A few months ago a friend who had never seen a James Bond movie asked which Bond films she should watch in preparation for Skyfall that she intended to see on its release. I immediately suggested a few of my favourites and advised her to steer clear of some of the ones I don’t like. I was going to post a list of the movies I recommended but I have kind of already covered that in my film by film guide. So here is a slightly different take on the idea. A week of Bond movies with a double feature on Sunday. Not only do the selected films represent some of the best Bond films, but they also show different elements of the character and the way he developed over time. They also feature all the actors to play Bond.
In preparation for this post I actually watched all the films last week*
Monday: From Russia with Love (1963)
Both character and actor were finding their feet in Dr. No. its also worth considering that Bond is presented as an established character at the top of his game, so viewers can step on with any one of the early movies without missing anything. That’s why I am skipping the first film and went to my all time favourite From Russia with Love. With a great story that is faithful to the book and a selection of memorable villains, it’s a great start to the week.
Tuesday: Goldfinger (1964)
While From Russia with Love established Connery in the role, Goldfinger cemented the character in mythology. Great, villain, great henchmen, two memorable Bond girls and the greatest icon of the franchise, the Aston Martin DB5. Again it is faithful to the book.
Wednesday: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Lets begin by saying this is a flawed classic. Once again it is faithful to the book, and it’s a great book but the problem lies with the casting, George Lazenby can‘t act and has no charisma, worst of all he has no chemistry with his co-star Diana Rigg. There is however enough good to forgive the problems.
Thursday: Live and Let Die (1973)
Roger Moore became Bond version 3 and did a pretty good job (sadly it was downhill from there). For a long time Bond has jumped on the coattails of other genres, this is the first overt version of this with a Blaxploitation inspired story. The last Bond film to take the majority of its story from an Ian Fleming novel.
Friday: Licence to Kill (1989)
From the last Bond film to take the majority of its story from an Ian Fleming novel to the first film that doesn’t even take its title from a novel. The film does take a lot of its ideas from unused parts of the original Fleming novels. Timothy Dalton’s Bond is the closest to the character from Fleming’s novels and the idea of a renegade Bond is ahead of his time.
Saturday: GoldenEye (1995)
After a hiatus caused by legal disputes Bond was back in the shape Pierce Brosnan. Playing off against a great villain and two opposing Bond girls (most notably a memorable Famke Janssen) Brosnan found a happy medium between Dalton and Moore. The action is good and the story is suitably updated. Sadly Brosnan didn’t manage to follow it up with each of his movies getting progressively worse.
Sunday: Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall (2012)
Bond has been reinvented a few times but Casino Royale was the first time it was totally rebooted. Utilising the perfect source material, Ian Fleming’s first Bond novel, and Jason Bourne inspired action the film hit all the right notes. If Brosnan found the balance between Dalton and Moore, Daniel Craig found a similar position between Dalton and Connery. And then we come to Skyfall, you can read my full review HERE.
*having already seen it twice in two weeks I didn’t re-watch Skyfall.