Some Final Thoughts on Bond and Ranking His Actors and Films

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Some Final Thoughts on Bond and Ranking His Actors and Films

Jill_Masterson

As I think back on watching all of the Eon produced James Bond films, I thought I’d express a few final thoughts, as well as a couple of rankings. Obviously, this is one of the most popular film series of all time. Only the Harry Potter films have grossed more at the box office, and the only reason for that is inflation. More tickets have been sold for James Bond films than any other series, and more films have been made than any other series.

Why such enduring success? I do not consider myself an expert on James Bond, or an aficionado. I’ve merely seen all of the films, and it seems to me that these films are all a reflection of the times they’re from, while also instilling enough elements of fantasy to make them emotionally engaging. James Bond is charismatic (for the most part), heroic (almost always) and flawed. Women love him, men admire him and the world needs him.

That’s the difference between Bond and say, Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt. The Bourne films and the Mission: Impossible films are all cut from the same cloth as Bond, but they lack something that Bond has. Bond carries sophistication. It doesn’t matter which Bond we’re talking about, they all carried a level of sophistication that no other action character can come close to matching. That’s where the admiration comes from.

That character has been the key, because there have been some real dogs in this series. We all love to talk about our favorites and debate the merits of Casino Royale over Goldfinger or On Her Majesty’s Secret Service over From Russia With Love, but for every one of those, there’s a The Man With the Golden Gun or Licence To Kill. This hasn’t been a perfect series, and even the best films in the series have flaws. The bottom line, however, is that the films are entertaining. They transport the viewer to a world that is simultaneously familiar and fantastic. That’s why we keep coming back for more.

Now, if you’ll indulge me, I have some lists. As mentioned above, I do not consider myself a Bond expert. I’ve simply seen all of the films, and I have some opinions on the films. Feel free to comment with your own lists. As I mentioned to someone a few days ago, the beautiful thing about films is that  two people can see the same film and come away with completely different opinions. So I welcome differing opinions and would be interested to hear which films, Bond girls and Bonds you like best.

Bond films from best to worst:

1) Skyfall

2) Goldfinger

3) From Russia With Love

4) Casino Royale

5) Thunderball

6) The Living Daylights

7) The Spy Who Loved Me

8) For Your Eyes Only

9) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

10) GoldenEye

11) Dr. No

12) You Only Live Twice

13) Quantum of Solace

14) The World Is Not Enough

15) Die Another Day

16) Octopussy

17) Tomorrow Never Dies

18) Licence To Kill

19) Live and Let Die

20) Diamonds Are Forever

21) The Man With the Golden Gun

22) Moonraker

23) A View to a Kill

Ranking the Bonds

Bond_Dr_No

Sean Connery (The original and still the Gold Standard. The Bond to which all others are currently measured.)

BondCasinoRoyale

Daniel Craig (The most human of Bonds. If he makes 2 or 3 more films the quality of Skyfall and Casino Royale, he’ll vault ahead of Connery.)

BondDieAnotherDay_01

Pierce Brosnan (Solid, but not remarkable. He performed the role well, but is dragged down because his films weren’t as good, which isn’t entirely his fault.)

BondLicenceToKill

Timothy Dalton (Could have been rated higher if he had been in more films. The Living Daylights was great. Licence To Kill not so much.)

BondOctopussy

Roger Moore (Out of 7 films, only 2 were great, 1 was mediocre and the others were just bad. He played the role with a forced lightheartedness that never fit the character.)

Lazenby

George Lazenby (Grades out as incomplete. His 1 Bond film rates in the top 10, but he doesn’t have a large enough body of work.)

Ranking the Bond Girls

Titiana Romanova (From Russia With Love)

Vesper Lynd (Casino Royale)

Honey Ryder (Dr. No)

Anya Amasova (The Spy Who Loved Me)

Teresa di Vicenzo (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)

Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only)

Domino (Thunderball)

Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies)

Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)

Jinx Johnson (Die Another Day)

Natalya Siminova (GoldenEye)

Octopussy (Octopussy)

Solitaire (Live and Let Die)

Camille Montes (Quantum of Solace)

Kara Milovy (The Living Daylights)

Tiffany Case (Diamonds Are Forever)

Pam Bouvier/Lupe Lamora (Licence To Kill)

Kissy (You Only Live Twice)

Dr. Christmas Jones (The World is not Enough)

Mary Goodnight (The Man With The Golden Gun)

Dr. Holly Goodhead (Moonraker)

Stacey Sutton (A View To A Kill)

0 Comments

  1. Bill Lundy says:

    Brian,

    I want to commend you on this thoroughly entertaining and informative series. It takes a lot of work to watch and analyze 23 movies over a relatively short period of time, and I think you’ve done a great job.

    As a longtime Bond fan, I think your analysis was excellent overall, and I agree with most of your criticisms and praises. I’m glad to see you talking up “Living Daylights,” which I’ve always thought was underrated, despite (as you pointed out) not having strong villains. Part of that for me is that I’ve always admired Dalton, and wish he could have done more Bond films since, as you say, “Licence to Kill” was not a strong entry in the canon.

    I pretty much agree with your rankings, although I have a huge soft spot for “You Only Live Twice.” Despite some choppiness in the story, for me the exotic Japanese locations, combined with 3-time Oscar winner Freddie Young’s photography and the gorgeous Akiko Wakabayashi make this one of my favorites, alongside “From Russia with Love”, “Daylights,” “Thunderball,” “Spy Who Loved Me” and “Casino Royale”.

    For some reason I’ve never been a huge “Goldfinger” fan, although I understand its popularity and high place in the canon. I think part of it for me is Pussy Galore’s extreme turnabout, just due to one roll in the hay with Bond. I’ve never bought that from a character perspective, and it really hurts the film for me.

    And although I liked and admired “Skyfall,” I did have some story problems with it. But it’s certainly one of the best-acted and best-directed of the series.

    Again, wonderful job on the series. Any chance you’ll tackle “Harry Potter” next? I’ve got a lot of strong opinions on that one đŸ™‚

    Regards,

    Bill Lundy
    http://www.scifiscreenwriter.com

  2. Wayne C. Rogers says:

    Brian,

    Job well done. You put a lot of hard work into this, and it shows. Though I pretty much agree with your list, I have to say that Goldfinger has dropped somewhat in my book after repeated viewings. For me, it simply doesn’t hold up as well as others in the series. This is ironic, considering Goldfinger is the first Bond film I saw way back in 1964. I think From Russia With Love is actually Sean’s best, followed by Thunderball and You Only Live Twice because of its exotic Japanese locale and martial arts sequences. After nearly fifty years, I finally got an autographed Bond poster from From Russia With Love with Sean’s signature on it. That is now my pride and joy.

    Though I was against Daniel Craig when I first heard he was replacing Pierce Brosnan as Bond, Casino Royale won me over big time and made me an instant Craig fan. Now, here’s what is strange about this. I saw Skyfall in the theater when it first came out and thought it was so-so. I’ve since watched it on DVD at least seven times and now think it might be the best Bond movie of all. I hope to be around when Daniel Craig appears in the next Bond film in 2015.

    Cheers,

    Wayne

  3. Peter says:

    Excellent blog about Bond films that generated some interesting insight. I have seen most of the Bond films, and agree in the main with your views. Have to stick up a little for Roger Moor. Not the greatest actor, but did marry the role to his personality and caught the cheesy joke flavor of the seventies. The humor in his movies was over the top at times, but he was never a good enough actor to take on the role the way the other Bond actors have. Casino Royale was one of the tightest Bond scripts ever written, and for me the best Bond movie.

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