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Bond. Favorite Bond.

From Russia with Love
From Russia with Love

Gadgets really define the Bond films and the ones I really love are ones that would be great to actually have because I could see myself using them. One gadget is from one of the all around best Bond films, From Russia with Love, and that’s the attaché case that was packed with all sorts of gadgets, like a hidden knife, extra rounds of ammunition, and tear-gas cartridges.

The other gadget I love is James Bond’s magnetic watch from Live and Let Die that also had the buzz saw and a bunch of neat things packed away in there. And handing out the gadgets in so many of the films was Desmond Llewellyn as Q. The thing I loved about his characterization of Q was sort of that old fussbudget; he takes great pride in all these gadgets but knows Bond has little respect for them.

— Ramie Tateishi, Assistant professor of English and film studies, National University


License to Kill

My pick for the best actor to play James Bond is probably an unconventional one because it’s Timothy Dalton. He only made two films in the ‘80s (lasting one film longer than George Lazenby). Sean Connery is probably most people’s pick for the best Bond; after all, he was the first. But Dalton loved the Bond character, and he brings to it the sense of Ian Fleming’s literary Bond, that if you read the books, Dalton really did invest a great deal of effort into the part and into making it grittier. It’s a shame The Living Daylights and License to Kill didn’t work out better for him. Supposedly, he was offered the role of 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the late ’60s when Connery left the franchise, but he felt he was too young at 18 to take the role. Too bad.

— Aled Jones, James Bond fan


Goldfinger

I want to highlight two Bond films for the women. First, Goldfinger with Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore. She may have a porn-star name and be dressed to kill, but she was also a capable pilot and a woman who could drop Bond with a karate chop. One of the best Bond babes ever.

On the opposite side of the tracks is Luciana Paluzzi’s Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. Bond can usually turn a woman from bad to good, but not Volpe. She was SPECTRE to the core. She notes that all Bond has to do is “make love to a woman and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents and turns to the side of right and virtue...but not this one!” She was deliciously bad and drop-dead gorgeous, to boot.

— Beth Accomando, KPBS film critic

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From Russia with Love
From Russia with Love

Gadgets really define the Bond films and the ones I really love are ones that would be great to actually have because I could see myself using them. One gadget is from one of the all around best Bond films, From Russia with Love, and that’s the attaché case that was packed with all sorts of gadgets, like a hidden knife, extra rounds of ammunition, and tear-gas cartridges.

The other gadget I love is James Bond’s magnetic watch from Live and Let Die that also had the buzz saw and a bunch of neat things packed away in there. And handing out the gadgets in so many of the films was Desmond Llewellyn as Q. The thing I loved about his characterization of Q was sort of that old fussbudget; he takes great pride in all these gadgets but knows Bond has little respect for them.

— Ramie Tateishi, Assistant professor of English and film studies, National University


License to Kill

My pick for the best actor to play James Bond is probably an unconventional one because it’s Timothy Dalton. He only made two films in the ‘80s (lasting one film longer than George Lazenby). Sean Connery is probably most people’s pick for the best Bond; after all, he was the first. But Dalton loved the Bond character, and he brings to it the sense of Ian Fleming’s literary Bond, that if you read the books, Dalton really did invest a great deal of effort into the part and into making it grittier. It’s a shame The Living Daylights and License to Kill didn’t work out better for him. Supposedly, he was offered the role of 007 in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the late ’60s when Connery left the franchise, but he felt he was too young at 18 to take the role. Too bad.

— Aled Jones, James Bond fan


Goldfinger

I want to highlight two Bond films for the women. First, Goldfinger with Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore. She may have a porn-star name and be dressed to kill, but she was also a capable pilot and a woman who could drop Bond with a karate chop. One of the best Bond babes ever.

On the opposite side of the tracks is Luciana Paluzzi’s Fiona Volpe in Thunderball. Bond can usually turn a woman from bad to good, but not Volpe. She was SPECTRE to the core. She notes that all Bond has to do is “make love to a woman and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing. She repents and turns to the side of right and virtue...but not this one!” She was deliciously bad and drop-dead gorgeous, to boot.

— Beth Accomando, KPBS film critic

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For me there are four praiseworthy Bond films: From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever, with none able to make a first-place claim. The rest are too dull (Thunderball, Live and Let Die), too ridiculous (Moonraker, Octopussy) or too brooding (those with Daniel Craig). Some critics dismiss Diamonds as camp, but it's full of memorable scenes and characters, and boasts the same director as Goldfinger (Guy Hamilton). Bond is primarily a spoof, after all, and this one earns its laughs: from Connery raising his hands in the opening scene to Jill St. John's facility with a machine gun. It also features by far the best song of any Bond film, completely enjoyable outside the context of the movie, and I recommend to you the version by David McAlmont over the Shirley Bassey original. (Let me add here that Propellerheads do a thrilling On Her Majesty's Secret Service.) I see nothing wrong with a comic Bond, but if you take your Bond seriously then Diamonds will disappoint.

As for Bond women, Honor Blackman (hardly a Bond girl) is without rival. If I had my pick...

Aug. 27, 2013

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