From the first “Bah Bah! Dum. Bah Bah! Dum” I’m well and truly hooked. That white circle scans back and forth across the screen, but too late for the person on its trigger. Bang! The blood flows down the screen. Bond has begun.
Since I was little there has always been James Bond; both my dad and older brother are fans, although for many years I associated them with Christmas, because that’s when they were on TV. But pretty soon my brother started getting them on VHS and we watched them until the tapes were stretched almost as much as my family’s patience. We even got our N64 as part of the ‘Goldeneye package’ (still the best game there ever was for it) – the box for which remains in the attic to this very day.
From the witty one-liners, obligatory car chases, glamorous locations and even more glamorous Bond Girls to the surreal plots and bad guys in hollowed out volcanoes, each film is the escapist dreams of every little boy’s dreams. From the age of ten when I decided that I wanted to be James Bond (or perhaps Q) ‘when I grew up’, I’ve been a Bond-addict and over the years it’s been a friendship making process.
The most recent of these has to be two summers ago, when I was working in St Andrews. There weren’t many people around, but I did spend a lot of time with Kat and Mel. One the many things we bonded over (pun fully intended) was our mutual love of all things James Bond. Well, Mel and I did, Kat hadn’t seen them! This obviously had to be rectified, so with the help of box sets purchased from Ebay we watched through each and every film. Fans for life.
Today marks the 50th anniversary of Bond’s first big-screen performance. On the 5th October 1962 Sean Connery gave the first performance of Ian Fleming’s legendary spy at Dr No’s London premier. Little did they know what the enduring global appeal for this character would be, and I don’t imagine they even dreamt that it would become the longest running film franchise of all time.
To mark this anniversary – and to get us all excited for Skyfall, which is released in a mere 3 weeks time – I thought I’d run down my ten favourite moments from the first 22 films. These are the moments that make me laugh, cringe and shudder in disbelief; so get those booming soundtracks on, and here we go.
10. “Sorry we’re late, we had some problems at the airport” Kamran Shah, of the Mujahideen, who has come to the Viennese performance of Karla Malovy complete with guns and ammo strapped across his chest. There are so many excellent/cringe-worthy moments in the Living Daylights, but this is my favourite, mainly for M following up with a barely audible mutter “I can’t think why”.
9. That scene on the beach in Dr No when Ursula Andress strolled out of the sea and set the tone for pretty much every Bond Girl since. The scene would be higher if it wasn’t for the awkward Sean Connery singing moment and staged conversation that follows it. Please note: the Halle Berry imitation scene in Die Another Day does not feature on this list, it’s awful, although it does have some hilariously awful dialogue.
8. “There are men in the crater! Men in the crater!” This line shouted in the control room of Blofeld’s You Only Live Twice. A film about rockets and hollowed-out volcanoes, this was definitely a firm favourite when I was younger – members of my family still groan at the prospect of watching it again.
7. “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!” Of all the bad guys over the years, there’s still something about Goldfinger that makes him stand out as one of the most evil and sinister.
6. Never is there so much blatant innuendo than in the Roger Moore era, the height of which must be Octopussy and the most hilarious of all – Bond asking about Magda’s tattoo “why that’s my little Octopussy”. I found that hilarious the first time I saw it. I still do.
5. Of all the recurring characters my favourite, beyond all doubt, is Desmond Llewellyn’s Q. Through his 17 films his scenes are always some of the film’s best. When I was younger I definitely wanted to be him when I grew up. In fact, I like him so much he appears twice in this list. The first time is at the end of Moonraker when he’s staring at another screen when Bond appears on the big screen in a rather compromising position: Defense Minister: “My God, what’s Bond doing!” Q: “I think he’s attempting re-entry”
4. Quantum of Solace wouldn’t come very close to my list of top Bond films; however, it does have the best chat-up line in the franchise’s history. In his (obviously successful) attempt to win over Strawberry Fields he utters the ridiculous line: “I can’t find the…um…stationery. Want to help me come look?” Hideously cringe worthy, yes, but also so fantastically Bond.
3. Q’s second appearance in this list has been one of my favourites since I first saw Goldeneye (it’s also the only time a Brosnan film features – for good reason), but I now more associate it with the image in the footer of Mel’s blog Sharky Oven Gloves. Go have a look, hover over the picture of the duck. The quote is simply this “Don’t touch that! It’s my lunch!” Oh Q…
2. “Red wine with Fish. Well that should have told me something.” This ridiculous line showing the fine moral high ground that Bond’s Britain holds over his (he thinks) Russian counterpart comes from From Russia with Love, but is also, I think, a great example of the self-mockery of the films. I could have chosen any number of lines from From Russia with Love – it’s definitely my second favourite Bond film – but this one always cracks me up, so in it went.
1. Casino Royale is definitely my favourite of the Bond films. It has all the aspects of a good Bond film, but a solid, gritty storyline that really makes it stand out (the book is also excellent, go read it if you haven’t alread). Daniel Craig also has some incredible lines in it. I was going to go with the quote from the final scene Le Chiffre and Bond share – the one every guy winces at, every time – “I’ve got a little itch, down there. Would you mind?”; but there’s one better, in my opinion. Coming back to the poker table after being poisoned and his heart restarted, the line is plain, it’s simple, but it’s dripping with sarcasm and menace: “I’m sorry. That last hand… nearly killed me”
So happy birthday, Mr Bond, you are one of the world’s most enduring characters and you’ve been my hero since I saw my first Bond.
Now where’s that DVD box set, I’ve got 3 weeks to watch all 22 films before Skyfall comes out – THREE WEEKS TODAY!!!!!!
(Film photos, curtsey of IMDB.)