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I guess I just like liking things

Brazenly Lazenby

Brazenly Lazenby

Last week we had a lot of snow and severe-enough cold that most of the city closed down. All in all, I didn’t leave the house for four days, and let me tell you: it was great.  It could’ve gone awhole different route, of course – I know many were without power for long stretches and I can’t even imagine. So when I say “it was great,” understand that to mean that it ended up being great because I got to stay home from work and watch movies.

In August of last year I started watching the James Bond movies in order. There were many I hadn’t seen and Netflix had them on streaming, so it seemed a good time to go through them. Netflix, however, decided to stop streaming them before I got even halfway through the series, so I took a few months’ break before getting the Blu-Ray set from a friend. My wife recently discovered Downton Abbey, so while she watched it on the upstairs TV via Amazon Prime, I watched James Bond movies on the basement TV.

I think the “idea” of Bond is better than many of the “actualities” of Bond. Some of these movies… sheesh. And the thing is, I don’t know that I could give you specific names, as they sort of blend together when you watch a bunch of them in a row. They tend to separate out into “The Ones With [SPECIFIC ACTOR],” which is how Friends episodes were named and now I want James Bond to show up in random sitcoms occasionally. So please forgive my lack of specificity, but here’s how the Bonds rank for me. It’s hard to separate the actor from the stories, so I know that certain Bonds suffer from poor scripts just as certain other Bonds benefit from better ones. So the ranking isn’t just “Bond,” it’s more of a “Bond+stories.”

And, no, I won’t be including David Niven and Barry Nelson. They weren’t official and I haven’t seen those movies. Also, I haven’t seen “Never Say Never Again,” but it’s not technically official, and I don’t think it would change the outcome anyway.

6. Roger Moore – I don’t know if I enjoyed any of the Moore movies, to be honest. At one point he was wearing clown makeup at a circus and I was pretty much all, “yep, that’s about right.” There were moments of him as the character I liked, but the actual movies bring him down here.

5. Timothy Dalton – It’s at this point that I should say I like the Bond movies as a whole. So just because Timothy Dalton is my fifth favorite doesn’t make him awful or anything.  I thought he was fine, really!

4. George Lazenby – I was surprised by how much I enjoyed his one movie, as all I’d ever heard was “Ugh!” about him.  I’m sure that anyone being compared to Sean Connery is going to have that problem, especially since Connery came back and did another one after Lazenby. Honestly, I thought On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was pretty good by early Bond standards.

3. Pierce Brosnan – Brosnan was a great choice for Bond. Each actor portrays a different facet of the character, and Brosnan really nails the suave and slick side, I think. Yes, the invisible car and the kite-surfing a tsunami were ridiculous, but no more ridiculous than a guy with metal teeth who bites through wires. Plus, Michelle Yeoh in Tomorrow Never Dies is my favorite “Bond Girl” in the whole series, most likely because she’s not the typical Bond Girl. And because Michelle Yeoh is awesome.

2. Sean Connery – You might have been mad before, but this is where you get really mad. He’s great, really! The second spot is not a slam of any sort! For me the movies make the difference here, as I don’t think the earliest ones hold up as well. There’s weird pacing and other strange choices that just don’t work well for me. Had I seen them when they were originally released I’d probably feel differently about them.

1. Daniel Craig – The thing about casting a new Bond is that you have all the other Bonds before him. Sure, I mean that in the comparison sense, but it’s my opinion that you can’t get to Daniel Craig as Bond without going through the other ones. If he’d showed up after Moore and before Dalton, it wouldn’t have worked as well. There’s an established context, and it negates the idea of a standalone Bond.  Movie styles change, techniques change, storytelling changes – but for now, all of these together with Daniel Craig as Bond make him my favorite by far. I am very interested to see what another 20 years does to the series and what it does to my list. You throw Idris Elba in there and that shakes things up a bunch, I’ll wager.



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