I referenced Octopussy in my review for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy and it got me reminiscing about the world’s favorite spy. Thinking of the five best Bond films proved to be more difficult than I thought. The main reason being the reboot of the franchise with Daniel Craig (disclaimer, I have not watched Quantum of Solace). Before Casino Royale Bond films were stereotypical, and I would make comments such as, “It’s good for a Bond film.” Now you must compare them to movies-at-large. The only criteria I had for this list is that it must be an official James Bond movie which means the 1967 David Niven Casino Royale spoof and the 1983 Sean Connery Never Say Never Again do not qualify.
#5 – Octopussy – 1983
Stars: Roger Moore, Maud Adams
Though much maligned, I really like Octopussy. Roger Moore is a little campy in it, but otherwise I was well entertained. The story kept me involved, there were many locales, the Soviets were the bad-guys (though the main Russian was in it for the money), and there was a circus. What’s not to love.
#4 – From Russia with Love – 1963
Stars: Sean Connery, Robert Shaw
A down and dirty James Bond before all the typical conventions had been established. It had the first appearance of Q–though he wasn’t called that–and the first appearance of the pre-title set piece. Constant Bond enemy organization SPECTRE is the bad guy. Nothing to do with the actual movie, but it also has my favorite poster.
#3 – Casino Royale – 2006
Stars: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench
Casino Royale is a great movie and an excellent reboot to the Franchise, but it is not the best Bond Film. In effect, the elements–or lack thereof–that helped introduce this franchise to a younger audience and allowed it to become relevant again are the same things that prevent it from being #1 on this list. The movie just isn’t James Bond enough.
#2 – Goldfinger – 1964
Stars: Sean Connery, Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman
I know, I know, “blasphemy”, “sacrilege”, how is Goldfinger not #1? The first Bond film which had all the elements that make a Bond film: action set piece before the main title, maniacal villain, villain sidekick, great gadgets, great car, “Bond, James Bond”, “Vodka Martini, shaken not stirred”, and a Great Bond Girl with the best name of all time–Pussy Galore. But what keeps it out of the #1 slot is a weak story. Think about it. If you know the bad guy’s plan, why would you allow them to bring their weapons and a nuclear device into Ft. Knox after you pretend to be knocked-out by their nerve gas. Shouldn’t you take them out before you allow them to secure their positions and arm the bomb? The good guys had the opportunity.
#1 – For Your Eyes Only – 1981
Stars: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet
Roger Moor’s least gadgety Bond movie, and the one where he is actually called upon to show some emotion. The story is also the most realistic: vital piece of military equipment goes missing, get that equipment before the bad guys, use any means and/or people necessary. It also has the best looking Bond Girl ever: Carole Bouquet.
Which is your favorite? All the bond films are listed below in release order.
Bonus: Below is the trailer for the 1967 Casino Royale.