Monday, January 28, 2008

Jaws is smiling. Maybe you'd better smile, too.

I've had some feedback from my call to rank the top 5 or 10 James Bond movies of all time. I'm going to post my own version first. Then I'll take it, the other lists people have submitted, and any feedback this post generates and turn them into one master list.

If there's a Roger Moore lean in my own list, that's probably because he was the first Bond I remember. The first movie I can remember seeing is A View to a Kill.

So here's my list, though just about any of these could be No. 1, and so could a few others, and I probably wouldn't complain.

5. For Your Eyes Only
Against my buddy Ryan Mohs' advice, this wasn't in my initial top 5.
But with the cliff scene, the octagon-glass-wearing villain, the Greek underworld feud and the gorgeous cross-bow wielding Melina Havelock bent on avenging her parents, how could it not be? It also includes the only time I know of that Bond declined to have sex with an attractive woman without actually having sex with her later. He offered to buy her an ice cream cone instead. What a gentleman.

4. Diamonds are Forever
A little hokey (wait, is that even a criticism for a Bond movie?) but it's entertaining. Plus, it's set in Vegas. Jill St. John (aka Tiffany Case) is the Bond girl I'd be most likely to date, until she dropped me like rock. But I do love the way she rolls her eyes. Plus, this one has those crazy gay killer guys, Ernst Blofeld, a kidnapped billionaire, a character named "Plenty O'Toole" (named after her father, no doubt) and a maniacal plot that hinges on a cassette tape. Riiiiigghhhht. I'll watch it every time.

Ms. Case, taking a terribly reasonable attitude toward all of this.

3. Casino Royale
Much grittier than we're used to because it's about the birth of Bond as he transitions from the British Navy to the British Secret Service. Here we have the birth of his martini, and he drinks bourbon, too. Held up as a movie by various copyright issues, this was Ian Fleming's first Bond novel. Current day production values help, but I think this is the most fully realized Bond movie. At times scenes are ridiculous, as in all Bond movies, but they never lose their edge. I wouldn't want all Bond pictures to be like this, and it's hard to name a movie so uncharacteristic of the franchise No. 1, but I came awfully close to doing just that. If the villain was better I think I would have. Poker playing terrorism financiers just don't compare to anyone who's ever built an underwater complex in an effort to wipe out humanity.

2. The Spy who Loved me

For many years I thought this was my favorite, but my judgement is clouded by simply the greatest opening sequence in the franchise. If I could get the Bond people to allow just one opening scene onto youtube in full, this would be it. The movie itself is solid, Bond girl Barbara Bach is fantastic, there's an underwater lair, a plot to destroy mankind, and the damn movie even has Jaws in it, people, Jaws. But that opener, in a franchise that has given us many great ones, is without peer. Nobody does it better. Or with a larger British flag.

Agent Triple X, I presume.

1. The Man with the Golden Gun
My personal favorite. Professional assassins, one good, one evil, one with a superfluous third nipple, in a battle to the death officiated by a midget on a tropical island in the south China sea. Seriously, if you don't love that, get the &%$# out of America. It's also got that ridiculous sheriff from Louisiana in it and Mary Goodnight.

Your solex agitator joke here.

A few others I'll mention. Some of these will probably end up in my personal top 10 if we expand this thing, which I imagine I'll do before the list is finalized:

A View to a Kill: I saw somewhere online that named this the worst Bond movie of all time and said it wasn't even close. Ridiculous. It's arguably the funniest of the Bond pictures, but, then, Roger Moore was always the master of the pithy comeback. Anything with Christopher Walken and Grace Jones as eviled-out steroid freaks can't be all that bad.

License to Kill: Look, this is the worst Bond movie. In the climactic chase scene Bond has taken control of a gasoline tanker truck which, of course, has a bunch of cocaine mixed in with the gas. They try shooting a stolen Stinger missle at him, but he manages to pop the 18 wheeler up on nine wheels, the Stinger goes underneath and hits another truck. Even in a series that made its name on ridiculous stunts, that has got to be the dumbest thing I've ever seen in a legitimate big-budget movie. Seriously, I want to take the guy who green-lit this thing out into the forest and let rabid wolves crush his balls.

Live and Let Die: Ridiculous and a little confusing, yet I will still watch it. It would probably be pretty good if it made a little more sense. In fact, this movie is terrible. But I do love Jane Seymour. Truly.

Dr. No: The original. The dude with the metal hands is scary. If ever a Bond flick called out for a remake, this is it. They did great things with a reported $300,000 budget, but they needed more money.

From Russia with Love: Underrated. It's always better when SPECTRE is involved. And can we make train trips a requirement in Bond films?

Octopussy: A great plot and some of the best one-liners in the franchise, including:

Kamal Khan: Mr. Bond, you have a nasty habit of surviving.
Bond: Yes, well, you know what they say about the fittest.

GoldenEye: My favorite Pierce Brosnan one, followed by The World is not Enough. It's ridiculous, but I do like the opening scene, where bond drives a motorcycle off a cliff at an exploding Russian base, climbs into a free-falling airplane and takes control of it to escape. That's a nice move.

Moonraker: Jaws in it, people. Jaws.

Goldfinger: You can keep your ridiculous plot and your Pussy Galore, but Jill Masterson is beautiful, Odd-Job is the classic bond archetype killer that started the classic Bond archetype killer genre, and it's got the best line a Bond villain ever got to say:

Bond: Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?
Goldfinger: No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

Really? Then maybe you should have just shot him, you know?


Anonymous said...

i've heard people say before that roger moore is THE 007 to them because he's the first they ever saw, but i just don't get it.

that's like saying, "the first version of 'psycho' i ever saw was the remake with vince vaughn as norman bates, so to me, vaughn will always be the best norman bates, not anthony perkins."

yes, the first bond i ever saw was moore, but i got over it IMMEDIATELY after i saw one starring sean connery. :-)

but anyway, all bond movies are so good (even when they're so BAD) that i'll watch any one of them over and over and over again. and they're great fun to argue about!

(btw, whoever told you "view to a kill" is awful is ON CRACK!!! crazy grace jones! even crazier christopher walken!! what more do they want in a movie?)

--erin ivanov

VictoratGaImproper said...

Dr Strangelove should have been a Bond character:

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