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Top Ten James Bond Films

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Hello fellow secret agents! (If you’re not a secret agent, stop reading now.)

We are a day away from the US release of Spectre, the 24th official James Bond film, starring Daniel Craig in his fourth appearance as Bond, and Christoph Waltz as arch villain, Ernst Blofeld. It’s already playing in the UK and smashing box office records. In anticipation of the new movie, I put together a list of the TOP TEN JAMES BOND FILMS OF ALL TIME. Boom. You see those capital letters? Official. Let’s shake, not stir.

#10- Goldeneye (1995)
Director- Martin Campbell

At age 14, Goldeneye was the first Bond movie I saw on the big screen and the one that prompted me to watch them all. It’s the only tolerable Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan, who fits the role well but was usually surrounded by cheesy spectacle. Goldeneye is his time to shine. It brought the series back to life after Timothy Dalton’s Licence to Kill nearly killed it, it sports a clean, polished look, and it has a nice mix of classic Bond charm and (sometimes ridiculous) over-the-top action. Dame Judy Dench makes her debut as M, Sean Bean is 006, and Famke Janssen crushes enemies between her thighs as femme fatale, Xenia Onatopp. Are there other Bond flicks not on this list that are more deserving of the tenth spot? Maybe, but Goldeneye gets the sentimental nod.


#9- Thunderball (1965)
Director- Terence Young

Thunderball is Sean Connery’s fourth time playing agent 007. He looks aged since Goldfinger and wears a terrible toupee, but displays the usual amount of charm and comfort in the role. This time around he’s in the scenic Bahamas, searching for two stolen atomic bombs, up against several members of SPECTRE including eye-patch wearing villain, Number Two (Adolfo Celi). There are two Bond girls, Claudine Auger, as swimming beauty “Domino” Derval, and Luciana Paluzzi, as SPECTRE agent Fiona Volpe. The underwater scenes are nice to look at–and were surely impressive in 1965–but they drag on and are anticlimactic. Even so, this is classic Bond.


#8- Dr. No (1962)
Director- Terence Young

Before there was a formula for making James Bond films there was Dr. No, the great grandpappy of all James Bond films. Made for just over 1 million dollars, it spawned one of the biggest franchises in movie history and a legion of imitators. Dr. No features the eminently dapper Sean Connery as James Bond, agent 007, on a mission in Jamaica investigating the disappearance of a fellow British agent. Ursula Andress is the original Bond girl Honey Ryder, and Joseph Wiseman plays original SPECTRE baddie Dr. No. Forget the crazy gadgetry and theatrics, this one is boiled down to the essence.


#7- Live and Let Die (1973)
Director- Guy Hamilton

Roger Moore’s first Bond film takes him to Harlem, New Orleans, and the Caribbean Islands, where he’s up against Dr. Kananga aka Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto), a corrupt politician/drug lord. Live and Let Die is influenced by blaxploitation films and is drenched in 70s style; it features a killer boat chase, a couple of great henchman (Voodoo king Baron Samedi and claw-handed Tee Hee Johnson), a couple of fine Bond girls (Jane Seymour as sexy psychic Solitaire, and Gloria Hendry as CIA agent Rosie Carver), an excellent score by George Martin, and a rocking title song–one of the best–written by Paul and Linda McCartney.


#6- Casino Royale (2006)
Director- Martin Campbell

Much like Campbell’s Goldeneye, Casino Royale reinvented and reinvigorated the Bond franchise. Based on Ian Fleming’s first novel, the movie takes place early in Bond’s career with Daniel Craig playing a younger, less experienced, more humanized version of 007. What he lacks in charm he makes up in brute force. Casino Royale has a kick ass title sequence, an excellent poker scene, Eva Green as Vesper Lynd, and Madds Mikkelsen as the villain, Le Chiffre. It feels like it has more at stake than other outings. Martin Campbell is king of the stylish Bond reboot.


#5- Skyfall (2012)
Director- Sam Mendes

Skyfall is the most exquisitely shot Bond film of all. Veteran cinematographer Roger Deakins and director Sam Mendes crafted a sumptuous look that permeates every frame of the movie, and with the aide of visual effects, really brings the Istanbul, Shanghai, Scotland, and London settings to life. It starts off with the perfect trifecta of intense pre-title sequence, hypnotiq title scene, and amazing song (Skyfall by Adele). It features a nasty villain in Javier Bardem, and introduces us to the newest incarnations of M, Q, and Moneypenny. This one feels more like classic Bond than the previous Craig films and while Casino Royale has a better story, I don’t enjoy it as much as Skyfall.


#4- On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Director- Peter R. Hunt

Perhaps the most underrated film of the bunch, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service features the sole appearance of George Lazenby as Bond. Faced with the impossible task of filling Connery’s shoes, Lazenby does all right; with a couple more stabs at the role I think he would’ve developed into an excellent Bond. (He left because his agent didn’t think the Bond role was hip to the times. Whoops.) After the outrageous You Only Live Twice, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, along with director Peter R. Hunt, set out to make a more realistic movie that closely adhered to the bookEach shot is impeccably framed and OHMSS has some impressively edited action sequences. Bond skis on one foot, engages in a wicked bobsled chase/shootout with SPECTRE supervillain, Blofeld (Telly Savalas–the best Blofeld), and marries Countess Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg). The John Barry score is superb and the ending will leave you speechless.


#3- The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Director- Lewis Gilbert

Like Craig and Connery, Roger Moore’s third time playing Bond is his best. The Spy Who Loved Me is fun and imaginative, and it has the best pre-title scene of all the Bond films, featuring an iconic ski chase that ends with 007 flying off the edge of a cliff and falling a great distance before unleashing his parachute with the Union Jack on it. It also has the Lotus Esprit car/submarine hybrid, a killer villain (Curd Jürgens) with a badass underwater hideout, the first appearance of larger-than-life tough guy Jaws (Richard Kiel), Carly Simon’s “Nobody Does It Better”, and Barbara Back as Major Anya Amasova aka Agent XXX, a beautiful, highly trained KGB agent forced to work with 007–one of the more capable Bond girls.


#2- From Russia With Love (1963)
Director- Terence Young

Connery’s favorite Bond film, From Russia With Love is an old school, no frills spy story that pits Bond against well-matched adversary Donald “Red” Grant, a merciless SPECTRE assassin played by a young, blonde Robert Shaw. Their epic fight on the train is one of the franchise’s best. Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) is a memorable SPECTRE villain equipped with a poison-tipped ejectable knife hidden in her shoe, and Daniela Bianchi is Bond’s love interest, Soviet agent Tatiana Romanov. This one’s pure Ian Fleming.


Goldfinger

#1- Goldfinger (1964)
Director- Guy Hamilton

Undoubtedly top of the heap, Goldfinger is the quintessential James Bond movie. In his third turn as 007, Connery hits his stride and faces off against Ari Goldman (Gert Fröbe), a wealthy, gold-obsessed businessman with a genius plan and a deadly, hat-throwing manservant (Harold Sakata). It features the best Bond song (Goldfinger sung by Shirley Bassey), the best Bond car (Aston Martin DB5), the best villain/henchman duo (Goldfinger and Oddjob), and 2 iconic Bond girls (Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore and Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson). The plot is brilliant and the whole thing wreaks of class. This is the Bond film other Bond films strive to be. Gooldfinngaaa!


So, those are my favorites. It took a lot of 007 watching and a long time narrowing them down–and they could change at any moment– but it was a fun process. I encourage you to make your own lists and post them in the comments.

Spectre opens on Thursday, November 5th and is playing in glorious IMAX 2D.

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