The Best of Bond

Less than a year ago I did not give a single shit about James Bond. I had seen a couple of the films over the years, but nothing stuck with me and I just wasn’t interested. Back in January I realized that I had never seen Sean Connery act as a young man. I decided that I needed to check out his early work as Bond and now I’m in love. I’ve seen all 22 official films, Sean Connery’s unofficial outing from 1983 Never Say Never Again, and have even begun to read the original Ian Fleming books (I’m currently reading the third novel Moonraker, which so far is nothing like the movie). Since the films are temporarily up on Netflix Instant I’ve been re-watching the ones I don’t already own and I now feel experienced enough to discuss which Bond films are the seven best Bond films. So here they are in descending order of least best to best of the best like Eric Roberts.

License to Kill – (dir. John Glen 1989)

Bond knows how to handle himself in bed.

Who’s Playing 007: Timothy Dalton

Timothy Dalton is the least talked about Bond. That’s a shame, as he’s a great Bond but he just never got a truly classic Bond film. He only played Bond twice and his first outing, The Living Daylights, felt like it was written for Roger Moore—because it was! Lawsuits mucked up plans for his third outing, and he turned down Goldeneye when it was offered to him. His second Bond film, License to Kill, is a break from the typical Bond formula and it incorporated elements from the popular action films of the late 80s. It does not involve Bond thwarting any kind of megalomaniacal villain with plans to conquer the world nor is Bond on any mission in the name of Queen and Country.

In License to Kill, the villain Franz Sanchez, played by Robert Davi, is a big-time South American coke dealer who makes the mistake of turning Bond’s CIA buddy, Felix Leiter, into shark food. Bond goes rogue and makes it his mission to take down Sanchez Yojimbo style with some in the field help from Q (Desmond Llewellyn), who is in top form here. Oh and Benicio Del Toro plays the lead henchman.

Most Misogynistic Moment: When undercover in Sanchez’ South American Casino, Bond refers to Bond Girl Pam Bouvier (an ex-CIA agent) played by Carey Lowell as his secretary. When she objects he retorts, “We’re south of the border. It’s a man’s world,” with a gleeful smile.

Best Badass Bond Bit: When Bond confronts the man who betrayed Leiter to Sanchez, he knocks him into the tank containing the shark that bit off Leiter’s leg.

Most Lascivious One-liner: “I’ll do anything for a woman with a knife.”

Random Trivia: EON had been trying to get Dalton to play Bond since Connery first vacated the role in 1969! He turned them down several times over the years until he finally accepted when Roger Moore stepped down from the role after 1985’s terrible A View to a Kill.

The Man With The Golden Gun – (dir. Guy Hamilton 1974)

Scaramanga has got Bond beat by a few inches.

Who’s Playing 007: Roger Moore

Roger Moore is great. People have a tendency to give Moore’s films shit for their lighter tone, but what they fail to realize is the tone is no different than Connery’s later films. Moore is a bit rougher and more ruthless in this film than in his others, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the charm that makes his Bond so fun to watch. Roger Moore was actually older than Connery when they cast him, so his Bond comes across as an experienced spy who’s been there and done that, and knows how to handle himself so that everything he does seems effortless.

This film has him going up against Francisca Scaramanga, (played by the legendary Christopher Lee) the world’s greatest assassin who is out to kill Bond and build some kind of solar powered energy machine. Scaramanga describes himself as being an evil inverse of Bond and the back and forth between the too killers is pretty thrilling. Much of the film takes place in Thailand and the scenery looks absolutely gorgeous and the Bond girls (played by Maude Adams and Britt Eckland) are even better looking.

Most Misogynistic Moment: When Bond nearly breaks Andrea Anders’ (Maude Adams who would later star in Octopussy as Octopussy) arm trying to get information about Scaramanga out of her.

Best Badass Bond Bit: When he’s held captive at the karate school he’s forced to fight their top fighter one-on-one. When the fighter bows before the fight Bond kicks him square in the face.

Most Lascivious One-Liner: As Bond begins to bang Mary Goodnight (Brit Eckland) on a boat he gets a call from M…
M: Bond? Bond, are you there? Goodnight?
[Bond picks up phone]
James Bond: She’s just coming, sir.

Random Trivia: Alice Cooper was originally asked to compose the title theme, but their version was eventually rejected. He later released it on his own on his album, Muscle of Love.

Casino Royale (dir. Martin Campbell 2006)

It's not the size that counts... But it helps.

Who’s Playing 007: Daniel Craig

After Pierce Brosnan’s terrible run EON did the smart thing and they went back to the original Fleming for inspiration. Casino Royale is both a great adaptation of the original novel and a great modernization of the character. While all of the stuff pre-casino was created just for the film, the rest of the movie rather accurately depicts Fleming’s first Bond novel.

Daniel Craig makes for a fantastic Bond, one that is tough, cunning and vulnerable, and for the first time I totally buy his soldier background (Bond is technically a Commander in the Royal Navy, and fought in the service before being recruited into MI6.) With Casino Royale the franchise was successfully rebooted, and while some did not enjoy its sequel Quantum of Solace I did, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with for Bond 23 due out next year.

Most Misogynistic Moment: Bond’s line (direct from Fleming) “The bitch is dead.”

Best Badass Bond Bit: Definitely when Bond is chasing the parkour bomb maker and he runs straight through a wall Robocop style.

Most Lascivious One-Liner:
Vesper Lynd: If the only thing left of you was your smile and your little finger, you’d still be more of a man than anyone I’ve ever known.
James Bond: That’s because you know what I can do with my little finger…

Random Trivia: There was apparently a huge backlash to Craig being cast as Bond because he was a blonde.

From Russia With Love(dir. Terence Young 1963)


Who’s Playing 007: Sean Connery

The second Bond film is one of the best. This film is lean and mean and introduces many of the classic Bond elements for the first time. This is the first film to feature the Pre-title sequence, the Blonde Indestructible Henchman, Q and his supply of gadgets and Bond’s arch-nemesis Ernst Starvo Blofeld (although we don’t see his face until You Only Live Twice.) From Russia With Love operates like a buddy movie between Bond and his Turkish counterpart Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz), and features one of Bond’s most fearsome opponents, the henchman Red Grant, played by the great Robert Shaw.

This film starts out with both the MI6 and the KGB being duped into helping S.P.E.C.T.R.E. (the evil organization of which Blofeld is in command of) steal a Lektor, which is some kind of decoding machine. Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi), a KGB is told by her superior (who is really working for S.P.E.C.T.R.E.) to seduce James Bond and tells MI6 she wants to defect. Bond doesn’t believe her but travels to Istanbul to meet her anyway. This all culminates on a train car when Red Grant confronts Bond and the two of them fight mano y mano.

Most Misogynistic Moment: I don’t know if I’d necessarily call this misogynistic, but Bond does fuck two gypsy girls at the same time. They were previously trying to kill each other, but then were given to Bond as a reward for protecting the gypsy camp.

Best Badass Bond Bit: Most definitely the train car fight between Bond and Red Grant. It’s just two men in peak physical condition wailing on each other in a tight space. It’s incredibly well shot and original Bond editor (and future director) Peter Hunt cut it together marvelously. Seriously this is one of the best fist fights in film history.

Most Lascivious One-Liner: I used this one in my previous post about Older Actors Who Knew What It Meant To Be A Man, but it’s well worth repeating here:

James Bond: You’re one of the most beautiful girls I’ve ever seen.
Tatiana: Thank you, but I think my mouth is too big.
James Bond: No, it’s the right size… for me, that is.

Random Trivia: This was Pedro Armendariz’ last film as he had recently been diagnosed with cancer. He eventually committed suicide as his cancer progressed.

The Spy Who Loved Me (dir. Lewis Gilbert 1977)

Bond is strong. He can kick.

Who’s Playing 007: Roger Moore

The Spy Who Loved Me in a way is the quintessential Bond film. It has gadgets, beautiful women, exotic locations, insane stunts, memorable henchman, a megalomaniacal villain hell-bent on world domination and it’s incredibly fun to watch. Not to mention it has an amazing disco score.

Essentially, 007 and Russian Agent XXX (Barbara Bach) are forced to work together when both British and Soviet submarines begin disappearing. It turns out that millionaire Stromberg is planning on starting a nuclear war so that he can restart civilization in city he plans to build under the sea. Roger Moore is at the peak of his charms in this film and there’s so many bad ass moments that it’s easy to lose count. Some of which include premier Bond film henchman Jaws killing a shark with his teeth, Bond pushing a man to his death off the top of a building and James Bond leading a team of commandos to storm the villain’s headquarters set to a disco version of the James Bond theme. It’s amazing.

Most Misogynistic Moment: James Bond has to take charge because Agent XXX, The U.S.S.R.’s top agent is unable to start Jaws’ van. Because she’s woman.

Best Badass Bond Bit: The Pre-Title sequence ends as Bond skis off a cliff in the Alps and parachutes to safety. It’s amazing because it’s a real stunt man, really doing it. It’s insane that they were allowed to film that. Also as the parachute unfolds it reveals the Union Jack and the Bond theme starts playing.

Most Lascivious One-Liner:
[Bond and Agent XXX are discovered porking]
M: 007!
General Anatol Gogol: XXX!
Minister of Defense: Bond! What do you think you’re doing?
James Bond: Keeping the British end up, sir.

Random Trivia: Roger Moore was 50 years old by the time this was released.

Dr. No (dir. Terence Young 1962)

Bond smells something he wants to eat.

Who’s Playing 007: Sean Connery

The original Bond film ranks number two in my book. Watching this film now I was surprised at how well it stands up. Next year Dr. No will be 50 years old. Think about that for a second. Bond here is the ideal man. He’s strong, handsome, suave and he deals with the ladies effortlessly and with a gusto. Dr. No is actually Fleming’s sixth novel, but was chosen for the first film because it takes place in only two locations London and Jamaica and it was cheap to film in both. The Jamaican setting is perfect for Bond, as not only do you want to be Bond when watching the film, you want to be where he’s at. The beaches and jungles are just splendid to look at.

Dr. No takes its title from a S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent who has taken up shop in Jamaica and has just murdered an MI6 agent who was close to figuring out his plot to disrupt missile launches in Florida. Bond is sent to investigate and the film plays out like a mystery story. Bond along with CIA pal Felix Leiter, and native skipper captain Quarrel set out to discover the nefarious plot being hatched Dr. No. Bond screws and fights his way through the movie.

Most Misogynistic Moment: Bond discovers that a secretary named Miss Taro is working for Dr. No and tries to pick her up. She plays along not realizing that Bond knows who she is. Miss Taro and Bond fuck, but it’s only kind of consensual. After Bond is finished with her he calls the police and has her arrested. Essentially he screws her twice.

Best Badass Bond Bit: After Bond has Miss Taro arrested he hangs out in her apartment, sitting in the corner of the room and playing solitaire while he waits for Professor Dent who is being sent to kill him. When Professor Dent arrives he shoots the bed six times. Bond then reveals himself. Bond tries to get some information out of him and when Dent reaches for his gun and tries to fire, but he’s out of bullets. Bond utters: “That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six,” and shoots Dent dead.

Most Lascivious One-Liner:
Miss Taro: I’ll just go and put some clothes on.
Bond: Don’t go to any trouble on my account.

Random Trivia: The character of Quarrel first appeared in Ian Fleming’s second Bond novel Live and Let Die. Since Quarrel dies in Dr. No, when they finally got around to filming Live and Let Die in 1972 with Roger Moore, they simply called the character Quarrel, Jr.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (dir. Peter Hunt 1969)

This never happened to the other feller

Who’s Playing 007: George Lazenby

This is it. This is the one. George Lazenby only played Bond in a single film and it happened to be the finest Bond film ever made. Why is it the finest Bond film ever made? Lazenby plays Bond like a real character, there’s a real vulnerability underneath the bravado. Lazenby’s Bond gets frightened. He doubts himself. He plays Bond like a man and not like a superhero and that makes the stakes higher. In truthfulness, Lazenby is closest to how Fleming depicts Bond in the books.

It also helps that the Bond Girl, Contessa Tracy Di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), is an actual character and not just a fuck doll for Bond. Tracy is a strong-willed, tough and independent woman and one that Bond actually considers an equal. She’s a feast for the eyes too, but that’s beside the point. The fact that Bond and his lady in this feel like real people goes along way towards making On Her Majesty’s Secret Service A-Number-One.

The film opens with Bond spotting Tracy walking out into the sea in an attempt to commit suicide. He leaps out to rescue her, but as he pulls her onto the beach he is himself attacked by a couple of thugs and is drawn into vicious beach fight (pictured above). Lazenby defeats them with his unique fight technique, which is one part judo and one part bar fight (Lazenby is also by far the best brawler of all the Bonds), but Tracy runs away before he can talk to her. He later meets her father Draco (Once Upon A Time In The West’s Gabrielle Ferzetti!) who makes a deal with Bond that he will supply Bond with information on the whereabouts of Ernst Starvo Blofeld if Bond were to woo and tame his wild daughter. What starts as an exchange for information turns into an honest romance, as Bond actually falls in love with Tracy.

The film features breathtaking helicopter footage of the Alps (which I can tell you from first hand experience are the most amazing sight on the planet), an invigorating ski chase down the snowy slopes, and an incredibly badass assault on Blofeld’s mountaintop headquarters with Bond leading a team of commandos. While almost every Bond film ends with him screwing the Bond girl on a boat, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service takes a different approach. While I don’t want to give away the ending if you haven’t seen it, it’s atypical of Bond to say the least, and it’s pretty terrific.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has everything you want in a Bond film and more, and that more makes it the best Bond film yet.

Most Misogynistic Moment: Draco is trying to get Tracy into a helicopter while Bond chases after Blofeld, but she refuses to leaves James behind. He punches her in the face and knocks her out cold and quips “spare the rod, spoil the child, eh?”

Best Badass Bond Bit: Probably towards the beginning of the film when Bond is attacked in his hotel room and gets into a dirty one on one fight. There’s just something about the way Lazenby fights that just makes it seem really rough and brutal. It’s probably because he’s Australian.

Most Lascivious One-Liner: “Thank you, Q, but this time I’ve got the gadgets and I know how to use them.”

Random Trivia: Before being cast as 007 Lazenby was a male model. He had heard that Connery was stepping down as Bond so he got a haircut just like him, and bought a suit from the same tailor before his audition. It’s unclear why exactly he never returned as Bond, and it’s a shame that On Her Majesty’s Secret Service never had a true sequel.

George Lazenby as 007 in his element

Oh and I did not forget about Pierce Brosnan. He’s a pussy Bond and his movies are terrible.

So what do you think are the best Bond films? Agree or Disagree with my choices?


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Categories: Film

Author:Colin Holmes

I love movies. I love watching them and I love writing about them. My taste ranges from Jean Pierre Melville to Jean Claude Van Damme and everything in between as long as it isn’t mediocre. I’ll take a crazy failure of a movie over a middle of the road one any day. I'm an American currently living abroad in Oz and am relishing how my accent makes me sound like a cowboy to everyone I meet here.

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