Sunday, November 19, 2006

MOVIES: The Best Bond Flicks According to Entertainment Weekly...And Why They Are Wrong - Part 1

I was reading my Entertainment Weekly today and they had Daniel Craig and Eva Green on the cover and an article ranking the 20 Bond films. Let me tell you something, maybe it's just me, but the movies they chose as the best Bonds films are frankly some of the worst choices ever. Just on this list alone I have to give a Celebrity Bucket o' Dumb to Entertainment Weekly. Here is what they chose.

1. Goldfinger (1964) - This one I agree, although I would not have put it first. I have discovered there are different types of Bond fans. There are purists for the books and then there are those who enjoy campy crappiness like the Roger Moore films. Guess which one I am. Then there are some who are in between who like the serious but also like the gadgets. Goldfinger was the first to have the major gadgets. It's a great movie but Goldfinger can be a bit over the top. I would probably put Goldfinger in no. 3. You can't beat Pussy Galore and of course one of my favorite scenes where Bond is tied up with a laser pointed between his legs, he asks. "Do you expect me to talk?" Goldfinger responds, "No Mr. Bond I expect you to die." Classic.

2. You Only Live Twice (1967) - Here is where we start to go awry. When I was a little kid I loved this movie. I still enjoy elements of it and of course it still has Sean Connery but this was one of the last from his era and it's starting to show its age. Donald Pleasance was an interesting choice as Blofeld but if you've seen Austin Powers then this movie will always be laughable. Not to mention the dumb gadgets like Little Nelly and the over the top Evil Lair. The scenery is great and the exotic Japanese women are stunning. I would probably place it at number 6.

3. Live and Let Die (1973) - Okay, the guys at Entertainment Weekly are morons. Did they not see the ending to this thing where, the bad guy, played by Yaphet Kotto floats to the ceiling of his "lair" and explodes in the most cartoonish way? If Moonraker was the worst of the series this was by far second to the worst. Not to mention that they don't handle issues of race very well and of course they rely too much on gadgets. This is the first of the many terrible Roger Moore films. These, at least for me, are the most unbearable to watch. They are extremely dated and about as far from the books as you can get. For instance this is the introduction of that stupid red neck sheriff played by Clifton James who they actually invite back for The Man With The Golden Gun. Whoever thought it would be a great idea to put this character in a Bond movie obviously was looking to sabotage the series. The only thing good about this piece of crap was the opening score by Paul McCartney and the very beautiful Jane Seymour. So we'll place this one at 19.

4. Thunderball (1965) - I really enjoyed this one as a kid and as an adult. Again there were a few gadgets that got in the way, but overall this story was fun. Connery matched wits with the number 2 of S.P.E.C.T.R.E, Mr. Largo. Terrorists hold the world hostage by threatening to blow up a nuclear device if they are not paid off. This plot has been way overdone by now but it was one of the first films to do it, so I think we can cut them a break. I loved the scene where Bond is thrown in with the sharks and I really love when Bond harpoons that baddie to a palm tree and asks the girl "Do you think he gets the point." The action in this one is so good and the girl playing Domino is so hot I have to say that this one actually is ranked where it should be.

5. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) - Again I will admit that I actually like this one better now then when I first saw it. I was not willing to give Lazenby a chance and that is a mistake. He certainly holds his own and it is unfortunate that he should precede Connery in the role. I believe strongly that if they had done this one after a few of the Roger Moore flicks, Lazenby would have fared a whole hell of a lot better. The script is solid and I love Diana Rigg as Tracy. It is the closest to the book but sadly the action is not as solid as it should be and there are large gaping plot holes from the last Bond flick to this one. It's nice that they kept true to the book but in the book Bond had never actually met Blofeld until this story. In the movies Bond runs up against Blofeld in You Only Live Twice and Blofeld has seen his picture as early as From Russia With Love. So it makes Bond look stupid to meet with him under an assumed name and no physical disguise. Also Telly Savalas was terribly miscast as Blofeld. Three years ago I would put this one near the bottom of the barrel, but having seen it again recently my opinion has softened some. I would put it at 11.

6. Dr. No (1963) - I'm not quite sure why the first Bond ever is not in the top five, but the opening sequence for this one alone stands out as one of the best introductions ever. Connery is young and dangerous looking as he smokes his cigarette playing Baccarat. Dr. No does have his evil lair but it is fairly modest in regard to future productions. This movie contains one of my all time favorite scenes of any movie. (If you've read my article a few months ago then I apologize for repeating myself. ) Bond tricks an evil Professor to shooting up his unsuspecting pillow as Bond waits in the darkness behind him. Once the Professor has unloaded Bond announces his presence. In his cold dark way Bond allows the Professor to take his weapon once more but points out to the math challenged Doctor--"That's a Smith and Wesson and you've had your six." He caps the Professor and then shoots him one more time for good measure as he coolly sits back down on the couch. Ursulla Andress was hot but this scene alone makes Dr. No number 2 on my list.

7. GoldenEye (1995) - I agree with Entertainment Weekly that this is the best of the Brosnan Bond films. Sean Bean's Trevelyan is one of the best Bond villains and the first that I had ever felt true sympathy for. He is also one of the few with the best motivation for doing evil: His parents were betrayed by England and shot as traitors by the Russians. The GoldenEye weapon was an intriguing one and even though Brosnan was no true tough guy, he was very capable in the role. I would put this one at number 5.

8. From Russia With Love (1963) - You've got to be kidding me. This is the best Bond of all time. It captured the Cold War better than any spy film of its kind. S.P.E.C.T.R.E plays two agencies against each other so they can get their hands on a Russian decoder machine. The British Secret Service on one side and S.M.E.R.S.H on the other. Robert Shaw is a violent and menacing Red Grant. This one had beautiful photography in Istanbul and the even more beautiful Daniela Bianchi as a sexy Russian spy. Entertainment Weekly says the train ride on the Orient Express was boring. I guess this MTV generation demands instant gratification for everything. Sometimes great things take a little more time. So, please just be patient EW stop chugging double espressos and turn on your brain for a few minutes during that train sequence you may learn something. Sometimes it takes a little patience to get to the heart of a good story. This one, at times, was complex and it needed room to breathe. Personally it's one of my favorites and it deserves to be on top at number 1.

9. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) - Ah the year of my birth. My Dad had me read this one when I was in High School. It was a great book because it was unpredictable and the crazy part was that it was a James Bond novel without James Bond really in it. He shows up in the last ten or twenty pages to save the day. It really is about this beautiful Russian spy who is looking for Bond. The movie, of course, didn't follow that template. They did have a cool skiing scene in the beginning I'll admit but the submarine car was lame. This was also the introduction to one of the worst Bond villains, Jaws (Richard Kiel). I know he has a special place in a lot of Bond fan's hearts but after age 12 this guy really got on my nerves. He wasn't scary he was stupid and it again hit against the credibility of Bond. You know the old adage they say a good hero is best defined by a good villain. Now to be fair, my wife and I danced to Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon at our wedding. It's a great song and the movie wasn't too terrible so I would have to say this one would fall at number 15 for me.

10. For Your Eyes Only (1981) - I'm detecting a pattern here I really do think that the writers at Entertainment Weekly enjoyed the schlocky Bond more than the serious ones. This was certainly one of the best if not the best of the Roger Moore era. It was after the disastrous Moonraker and they realized they had gotten out of control with gadgets. They went back to the old standby the retrieval of a code machine. It did hearken back to From Russia With Love and maybe that's why I liked it. There are some pretty intense action scenes and the dialogue wasn't too unbearable. I think I'll place this one a little higher at number 8.

11-20 Tomorrow. Stay Tuned.

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