My apologies for the delay, here are what I consider the top 12 James Bond movies of all time.
The films that were ranked 13th through 24th were posted last Thursday, Nov. 19. And here we go.
No. 12 — “Diamonds Are Forever” (1971) — Sean Connery is back as 007 and how can you not like James Bond in Las Vegas? He’s tracking down Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray) again as Blofeld has another idea to screw over the world. The finale at an oil rig drags a little, but this was a lot of fun after the seriousness of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
No. 11 — “Spectre” (2015) — See my Nov. 16 posting.
No. 10 — “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997) — Pierce Brosnan’s best outing as Bond with a terrific plot. He must stop media mogul Elliot Carver (well-played by Jonathan Pryce) as Carver will do anything to increase the circulation of his newspapers and the ratings of his news programs. He arranges to have a British naval ship sunk which almost starts a war.
No. 9 — “Thunderball” (1965) — The finale, a battle at sea, again drags a little. But that’s the only fault in this very good 007 outing. Bond (Connery) heads to the Bahamas to stop Spectre and its henchman Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi) from using two atomic bombs as extortion. The film’s opening is great. One of Spectre’s other henchman fakes his own death and dresses up as his widow. Bond expresses his condolences with his own fists and escapes using a jetpack.
No. 8 — “License To Kill” (1989) — Critics had this movie for lunch, but I liked Timothy Dalton’s final film as Bond. Notorious drug dealer Sanchez (Robert Davi) seriously wounds Bond’s friend, CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison) and murders his wife Della (Priscilla Barnes). Sanchez finds out the hard way it’s not a good idea to anger Bond.
No. 7 — “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) — A nice comeback after the failure of “The Man With The Golden Gun.” Bond (Roger Moore) teams up with Soviet spy Anya Amasov (Barbara Bach) to stop Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) who only wants to destroy the world so he can start a civilization underwater. There’s so much to like about this movie — the first appearance of Jaws (Richard Kiel), the killer with the metal overbite, and the opening sequence that has Bond (stuntman Rick Sylvester) skiing off the side of a mountain trying to escape KGB assassins and revealing a British flag parachute — rank the highest.
No. 6 — “From Russia With Love” (1963) — Bond (Connery) earned his paycheck as he tries to get a Soviet decoding machine back to England safely with beautiful Soviet diplomatic clerk Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) at his side. And while doing that he had to deal with Spectre assassins Red Grant (Robert Shaw) and Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) who sports a pair of shoes that can kill. The fight to the death between Bond and Shaw aboard a train is one of the best fights of the series.
No. 5 — “Dr. No” (1962) — The series got out of the gate in a good way. Bond (Connery) is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of a British agent. He discovers Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) who is working towards disrupting an early American space launch. He also meets Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress) who sports one of the most famous bikinis in the history of film. Jack Lord played CIA aget Felix Leiter six years before he started saying, “Book ’em Dano”
on “Hawaii 5-0.”
No. 4 — “Casino Royale” (2006) — Daniel Craig hit a home run in his Bond debut. There are no larger-than-life villians. This is just excellent good versus evil storytelling. Bond is trying to stop terrorist financier LeChiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) by trying to bankrupt him in the big high-stakes poker game going on at Casino Royale in Montenegro. Bond ends up in what becomes a doomed love affair with Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), a British treasury employee who is guarding the money that the government gave Bond for the poker game. The running chase early in the film between Bond and a bomber through a construction site and on construction cranes is beyond spectacular.
No. 3 — “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) — This is the best Bond film with Roger Moore as 007. It has just the right combination of action and humor and Moore is allowed to kick a** and take names. 007 is trying to recover a stolen missile command system and trying to keep it from the Soviets. It takes him from the winter resort of Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy where Bond flees an assassin and starts a chase that begins at a ski jump, heads down a hill and then sees Bond skiing down a bobsled run. And who can forget the finale in Greece at a monastery on top of mountain where Bond (stuntman Rick Sylvester) falls off the slide of the cliff and only his rope keeps him alive.
No. 2 — “Skyfall” (2012) — This movie went beyond the typical Bond fare. It showed the cost that 007 (Craig) has paid to be who he is. We get a sense of his mortality. And we see the flaws that start to appear in his boss M (Judi Dench’s last film in the role). At the end, we sense Bond is reenergized to keep going and this film renergized the series after the stumble of “Quantum of Solace” (2008).
No. 1 — “Goldfinger” (1964) — Connery and the series hit their stride with this one and never looked back. It is the perfect Bond film with one of the greatest villains in Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), one of the best Bond female characters in Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) and who can forget Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) whose bowler hat you could lose your head over. Bond has to stop Goldfinger from blowing up a nuclear bomb in Fort Knox which would ruin the U.S. gold supply and make Goldfinger rich beyond his dreams with his own gold supply. I still get a thrill when I hear the first notes of the theme song sung by Shirley Bsssey.
UNTIL NEXT TIME. . .