes hurtling out after a film’s worth of deadly silence.
002. Dr. No from Dr. No – The first is still one of the best for me. He’s so strange, calculating, arrogant, and even a bit tragic in how he meets his end. Dr. No set the tone for megalomaniacal villain 50 years ago today.
001. Scaramanga from The Man with the Golden Gun – It’s Christopher Lee’s brilliant performance that puts this villain so high on my list. He’s menacing, but likable. There’s an underlying fear throughout the movie, knowing that he never fails.
007. Red Grant from From Russia with Love — Bond’s equal as an agent and a killer.
006. Elliot Carver from Tomorrow Never Dies — Your life is a story he’s already written; so is a Sino-American war.
005. Auric Goldfinger from Goldfinger — Cheated at cards and golf.
004. Alec Trevelyan (006) from Goldeneye — Taught me the history of the Lienz Cossacks in one traitorous monologue.
003. Dr. No from Dr. No — Out of all the Bond villains, one sends chills down my spine from watching him speak. That’s the unblinking, calm, concentrated evil that is Julius No.
002. Franz Sanchez from Licence to Kill — Murdered Felix Leiter’s wife on her wedding day and ensured Leiter “disagreed with something that ate him.”
001. Ernst Stavro Blofeld from various films — Killed Bond’s wife on her wedding day and tried to make amends by offering to buy him a delicatessen.
Honorable mention: The one-eyed, SPECTRE agent Largo from Thunderball.
007. “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings – Beatles producer George Martin recruited Paul McCartney for this hard rock track that perfectly sets the tone for Bond’s voodoo adventure.
006. “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” by John Barry – The only theme song without lyrics and it remains a standout because of that fact. The song pulses forward and drives the action of the film.
005. “You Only Live Twice” by Nancy Sinatra – This classic experiments with sounds from the country in which the film takes place, mixing old and new with a perfect Nancy Sinatra singing.
004. “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey — The standard bearer.
003. “Goldeneye” by Tina Turner – The combination of Bono and the Edge’s writing and Tina Turner’s massive voice add a sweeping, international feel to this song that sucks you right in.
002. “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran – The only Bond theme to hit #1 on the charts.
001. “You Know My Name” by Chris Cornell – I might be a bit biased here. I grew up listening to Soundgarden and I love Chris Cornell. But really, it’s the lyrics that I find so attractive in this song. It’s a perfect reintroduction to the character in Casino Royale.
007. “Another Way to Die” by Jack White featuring Alicia Keys — Underrated arrangement from Quantum of Solace.
006. “You Only Live Twice” by Nancy Sinatra — Sinatra’s great voice on a song perfect for the film.
005. “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran — A chart topper on its own merit.
004. “Nobody Does it Better” by Carly Simon — I want this song from The Spy Who Loved Me played at my wedding.
003. “Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey — Bassey’s stirring Bond debut.
002. “Thunderball” by Tom Jones — A motivating song that describes Bond perfectly.
001. “Diamonds Are Forever” by Shirley Bassey — The hook gets me every time.
Honorable mention: It’s still a bit early, but “Skyfall” by Adele could be the next 007 classic.
Will Quantum of Solace’s opening make the list? Short answer: No.
007. Goldeneye — A perfect introduction for Pierce Brosnan. Giant-scale stunts and a dark, Cold War spy setting.
006. Octopussy – This opening features all of the great Bond notes: disguises, girls, chases, planes, explosions and that Roger Moore-era humor.
005. The Spy Who Loved Me – Maybe one of the most memorable images in Bond history has him skiing off of a mountain with his parachute opening into a Union Jack. The definition of cool.
004. Thunderball — Jetpack. There’s a jetpack here.
003. Moonraker – The movie may not be the best Bond, but the opening certainly wasn’t the problem. Bond is thrown from a plane with no parachute. This one has been copied by countless films since.
002. For Your Eyes Only – Personally, I love the way this opening recalls the Bond films of the 60s. It honors what came before, all the while, Bond is trapped on an out-of-control helicopter and evading certain death.
001. The World is Not Enough – If we hadn’t created this separate section, this scene would easily make the list for greatest action sequences. The Q-boat chase is chock-full of suspense, thrills, and in-jokes. It’s basically a 13-minute Bond short film.
007. Die Another Day — The torture of 007 sets up what could be an awesomely gritty movie (it wasn’t) and is the precursor to the scene in Casino Royale.
006. The Spy Who Loved Me — The ski chase and Union Jack parachute are too iconic not to be on this list.
005. Goldeneye — The iconic bungee jump + and equally witty 00-cohort + a cold war flashback = pure gold.
004. The World is Not Enough — The best of the “mini-movies” Brosnan’s Bond was known for.
003. Thunderball — Jetpack + DB5 + SPECTRE agent faking is death = awesome.
002. Goldfinger — Tuxedo under a wetsuit and blowing up a drug lab. Epic.
001. License to Kill — Trying to get my fiancé to allow this on our wedding day.
Honorable mention: The greatest way to disarm a plane in Tomorrow Never Dies and the balls-to-the-wall car chase that opens Quantum of Solace.
Skyfall. Not included due to lack of being released yet.
007. Mountain climbing in For Your Eyes Only – I’ll use a loose definition of action to get this scene on the list. Maybe the most suspenseful scene of the entire franchise finds Bond climbing an impossible rockface and fighting interference along the way.
006. Boat chase in Live and Let Die – This scene came to define the Bond of the 70s. The action was madcap and full of humor to keep it light. The high speeds and multiple explosions here gave fans exactly what they wanted.
005. Underwater fight in Thunderball – There’s just so much going on in this scene. As amazing as the series’ fight scenes are on land, they are even more so underwater.
004. Parkour chase in Casino Royale – This scene told everyone exactly what to expect in this new Craig-era. Bond is relentless, finding a way even when outmatched. He uses brute force over finesse. But he doesn’t give up even when an army surrounds him.
003. Remote control car chase in Tomorrow Never Dies – For any 90s kid, this was the dream. Bond is in trouble, but never thinks he can’t win. Brosnan’s laughing at the end told us all Bond was having as much fun as we were watching.
002. Ski scenes in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – It’s hard to pick a stand out from the final 40 or so minutes of this film. It just keeps building and building until the final adrenaline rush on the bobsled run. If I have to narrow it, I’ll go with the escape on one ski.
001. Fight scene with Red Grant in From Russia with Love – Everything about this scene is perfect. Robert Shaw and Sean Connery are absolutely amazing as characters who maintain respect for each while also trying to kill each other. When the fight breaks out, it’s claustrophobic, it’s violent and it’s beautiful.
007. Sword fighting in Die Another Day — Finally Bond has a sword fight! There was some fun stuff in this movie that wasn’t used very well. This, however, had never been done before.
006. Ski chase in For Your Eyes Only — The ski jump/biathlon/bobsled run chase that led to the hockey fight where Bond takes out the final goon with a Zamboni. Vintage Roger Moore.
005. Cello skiing in The Living Daylights — On the surface, it seems silly. But Kara Milovy and Bond using her Stradivarius cello to escape a mountain chase was a lot of fun. The callback at the end of the film made it even better.
004. Tanker chase in Licence to Kill — The entire final tanker chase/tanker tip avoiding the bazooka is just absolutely insane. If you include 007 offing Benicio del Toro, it’s that much better.
003. Bungee jump in Goldeneye — Opening bungee jump is so cool, held a world record, and is something fans can do in real life at Verzasca Dam.
002. Moon buggy chase in Diamonds Are Forever — Bond hijacks a moon buggy to escape a research lab then leads police on a chase through Las Vegas.
001. Madagascar sequence in Casino Royale — I’ve seen this more than a dozen times and always get that “Holy Schnikes” feeling. Every time. Exotic locale, mainstream introduction to parkour, celebrates his Double-O status “by shooting up an embassy.”
Honorable mention: Oh, hell. Like everything else Bond ever did.
Still the best?
007. Sean Connery Again – Just to make it 7, did you see Never Say Never Again? That’s the unofficial entry made by a rival studio in 1983.
Signature moment: Bond looks like he’s 75 years old throughout the film.
006. George Lazenby – We just didn’t get enough time with Lazenby. His one performance left such a mark on the series and is definitely popular amongst fans. There just happened to have been five other great James Bonds.
Signature moment: The absolute fear of being killed, only to find a savior in Tracy in his only film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
005. Pierce Brosnan – To me, Pierce seems like kind of an amalgam of what had come before. He played the character as people who had never experienced Bond expected him to be. That’s not a slight to Brosnan at all. He had the most successful time in the role for a reason.
Signature moment: Drinking alone after seeing his long lost love again . . . married to man he’s been commissioned to stop at any cost in Tomorrow Never Dies.
004. Roger Moore – Moore gets bonus points for tenure. He never gets enough credit because his films and, therefore, his performances were a bit broader than what people are accustomed to nowadays. But people forget that Bond is supposed to be fun, too.
Signature moment: Bond kicks a car off a cliff in For Your Eyes Only.
003. Daniel Craig – Producers wanted to go in a new, dark direction and Craig is the perfect choice. He’s rough around the edges and carries a weight that some of the other actors could not have handled.
Signature moment: Bond sees himself in a real tuxedo for the first time in Casino Royale.
002. Timothy Dalton – I’m sure to take some flack for this, but that’s what makes the series so great to me. Dalton is the great, underrated Bond. He tried the gritty style of the modern films in the 80s and people just weren’t ready until the mid-2000s.
Signature moment: “Don’t you even want to know why?” – Licence to Kill
001. Sean Connery – The original gangsta. Like I’m gonna choose anyone else? He redefined badassery in film and people have been copying it since. There’s just no contest here.
Signature moment: Bond’s final conversation with Red Grant in From Russia with Love.
007. David Niven — Actually mentioned in the novel You Only Live Twice.
006. Pierce Brosnan — No one wears a tuxedo like he does. Oozes cool.
005. Roger Moore — Took the Bond humor and charm to a new level.
004. George Lazenby — Studied martial arts under Bruce Lee and was to play opposite him in Game of Death; martial arts instructor in Australian Army and sergeant in Special Forces; #1 male fashion model in Europe; accomplished skier, dirt bike racer, and stock car racer; Marlboro Man. Would have been the best if hadn’t quit after just one movie. But at least he is now Kobe Bryant’s neighbor.
003. Sean Connery — Set the bar very high and was more edgy than he’s given credit for.
002. Timothy Dalton — Mixes Fleming’s grit with the charm of Connery and Moore; victim of bad timing.
001. Daniel Craig — The closest to Fleming’s Bond.
That’s it for this post. What’d we get right? What’d we get wrong? Happy Global James Bond Day and come back soon, as we rank all 22 films in an upcoming post.