12. April 2016 08:37
The Malay Mail's Daniel Chan Reflects on the best Bond movies in the 50 years of the screen 007:
Nobody Does It Better
Reflecting on the best Bond movies in the 50 years of the screen 007
Every Wednesday With DANIEL CHAN
THE third time's the charm. Skyfall marks the third outing as James Bond for Craig, Daniel Craig and by all accounts, it's one of the best Bond movies ever.
Most intriguing is this comment by British newspaper The Daily Mirror in its review of Skyfall: "The very best thing about the 23rd Bond film has to remain top secret, in case it spoils the experience. Let's just say that what starts as an action movie becomes a weepie in its final 10 minutes."
Sounds like the ending of 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and Bond fans has not been subjected to such tear-jerking emotion since. This writer can't wait to attend a Press preview of Skyfall tomorrow morning at TGV Sunway Pyramid, a week before it opens here on Nov 1.
Meanwhile, when it comes to which are the best Bond movies out of the first 22 already seen, most Bond fans will skewer their choices to those films from the 1960s simply because of two inescapable facts: the early Bond movies were based on the best Bond novels by British author Ian Fleming (1908-1964) and the early Bond movies also starred the best Bond actor, Connery, Sean Connery who hit his stride as secret agent Double-O-Seven in his third outing in 1964's Goldfinger which sparked a Bondmania and spymania in 1960s cinema.
Not surprisingly, Goldfinger is numero uno for most Bond fans as there was a perfect blend of all the elements we have come to expect: audacious plot (in Auric Goldfinger's case, robbing Fort Knox in Kentucky, US), thrilling action (every 15 minutes or so), tension-relieving humour (the la-ser beam scene was a standout), larger-than-life villains (no baddie had a better henchman than Oddjob), bevy of Bond Girls (and this film had the most iconic Bond Girl painted in gold), supercar (gadgetladen Aston Martin DBS which can cause tyre punctures) and unforgettable theme song (Shirley Bassey at her best).
The movie was also a vast improvement on Fleming's novel in two vital aspects: a high-tech laser beam inching towards Bond's crotch (instead of an archaic buzz-saw as in the novel) and Goldfinger attempting to detonate an atomic bomb in Fort Knox to render the entire US gold bullion reserves radioactive and worthless (instead of the logistical nightmare of stealing and then shipping off the gold as in the novel).
Second-best Bond movie goes to 1963's From Russia With Love which has the most realistic, true-to-life, torn-from-newspaper headlines plot of killing and framing Bond in a sex-and-murder scandal to also humiliate his secret service agency MI6, which is short for Military Intelligence Section 6. Once again, great villains (Rosa Klebb with her poison-tipped shoe, assassin Red Grant and the first glimpse of Persian cat-strok-ing criminal mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld) and a fabulous Bond Girl (the Great Garbo-like seductress Tatiana Romanova).
For third-best Bond movie, it's the very first, 1962's Dr. No and it had all the right ingredients to lay down a olid foundation for the now half-century franchise: debonair spy with a then unheard-of-before Licence To Kill and armed with a silencer (Bond at his most cold-blooded as, having trapped Dr. No henchman Professor Dent, Bond deliberately waited for Dent to make a move so as to kill him, and then pump another bullet into Dent's fallen body for good measure), Bond villain with futuristic plot bordering on science-fiction (Dr. No's attempt to "topple" US missiles) and a Bond Girl unmatched to this day (Ursula Andress).
On Her Majesty's Secret Service is this writer's choice for fourth-best. Had Connery continued, this film could even rate higher by virtue of the fact that it's the only one where Bond got married, and was turned into a widower, on the same day. Connery was a much better actor than George Lazenby (who actually acquitted himself well and could have hit his stride in the role if he had continued) and it would have been wonderful to see Connery's chemistry with Diana Rigg as Bond's ill-fated wife.
Rounding off my shortlist used to be 1965's Thun-derball until Craig was cast as the sixth Bond in 2006's Casino Royaie, a welcome back-to-basics reboot based on a fairly faithful adaptation of Fleming's first Bond novel originally published in 1953 and which was previously disappointingly dramatised as an hour-long 1954 TV drama (with US actor Barry Nelson as an Americanised'Jimmy Bond') and as a 1967 big screen spoof. Craig has established himself as the second-best Bond actor and if Skyfall lives up to the advance notices by movie critics, then Skyfall will displace Casino Royaie in most fans'shortlist of the best Bond movies.
In this 50th anniversary of the screen 007, it's sad to note that while Fleming had seen the first two Bond movies, he was not around to bask in the global phenomenon Bond became after the release of Goldfinger which premiered in the UK on Sept 17, 1964, six weeks after Fleming died of a heart attack on Aug 12, 1964, at a relatively young age of 56.
Hmm, what would Fleming have thought about the Bond movie producers being less and less respectful of his original stories? One thing for sure, he would have been delighted that his brainchild is the world's most successful movie franchise and that nobody does it better and when the Bond movie centennial comes around in 2062, there would possibly be a 10th actor in the role and starring in perhaps the 40th Bond movie.
After all, only Bond movies can give this reassuring promise during the end credits: "James Bond will return".
Photos: Goldfinger: Bond (Sean Connery) with slain-in-gold Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), Dr. No: Bond (Sean Connery) with Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress), From Russia With Love: Bond (Sean Connery) and Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) with Red Grant (Robert Shaw), On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Bond (George Lazenby) with Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg), Casino Royale: Daniel Craig in his debut as Double-O-Seven
The Bond Films
1. Dr. No (1962): Directed by Terence Young
2. From Russia With Love (1963): Directed by Terence Young
3. Goldfinger (1964): Directed by Guy Hamilton
4. Thunderball (1965): Directed by Terence Young
5. You Only Live Twice (1967): Directed by Lewis Gilbert
6. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969): Directed by Peter Hunt
7. Diamonds Are Forever (1971): Directed by Guy Hamilton
8. Live And Let Die (1973): Directed by Guy Hamilton
9. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974): Directed by Guy Hamilton
10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Directed by Lewis Gilbert
11. Moonraker (1979): Directed by Lewis Gilbert
12. For Your Eyes Only (1981): Directed by John Glen
13. Octopussy (1983): Directed by John Glen
14. A View To A Kill (1985): Directed by John Glen
15. The Living Daylights (1987): Directed by John Glen
16. Licence To Kill (1989): Directed by John Glen
17. Goldeneye (1995): Directed by Martin Campbell
18. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997): Directed by Roger Spottiswoode
19. The World Is Not Enough (1999): Directed by Michael Apted
20. Die Another Day (2002): Directed by Lee Tamahori
21. Casino Royale (2006): Directed by Martin Campbell
22. Quantum of Solace (2008): Directed by Marc Foster
23. Skyfall (2012): Directed by Sam Mendes
[Source: Malay Mail, October 24th, 2012, P.24-25. Copyright © 2012 Malay Mail Sdn. Bhd.]
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