It’s official, Bond 23 is called Skyfall and filming is already underway for a release in cinemas next October (November in the U.S.) on the 50th anniversary of the film franchise. So as we all start to get hyped up with the series again (yes, a year to go is NOT too early to get excited!), it couldn’t be a better time to chart the greatest moments from the Bond films so far…
The James Bond series has been a staple of the cinema-going population’s calendar for the past 49 years! Bond has become a character so ingrained within popular culture that there’s barely a human being alive in the world who doesn’t know who he is. He gets the most beautiful women, drives the best cars and travels to the most exotic corners of the globe. Men want to be him; women want to be with him (even just for a night…on both counts!). He’s quite simply the essence of cool!
Of the 22 missions Bond has previously undertaken, not all have been exceptional, but each has offered at least one genuinely AMAZING moment. So read on to discover what they are…
DR. NO (1962)
Honey Rider’s entrance may possibly be one of the most iconic moments within the Bond series, but Sean Connery’s iconic delivery of the infamous, “Bond, James Bond” introduction just pips Honey to the top spot within Dr. No. The first utterance of the character’s most famous line is both delivered and shot perfectly. There’s an air of mystery around the character still and Connery looks as cool as ice sitting at a Casino table smoking a pipe. Although the line has featured in every film since, Connery’s earliest delivery of it will always remain the most iconic. How can one actor sum up the presence and sheer awesomeness of a character in a single, simple line?
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)
The moment Blofeld flips Helga into his pond of piranhas gave me nightmares as a child, but the closing fight sequence aboard the Orient Express is the perfect blend of Bond action and suspense. It’s possibly one of the grittiest and most realistic confrontations within the early Bond vehicles, leaving audiences guessing whether the super spy can really defeat the iron man, Donald Grant (Robert Shaw). The use of the plethora of gadgets (Bond’s briefcase is an exciting minefield of imperceptible weapons) in the fight blends well with the frantic and violent hand on hand battle between the two characters. It’s a scrappy fight with no character having an immediately clear advantage: Grant has his size, Bond his agility…but the tussle is so intensely performed and realistically shot that audiences will feel more like they’re in the middle of a bare knuckle boxing match than watching a film!
Ok, so this is a bit of a cheat, but there are two fantastic separate sequences within Goldfinger that simply couldn’t be ignored! Firstly, Bond’s discovery of a gilded Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) in the infamous ‘Golden Girl’ scene remains both shocking and visually striking to this day. The brutal and ruthless way that Goldfinger disposes of Jill reveals that he is a cruel and formidable villain, a powerful match for Bond’s super sleuth. Secondly, the equally memorable laser sequence that sees Goldfinger attempt to slice Bond in half also divulges the villainy of the character. Both of these sequences hint at Goldfinger’s latent misogyny (born out of his frustration with his physical unattractiveness and inability to seduce women) and jealousy of Bond’s sexual prowess (Goldfinger aims the laser directly at Bond’s crotch to not only cause him a slower and more painful address, but to effectively castrate him as well). With the oft-quoted lines – Bond: Do you expect me to talk? Goldfinger: No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die! – the latter sequence is not only one of the best within this film alone, but in the entire series.
Whilst Thunderball is full of impressive underwater photography and some intense action sequences in these locations, the most memorable scene will always be Bond’s classic quip, “I think he got the point!” It’s beyond cheesy, but it perfectly captures the character’s lighter, more humorous side and is some welcome comic relief from the predominantly dialogue free (and sometimes rather dull) underwater sequences. Connery had his fair share of naff comebacks and wisecracks, but generally speaking he gave more serious performances on the whole, making this one of his most unforgettable lines!
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967)
The James Bond movies are famous for their incredible array of first rate, imaginative gadgets. The Gyrocopter, known as Little Nellie, is definitely one of the most spectacular of all 007’s toys…it’s quite simply every boy’s dream! When Q arrives with Little Nellie in four suitcases audiences don’t know what to expect. We know Q is full of tricks, but there’s a certain facet of suspense within the sequence (Bond doesn’t usually call Q out into the field) and a huge element of surprise when it’s a helicopter that MI6’s leading gadget man provides. Especially when considering Little Nellie was equipped with two rocket launchers, two heat seeking air-to-air missiles, front-mounted machine guns, two rear flame guns, smoke ejectors and aerial mines! The subsequent scene that finds Bond being chased by five SPECTRE helicopters provides some impressive footage and real excitement.
ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE (1969)
Although On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was the first Bond adventure to feature a truly magnificent ski chase sequence, it is the closing moments of the film when a newlywed Bond finds Tracy, his bride, shot dead in the front seat of his car after an attack by Blofeld and his men. It’s not a particularly long sequence, but Bond has never been a more human character at any other point in the franchise. George Lazenby has received a lot of criticism for his portrayal of Bond, but in these closing moments he perfectly captures the intense sadness of the character and reveals a whole other side of 007 to audiences. For one brief moment the whole impenetrable, almost super-human quality of James Bond the super spy is stripped away and all that is left is a man who has lost the one woman who can save him from the loneliness of one of the world’s most solitary professions. Sombre but powerful stuff…
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971)
Sean Connery’s return to MI6 was not as successful as producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman had hoped it would be. Despite giving a solid performance, the narrative for Diamonds Are Forever is lacklustre at best, verging ever closer to the realms of camp that the franchise would eventually sink into with Roger Moore’s later vehicles. However, despite a much lighter tone in the general narrative, the films standout scene is a rather brutal fight between diamond smuggler Peter Franks and Bond (who’s about to impersonate him) in the elevator of Tiffany Case’s apartment block. The confined quarters of the fights location make it incredibly vicious and nasty (particularly in comparison to the tone of the rest of the film). However, lighter quality is recaptured when Bond meets with Tiffany and manages to convince her that he’s just had a run in with the infamous MI6 agent James Bond: nothing like a good bit of improv!
LIVE AND LET DIE (1973)
Live and Let Die is famous for its lengthy boat chase sequence deep in the Louisiana Bayous, but the derelict London bus chase scene is definitely the greatest moment! The size and lack of agility of the vehicle makes the scene both comical and exhilarating, as Bond is both hindered by and uses these to his advantage in evading the local authorities. The most impressive and awe-inspiring moment comes when 007 drives straight through a low bridge, ripping the upper level of the bus clean off! The sequence is the perfect blend of action and comedy and is one of the brief moments in a Moore Bond that manages to avoid slipping too far into the realms of camp. To help ease the removal of the top deck, it was removed prior to shooting and refitted with rollers that would assist in the crash. Although this is quite obvious (the top level does literally roll off rather than get crushed up), the stunt still remains one of the best in Live and Let Die to this day.
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974)
The Man with the Golden Gun is one of Moore’s better Bond escapades, predominantly due to Christopher Lee’s excellent performance as the slimy villain Scaramanga. When Bond is finally caught and brought to Scaramanga’s Asian island hideaway (a beautifully scenic small islet off the coast of Thailand that was badly hit by the devastating Tsunami of 2004) he is challenged to a duel. Starting on the beach and ending up in Scaramanga’s Fun House (previously seen earlier in the film when it is revealed that the villain hunts and kills those willing to challenge him to a contest), the duel is exciting and tense whilst also being instilled with the right amount of humour. The carnival style setting is unnerving and keeps audiences in suspense, whilst the moment when Bond kills Scaramanga by standing in the place of a waxwork dummy of himself is truly gripping!
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977)
The Spy Who Loves Me opens with one of the most daring and visually stunning stunts to ever be filmed: skiing off the side of a mountain! The prior chase on the slopes is gripping enough, but when Roger Moore’s stunt double Rick Sylvester skis right over the edge of the mountain it’s like nothing ever seen in cinema, let alone any of the other Bond films. For audiences, there’s a brief moment where, stunned, you wonder just how Bond will get out of the conundrum and then the Union Jack parachute opens and there’s an incredible instant where the films tongue is firmly implanted within its proverbial cheek whilst also being thrilling and exciting. In reality, the stunt could have gone horribly wrong, as Sylvester’s skis flicked off and one clipped his parachute just as it was about to open. This could have easily prevented the full opening of the parachute and the tragic consequences of the stunt could have meant viewers never got to see one of the most immense moments in cinema history. (Look out for the moment the ski hits the parachute in the clip below…)
Capitalising on the popularity of the Star Wars franchise and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of a Third Kind, Bond didn’t return in For Your Eyes Only (as promised at the end of The Spy Who Loved Me’s credits) but went into outer space for his eleventh mission, resulting in a film that seems to be almost an anomaly within the series. Moonraker certainly doesn’t appeal to every Bond fan, but it still has its moments of strength. The opening sequence sees 007 encounter Jaws again on a plane. After a brief, rather camp fight inside the airplane toilet Bond parachutes out, only to be followed by his nemesis. The following sequence blends excellent action, exciting stunt work, comical fighting and breathtaking aerial photography to easily become the highlight of the entire (not so) out of this world escapade.
FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981)
Moore’s portrayals of Bond (particularly the later ventures) – whilst remaining entertaining – descended the franchise further into the realms of camp. Moore’s Bond was fully equipped with cheesy one-liners and his tongue firmly implanted within his cheek. Throwing a pin into villain Loque’s car whilst it teeters precariously over the edge of a cliff is a humorous moment, but when Bond kicks it and sends it over the precipice the character gets back some of his edge. In this scene Moore proves that he is far more than just a comical, cheesy Bond and is actually quite a ruthless and proficient secret agent when necessary. Within For Your Eyes Only – which is an average entry into the franchise – this sequence is simply dynamite and definitely the most memorable moment.
Octopussy is not one of Roger Moore’s better Bond films: when asked by a journalist, whilst promoting the film, if he still did all his own stunts, Moore responded with a yes and then quipped, “I also do all of my own lying!”, and it’s fair to say that the actor’s own humour aimed at his age and performance is relevant. For most of the film Moore is too old to be a realistic Bond, but despite this he has his moments that are solid and remind audiences of his earlier effectiveness. The opening sequence is the best moment within the film, where a disguised Bond manages to infiltrate an airbase and escape in a miniature plane that comes out of the back of a horse box that’s complete with reproduction horse’s backside (the comedy really is never far from Bond in Moore’s outings – even in action-packed scenes)! The aerial footage is magnificently shot and the scene rages past in a flash of excitement and high-energy action, culminating in the explosion of the hanger: classic Bond!
A VIEW TO A KILL (1985)
This is probably one of the weakest Bond efforts in the history of the franchise – Moore was too old to convincingly play 007; Tanya Roberts was poor as an irritating ‘damsel in distress’ female lead; Christopher Walken is a little too camp as super villain Max Zorrin; and Grace Jones!?…just no – but it’s also my guilty pleasure in the series… I can’t help loving it! The climactic sequence atop San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is the most suspenseful and thrilling moment in the film, as Bond and Zorrin battle it out to the death and Stacey hangs around screaming, “James!” The scene is shot so well that even those who love great heights will start to feel afflicted with vertigo as Bond and Zorrin grapple with each other whilst trying not to lose their footing. With the right amount of tension and action, the closing confrontation between the two characters is definitely the greatest moment within the film.
THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987)
Another visually stunning aerial sequence is the highlight of The Living Daylights. Bond and henchman Necros begin fighting in the cargo hold of the aircraft they are flying in, only to end up out the open hatch at the back of the craft! Latched on to rope netting that flimsily flaps in the wind and hangs thousands of feet above the ground, the sequence is ridiculously tense and exhilarating. Produced before the onslaught of computer-generated effects took precedence within Hollywood motion pictures, it really is two men hanging out of the back of an aircraft here! Close ups find Timothy Dalton giving a solid performance, showing Bond’s determination at disposing of Necros. Rather than trying to do away with him in a fancy or witty way, with Necros hanging on to his boot Bond simply cuts his laces and lets the villain (and his boot) fall to the ground… The fantastic aerial photography and immense stunt work means that this remarkable scene still impresses today.
LICENCE TO KILL (1989)
Before Daniel Craig stepped into Bond’s well-worn shoes, Licence to Kill was the darkest of the Bond adventures. The final showdown between drug lord villain Sanchez and Bond is gritty, grimy and rather unnerving. Timothy Dalton’s 007 was far more callous and malicious than predecessor Moore’s, leaving audiences slightly bewildered and unsure as to where the comedy of those years had gone. However, this coolness makes Bond a far more realistic character and the final confrontation between Bond and Sanchez is the perfect example of this. When 007 dispassionately sends Sanchez up in a blaze of flames (by lighting his gasoline soaked suit with the lighter given to him by his CIA friend Felix Leiter, who Sanchez brutally had killed), you know he’s one super spy that you don’t want to cross!
GoldenEye saw Bond return to form after a six-year hiatus (caused by a series of legal setbacks). The far grittier and more authentic tone of Licence to Kill had proved unpopular with audiences, so it was agreed that GoldenEye would return to the popular blend of action and comedy that proved so effective during the franchises heyday. The sequence that sees Bond hijack a Russian tank and track down Natalia through the streets of St. Petersburg is the perfect example of this formula in action. Both exciting and humorous, the scene has viewers on the edge of their seats as Brosnan tears through Russian streets destroying virtually everything in site…with a very smug look upon his face! Sheer carnage ensues as anything from significant Russian monuments and statues to whole overpasses are practically reduced to mere rubble, in a sequence that is one of the biggest highlights of the film.
TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997)
For most viewers, the exciting helicopter/motorbike confrontation scene is probably a shoe-in for the greatest moment within Tomorrow Never Dies, but I beg to differ! When 007 awakes in a hotel room to discover that his former flame (and lover from the previous night) Paris Carver has been murdered on the orders of her husband, the villainous Elliot Carver, it was never going to be a great day. But when he’s faced with being tortured by an overly camp but formidable ‘doctor’ Kaufmann (does a doctorate in torture and pistol marksmanship really count!?), things have taken a sharp turn for the worse! Here, gadgets are all Bond needs to outwit the bad guy and the secret agent manages to trick his tormentor into electric shocking himself with a rather handy additional feature available on Q’s mobile phone. As Kaufmann receives a shock Bond whips out his Walther and shoots him straight in the head: cold, ruthless and amazing! Brosnan perfectly demonstrates the cool, unemotional effectiveness that has made 007 Britain’s finest secret agent and audiences are treated to a moment that will remain with them long after the end credits role.
THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (1999)
Pierce Brosnan continues in the same vein in his third 007 outing, giving a performance that’s a mix between the humour of Roger Moore’s Bond and the grittier edge of Timothy Dalton’s. Always ready with a slightly dodgy quip, Elektra’s death scene towards the end of the film actually comes as quite a shock. Believing she can seduce Bond with her overt sexuality and avoid him killing her despite the fact she’s one evil bitch, it’s a surprise for both her and the audience when he pulls out his gun and shoots her point blank, with no emotion. Void of any one-liners or comical quips, Brosnan is again at his cold hearted, merciless best as a secret agent who gets the job done.
(Apologies for the montage clip – skip to 6:30 to see Elektra’s death if you don’t fancy watching all of Brosnan’s disposals of all the villains in his Bond films!)
DIE ANOTHER DAY (2002)
Brosnan’s 007 swansong was generally a bit of a disappointment. With an overabundance of computer generated effects and a weaker than average plot, Die Another Day was the actor’s least well-received venture. However, despite this, the excellent fencing/sword fighting sequence between Bond and villain Gustav Graves is the most thrilling moment of the whole affair. Rather than computer generating the effects, the live action stunt work is extremely impressive and audiences will find themselves on the edge of their seats as the characters pick up everything from foils to samurai swords in their battle of swordsmanship. The only slight disadvantage is the fact that title song warbler Madonna managed to wangle her way into an acting role as a fencing instructor and gives a customary poor performance. Madge is the only musical performer to ever appear in the actual Bond film as well, but honestly, I’d rather have seen Duran Duran in A View to a Kill! But ignoring the Queen of Pop, Bond and Graves’ high-octane swords play is gripping stuff… (Watch the first clip below to see the dodgy Madonna prelude to the main fight…or skip straight to the second for the main portion of the actual confrontation!)
CASINO ROYALE (2006)
Daniel Craig’s first foray into the Bond arena saw the character return to a grittier, more authentic position. The opening sequence confirmed that once again Bond had his edge. However, the base-jumping sequence is the highlight of the whole film, with intense and exciting action. Craig is ruthless as Bond, relentless in his chasing of henchman Mollaka and relying on facial expressions alone to convey the determination and energy of the character. When Bond catches Mollaka’s gun – which has been thrown at him in a last ditched attempt to attack him – the character is effortlessly cool and Craig makes an incredibly successful impression as this generations’ super spy.
QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008)
Craig’s follow up Bond adventure was not as well received as his first, with a dull and uninspired central plot at the centre of the criticisms. However, despite this, there are a few genuinely impressive moments that make the film worth a watch alone! If the moment Bond manages to flip a motorcycle with one hand and surreptitiously steal it from the villain atop of it is genius, then the sequence that sees him saving Camille is pure 007 heaven… In this multi-vehicular chase sequence Bond begins by chasing the boat on motorbike and them jumping (on said bike) on to it! The sequence is visually compelling and the stunt work leaves nothing to be desired, meaning viewers will find it hard not to sit on the edge of their seats as they tensely watch the whole thrilling escapade unfold!
So there you have it, what we consider the greatest moments of every James Bond film! Do you agree, disagree or have any of your own suggestions? Pop a comment below if you do, as we’d love to hear!
This article was first posted on November 9, 2011