It’s been 50 years, six actors, 23 movies and too many buxom women and clever gadgets to count — and still only one man: Bond. James Bond.
The Bond series has had its ups and downs over the decades. Here’s The Cricket’s take on the 23 films, from best to worst. (No, we’re not counting the non-canon Bond movies: the spoofy "Casino Royale" with David Niven and Peter Sellers, or Sean Connery’s dreadful "Never Say Never Again.")
The gold-standard Bond ratings
Do you agree or disagree with Sean P. Means’ rating of the Bonds? Take the Tribune’s movie critic on by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Bond rating” in the subject line. He’ll consider the most pithy comments for future blog posts.
1. "From Russia With Love" (1963) » The second Bond film had Sean Connery at his peak, riding the Orient Express with a hot Russian blonde (Daniela Bianchi) and a well-equipped attaché case — and two of the series’ nastiest villains (played by Robert Shaw and Lotte Lenya) on his tail.
2. "Goldfinger" (1964) » The best villain (Gert Frobe’s title character), the best one-liners, the imposing Oddjob (Harold Sakata) and the implausibly named Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). What more could you want?
3. "Casino Royale" (2006) » Daniel Craig’s debut put the punch back in the franchise.
4. "Skyfall" (2012) » The latest is as good as the franchise’s best films and establishes Craig as the most dramatic of the Bonds.
5. "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1977) » Roger Moore’s best outing, as Bond thaws out the Cold War with a sexy Russian agent (Barbara Bach). Also, Richard Kiel’s Jaws, one of the franchise’s coolest villains.
6. "Dr. No" (1962) » The one that started it all, introducing Connery as Bond, along with Monty Norman’s propulsive theme music.
7. "On Her Majesty’s Secret Service" (1969) » Often dismissed as George Lazenby’s sole outing as 007, this Alpine affair was brimming with babes — and, in Telly Savalas, the best Blofeld.
8. "GoldenEye" (1995) » Pierce Brosnan’s debut was dynamic, but Famke Janssen’s head-crushing thighs steal the show.
9. "For Your Eyes Only" (1981) » With great underwater action and the sexy Carole Bouquet, Moore kicks some of the campiness out of the franchise (except for the stupid Margaret Thatcher impersonator at the end).
10. "Thunderball" (1965) » Two words: Jet pack.
11. "Live and Let Die" (1973) » Moore’s debut includes the best villain death (by shark rifle), the best theme song (by Paul McCartney) and the lovely Jane Seymour as the tragic Solitaire.
12. "Quantum of Solace" (2008) » Not much plot, but Craig continues to put his stamp on the character.
13. "The Man With the Golden Gun" (1974) » Moore’s mano-a-mano battle with Christopher Lee was excellent; his goofy foreplay with Britt Eklund, not so much.
14. "The World Is Not Enough" (1999) » Brosnan gets saddled with a ridiculous Bond girl (Denise Richards), but has some strong moments with the franchise’s best female villain (Sophie Marceau).
15. "Octopussy" (1983) » OK action, in spite of the idiotic title.
16. "The Living Daylights" (1987) » Timothy Dalton’s debut is a little too serious to be much fun.
17. "You Only Live Twice" (1967) » The Bond movie that set up the most parodies, with Donald Pleasence’s Blofeld in his volcano lair the model for "Austin Powers’ " Dr. Evil and "The Simpsons’ " Hank Scorpio.
18. "Tomorrow Never Dies" (1997) » Jonathan Pryce as a media mogul who wants to destroy the world for TV ratings? Worst villain motivation ever.
19. "A View to a Kill" (1985) » Moore’s last Bond movie, with Christopher Walken and Grace Jones as a silly pair of villains — and Tanya Roberts as the franchise’s stupidest Bond girl.Next Page >
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