|License to smoke--and look suave doing it|
Herewith, an updated repost of an April look at select Bond titles, including two all-new entries. I may add more as I rewatch them—assuming they don't disappear again at the end of the month!
Among the Bond flicks currently streaming on Netflix are all the Sean Connery classics, the best (and worst) of Roger Moore, and the only two entries with the underrated Timothy Dalton, who lent Bond a gravitas that wouldn't return until Daniel Craig donned the familiar tux.
Dr. No (1962)What is there to say? Sean Connery defines James Bond for generations to come in this, the first installment of the legendary franchise. This is a raw, more ruthless Bond, before all the gadgets and cheesy one-liners. Perhaps a bit slow-paced by today's standards, but rewarding to anyone interested in seeing the birth of the modern spy movie. And Ursula Andress is as gorgeous and kickass as any of her modern counterparts.
From Russia with Love (1963)One of the all-time best Bonds, especially if you like a grittier, less superheroic 007. Bond meets his match in a pair of assassins played by Lotte Lenya and Robert Shaw, with the latter facing off with Bond in a train compartment, in one of the most grueling fight scenes ever staged. Forget James Bond, this one's just a cracking good spy yarn.
Goldfinger (1964)The third Bond flick, and the one that would jumpstart the bigger-is-better philosophy the series came to live—and at times, almost die—by. (Turns out some things do live more than twice.) Contains enough classic bits to seem like a best-of compilation. If there's one cinematic Rosetta Stone for decoding the Austin Powers movies, this may be it.
|That other fellow|
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)Following Man with the Golden Gun and Live and Let Die, all the elements finally come together for Roger Moore as 007, with the perfect mix of action, humor, gadgets, car chases, and babes (was there ever a Russian spy more alluring than Barbara Bach?). This one has something for everyone, including a car that turns into a sub (or is it the other way around?), an underwater lair, a big guy with metal teeth, and the series' best theme song, Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better."
For Your Eyes Only (1981)Bond in a minor key following the bloated sci-fi fiasco of Moonraker (link withheld for the sake of cinematic decency). It seems every decade or so the series tries to atone for the sins of a particularly misguided installment and recapture its roots as a spy thriller. For Your Eyes Only is actually a personal favorite, as it eschews the usual arsenal of Bond conventions in favor of a more grounded approach (much like From Russia With Love). Roger Moore actually seems human here, implicitly acknowledging his age by not bedding Lynn-Holly Johnson's adoring young cutie, while the stunts and villain are back to a human scale not seen since Live and Let Die. This is a Bond where relationships—and subtlety—count far more than quips and special effects. Plus, you don't mess around with Carole Bouquet toting a crossbow.
Licence to Kill (1989)
|Some call him...Tim|
As I said, it's a shame, since while Dalton may lack the charisma of previous 007s, he's pretty effective as a secret agent on the edge. This film in particular has a solid storyline (Bond goes rogue after his license to kill is revoked), some impressive stunts with tractor trailers, and an unconventional villain in Robert Davi. There's also the 1-2 babe punch of Cary Lowell and Talisa Soto—or 1-2-3 if you count Priscilla Barnes as wife of shapeshifter Felix Leiter (this time played by David Hedison). Oh, and don't forget Wayne Newton and a young Benicio del Toro as Henchman No. 1.