The 7 Best 007 Films # 7 – # 4: Sean Connery Begins


It’s mid-October, so we are merely weeks away from what will likely (hopefully?) be one of the greatest Bond movies, SPECTRE.

Don’t count my chickens before they hatch, you say?

Let’s start counting anyway! You have Daniel Craig, the best 007 (don’t crucify me for that, just because Sean Connery played James Bond 1st, doesn’t automatically make him the best), director Sam Mendes hot off Skyfall, and Academy Award Winning villain actor Javier Bardem replaced by an equally (if not more) enjoyable double Oscar Winner Christoph Waltz. What could go wrong? Hell, SPECTRE has Dave Bautista of Drax from Guardians of the Galaxy fame playing a very classic feeling henchman with some flavor.

Again, I’m counting unhatched Indominus Rexs… err… chickens before they hatch. But at least I have these seven hatch-lings: The 7 Best 007 movies from Dr. No through Skyfall.

In order to keep this post a manageable length, we’ll cover my 7th favorite through 4th.

7. Dr. Nodr no sean connery james bond 007

The very 1st 007 film, Dr. No sets most the pieces in place for a franchise that has gone strong (mostly… mostly) for 50 years. Sean Connery clearly establishes the tone for all the James Bond actors that followed (even Daniel Craig’s less-sophisticated, more “blunt instrument” portrayal).

Dr. No‘s real strength is showing us the super-spy/detective side of 007, with less gadgets but a perfect Bond Girl in name and body – Ursula Andress as Honey Ryder – as well as a villain that sets the tone of all the SPECTRE and SMERSH eccentric agents that follow – Joseph Wiseman as the title character, Dr. No.dr no james bond ursula andress honey Honey Ryder

The focus on 007’s skills as a spy and detective aren’t featured as front-and-center again until Casino Royale. My favorite scene, which really sets up Bond’s skill-set, comes when he places a hair on the door to his hotel room, allowing him to tell if his room was entered and tampered with. No film that follows has shown cool spy techniques in the same way as Dr. No, instead focusing on faster paced stories with more action, gadgets, and sexy women.

The franchise is still finding it’s footing at this point, almost a rough draft of the franchise before Goldfinger established the franchise’s more popular and enduring elements.

6. Quantum of Solacequantum of solace daniel craig 007 james bond

I know, I know, Quantum of Solace is a pretty dumb Bond movie when it comes to the writing and overall plot; nearly a phoned in 007 film like all but one of Pierce Brosnan’s adventures. I blame the writer’s strike for that, though the film is still enjoyable as hell, even with its faults.

I argue Quantum of Solace is the perfect companion piece to Casino Royale; the latter serving as a slower story re-introducing the character and his origin with Vesper (Eva Green) and the former balancing it out with full-on action in every scene and the continuation of whatever Mr. White’s organization was in Casino Royale. Quantum is also one of the only “direct-sequels” that references and builds off the previous Bond film, giving it an extra element of intrigue. That means we also get more character/actor carryover from one film to the next with Jesper Christensen back as the aforementioned Mr. White, Jeffrey Wright back as Felix Leiter, and even Giancarlo Giannini as Rene Mathis.Mr White Quantum of Solace With M and James Bond 007 Daniel Craig

Spoiler Alert (not), the shady organization is called Quantum (hence one of the franchise’s worst titles) and will eventually become SPECTRE (the studio making 007 films didn’t have the rights to the name SPECTRE at the time). I love the set-up for this organization that has infiltrated every government, starting with Mr. White escaping and continuing with the reveal of Quantum at the Opera (one of the franchise’s most artistic scenes).

Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene (yes, apparently all Quantum agents have colorful last names… literally) is an underrated villain with his eccentricities and  role within the Quantum organization. The final action scene is the film’s 2nd best, with Greene showing the rodent he is in the sloppy/angry battle with 007 that has him slicing his own foot with an axe. Plus, there was something weird going on between him and his #1 henchman, that was never unnecessarily explained.

5. Goldfinger

goldfinger-james-bond-007-sean-connery-white-tuxedo

Goldfinger is the 1st Bond film to have ALL the elements in place. Q-branch gadgets like a car with an ejector seat. A Bond girl with a not-so-subtle name, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). Another title super-villain – Gert Fröbe as Auric Goldfinger, with a strange obsession with gold, a laser, and a ridiculously amazing evil-plan. The 1st amazing henchman, Oddjob (Harold Sakata), who throws a sharp hat (no, not a shoe… that was Random Task in Austin Powers). And that classic dialogue.

“Do you expect me to talk?”

“No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”

Everything we’ve watched for the last 50 years that wasn’t established in Dr. No, was put in place by Goldfinger; the ultimate Bond formula to stick to.

Those Goldfinger Fans looking forward to SPECTRE will likely recognize Daniel Craig’s new getup on the poster is borrowed from Sean Connery in the above photo.

4. From Russia With Love

From Russia With Love James Bond 007 Sean Connery Robert Shaw Grant

From Russia With Love has one of the greatest SPECTRE agents 007 has ever faced, Robert Shaw (of Jaws fame) playing Grant, 007’s perfect doppelganger. And there is not archetype of villain I enjoy more than a doppelganger; a villain that reflects the hero in nearly every way. Robert Shaw’s character really is the opposite side of the Sean Connery coin. Dashing, brutal, and just serving his “country” (or, rather, organization).

No scene in the film sticks out in my mind like the train sequence between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw, one of the most classic showdowns in 007’s history.

So that’s a start; my 4th through 7th favorite 007 films.

Read about Numbers 3 through 1 NOW… Not that you can’t guess where the list is going…

Final SPECTRE Trailer Is Short And Oh-So-Sweet.


It may only be 1 minute and 15 seconds, but the final trailer for 007’s latest adventure, SPECTRE, delivers ALL the goods.

Loads of action, great looking effects, and an exchange between Christoph Waltz (who isn’t Blofeld? Or is he?) and Daniel Craig, that would make Goldfinger blush.

007 (D. Craig):

“I came here to kill you.”

Oberhauser (Waltz):

“And I thought you came here to die.”

With last week’s release of Sam Smith’s SPECTRE theme, ‘Writing’s On The Wall,‘ 007 mania is set to hit critical mass by its November 6th release date.

I never posted the 2nd trailer, so here that is…

And don’t forget the 1st Trailer… as well as the original screen grabs I grabbed for ya’!

I can’t wait for Bond, James Bond.

A Better Class Of Criminal: Part I


“This city deserves a better class of criminal.”

Have you noticed a trend in your favorite blockbusters of late (well… “of late” meaning “the past 5 years or so…”)?

Are your villains more interesting? Do the actors portraying them have past Oscar nominations and/or can they overcome the action-movie stigma to achieve at least pipe-dreams of one? Are these bad guys crazier than normal? You know, more unique with a funny voice or passion for mayhem?

If you answered yes to any of those absurd questions, perhaps you, like me, feel that the past decade has produced some of the most memorable and unique villains in the history of cinema. (No, not just memorable because they’re recent, memorable because they’re so good it feels like they have  some real staying power.)

Javier Bardem as Silva in SKYFALL

2012 alone has been particularly giving, including last weekend’s SKYFALL, anchored by villain Javier Bardem. I’d like to take this time in “movie villain history” to recall past favorite villains of mine and compare them to the current crop that catch audience’s eyes for their originality (like Bane… that is some really bizarre shit).


Patterns will quickly emerge, suggesting that these modern villains we love to love for their originality, actually share quite a bit in common with one another. It’s less that each breaks the mold, more that each fits the current mold; a mold that itself has evolved from what came before. Even the mold is not original, it has simply built on our past, perfecting the traits of a great villains past rather than inventing them.

My personal favorite antagonists from decades past range from those widely-considered classics to a few lesser appreciated gems (especially recently)*:

*I am a lover of film, but I am also only 24 years old, so I apologize if my naturally limited knowledge of films before the 70s cause me to leave out an obvious villain for this list. Likewise, I am writing this all in one night (instead of sleeping); I’m confident that later today I will be like “oh fuck, I can’t believe I forgot ___________!”

*Also, to set up some sort of limits as to what qualifies as a villain/antagonist/bad guy, I’ve decided to draw the line at  live-action man. No sharks a la JAWS, dinosaurs a la JURASSIC PARK, no machines a la 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, and no animated baddies like Gollum. After all, though many (including myself) would argue three of the four preceding examples are incredibly emotive/iconic in their execution, are they really the same as an actor doin’ their thang’?

*Finally, to simplify shit even further, I eliminated any characters who may be imaginary, a la FIGHT CLUB.

TOP CLASSIC BADDIES

“No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.”

1964 – Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) – Really set the mold for the classic Bond villain better than DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE had established before. Besides keeping a light and witty rapport with the hero, Goldfinger seems to take great pleasure in his own eccentricities, something we will see time and time again in the Bond universe and elsewhere.

It is this pleasure in action I am trying to drive home today, this aspect that is essential for an interesting antagonist today.

1977, 1980, 1983 – Darth Vader, uhhhh I’m not even gonna say what movie he’s from cause I’m insulted – Obvious choice. No one is more ruthless than him. None more iconic. He’ll death grip the shit out of his own men. And look great doing it. The guy to imitate when it comes to getting results from your henchmen.

And even back in his day we were using tricks like interesting voices and masks (again, see Bane) to give villains identity in a world full of ’em.

1981Dr. Rene Belloq (Paul Freeman), RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK –  Rene Belloq is my favorite type of villain, the doppelganger; that is, a baddie who is very similar to our hero/nearly the mirror opposite. Belloq and Indiana Jones are both archaeologists, peers in their field, but they differ in methods. As Belloq tells Jones, “I am but a shadowy reflection of you, it would take only a nudge to make you like me.”
 

1982 – Khan (Ricardo Montalban), STAR TREK II: WRATH OF KHAN – It never hurts to make it personal, not for the audience at least.

Not JAWS 3 or TAKEN-I-want-my-daughter personal. More like the villain feels as though the protagonist has personally wronged them, personal. So, rather than the good guy going on a rampage limited by what makes him a good guy, you have a sadistic madman who don’t give a shit ’bout no’body out to settle a score, and no one will stand in his way. When this happens, there are no Innocent and the world (and/or the universe) burns.

So is the case with Kahn who seeks revenge on Kirk for marooning him on a baron planet, and so will be the case with one of the top villains of 2012.

1987 – Joshua (Gary Busey) with an assist by Endo, LETHAL WEAPON – Joshua is perfect parts crazy and loyal as proved by the classic flame-to-arm scene. Besides, it’s hard to forget that crazy cop on crazy mercenary beat-down with Riggs (Mel Gibson). Joshua would also be considered a doppelganger for Riggs (noticing some patterns here?).

And as far as Endo goes, one need only quote Mr. Joshua, “Endo here has forgotten more about dispensing pain than you and I will ever know.”

Live or die by that reputation, Endo.

Live or die.

1988 – Hans Gruber, DIE HARD – Fine, I admit that so far, very few of my choice are controversial or unknown. Don’t worry, that comes later, like in the 90s where nostalgia clouds my judgement.

Characters popular in the 80s are in-proportionality represented on this list because it’s a personal favorite time period in cinema. Like today, villains were quirky and took great joy in their “work.” Gruber didn’t just have a killer, well thought-out master-plan; he also had fun! (Sound familiar?)

1989 – The Joker (Jack Nicholson), BATMAN – Really, who has more fun killing people than the Joker? The Joker is supposed to be having the time of his life, even when things don’t go according to plan. Jack doesn’t disappoint, though his version still pales in comparison to that of Mark Hamill.  Goddamn it though if the man doesn’t commit.


1989
– The South African Consulate’s Minister of Affairs and his Henchmen, LETHAL WEAPON 2 – “Diplomatic Immunity,” really says it all, don’t it?

(Answer: “Yes, it don’t. It really don’t.”)

A little advice, don’t kill the hot South African chick Riggs is fucking AND THEN tell him you murdered his wife. That is, unless you want your house pulled down a mountain.

That shit’s just super personal, and Riggs goes the appropriate amount of ape shit, like 007 post-Vesper.

NOSTALGIA SETS IN: VILLAINS FROM MY FORMATIVE YEARS

1995 – Alec Trevelyan aka 006 aka Janus (Sean Bean), GOLDENEYE  – There’s a reason 006 was/possibly is still my favorite Bond villain. Again, everything’s super-personal (he’s Bond’s old friend, plus Bond scarred him by “setting the timers for 3 instead of 6.” He knows MI6 and is another perfect example of a doppelganger (perhaps the most perfect as Bean was nearly hired as Bond). All the correct chips are in play, driven home by all the witty banter between “006” and 007, up until the end.

006 for a new

millennium006 shares quite a few similarities with the still to be discussed Silva from SKYFALL, and is certainty a precursor for the new villain. His past drives him a different direction than “For Queen and Country” Bond, feeling a similar need for revenge to that of Javier Bardem’s character.

1995 – John Doe (don’t wanna spoil the surprise), SEVEN – He’s certainly one of the most quirky/sadistic killers on film. And he knows how to deliver an unbelievable third act, important for any villain worth his salt (if that is even a saying).

Returning our attention to 006, while he’s always great, but it’s the combo of an incredibly strong introduction action scene and the finale showdown that cement his role in 007 history. Likewise, with an ending like that of SEVEN,  I doubt we’ll forget this serial killer soon.

1997 – Edgar (Vincent D’Onofrio), MEN IN BLACK – Really, unlike anything else I’ve ever seen, D’Onofrio’s performance of a space roach in an “Edgar” suit still astounds. Certainly one of the most “out there” threats. Again, fun work with the acting and voice make for fun times at cinemas.

1998 – Don Rafeal Montero (Stuart Wilson) &  Captain Love (Matt Letscher), THE MASK OF ZORRO – Double the doppelgangers, double the fun!

With old Zorro facing his old arch-nemesis (who just happened to accidentally murder his wife then intentionally -d’uh – steal his daughter) and new Zorro facing his brother’s killer, after years of training and dreams of revenge. Really, Nick Doll’s wet-dream.

From the director of the aforementioned GOLDENEYE and CASINO ROYALE, Martin Campbell, I like to think of MASK OF ZORRO as the movie Campbell made simple because he couldn’t, at that juncture, make a 007 movie. ZORRO follows all the rules of 007 from the detective work, to the “Bond” girl, to a madman with a country changing plot, Don Rafeal Montero, his lead henchman, Captain Love, and an epic, explosive finale.

2002 – Norman Osbourne (Willem Dafoe) aka The Green Goblin, SPIDER-MAN – “Work was murder”

Now, there’s an actor who chewed the scenery in the best way possible. Whether realistic or not, Dafoe’s approach to the over-the-top Green Goblin set the standard for modern comic book movie villains like those of the AVENGERS and DARK KNIGHT.

Limited by an expressionless mask, Dafoe does a lot with a little. His conversation with “the Goblin” is thing of super hero movie legend, making it ok for mechanical arms, black goo, sand, and lizards to talk to mad scientists in SPIDER-MAN sequels for years to come.

Talking to yourself is a unique place to go with your villain, and comics like Spider-Man nearly demand it.  What is most important and fun about the character though is, again, the extreme joy felt by “Gobby” whilst terrorizing Spider-Man and New York. This really laid the groundwork for silver screen villains like Loki.

If they were to cast Norman Osbourne in the AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 tomorrow, I’d insist it remain Willem Dafoe. He embodied a comic character perfectly even before RDJ ever became Tony Stark.

We’ll continue this analysis of the modern blockbuster villain as derived from his aforementioned history next time on BREAKING GEEK in “A Better Class Of Criminal: Part II” including the final era of movie villains,  “Adult” Life: Nearly Modern To Today… And Beyond! 

Find out what Bane, Joker, and Silva all have in common!

Find out which villainous strategy is hot, hot hot! (clue: Joker, Bane, Loki, and Silva all recommend it!)

All this and more! On BREAKING GEEK!