To celebrate 007’s fifty years in cinema and the release of the twenty third Bond outing Skyfall (2012) FilmsFilmsFilms is giving away a copy of "Best of Bond...James Bond 50 Years – 50 Tracks”. This wonderful two CD set contains all of the Bond theme songs up to Quantum of Solace (2008) on its first disc, and throws in twenty seven of the best instrumental themes from across the entire Bond series on disc two. For a chance to win this great double set, read on.
On the 5th October James Bond reached the half century mark, with the fifty year anniversary of the release of the first 007 picture Dr. No (1962). Despite the dubious title, Terence Young’s film launched the greatest action franchise of all time. With twenty three movies to pour over FilmsFilmsFilms now provides their pick of the best Bondian ingredients from the past five decades.
Best Bond –
One of those never ending movie debates, everyone has a theory on the best man to wield the Walter PPK. Sean Connery is the popular choice, the first and therefore the best in many people’s eyes. But the Scotsman’s lack of acknowledgement of the role that launched his career moves him off my top spot (he was the only Bond missing from Bafta’s excellent 2002 tribute). Pierce Brosnan pulled the franchise out of the doldrums in a role he had been lobbying for since the mid-eighties. But his run of films quickly dipped in quality and Pierce started to look bored. Timothy Dalton is recognised by true Bond fanatics as the closest to Ian Fleming’s original vision, but like George Lazenby his work was too fleeting to leave a solid impression. New boy Daniel Craig has taken the superspy’s emotional void to the extreme, so much so his Bond is bordering on unsympathetic robot territory.
Which leaves my best Bond, the people’s 007, the eyebrow and the mole, Roger Moore. Sir Rog has always been grateful for the fame and fortune Bond afforded him and it’s this sort of warm affection we like to see from our home-grown actors. Moore was also the most worthy of our cheers. As the underdog Bond victory was never a sure thing with Roger; he had to really work at it. Just look at his epic tussles with man-mountain Jaws. It would have been less of a struggle for toughman Connery or the icy cold Dalton or Craig. It was our support that got Moore across the finish line. Recognising that Bond was fantasy, a pure entertainment vehicle, Moore perfected the Bond blend of humour and action (though not to the detriment of the spy’s dark side – Moore’s shady moments are often overlooked). So it’s Sir Roger we salute for his seven wonderful tuxedo clad outings.
Best Bond Girl –
So many beauties to choose from, where to start? Sometimes the need to shoehorn in the lovelies has strained story credibility to breaking point (Denise Richards as a nuclear scientist anyone?). But most audience members are happy to overlook such implausibilities to gawp at more of Hollywood’s most statuesque females. Ursula Andress usually gets the nod as best Bond girl for being the first and for filling out a white bikini in the most heavenly way imaginable. Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore remains iconic for her bold as brass approach, as does Daniela Bianchi for her fragile Tantiana Romanova. I like to give Famke Janssen and Grace Jones props for their mad as a bag of badgers Xenia Onatopp and May Day respectively.
My top pick from the traditional Bond girl line up has to be the leggy Maud Adams, the only lady to snag two proper Bond girl roles in separate films (playing Andrea Anders in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) and Octopussy in the film of the same name). With the brains to match her high Scandinavian cheek bones it was no wonder the Swedish born actress got two bites of the cherry. But she doesn’t grab our overall grand prize. That title goes to one of our very own, Dame Judi Dench. Following Bernard Lee and Robert Brown was no easy task but Dench added an unexpected element into the mix, sexual chemistry. There was an undeniable spark between Brosnan and Dench when the Dame became M in Goldeneye (1995) Bond finding it hard to resist the authority of his power suited boss. And to be honest, who can blame him.
Bond Villain –
Baldy Blofeld was Bond’s nemesis for many an outing, but there have been a whole cavalcade of top notch bad guys over the years. Personal faves include Dracula himself Christopher Lee (the real life cousin of Ian Fleming) as Scaramanga, Yaphet Kotto’s Mr. Big, and Sean Bean’s turncoat Alec Trevelyan. But one stands head and beefy shoulders above the rest, Robert Shaw’s Donald "Red” Grant.
With the impressive ability to withstand a knuckle duster to the ribs, Grant is the evil ying to Bond’s yang, the blonde assassin to our dark haired hero. It’s only Grant’s lack of sophistication in wine department that lets him down, a slip up which sees the Spectre agent giving Bond a damn good thrashing in the best fight sequence in the entire series. Their train encased mano-a-mano dust up is brutal as heads smash into light sockets and windows are put out. Bond has to get dirty in the end, stabbing Grant with a concealed knife and finishing him off with his own garrotte.
Bond Theme –
You think Bond theme, you think Shirley Bassey. The two go hand in hand thanks to her bombastic Goldfinger and Diamonds Are Forever tunes. But can the Welsh warbler lay claim to the best Bond theme of all time? Paul McCartney’s Live and Let Die is a delight, while Louis Armstrong’s We Have All The Time In The World is a truly moving piece of music. Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better is of course an unofficial anthem for the entire series, but my personal choice has always been an underrated showstopper of a song; Gladys Knight and her Licence To Kill. As equally eardrum shattering as Bassey’s belters, the song was loosely based on a riff from the Goldfinger theme. It builds wonderfully to a big finish across one of the best melodies ever written for any theme song, let alone Bond.
Bond Moment –
The choices get tougher; there are so many personal favourites to choose from in the Bond moment category. The volcano lair battle from You Only Live Twice (1967) setting down the gold standard for climatic set-pieces, the opening bungee jump from Goldeneye (1995) which announced a stunning return, the poker game from Casino Royale (2006) which reinvented series ideals, The Man With The Golden Gun’s (1974) mind blowing aerial car jump, the Rosa Klebb knife-shoe fight from From Russia With Love (1963) which terrified me as a ten year old, the Egyptian tangle with Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) which did likewise a year later. And of course Daniel Craig getting his knackers rearranged, "You died scratching my balls”.
But my own personal favourite (Madonna cameo aside) ironically comes from my least favourite Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969). Memorable for being so un-Bond, the climatic moment when Lazenby cradles the dead body of his very recent bride (Diana Rigg) is the only time the series moved out of Bond’s world and into ours. A simple drive by shooting and a world is thrown upside down. There are consequences, lives lost amongst all this lavish chaos, most tellingly shown at the start of For Your Eyes Only (1981) when Bond lays flowers at his dead wife’s grave.
Bond Movie –
The ultimate choice; is it possible to name just one? Goldfinger (1964) is oft sited as the quintessential Bond movie and its hard to argue with that. But everyone has their own favourites, no doubt for personal reasons, and this Bond fan is no different. My two top Bond movies are Live and Let Die (1973) for its blaxploitation flavourings, its speed boat chase and its sprinkle of voodoo supernatural horror, and A View To A Kill (1985). This latter Bond is usually a front runner for worst Bond movie, and though my eighties leanings cut it a lot of slack, I’m still baffled as to why fans don’t like it. A great theme song, some wonderful set pieces, Grace Jones’ unforgettable Bond femme fatale, and Christopher Walken on villain duties; its a recipe for double-oh-heaven.
So those are my choices. To get your hands on that copy of "James Bond 50 Years – 50 Tracks” all you have to do is email in to FilmsFilmsFilms (firstname.lastname@example.org) to let us know your own top choices (Bond, Bond Girl, Villain, Theme, Moment and Movie) and your reasons for naming the same. The wittiest, funniest, Bondest submission nabs the prize and gets their choices added to the Film Blog. Deadline for entries is midnight Friday 26th October; don’t forget to include your name and address.
Alternatively, if you just want to email to say "Stop getting Bond wrong”, you know the name, you know the email address.