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Top Five James Bond Movies

September 1, 2010

This week’s post is inspired by The Man with the Golden Touch: How the Bond Films Conquered the World, an excellent insider’s look at the production of the Bond films, written by Sinclair McKay.   Thanks to MGM’s financial woes, it looks like we won’t be seeing a new Bond in the near (or possibly distant) future.  When we do, he may have to be re-cast yet again, especially with Daniel Craig now committed to film all three adaptations of Stieg Larsson’s  Milennium trilogy.

Let’s take a look at the five most memorable, most entertaining and most iconic Bond films in the canon, starting with…

5.) Goldeneye (1995)

The best Bond film of the nineties was also Pierce Brosnan’s first go-round as the iconic character.  Although Brosnan was considered as a replacement for Roger Moore in the early 80s, he was still under contract to the television series Remington Steele, and would have to wait until Timothy Dalton vacated the role in 1989.   Goldeneye boasts an entertaining and easy to follow plot (not all Bond films are so streamlined – see Quantum of Solace)involving a battle with an arms dealing syndicate and rogue Russian officers, plus an updated and flashy new arsenal of tech toys for 007.    Famke Janssen as Xenia Onatopp is one of the all-time greatest Bond villainesses, and she’s one of the few Bond girls not to suffer from the career-ending curse of kissing Bond. 

4.) The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

One of the rare instances during Roger Moore’s run where his hamminess doesn’t overpower the story, The Spy Who Loved Me has an intriguing villain in Stromberg, whose goal is to destroy the current world and create a new life under the sea (twenty years before the Little Mermaid would sing about this very topic).  Barbara Bach’s Russian spy Anya Amasova is one of the few Bond girls able to give him a legitimate run for his money in the brains department, and the location work in the movie is some of the best in the series, taking the viewer to Egypt, Scotland and Malta.

3.) Dr. No (1962)

 

The first ever Bond film doesn’t yet have many of the signature touches that viewers have come to love (there are no gadgets or Q, little witty banter to speak of), but from the opening view down the barrel of a red-stained gun, audiences still know they are in for a fun ride.  The plot really isn’t one of Bond’s best outings, but Dr. No boasts a relatively straight-forward murder mystery and the first glimpse of the Bond girl phenomenon as Ursula Andress’s Honey Rider rises out of the water, making movie history.

2.) Casino Royale (2006)

Daniel Craig and director Martin Campbell’s reboot of the series took it in a much-needed, modern direction, giving Bond’s backstory emotional pathos and fine-tuning the action to fit a changed world.  Casino Royale’s brilliant art direction and production design, as well as the best Bond script in the history of the films (Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, Paul Haggis) earned a new generation of fans, and convinced the previous generation to take a second look at 007.  Craig’s lithe and steely interpretation of Bond is right on target with Fleming’s original vision, and Eva Green’s stunning Vesper Lynde was a woman truly worthy of making a permanent dent in Bond’s heart.  It’s a shame we may not get to see Craig play Bond again for the forseeable future. 

1.) Goldfinger (1964)

The best Bond has the most iconic image (and most interesting murder methods on record) in the series, when Bond happens upon his recent conquest Jill encased in gold paint, having died from epidermal suffocation (WHAT?!).  The guy ain’t named Goldfinger for nothing, folks.  What results is a madcap chase ending up in a showdown at Fort Knox, where the unfortunately- named Pussy Galore (the incredible Honor Blackman) remains one of the few Bond girls immune to James Bond’s slithery charm.   After narrowly escaping death by a laser to his family jewels, Bond survives to face another day and seduce another babe.

Tune in sometime in the next two weeks for the Top Five WORST James Bond movies, plus some ideas on who to cast as James Bond version 7.0…

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