Sunday, 4 November 2012

Which is the best Bond film ever?

I went to see Skyfall this week.  It is an absolutely fantastic film.  But is it the best?  Where does it sit in the pantheon of a great series of films?

Here is how I currently rate the Bond films from least to best.  It is of course a personal view and some of the placings will be a bit quirky to me (and I may even have got some of the details mixed up).  Have a read and tell me what you think!

23 For your eyes only

It feels more like a TV movie than a top Bond film.

22 Quantum of Solace

It is trying to be Bourne not Bond.  And it's all action and therefore lacks characterisation and story somewhat.  Good car chases though! (if a little like something out of Grand Turismo)

21 Moonraker
It is a good fun Bond but not a great.  In fact I am never entirely sure if Moore's slightly camp, played a bit for laughs Bond altogether counts as James Bond to be honest.

20 View to a kill
Same as Moonraker - I just find View to a kill a little more memorable.

19 Octopussy

It starts well and has great exotic Indian locations, mood and atmosphere.  The story line and characters are good but it ends up being another that feels like a TV movie - filmed on a railway line near Peterborough masquerading as East Germany.

18 Man with the Golden Gun

Decent enough Bond and good villain's assistant, but it's a Moore - so at the weaker end.

17  The world is not enough

Brosnan was a decent Bond.  He has that cruel quality.  But I think he suffers from not having as good scripts as some of the others - though the films are all well made and enjoyable.

16 Die another day

As above

15 Tomorrow never dies

As above again

14 Licence to kill (they should have called it Licence Revoked)

Dalton is a great actor.  And he plays the theme of revenge very well.  He is a better actor than Brosnan, though I think Brosnan is a better fit for Bond than Dalton.  Dalton is altogether too sympathetic and sensitive.

13 Dr No

This is a great spy thriller and begins to bring in some of the elements of classic Bond but altogether it is rather dated and doesn't stand the test of time for me.  Since the genre was just getting started it is a bit shallower in some of the Bond elements compared with later films.

12 Goldeneye

Brosnan's best Bond

11 From Russia with Love

Again a bit dated otherwise it would be higher.  A great thriller and Lotte Lenya (Rosa Kleb) is one of the great villains.

10 The Living Daylights

Dalton's best one.  A really enjoyable film and great story.  I enjoyed it a lot and have seen it a couple of times.  The chase on the Cello through the snow, the fight hanging out the back of a Hercules and the Mujaheddin when they were enemies of the Russians and before anyone had ever heard of Al Quaeda are all memorable moments in a memorable film.

9 Casino Royale

Daniel Craig's first outing.  Craig is the best Bond since Connery.  He has that sense of isolation, of matter of fact ruthlessness, of being resourceful and hard as nails - and yet flawed and vulnerable, with a sense of a suppressed character lying dormant behind those piercing blue eyes.  It is also a strong story with a good piece of personal history to James Bond.

8 The spy who loved me

A good one from Moore.  Good locations, a good female character, Jaws and the underwater Lotus (though the Lotus is not my favourite Bond car)

7 Live and let die

A personal favourite and one of the best theme tunes.  Solitaire is one of the best female characters in the series and the voodoo storyline has real menace.  I think I'm also right in saying the funny southern American cop appears for the first time in this one!

6 Diamonds are forever

Not everyone's favourite but one of mine!  Its a great story with some great character parts.  I think it also has my favourite Bond girls.

5 Thunderball

We are now getting to quintessential Bond films here. The awesome taking of the Vulcan bomber, the man in the mask, the Health club scenes, and the menace of an evil organisation trying to hold the world to ransom.  Is this the one with the brilliant, surprise elimination of the failed Spectre executive in their leather and chrome lair?  I think a couple of others are stronger only because I think they have slightly better endings.

4 Skyfall

The only later one I am placing with the quintessential Bonds.  As a stand alone film in terms of characterisation, the themes it explores and the inter relationships this is probably the best film.  It also has some quite stunning cinematography of London, Shanghai and Glencoe.  But it doesn't quite out Bond the top three.

3 On her majesty's secret service

Lazenby in his sole outing - but this is still quintessential Bond.  The drive by shooting of Tracey, the genuine sadness of the scene and the Louis Armstrong sound track make this oh so memorable.  And I haven't even mentioned the mountain top villain's lair, the sky chase and a particularly fiendish plot to take over the world.  This is classic Bond and a great spy thriller.

2 You only live twice

Others will probably place this lower but I love this film.  Ninjas, a futuristic spy chief's base, a great entrance by Bond - and it has a villain's lair inside a mountain with a mono rail and a piranha invested pool - what more do you want!!  Deserves a high billing alone for Donald Pleasance uttering the lines "good bye - meester Bond!"

1 Goldfinger

The quintessential Bond.

If you don't believe me go and watch it again!

Well that's what I think.

What do you think?


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  2. It's a tough one this, because so many of the films have both good and bad points and part of the problem is Bond himself/

    Bond isn't so much a misogynist as a barely controlled psychopath. If he wasn't doing what he did for Queen and Country he'd be in Carstairs or Broadmoor.

    So a Bond that can convey that sense of menace might lift up an otherwise flagging story, and vice versa.

    So here's the semi-arbitrary top 3, in descending order

    From Russia With Love
    It's an actual spy story, rare for Bond, and I love the Turkish section of it

    Live and Let Die
    OK it's part of the slide into Camp, but it has a good energy, some fine acting by Yaphet Kotto, and Madeline Smith

    The newest, some holes in the plot, but you get a good performance by Craig as the barely controlled killer, and the sense of ultimately how he is valued

    OHMSS. Odd choice despite what was mentioned earlier, but it has a human story in it. I like it. You take the person who is able to reach into Bond, to bring him into the mainstream of society, and then he loses her, making him even more dead than before. Sad and tragic