James Bond Films
Bond Films - Overall Rankings:
Over the first 50 years of the Bond film franchise, the intriguing super-hero lead role of James Bond has been played by six actors in 23 films - Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig. Currently, Roger Moore is the longest continually-serving James Bond actor (with 12 years and 7 films). The action-oriented, sophisticated and skillful agent, with a taste for fancy clothes (often tuxedos), dry vodka martinis ('shaken, not stirred') and cars (notably the Aston Martin DB5, the Lotus Esprit, and various BMWs), has battled various types of eccentric, deadly and infamous criminals who planned to assault the world. According to Guinness World Records, the highest box-office gross for a film series was "James Bond" although this has been proven inaccurate. See Greatest Film Franchises: Box-Office for other statistics.
Obviously, the films have had to adapt to the times due to changes in culture and technology - some have succeeded and some have failed to a lesser degree. Problems have included uneven plots, aging Bonds, changes in MI6 personnel and Bond Girl beauties, and one-liners that no longer bring a laugh. Some of the Bond franchise films have done better than others in terms of appeal and quality. In particular, the Roger Moore Bond films have not stood the test of time as well as many of the other Bonds and their films. The rankings below are obviously subjective, although based on numerous reviews and Filmsite's own evaluation.
|Notable: Sean Connery was the
definitive Bond in peak form in this film (his third), with the
perfect mix of plot, stunts, bad guys, vehicles (including the
first appearance of the Aston Martin DB5 with lots of nifty gadgets), etc. This was the first of four Guy Hamilton-directed
James Bond films. Trademark elements included gadget-guru Q (Desmond
Llewelyn), the pre-title credits sequence, and suggestive Bond
girl names. This film had the first instance of Bond's phrase:
"A martini, shaken, not stirred." Won an Academy Award for Best
Plot: Goldfinger's scheme to infiltrate Fort Knox's treasury in Kentucky stocked with gold bars. The bullion would be irradiated to make it worthless, in order to manipulate world economies and cause a financial meltdown. Goldfinger's own gold would be increased in value.
Bond Villains: Nefarious Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) and mute henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) with a deadly steel-rimmed bowler hat (serving as Goldfinger's chauffeur, golf caddy, and assassin)
Best Bond Girl: Lesbian-leaning Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman), a pilot with her five-person, all-female aerial troupe flying Piper planes: "Pussy Galore's Flying Circus." Bond quipped: "You're a woman of many parts, Pussy!"
Set-pieces: Bond strapped to a table and threatened with a bisecting laser (Bond: "Do you expect me to talk?" Goldfinger: "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!"); the climactic Fort Knox assault and the one-on-one fight between Bond and Oddjob in the vault.
Memorable Deaths: Ill-fated Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) suffocated by being painted in gold, and both of the villains' demises (electrocution, and sucked out of an airplane window).
Theme Song: With Shirley Bassey's theme song: "Goldfinger" about "the man with the Midas touch."
|Notable: A successful reboot (and origin
story) of the series following four Brosnan Bond films (from 1995-2002).
The opening sequence was filmed in B/W, with a flashback to Bond's
brutal first kills. This was the first film with Daniel Craig as
a grittier, vicious and meaner Bond. He reprised Honey Ryder's
(Ursula Andress) rise from the ocean in Dr.
No (1962) in a skimpy
bathing suit. One of the longest Bond films, at 144 minutes. Without
campy elements, cute gadgets, and silly jokes.
Plot: A scheming financier named Le Chiffre - "a private banker to the world's terrorists," acquired significant losses for his clients (a guerrilla group). His desire was to recoup his debts and losses through gambling in a high-stakes poker tournament at the Casino Royale Texas Hold 'Em tournament. Bond's goal was to thwart his plans by bankrupting Le Chiffre, capturing him alive, and providing him with sanctuary in exchange for providing information to MI6.
Bond Villains: Terrorist financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) (with a bleeding cut over and through his left eye), and deadly Mr. White (Jesper Christensen).
Best Bond Girl: Intelligent, feisty Treasury agent/liaison officer Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) - a raven-haired, green-eyed beauty. Her name was a play on 'West Berlin.' Although devoted to Bond, she double-crossed him, then tried to redeem herself in the tragic conclusion.
Set-pieces: Exciting stunts including a parkour foot chase between Bond and a bombmaker, beginning on a crane in Madagascar and proceeding through a slum and ending with a shootout at the Nambutu Embassy, a chase at Miami International Airport, an exciting poker game sequence, Bond's naked torture in a chair by whipping his genitals with a knotted rope, and the concluding thrilling gunfight and escape from a collapsing (or sinking) building in Venice rigged with explosives.
Settings: Madagascar, the Bahamas, Montenegro, Venice.
From Russia With Love (1963)
|Notable: Sean Connery's second Bond film, that
established many of the conventions or traditions of the film series,
including multiple locations (Istanbul, Venice, and Switzerland),
a lush John Barry score, a compelling villain (SPECTRE No. 1,
Blofeld though not named as such), and realistic with Cold War paranoia.
The first film featuring actor Desmond Llewelyn as gadget-master
Plot: A Great Cold War Bond adventure-thriller, regarding a stolen Russian cryptographic decoding device that would be sold back to them, thus embarrassing MI6 (the British Secret Service). Also, SPECTRE was seeking revenge for Dr. No's death (from the previous film) by killing Bond (and retrieving the decoder) after catching him in a humiliating sex scandal with a duped Bond girl.
Bond Villains: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, SPECTRE No. 1 (uncredited Anthony Dawson) seen petting a white Persian cat in his lap; villainess SPECTRE No. 3, Col. Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) with a poison-tipped toe spike and brass knuckles; and ex-Dartmoor prisoner and hired "homicidal paranoiac" SPECTRE assassin - blonde agent Donald "Red" Grant (Robert Shaw).
Best Bond Girl: Duped sexy Russian cipher clerk and gorgeous blonde seductress Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi, Miss Rome and runner-up Miss Universe), appearing nude with dark velvet choker.
Set-pieces: The shoot-out in the gypsy camp, and the hand-to-hand fistfight in a tiny Orient Express train compartment between Bond and SPECTRE's Grant, and the powerboat chase-pursuit.
Setting: Istanbul, and mostly on the train.
|Notable: The best of the Roger Moore Bond films,
his third of seven films. An important entry, following the failure
of The Man With the Golden Gun
(1974). Academy Award nominated for three honors (the most
of any Bond film): Best Original Song, "Nobody Does It Better," Best
Original Score, and Best Art Direction-Set Decoration.
Plot: The main villain's plan was to hijack nuclear subs (with a stolen submarine tracking system on secret microfilm), load them with missiles, and then fire them to destroy the superpowers' cities of New York and Moscow. This would cause an era of nuclear annihilation and global destruction. He would create a "new and beautiful" civilization rebuilt under-water in a huge spider-like structure, so he could rule the oceans.
Bond Villains: Madman capitalist shipping magnate and evil billionaire Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) (possessing a webbed hand and a preference for fish food), who maintained an underwater marine research laboratory at "Atlantis" off the coast of Sardinia; with his destructive, metal-mouthed, statuesque henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel).
Best Bond Girl: Beautiful and alluring Russian KGB agent Triple X (or XXX) Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), General Gogol’s top Soviet operative who wanted to kill Bond to avenge the death of her lover Sergei Borzov.
Set-pieces: In the opening scene Bond skied off a mountain - and free-fell until his Union Jack parachute popped open; the showdown amongst Egyptian ruins; Bond's white Lotus Esprit S1 sports-car turned into a submersible and fired sea-to-air missiles; and the concluding battle inside the gigantic cargo ship The Liparus which had hijacked nuclear subs.
Theme Song: With the great Carly Simon-sung, Marvin Hamlisch-penned "Nobody Does It Better" (with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager) - one of the best Bond theme songs in history.
Dr. No (1962)
|Notable: The first of the official Bond films,
debuting with Sean Connery's introduction in a casino: "Bond,
James Bond" and also the 'gun-barrel' view during the opening
credits, and the ridiculous names for Bond girls, etc. The first
of fourteen films to feature Lois Maxwell as M's secretary Miss Moneypenny
who frequently bantered with Bond. This film established many of
the main elements and templates for the Bond spy films to come, including
Bond's Walther PPK. It debuted the recurring villainous organization
- SPECTRE (SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism,
Plot: SPECTRE's Dr. No dreamed of "world domination" by interfering with, disrupting and sabotaging American space rockets (and their launches) with an atomic-powered, "toppling" radio beam. He was targeting the Project Mercury missile launch from Cape Canaveral. Bond was sent to investigate radio interference in Jamaica during rocket launches, and some mysterious deaths.
Bond Villain: SPECTRE operative - reclusive and menacing half-Chinese Dr. Julius No (Joseph Wiseman) (with metal prosthetic hands), noted for unusual murders (via 'three blind mice' assassins, a deadly tarantula, etc.).
Best Bond Girl: Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), the definitive voluptuous Bond girl, rising from the water in a white bikini.
Set-piece: The destruction of Dr. No's atomic-powered Crab Key (fictional island) base and his demise.
Setting: Beautiful locale of Jamaica.
|Notable: The 23rd film in the series after
a long four year gap since the last film, and the third film with
Daniel Craig as Bond, on the 50th Anniversary
of the Bond Films. Highly successful, both critically and financially
- it scored five Oscar nominations (a major
record for the 50 year-old franchise) and two
Oscar wins: Best Sound Editing, and Best Original Song. And
it was the first-ever billion-dollar Bond film. The film was
not a continuing story or sequel to the previous film, and uniquely
contained information about agent 007's childhood and past. Also,
the characters of Miss Moneypenny and Q were resurrected - with
new personas, and a new M took over MI6 after the death of M.
Plot: The main goal of twisted and sadistic cyberterrorist villain Raoul Silva was to humiliate agent Bond's superior M (Judi Dench) in front of the government. He was seeking revenge for a past injustice (betrayal and abandonment) when he worked for the Secret Service in Hong Kong with her in the 1980s-90s. He would cause a scandal through breaches of security that would force her resignation, as part of his plot to kill her.
Bond Villain: Raoul Silva (born Tiago Rodriguez) (Javier Bardem), a former MI6 operative seeking vengeance against M.
Best Bond Girl: Severine (Berenice Marlohe).
Set-pieces: the pre-credits opening sequence in Istanbul with the chase of a mercenary assassin across rooftops (via motorcycles) and atop a moving train; the 'shadow' fight (at nighttime against a backdrop of neon lights) on the top floor of a Shanghai skyscraper; Bond's pursuit of Silva (disguised as a uniformed policeman) in the Tube, and the final confrontation against Silva at the Skyfall estate.
Theme Song: One of its two Oscar wins was for Best Original Song (Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Adele's "Skyfall" - the first Original Song contender in 10 years to have also been a top-10 hit on Billboard's Hot 100). It was the first Oscar-nominated Bond tune since For Your Eyes Only (1981).
Settings: Istanbul, Turkey, Shanghai, China and Macau, and Scotland (at Skyfall).
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
|Notable: With a new Bond actor, unknown
Australian actor George Lazenby (the youngest
to play 007) who appeared only once as Bond
when Connery took a short leave of absence. In an early sequence,
he uniquely addressed the camera (and broke the fourth wall) with
the joke: "This
never happened to the other fellow."
Bond posed as fussy, ruffle-shirted genealogy expert Sir Hilary
Bray. With memorable and realistic action sequences, adventurous
sequences, and romance, without gadgetry.
Plot: The villain was planning biochemical (or bacteriological) warfare - he was going to ransom-blackmail (through extortion) the entire world through the United Nations, by threatening to distribute a deadly "Omega Virus" that would cause "total infertility" for all flora and fauna - the world's food supply. To dispense the killer virus around the world, he had trained (or brain-washed/hypnotized) his own female allergy patients (nicknamed "Angels of Death") for the task.
Bond Villains: Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas), and henchwoman assistant Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat).
Best Bond Girl: There were a large number of femme fatales in this film - the Angels of Death. Uniquely within the Bond films, the 007 agent married intriguing and ill-fated Bond girl Tracy di Vicenzo (The Avengers' Diana Rigg), although she was killed in the film's conclusion, with Bond cradling her body: "We Have All the Time in the World" (sung by Louis Armstrong).
Set-pieces: An avalanche, and an amazing ski chase sequence, and final bobsled chase.
Setting: A mountaintop setting in the Swiss Alps.
|Notable: Another strong entry from the quintessential
Bond, Sean Connery, his fourth Bond film (and Connery's favorite).
This was the highest-grossing (domestic) film of the series, when
adjusted for inflation. Won an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.
This was the only Bond film in which all Double-O agents were seen
in one place, in London, England, after M had summoned them to a briefing about SPECTRE's plot.
Plot: The villain's plan was to blackmail and threaten to destroy Miami with two massive thermonuclear weapons stolen from NATO. The stolen warheads would be used to extort money from NATO. Bond's goal was to thwart the plan before a ransom of "blood money" - in the form of blue-white diamonds worth £100 million pounds - was paid.
Bond Villain: Evil SPECTRE organization's leader Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), with white-hair and a black eye-patch, on his luxury hydrofoil yacht the Disco Volante (Flying Saucer).
Best Bond Girls: Enticing Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), much more interesting than Domino Derval (Claudine Auger) with a harpoon gun, or Paula Caplan (Martine Beswick).
Set-pieces: Bond's use of a jet-pack rocket belt, Largo's swimming pool filled with sharks, and the lengthy climactic underwater frogmen attack against Largo's operation.
Setting: the Bahamas.
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
|Notable: One of the stronger Roger Moore entries
(his fifth), a formulaic espionage film and played straightforward
with great action stunts after the failure of outer-spaced Moonraker
(1979). Academy Award nominated for Best Original Song, "For
Your Eyes Only."
Plot: A race ensued to recover a stolen and sunken ATAC missile-launching command system, lost in a mysterious wreck and sinking at sea. Once acquired, the vital, top-secret British piece of naval defense equipment (a frequency transmitter) could control British submarines (and their Polaris missiles). The villain planned to sell the technological device to the KGB.
Bond Villains: Wheelchair-bound, bald villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld sought revenge against Bond, and attempted to hijack Bond's helicopter and make it crash. Blofeld was dropped by Bond from the helicopter (once the remote control device was disconnected) into an industrial factory’s smokestack, in the pre-credits sequence - it was Blofeld's last screen appearance. The film's major villain was tycoon Aristotle ("Aris") Kristatos (Julian Glover).
Best Bond Girl: Vengeful Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) with a crossbow, although there was also young seductress and competitive ice-skater Bibi Dahl (former ice-skater Lynn-Holly Johnson). Bond joined forces with the revenge-seeking Greek woman Melina in pursuit of the main villain.
Set-pieces: The downhill ski chase in Northern Italy, and the concluding mountain-climbing sequence during an assault on Kristatos' St. Cyril's monastery hide-out by scaling a steep cliff.
Theme Song: With Sheena Easton's Oscar-nominated title song: "For Your Eyes Only."
Problems: The main issue was the uncomfortable scene of middle-aged Bond rebuffing the underaged randy advances of Bibi Dahl in the bedroom. Also, Bond's ridiculous driving of a tiny yellow Citroen 2CV after his Lotus blew up.
|Notable: The first of the Pierce Brosnan Bond
films in the 1990s (the post Cold War era), and his best of four
entries, although some liked The
World Is Not Enough (1999) better. The film appeared after a
six-year hiatus (after two Timothy Dalton films), and possibly saved
the entire franchise from demise. This action-packed entry introduced
Judi Dench as Bond's MI6 boss M. It was a more modernized, high-tech
version of the Bond saga, with high production values and extensive
Plot: Russian mobsters (and a former MI6 ally of Bond's) attempted to control the globe's financial markets. The scheme was a techno-terror plot to precipitate a worldwide financial meltdown, as revenge against London for perceived betrayal during WWII. They threatened by seizing control of GoldenEye - a secret Soviet space-based nuclear weapons system named for a disc that generated access codes to two rogue satellites. They would commit computer crime by illegally transferring vast funds from the Bank of England (in London), and then trigger the second GoldenEye electro-magnetic pulse over the city to erase their electronic financial schemings and cover up the crime.
Bond Villains: Traitorous former 006 agent Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean) gone rogue (after faking his death) - also known as Janus, and ruthless Soviet base commander General Arkady Ouromov (Gottfried John).
Best Bond Girls: Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen), a promiscuous, sadistic supervillain with killer thighs, and computer programmer/hacker Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco).
Set-pieces: The pre-title credits sequence, the high-speed car chase between Xenia (in a red convertible Ferrari) and Bond (in an Aston Martin DB5) on mountain road in S. France; the cat-and-mouse confrontation between Bond and Trevelyan in a junkyard filled with Soviet-era statues; the fight between hip-locking/strangling orgasmic-Onatopp and Bond in the steam room of his Russian hotel; the Russian tank pursuit-chase through the streets of St. Petersburg; and the final fight-to-the-death at Trevelyan's secret lair in Cuba atop the satellite transmitter-antenna.
Licence to Kill (1989)
|Notable: Featuring Timothy Dalton's second
and last appearance as Bond, a ruthless and vengeful operative. A
great, straightforward, and intense action film with graphic violence
(unlike the cartoonish Roger Moore era as Bond), although some considered
it an extended version of a "Miami
Vice" episode. The lowest (domestic) grossing
film of the entire series (when adjusted for inflation). It was the
first Bond film to not take its title (or story) from an Ian Fleming
James Bond novel or short story. It would be six more years before
the next Bond film.
Plot: Bond quit MI6 to go on a quest as a rogue agent, chasing after international drug smugglers. Villainous drug lord Sanchez's objective was to create a widespread drug cartel stretching from S. America to Asia - by smuggling cocaine dissolved in gasoline. [Bond was angered by the abduction and murder of ex-CIA ally/friend Felix Leiter (David Hedison) and his pretty wife Della Churchill (Priscilla Barnes) following their wedding. Leiter's leg and arm were literally fed to a shark, and Della was also raped and murdered.]
Bond Villains: Brutal Latin American kingpin Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), and sadistic henchman Dario (Benicio del Toro).
Best Bond Girls: Ex-operative, CIA informant and pilot Pam Bouvier (Cary Lowell), and sexy Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto), the mistress of the drug lord.
Set-pieces: The opening skydiving-arrest sequence, the head-popping decompression chamber, the concluding oil-tanker chase on a mountain road.
The Living Daylights (1987)
|Notable: An early reboot of the Bond series.
Regarded as one of the better Bond films with a realistic and credible
(and topical) plot (reminiscent of the Reagan-era Iran-contra affair).
Bond was portrayed by Timothy Dalton (his first of two films) following
the long era of Roger Moore Bond films. Dalton was cleverly introduced
in the opening scene. Bond was serious, earnest, introspective
and humorless. With brutish and realistic fight and action scenes.
Featured Caroline Bliss as Miss Moneypenny.
Plot: A tale of double-crosses and political intrigue. General Pushkin (in the Soviet KGB) misled MI6 into thinking that their assassination program (to kill suspected spies) had been reactivated. At the time, Pushkin was investigating a villainous Soviet General Koskov for embezzlement of KGB funds. Bond's mission was to eliminate (assassinate) Pushkin, so that Koskov would believe he was free to act - to lead a Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. A sub-plot told of an American arms dealer who used the embezzled funds to buy opium from the Afghan mujahideen. The theft of KGB funds would be covered up, and profits from the opium dealing would fund the war - and pay for smuggled weapons into Afghanistan.
Bond Villains: Soviet-defecting General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe), and American arms dealer 'Major' Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker).
Bond Girl: Helpless beautiful cellist Kara Milovy (Maryam d'Abo) in a chaste relationship with Bond.
Set-pieces: In the pre-title credits sequence during an assault of the Rock of Gibraltar, Bond parachuted out of an exploding jeep as it careened off the edge, and the airborne fight scene above Afghanistan in which Bond battled Russian assassin Necros while hanging out the back of a transport cargo plane trailing a net holding bags of opium.
Settings: Morocco (North Africa), Afghanistan.
|Notable: Another Connery Bond film, very
entertaining and gadget-oriented, with Cold War intrigue, and Bond
faking his own death to go undercover. The film
was the inspiration for the Austin Powers parodies. Most fanciful
gadget - Bond's WA-116 autogyro shipped by Q in four suitcases.
Plot: A struggle ensued against SPECTRE forces and its devious mastermind Blofeld, who had captured (hijacked) both U.S. and Russian orbiting spacecraft. His goal was to spark WWIII between the superpowers (on behalf of an undisclosed Asian country).
Bond Villains: Evil and sadistic genius Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence as the best Blofeld in the series, bald while stroking a cat on his lap), with his high-tech lair located in a hollowed-out volcano; also with his assistant - deadly red-headed Helga Brandt (Karin Dor).
Best Bond Girls: Bikinied Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama) and Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), and a number of sexy female ninjas who delivered training to Bond.
Set-pieces: Henchmen were executed when dropped into a pool filled with piranha; the mid-air dogfight between Bond's Little Nellie and four SPECTRE machine-gun firing helicopters, and the concluding ninja attack on Blofeld's base.
Setting: In Japan, seen almost as a travelogue.
Problems and Absurdities: Asian stereotypes, Bond attempting to disguise himself as a Japanese man, a secret subway in Tokyo. A spacecraft-swallowing spacecraft in the pre-credits title sequence, the helicopter with a gigantic electro-magnet. Also death by piranha.
|Notable: Pierce Brosnan's third of four
films. With Desmond Llewelyn's last appearance as gadget master
Q, and the introduction of his guru-successor (John Cleese). The
first Bond film in the franchise in which the major super-villain
(Sophie Marceau as Elektra King) was a female.
Plot: Bond was assigned as a bodyguard to protect oil heiress Elektra King following her father's assassination, and to determine his killer. She had taken over construction of her father's oil pipeline in the Caspian Sea area, and was building an 800-mile pipeline from the Caspian Sea through Turkey, past the terrorists in Iraq, Iran and Syria. As it turned out, she had murdered her father to acquire his oil business and monopolize oil production and the world's supply of oil in the Caspian Sea area. Elektra King's plan to take over the oil market was aided by Renard, who was scheming to destroy Istanbul by detonating a nuclear submarine in the Bosphorus. A sub-plot involved the targeting of M (Judi Dench).
Bond Villains: Russian terrorist, ex-KGB agent and anarchist Renard (Robert Carlyle), aka Victor Zokas, who had a bullet in his brain and was impervious to pain; also a great Bond villainess - oil heiress Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, after having been kidnapped by Renard - and secretly working with him.
Bond Girl: Unlikely buxom IDA (International Decommissioning Agency) nuclear physicist Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) cleaning up (decommissioning) older Russian nuclear weapons at test sites; she was one of the worst Bond girls of the entire series, and in the final scene bedded down with Bond who delivered the cheesy line: "I was wrong about you...I thought Christmas only comes once a year."
Set-pieces: The pre-credits Thames River speedboat chase after an assassin, the paraglider/snowmobile chase sequence in the Caucasus Mtns, Elektra's double-cross of Bond before he shot her, and the final to-the-death struggle in the control room of the sunken nuclear submarine.
Setting: Azerbaijan in Kazakhstan (in Central Asia).
||Notable: Sean Connery said he would never play
Bond again following this film, although he did appear in the unofficial
Never Say Never Again (1983). Academy
Award nominated for Best Sound.
Plot: Smuggled diamonds (acquired by a smuggling ring) were to be installed in a space-laser satellite, financied by billionaire Willard Whyte. The laser-equipped space satellite, set to destroy the nuclear arsenals of world powers, would be used to extort money from the super-powers (the highest bidder would acquire nuclear supremacy).
Bond Villains: The malicious and recurring nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Charles Gray), head of a ring of international diamond smugglers; also Howard Hughes-like tycoon Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean).
Bond Girls: Diamond smuggler Tiffany Case (Jill St. John, the first American Bond girl), and the buxom Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood).
Set-pieces: Bond's Amsterdam elevator fight against professional smuggler Peter Franks (Joe Robinson), and the climactic battle on Blofeld's Baja oil rig.
Setting: Las Vegas.
Problems: A basically lightweight, campy, farcical entry with a returning, aging Connery as Bond. With memorable yet strange characters including the sinister and gay assassins Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), and two acrobatic bikinied bodyguards Bambi (Lola Larson) and Thumper (Trina Parks). Also a silly scene in a lunar simulator with a moon buggy.
Live and Let Die (1973)
|Notable: A mediocre "Blaxploitation"-related
Bond film (released after Shaft (1971) and Super
Fly (1972)) with pimpmobiles and voodoo rituals, and the first
of Roger Moore's Bond films. Academy Award nominated for Best Original
and Let Die." To create a distinct break from the previous Connery-Bond
films, Moore smoked cigars (not cigarettes) and drank bourbon (not
Plot: The scheming head of a fictional Caribbean country (Jamaica or Haiti?) planned to flood the U.S. with a large cache of free heroin in order to increase its user base (and cause widespread addiction). He would drive all other drug cartels out of business with an established heroin monopoly.
Bond Villain: Drug trafficker Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), who died by being inflated to death with helium! Also spooky, resurrected voodoo spirit Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder) with top-hat and painted face.
Bond Girls: Virginal psychic tarot card-reader Solitaire (Jane Seymour); also Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry) - the first black Bond Girl portrayed as an incompetent and inept CIA double-agent.
Set-pieces: Bond's avoidance of supernatural Voodoo curses; Bond's escape from Kananga's Louisiana crocodile farm involving a speedboat (and police car) chase through the Louisiana bayou.
Settings: New Orleans, New York and San Monique (fictional).
Problems and Absurdities: With borderline racism, since all villains were black, and hokey humor. Bond's portable, high-powered magnet was used to unzip the back of Miss Caruso's (Madeline Smith) dress (Caruso: "Such a delicate touch." Bond: "Sheer magnetism, darling"). The loss of virginity for seer Solitaire meant that she also lost her psychic powers. With red-neck cops for comic relief, including the introduction of bumbling Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) - who reprised his role in The Man With the Golden Gun (1974). Also the improbable high-powered (135 hp) speedboat chase - with a record-breaking jump.
Theme Song: With Paul McCartney & Wing's smash-hit theme song: "Live and Let Die" - one of the franchise's best songs, the first James Bond theme song in the series to be nominated, and the first rock theme of the Bond franchise.
Die Another Day (2002)
|Notable: Pierce Brosnan's fourth and final
film as Bond, with the franchise's 40th anniversary film. One of
the highest-grossing Bond films, with numerous product placements
(earning it the nickname "Buy Another Day." Samantha Bond portrayed
Miss Moneypenny in her last of four performances (culminating with
a VR love-making scene with Bond), and pop star Madonna cameoed as
a fencing instructor. An explicit sex scene with Halle Berry was
obviously trimmed, to preserve the PG-13 rating.
Plot: A North Korean general, Colonel Tan-Sun Moon (Will Yun Lee), remade himself as white Anglo businessman Gustav Graves. With the aid of an orbital weapons platform (nicknamed the Icarus project in Iceland), he planned to harness and concentrate the sun’s rays (with a giant mirror) into a destructive laser, to invade South Korea.
Bond Villains: Entrepreneur and billionaire diamond dealer Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens), a villain who didn't sleep, with a solar energy satellite ray named Icarus; and Zao (Rick Yune) (with encrusted diamonds scarring his face); also Graves' villainous blonde publicist Miranda Frost (Rosamund Pike), a traitorous double-agent mole.
Bond Girl: Bond girl/NSA sidekick Giacinta "Jinx" Johnson (Halle Berry), who rose in an orange bikini with a strap-on knife from the ocean - in homage to Dr. No (1962).
Set-pieces: Opening sequence depicting Bond's betrayal, torture, and imprisonment in North Korea; also the Icarus laser-beam dragster chase on ice and Bond's escape from a tidal wave with a surfboard-kite, the invisible car chase between Zao's green Jaguar and Bond's 'cloaked' Aston Martin on the icy lake and inside the Ice Palace, and the climactic fight between Bond and Graves - and Miranda and Jinx - on the cargo plane.
Settings: North Korea, Iceland
Problems: An invisible car, the Madonna cameo, a hotel made of ice, Bond outmaneuvering a death ray from outer space while piloting a parasail on a CGI tidal wave, DNA gene-restructuring surgery.
| Notable: Roger Moore's fourth of seven films
was a response to the Star Wars craze of the late 70s. Nominated
for an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects!
Plot: The villainous industrialist Drax's plan was to decimate Earth's population by delivering orchid-derived poisonous nerve gas from outer space. Bond was investigating the theft of space shuttles and a seized space station, from which the nerve agent would be released. With Drax's "Noah's Ark" operation, he was planning to replace humanity by engineering a new breed of human stock.
Bond Villains: Quasi-fascist millionaire Sir Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) with deadly Dobermans; and metal-mouthed henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel) reprising his role, now with a love-interest.
Bond Girls: Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), a scientist - and an undercover CIA agent, who paled in comparison to Corrine Dufour (Corinne Clery).
Set-pieces: The opening pre-title credits skydiving-parachuting sequence against a villainous pilot and then Jaws; the struggle on a cable car high above Rio de Janiero's Sugarloaf Mountain between Bond and Jaws; and the concluding laser-gun battle in space and inside Drax's space station.
Problems: It was considered a silly, escapist exercise with too many tongue-in-cheek jokes, a faux-space setting, and the big-budget finale - a zero-gravity, laser gun/space station battle. Ridiculous weightless sex with Holly Goodhead ended the film.
|Notable: The sixth of seven films with Roger
Moore as Bond. In the same year, this film competed with Sean Connery
reprising his Bond role in the unofficial Never
Say Never Again (1983).
Plot: One of the many plots was to track down a jeweled, ornamental Russian Faberge egg stolen from Moscow's Kremlin (the valuable egg was used to pay off one of the villains: Kamal Khan). A rogue Soviet general named Orlov was planning to trigger a global conflict (nuclear Armageddon or WWIII) in an American air base in West Germany. He would smuggle a nuclear weapon into the US Air Force base (via a pretty cult leader's traveling circus) and then threaten to detonate it. The general's plan was actually to trick other governments and NATO into disarming, which would then allow him to invade Germany.
Bond Villains: Corrupt, wealthy Afghan prince Kamal Khan (Louis Jordan) aided fanatical militaristic maverick General Orlov (Steven Berkoff); also Kamal's right-hand assistant Magda (Kristina Wayborn).
Bond Girl: Maud Adams (in her second Bond film) in the title role as Octopussy, led an all-female circus as a cover-up for a jewelry smuggling ring.
Set-pieces: In the pre-title credits sequence, Bond dodged a surface-to-air heat-seeking missile in a mini-jet by piloting a collapsible-wing plane through an open hangar, and the concluding palace assault (by acrobatic circus performers) ending with an airborne plane-struggle.
Setting: Exotic India
Problems: With some very campy elements (the Tarzan cry, breaking the fourth-wall, the fake crocodile boat (submarine), the circus clown makeup and gorilla costume, etc.).
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
|Notable: The second of four Pierce Brosnan
films, a well-received typical action film (with excessive product
placement) and with a capable Asian Bond girl, but still it did not
generate much excitement.
Plot: The main villain Carver wanted to trigger global conflict between Britain and China by leading a British warship into Chinese territorial waters (before sinking it). He also planned to detonate a nuclear missile in Beijing to bring about a political regime change. [In a sub-plot, General Chang would take charge in Beijing, China after the missile strike, and become the new leader of the country.] After a cease-fire with England was established and peace restored, Carver would then gain exclusive broadcast rights in China - and boost the ratings of his media franchise in Asia - including his cable television channel and newspaper chain.
Bond Villain: Evil, megalomaniacal Rupert Murdoch-like media mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce). He was assisted by General Chang (Philip Kwok).
Bond Girls: Hong Kong martial-arts action star Michelle Yeoh as Colonel Wai Lin, a beautiful Chinese spy who eventually paired up with Bond as his love interest; also with Bond's ex-girlfriend Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher).
Set-pieces: The vertical skyscraper wall descent; the spectacular, well-choreographed motorcycle escape sequence through Saigon's slums, when pursued by a helicopter, with Wai Lin handcuffed to Bond; the final Stealth Ship gunfight conflict ending with Carver's death from the Sea Drill device and Wai Lin's rescue.
Problems: An over-done villainous plot, coupled with an opportune, semi-artificial subplot in which the villain's wife was Bond's ex-lover. The film's box-office was diminished when it was released at the same time as the blockbuster Titanic (1997).
The Man With the Golden Gun (1974)
|Notable: Roger Moore's second Bond film. The
second-lowest (domestic) grossing film of the entire series (when
adjusted for inflation).
Plot: A simplistic plot - world domination by the villain, who would acquire a solar-powered "Solex Agitator" that could convert the sun's radiation into electricity. The device would be sold to the highest bidder. A sub-plot was the murder of Bond.
Bond Villains: Assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) living on an island near the coast of China, who possessed a third nipple, with sidekick Nick Nack (future "Fantasy Island" star Herve Villechaize).
Bond Girls: Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland), one of the worst of the series; also Andrea Anders (Maud Adams) - it was her first Bond Girl appearance (nine years later, she was the title character in Octopussy (1983), becoming the only female cast as a Bond girl twice).
Settings: Beirut, Bangkok, and within a partially-submerged British ship (an MI6 outpost) in Hong Kong harbor.
Problems: A twisting-turning car stunt ruined by a slide-whistle kazoo sound effect. The film also borrowed a martial-arts dojo academy sequence from Enter the Dragon (1973) and the funhouse showdown from The Lady From Shanghai (1947). Also, the film featured the return of bumbling and silly Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) from Live and Let Die (1973). A sporting gun duel between Scaramanga and Bond seemed unlikely, as did Scaramanga's bronze, black-roofed two-door AMC Matador converted into a flying Car Plane (with roof-mounted wing and jet motor).
Quantum of Solace (2008)
|Notable: Daniel Craig's second Bond film -
a direct sequel and a let-down after Casino Royale (2006).
A grim and violent revenge film. Bond was avenging the death of his
girlfriend Vesper Lynd from the previous film, by investigating a
criminal organization known as Quantum.
Plot: Villainous Greene's plan was to cause a regime change - a coup d'etat and take-over of the Bolivian government by bribing the right officials (including cohort General Medrano). His plan was to acquire a barren piece of worthless Bolivian desert land (not for oil or for building a pipeline, but for water - the film's major reveal!), that he would resell back to the new goverment - at profitable, grossly-inflated prices.
Bond Villains: Evil environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric), and Greene's associate: deposed Bolivian dictator General Medrano (Joaquin Cosio).
Bond Girls: Bolivian/Russian operative Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko), and agent Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton), dead after being slathered with oil (homage to the golden corpse in Goldfinger (1964)).
Set-pieces: Bond's frantic fight to the death with Mitchell in the midst of the Palio di Siena horse race in town; an exciting, thrilling boat chase in the Port au Prince harbor; the electronic eavesdropping scene of Quantum operatives during an outdoor opera production; and the concluding fiery fight in the luxury eco-hotel, Perla de Las Dunas, in the Bolivian desert.
Settings: Italy, Bolivia
Problems: Often criticized as a jerkily-filmed, hyperkinetic action pic with Bourne-style fight scenes, and an anti-climactic conclusion against a weak villain. In this Bond film, the two traditional lines of dialogue: "Bond, James Bond" and "Vodka Martini, shaken, not stirred" were not heard, and there were very few gadgets.
|Notable: The seventh (and final) film with
aging 57 year-old Roger Moore as 007 - uninspired and tired. With
the final appearance of Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny.
Plot: The destruction of Silicon Valley and other Bay Area landmarks, by blowing up the San Andreas Fault and triggering a massive earthquake. Afterwards, the villain was planning to monopolize the microchip market.
Bond Villains: Rogue, bleach-blonde Nazi and computer innovator/industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), with his henchwoman - super-strong and statuesque May Day (Grace Jones).
Bond Girl: Bland geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts).
Set-piece: The final hand-to-hand battle on the airship-blimp (zeppelin) and atop the Golden Gate Bridge.
Settings: Eiffel Tower, Transamerica Pyramid and Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and surrounding Bay Area in California
Problems: The Beach Boys' "California Girls" ski sequence with Bond snow-surfing or snow-boarding while pursued down a slope. One of the worst-reviewed Bond films ever made.
Theme Song: With Duran Duran's theme song: "A View to a Kill" - the only Bond theme to become No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100.
James Bond Films - Summary | Greatest James Bond Girls