Here is where the matter is considered in its completeness. After 22 films, which is the one which not only can be skipped over, it should be struck from the history of the world to never be spoken of again, like some non-person or event which ‘never happened’?
Before getting any further, let’s understand one thing, you and I: this is not the definitive answer, but one which is specific to me. You may have a different opinion about it – possibly you should have a differing opinion – but presented answer here is not to be taken as one which you either take as being correct and are ordered to live your life accordingly, nor are you to see some sort of falsity in it and demand a re-consideration of the demerits of some other film which you happen to hate more than I. There are no correct or incorrect answers here; I am not wrong, you are not right, so let’s leave the matter there, shall we?
Sorry…? Tautology? Pardon?
An odd place to start, but let’s put a couple up at the top of the list of “Most Bestest” just to reduce the number of titles:
- BOND #2: From Russia with Love (1963) (as being the best representative of that hey-day of Soviet v West, plus Bond in his original state)
- BOND #21: Casino Royale (2006) (as being representative of the spirit of Bond in the books, as well as reality)
- BOND #6: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969) (as being the best representative of some of the undiscovered gems, plus DIANA RIGG!)
- BOND #19: The World is Not Enough (1999) (as being the best representative of a solid mixture of Bond-types, plus characters and plot twists)
So… that’s good.
No… the bad part.
There are, sadly, more than a few contenders for this, and here’s a few and why they’re down there.
BOND #9: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) is a bit of a muddle, with Christopher Lee playing a role he probably should have demanded had more conversational dialogue for. The complexity of the admiration he has for Bond – a combination of ‘fellow worker’ and simply for 007’s technical skills – is never really explored properly, thus robbing the story of some tension. The end result is some lack-lustre foreplay in and around Hong Kong with little tension when arriving at the climax in a hall of mirrors arrangement of a shooting gallery, then the destruction of some sort of nuclear plant and a laser weapon the danger from which is never actually explained, so we really end up caring more about the length of time we’re committing to this than anything else. Poor effort here.
BOND #14: A View to a Kill (1985). Please, can someone convince Grandpa that the young lady he’s with ought to be left behind to fend for herself? Too many plot points, too much technology (although a blimp is always cool), and far too much golly, look how big a set we can build and then destroy! aspect to things. Frankly, the character’s far too rooted in the past here and the challenge of suspending disbelief about things in his world is positively brobdingnagian in scale. Did I mention that “Stacey Sutton” is a whiny, lead weight? What about the anti-Bond Girl™ “May Day” being a better protagonist than her (and more than kinda sexy)? Yes to both? Oh good.
What makes that last one all the worse is that it’s probably the first one I saw in a theatre and not on TV. Oh well…
Both BOND #13A: Octopussy (1983) and BOND #11: Moonraker (1979) suffer from the “shove everything at it that’s worked for us before and see what happens” school of story-telling, and neither is worth the price of admission for all of the special effects. Octopussy starts out with a pathetic excuse to involve MI6 in “some sort of bother with the Ruskies, don’t you know, hmmmphh!” and then circles the globe in search of the answer which ends up being right where any investigation ought to have started after an agent dies on your floor wearing a clown suit: at the circus from which he’s just escaped. But, no! We go to Christie’s Auction House first, then off to India and a secretive island of Amazonian ninjas… honestly there’s three good ideas in this film all fighting to get out.
Moonraker is simply an excuse to re-tell The Spy Who Loved Me (which wasn’t fantastic, but was acceptable), only this time the ship they’re on is a space–ship! Oooooh! Lasers! Pew! Peew pew!
If either of these films had any more content shoved at them they’d have exploded. Multi-faceted, overly complicated, unfocused crap.
THE LEAST BESTEST BOND
#7, Diamonds are Forever (1971)
BOND #7: Diamonds Are Forever (1971), however, has so little going for it it’s a wonder the thing was released. The editing is abominable, the special effects aren’t special, the acting is wooden – especially from the US cast members; have a look at Jimmy Dean’s “Willard Whyte”, as well as Lana Wood’s “Plenty O’Toole” for the biggest offenders – and the dialogue has to be some of the worst ever committed to celluloid: even a “B-picture” wouldn’t dain to have the following:
Mr. Kidd: Well, they’re both aboard, and I must say Miss Case seems quite attractive…
[Mr. Wint glares at him]
Mr. Kidd: (cont’d) …For a lady.
Mr. Kidd: (cont’d) Heh heh heh heh!
Even if delivered better than we have in the film – and the ridiculous way the homosexuality is depicted is neither stereotypical enough to be funny, or brave enough to be considered “edgy” at the time – those lines do nothing for the characters, the plot, the story in general…
Then there’s these two gems that follow closely after one another:
Plenty O’Toole: Hi, I’m Plenty.
James Bond: But of course you are.
Plenty O’Toole: Plenty O’Toole.
James Bond: Named after your father perhaps?
[reacting to Bond’s luck with the dice while gambling]
Plenty O’Toole: You handle those cubes like a monkey handles coconuts.
The first part is probably intended to form part of the legacy of ‘flirtatious come-backs’, but just comes off as more befitting a Grade 9 male who giggles whenever someone mentions a male plug & female outlet during shop class. The second quote – and I’m giving them a fair bit of rope here – is probably a demonstration of ‘that colourful, down-home way of talkin’ them Americans do all the time’, yet the result would have just about everyone hearing it at the craps table look at you as though you’ve suddenly recited the opening lines of The Scarlet Pimpernel; sure, that’s wonderful, but what in blazes does it have to do with anything?
Connery made this one to finally get paid what he was worth, as well as to rid himself of the memory of how badly he was treated by the Japanese press during filming of You Only Live Twice (no one should be photographed taking a dump, nor confused with the role they play on screen). His desire to be remunerated properly, given the amount of loot the EON Films Corp. had made from his efforts is entirely defensible. How he put in a performance so perfunctory in this film isn’t clear, although a combination of poor editing, directing, and camera work may have contributed heavily to the matter.
There’s so very much wrong with Diamonds are Forever that’s it’s tough to point at anything decent in it. From the poorly shot chase through the lumpy desert, to the obviously tin-foil-covered “moon buggy”, it’s just one bad thing after another. Bambi & Thumper are okay, maybe, and the fight in the elevator is pretty solid. Still, those are damned tiny bits of gold among a shed-load of dross. The only really excellent aspect of the whole ting is Shirley Bassey singing the theme song, and you can save yourself a lot of pain by simply listening to that and leaving the rest aside forever… forever… forever… forever…
Had the book, dated though it might have been by that point, been adapted faithfully the result would have been miles better than this.
Trailer for the Least Best Bond film: DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER
This year, I’ve been watching DVDs from the library for a number of reasons, mostly to do with a combination of “filling in the gaps in my ‘pop culture’ knowledge”, as well as a concerted effort to better understand story editing by both watching a film and then re-watching listening to people who have studied that particular movie for years in order to better appreciate the themes, plot construction, symbolism, and so on.
The process would be nothing without the secondary audio tracks. Sometimes it’s like having actually been through the film-making process with the people involved.
Table of contents for the series “The Bond Films: Which is the Least Goodest?”
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #1: Dr. No (1962)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #2: From Russia with Love (1963)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #3: Goldfinger (1964)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #4: Thunderball (1965)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #5: You Only Live Twice (1967)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #6: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #7: Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #8: Live and Let Die (1973)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #9: The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #10: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #11: Moonraker (1979)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #12: For Your Eyes Only (1981)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #13A: Octopussy (1983)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #13B: Never Say Never Again (1983)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #14: A View to a Kill (1985)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #15: The Living Daylights (1987)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #16: Licence to Kill (1989)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #17: GoldenEye (1995)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #18: Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #19: The World is Not Enough (1999)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #20: Die Another Day (2002)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #21: Casino Royale (2006)
- RE:VIEW ~ BOND #22: Quantum of Solace (2008)
- RE:VIEW ~ Bond #1 – 22: Which is the Least Bestest…?