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007 Favorite 007 Films

Deborah Lipp, the Ultimate James Bond Fan, is listing 007 of her favorite things as we count down to Skyfall

I spent a couple of years compiling lists made by James Bond fans; primarily favorite movies, least-favorites, and  ranked lists of the whole series. The fun thing to discover is, when it comes to James Bond, everyone's an outlier. Every single movie appeared on someone's favorites and someone's least-favorites. Plus, everyone's list had a unique feature, an eyebrow-raiser. I bet if we did a poll here -- should we do a poll here? -- the same thing would happen.

So, eyebrow-raiser and all, here's my top 007 Bond films...

001 From Russia With Love (1963)
To me, the second Bond movie is the greatest of them all. It's the perfect blend of Bond ingredients: Action, adventure, exotic locations, sex, mystery, espionage, music, humor, visual impact, and an outstanding cast. Beyond Sean Connery and the other regulars (including the introduction of Desmond Llewellyn into the series), there's Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya, and Pedro  Armendáriz in his final role.  Eunice Gayson returns from Dr. No: a rare recurring character role. Plus, this is the movie that introduces Blofeld as a hand petting a white cat. Underground catacombs in Istanbul! Gypsy mud wrestling! Daniela Bianchi wearing nothing but a ribbon around her neck! All that and a North by Northwest homage too. It's perfect.

002 Goldeneye (1995)
Restart the series after a six year hiatus, during which the audience went from anticipatory to disinterested. Introduce a new Bond to a new generation. Make Bond modern in a post-Cold War era without throwing away tradition: Goldeneye succeeds on every level. Hey, this is the movie that introduced Judi Dench as M, and wasn't *that* a great idea? The cast is incredible—in addition to being Pierce Brosnan's first outing, we have Sean Bean, Samantha Bond, Famke Janssen, Izabella Scorupco, Robbie Coltraine, and Joe Don Baker. The stunts are mind-blowing (the dam jump? Holy wow!), and the deft mixture of action, drama, humor, and globetrotting is out of this world. I'm happy every time I pop this one into the DVD player.

Daniel Craig, Roger Moore, and... Timothy Dalton (?!?) after the jump.


003 Casino Royale (2006)
Reboot the series after a four year hiatus, introduce a new Bond, make Bond modern in a post-9/11 era without throwing away tradition: Does any of this sound familiar? No wonder they brought back Goldeneye's Martin Campbell to direct. Casino Royale is hands-down astounding, and succeeded in bringing new people to the franchise with its fresh look at 007. An origin-like reboot is a cliché of twenty-first century moviemaking, but this one feels smart and new. I take a couple of points off for very little humor and a somewhat Byzantine plot. 

004 The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
I'm not a huge fan of Roger Moore's portrayal of James Bond; this is his only movie among my favorites. It's an excellent film, with gorgeous location shooting in Egypt and Sardinia. It has one of the most spectacular and famous opening sequences of any movie, let alone any Bond movie—the "Asgard jump," in which Bond skis off a cliff and opens a Union Jack parachute as the audience gasps. It introduces Jaws, one of only a few major villains to survive his encounter with Bond, and it features Barbara Bach, future wife of Ringo Starr. She can't act, and there are some dumb parts, but it's a great film. 

005 The Living Daylights (1987)
Timothy Dalton made two Bond films; the one in which I fell in love with him, and the one for which I endeavor to forgive him. This is the former. One of the joys of The Living Daylights is its romance. Kara Milovy (Maryam D'abo) is an old-fashioned Bond heroine, a "damsel in distress" with no badass qualities whatsoever. She is, nonetheless, a special and gifted person. Being a world-class cellist is a far cry from being a generic bimbo! From Gibraltar to Vienna to Afghanistan, it's a visually-rich movie. Unfortunately, siding with the Mujahadeen against the Russians makes the movie somewhat dated. While it has its weaknesses, it also has a thrilling mid-air fight scene off the open back of a cargo plane, and a gadgety Aston-Martin chase that does Goldfinger proud.

006 Goldfinger (1964)
Other fans rate this higher, but I'm not other fans. It's a great film, with beautiful sequences. The third Bond film and the first directed by Guy Hamilton, it's the first with a real commitment to humor, and the first to introduce gadgetry and the Aston-Martin. It is also the first to integrate a powerful theme song into the score. All in all, it created the mold. Naturally, I'm contrarian, and prefer when the mold is broken, but I can't deny the greatness of this film. My pre-teen self, upon first seeing Goldfinger, knew exactly what Pussy Galore was about, and was keenly interested.

007 Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Are your eyebrows raised? Diamonds Are Forever is a film that appears on many "Worst Bond Movie" lists, and here I am, listing it as a favorite. My case: powerful exciting fight scenes, real espionage in tracking the smuggling ring to the villain (far too many Bond films rely on information being handed to 007, rather than actual spying), and some actually scary deaths and near-misses. The fight between Bond and Peter Franks in a glass elevator is one of the most thrilling hand-to-hand sequences in the franchise. Bond trapped in the crematorium! Scorpions! There's breathtaking set design and powerful sexual subtext (for some reason, this is the Gay Bond, with Wint and Kidd as assassin lovers, Bambi and Thumper as...well, we don't know, and Blofeld in a dress). 

Mostly, though, this was the Bond movie I saw at a formative moment in my childhood, and the one that sealed my fate as a lifelong aficionado.


There you have it: Seven great films from five different decades, starring five different Bond actors. Which are your 007 favorite Bond films? 


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Reader Comments (13)

Do a poll!

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSquasher88

001- On Her Majesty's Secret Service
002-You Only Live Twice
003-Doctor No
004-From Russia with Love
006-The Man with the Golden Gun
007- Goldfinger

To be fair, I stopped watching a long time ago. Obviously.
Best Bond Girl: Carole Bouquet
Worst Bond girl?: It's a tie. Denise Richards and Tanya Roberts. Hands Down.
Best Hench-persons. Odd Job and May Day. Honorable Mention: Rosa Klebb.
Favorite Theme song: You Only Live Twice.
Least Favorite Theme song: Ugh. Madonna.
Favorite dispensation of services of a villain/villainess: Karin Dor being fed to piranhas.
Sexiest Henchman: Donald Grant.

October 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJohnnyBS

1. Casino Royale
2. Goldfinger
3. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
4. The Spy Who Loved Me
5. From Russia With Love
6. The Living Daylights
7. Goldeneye
8. Dr.No
9. Licence to Kill
10. Quantum of Solace

okay, the last 3 are a stretch, admittedly. But Craig and Dalton are better Bonds in bad Bond films than Moore or Brosnan, and Connery's first mould deserves a shout out.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdaniel

best Bond songs!

You Only Live Twice
Diamonds are Forever
Live and Let Die
Nobody does it better (SWLM)
we have all the time in the world (OHMSS)
A View to a Kill
Licence to Kill

best bond girls!:

Diana Rigg (OHMSS)
Eva Green (CR)
Honor Blackman (GF)
Maryam D'abo (LD)
Famke Jessen (GE)
Gemma Arterton (QoS)
Ursula Andress (DN)
Daniela Bianchi (FRWL)
Barbara Bach (SWLM)
Talisa Soto (LtK)

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdaniel

"Timothy Dalton should win an Oscar and beat Sean Connery over the head with it!!!"

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTB

I like Diamonds Are Forever, but saying that the film's sexual subtext would be "powerful" is like saying that Daniel Craig is handsome. DAF is so campy that it announces the Moore era quite appropriately. By the way, you constantly misspell Q. It's Desmond LLewelyn; two ls at the beginning but only one l at the end.
Johnny, I'd never believed that anyone could find Robert Shaw sexy. He was one of the greatest and most underrated actors of all time, but to me, he always looked as sexless as Gene Hackman.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

Now I've misspelled Q as well, with two capital ls. Damnit. Must be bad influence. But now - finally - the correct spelling: Desmond Llewelyn, Desmond Llewelyn, Desmond Llewelyn, Desmond Ll...

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

I've tried putting together my top Bond films many times: I have a fairly constant top three of Thunderball, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and The Spy Who Loved Me, but after that, it gets tricky, because there are so many that are neck-and-neck!

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEdward L.

I think both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were great, and I'm always happy to hear I'm not the only fan of The Living Daylights. The Spy Who Loved Me is also a personal favorite. One of my favorite things in the whole series though has to be hearing Louis Jourdan pronounce "Octopussy".

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterScottC

I'm not a Bond guy. I never really have been, though the reasons are unclear to me. I've recently gone back to watch some of the early ones and, while I find them enjoyable enough, I'm never hooked the way most are.

October 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBrianZ

1. "Goldfinger";
2. "Dr. No";
3. "GoldenEye";
4. "A View to A Kill";
5. "The Living Daylights";
6. "Casino Royale";
7. "Live and Let Die";
8. "From Russia with Love";
9. "Thunderball";
10. "You Only Live Twice";
11. "For Your Eyes Only";
12. "On Her Majesty's Secret Service";
13. "The Man with the Golden Gun";
14. "Licence to Kill";
15. "The Spy Who Loved Me";
16. "Diamonds Are Forever";
17. "The World is Not Enough";
18. "Tomorrow Never Dies";
19. "Octopussy";
20. "Moonraker";
21. "Quantum of Solace";
22. "Die Another Day".

Though I still liked "Quantum of Solace" so its 21st place may look worse than it really is. The only Bond movie I DON'T like is "Die Another Day'. Awful.

October 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSomeone

JohnnyBS proves my point about outliers. The Man with the Golden Gun is on many "worst" lists.

Willy, damn. I do that because I have 4 books with Lewellyn publications--hard to remember both spellings simultaneously.

October 15, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

The problem with this is the each time I re-watch Bond films I tend to re arrange my top 10.

Thus having said that:

001: OHMSS
I got to see this restored and remastered digital print (inc. Q & A with George Lazenby) in a great old 30's theatre last week.Always one of my favourites due to the great fight sequences and ski chases. Barry's score is incredible and romantic and Lazenby is not that bad and brings and some real depth to Bonds character. Hunt underrated as a director. Just an all round underrated classic

002: Casino Royale

Danny Craig -- the actors Bond - just nails the character. Martin Campbell just gets Bond like Terence Young did in the early Bond films. Action, Gambling, Drinking, Food - although Eva Green doesnt quite deliver a great Vesper -- my only gripe. Craig beaten up, fixing himself in the mirror then swallows in one gulp his scotch and breathes -- THAT's BOND

003: Dr No
Watch this again recently and elevated it -- I forgot how good the FIRST Bond was. This must have rocked the world in 1962!! When Connery says: 'Thats a Smith and Wesson and you've had your six' -- best line ever for Bond

004: Goldfinger
The formula had been establish and Connery IS BOND! Scriptwriter Maibaum created the template and turned a good Fleming story into a great script. Instead of stealing the gold, lets nuke the gold and throw the Chinese into the mix...great vision. PLUS instead of the saw lets use a laser beam -- WTF, nobody knew what a laser was? Ken Adams designs and of course 'No Mr Bond I expect you to die' -- best line ever for a villian

005: License To Kill
Underrated again - just a really good story, maybe not a 'formula' Bond but lets have some emotion and motivation for Bond (Felix half eaten by a shark and his newly wed bride killed -- of course Bond lost his wife in OHMSS!!) -- Robert Davi is a chillingly brilliant villian and a young Benicio Del Toro as his henchman!

006: From Russia with Love
The greatest spy story - and we get the greatest villian (Blofeld) hidden with only a white cat keeping him company (feeding it exhausted siamese fighting fish). Kerim Bey -- best Bond sidekick

Apart from the underwater sequences, just another cracking good yarn and Adolfo Celi is superb as Largo. Great John Barry score and Connery's one liners are legendary.

October 22, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPJ
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