::Literate Blather::
Friday, December 01, 2006
The Best of Bond

It’s difficult not to be seduced by James Bond movies.

What’s not to savior? He’s a suave secret agent with a license to kill. A rapscallion who is tougher than a sack of nails, as relentless as an army of carpenter ants, and with the courage of a grizzly bear. He makes love to deliciously gorgeous women with names like Pussy Galore, Honey Ryder, and Holly Goodhead. He drinks his martinis “shaken, not stirred” and never seems to lose when he gambles.

And he utters dialogue like this gem from “Diamonds Are Forever.” (1971):

Girl: Hi, I'm Plenty.
James Bond: But of course you are.
Girl: Plenty O'Toole.
James Bond: Named after your father perhaps?

However, in recent years, the Bond franchise became as bloated as a whale carcass washed up on the beach (and smelling as bad as well). They were overproduced, explosion-laden "events" that began to resemble the more forgettable Roger Moore films in the mid-1980s when Moore played the role as if he were Austin Powers and not Ian Fleming's 007.

Then along came the new James Bond film “Casino Royale” (2006) starring what many thought was a bad choice as 007 – actor Daniel Craig. This stripped down, back-to-basics action movie may, in fact, be the best James Bond movie ever produced. It already ranks higher in viewer satisfaction than any other film in the franchise at Internet Movie Database.

In honor of the refreshing new life breathed into the series by "Casino Royale," DaRK PaRTY presents the 7 Best James Bond Movies (before “Casino Royale”). And, just for the heck of it, we also threw in the three biggest bombs.

The Best

Dr. No (1962)

The first and perhaps the best and where Sean Connery utters the infamous “Bond, James Bond” line for the first time. The franchise has its heart – and its origins in this excellent original. The plot is pure 007 – Bond heads to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a fellow British spy and ends up embroiled in Dr. No’s plan for world domination. Beautiful women (Honey Ryder), flirtations with Miss Moneypenny, and even an underground liar for the villain. It’s all here.

Goldfinger (1964)

This is the movie where Connery really settles into the character of James Bond and shows us how brutal and single-minded 007 could be. The movie pits Bond against gold-obsessed tycoon Auric Goldfinger, who launches a plan to destroy all the gold in Fort Knox. The movie features one of the series’ best villains – Oddjob, a savage, deaf mute with a razor sharp fedora, and one of the dirtiest named Bond girls – Pussy Galore.

Live and Let Die (1973)

This is Roger Moore’s best Bond movie and the film responsible for making the release of a 007 film into a stunt-filled event (the speed boat race is excellent). It also features a bad guy named – get this – Mr. Big. Moore made Bond lighter than the dark, violent type crafted by Connery. That style worked for Moore in this film – but not so much in others. This movie also has the best theme song by far with Paul McCartney and the Wings putting some heat into into “Live and Let Die.”

From Russia with Love (1963)

The first Bond movie to feature SPECTRE, the worldwide criminal organization. This could be Connery’s darkest portrayal as Bond. He’s violent and ruthless as shown in his fight with ex-KGB agent Rosa Klebb (and her poison-tipped shoes) and his battle with Red Grant in a speeding train.

Goldeneye (1995)

The first Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan gave fans hope that Brosnan would revive the sagging franchise. Unfortunately, after a scary good performance in “Goldeneye,” Brosnan collapsed under the weight of heightened expectations. But this film was a great mix of Bond sophistication and over-the-top action. Bond is sent to Russia to track down the murderers of 006 – only to find out that his friend is now part of a plot to use the weapon “goldeneye” to destroy London.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Another back-to-basics Bond (amazing how those back-to-basics Bond films seem to rise to the top of the heap). Less of Roger Moore’s one-liners, fewer explosions, and more focus on Bond the character. This movie introduces the second best Bond villain – the iron-mouthed Jaws. This is the last film where Roger Moore was able to pull off 007. The plot was almost secondary with Bond discovering a plot to abduct U.S. and Russian nuclear submarines.

License to Kill (1989)

This is the most underrated film in the franchise. While Timothy Dalton never seemed comfortable in the role of 007 – he nailed it in this episode. Bond hunts down the drug lord who murdered his best friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter. Dalton plays Bond as a rogue agent out for blood – and you can see the seething vengeance in Bond’s eyes as he walks a tightrope with the law and his own ethics.

The Worst

A View to a Kill (1985)

This is one of those excessive, over-blown Bond movies that forgets about character – and goes for explosions instead. And it features one of the worst acting performances by a Bond girl – Grace Jones. Hideous. Notably only in that it was Moore’s last Bond film and that Duran Duran sang the title song.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

The villain in this horrible movie is a media baron. He wants to start World War III so he can sell more newspapers in China. I wish I were making that up. The movie is literally stolen from Pierce Brosnan by actress Michelle Yeoh (as a Chinese secret agent). She’s faster, tougher and smarter than 007.

The World is Not Enough (1999)

The film that nearly destroyed the franchise. Bloated beyond measure. Pierce Brosnan looks tired and irritated and the usually superb Robert Carlyle is left floundering in the role of arch villain Renard. Miss this one at all costs.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...
The new one, Casino Royale, was very good. The new Bond follows more of a true genuine "spy model" and loses a lot of the the cheesy pick up lines. I also think the actor was the best Bond since Sean Connery.

Blogger GFS3 said...
I must agree that Daniel Craig is the best bond since the early Sean Connery. "Casino Royale" was outstanding and I'm looking forward to the second installment with Craig.

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