William Goss November 6, 2012
In honor of “Skyfall” demolishing box office records worldwide and opening in the States this Friday, we combed through the previous 22 titles — and even the two non-canon films, the 1967 spoof “Casino Royale” and 1983’s “Never Say Never Again” — to determine the highs and lows of bad men, good girls, gadgets, guns and puns over the years.
Best One-Liner: “That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six,” in “Dr. No.”
Though James Bond’s penchant for wordplay is impressive, this line succinctly shows off the laser-sharp skills that keep him alive. Who has time to count the bullets flying at him? Bond, James Bond. And that baddie’s outta bullets.
Worst One-Liner: “Playing his golden harp,” in “Goldfinger.”
Auric Goldfinger is a formidable villain, so once he gets sucked out of that aircraft at the end, you’d think Bond would have something witty up his sleeve. We suggest, “Sucks to be him” or “He needed to get some air” for the inevitable remake, and yes, we would like royalties.
Runners-Up: “Yes, she had her kicks,” after Klebb, wielding shoe spikes, is killed in “From Russia with Love”; “He had a lot of guts,” after a henchman is shredded by a snow blower in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
Best Bond Girl: Countessa Teresa di Vicenzo, played by Diana Rigg in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
After saving her from drowning and the clutches of Blofeld, Bond actually falls in love with Tracy instead of tossing her aside… only for her to be gunned down by Blofeld on their wedding day. Sad but sweet proof that James can’t have nice things.
Runners-Up: Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman in “Goldfinger”; Tatiana Romanova, played by Daniela Bianchi in “From Russia with Love.”
Worst Bond Girl: Dr. Christmas Jones, Denise Richards in “The World is Not Enough.”
Denise Richards has gotten the most (and most well-deserved) flack of all the Bond girls for having a silly name and an unbelievable job. Even in a world where being dipped in gold is a viable method of murder, Richards playing a nuclear physicist stretches the bounds of imagination. At least she looks the part of a Bond girl.
Best Henchman (or Woman!): Jaws, played by Richard Kiel in “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker.”
Well, sure, he’s as big and strong as any number of other lackeys, but those steel teeth and that stoic demeanor have sure gone a long way to making Jaws something of a fan favorite, to the point where Jaws actually helps Bond to save the day. It’s ridiculous, but endearingly so.
Runners-Up: Oddjob, played by Harold Sakata in “Goldfinger”; Xenia Onatopp, played by Famke Janssen in “GoldenEye.”
Worst Henchman (or Woman!): Nick Nack, played by Hervé Villechaize in “The Man with the Golden Gun.”
Here’s where the series’ novelty factor backfires. James squaring off against Tattoo from “Fantasy Island” was never going to be much better than super-silly, and sure enough, it isn’t.
Runners-Up: Kronsteen, played by Vladek Sheybal in “From Russia with Love”; Mischka and Grischka, played by David and Anthony Meyer in “Octopussy.”
Best Theme Song: “Goldfinger,” Shirley Bassey.
If any singer defines the sultry style of the series, it’s Ms. Bassey. She also sang “Diamonds Are Forever” and “Moonraker,” but “Goldfinger” encapsulates the danger and seduction with which we’ve come to associate 007.
Runners-Up: “Live and Let Die,” Paul McCartney and Wings; “Tomorrow Never Dies,” Sheryl Crow.
Worst Theme Song: “Never Say Never Again,” Lani Hall.
Naturally, a knock-off Bond movie made for a suitably watered-down sound, and Hall’s vocals are laughably lounge-worthy.
Runners-Up: “License to Kill,” Gladys Knight; “Die Another Day,” Madonna.
Best Gadget: The Aston Martin in “Goldfinger.”
This baby’s got everything: seat belts, airbags, leather interior, headlight guns, oil slicks, ejector seat, tire-slashing hubcaps, alternating license plates. Plus, you won’t believe the gas mileage.
Runners-Up: The armed briefcase in “From Russia with Love”; the laser watch in “GoldenEye.”
Worst Gadget: The jet pack in “Thunderball.”
How not to be an effectively inconspicuous secret agent, step #1: go flying loudly through the air in broad daylight.
Runners-Up: The gondola hovercraft in “Moonraker”; the Felix Lighter in “Live and Let Die.”
Best Plan for World Domination: Holding atomic weapons for ransom in “Thunderball” and “Never Say Never Again.”
Call us old-fashioned, but for as often as Bond villains attempt to discreetly pit nations against one another and induce nuclear war, it seems far more reasonable to actually have some country’s weapons armed and available for ransom. If you’re going to be devious, be pragmatic about it.
Runners-Up: Irradiating America’s supply of gold in “Goldfinger”; playing a perfectly legal card game to finance terrorism in “Casino Royale,” in both 1967 and 2006 versions.
Worst Plan for World Domination: Toppling missiles at Cape Canaveral in “Dr. No.”
Perhaps this isn’t fair to judge in the wake of eventual wide-scale plots, but doesn’t botching one NASA base seem a little small potatoes? You know what the government will do after a while? Move their rockets and missiles away from Crab Key. Problem solved!
Runners-Up: Brainwashing babes to destroy global agriculture in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”; free heroin for everybody in “Live and Let Die.”
Categories: ListsTags: 007, Casino royale, Daniel craig, Die Another Day, Dr. No, From Russia with Love, George Lazenby, GoldenEye, Goldfinger, James bond, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, Never say never again, Octopussy, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Pierce Brosnan, Roger Moore, Sean connery, Skyfall, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, The World Is Not Enough, Thunderball, Timothy dalton