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The Ten Best Bond Movies...Ever? It doesn’t get much more subjective than this. Or much more fun! Come and join international bestselling author Mark Williams on a personal James Bond odyssey as he explores the phenomenon that is James Bond, starting with the Bond film that made # 10 on the list:Thunderball. “Would blackmailing a woman for sex pass muster in the Daniel Craig era?” “Saltzman and Broccoli loved the ‘cocksure animal magnetism’ Connery exuded.” Sean Connery: “’I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong about hitting a woman.’” “Surrounded by scantily-clad but always (this being the mid-sixties) improbably busty women.” “After filming the set was dynamited to prevent other film crews using it.” “Discussion about the close up scene of Connery’s crotch (is beyond my pay grade).” “Bond villains will do anything except kill 007 when they have the chance.” “In case you hadn’t heard, Jim, no means no.” “Sean Connery doesn’t act. He just plays Sean Connery.” “Sean Connery emerged from the pool, intact, but most definitely shaken, not stirred.” The Ten Best Bond Movies...Ever! # 9: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is available now! Watch out for The Ten Best Bond Movies...Ever! # 8: Live And Let Die coming soon to an ebook retailer near you!
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© 2015 Mark Williams
all rights reserved
Published by Odyssey
The Ten Best Bond Movies...Ever?
On the shoulders of giants.
He strikes like a Thunderball.
Thunderball – the film of the book of the film.
Saltzman, Broccoli and Danjaq.
The name’s Moore. Roger Moore. No, scrap that. Too pretty.
A different era.
I’m sure I was wearing a hat when I came in.
Manners maketh the woman.
James Bond in the Twenty-Fifth Century!
My other car’s a Bentley.
Welcome back Maurice. May your stay be a long one.
Blofeld. The definitive Bond villain.
A woman’s place is in...
Red for danger.
The Domino Effect.
Jaws. No, not him. The real ones.
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It doesn’t get much more subjective than this. Especially when there are more than 25 Bond films to choose from.
Narrowing the list down to just ten was no easy feat. It wasn’t just a matter of “I enjoyed X better than Y but not as much as Z.” On that simplistic basis The Spy Who Loved Me would be my number one choice, as my personal favourite Bond film. But while it’s up there in the top ten for lots of good reasons, no-one – not even Roger Moore’s mum – could honestly class it as the best Bond film... ever.
I was just a child when Connery played Bond. The first Bond film I saw in the cinema was Diamonds Are Forever, accompanied by my parents, but I was far too young to appreciate the storyline, let alone the finer charms of the Connery Bond era. The gadgets and gunfights and car chases and the explosions were fine, of course, but the busty women and the sexual innuendoes went right over my head, along with most of the plot.
And that’s the thing. I’m part of the Roger Moore generation, brought up on the hugely successful TV series The Saint and The Persuaders, so naturally I loved the Roger Moore Bond. At least, at first. But the Moore era peaked with The Spy Who Loved Me and went rapidly downhill from there. As one of Roger Moore’s biggest fans it pains me to say it, but many of the Roger Moore Bond films are among the worst of the series ever made. Moonraker... The Man With the Golden Gun... Octopussy... And as for A View To A Kill... Let’s not even go there.
But still Roger Moore is my favourite Bond, and two Roger Moore Bond films make the top ten of the Best Ever! list. Which begs the question, what does it take to be a Best...Ever Bond movie?
Quite a lot, is the answer.
Obviously overall entertainment value ranks high. But so does the choice of cast, the theme song and who sang it, the special effects (for their time and overall), the gadgets, the script, the exotic locations, and of course the villains.
Then there’s the political, social and technological context of the films. The Bond films are snapshots of their era. A celluloid time-capsule reflecting the social mores of the day.
Could we even conceive of M being a woman in the Connery era?
Would Bond blackmailing a woman for sex pass muster in the Daniel Craig era?
And many of the old Bond stand-bys for political villainy are gone. The Berlin Wall, anybody?
As for the technological marvels of Q Branch and the ubiquitous Bond gadgets... Some of those tend to look pretty lame even ten years down the road. Let alone fifty.
And then there’s the behind-the-scenes shenanigans that make each film what it is. Everything from the legal wrangle over who actually wrote Thunderball, to the big fall-out between producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, to...
So fair warning, this is no back-of-an-envelope list of my ten favourite Bond films, dashed off in the commercial break watching the latest re-run on TV. And of course my Ten Best Bond Films...Ever! will almost certainly not be the ones you would have chosen.
But that’s okay. Feel free to disagree. Walther PPK pistols at dawn if you must.
But be warned. I’ve already emptied your ammunition chamber. The contents are in my pocket. And Q Branch have anyway kitted me out with a magnetic bracelet that will deflect a bullet at thirty paces. Always assuming you arrive safely at the chosen venue. Passenger ejection seats are back in fashion nowadays, don’t you know.
Or maybe you’d prefer to discuss the matter over drinks at my Gentleman’s Club in Soho. Mine’s a vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred.
The name’s Williams. Mark Williams. And this is Thunderball. Number ten on my list of The Ten Best Bond Movies...Ever!
Kicking off this series on the Top Ten Best James Bond Movies...Ever! comes, scraping in at number ten, the fourth of the Bond films, Thunderball.
Thunderball was released in 1965, although it was the ninth book in Ian Fleming’s series. As we’ll see, the producers of the Bond movies were no respecters of the sequence of Fleming’s originals, and great liberties were taken with the content too.
With three Bond films behind them, each more successful than the previous, the Bond producers had to pull out all the stops to make film number four, Thunderball, something special. They’d already excelled themselves with the third film, Goldfinger, which had exceeded everyone’s wildest expectations.
By the time Thunderball hit the cinemas in December 1965 the first three Bond films had collectively been seen by over one hundred million people, and the media interest was intense.
Goldfinger had set the bar. From the glossy opening credits with Shirley Bassey’s perfect delivery of the perfect Bond song, Goldfinger took the Bond franchise from being simply a successful spy thriller series with a hunky male lead, to a whole new level.
The problem for the production team was how to surpass Goldfinger. Out-doing Dr. No and From Russia With Love was a given. With the money rolling in from Goldfinger the producers could do pretty much anything they liked. And they pretty much did.
The new film had a budget bigger than the budgets of the previous three movies combined. Connery’s fee for the new film alone was equal to half the entire budget of Dr. No. Bond’s fee for Thunderball was a half million dollars. Compare that to the $6,000 he got for Dr. No. The producers were spending money on the new film like there was no tomorrow
And it paid off handsomely. Thunderball went on to make far more money than anyone could have predicted. Taking into account inflation Thunderball is the second highest grossing Bond film across the entire series.
But is it any good?
Well, good enough to make number ten in my list of The Top Ten Best Bond Movies...Ever!, but clearly that means there are nine other Bond films I rated more highly.
Sure, Thunderball brought a lot to the table. And not just the one hundred million strong audience from the previous films, who were pretty much guaranteed to buy a ticket. The underwater photography was, for its time, pretty spectacular, and helped the film win an Oscar for Special Effects. But here too, Goldfinger
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