Agent 007 has had his ups and downs on the big screen.
In conjunction with the “Skyfall” film opening, The Oklahoman’s entertainment writers looked at the best and worst James Bond films in the franchise’s 50-year history. This article ran in the Friday editions of The Oklahoman. James Bond, the special agent of the British spy agency MI6, has a license to kill and has been played by the actors Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig in the now 23 official Bond movies.
BY GENE TRIPLETT, GEORGE LANG, BRANDY McDONNELL and MATTHEW PRICE
In its first 10 days of overseas release, before it had a chance to rake in a single U.S. dollar, “Skyfall” executed a massive foreign currency haul, raking in the equivalent of $287 million. Considering the previous James Bond film, “Quantum of Solace,” took a full month to reach its final international tally of $417 million, “Skyfall” is on track to become the most successful 007 entry in the series’ 50-year history.
To fully appreciate this 23rd official Bond film (don’t count the ridiculously spoofy 1967 version of “Casino Royale” or the misguided 1983 “Thunderball” remake, “Never Say Never Again”), we each selected our best and worst entries in the series, from 1962′s “Dr. No” through 2008′s “Solace.”
George Lang‘s picks
Best: “Goldfinger” (1964)
No other entry in the series established expectations of James Bond-ness quite like director Guy Hamilton’s “Goldfinger,” from the cracking script full of iconic lines (“No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die!”) to the bizarre death of Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) from “skin suffocation,” or being painted with gold from head to toe. Gert Frobe’s Auric Goldfinger never developed the cultural cache of the cat-stroking Ernst Stavro Blofeld, but his menacing tone and unforgettable death by cabin pressure makes him a hall of famer. Connery consolidated his cool in “Goldfinger,” and while ridiculously named Bond girls are an expected trope, this film scored an early high/low point with Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore.
Worst: “Moonraker” (1979)
Just barely based on an actual Ian Fleming novel, “Moonraker” is a monument to “me too!” contrivance in which the series went sci-fi to cash in on “Star Wars” and brought back Jaws (Richard Kiel) from “The Spy Who Loved Me” because of, well, “Jaws.” All of this made “Moonraker” the most commercially successful Bond film until 1995′s “GoldenEye,” but the “007 in space” idea was a little too bonkers even for ’70s-era Bond. Roger Moore was deep into self-parody by “Moonraker,” proving that he did not have to be in orbit to achieve zero gravity.
Matthew Price’s picks:
Best: “Casino Royale” (2006)