By James Hancock July 22nd, 2015
Ever since the release of From Russia with Love in 1963, hardcore James Bond fans have been overjoyed at the sight of ‘James Bond Will Return In…’ at the end of the closing credits of the classic Bond films. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige was such a fan he decided to utilize the same approach in his slate of superhero flicks, which is fitting in that for many fanboys like myself, James Bond is the first really successful superhero franchise on film. With the release of the new trailer for SPECTRE today, we are all now counting down to the day when James Bond will officially return (Nov. 6th in the US, Oct. 26th in the UK). I’m a fanatic for James Bond, always have been, and like many fans considered Skyfall (2012) to be one of the greatest James Bond films ever, not just for the story it told, but also for how the closing scenes successfully reset the James Bond franchise back to the familiar template of the early 1960s. Of course, that template is incomplete without Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE and I pity anyone that attempts to stand between me and seeing this movie at the earliest possible time. The best James Bond films always feature a dynamic villain and of all the actors walking the earth Christoph Waltz is the most likely to have been anointed at birth to match wits eventually with 007. November, however, is very far away and many of us will need to scratch the itch to see James Bond in action long before then. So I decided to dust off a little highlight list of my favorite James Bond ingredients that I first assembled back in March of this year. Enjoy the new trailer linked below and then have a look below at my favorite moments in the history of the James Bond franchise.
Best Behind the Scenes Pictures From Set
It is only appropriate that we start at the beginning with “Dr. No” (1962). While younger audiences today might find the movie to be hopelessly old fashioned, the movie features one scene that will continue to be rediscovered as long as red-blooded men walk the earth, Ursula Andress singing “Underneath the Mango Tree” while collecting shells with a knife strapped to her hip. A lucky photographer was on set to capture some images of Ursula and Sean Connery goofing around between takes and the shots are pure gold.
Close Second Place…
Best James Bond Artist
Robert McGinnis is an amazing illustrator who has done incredible work on countless book covers and movie posters. Arguably the finest work of his career features the world of James Bond. Nobody understands better the sex appeal, glamour, and shameless charm of the Bond franchise than McGinnis. His work speaks for itself.
Best Bond Girl
This category does not require much conversation. Just about every Bond girl has a special place in my heart but only one reigns supreme, Barbara Bach aka Agent XXX from “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977). Just as lethal and self-assured as Bond, she not only gets the drop on Bond repeatedly throughout the movie, she continues to stagger my imagination to this very day. Ringo Starr is a lucky man.
Best Skiing Sequence
On a rare special occasion we get treated to an epic skiing sequence in a James Bond film. We haven’t had a great one in a while but hardcore fans fondly remember the ski sequences from “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) and “A View to a Kill” (1985). “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) might have the best ski stunt I’ve ever seen in a movie, but the gold medal goes to “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) for the greatest ski sequence of all time with an astonishing music track called “Runaway” by Bill Conti. Enjoy.
Best Bond Song
George Lazenby did not win over a lot of fans when he took over the franchise briefly from Sean Connery in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. He only lasted for one movie due to a conflict with the film’s producers. Personally I quite like the movie but what I love in particular is the gorgeous opening music by the John Barry Orchestra. I used to play it on repeat while killing my friends playing “Goldeneye” on my N64 back in the late 1990s. For my money the song still totally kicks ass.
Best Opening Title Sequence
Since the very beginning of the franchise, Bond flicks have always featured brilliant opening title sequences with naked girls in silhouette and James Bond casually dispatching his opponents. Maybe by 2006 I was just desperately in need of an outstanding Bond experience but as the opening credits began for “Casino Royale” I knew that Bond was back in fine form and that I was in very good hands. The song leaves a little to be desired but the animated action sequences give me goose bumps each time I watch it.
Best Casino Scene
“Casino Royale” (2006) gets another shout out with the best casino sequence of any Bond film. While Bond indulges in games of chance in just about every one of his movies, this was the first film where playing cards was such an essential part of the plot that Bond manages to seal an enemy’s doom simply by outwitting him at poker.
Best Fight Scene
The Sixties aren’t exactly famous for their brilliant fight scenes. This was the decade that abused most frequently the mysterious power of a judo chop to the neck. But with Connery’s second outing as Bond, “From Russia With Love” (1963), director Terence Young concocted an insanely violent, claustrophobic fight inside a train car between Bond and Robert Shaw’s character Grant. More than fifty years later, the fight still holds up really well.
I have no idea how many hundreds if not thousands of movies, novels and television shows have either taken inspiration from or tried to ridicule the Bond franchise over the last half century, but for me there is only one heavyweight champion when it comes to impersonations of Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and the infamous Scaramanga played by Christopher Lee, “The Trip” (2010). In a now classic scene, Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon take turns paying homage to Bond and his villains in an effort to outshine the other to hilarious effect. Sublime stuff.
Best Guilty Pleasure
The musical tastes associated with the Bond franchise have more or less managed to stay current with the period in which the movies are made. Artists as diverse as Paul McCartney, Madonna, Tina Turner and the unforgettable Shirley Bassey have all played a role in defining the style and atmosphere of a proper James Bond experience. Occasionally these Bond themes result in a monster hit like “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran or “Skyfall” by Adele which my ten-year-old sister at the time couldn’t stop singing for months. There is one song, however, that makes me red in the face when I admit to liking it, “Nobody Does it Better” performed by Carly Simon from “The Spy Who Loved Me”. Maybe it is due to being paired up with one of the most blatantly erotic title sequences in the history of the series, but this tune absolutely fills me with glee.
I’m going to bend the rules for this one but I can’t go with only one villain in that this pair is impossible to think of except for as one unit, Auric Goldfinger and Oddjob from the quintessential Bond film, “Goldfinger” (1964). They are the perfect combination with Goldfinger’s brilliant criminal mind and wealth and Oddjob’ s near-indestructibility and crazy fucking hat. They might be relics from a bygone era but I can think of no other Bond villain that even comes close to this duo.
Most Outrageous Bond Girl Name
This is a really deep division with many serious contenders to consider including Xenia Onatopp, Chew Mee, Octopussy, Agent XXX, Dr. Goodhead and of course, the legendary Pussy Galore. In the end I guess there really is no way to dispute it. Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore is a character that will never be forgotten as long as dirty old men like myself are around to remember her.
While not necessarily one of my favorite Bond movies, “Moonraker” (1979) features my favorite one-liner and surprisingly James Bond does not even have the honor of delivering it. The legendary Desmond Llewelyn aka Q absolutely shines with this double entendre as he monitors James Bond and Dr. Goodhead’s return in a shuttle from outer space.
Many movies have paid homage to the Bond franchise but none so effectively and gloriously entertaining as Matthew Vaughn’s “Kingsman: The Secret Service”. I love this scene in particular where Colin Firth and Samuel L Jackson discuss their admiration for the classic Bond films.
Roger Moore will always be my Bond in that I grew up with him and first discovered the franchise through his interpretation of the character, but I have to say that after seeing “Casino Royale” and “Skyfall” I’m ready to call Daniel Craig the greatest Bond yet. Most will cry foul at my not automatically picking Sean Connery as the greatest Bond ever and obviously he is a total badass who played a crucial role in defining Bond for the public. But there’s something about Daniel Craig that feels a little sleazy and a little psychotic that captures the James Bond of Ian Fleming’s novels better than any actor to date. I hope he sticks with the character for many movies to come.
So that’s all I have for now. Would love to hear what categories you think should be included. I’m beyond fired up to see what Sam Mendes is cooking up with the latest movie and as far as I’m concerned November can’t arrive quickly enough.
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