How can I choose one from four of my all-time favorites?
DAF was my first. You never forget your first.
LALD was the first new film I got to look forward to. It was the summer of 73 for me.
Ditto TMWTGG - Christmas 74 would have been nothing without it.
TSWLM, after what at the time seemed like an interminable wait , ticked all my boxes. Never mind Star Wars, CE3K and disco - this was summer 77.
I’ll go with TMWTGG, just to get it on the chart.
How can I choose one from four of my all-time favorites?
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME is a more consistent effort for me, but I will continue sticking with my mantra that the first two-thirds of MOONRAKER is among the best of the whole series, so I’m going for that (and stubbornly ignoring the whole Bond in space thing…)
You have chosen wisely, Vauxhall.
In time, you may come to embrace the whole Bond in space thing.
Bond… silver foil space suits… white plastic laser guns… serving 70’s sci-fi realness. Gives me everything I want from a movie.
MR will always have a special place for me as my first Bond at the cinema.
MR may not have a car chase like TSWLM, but it does have the boat scene with Jaws, which features the last ever usage of the 007 Theme. And of course the greatness of the gondola chase!
How to choose between DAF and MOONRAKER? Two of my top three Bonds movies.
Both quintessential 70’s movies (my favorite cinematic decade).
DAF got my vote, but in this case I need an Honourable Mention category.
Two go through from the group to round 2 so if Moonraker keeps picking up points, its honour may well be preserved.
Why Tomorrow Never Dies will always occupy a very special place in my heart (though years later I did come to realize that TMWTGG was the first Bond movie I had any experience with having seen part of the Queen Elizabeth sequence but not knowing it was Bond until I was much older).
70s Bond for me is The Spy Who Loved Me. It’s Moore at his best, with a deliciously over the top story, and the most 70s soundtrack ever. Bond ‘77 forever!
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was my first Bond film, Moonraker the first Fleming I read that summer - I actually bought the book on the way home and started it right that day. Two very different experiences from the world of Bond and for years afterwards my Bond fantasies mixed screen and page as the whimsey would take me, so much so I seamlessly incorporated the visuals of MOONRAKER two years later into my reading experience.
Both films are now amongst my favourites and it’s really a matter of whim that I chose THE SPY over MOONRAKER. The era of the hollow-volcano lair ended in outer space and in style…
Amen to that!
What I see in my head every time I hear Bond ‘77
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
Definitely no times for cynics.
I kinda (I know freakishly) prefer when a Bond film proudly declares when it was made. The fact Goldeneye and The Spy Who Loved Me clearly had their year of release virtually stamped on the screen at all times is a selling point for me.
If MOONRAKER makes it through to Round Two, I hope you (ahem)–having satisfied your most understandable whim–will render a more accurate assessment with your vote.
I agree. I have found that a movie which bears the stamp of the moment it was made, often ages much better than a film which strove for timelessness during its making. One of the arguments I make in favor of the films of Joseph L. Mankiewicz is how they exquisitely balance the specific concerns of their times with an openness to the wider issues of culture (Hitchcock and Fassbinder are other masters of this double visioning).
The '70s Bond films are why there are still Bond films.
Diamonds: cheap and flabby, but it’s funniest film in the series, and that counts for a lot. Hamilton really got Bond’s bizarre world. Connery carries the whole thing, everything that comes out of his mouth makes you laugh, and John Barry does God’s work.
LALD: pungent, atmospheric, and admirably gives Moore room to breathe - a luxury not afforded to Lazenby. Great villains, inspired ideas, shoddy photography.
Golden Gun: Hamilton’s bitter trilogy at its bitterest. Not exactly thrill a minute, but it has attitude and laughs and some great performances.
Spy: textbook craftsmanship. Not much more to say. It was my vote. Weakened only by Hamlisch’s score, but it might be worth the tradeoff if it meant getting that theme song. Unfortunately watered down by giving Jaws an encore.
Moonraker: funny and inspired, just less disciplined than Spy. Moore is at his most fatuous and unlikeable. God knows what Barry thought he was doing composing such beautiful music for such a silly movie, but I’m glad he did. Lonsdale deserved a Best Supporting Oscar.
DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER – The movie that helped usher in the Roger Moore era. The wittiest film in the series. (“Hi, I’m Plenty.” “But of course you are.” “Plenty O’Toole.” “Named after your father, perhaps.” As the Kenny Bania character would say on the iconic show Seinfeld, “That’s gold, Jerry! Gold!”) Great villains (how can you not love Wint and Kidd or the droll Charles Gray?), top notch car chase, Bond’s fight with Peter Franks is the best in the series since Bond vs. Red Grant on the Orient Express, Shirley Bassey’s best theme song, and the welcome return (no dig at George Lazenby) of Sean Connery. The film is not without its negatives. The worst special effects of the series–no doubt aided in part by crew member’s itchy trigger finger on the finale, odd choices of editing (Why not include Plenty returning to Bond’s hotel room? There’s no other reason for her to turn up at Tiffany’s house.) And other than a vengeful Bond in the PTS, there’s no extra animosity toward the man who killed his wife. Those nitpicks aside, however, DAF remains a fun romp.
LIVE AND LET DIE – Bond enters Blaxploitation territory and lives to tell about it. Solid debut for Roger Moore as 007. The villains are all great and memorable, great work on the boat chase, fantastic theme song by Paul McCartney and Wings which is one of the best of the series, a terrific funky score by George Martin who proved that somebody other than the indomitable John Barry could compose a Bond film, the best Felix Leiter in David Hedison, and the lovely Jane Seymour. Also, count me in as a fan of Sheriff J.W. Pepper. He’s hilarious in this. And kudos to both Ross Kananga for performing and whoever came up with the crossing the alligator bridge stunt. Classic. Alas, the film also has arguably the worst fight in the series when Bond escapes the Harlem thugs (only A View To A Kill’s Bond and Tibbett fight with Zorin’s security guards rivals it) and the horrible decision to use voice over work for Kananga’s goons that make them sound stupid and incompetent as they chase Bond’s plane at the airport. Someone should have found the brakes on that. Regardless, LALD is one of the series’ most memorable and enjoyable efforts.
THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN – Bond joins the kung fu craze. However, the film is a lackluster effort I find. No big stunts save for the AMC Hornet barrel roll (which is great by the way) help to make the film feel smaller than any Bond film save for Dr. No. Also, the solex agitator/energy crisis plot REALLY dates the film–in my opinion more negatively than any film in the series. While Britt Ekland does a decent job with what she’s given, her bumbling Mary Goodnight is at her worst when Bond is trying to recover the solex. Even Barry’s score seems on the tired side although I do enjoy Lulu’s theme song. Fortunately, a rebound was right around the corner.
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME – An all-time greatest hits package that proved that nobody does it better. First time solo producing, Cubby Broccoli threw everything AND the kitchen sink into the film and, as a result, everyone is on their “A” game. Everything you look for and expect from a Bond movie is here and beyond. An over the top PTS stunt, a fabulous Bond girl, a maniacal villain, an indestructible henchman, a great score by Marvin Hamlisch, entertaining main titles work by Maurice Binder, unparalleled production design by Ken Adam, a wonderful gadget car, a lovely femme fatale in Naomi, and Roger Moore at the top of his game (“What a helpful chap”). There really isn’t much to dislike about this film. Probably the best film to introduce newcomers to Bond, which also happens to be Moore’s favorite. The spy may have loved me, but I love this film.
MOONRAKER – Bond goes to space. Taking a cue from Star Wars, Bond goes out of this world to stop a witty megalomaniac. (“Look after Mr. Bond, see that some harm comes to him.” One of the best villain lines of the series.) Michael Lonsdale is great as Hugo Drax, there’s an incredible PTS, and we get the last use (unfortunately) of the wonderful 007 Theme. Terrific scenes include Bond’s silent escape/recovery from the centrifuge and Corinne’s death at the paws (or is that jaws?) of Drax’s Doberman pinschers. However, Jaws seems a bit too cartoonish/indestructible this time, Lois Chiles seems a little too cold/detached, the space scenes are a little on the slow side, and then there’s the double-taking pigeon. One thing I wish was in this film is Bond’s space walk, which was included in the novelization. That would have been awesome! So a bit of a mixed bag for me.
- The Spy Who Loved Me
- Diamonds Are Forever
- Live And Let Die
- The Man With The Golden Gun
Hamilton’s jaded eye for America and Las Vegas is perfectly suited to Mankiewicz’s jaundiced script, and 2:35 is his best aspect ratio.
I have never understood how Hamilton’s eye failed him on this movie (and I have tried to find good visual aspects to it). Combined with the film’s racism, LALD is a low point for the series.
Beautifully said (Tom Mankiewicz said Hamilton was the most cynical man he had ever known). Hamilton’s eye returns (thankfully), but Moore Bond needed to be reinvented if he was to continue.
True, but the looseness adds an attractive capaciousness to the film–a perfecting of the template introduced by TSWLM.
I think they wanted to keep the movie to no longer than two hours. This particular elision works me, and links up with the film’s other caesuras, e.g., suddenly Bond has a white lab coat and clipboard, and then he moves effortlessly from Level 5 to the moon buggy at ground level. Why? Simply because the film needs Bond to have these things or be in these places at these moments. The accumulation of these elisions over the course of the film creates a cadence I enjoy. Logical? No. Poetic? Yes. Call it James Bond meets magical realism.
Maybe, but I like the independence Dr. Goodhead shows. When she kisses Bond after the tram car adventure, it feels organic and not another instance of what-Bond-girls-do.