Tag Archives: James Bond

The Set of 400: #78 – My Favorite Fort Knox Dust Up

Today! Because all my life I’ve been in love with its color, its brilliance, its divine heaviness –

Goldfinger (1964)

Directed by Guy Hamilton

Starring Sean Connery (x6), Gert Frobe, Honor Blackman, Shirley Eaton, Harold Sakata, Bernard Lee (x4), Tania Mallet, Lois Maxwell (x4), Cec Linder (x2), Martin Benson, Desmond Llewelyn (x2), Burt Kwouk (x2), Bill Nagy

The greatest of the early Bond pictures (get out of here, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service fans!) featuring the most iconic death (poor Jill Masterson!), the most iconic henchman (film MVP Harold Sakata’s Oddjob!), and most sexist character name in the history of literature, cinema, and all yet to be created mediums. Like, if there was a porn version of Goldfinger (and there probably is, right?), they couldn’t come up with something worse than Pussy Galore (crack work, Ian Fleming). As terrific as From Russia With Love was, this would quickly become the 007 adventure against which all others would be judged, and all others would be deemed lacking for a very long time, if this has ever indeed stopped.

But, none have featured a death quite like Jill’s

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The Set of 400: #113 – My Favorite Impromtu Subway Stop

Today! Because I always hated this place –

Skyfall (2012)

Directed by Sam Mendes

Starring Daniel Craig (x3), Javier Bardem, Judi Dench, Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris, Ralph Fiennes (x2), Albert Finney (x3), Rory Kinnear, Berenice Marlohe, Ola Rapace

Man, the Bond floodgates really opened here! For the third time in the last forty movies, we’ve got Ian Fleming all up in this piece. And unless I’m eyeballing the rest of the list incorrectly, we’ve got two Bonds still to come. Skyfall is my third favorite Bond movie? Really? Okay, I’ll take it. I wouldn’t have figured on this before, but as I said in #138 From Russia With Love (I think), my main enjoyment of the character is the very early films, and the very recent ones, and everything in between just blurs together. Even Moonraker.

Even as comically distinct as Moonraker is

In something that might only interest me, Skyfall also marked the end of one of the more interesting box office phenomenons ever. Across eight movies, covering 23 years, every James Bond movie outperformed the previous film in domestic gross. Come with me on this journey – starting in ’89 with License to Kill ($34.6 million) to GoldenEye ($106.4) to Tomorrow Never Dies ($125.3) to The World is Not Enough ($126.9) to Die Another Day ($160.9) to Casino Royale ($167.4) to Quantum of Solace ($168.3) to Skyfall, top of the heap at a whopping $304.3! I mean, there are a lot of narrow gains in there, but still, I don’t know of another film series that can claim anything like this. Fast and Furiouses three through seven all improved on each other, but that’s five movies in nine years. Not even close! Way to come along and screw the whole thing up, Spectre! Still the second highest grossing Bond film at $200 even, but come on!

We were all pulling for you, Spectre!

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The Set of 400: #138 – My Favorite Exploding Briefcase

Today! Because I get a kick out of watching you, the great James Bond, find out what a bloody fool he’s been making of himself –

From Russia with Love (1963)

Directed by Terence Young (x3)

Starring Sean Connery (x5), Daniela Bianchi, Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya, Pedro Armendariz, Bernard Lee (x2), Eunice Gayson (x2), Lois Maxwell (x3), Vladek Sheybal, Desmond Llewelyn, Anthony Dawson (x2)

It’s not something I realized before I put together this list, but apparently as my tastes are concerned, the entire James Bond series boils down to the first couple movies, a huge gap of the same thing over and over again, and then the last couple movies. Considering how long this franchise has been in existence this is a little strange, I know, but I’m a Connery/Craig guy. Some of the intervening adventures are solid – it’s not like they just straight lost their way for forty years – but my favorites are bookending the enterprise.

This second Bond film is far more indicative of what was to come than Dr. No the year before. While that was largely set in Jamaica, it felt like it could’ve been in any beachy locale. Plus, you’ve got Bond running around barefoot most of the time, and while Dr. No is a SPECTRE agent, you don’t get the impression any of this is part of a larger scheme, for the most part. No, From Russia with Love is when Bond becomes Bond – set almost entirely in exotic, 1960’s Istanbul and on the Orient Express, you’ve got SPECTRE and SMERSH agents causing havoc for a well-tailored 007, we get our first faceless Blofeld, we get our first Desmond Llewelyn Q (even if he’s still named as Boothroyd in FRwL), you’ve got terrific, tough supporting villains in Robert Shaw’s Grant and Lotte Lenya’s Rosa Klebb, you’ve got a weird gypsy v. gypsy girl fight for some reason, and you’ve got a slam bang boat chase explosion finish worthy of a Bond movie.

Cubby Broccoli, that looks expensive!

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The Set of 400: #153 – My Favorite Robot Dragon

Today! Because that’s a Smith & Wesson and you’ve had your six –

Dr. No (1962)

Directed by Terence Young (x2)

Starring Sean Connery (x4), Ursula Andress (x2), Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord, Bernard Lee, Anthony Dawson, Eunice Gayson, John Kitzmiller, Zena Marshall, Lois Maxwell (x2), Peter Burton

For years growing up, we had a VHS copy of the first filmed James Bond adventure, and I was not impressed. It was so hokey and stagey, and that Bond! Wooden! Uncharismatic! That villain! All snide remarks but with no threat behind them whatsoever! This was a load of junk! I’m not even sure where we got it, or why they’d release it on video, because the less seen the lousy made-for-TV Casino Royale from 1954 starring Barry Nelson and Peter Lorre, the better!

Dullsville!

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