Best of James Bond: 007-001
After spending a full, ooh, half an hour, carrying out a poll of, um, myself, we finally come to the bit we’ve all been waiting for in this, the most prestigious of countdowns: the top 007 films!
007. Live and Let Die (1973)
AKA The one that introduced us to Roger Moore’s overworked eyebrows
After the commercial disappointment of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and the general disappointment of Diamonds Are Forever, it was time for a new Bond to enter the fray: Roger Moore. While it’s commonplace to rip his Bond to shreds, he’s actually pretty good in this one, as he’s having a go at some actual acting in order to impress. The film itself is certainly the best he did, with a great balance of tongue-in-cheek humour and an exciting plot which is filled with memorable moments, such as the crocodile stepping stones, and memorable characters, not least the hilarious Sheriff JW Pepper. However, it is also the fault of this film that we now have to suffer Paul McCartney wailing out the theme song at any opportunity he can…
006. You Only Live Twice (1967)
AKA The one where Bond meets Dr Evil
You Only Live Twice is one of the silliest, most parodied, and also most shamefully enjoyable Bond films. What with the secret volcano base, Little Nelly, Donald Pleasance’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and the fact that secondary villains are thrown into a pond of piranhas by virtue of a collapsible bridge, this is Bond at its classic best. Oh, and did I mention the secret volcano base?!
005. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
AKA The sad one
Of all the Bond films, OHMSS is the one that improves most with repeated viewings. Dispatched is the silliness of YOLT, and what we have instead is a convincing thriller that all Bond purists wish they’d made more of. Accompanied by John Barry’s superb, iconic soundtrack, OHMSS is a breath-taking film with superb action sequences (the ski chase, the car chase, the helicopter attack…), a compelling plot, and a tender love story at its heart. Of course, the one gripe that most have is with Bond himself, played by Australian-chocolate-advert aficionado George Lazenby. And yes, he’s not exactly Mr Natural, but he grows into the role as the film progresses, seeming more comfortable playing Bond-with-a-heart. Many say that, had Sean Connery still been in the role, the film would have benefitted, but I wonder whether Connery would have pulled off the tragic closing scenes quite so well as Lazenby did.
004. Dr. No (1962)
AKA The first one
Fifty years ago, James Bond breezed into cinemas bringing exotic locations, exotic women, exotic plots, and just general exoticness – the rest is history. Even fifty years on, Dr. No remains one of the very best that the series has to offer, with a strong script that relies less on action (with just a $1 million budget, there wasn’t the money for it), and more on weaving an absorbing and intriguing tale. And, let’s face it, a certain Mr Connery just owns his part from the get-go. “The name’sh Bond, Jamesh Bond,” he says in his iconic introductory scene, and immediately, you know that, as Solitaire might say, he speaks the truth.
003. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
AKA A more exciting Bond movie you are unlikely to find
Forget GoldenEye, TND is by far Pierce Brosnan’s finest hour. After the ‘first-day-nerves’ that blighted its predecessor, we have a much bolder, more confident, and more entertaining film here, with a rich script that balances the juicy plot with some corking one-liners (“you always were a cunning linguist, James”, anyone?). And it’s just so darn fun: Motorbike chases! Backseat driving! Michelle Yeoh kicking ass! Jonathan Pryce as an absolute nutter! What more could you want?!
002. Goldfinger (1964)
AKA The one where it all slotted into place
Oh, do you expect me to talk? Well, what more is there to be said about Goldfinger? It’s got the best Bond, the best villain, the best henchman, the best-named Bond girl, the best lines, and the best car! But it’s not quite the best Bond film, because that honour goes to…
001. Casino Royale (2006)
AKA Bond Begins
Packed to the rafters with instantly classic moments, Casino Royale truly is an exceptional, exceptional film. It provides us with the origins of Bond, and it does so in style, as we gradually see him pick up the traits that have defined the character for these last fifty years, building up to that final line. The film is also gifted with brilliant direction (who knew watching fictional people not-play poker could be so thrilling?) and an even better cast (Eva Green positively smoulders as Vesper Lind, and Daniel Craig, well, I mean, Sean who?). I just can’t believe that another Bond film could create the same impact, or be just as downright brilliant on every score as this. So Skyfall, no pressure…