A friend of Boast sets forth his personal and exacting rankings of the James Bond franchise, pre-reboot, on a scale of one through four.
Flawless, the standards against which all Bonds are measured
Obviously. This film is first-rate, it defines what a Bond film is. Honor Blackman is also underrated as a Bond babe (and she was 37 during filming)
From Russia with Love
A classic spy caper with the most intelligent plot line of any Bond film.
Strong contributions to the series & unequivocal good fortune during a Bundathon
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Embrace the power of OHMSS! Sure, Laz was a minor drawback, but Diana Rigg pulled off one of the best performances ever as the high maintenance Teresa, Telly was the best Blofeld going away, and the ski scenes coordinated by Willy Bogner are kick-ass. Add in the soundtrack (Top 10 all time, world wide), a trip to the Admiral’s house to find him in a green velvet smoking jacket, Louis Armstrong’s final recording, a wicked fat DB 6 wheeling into the Palacio, and a cameo by the Daytona, and you have one of the very best here. OHMSS rules, really this film is a good test to determine whether someone gets what Bond is about.
Blunderball has a lot going for it, including an excellent plot-line and fantastic underwater cinematography. Connery’s rug is kept in place nicely, and this film establishes the look and feel of Bond as a water sportsman in tropical Caribbean locales, inspired by Fleming’s love of Jamaica. So why isn’t Thunderball 4 stars? The post production is pretty horrific. The editing is as bad as about any you’ll find in the Bond series regrettably – consider the following sequence: Bond goes with Domino to the “Junkanoo,” a Bahamian Mardi Gras, clearly in the early evening (it is dark), wearing a blue blazer and tie, but is met by Leiter telling him that Paula has gone missing, so he tells Leiter to stay with Domino and wait for Mr. Largo. With a cut he is suddenly sporting a black knit shirt in the next scene, travels to Largo’s house, Palmyra, horses around in the shark tank and escapes. He comes back to his hotel, beds the redheaded villainess Fiona Volpe, and then gets dressed in a nice grey suit to leave with her for the Junkanoo, presumably the same evening. All this in a film in which references are made that there are only “50 hours” until Spectre’s ultimatum expires… come on, get it right! I am just at a loss to explain how Bond savant and Lead Editor Peter Hunt could have allowed this to happen. Really bad dubbing and continuity errors (Connery grabbing a black mask from a dead diver underwater, then wearing his own blue one in the next frame) left and right as well. Still a gem on the whole, but 4 stars were within grasp here before the hatchet job in the cutting room began.
The Spy Who Loved Me
The fact that die-hard Connery fans admit this was Moore’s finest effort really says a great deal for Spy. My first Bond ever, in the theater at age 8, and as such I’m probably not the most objective here. But still, the sets were incredibly cool – Ken Adam experimenting with “rounded shapes” by his own accord, and with brilliant results. The Lotus ruled, Oger was still looking fit, Curt Jurgens called him “Bund,” and how about Bar in the shower…yes. Carly’s title song is probably as good as any, and has there ever – really – been a better teaser sequence than Rick Sylvester uncorking the Union Jack parachute? Genius! And who does Jaws take a back seat to in the lead henchman department? Maybe Grant and Oddjob, but that’s why those films get 4 stars. This IS Bond in the 70s, complete with flowing tuxedo trousers, and you have to be ok with that. The silliness of simultaneous nukes denies 4 stars though.
Joe Wiseman was better than most people remember (“I see you are just a stupid policeman”), as was that set. A clean storyline, Connery’s youth and Ursula Andress take care of the rest here. Simple, but pacesetting. Bonus points for Jack Lord and those shades, and of course for the great location shooting on Jamaica.
The Man with the Golden Gun
Yes! I present the case for Gun. Why does this film hold a strange power over me? Perhaps just its simplicity – Moore is young and still smooth, and the scope of the film is nicely understated – no wacked-out plots to destroy the earth, no obligatory battle of armies at the film’s conclusion (too often formulaic and vapid in the series). Instead we get a simple and compelling duel — mano a mano — at Scaramanga’s super cool pad, filmed exquisitely in Phuket and one of the best sets ever. Now, I’m the first to admit that the karate school sequence and a second helping of J.W. Pepper push the envelope in the wrong direction 2/3rds of the way through, but Britt Ekland’s bod in the bikini restores order moments later and allows this one to end with some style. Gun!
Live & Let Die
Die is a curio for certain. How Cubby and Harry decided to let Rog get his feet wet in a film with the look and feel of an early 70s blaxploitation film is beyond me, and I am still amazed that this film didn’t just shock most ardent Bond fans at the time… though I suppose they were still recovering from Diamonds. At any rate, Moore acquitted himself nicely under the circumstances, and, in the words of co-star Yaphet Kotto, “made it his,” – no small feat considering that most people would think they were flipping past Shaft or a Burt Reynolds movie with the remote control during most of this one. But Rog does look great and a jailbait Jane Seymour never hurts.
For Your Eyes Only
A whisker away from slumming it with 2 stars (like one more in the leading lady’s mustache), Eyes holds on due to some great stunt work, a reasonably intelligent plot-line (in many ways echoes of From Russia with Love), and a nice turn by Topol as Colombo, evoking both Kerim Bey and Marc Ange Draco. Rog is starting to lose it but looks by comparison about 10 years younger than in Octopussy.
watchable, still Bund, but with serious shortcomings
You Only Live Twice
Welcome to Japan Mr. Bond, and welcome to the two star doldrums. How the team went from making Thunderball one minute and then putting scotch tape on Connery’s eyes the next is beyond me. Donald Pleasance is a ridiculous Blofeld and that mini helicopter was silly as well. And what a shank in not finding better looking Asian babes. Nice work by Charles Gray though.
This one didn’t have to be bad. The teaser is great, Lois Chiles is really hot, and there is some solid locale shooting in both Rio and Venice. Then Roger Moore spends the last 30 minutes of the film wearing a mustard colored jumpsuit, a leather helmet, and a pair of matching Chuck Taylor high tops.
Diamonds are Forever
A paunchy Sean stumbles through a mindless script with production design – and a moon buggy – that are discredits to Ken Adam’s career. Well I suppose Blofeld’s penthouse lair atop the White House was decent… Ken never really totally shanks but this is decidedly sub-par. Large servings of Charles Gray are a mixed blessing… Jill St. John works every time but can’t save this one.
Is this really a worse film than Diamonds? Not sure. Famke Janssen has to be worth at least a star by herself I suppose…
Some silliness here, with an ancient Moore sporting two tons of dyed hair wrapped around his 57 year old pate. But then there’s Maud…
embarrassments to the franchise, you feel as if there isn’t really a Bond film on
All Brosnans save Goldeneye… Dame Judy Densch as M is dumb… A View to a Kill
…horrid…. All Daltons… license to jit up the Bund series