Monday, June 26, 2017

Bond. James Bond.

I’ve decided James Bond deserves some attention. These are “top ten” lists, which, of course are official and not just my opinion. Others may differ and be damned. The first category is the most important.

Ranking of James Bond Actors
1.               Sean Connery
2-3.      - Roger Moore
            - Pierce Brosnan
4.         David Niven
5.         Daniel Craig
6.               Timothy Dalton
7.               George Lazenby

Discussion – I know that many people are now Daniel Craig fans and he is or I guess now was a great James Bond. But, there have been several greater ones. It’s like, Jimmy Foxx was a great baseball player, but he wasn’t Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb. I simply can’t choose between Moore (RIP) and Brosnan. Moore played it more comically, but Brosnan is an underrated actor who brought back the grit mixed with sophistication in 007.  He was clearly Bond even when he was playing in the comic adventure Remington Steele. David Niven was Bond in a comedy, Casino Royale, in which Woody Allen played his evil nephew, Jimmy Bond. But, it was pretty good and if ever there was an actor perfectly cast for the role other than Connery, it’s probably Niven. Daniel Craig, as said, was also really good, but I don’t think quite as good as most of his predecessors. Dalton was okay and . . .
Lazenby – well, I wouldn’t say poor George. Lazenby was actually a highly paid male model before he got the Bond gig, which he claims he learned about during a threesome. He quit after one film thinking he could do better in other roles. He has had an acting career since then (although retired between 2003-14), but mostly movies like the Emmanuelle series, which, if I recall, were soft core porn, and kung fu films. Nevertheless, he’s an interesting guy with several black belts. He was a Bruce Lee student and had just signed contracts to star with Lee in Game of Death and other kung fu films when Lee died, kind of putting the kabosh on the whole thing.

Now for other Bond matters:

Ranking of James Bond movies

     1.     From Russia with Love
     2.     Goldfinger
     3.     Dr. No
     4.     Live and Let Die
     5.     The Man with the Golden Gun
     6.     Never Say Never Again
     7.     You Only Live Twice
     8.     Casino Royale (Niven)
     9.     GoldenEye
     10.  For Your Eyes Only

Ranking of James Bond books by Ian Fleming (top ten)

      1.     Casino Royale
      2.     You Only Live Twice
      3.     Dr. No.
      4.     Goldfinger
      5.     From Russia with Love
      6.     The Spy Who Loved Me
      7.     On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (short stories)
      8.     The Man with the Golden Gun
      9.     Thunderball
     10.  Diamonds are Forever

Bond books are still being written by others. I’m not a big fan of this practice, which is becoming more and more common. I read a few of them and then stopped. It’s not the same.

Ranking of James Bond movie villains (top ten)

      1.     Odd Job (villain) – Harald Sakata (actor) – Goldfinger (film)
      2.     Jaws – Richard Kiel – The Spy Who Love Me/Moonraker
      3.     Fatima Blush – Barbara Carrera – Never Say Never Again
      4.     Maximillian Largo – Klaus Maria Brandauer – Never Say Never Again
      5.     Auric Goldfinger – Gert Fröbe –– Goldfinger
      6.     Colonel Rosa Klebb – Lotta Lenya – From Russia with Love
      7.     Le Chiffre – Mads Mikkelson – Casino Royale
      8.     Xenia Onatopp – Famke Jannsen – GoldenEye
      9.     Red Grant – Robert Shaw – From Russia with Love
      10.  Elecktra King – Sophie Marceau – The World is Not Enough

Discussion: Some might find it hard to believe that I put Fatima Blush and Max Largo ahead of Goldfinger. Bond films are an embarrassment of riches. I thought all of these villains and others were great roles, but I have to rank them according to what I think, not the conventional wisdom. Carrera and Brandauer were just great in their roles and deserve a lot of credit.

You might also notice no Blofeld, who I agree is a conventionally classic Bond character. But, I just didn’t think anyone captured the role the way the above group captured theirs.  I was never a Blofeld guy. I know some of the above ended up on Bond’s side, but if they were villains for a while, I count them. There are so many great bond villains that I had to leave out characters like Dr. No. That’s hard – but. . . .

Ranking of James Bond movie lines (top three – there were just too many great ones. In no particular order)

Plenty O'Toole:
Hi, I'm Plenty.
But of course you are.
Plenty O'Toole:
Plenty O'Toole.
Named after your father perhaps?


The name's Bond, James Bond.


Gen. Golgol:
Triple X!
Sir Gray:
Bond! What do you think you're doing?
Keeping the British end up, sir.

Discussion: The meaning of the first two are pretty obvious. The last one, you may or may not remember, when Bond and his co-star are caught in a compromising position, which happened more than once.

Ranking of James Bond movie gadgets and weapons (top ten)
      1.     Walter PPK (various films)
      2.     Aston Martin with various gadgets (Goldfinger)
      3.     Underwater tow sled weaponized with spears (Thunderball).
      4.     Bede BD-5J – the world’s smallest jet plane (Octopussy)
      5.     Pen gun (Never Say Never Again)
      6.     Jet pack (Bell Rocket Belt) (Thunderball)
      7.     Laser beam watch (various films)
      8.     Attache case (a sort of Swiss watch of attache cases)  (From Russia with Love)
      9.     Wet Nellie – half car/half submarine (The Spy who Loved Me)
     10.  Cigarette Rocket (You Only Live Twice)

      Ranking of James Bond chase scenes (top five)

      1.     Ski chase in Austria (The Spy who Loved Me) -
      2.     On foot chase (Casino Royale) -
      3.     Motorboat chase with Louisiana Sheriff, John W. Pepper (Live and Let Die) -
      4.     Parachute chase (Moonraker) -
      5.     Airplane on the ground (Live and Let Die) -
Discussion: Clifton James, who was perfect as Sheriff Pepper, just died at age 96 in April. The Live and Let Die chase scene ended with Bond asking the traumatized student who he took along on his demolition chase – “Same time tomorrow, Mrs. Bell?” Moonraker also had an excellent chase motorboat chase with Jaws, but the parachute one was more spectacular. Still in the motorboat scene, Jaws goes over Iguazu Falls while Bond, pops up a glider and floats away.

That should do it. Feel free to criticize. Few things are more controversial than opinions about Bond.

About Me

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I started this blog in September, 2006. Mostly, it is where I can talk about things that interest me, which I otherwise don't get to do all that much, about some remarkable people who should not be forgotten, philosophy and theories (like Don Foster's on who wrote A Visit From St. Nicholas and my own on whether Santa is mostly derived from a Norse god) and analysis of issues that concern me. Often it is about books. I try to quote accurately and to say when I am paraphrasing (more and more). Sometimes I blow the first name of even very famous people, often entertainers. I'm much better at history, but once in a while I see I have written something I later learned was not true. Sometimes I fix them, sometimes not. My worst mistake was writing that Beethoven went blind, when he actually went deaf. Feel free to point out an error. I either leave in the mistake, or, if I clean it up, the comment pointing it out. From time to time I do clean up grammar in old posts as, over time I have become more conventional in my grammar, and I very often write these when I am falling asleep and just make dumb mistakes. It be nice to have an editor, but . . . .