Phillip Thompson

Crime Fiction writer

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Photo: PR Newsire

James Bond … you know, that one.

For no other reason than I’m bored—and the fact I noticed a James Bond marathon underway on my cable provider—I got to wondering which James Bond movie was my favorite. Sure, there’s plenty of folks out there who propose to know “the best” Bond movie or the “best” James Bond (and I’ll get to that), but what about “favorite” Bond movie?

As a kid of the 1970s, I grew up loving Bond movies and right in the middle of the Roger Moore era. So, to me, Bond was an almost kitschy kind of character (not that I knew that word when I was 9 years old). Smart-alecky, well-dressed, and superbly equipped, like a top-dollar Man from U.N.C.L.E. Even so, I loved those damn movies. What kid didn’t want to be James Bond? Of course, then I had no idea that Moore wasn’t even the first Bond—or as some would say, the “real” Bond. In fact, when I saw “Diamonds are Forever,” which of course starred Sean Connery, I was like, “Who is this guy?”

But I digress.

Through the 70s and into the 80s, Bond movies followed a formula, one that worked well, but by the mid-80s, it was pretty apparent the formula was played out. The role changed hands a few times, which was always controversial (maybe needlessly so), but the formula pretty much stayed the same. Until the latter part of the 1990s, when Bond took on much more of an edgy, sinister tone, one more similar to Ian Fleming’s character in the Bond novels (which I thought was pretty cool).

Did I mention I love the Bond movies? In the 80s, I had every one made (up until then) eternally preserved on VHS tape (because we’d always watch VHS forever, right?). Sadly, those VHS tapes have gone to the big Blockbuster in the sky, but no problem. One movie or another is always on cable or on demand. So, Bond lives on, in more ways than one.

So, which one was my favorite? Let’s take a look at all 25, from least to most favorite.

25. Moonraker: the last Bond flick of the 70s (but not Moore’s last), this one was just bad. Hokey space effects, terrible acting. Just bad.

24. A View to A Kill: this 1985 installment was Moore’s last and it showed. Watching Tanya Roberts try to act her way through a spy thriller was almost as painful as listening to the Duran Duran theme song.

23. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: I only watched George Lazenby’s Bond once.

22. For Your Eyes Only: Besides the spectacular Greek landscapes, Moore’s comic shtick got old pretty early into this one.

21. Octopussy: Not even a slightly salacious name could save this snoozer of a Bond flick

20. Never Say Never Again: never watch this movie again.

19. The World is not Enough: The world may not be enough, but I quickly had enough of the X-Games-like stunts (and Pierce Brosnan) in this one.

18. Tomorrow Never Dies: in the Bond world, this is always true.

17. GoldenEye: Brosnan’s first as Bond, so he gets a pass. Good—Sean Bean. Bad—Joe Don Baker.

16. License to Kill: Timothy Dalton’s last movie as Bond. And it stars a young Benicio del Toro, which ain’t bad.

15. The Man with the Golden Gun: Good—Christopher Lee as villain Scaramonger; bad—Moore trying too hard to be funny.

14. From Russia With Love: Yes, SMERSH. Yes, SPECTRE. Yes, Sean Connery. Still, not one of my favorites.

13. Goldfinger: back in the day when the Bond movie theme song was a killer.

12. You Only Live Twice: Sean Connery takes on a room full of ninjas. You know what happened next…

11. Spectre: I think the biggest letdown of this movie is that it came after “Skyfall.”

10. Quantum of Solace: I would have liked this one more if it hadn’t felt like a sequel (which it was, of course).

9. Die Another Day: Brosnan’s last Bond film, loaded with references to previous Bond films, to include Halle Berry’s emergence from the the ocean.

8. The Spy Who Loved Me: Maybe it was because I was a teenager when Barbara Bach starred in this one, but I enjoyed it anyway.

7. Live and Let Die: boats, Bond, and bon mots. Roger Moore’s best Bond movie.

6. The Living Daylights: I’m in the minority here, but I enjoyed Timothy Dalton’s turn as Bond. For one thing, he brought back an edge to the character that had disappeared during Moore’s term. For another, of all the Bonds, Dalton is the one who looks like Ian Fleming’s description of the spy in the novels.

5. Thunderball: Ah, back in the day when evil geniuses wanted to rule the world.

4. Dr. No: See No. 5.

3. Casino Royale: Daniel Craig transformed the character—finally—into the ruthless assassin of MI6.

2. Diamonds are Forever: Connery’s last(ish) Bond role. This movie is fast, funny, and bawdy.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE BOND MOVIE

Skyfall: Again, I’m probably in the minority, but Daniel Craig is the most convincing actor to ever play Bond. And this movie, loaded with Easter eggs and snarky call-backs, really pays tribute to the entire Bond universe’s mythos—while bringing aboard younger, smarter, cooler versions of some of the venerable characters. If you’re a true Bond fan, you just didn’t want this movie to end.

Today’s links:

Perry Mason returns, via HBO.

Agatha Christie fans, check out this list of eight novels you should read now.

Speaking of eight, here’s eight debut novels recommended by CrimeReads.

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