We’re still waiting for No Time to Die, the 25th James Bond film, to open in theaters; it’s been postponed twice now due to the pandemic. But there’s always reason to revisit one of the predecessors – and argue about which ones are your favorites. The films may be outdated in many ways, but there’s something eternally appealing about them. I don’t believe it is one specific thing, but rather a cocktail of great ingredients throughout the years: the actors, special effects, music, action… Above all, a true sense of imagination even when the storylines relied on the expected.
Prepare yourself a martini and see if you agree with my list.
1964-Britain. Directed by Guy Hamilton. Cast: Sean Connery, Gert Fröbe, Honor Blackman.
“This was Guy Hamilton’s first Bond film as director, but he does an excellent job replacing the venerable Terence Young, coaxing great performances out of Sean Connery and Honor Blackman as the classy agent and the resourceful pilot.”
1977-Britain-U.S. Directed by Lewis Gilbert. Cast: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens.
“Some people will always regard this chapter as the beginning of the end. Actually, The Spy Who Loved Me stands for what was good about the Roger Moore era.”
1969-Britain. Directed by Peter R. Hunt. Cast: George Lazenby, Diana Rigg, Gabriele Ferzetti.
“It doesn’t end happily; the ensuing tragedy is one that will haunt Bond for the rest of his life and give the character some complexity in future films. Quite moving, really, an unforgettable moment in an unusual chapter of the series.”
4 Dr. No
1962-Britain. Directed by Terence Young. Cast: Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman.
“A strange thing happened when he donned a tuxedo; his persona gave the character some depth. In Connery’s guise, Bond was an elegant gentleman but with a hint of brutality that was barely noticeable – until you crossed him.”
2012-U.S.-Britain. Directed by Sam Mendes. Cast: Daniel Craig, Judi Dench, Javier Bardem.
“What we have here is a perfectly executed Bond film that echoes Ian Fleming’s novels, but also adds a touch of the modern anarchy theme from the last two Dark Knight films as Silva’s bold attack on MI6 will end up showing doubting politicians why society still needs an effective intelligence network.”
2006-U.S.-Britain-Germany-Czech Republic. Directed by Martin Campbell. Cast: Daniel Craig, Eva Green, Mads Mikkelsen.
“The action sequences are not spectacular per se, but spectacularly well made. There’s a terrific scene where Bond chases a terrorist on foot; the bad guy is played by a famous free runner and the experience is exhilarating. There’s also a long sequence involving a tank truck that keeps you on the edge of your seat… Even the poker game has me interested, which is rare.”
1995-Britain-U.S. Directed by Martin Campbell. Cast: Pierce Brosnan, Sean Bean, Izabella Scorupco.
“The 17th entry in this series came after a six-year hiatus. It’s Pierce Brosnan’s first effort as the superspy and he’s an excellent choice – humorous, equally cool and passionate.”
1963-Britain. Directed by Terence Young. Cast: Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi, Lotte Lenya.
“It’s a good-looking, exciting sequel and some of the action scenes are expertly staged, especially the long fight on a train, even if the story might have benefited from tighter editing.”
1974-Britain. Directed by Guy Hamilton. Cast: Roger Moore, Christopher Lee, Britt Ekland.
“There’s plenty of humor in this very entertaining chapter that also features an outstanding car chase. Lee plays the assassin with three nipples the sinister way he plays Dracula, and that’s a perfect approach.”
1967-Britain. Directed by Lewis Gilbert. Cast: Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi, Tetsuro Tamb.
“The ‘space-jacking’ part of the story is silly, but the Japanese ingredients give the film its flavor (there’s even a Eastern bride for Bond), and the production design is spectacular.”
2015-U.S.-Britain. Directed by Sam Mendes. Cast: Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Léa Seydoux.
“Longest in the franchise yet, the filmmakers nevertheless keep it very lively and exciting throughout, with good action scenes, a terrific villain (his introductory scene is effective) and an explosive climax in London.”
1981-Britain. Directed by John Glen. Cast: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol.
“Plenty of good action (love that car chase) and attractive locations, a lovely performance from Carole Bouquet and a charming one from Roger Moore.”