With the recent release of Spectre, I felt it was an excellent opportunity to assess how I feel about all the James Bond 007 films. So, after seeing all 24 official films, three unofficial ones and one documentary I asked myself how would I rank them? It wasn’t easy, but here’s part one of a four-part series on my favorite Bond films ranked from worst to best based on personal enjoyment. Enjoy.
028: Everything or Nothing: The Untold Story of 007 (2012)
A fantastic documentary covering the Bond era from its beginning with author Ian Fleming to the Daniel Craig films. What I love most about Everything or Nothing is it doesn’t sugarcoat the James Bond 007 franchise. The documentary examines the struggles the filmmakers and actors faced through five decades of movies. I learned a lot of new info I was unaware of previously like Sean Connery leaving after You Only Live Twice because he was unhappy with how Albert R. Broccoli treated him. Or the epic lawsuit between MGM and Kevin McClory over the story rights for Thunderball. An excellent overview of the Bond franchise and you have to see it if you’re a fan of the franchise. Lastly, it’s on the bottom of my list not because of its poor quality but that it’s a documentary and not a real Bond film.
027: Casino Royale (1967)
A spoof on the James Bond franchise with a catchy title theme. Not a great movie, but it has a creative plot that focuses on Bond’s retirement and other characters impersonating 007. Also, for a spoof the cast, is pretty good with David Niven, Petter Sellers, Woody Allen and Ursula Andress( Honey Ryder from Dr. No) which makes the film more watchable. Unfortunately, with each scene Casino Royale keeps getting weirder and weirder and by the end it becomes just one big clusterfuck. While not a terrible film it’s the one Bond film I don’t watch when I watch all the others to wet my appetite for the newest one. Still, if you haven’t seen this film, it’s worth watching at least once for the sheer insanity.
026: Casino Royale (1954)
Another Bond movie most people haven’t seen, and it’s in black and white to boot! A made for TV movie starring Barry Nelson, Peter Lorre and Linda Christian based on the original Ian Fleming novel. I found it rather entertaining and it doesn’t overstay its welcome at under an hour in length. It’s pretty faithful to the book too, but for some reason, the producers decided to call Bond Jimmy which just feels silly. Another odd point, the character Vesper is called Mathis instead for whatever reason. Lorre plays a good Le Chiffre too, and I found him a dangerous adversary for Bond. Finally, due to its small budget and family friendly nature, it’s fun to see how the torture scene and the ending, the two most memorable scene in the 2006 Casino Royale differ here. While a better film then some later Bond movies, it’s not really a traditional Bond film, so that’s why it’s near the bottom of my list.
025: Moonraker (1979)
James Bond in space! That sounds so amazing, but why am I so bored watching this film. While the film starts out promising with an incredible skydiving stunt, the film just drags. Also, Drax isn’t a memorable villain, and it takes until the climax for Bond to reach outer space. Second, I find the idea of creating a new society in space similar to Noah’s Ark absurd. Not all of Moonraker is bad, though. Some cool set pieces like a mid-air cable car fight with one of Bond’s most formidable foes Jaws, a boat chase through Venice and the Moonraker laser space fight make for memorable action sequences.
024: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
An incredibly disappointing Bond film for many reasons. Mostly because it came after the incredible On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Bond got married in the previous film, and Blofeld’s servant Irma Blunt killed his wife, so Bond fans expected an epic conclusion. However, with George Lazenby deciding to call it quits audiences instead got a campy Sean Connery Bond film emulating many of the Roger Moore films that would come later.
However, I can’t hate this film because even though it’s stupid, it makes me crack up every time I watch it. The henchman Mr. Kit and Mr. Wig( two gay lovers) are hilarious. Jimmy Dean also does an excellent job and adds some comic relief to the film. The action is decent too with the elevator fight and the sideway car stunt in Las Vegas both ending on a high note. While it’s a shame, Bond fans weren’t given a true follow up to On Her Majesty Secret Service if you forget what came before this and turn your brain off Diamonds Are Forever isn’t bad.
023: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Despite a great villain in Scaramanga played by Christopher Lee, this movie doesn’t live up to its title. The film just feels underwhelming, and the action scenes aren’t very exciting. The 180-degree barrel roll cat stunt is a keeper, though. I do like the opening and ending duel too, but those scenes only last a few minutes. My problem stems from the film annoying cast. I never was a fan of the character Knick Knack, and Goodnight while attractive isn’t a great Bond girl. Not the best Bond film, but the film title did turn into a great multiplayer mode in the N64 classic Goldeneye.
022: Octopussy (1983)
It’s unfortunate when film critics talk about Octopussy they ridicule it because Bond dresses up as a clown and forget its strengths. It’s not Roger Moore’s strongest outing as 007, but it’s not bad either. It has some exciting action sequences like a fight on a train and a plane that help elevate the bad parts of the movie. The twin brother assassins who throw daggers are creative adversaries that haven’t shown up in a Bond film before, and it’s a shame they don’t get more screen time. I also like the exotic scenery and the plot revolving around the prized jeweled egg.
What’s disappointing about Octopussy is that it sets the stage for a strong female villain, but by the climax she turns out to be just another damsel in distress for Bond to save. It would have been much more interesting if she was the true villain rather than Kahn and his henchman. Octopussy had lots of potential, to be one of the best Bond movies but it stumbles in its execution, so it doesn’t rank higher for me.
Stay tuned for Part 2.