26
Oct 15

Oh Bondage Up Yours!

Do You See21 comments • 920 views

There is a new James Bond film out, and so I emailed a select cadre* of FT writers to tell me their favourite a) BOND FILMS and b) BOND THEMES. The idea then being that I would write about these things. But a problem arose! It turns out that the only James Bond film I have definitely seen all the way through is Goldfinger, and that scenes from ‘other Bond films’ I remembered with fondness were, in fact, also from Goldfinger.

octobond

So I haven’t written about them. Well, not much. But here is the Top Ten List as voted for in an exclusive film critic*’s poll. Later in the week I will put up the themes, which I will give (even) more critical consideration to.

10. Dr No

The unforgettable debut. Bikini. Sea. Violence. Pussy Galore, unless she’s in Goldfinger.

9. Live And Let Die

“NOT THE RACIST BITS” said everyone who voted for this. So be warned.

8. A View To A Kill

Grace Jones. Eiffel Tower. And that’s just the theme video! Imagine how great all the rest must be.

7. Skyfall

One of the modern James Bond films which I believe use high tech effects such as acting.

6. Moonraker

Who built the moon? Bond investigates. Good spaceship action I seem to recall.

5. You Only Live Twice

Ski-ing. Spaceships eating each other. Beyond that literally everything I remembered about this turned out to be in Goldfinger.

4. From Russia With Love

I’m guessing there’s a Russian in it.

3. Goldeneye

The other Bond film I have definitely seen is one with surly Timothy Dalton. Neither of his films got into the list, and I can guess why. Here’s Pierce Brosnan instead though.

2. Goldfinger

AT LAST. Painted gold. Laser trap. Bloke with the hat. Web of sin. Don’t go in. What could be better?

1. Casino Royale (the second one)

This could! A firm vote for New Bond as the best. I was pretty sure I’d seen this but I gradually realised all the bits I remembered seeing while half asleep on a sofa were actually in Batman Begins. He gets tied to a chair at some point and there’s a lot of product placement.

That ends our deluxe celebration of the cinema of James Bond.

*some people I go to the pub with

Comments

  1. 1

    this poll is incorrect because

    a) all bond films are exactly as bad as each other
    b) the david niven casino royale is better than the more recent one,
    hence
    c) the ordering is;

    1: david niven casino royale
    equal bottom: all other bond films

  2. 2
    Phil on 26 Oct 2015 #

    I used to have this family running joke of improvising ridiculous mispronunciations – asking my son whether he was looking forward to The Dark K-nigg-ht, that kind of thing. When they first started advertising Quantum of Solace – which was well in advance of its release – the title was a natural for me: I pronounced the first word to rhyme with ‘pantoum’ and the third to rhyme with ‘Versace’, Kwantoum of Solahche. I even came up with my own theme song. To the tune of “Diamonds are forever”:

    Kwantoum of Solahche
    Wearing trousers from Versace
    They’re not rough and they’re not scratchy
    They won’t leave when you want ’em
    They’ll give you a quantum
    Of solace…

    The trouble was, then I had to keep it up. I was looking forward to the trailers settling the pronunciation question – “Quantum! Of! Solace!” – but they never did. As far as I remember nobody even uses the phrase in the film itself. We went into the film, we saw it, we came out and the title was still, as far as we were concerned, Kwantoum of Solahche.

    So be warned – sometimes the wind does change and you are stuck like that. Still looking forward to Spec Tree, mind you.

  3. 3
    Tommy Mack on 26 Oct 2015 #

    You have to see Bond as a very long running feminist revenge-porno building up to the bit where he gets raped by Grace Jones and loves it, the dirty bastard (er, spoilers…)

  4. 4
    thefatgit on 26 Oct 2015 #

    That bit when Daniel Craig kicked Her Maj out of the helicopter…er…hang on!

  5. 5
    Alan on 27 Oct 2015 #

    The best ever line in a James Bonds
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yiWeqVYYI1c

  6. 6
    Mark M on 29 Oct 2015 #

    I’m very much against the whole Daniel Craig era. Craig – who is well worth watching in the right setting (eg C4’s William Boyd-scripted adaptation of Sword of Honour) – has decided that Bond is not only a sexist pig, he’s a dim one. It’s all a bit post-punk in the worst way – a joyless attempt to dismantle the myth. Why would you watch that?

    I’ve realised that while I’ve seen every single Bond film, I haven’t actively enjoyed many of them. The last one I liked was Goldeneye (it was a shame that the rest of the Brosnan films were so duff)… And before that? Maybe For Your Eyes Only, and if not The Man With The Golden Gun. That’s four decades ago…

  7. 7
    weej on 29 Oct 2015 #

    The only Bond films I can remember watching are Dr No (enjoyed quite a bit, though any early 60s spy film might have the same effect), Live & Let Die (pleasant childhood bank holiday memories, no great hurry to revisit), Goldeneye (poor relation of its own N64 adaptation), The World Is Not Enough (poor relation of Goldeneye) and Casino Royale (fairly enjoyable thriller, quite like the attempt to dismantle the myth as had grown to actively dislike the myth since Brosnan took over).

    Also have seen David Niven Casino Royale, which is obviously superior to all of the above, but doesn’t really count as a Bond film much more than say, Austin Powers does.

  8. 8
    Tommy Mack on 29 Oct 2015 #

    Is Casino Royal (and the rest) really an attempt to dismantle the myth? Isn’t it just a superficial rebrand for an audience that loved Bourne and The Dark Knight?

    Admittedly they’ve tried to make him a bit more Milk Tray man than an out and out psychopath (presumably realising that women buy cinema tickets too) but CR et al don’t feel a million miles from the early Sean Connery Bonds. I’m not an aficionado though, but it doesn’t seem a radical departure from the Bond mythos to me.

  9. 9

    Also a Bond film, also superior to the entire canon: Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

  10. 10

    even tho it isn’t very good

  11. 11
    Tommy Mack on 29 Oct 2015 #

    #9 Wot’s the Bond connection?

  12. 12

    a: plot
    b: “the name’s potts, caractacus potts”
    c: Q (in this case the dad)
    d: fancy motor
    e: villain’s lair inc.sidekick
    f: ian fleming

  13. 13
    swanstep on 29 Oct 2015 #

    I don’t see the point of denying (except as a party piece of cynicism) that there are real gulfs in quality across the canon Bond films. Realistically, it would be completely amazing if 20+ films were equally good or bad. Anyhow, I’ve seen most (probably 15 or so) of the Bond films over the years and I’d say the article’s list is broadly right with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (the Diana Rigg one; Bond marries her and you believe it) being the most important omission. It’s commonly held to be ‘top 3 or 4’ notwithstanding the Lazenby-factor.

  14. 14
    Adam Puke on 29 Oct 2015 #

    Mr Kiss Kiss “Chitty Chitty” Bang Bang

  15. 15

    i’ve (bang)banged on abt this elsewhere but maybe not so much here: the thing abt the craig casino royale as a “dismantling” is that it actually does reflect the approach of the book, which (as the first) is easily the most interesting — it’s much darker, much more realistic about the psychology of an agent in this ambiguous, treacherous world, and the plots of the villains are less entirely fanciful, low-key, sly and crappy. The opening line of casino royale the book is: “The scent and smoke and sweat of a casino are nauseating at three in the morning.” Later comes: “… Bond undressed and took a cold shower. Then he lit his seventieth cigarette of the day.”

    The violence is (really) nasty, Bond’s weariness and disenchantment is (a little) closer to Le Carré territory than his subsequent fuck-em-and-dump-em sociopathy — and as it’s well before the Cuban Missile crisis, he isn’t constantly having to rescue the entire world from destruction by (privately owned and developed) doomsday device all on his own.

    (This doomsday trope is sorta kinda introduced in the third novel, Moonraker — but actually the threat of the privately developed rocket is much more local — also the book is more like a New Avengers plot i.e. rubbishy. The second is the voodoo one: Fleming had a house in the Caribbean, Goldeneye — Anthony Eden stayed there when recovering from his breakdown* — but the less said the better about his grasp of the cultural and political role of syncretic Afro-Caribbean religions…) (haha as a 13-yr-old I remember a Mad magazine send-up at the time — 1973 — of the hopeless racial politics of the film, which of course starred Moore — too stupid even really to be offensive)

    *Fleming’s ghastly cooking and the rats in the rafters apparently led to a second breakdown :)

  16. 16
    thefatgit on 29 Oct 2015 #

    Age 11 – 13 seems to be the perfect age to be impressed by Bond. That puts me at Peak Moore: The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and Octopussy. That’s Bond at its absolute nadir. Oh, well…

  17. 17
    Ronnie on 30 Oct 2015 #

    @16: Hey, hey now. The last two are indeed atrocious but “The Spy Who Loved Me” is top-tier.

  18. 18
    thefatgit on 30 Oct 2015 #

    I’ll concede that TSWLM is better than the other two. Mrs Starkey was excellent, but I got increasingly frustrated with Moore. I had a pre-adolescent crush on Caroline Munro, though.

  19. 19
    swanstep on 30 Oct 2015 #

    I’m not sure that TSWLM adds up to much but it has lots of great Bond-pieces – a good car (Lotus Esprit into sub), a pretty good and scary heavy (Jaws), a sexy and very direct song (‘Nobody Does It Better’), a genuinely risque title sequence, one of the best opening stunt sequences, never gets *too* silly … unless one thinks that Moore is only a clown. It does enough right to be quite a lot of fun even if its story does go to the stolen nukes well again (the global-annihilation-threat repetition has, I agree with Lord Sukrat, been a problem for the series – there should be plenty of good spy-larking to be had below that level of disaster and I guess I’ve appreciated the Danial Craig Bonds attempts to find this).

  20. 20
    Ed on 1 Nov 2015 #

    One nice detail in the Craig Casino Royale is the way that, in a nod towards plausibility, they make Eva Green’s character an official in the Financial Action Task Force, which is a real thing.

    Despite the cool name, though, the Financial Action Task Force’s involvement in casinos seems to be a bit less of the taking down terrorist financiers in high-stakes poker games, and a bit more of writing reports like this:

    http://www.fatf-gafi.org/documents/documents/vulnerabilitiesofcasinosandgamingsector.html

    I saw The Spy Who Loved Me when I was 11, and thought it was the best film I had ever seen, perfect in every detail. Deep down, I think I really still think that, too.

  21. 21
    lonepilgrim on 2 Nov 2015 #

    prompted by this thread I went down a wiki rabbit hole and discovered that Pussy Galore was allegedly bad on Blanche Blackwell, the mother of Island Records Boss, Chris Blackwell.
    My first Bond movie was YOLT which I loved because it featured rockets which I was obsessed with at the time and I still have a YOLT themed Scalextric set that I got for Christmas 1968. I saw several Bond films at the cinema (old and new) but stopped going after ‘Live and Let Die’. Every Bond movie I’ve seen since then I’ve seen on video, DVD, online or on TV at Christmas. A lot of them have much in common with panto in their rag bag collection of briefly famous performers, flashy spectacle and creaking plots.

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