I just read the news that the iconic Sean Connery has died aged 90. With his distinctive voice and magnetism, he was great to watch on screen. Obviously he originated the role of James Bond and remains my favourite, but he gave plenty of other excellent performances over his career. May he rest in peace.
I would like to thank Maddy for asking me to take part in her 007 blogathon. James Bond is a cinematic hero of mine so this seemed like a no brainer. The movies are one of my favourites franchises that cinema has to offer. My topic of discussion is going to be about how much the Bond girls have changed over the decades that they’ve graced our screens and the strength they have gained in popular context. A quick note, I won’t be referencing every Bond girl as the post would go on forever if I did.
The ladies of the Bond franchise have come a long way since 1962 when Dr. No, yet the beauty and style of them is still intact. I think everyone remembers Honey Ryder emerging from the sea in that white bikini, signalling sexiness from every angle and announcing something sensual for the 60’s. Yet some people forget that Honey Ryder, while a bit naive, was not just a bit of eye candy. Sure in today’s context, she seems pretty helpless at times but she wasn’t a bimbo either. Which brings onto the point that the Bond Girls aren’t always just there for looks, even in the early days. Now I know some may think I’m trying to be controversial here, but I’m really not. I will admit there is definite sexism in many of the early films, which extends to brutal treatment and demeaning attitudes from villains and even on occasion Bond. There are a good few Bond girls who are either mistreated victims or eye candy in these early films;
- Tatiana in From Russia With Love is easily manipulated by SPECTRE to lure Bond out into a conspiracy.
- Domino in Thunderball is kept as a virtual prisoner to the main villain and brutalised by him.
- And various women are brainwashed and used in a nefarious scheme in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
The treatment of women makes you cringe today as things have changed quite a bit. And though I love the Bond movies, certain parts are pretty shocking and uncomfortable today’s standards.
But these are counteracted by strong and capable women, who know their worth and are not just defined by their looks. In essence, the Bond girls of the 60’s represent the contrasting changes in society. In the decade you had the pill being supplied allowing women to take control, the mini skirt freed them from the constraints of restrictive clothing and the Women’s Liberation Movement was in full swing. But the times of change still had people clinging to the values of old, particularly when it came to gender roles. Some of the stronger women of the 60’s in Bond are Pussy Galore from Goldfinger, a pilot who largely resists Bond and can kick ass when needed, as well as verbally duel. She’s in charge of herself and not a pushover in any way, a certifiable match for Bond. To be honest,you aren’t certain whose side she’s on for a lot of the time. Fiona Volpe is a seductive and villainous Bond Girl, who uses her attractive looks to lure men into a trap. Unlike other women who melt in Bond’s arms, she doesn’t and wickedly tells him that she isn’t going to become an angel for him. A trend of villainous Bond Girls who ensnared Bond would follow, with excellent results. Now I must mention one of the finest ladies in the series .Tracy is one of the more intriguing Bond ladies and all the better for it. She’s impulsive, combative yet also sensitive. She embodies a lot of things and is still one of the most commanding of the Bond women. Tracy did capture Bond’s heart quite differently from other woman and her influence on the series itself can’t be underestimated. She showed that Bond could be vulnerable when it came to women and was not always just a playboy. This trope would be employed in later movies to show that Bond had a chivalrous side.
On to the 70’s, where the amount of capable and strong ladies emerged slowly. Some of the damsel in distress parts where still there and the decade wasn’t the finest, but it still had some memorable women. You can forget about Tiffany Case and Mary Goodnight who were just eye candy, and focus on the alternative women of substance. The strongest lady of the decade is Anya from The Spy Who Loved Me. A Soviet agent and one of the top in her agency, Anya is an emotionally and physically strong woman, with an agenda of her own. She may collaborate with Bond, but at the same time even kill him. This sets up an interesting dynamic between the two as she isn’t going to be won over quite as easily as other woman have been. Add to this that she is basically at the same level as Bond, and Anya is a marvellous addition to the series of independent women. Holly Goodhead in Moonraker is a capable leading lady, who is already on a similar mission to Bond and has infiltrated first. In comparison with other decades, the 70’s girls are somewhat lacking, save for the ones praised above, but the impact of the interesting additions still could be found. It would be in the 80’s when it really got going for more promising and purposeful ladies were present.
The 80’s ups things and continues to feature a lot more ladies of depth, substance and strength. It was a clear reflection of cinema, that had started to feature more female heroines who could fight and handle themselves, just as well as a man. In For Your Eyes Only, Melina Havelock is not at all interested in romance with Bond. Her mission is vengeance and for the most, she wishes to work alone. Her intensity and rage can’t be contained, witnessed by her killing with a deadly crossbow. Her mission is her own and she only comes across Bond due to a connection with the Secret Service, but her personal vendetta is what really drives her in the story. The eponymous Octopussy is a very independent and shrewd businesswoman, who leads a diamond smuggling operation. Living in luxury through her hard work, she is surrounded by a large posse of women. Her living space is an island populated solely by women, enhancing her reputation as a tough and strong woman. Her interest in Bond is one of kinship as he helped her father years before. She even attempts to sway Bond to joining her business, a bold move and one that does sound tempting. Later on when fighting back against a fiendish plot, she leads a loyal group of athletic women, who display gymnastic and martial art skill when taking down the enemy. The villainous Bond Girl appears once more in A View to a Kill. This time it takes the intimidating form of May Day, a dangerously unstable and shockingly brutish woman. A powerhouse of physical strength and violent impulse, she tangles with Bond in almost every sense. She’s the kind of Bond Girl who will kiss you reluctantly and kill you, probably at the same time.
The 90’s and up until now are possibly the best representations of the Bond Girls evolution into equal to the man himself. They still had the good looks and sex appeal, but they had character and something else than just being love interest to 007. Starting with GoldenEye, where you had two very assertive ladies on either side of the law. In the heroic side, there was brainy Natalya, who was just an everyday woman thrown into a deadly string of events, but with gathering gumption and quick learning, became a formidable Bond Girl. On the side of bad there was the sadistic Xenia Onatopp, whose killer appetite for crushing victims between her thighs during sex really put the fatale in femme fatale. Both of these women are capable and contribute greatly to the changing face of the Bond universe. While on different sides of morality, the strength of both shines through. Natalya for her smarts and ability to adapt to danger and villainous Xenia for how she uses her sexuality to get the thrill, putting Bond out-of-place in more ways than one. Even the new incarnation of the ever loyal secretary Moneypenny experienced a makeover. Now rather than pining profusely over Bond, she easily matched wits with him and cut tie him in knots with her charm. And later on when she is reintroduced once more and we learn she was a field agent herself, this adds yet another layer to the character. One of the most kick ass of all the women appeared in Tomorrow Never Dies. Wai Lin worked for Chinese Intelligence and crossed paths with Bond, but being a lone wolf herself kept him at a distance. She was an expert karate student, showcased when she takes down a gang of goons with a graceful and supple ease. She could fend for herself and for the most part was not romantically entangled with Bond, though some sparks where there. Her main concern was the mission at hand.
Probably one of my favourites and one of the most fleshed out Bond Girls is Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Vesper is one of the most complex of the Bond girls, mainly because she represents and covers so many things. She’s confident yet terrified, loving yet forced to be deceitful and all around mysterious. Vesper makes her mark on Bond, and the viewer alike with just how different and noticeably rounded she is. Vesper is a fine example of how far the Bond Girl concept has come; while beautiful and charismatic, it’s her depth and conflicting emotions that truly make the impression.
And while not strictly a Bond Girl, the reintroduction of superior M as a woman heralded a big change in the franchise. It actually tied in with the fact that the real life head of MI6 was also a woman, supplying more social change for women in powerful positions. Now Bond was answering to a woman, who could cut him down to size with just a withering glare or put down. This allowed audiences to see that women where really changing for the better in the franchise and cut really put 007 in his place when needed. And in Skyfall, she was the main female focus in the story, even more so than the usual Bond Girls. Her arc is explored in a maternal way with Bond, who looks up to her and while not always listen, takes into account what this powerful woman says.
And so concludes my post on the changing faces of the Bond Girls. I hope you liked what I had to say about the evolution of the women and how they are a great addition to the franchise.
It is with sadness that I do this tribute to Roger Moore, who has died at the age of 89. As a big Bond fan, Moore is a big icon of mine who essayed the part of 007 for the longest time and most films. His slightly lighter and suave touch was charming throughout. He was in countless other great movies, but for me he’ll always be Bond. May he rest in peace as a stylish and cultured gentleman.
As anyone who visits my blog a lot will know, James Bond is something of a cinematic hero of mine. There is something special about the Bond movies and watching them change over a now fifty year mark. From the action to the ladies, the style and the villains, there’s simply nothing quite like Bond. So I thought it was high time I did a personal ranking of all 24 movies in the series, from weakest to strongest. Before I begin, I would like to say that this list is my own opinion and not stone cold fact. Many may disagree with my choices, but I am more than happy to discuss Bond movies with all of you as I welcome healthy debate and conversations with fellow bloggers. So now I’ll begin my ranking.
24. Die Another Day
Kicking off my list is Die Another Day, my choice for the worst Bond movie. The Bond movies are known for being outlandish and outrageous, but with this abysmal entry they do a leap-frog over that and stretch credibility until there’s nothing left( I shudder to think of that invisible car). There is action, like in any Bond movie but a lot of it just feels like padding as the film has nothing else to offer. The theme song as provided by Madonna is shocking and wholly out-of-place in a Bond movie. Halle Berry and Rosamund Pike are both gorgeous and talented ladies who do their best, but Toby Stephens as the main villain is nothing particularly memorable. Pierce Brosnan in his final outing as 007 is sadly given a dud of a swan song that is best left forgotten.
23. A View to a Kill
Roger Moore completed his last outing as everyone’s favourite spy in the overly campy and largely forgettable A View to a Kill. By this time, Roger Moore was too old for the role of Bond and it really showed in this entry of the long-running franchise. Don’t get me wrong, I really liked Roger Moore’s tenure as 007 but he really should have hung up the gun instead of doing this film. Tanya Roberts as the Bond girl Stacey Sutton is an annoyance with her constant screaming. On the plus side, Christopher Walken and Grace Jones make for a bizarre but arresting duo of crazed villains, enlivening a tired film. And John Barry supplies a superlative score. Yet even with these positives, A View to a Kill is a decidedly weak Bond adventure. What is it with weak final outings in the Bond films?
Sean Connery returned after a one film absence to star as Bond, unluckily it wasn’t a very intriguing or fun affair in the less than glowing form of Diamonds Are Forever. A film that alternates between slapstick to dull, it’s not Bond’s finest hour. The last thing you want with a Bond movie is an uninteresting story and boy does Diamonds let the side down with a story that memory fails to remember because of its huge flaws. Charles Grey is an amusing Blofeld, though some of the things he does are utterly absurd. Jill St John is saddled with a role that has attitude at the start but then descends into silliness thanks to unclear writing. The direction of this film is what makes it rank so low as it can’t make its mind up of what kind of movie it wants to be. Some good can be gleaned through the sexy title song, sung by Shirley Bassey and the Las Vegas location.
Following on from the success of Casino Royale was going to be hard, which was discovered in the follow-up movie Quantum of Solace. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the whole serious Bond who is wounded after betrayal and wants revenge angle. But the fact of the matter is, it isn’t in a film that can provide that. Instead we get a movie that tries way too hard to make the Bond formula super serious, yet comes off as confused and muddled. The main gripe I have is the shaky cam effect that seems to run through the film and produces a major headache. I didn’t go into this film expecting to see James Bourne, I went in to see Bond. A poor villain with a yawn-inducing scheme is drab to say the very least. Some respite can be taken as Daniel Craig gives it his all in the film and Olga Kurylenko is equally as strong, despite the boredom that sets in.
I know I’m going to get some flack for putting Moonraker higher than most, but it has a kitsch quality that allows it to be a guilty pleasure even if it’s ludicrous. You can see that Moonraker got on the band wagon of the Stars Wars craze that was booming at the time. Goofy is probably the best choice of word to describe this film as it really plays up the overt humour. It’s a bloated exercise, but I can’t help but enjoy parts of it,despite knowing that it takes Roger Moore’s Bond into the realm of near cartoon. Michael Lonsdale is a cultured and well-spoken villain with a strange plot, while Lois Chiles provides some attitude to her underwritten Bond girl. A Bond guilty pleasure is the order of the day with Moonraker, which doesn’t add up to the sum of its parts as it blasts 007 literally into space, but is entertaining anyway.
Roger Moore strapped on the tuxedo for a second time as 007 in the largely underwhelming The Man with the Golden Gun. This film has something of a tired feeling to it, which shows broadly throughout the film with the overuse of comedy and repetition. Britt Ekland is one gorgeous girl, but her character is a bumbling agent who is incompetent and clueless at almost every task put her way. Weaknesses aside, Golden Gun delivers on some levels thankfully. Roger Moore has the suaveness and that classic eyebrow raise for the part, yet this isn’t his best performance as Bond. Christopher Lee makes for a formidable adversary in Scaramanga and is perfect casting, applause must go to the casting as Lee is inspired. Thailand provides a beautiful backdrop for the villain’s lair and is as exotic as they come. Shame then that the film goes overboard on the comedy then.
My relationship with Thunderball has been a complicated one. On the one hand, it does have some gorgeous locations and thrills, but then it quite often overblown in the extreme. I’ll settle at saying that it is a mixed offering. Thunderball is mainly dragged down, despite the high action quota by a lagging pace that uses too many underwater scenes that last for what seems like an eternity. Sean Connery still rocks it as 007 with his rugged looks and urban charm that could impress any lady who passes by. Emilio Largo as a villain is somewhat underrated despite the good portrayal from Adolfo Celi and I believe he deserves a bit more credit. He’s not going to rival Blofeld, but then again, can anyone? The vixen Fiona Volpe is sexy and deliciously evil as probably the first bad to the bone Bond girl and charged with killing Bond, whereas on the other end of the spectrum is the morose and caged Domino. Not vintage Bond, but explosive enough.
In Pierce Brosnan’s second outing as Bond, Tomorrow Never Dies juggles action and something of a topical story line with the theme of media manipulation. Some of this technological edge is very accomplished along with an electronic score. Yet the villain, as well as Jonathan Pryce plays him, is not really that memorable as his scheme is a bit much(even for a Bond movie). Still, there is the martial arts and kick ass specialties of Michelle Yeoh as agent Wai Lin to be witnessed. She’s one of the most independent and strong women in the franchise and a high point of this film as she clearly doesn’t need any protection from anyone, least of all Bond. The action quota is very high and a motorbike chase through Saigon is a fast-paced delight. And some of the nifty gadgets from Q are cool as hell, especially the car that you can control from a key pad. As strong Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies hits the required spots.
A well mounted and more character driven Bond film that marked the third appearance of Pierce Brosnan, The World Is Not Enough is impressively made, though occasional wrinkles set in. The addition of more character development is impressively drawn, particularly in regards to the complex character of Elektra King. She is one of the most intriguing Bond girls in the series and her many deceptive facets are played perfectly by Sophie Marceau. It was also refreshing to see M get more to do and stretch her legs more in the world of espionage. And it would be a sin to not mention the boat chase along the Thames that kicks the film off in classic style. This film is somewhat underrated in many quarters though it gets the job done efficiently, yet with a few missteps. While the drama of the piece is good, it gets a bit muddled at various stages. A big flaw comes in the casting of Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist. Not only is it ludicrous but it just gets very hard to swallow that her character is at all bright or really useful within the scope of things. Not a classic Bond film, The World Is Not Enough is definitely still an intriguing and sometimes undervalued entry into the large series. And I am partial to the slinky title song from Garbage.
The latest Bond movie and Daniel Craig’s fourth, Spectre was a very enjoyable affair that had an old-fashioned feeling to it. The opening sequence amid the carnivals of Mexico was audacious and dazzling. I enjoyed the bringing back of older elements of the series and got a major kick out of it. The continuing into Bond’s past was a very good stroke that added more layers to the character. Léa Seydoux made for a cool and intelligent Bond girl, who was quite the match for 007. Villainy was supplied by the talented Christoph Waltz who was very cool casting and someone I’d thought for a long time should be a villain in the Bond universe. I found some parts of this one a bit corny and overly jokey, but the rest of the story was adventurous and thrilling enough. I would have preferred if Monica Bellucci had a bigger role, but she was glamorous enough as the mafia widow. It doesn’t live up to the phenomenal Skyfall, but Spectre gets the job done with panache and some cool set pieces.
A strong Roger Moore entry, For Your Eyes Only brought Bond back to earth after the extravagance of Moonraker. This was a wise move that allowed a superb spy story rooted in the real world play out for Bond. The focus on seriousness paid off well here. The villain was subdued but cultured, setting him apart from over top maniacs that came before. Carole Bouquet is electrifying and moving as the vengeful Melina, out for revenge on those who killed her parents and armed to the hilt with a crossbow. She has a striking maturity and classic beauty about her as well as considerable acting ability in the well-written role. Stellar support comes from Topol as a roguish ally for Bond. A misstep is in the casting of Lynn-Holly Johnson as a naive ice skater smitten with Bond. Her character is ridiculous and completely pointless within the scope of the movie. Some lovely locations such as Greece and Cortina, Italy provided stunning views against which the plot unfolded. A largely smaller scale Bond than most are used to, the return to genuine espionage and danger greatly benefited this film.
It has its share of cartoonish moments in it, but the sheer outrageousness of You Only Live Twice is what makes a lot of it watchable. Sean Connery, despite lagging interest in continuing to play Bond, still displays the devilish and dapper charm that the part needs. An exotic nature hangs over this film, through locations and beautiful music from the unbeatable John Barry. We finally glimpse the previously unseen Blofeld and he is played by the wonderful Donald Pleasence( who is still my favourite actor to take the part of the arch-villain). His appearance would become an iconic one for the franchise and spoofed in many parodies. His lair of the hollowed out volcano is a triumph of production design that sets the scene for the climactic battle. Nancy Sinatra’s haunting theme song is sublimely orchestrated and filled with mystery. The Japanese locations are awe-inspiring and majestic, some of the best for a Bond movie. One major flaw is when Bond is made to look Japanese as part of a cover. Not only is it ridiculous, it’s very offensive too. With that flaw aside, You Only Live Twice boasts enough striking moments of greatness to warrant may viewings.
George Lazenby’s solo outing as Bond is one that often divides the 007 community, but over time it has gathered much deserved recognition. Lazenby is credible enough if a little stiff in the role of Bond. The biggest strength of this film is the relationship between him and Tracy( played wonderfully and formidably by Diana Rigg). It’s the first time that Bond genuinely falls in love with a woman and the tragic end of the film really rips your heart out. The lovely Diana Rigg carves Tracy into a layered Bond girl who lingers in the memory. Blofeld is portrayed well by Telly Savalas, who shows a Blofeld that really isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty and take Bond on himself. The gorgeous mountains of Switzerland provide the wintry feel of the film and are used for some exciting chases. Louis Armstrong and his trademark gravelly voice imbue ‘We Have All The Time in The World’ with deep romanticism and smoothness that cause it to stand out as a gorgeous song. John Barry’s score is an accomplished achievement and his contribution to the sound of Bond is incomparable. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service successfully incorporates clarity and emotion into the series allowing for some touching moments.
Timothy Dalton’s first Bond movie had him bringing out a grittier side to 007 that many felt was needed after the campy and tongue-in-cheek Roger Moore. He provides Bond with a ruthless wit and capable fighting ability, while nailing the required charm. The Living Daylights takes it cues from a more old-fashioned style of spy film and is all the better for it. The feeling of the Cold War is very much present throughout The Living Daylights, concocting a gripping spy yarn that continues Bond’s globetrotting to gorgeous locales. Balancing the intrigue with action, the film boasts some spectacular scenes: my personal favourite being an attack on a base in Afghanistan against the treacherous villains. Speaking of the villains, the main two are passable enough but the real menace is generated from the imposing Necros. Maryam d’Abo competently plays the sweet Kara, who doesn’t realise what she’s been put into but shows her mettle later on. John Barry signed off as main Bond composer with this film and boy was a good one to do so with.
10. Dr. No
The movie that started it all, Dr. No holds up remarkably well even today thanks to it setting the excitement and adventure bar high and introducing us to the staples of the series. Sean Connery(my favourite James Bond) announced himself as a suave yet cunning incarnation of the role and set a big task for those who followed. The film practically overflows with iconic moments, such as the classic “Bond.. James Bond” , the gun barrel sequence and the rising of Honey Ryder from the sea in that white bikini. I still get a kick out of hearing the Bond theme in this film, blasting through the screen and into my ears. It has it’s share of dated parts but putting them aside, Dr. No is still a good ride and a cracking starting off point.
Licence to Kill is without a doubt the most savage and violent Bond film in the canon. Timothy Dalton’s last outing as Bond was a good one, but I would have liked to have seen him play the character more than just in two films. Thankfully his delivery of Bond as brooding and angry brought a jolt of seriousness to the franchise and it especially shows in the dark Licence to Kill. Instead of a world domination plot, we have a much more realistic scenario of revenge as Bond takes down the vicious drug lord Sanchez( played with chilling menace and charisma by Robert Davi). Violence plays a large part in this Bond movie and whereas before violence was there, here it’s presented in a much more savage and bruising way. Carey Lowell supplies proceedings with sex appeal and hard as nails attitude, while Talisa Soto is credible as the much abused girlfriend of Sanchez. Also look for a young Benicio Del Toro as a psychopathic henchman. A hugely underrated Bond, Licence to Kill brings the action but a welcome brutality to the series that seemed needed to establish the agent as something different.
The second Bond movie is a largely down to Earth thriller with a real sense of dangerous atmosphere and international intrigue. We see Bond as a flesh and blood spy using his wits and smarts to survive rather than later gadget laden entries( which I love,but it’s interesting to see Bond without a reliance on them). Sean Connery continued to grow as Bond with his mix of assurance and virility making him a cool spy and hero. From Russia with Love is a definite Cold War thriller with a feel of Hitchcock to it. This was before Bond became a global phenomena and the often realistic plot which feels old school is a delightfully concocted web of deceit and diabolical plans. Robert Shaw is chillingly effective as the well-built homicidal Red Grant who dukes it out with Bond aboard the Orient Express in a vicious fight scene that continues to be a remembered moment throughout the Bond universe. There’s also Rosa Klebb, the evil colonel with a poison tipped shoe to contend with. A seductive beauty who is used as a pawn in a game of cat and mouse, Daniela Bianchi is suitably gorgeous and despite at the time having no real acting experience acquits herself well in the part of Tatiana. Kerim Bey is one of Bond’s best allies in the series and his wolfish demeanor is a definite delight as he plays off Bond wonderfully and provides a lot of support to the agent. A gloriously old-school Bond film, From Russia with Love proudly takes its place in my top 10.
Possibly the most exotic of the Bond films, Octopussy is in my view one of Roger Moore’s best. An intriguing and convoluted plot is played out against the lush beauty of India, which makes for a dream location of palaces and splendour. Genuine suspense is generated in many scenes, and the action is quick and packed to the rafters with danger. Maud Adams as the eponymous character has sublime chemistry with Moore and adds maturity and independence to the powerful woman. Louis Jourdan has oiliness to burn as the silken-voiced villain of the piece. The humour is dialed down a bit, only allowing a few embarrassing parts to make their way in. John Barry’s score is simply gorgeous and matches the opulence and unusualness of the film with romantic panache. Silliness and complexity aside, Octopussy stands as a breathtaking spy adventure yarn.
As the first Bond movie I ever saw, I had to include Live and Let Die in my top 10. Roger Moore’s debut is an action packed thriller that takes cues from the blaxploitation genre and incorporates voodoo into the proceedings. Moore is a dapper 007 who while never shying away from a fight, is more silver-tongued and tongue in cheek than Sean Connery. The glamour emits from beautiful Jane Seymour playing the card reader Solitaire, who Bond snatches from the clutches of the main villain. The boat chase through the bayous of New Orleans is a cracker of a set piece along with the creepy shadow of the mystical Baron Samedi who supposedly can not die and Bond’s daring escape on an alligator farm. And not forgetting the barnstorming title song that kicks things into high gear.
The best of the Roger Moore era, The Spy Who Loved Me brims with wit, stellar action and interesting characters. Roger Moore seems very at ease with the role of Bond and his charming sophistication stands him in good stead. The Bond Girl of Anya is a credible match for 007 in almost every department. Added depth and tension is given to the character as she has her own personal vendetta with Bond to settle, despite being assigned to help him on his latest mission. Then we have the menacing giant Jaws, who has steel teeth that he utilizes when killing others and also his brute strength. This movie also contains one of my favourite scenes. In it, Bond escapes from a band of goons in the snowy mountains and jumps off a nearby cliff. As he falls further and nail-biting suspense sets in, he opens up a Union Jack parachute as the theme music blares. It is a moment of genius in the franchise that still impresses. A disco flavoured score is just the ticket as well as the stunning ‘Nobody Does It Better” which perfectly describes the durable hero and his irresistible ways. The Spy Who Loved Me thrills from beginning to end.
Bond came back after a long absence with a corker of a film in the wonderous shape of GoldenEye. The first and best of the Brosnan era, GoldenEye stormed into people’s thoughts by announcing that Bond was just as relevant as ever before and stylish as hell. 007 is now in a changed world, best shown by the backdrop of the Soviet Union falling and the fact that the new M is played by the excellent Judi Dench. Brosnan slips into the shoes of Bond and combines effortless charm, masculinity and physicality to the part in considerable fashion. Sean Bean makes a mark as the baddie Alec Trevelyan, who is an agent gone rogue and once good friends with Bond. This underlying estrangement and feelings of betrayal give another layer of depth to GoldenEye as they face off violently and memorably. The two Bond girls are both excellently played in different ways by Izabella Scorupco and Famke Janssen: who provide both help and danger for Bond. Scorupco as the talented computer programmer and survivor Natalya is a good heroine for this kind of Bond film, while Famke Janssen is seductively perverse and lethally evil as Xenia Onatopp, who likes to crush victims between her steely thighs. Then there is the talented Judi Dench making her first appearance as M, who is adept at putting Bond in his place when needed. Action set pieces and fiery showdowns colour GoldenEye with adventure and adrenaline. from the start to the finish. GoldenEye showed everyone’s favourite secret agent had lost none of his ability to charm and thrill.
Daniel Craig’s third Bond movie was released in the year that the series passed the fifty years mark and every stop was pulled out to make this a cracking anniversary Bond. Skyfall ticks all the required boxes and then some, by delving into more drama of the character’s backstories but never short-changing the audience when it comes to audacious action and glamour. The direction from Sam Mendes is exquisite and he really takes the franchise to excellent heights while honoring the hallmarks of the canon. He pervaded the movie with some deep emotion that highly suited this kind of entry and the cinematography from Roger Deakins was some of the best seen in a Bond flick. Daniel Craig still had the serious edge to the character, but managed to inject some of the quick-witted traits from older Bond. Javier Bardem was perfect casting as the revenge obsessed baddie Silva, playing the guy with flamboyance and eccentricity. Naomie Harris and Berenice Marlohe add sophisticated glamour, but the woman who really stands out is Judi Dench in her best performance as M. The whole plot of the film largely hinges on her character and Dench provides intelligence, authority and emotion in every scene. Adele contributed a soulful throwback song that had tons of power. An intelligent as well as gripping Bond film, this was the anniversary present of a lifetime.
Daniel Craig’s debut as 007 took Bond back to the beginning of his career with an emotion driven reboot that was just what the doctor ordered. Craig imbued Bond with a taciturn approach that is also capable of feeling deep emotions, but later learns to trust absolutely no one in the spy game. Possibly my favourite Bond Girl is Vesper Lynd, who is embodied with pathos and mystery by Eva Green. Tension positively drips from Casino Royale. Take the opening scenes where Bond acquires the kills to make him 007, shot in noir like black and white. Or the card playing that takes up a large chunk of the film, who knew cards could be such a dangerous and nail-biting activity? These things help up the sense of creeping danger as Bond is on his first real mission and still has quite a bit to learn. The violence is higher here, including a wince-inducing torture scene that hark back to the original Ian Fleming blue print for the character. I appreciated the showing of Bond as sometimes vulnerable while also brutal, performed by Daniel Craig. Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre was ideal casting; he managed to be both creepy and strangely sympathetic as he was under command from a higher power of deceit. Casino Royale proved that going back to basics can do wonders for a long-running franchise. Stripped back and physical, Casino Royale is an absolute must for Bond fans.
Finally we reach my favourite Bond film and I knew it had to be Goldfinger. It’s the movie where all the formula that the public loves came together seamlessly and turned 007 into a pop culture as well as cinematic icon. I simply can’t wax lyrical enough about the greatness and iconic status of Goldfinger, but I’ll try to pick out why the film is so great. Boasting an array of gadgets and stylish cars, which would become hallmarks of later ventures, Goldfinger sets an exciting template that cemented the series as something to be reckoned with. Sean Connery does his best work as 007; witty, dashing and a capable match in a battle. Goldfinger is an outstanding and bizarre villain, complimented by loyal henchman Oddjob and his neck-breaking bowler hat. Honor Blackman emerges as one of the best Bond girls in the series with one of the most memorably naughty names, Pussy Galore. Everything in the film looks so sharp and slick and there is no shortage of outstanding moments that burn into the memory, particularly the girl painted gold. A bombastic score, heavy on the brass and under the command of John Barry gets across the signature sound of 007. And of course there is the belter of a title song, from the incomparable Shirley Bassey. This movie fills me with such enthusiasm due to the constant moments of greatness within the plot, style and overall production. All I have left to say is, Goldfinger is an undisputed classic of the Bond franchise and my top pick.
So that ladies and gentlemen is my completed personal ranking of the many James Bond movies. I hope you all enjoyed reading my take on the iconic franchise that for me never gets old and remains evergreen.
My love of Bond is unending. Till the day I die the man will always be my favourite cinematic character and the movies will be burned into my memory. Anyway after waxing lyrical there, I’m getting to the crux of this post. The title sequences of the Bond movies are parts that I always look forward to because of their visuals and seductive images. Today I’m going to be discussing my opinions on the five title sequences that have made an impact on me, along with the music that accompanies them. Also this post is a tribute to the stellar work of Maurice Binder, Robert Brownjohn and Daniel Kleinman.
The third film of the series and my personal favourite, Goldfinger has some really iconic images in the title sequence. Set to the seductive sound of Shirley Bassey belting out the stunning title track, the sequences features women painted with gold as footage from the movie is projected onto them. There is something sinister but also very sexy about this sequence, and lovely ladies would feature heavily in almost every title sequence that followed. Maurice Binder, who created the sequence to the first movie, was unavailable and so this sequence was done by Robert Brownjohn, who does a commendable job at it.
You Only Live Twice:
Maurice Binder was the king of the title sequences because of his innovative work and spellbinding imagery. A lovely example is his work for You Only Live Twice. Taking cues from the oriental setting of the film and important plot points involving a volcanic air base, Binder fashions a haunting sequence complete with geishas, spider like parasols and overflowing lava. Twinned with the beautiful title song, the sequence has a distinct dreamlike quality of lush romanticism with orange and red forming a passionate but dangerous core.
Live and Let Die:
Along with the tempo changing song that ranks as an absolute classic, the dark title sequence of Live and Let Die made its mark on me as a child and it has been hard to forget. A changing colour scheme,fire,body paint on curvaceous ladies and voodoo paraphernalia bring out the dark side of the Bond movies in an exciting format that sizzles with excitement. Maurice Binder crafted a winner with this sequence.
Daniel Kleinman stepped into the shoes of Binder with his first effort for the movies as Bond was making a comeback to. He reinvigorated the sequences once more with modern technology and CGI. GoldenEye is a delightfully tongue in cheek sequence with lingerie wearing women destroying Soviet monuments, a two-headed women to reference duplicity and gold a plenty. Kleinman really began to incorporate the main themes of the story into the sequences which is something that impressed me. And all these elements are topped off by a powerful Tina Turner song.
The World Is Not Enough:
Kleinman creates an unusual and psychedelic sequence that is both slightly disturbing and weirdly erotic. Globes spin, oil derricks pump in unison and women are formed, covered or falling into oil. Once again Kleinman chooses to really dig into the themes of the film for visual references. It’s all very peculiar and arresting, and the languidness suits the slinky title song from Garbage.
All of the title sequences have merit to them, but the ones I have discussed are the ones I hold dear. I hope it had made for interesting reading.
With 007 doing well at the box office once more with Spectre, I thought I should do another question post revolving around Bond. Today, it is the locations that I want to discuss. Over more that 50 years, Bond has ventured to many exotic and breathtaking locations to do battle with evil. So today I want to ask, which location sticks in your mind? Whatever your opinion, feel free to leave it.
007, 2010's, Andrew Scott, Ben Whishaw, Christoph Waltz, Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, James Bond, Jesper Christensen, Léa Seydoux, Monica Bellucci, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes, Sam Mendes, Spectre, Spy
- Daniel Craig as James Bond
- Christoph Waltz as Franz Oberhauser
- Léa Seydoux as Madeleine Swann
- Ben Whishaw as Q
- Naomie Harris as Miss Moneypenny
- Dave Bautista as Mr. Hinx
- Monica Bellucci as Lucia Sciarra
- Ralph Fiennes as M
- Andrew Scott as Max Denbigh
- Jesper Christensen as Mr. White
It was going to be a hard act to follow the phenomenal success and acclaim that Skyfall experienced, but I’m happy to report that Spectre, the 24th Bond movie is excellently done and hugely entertaining on almost every level. Bringing back some of the classic formula that makes the series so enjoyable in the first place, Spectre scores high points.
We begin in Mexico during the Day of the Dead, where Bond is on an unofficial mission as ordered by the former M before her death. He is tracking an international criminal named Marco Sciarra who is planning to blow up a prominent stadium. Before he can do this Bond intervenes in typically bombastic fashion and gives chase to the mafia boss, ending up with the two of them battling it out in a helicopter slowly spinning out of control. Bond overpowers him and manages to claim his ring, which bears a curious octopus symbol. Meanwhile, back in London, the current M is under pressure when Bond returns because his actions play into the hands of ambitious Security Chief Max Denbigh. The cocky upstart has plans to rid MI6 of the 00 section, seeing it as old and outdated. Though disciplined by M to stay and not doing anything rash, Bond, enlisting the covert services of loyal Moneypenny and gadget man Q, travels to Rome to uncover more about the syndicate the Sciarra was part of. Through contact with the forbidden Lucia, who is the widow of Sciarra, he finds the meeting place. It transpires that the organisation is the nefarious SPECTRE, who are behind worldwide acts of chaos and evil. Most alarming of all is the fact that the head of it is someone from Bond’s past known as Franz Oberhauser. Travelling to Austria, where he encounters former enemy Mr White, who is dying and in his last moments gives Bond precious information, Bond is set for a globetrotting adventure that also takes him to Tangier. He is further aided by Mr White’s intelligent daughter Dr Madeleine Swann, as he unearths the full nature of the crime group and confronts his own past in a mission that gets personal and very dangerous.
Sam Mendes successfully returns to the director seat again and works marvels with Spectre. Sprinkling proceedings with humour, action and dangerous elegance, he captures the world of Bond with excitement and panache. I enjoyed seeing Mendes tipping his hat to some of the older movies in the series, specifically From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Style oozes from the frames of this movie and special mention must go to the dazzling opening sequence. The sweeping nature of the tracking shot that begins the film is stunning and it burns itself deep into the mind for its skill, as well as the rest of the action-packed sequence that begins things with one hell of a bang. And I must give credit to the lovely cinematography that gives each new location on Bond’s journey a sense of dangerous atmosphere and international intrigue. Whether it be the burned oranges of shadowy Rome to the exotic golden sheen of Morocco, Spectre never fails to engage on a visual level. For all the visual grandeur, at least Spectre has a good script and story to go along with too. I liked the reintroduction of humour again and the way it was balanced with suspense. There really are some cracking one liners in here that will raise a chuckle or so within the audience, but there is still a grittiness within that is typical of Craig’s tenure as 007. Spectre feels very much like a Bond movie of old in style and content, though mixed with up to date agendas and technology. Thomas Newman provides a stirring and sweeping score that acts as a an excellent accompaniment to the adventure on screen and is not afraid to break out the outrageous bombast of old. Though the Sam Smith song for the movie has caused an ambivalent response, the orchestra heavy ‘Writing’s On the Wall’ fits stunningly into an unusual title sequence of octopus tentacles crawling over lovely ladies, fiery elementals caressing Bond and flickers of the past in shattered glass.
In his fourth outing as 007, Daniel Craig is excellent and really looks comfortable with the part. He still brings a level of seriousness to the screen, but it’s fun to see him be quick-witted and ruthless with style. In other words, Craig brings a new lease of life to Bond by combining both of these qualities and emerging successful. Largely seen in the shadows for the first half but once unveiled a slimy presence, a superb Christoph Waltz imbues the villain Oberhauser with a sinister charm and quiet sense of being the one pulling a whole lot of strings. Portraying the primary Bond girl Madeleine Swann, Léa Seydoux is sultry, intuitive and well-rounded as we witness her being able to handle dangerous situations and be able to analyse Bond. There is something very layered about the character and through the talents of Seydoux, they shine through. Ben Whishaw is a hoot as Q, given more material and working wonders with some splendidly written scenes with Bond as he risks his job to help him on his mission. Naomie Harris shines as Moneypenny, who also risks her job to help Bond and has a natural sense of humour about her. The hulking and silent credentials of Dave Bautista make for a suitably menacing henchman who tangles with Bond on more than one occasion. In a small but well-played part, the lovely Monica Bellucci plays a mob widow with a sense of melancholy and sexiness to her, who gives Bond some very important information regarding the eponymous group. Ralph Fiennes is great as M, who is not backing down from battling the forces that want to take away what he has worked for all this time. As the slick and brash Denbigh who has big plans and is thoroughly smug and condescending, Andrew Scott does a good job at making him really unlikable. And making a pivotal cameo is Jesper Christensen as former enemy Mr White who while dying after betraying SPECTRE, confides in Bond.
A well-shot, stylish and exciting Bond adventure, Spectre provides thrills and action that will leave you astonished and engrossed. I think it’s fair to say Spectre is a more than worthy follow-up to the amazing Skyfall.
As most of my followers know, James Bond is an icon to me and the franchise is ultra special. So I thought I’d post links to my Bond reviews of last year for those who may have not seen them, as Spectre is coming to cinemas very soon and I want to refresh everyone with my thoughts on 007. I hope you enjoy plowing through my takes on them.
With Spectre being released at the end of the month and my excitement going into overdrive, I thought it was time I found out what people made of the song for it. Sam Smith’s “Writing’s On The Wall” seems to have divided opinion a lot but has proved a big success on the charts. I must admit I wasn’t sure about the song at first, but it is slowly growing on me. So what do you think of the song? Does it have the right Bond flavour? Whatever you make of it, let me know.