Reel Dad revisits the best of 007 from home
Some days are simply better when they include a bit of Bond. James Bond.
For more than 50 years, the world’s favorite secret agent has kept people safe from every type of threat. And always with style. Now, when the world really needs 007, thank goodness that Hulu is streaming the Bond collection. Here are seven of my favorites.
We all got started with Bond with one or more of the first films, based on novels by Ian Fleming, starring a little known actor named Sean Connery. This one still appeals, from the iconic moments of its title song (performed by Shirley Bassey) to the action sequences where Connery discovers how to be daring and dashing at the same time. While “From Russia With Love” from 1963 may feature an ultimate villain in Lotte Lenya, this follow-up film captures the magic of Bond’s sly sense of humor and informality about risk.
It doesn’t take long for Bond to outdo Bond with this classic confrontation between East and West obsession with nuclear explosives. But bombs aren’t what make this film a classic. It’s the exaggerated wit that Connery brings to the role as the actor reaches well beyond the original character from Fleming’s novels. This time around, Bond faces piranhas who make their first appearance in a 007 film in an underwater sequence that still frightens. No surprise, this movie becomes the biggest hit of the franchise and sets the bar higher for future episodes.
You Only Live Twice (1967)
The piranhas are back as Connery begins to show an ever-so-slight weariness with the role. Perhaps the actor, and the character, grow up a bit as the innuendos that surprised in the first films now seem more routine. Of course, any sequence filled with those killer fish is sure to excite, as well as the plethora of gadgets that define Bond’s approach to his work. But it’s no surprise that, as the film wrapped shooting in Japan, Connery announced his plans to move on from the role. But, as we will soon see, he can’t stay away forever.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Perhaps because Connery walks through his return to the role of 007, this installment conveys a lighter tone despite its heavy story about the smuggling of rare jewels to fuel a space-age invention. Leave it to Connery to bring a sense of nonsense to the plot, even campy at times, as if letting us know he knows how silly 007’s heroics can be. But who cares? With a sinister villain in country star Jimmy Dean, and a daffy Bond girl from Jill St. John, in a setting as glamorous as Las Vegas, this one still never bores, all these years later.
A View to a Kill (1985)
Years ago, I watched the crew film a sequence for this 14th Bond film on Market Street in San Francisco. While that scene didn’t amount to much, the movie is rather fun as Roger Moore continues to take a different approach to the character that Connery originated. While the Connery approach may toss a complex veneer, Moore brings an accessible style to the part that works best when the dialogue is filled with suggestion. Of course, this time around, before Bond can have any fun, he does need to save the Golden Gate Bridge.
Golden Eye (1995)
Ten years later, Bond rediscovers his rhythm, after a series of missed opportunities, as Timothy Dalton recaptures a bit of the Connery magic. In this classic installment, the enemy of the moment recalls those tense days of the 1960s when East and West each viewed the other with suspicion. With Judi Dench well cast as Bond’s supervisor, the movie recalls the best of the early films with its balance of style and action, wit and relationships. Sadly, the franchise could not sustain this high quality for long. But this one remains a topper.
Years after winning an Oscar for directing “American Beauty,” director Sam Mendes - who was also Oscar nominated this year for “1917” - scores a big success by bringing Bond back to life in this classic tale of regret and hope, tragedy and reconciliation. With Daniel Craig portraying a well-seasoned Bond, and Javier Bardem on hand as the most threatening of villains, this Bond reaches beyond the fantasy of the series to portray a real man trying to make the most of situations that challenge at best, and threaten at worst. A classic of the series.
Thank you, James Bond, and all the actors and creators who bring you to life. And make sure you never age. You’re just what we need right now. Movie by movie.