Top 10 James Bond Movies : Part 2
Many people have their own views on who the best James Bond actor is and what the best movies are, and there are many articles written on the subject. Well, here's my take on the matter.
My favourite 007 actor is without a doubt Sean Connery, and in general, I prefer older movies, so you'll probably notice my bias in the article.
Be sure to read Part 1 first!
#5 You Only Live Twice
You Only Live Twice, released in 1967, was the last movie Sean Connery did before retiring from the role. Although he came back for Diamonds Are Forever (and the unofficial Never Say Never Again), many people consider this to be his last good movie. Personally I quite liked DAF, but I digress.
You Only Live Twice was a great movie, and coincidentally, my favourite James Bond novel. Production Designer Ken Adam created what could possibly be the best set of all time, the $1 million 45 meter high volcano! The set included a fully working monorail and helipad, and at the time was the biggest set ever built.
You Only Live Twice had more than just a good set though. It had great casting, especially with regards to Tanaka and Aki, an engaging plot, and many explosive action scenes. I particularly liked the part where Tanaka's men dropped into the volcano, and of course who could forget Q in shorts!
#4 Dr. No
Released in 1962, Dr. No brought James Bond to the silver screen for the first time, and launched Sean Connery into international stardom. Now, although this is only 3rd on the list, it definitely ranks #1 for plain style.
The reason I prefer the older movies, is partially because of Sean Connery, but also because of the style of the time period. Consider, for example, the opening scene in Quantum of Solace. They tried to make a car chase appear faster than it was, by shooting it in close-up.. for the entire scene. This quickly became annoying, and at points confusing, as it can be difficult to tell whats happening when all you can see is the car door! Compare that to the brilliant chase scenes from Diamonds Are Forever, For Your Eyes Only, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and of course, Dr. No.
The location for Crab Key was beautiful, and perhaps one of the best natural environments in the series, made even better by the sight of Ursula Andress emerging from the sea in a white bikini. Dr. No also focused greatly on a storyline, and managed to blend it perfectly with the intense action scenes and beautiful women.
Overall, Dr. No was a spectacular movie, and well deserving of its high place in this list. True, it was simple, but that's what made it so good. Consider the classic scene where Bond puts a hair across the closet door, and fingerprint powder on his breif case. That would certainly have no place in today's 'new age' cinema, and is part of why Dr. No is a true classic.
#3 From Russia with Love
Is it true that for most series, the first movie is by far the best (Back to the Future, Indiana Jones.. etc). However i find that this axiom was almost reveresed for the Bond series, atleast for the very early ones.
Released in 1963, I found that From Russia with Love was degrees better than Dr. No. Honey Ryder was fantastic, but Tatiana Romanova played a much more central part to the storyline here. There were many great characters in the movie, Rosa Klebb, Kerim Bey, Red Grant, Kronsteen and Vavra, to name a few.
From Russia with Love was filled with many gems. The Gypsy Camp, the fight between Vida & Zora, the entire train sequence, as well as Red Grant's entrance. A real classic.
#2 On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Released in 1969, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is probably the most underrated James Bond movie of all time. At the time, it was looked down on because the series had lost Sean Connery for the first time. Now, I guess people have a prejudice against George Lazenby because of the film's bad reputation, and perhaps assume he was bad because he only played the role once.
Among true Bond aficionados however, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is highly regarded. It was editor Peter Hunt's first and only direction, and he was given what I consider to be the second best Bond novel to work with.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service is very unique in the James Bond series. It has a true love story, and a real women instead of the usual one-night stands of the others. It also has a fully instrumental theme, a beautiful composition by John Barry, often overlooked due to the movies' poor popularity. James Bond even gets married!
Another important point about On Her Majesty's Secret Service, is that it stayed extremely close to the plot of the novel, more so than any other Bond film. Ian Fleming was a superb writer, and invented many bizarre and interesting adventures for 007. Most of these were completely scrapped and rewritten, but On Her Majesty's Secret Service stayed faithful to the novel, and the film benefited highly from it.
Overall I really liked every element of the movie. I thought George Lazenby made a decent Bond, and Diana Rigg was the perfect match for Mrs. Bond. Many people say that this would have been the best Bond movie if only Sean Connery had starred. While it was a pity that Connery missed the only time Bond ever wore a kilt, I tend to disagree. For one, the style of the film wouldn't have suited Sean, and if he hadn't retired, it would have turned out completely different, so it isn't really comparable.
Some of my favourite elements of On Her Majesty's Secret Service are really the winter aspects of the film. I really enjoy the skiing scenes near the end of the movie, and the winter driving scenes that follow. It set a great atmosphere, and I really love the extreme snow effects, just before they drive into the barn. I also particularly like the opening scene, where the shadowed James Bond lights up a cigarette while driving. What style.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service really is a masterpiece, and if it weren't for my love of Sean Connery, and the following cinema classic, it would definitely get first place.
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Dr. No came in 1962, followed by an even better sequel in 1963, From Russia with Love. The series continued its trend, and in 1964, released the best movie of the series, Goldfinger.
Goldfinger was a phenomenal success, and an astonishing movie. It starred actor Gert Frobe as Auric Goldfinger, a perfect image and a great reflection of the character in the novel. It also introduced the legendary gadget laiden Aston Martin DB5, as well as Q's laboratory.
From the moment the movie starts, it flings into action. Bond swims in with his diving gear disguised as a seagul, and plants plastic explosives on some barrels. Then, in the true style of Bond, he pulls off his drysuit to reveal a white tuxedo, a Rolex Submariner, and a Dunhill Lighter. After a large explosion, a beautiful women, and a positively shocking scene, it goes into the titles. What an introduction!
I love how daring they were to display major scenes from the movie, in it's own title screen. Goldfinger really had it all, beautiful women, the provocative name of Pussy Galore, a superb cast, especially in terms of Goldfinger and Oddjob. A hilarious and memorable scene with M at the Bank of England, a magnificent surreal set design of Fort Knox, the intriguing design of Goldfinger's Rumpus room.
Not to forget the famous line "No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!". The opening scene of the movie, after the title's, was also superb. A beautiful helicopter view of Miami, slowly moving in a hotel, and a pool, and divers. Goldfinger was phenomenal in all respects, it had a great story, cast, sets, and above all, style. It really does hands down deserve the #1 spot, and it's title as The Best Movie Ever Made.
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