My pick for the best train fight is, of course, the original: Bond vs. Grant in From Russia With Love.
It is a great fight that goes back and forth in tight quarters against two evenly matched opponents in a brutal, no holds barred fight to the death–and it still holds up today. It is the best fight in the series and remains one of the best fights in movie history. Kudos to all involved.
Interestingly, there really hasn’t been a bad fight on a train in the series. They’ve all been pretty good to great.
As for the second question, is the tank vs. train and subsequent standoff aftermath a “train fight”? My answer is no. It’s just an action scene with a fired cannon and a vehicle crash followed by a dramatic standoff and one gunshot. No punches or hand to hand combat involved, and the vehicles don’t really engage each other either other than the cannon shot and crash, so no, no fight.
The FRWL scene is always going to win this contest, and for good reason. It’s the template for eveything that followed. But I really like them all. Trains are quintessential Fleming Bond and bring out the best in the character and indeed the creative teams. The setting worked wonders for Craig, as I think the Hinx encounter is the best battle he ever had.
FRWL (though I’ll give OP a nod as best train set-piece. Dodgy back screen aside, that whole sequence is a doozy).
But FRWL wins - the fight is brutal (TSWLM a good imitation, SP an underwhelming one), but it’s entirely made by the preceding 10 minutes. Unlike LALD and TSWLM, that just…start, FRWL simmers. Remember it’s pretty much Grant’s only dialogue, who has stalked the film for an hour before meeting Bond and speaking for the first time. Everyone (rightly) compares the helicopter chase to North By Northwest but the build-up to the fight would have done Hitchcock proud, a slow burn of suspense that the series hasn’t topped since.
Last Night I watched FRWL again and this fight is absolute the highlight of the movie and I believe it’s still the best fight of the series. When it was over I watched it again before I watched the rest of the movie.
FRWL for me too, it’s classic and thrilling.
The fight also looked realistic compared to the others.
I have to go against the grain and choose SPECTRE’s Bond/Hinx fight.
There’s a bizarreness about this one the others lack: it starts in public with at least six or seven witnesses who simply disappear. They don’t seem to be looking on, much less interfere. One moment they are just there, and the next they are gone.
Nobody enquires after the fight and the considerable devastation spread over at least two cars (we never learn where fired shots end up); nobody even seems to disturb the steamy aftermath between Bond and Madeleine. The fight just happens and afterwards it’s forgotten. The train even stops in the middle of nowhere to let the couple get off although they have been involved in the untimely disembarkation of at least one other passenger.
As things go this is on par with Bond emerging on the beach in TSWLM. Actually, it’s the inverse - in the Lotus he’s reentering reality - here he left reality the moment Hinx attacks.
I share Dustin’s grain (but he has the better and more elegant reasoning).
An amendment: the entire film is abstracted a few degrees from reality: “The Ballad of Robot Bond.” You referencing TSWLM is appropriate: there are MooreBondisms sprinkled throughout the film, which, along with the tinting and other formal elements, help to place SPECTRE in the realm of the fable. Where else could a handgun bring down a helicopter? (Or a henchman transform into a good guy as happens in that other fable MOONRAKER?)
But in the case of SPECTRE isn’t it more of an example of bad and lazy screenplay writing?
In the other two examples you know that you are looking at some sort of Tintin comic and almost anything is possible in that, however, SPECTRE is presented to us as a kind of serious Bond film.
When they came up with that scene, wouldn’t they have thought: “Those other people in the train carriage are just getting in the way of the story, so we suddenly let them disappear, the viewers don’t realize that, after all?”
I’m having a lot of issues with the SPECTRE train scene, first there’s a lot of people in there, then suddenly when the fight starts, they’re all gone? (No one could get out of that train, because it’s still running).
Then they’ve went to the kitchen, but there’s no people there too, then the most baffling for me was when the fight arrived at the room full of boxes, like what is that? Was that a storage room or something? It’s like a cargo train, we’re believed it’s a passenger train but suddenly turned into a cargo train?
It’s a good fight, well choreographed, but that mistakes keeps distracting me from appreciating it.
And most of all, why Hinx was there in the first place? Blofeld was expecting these two alive, then to have Hinx kill them in that train wouldn’t make any sense.
Like if these two are dead, who would Blofeld meet?
It’s obvious that Blofeld had prepared himself and his lair for their arrival, so that fight didn’t make sense really, it didn’t served any purpose and felt out of place in the plot or the narrative.
It would be better had Hinx became the driver of that Rolls Royce in that desert who would take them to the lair, instead of someone else, than to have him appear in the train for no purpose.
For September 21:
There have been plenty of car chases (will come to those later), boat chases, ski/snow chases and chases on foot - and all of those may come later too, go to get to 30 days hath September, after all - but this one is:
Preferred chase using less mundane means or vehicles:
- Little Nellie (You Only Live Twice)
- Moon Buggy (Diamonds are Forever)
- Bus (Live and Let Die)
- Bondola (Moonraker)
- Acrostar (Octopussy)
- Tuk-Tuk (Octopussy)
- Inferno the Horsey (A View to a Kill)
- Fire tender (A View to a KIll)
- Cello (The Living Daylights)
- Barefoot waterski (Licence to Kill)
- Fuel/cocaine tankers (Licence to Kil)
- Tank (GoldenEye)
- MIGs (Tomorrow Never Dies)
- Hovercraft (Die Another Day)
- Ice speedster (Die Another Day)
- Airport fuel truck (Casino Royale)
- Shiny cargo 'plane dogfight (Quantum of Solace)
- Inflatable chasing down a helicopter (Spectre)
(Stuff like the Jetpack in Thunderball or the glider/boat thing in No Time to Die - certainly not mundane but not really “chase” associated?)
Very tough having to only pick one. The best five of these chases I think are the Little Nellie chase in You Only Live Twice, the Acrostar/missile chase in Octopussy, the tanker truck chase in Licence To Kill, the tank chase in GoldenEye, and the hovercraft chase in Die Another Day.
But if I have to pick only one, I’ll go with the tanker truck chase in Licence To Kill. It’s original and has some great moments, specifically Bond forcing one truck to crash into a rocky hillside spectacularly ripping its front axle off, Bond’s truck and trailer going up on nine wheels to avoid a stinger missile only to then squash Perez’s jeep, and Bond releasing his truck’s trailer to let it rumble downhill to take out a tanker truck in a big explosion, all culminating in Bond and Sanchez fighting it out on the back of a runaway tanker truck. The best thrilling climax of any 007 film.
Due to the manner in which he assumes the role, I gathered Hinx was his own man going about his job in his own way. Meaning he had limited contact with Blofeld or SPECTRE, if any. The train attack could even be interpreted as pure revenge after he’s left for dead during the snow chase.
LTK’s tanker chase, hands down. The best action climax in the series, and in a film that has some very exciting moments (the waterski chase is up there), it’s also the best action sequence in the film, which is what the climax should be, no?
Also partial to the double-decker, with the big stunt - the removal of the upstairs a classic Bond moment. In that if it appeared in any other series, you’d shake your head and say to yourself “I’m not buying that.” But with Bond, oh, you’re buying…
I also had to go with the tanker chase in LTK. It’s dynamic and visceral, while still being clever and fun. It also shows off Bond’s chess-like maneuvering and manipulation of elements and situations to his advantage.
It could be. I do not experience the film that way.
Again, that is not my experience. SPECTRE is on the less-catoonish end of the fable spectrum, but it is still fabulist in my view.
Like Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd at the end of DAF, Hinx is attempting to finish the job he started. He is not a shirker.
For September 22
Occasionally a little overlooked as contributing to all of the first 14 Bond films, which of the below contain or contains your favourite scene(s) for Lois Maxwell’s Moneypenny? You can vote just the once, or up to seven times:
- Dr No
- From Russia with Love
- You Only Live Twice
- Diamonds are Forever
- Live and Let Die
- The Man with the Golden Gun
- The Spy who Loved Me
- For Your Eyes Only
- A View to a Kill
I voted for Dr. No, Goldfinger, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I think Lois Maxwell’s banter is especially good with Sean Connery in DN and George Lazenby in OHMSS. In DN, it successfully set the parameters of their relationship and their playful banter was engaging.
Meanwhile, in OHMSS, the playful banter returns, and I love how she later saves both Bond’s and M’s face by changing Bond’s resignation letter–that he wrote in frustration of M’s stubbornness to not continue Operation Bedlam–to a request for leave. And I especially love her unspoken exchange with Bond on his wedding day. No words were said, but her sad, wistful looks in his direction as he is about to depart with his new wife on his honeymoon, and Bond’s subsequent acknowledgement of her feelings by tossing her his hat as if it were a bouquet and her clutching it with such appreciation spoke volumes and was very touching. You could tell the gesture meant everything to her. And Bond gave her a nice, heartfelt, wave back. Very well done.
If I had to pick just one Lois Maxwell film as my favorite, it would be OHMSS.
It’s the culmination of Bond taking down Sanchez’s empire. Before this Bond was doing so with subterfuge. But during the tanker chase he’s out in the open and destroying millions of dollars worth of product right in front of Sanchez’s face. Sanchez killed Krest due to Bond’s manipulations - Sanchez killed Truman Lodge from pure frustration, knowing his world was literally burning down.
Moneypenny - I’m going with OHMSS. It’s pretty much the only film in the first half-century where the Moneypenny appearance is of any consequence. In fact it’s the first time that she’s presented as a character with her own perspective. The rest of the time she’s window-dressing. Remove her scenes from the films and what do you lose? A little bit of “amusing” banter? (I am rather fond of YOLT).
In the “moving forward” discussions I do get the notion that it’s time to dump the MI6 subplots and the “gang back home” - something that really began with GE. But I’d offer that Moneypenny is an example of that from the very start. At least the later films attempted to link the gang and the plot. Moneypenny scenes on the other hand were rote and obligatory rather than standing on their right, appearances of tradition more than anything else. Heck, at least Q gave Bond something…
I do like what they did with Bond and Moneypenny’s relationship in the Craig era. While the beginning of their relationship had the sexual tension of the close shave they were more like trusted confidants, and indeed friends who respected each other. I didn’t get the impression Bond was going to force himself on her at his apartment when he played Dench M’s message. Harris’ genuine concern for his specific welfare was best demonstrated when she asks “which one’s Bond?” when he’s entering Safin’s lair.
As for my single favourite Bond/Moneypenny moment, it’s hands down when Maxwell catches the hat during the wedding. There’s no need for any dialogue as it already says so much.