Earlier today, Skyfall was officially released in the United States. The film should make a hell of a lot of money, and like a lot of people, I will be in line to see it. In fact, I’ve spent the past month preparing for it. After catching a press screening and wondering whether it might be the best of all-time, I sat down and plowed through all twenty-two preceding movies. Some of the films were less than adequate and others were simply wonderful.

I’ve spent the past few days presenting the ranked list I made upon completion, and now, I’m finally down to the best of the best. These are my five highest rated Bond movies of all-time. These are the ones I would watch at any moment, under any circumstances, and if you’re a true Bond fan, you’ll probably agree with me.

Without further ado, here are my favorites…

5) 1967’s You Only Live Twice
Nine of the first ten Bond movies were at least co-written by either Richard Maibaum or Tom Mankiewicz. You Only Live Twice is the lone exception, and humorously, it’s probably the best straight representation of the Connery era. Famed children’s author Roald Dahl was told to pen a script adhering to the exact formula of the earlier entries. He did that. In fact, he incorporated every single element we expect out of Bond, and some of those things, he even made better.

Supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld is given a hollowed out volcano as a lair. Henchman are dropped into a pool filled with not sharks but piranha. High tech space gadgets produced by world powers are literally eaten by other high tech space gadgets. Car chases end with the help of giant magnets. Nations are played against one another, and, of course, hot and sexually active women are everywhere. It’s all a wonderful blend of intellectual intrigue and base level appeals, and Japan offers the perfect backdrop.

At their worst, the Bond movies don’t cater their subject matter to their location. You Only Live Twice definitely does. There’s ninjas, sumo wrestlers, massages, a plot that capitalizes on Japan’s place in the world during the mid 60s, commentaries on the culture and even a scene in which Bond tries to disguise himself as a Japanese man. It feels distinctly Asian, just as this movie feels distinctly Connery-era Bond.

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