I don’t mean to alarm you, but there’s a new James Bond film due imminently. So far, we’ve honoured the return everyone’s favourite 00 with a Quantum of Solace retrospective and Michelle’s I’ve Never Seen… Casino Royale feature but it wasn’t long before Bond-fever spread like wildfire through our editors, bringing with it some heated discussions, disagreements and hints of despair around the subject of the ‘Best of Bond’. The films are now celebrating their 50th Anniversary and within that timeframe the titular character has been reimagined 6 times over by Eon Productions with new actors, themes and styles. Read on to find out what our editors consider to be their ‘Best of Bond’, and feel free to contribute your own opinions in the comments below!
Bond: Roger Moore (1973-1985) – While I’d definitely cite Connery as the “best” Bond, Moore has always been my secret favourite. Delightfully camp, he knew better than anyone how to save the world and have fun at the same time. Plus, he deserves some credit for managing to play an action hero well into his late fifties.
Theme: Nobody Does It Better (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977) – Performed by Carly Simon and composed by the late Marvin Hamlish, this power ballad is one of the most commercially successful Bond themes and arguably the best song ever written for any movie. How it failed to win the Oscar is beyond me.
Gadget: The watch from Die Another Day (2002). More than just a means of telling the time, Bond’s watches have helped save his neck on more than one occasion. This particular example not only acts a bomb detonator, it also shoots laser beams and allows 007 to breathe underwater.
Baddie: Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974) – All the great Bond villains have some form of physical deformity, but nothing tops Scaramanga’s third nipple. And if that isn’t enough to give you nightmares, he’s also played by the fantastically menacing Christopher Lee (a real-life cousin of Ian Fleming).
Moment: M’s introduction (GoldenEye, 1995) – In the earlier films, Bond had always seemed rather disdainful of his superior officers – until, that is, the arrival of Judi Dench’s M. Inspired by Stella Rimmington’s appointment as the real-life director of MI5, this first female M holds back no punches and takes great pleasure in labelling 007 a “sexist, misogynist dinosaur, a relic of the Cold War.”
Film: Dr No (1962) – Casino Royale is arguably the best entry in the series so far, but I think everyone’s favourite Bond film is likely to be the first one they ever saw. For me that also happened to be his first mission put on celluloid. Watching it now, I still think it has everything: action, adventure, style and, of course, one of the greatest characters in cinema history.
Bond: Daniel Craig — While Quantum of Solace (2008) ended up a bit of a stinker, Craig’s earnest performance of Bond won me over in Casino Royale. Suave, moody, lethal and calculating, Craig reinvented the on-screen Bond for the better, and I could not be more excited to see what him and Sam Mendes have in store this week.
Theme: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) — I highly doubt George Lazenby is going to feature as anyone’s top Bond, but there is no denying the theme from OHMSS is the best of the bunch. Completely instrumental, punchy and jazzy, this theme made use of the revolutionary Moog Synthesizer which went on to change the music industry forever. An absolute classic theme.
Gadget: The Crocodile Submarine (Octopussy, 1983) — So Daniel Craig might have acquainted us with a darker, moodier Bond, but there’s no running away from the series’s camper, lighter roots and I can think of no better gadget to epitomise what I loved about those movies.
Baddie: Alec “006” Trevelyan (GoldenEye, 1995) — What happens when two 00s meet in battle? Only one of the most ridiculous, implausible, absurd death sequences Sean Bean has ever found himself in.
Moment: Parkour Chase, (Casino Royale, 2006) — I’m pretty sure this is one of the most impressive extended action sequences I’ve seen in a film. Gracefully handled by director Martin Campbell, the whole sequence is given time to breath and space to view, which is welcome in an age of Bourne-style shaky-cam and fast editing.
Film: Casino Royale (2006) — While I have a fondness for Bond through the years, Casino Royale freshened up the series nicely for me. Ham-fisted Sony product placement aside, the film maintained the essence of the universe with added heart, action and some fantastic acting.
Bond: David Niven
Theme: Nobody Does it Better, Carly Simon.
Gadget: I heard there was an invisible car in one of the crap Brosnan ones. Or maybe it’s Oddjob’s hat. Or does Random Task’s shoe from Austin Powers count? Please make it count.
Film: The half of Moonraker (1979) I saw in a service station once.
Bond: Well, I am juggling with Roger Moore, Tim Dalton, and Daniel Craig. I think I’ll give the prize to the amazing Roger Moore (1973-1985). While there have been many Bonds that can dust it up with the best of the braniac maniacs, none can deliver those one liners like Roger Moore. When Connery says, “Bond, James Bond…” I want to slap him. He comes across as arrogant, greasy and I don’t like it. When Moore says, “Bond, James Bond..” it’s brilliant!
Theme: Dr. No (1962) Just because it is a super badass tune.
Baddie: Yaphet Cotto as Kananga in Live and Let Die (1973). Kananga was the smiling devil out to monopolize the world’s heroin drug trade. He was charming, stylish, likeable, and he also had the shark tank to entertain his guests.
Gadget: The cigarette/rocket launcher from You Only Live Twice (1967). If someone is boring you, say at a party, one could simply have a smoke.
Moment: The opening of Quantum of Solace (2008). I tend to think the car chase can be cliche if it is not done well, but this is handled amazingly! What makes it so engrossing is that it all happens over a couple of minutes of film time. It’s like getting on a speeding roller coaster. The scene only slows down when we we see “Siena Italy” and the almost destroyed Alfa Romeo enters the secret hatch.
Film: Live and Let Die (1973). Moore’s first outing as James Bond and he meets “Mr Big”. The film’s plot is pretty basic in that we follow Bond try and bring an end to the evil drug dealing ways of Kananga, but the subtext of the film is all about hidden realities. I’d say “hidden realities” (la de dah!) is a sort of over-arching theme of the film. Right from the opening we have a birth and death ritual of the Baron Samerdi; there is the alter ego of Kananga; and the tarot readings of Solitaire. So many great scenes and one liners from Bond. Great fun.
PS: I think any Bond write up must mention the Bond Girls!
Bond Girl: Jane Seymour as Solitaire. Ok, the name is pretty rubbish, but weren’t many of the Bond Girl names pretty ridiculous? Sometimes ridiculously funny too. But Seymour is my favourite, she is just exquisite.
Bond: Roger Moore
Theme: The World is Not Enough (1999) – can’t say much for the film itself, but I admit to having something of a teen girl-crush with Shirley Manson’s gravelly vocals which this song did nothing to get rid of.
Gadget: Not a Bond gadget, but I still have fangirlish glee for Oddjob’s bowler hat from Goldfinger (1964), although that may have something to do with my brain adding in the Xena yodel. Either way, a hat which doubles as a throwing blade is pretty cool.
Baddie: Christopher Lee as Francisco Scaramanga. It’s Christopher Lee being equal parts suave and creepy. I don’t think I need to explain this one.
Moment: See above – the final confrontation between Scaramanga and Bond in the bizarro funhouse is beautiful in how it blatantly doesn’t care about being serious or ‘proper’. You’re simply taken on a weird, crazy ride and it’s ridiculously fun.
Bond: Sean Connery (1962 – 1971) The original and best; Connery not only became the blueprint for the character we know and love, he was also the best actor to play Bond in the entire series. Diamonds are Forever and Never Say Never aside (the latter isn’t even a proper Bond film), his films were the most consistently compelling and downright enjoyable.
Theme: A View to a Kill (Duran Duran, 1985) I am going to get pelters for this I’m sure, but since Lee chose the theme for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, my all-time favourite, I’m going to go in the opposite direction and pick Duran Duran. It’s corny, yes, but a guilty pleasure none the less. Dance into the Fire!
Baddie: Xenia Onatop. (Goldeneye, 1995) The most memorable thing about Xenia wasn’t just how batshit insane (and incredibly hot) she was, but how similar she was to Bond: they shared the same passions (namely shagging and killing), but her delight in combining the two made her an eerie psychopathic counterpart to his character. Kind of like the relationship between the Joker and Batman, but with a lot more sexual tension.
Gadget: Jet pack (From Russia With Love, 1962) Mate, it’s a jet pack. No explanation needed.
Moment: Dam Jump (Goldeneye, 1995) I didn’t want to have two categories covering the same film, but this moment is just too incredible not to include; quite simply one of the best stunts ever committed to film. A great opening to one of the best action films of the 90s, and amongst the best in the entire series.
Film: Goldfinger (1964) The third film in the franchise introduced so much of the Bond iconography we know today. This was the entry that brought us his trademark Aston Martin, Odd Job, Bond almost getting castrated by a ludicrously huge laser cannon, and the infamous Pussy Galore. Great fun from start to finish, with the perfect combination of silliness and action that we’ve come to expect from the series.