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December 14, 2015


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Thanks for liberating this from the void, Glenn. A public service more folks should do. And *excellent* timing in posting to exactly coincide with the Spectre release. Traffic will shoot through the roof.

My only incredibly small quibble is that you don't praise the soundtrack of the original Casino Royale to the skies loudly enough. I play that album once a month, and it never fails to delight me.

Clayton Sutherland

I don't have a problem with Casino Royale (2006) and Skyfall being placed in the Top 10. However, I'm a little surprised that you went for the by-the-numbers Spectre film to the extent that you did. I mean, the opening sequence in Mexico (particularly the four-minute tracking shot) is terrific, but in my estimation, the film doesn't get anywhere near that, in terms of visual inspiration and ambition, for the rest of its duration. And I think the great cast is mostly wasted, notable Waltz, who seems like he's sleepwalking through the underwritten villain role. And the way Bond takes him down is SO anti-climactic and unimaginative.

Anyways, I like Craig's work through all four films, but I'd only qualify the first and third as genuinely "good" entries. Mind you, more than half of the Bond flicks are mediocre at best, so your placement of Spectre might not be that much of a stretch after all. Hmmmm...


Hard to complain about any Top 3 which includes Robert Brownjohn's two title sequences as well as one of the best Barry-Binder combos.

Henry Holland

Great to see an old-new post here.

I have to disagree with your #1 choice. I really do think that "From Russia, With Love" is the better movie, largely because the final section of "Goldfinger" (when it shifts to Fort Knox) seems so....formulaic and uninvolving to me. It contains one of my least favorite hoary movie cliches: a few guys with not many bullets left manage to slaughter what seems like an entire well-armed battalion of Bad Guys with ease. Um, no. Plus, the way Bond escapes certain death seems fairly ludicrous.

*sigh* Robert Shaw. Damn.

I loved "Skyfall", but still haven't seen "Spectre" yet. A quick search seems to indicate that Daniel Craig will be back for another go at Bond, though I'd rather he, Rooney Mara and David Fincher do the other two installments in the Stieg Larsson trilogy. Doesn't seem likely at this point, though.


Glenn, wasn't this article originally one that you wrote for Premiere magazine?

I seem to remember you writing that the Gypsy catfight in "From Russia With Love" was almost enough to warp your sexuality, and a confession that the ending of "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" reduced your very young self to tears.

I'm sure i still have that article somewhere.

You should do a ranking of Bond theme tunes - personally i would put Nancy Sinatra's "You Only Live Twice" as the best.

Brian Dauth

I think you could rate SPECTRE even higher and not be in the wrong. The film is superb and rewards repeat viewings, and while it is part of a reboot, in some ways, it is a commentary on and response to the 23 movies that came before it.

In terms of meta quality, only DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER is its equal, but in SPECTRE Bond's reality as an assassin is the strongest that it has ever been in my experience. He begins the film in a skeleton costume, then strips it off to reveal his work-a-day killing uniform of an impeccably cut suit (beneath which the death's head lies). He is Robot Assassin (the opening tracking shot reinforces a sense of Bond-as-automaton) sent to kill someone by dead M whom he obeys since she triggers his training. When live M restricts his movements and actions, Bond rebels since if he is not killing, then who/what is he? (I know a viewer could go all psychodynamic about old M[om] versus new M/Dad, but to what beneficial end? Psychodrama torpedoed SKYFALL, and SPECTRE wisely sidesteps this danger)

Bond then goes to the funeral as instructed in order to discover his next target, and, lastly, when Blofeld asks him why he came, Bond simply and accurately responds that he is there to kill him. Twenty-three films’ worth of missions and operations used as narrative camouflage are stripped away: before us stands Ian Fleming’s Bond—a well-tailored “blunt instrument” with a “duty to be as cool about death as a surgeon. If it happened, it happened. Regret was unprofessional—worse, it was a death-watch beetle in the soul.” Dr. Swann’s outburst that Bond has led the killers right to her hits the mark: Bond is only a human drone–sent by another human drone (her father)—in order to complete an assassination. She can rely on neither man for protection since that is not part of their programming.

When Craig’s Bond does discover a sense of regret, at the same time he awakens to an autonomy his training had narcotized. Of course, this awakening is as un-Flemingesque as can be. As the novels and stories progress, Fleming’s Bond goes through a process of fragmentation rather than awakening, but no film will follow Bond there. The Bond of SPECTRE is not the Bond afflicted by the Freudian anxieties and existential doubts of the first three Craig movies—this is a sociological Bond rather than a psychological one and SPECTRE is all the stronger a work of art for this shift.

If young James was the cuckoo who pushed the other eggs out the nest, so the adult James is Her Majesty’s trained killer and representative of imperial culture—a culture which invaded (via an influx of Bonds and other assorted lackeys) the nests of Othered cultures, pushing out their indigenous practices and ways. Craig's performance captures both the required emptiness of this Bond and his awakening in a subtle register. It is a narrative I respond strongly to as a queer spectator—the ultimate embrace of resistance to cultural commands.

Brian Dauth


You Only Live Twice is pretty much the perfect Bond film, although Casino Royale '06 is excellent, too. YOLT is excellent from the clever opening with the fake funeral, to the incredibly un-PC and hilarious scenes of Connery in Japan to the gyrocopter and Blofeld. Love it.

Grant L

I'm one of those who have ambivalence for "Goldfinger" just because it's the dividing line: the (very relative) realism of the first two films on one side, the big-bigger-biggest set piece spectacle on the other, "Goldfinger" with a foot in both worlds and responsible for sending it in the latter direction. So yes, it's a great "pop cocktail," but I also wonder where they might've gone if they'd chosen to stay more on the former track.

A couple of small typos above: "..."The Shining!"...": exclamation point is inside the quotes, like it's part of the movie's title. And: "...Jimmy Dean, the sausage kind." Last word should be "king."


Great list, but I have to say that I find the earlier Bond films rather hard to watch because of their aggressive sexism and misogyny. And before you jump all over me: it seems the man himself, i.e. Daniel Craig agrees with me



Glenn, you say she is your favorite Bond girl (I'm with you there) then how come you misspell her name?- Daniela Bianchi, I do not recognize this Daniel character...

I like the list, and parsing it again brings home the sad truth: there are so many many dreadful Bond films, and the good ones are so few and far between: usually only when there is a new Bond... Not that I am at all eager for another tired re-boot.

Jim Philips

I feel like the review of Never Say Never Again sort of misses the point. It was a *parody* from start to finish. And a damned good one at that. Connery got his last laugh at the whole exercise.

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