Their Best of Bond

Given that the Bond series has as one of its histories a history of frequently re-hiring people, or multi-film deals for some, there are a number of people who have worked on more than one Bond. To that end, what would you consider their particular outstanding contribution to the series to be?

Not really a comparison exercise, more an acknowledgement one of the given individual’s all time high.

Setting the ball rolling, Connery in From Russia with Love, Lois Maxwell in Thunderball, The Dench in Skyfall, Guy Hamilton for Goldfinger and Terence Young for keeping Thunderball more or less together.


I had posted this in the other thread–now in its appropriate place:

Ted Moore: (tie) FRWL and DAF
Sean Connery: (tie) GOLDFINGER and DAF (two distinct performances of the same character with the second logically following from the first)
Guy Hamilton: DAF (2:35 becomes him–career-wise his best work)
John Barry: DAF (an astringent, unusual score, brilliantly placed)
Don Black: (tie) DAF and TMWTGG (each helped immensely by their respective interpreters)
Shirley Bassey: (tie) DAF and MOONRAKER
Ken Adam: DAF (seamless blending of sets and real locations)
Roger Moore: TMWTGG
Sam Mendes: SPECTRE (his best film to date)
Daniel Kleinman SPECTRE (fascinating use of the male body as object)


Lead Actors

Sean Connery: Goldfinger (just because he seems more relaxed and seems to have more fun than in FRWL)

Roger Moore: The Spy Who Loved Me (he seems to have the most fun playing Bond here)

Timothy Dalton: The Living Daylights (again, do I prefer Bond actors who have fun… hmmm… what does that say about me?)

Pierce Brosnan: Tomorrow Never Dies (yep, enjoying it, despite not enjoying the making of this film, proving what an underrated actor he really is)

Daniel Craig: Casino Royale (but, I must say, in certain scenes of SPECTRE, I think he delivered some of his best Bond work, for example the funeral scene)


Terence Young: From Russia With Love

Guy Hamilton: Goldfinger

Lewis Gilbert: The Spy Who Loved Me

John Glen: Octopussy

Martin Campbell: Casino Royale

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Roger Moore: Moonraker
Timothy Dalton: The Living Daylights
The Actor Pierce Brosnan: Tomorrow Never Dies
Daniel Craig: Quantum of Solace

Craig was a better actor by the time of SPECTRE–he had recently done well with Pinter on Broadway–and there were nuances in his performance that were not there in CASINO ROYALE (where he played a brutish Bond equipped with guns and quips, but few layers).

He had done Pinter before doing Bond…are sure it’s not your perception of him changed after you knew he did Pinter? It’s like people thinking his American accent in Cow Boys and Aliens is bad, but hadn’t noticed the Brit playing an American in Road To Perdition, despite it being the same accent…I wonder what happened between those performances that made a flawless accent in one film seem bad in another…


I do not think so. For me, the Bond of CASINO ROYALE is standard issue brutish heterosexual male with a love interest he loses. It is a competent performance, but the notes it hits are on the surface (and I am not sure that the script or direction afford much opportunity for more than that). With SPECTRE, the performance is not only surface, but has depths (provided in part by the events of the previous three films), which Craig intermittently exposes throughout the film, only to cover them up again (which makes me think of Pinter). In SPECTRE, Bond’s role is written in such a way that Craig is able to do more with it–it is a performance of depiction and implication. Additionally, the film’s capacious mise en scene complements/supports the expansive interiority of Craig’s performance (enhancing its experience for me).

But that’s all writing. I don’t agree that the Bond of CR is more or less 2d than the one of SPECTRE, but those particular criticisms, if true and not just your reading of it, would be directed at P&W turning in a better script than they had in CR, nothing to do with Craig’s performance…

…but this leads me to a problem that WILL come up a lot in this thread - it is virtually impossible to rank individualality in what is essentially a team game.

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Connery - the chase sequence in Thunderball, actually Thunderball , specifically the chase .
Lazenby- no question the end sequence shows a vulnerability, no Bond actor until Craig ( in CR)
Moore - Octopussy, shows how the difficult job of anchoring such bonkers changes in tone he makes it look easy.
Dalton - first half of TLD almost perfect, I think he went too Book Bond in LTK, and Book Bond is not a spectator sport.
Brosnan - seriously, the teaser trailer for GE… " In an ever changing world …" such promise.
Craig - disagree with the CR opinion, but concur with Spectre, Craig gives arguably the definitive Bond performance.


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John Barry: his transformation of Monty Norman’s tune into arguably the most iconic theme song in cinema history. Honourable mentions to Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker soundtracks.

Ken Adam: that volcano lair. He pushed the boundaries of what people thought was possible at the time and with such panache! Honourable mentions to the Willard Whyte penthouse (my personal favourite) and Drax’s jungle lair.

Terence Young: coaching Connery in Bond’s style, refinement and cat like movement. Without him I think Connery’s Bond would have turned out very differently.

Guy Hamilton: changing the tone of Bond forever with Goldfinger and fully embracing the ridiculousness. Honourable mention for getting Blofeld in drag.

Lewis Gilbert: dialling the ridiculousness to 11 in YOLT… a hollowed out volcano lair… really…? Yes, absolutely!

Albert Broccoli: TSWLM saved Bond from fizzling out in the 70s like so many spy franchises already had done.

Martin Campbell: the greatest hits approach of Goldeneye saved Bond in the 90s as surely as Rick Sylvester’s Union Jack parachute saved him in the 70s.

I think I need to stop now!:nerd_face:

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Maybe for me it is the (over)familiarity of the characterization that makes it feel two-dimensional. Film history is rife with examples of the “darkening” of the male protagonist in order to demonstrate previously unexamined depths/emotions (and, thereby, keeping the male experience center screen). Post-WWII Hollywood films specialized in this as the leading men of the 1930’s went serious, e.g. Jimmy Stewart in Anthony Mann Westerns. This fatigue could also be the result of my being a queer spectator who experiences less identification with/sympathy for heterosexual male protagonists as they discover remorse (these are adult versions of the kids who bullied and ostracized me in grammar and high schools when remorse definitely was not on the menu, but should have been). The new sensitive/brooding male is not so new, and seems to be turning up with greater frequency of late, e.g., several reviews of Season 3 of TRUE DETECTIVE point out that in the #MeToo era, we now are overrun with a rash of male protagonists wondering about their past behaviors and present anomie. In one of the current episodes, there is even a visitation where the vision asks: “Did you confuse reacting with feeling? Did you mistake compulsion for freedom?” In today’s world, the lag time between new approach and its parodying is dwindling rapidly.

I (along with many others I believe) want to see what is beyond this “new male” (who has been around in various iterations for decades). SPECTRE was fascinating because Bond was an extreme victim of upbringing/training–he was the assassin as automaton ensnared in competing tentacles of control—MI6 and Spectre–the ne plus ultra example of how to produce toxic masculinity. Craig’s performance is great as he plays an automaton surface against an inner autonomy struggling for expression. What I am curious about is whether Bond 25 can build on this or will fall back on previous ways of conceptualizing male protagonists–especially ones who are government assassins.

I think it is also direction in the case of SPECTRE, particularly Mendes deployment of space. The visuals have room to breathe (so to speak) and so does Craig as an actor within the role.

In other films, the writing takes the lead as you note. For example, from TSWLM to AVTAK, the role of Bond was admirably tailored to Moore. He did not challenge the conception nor did it require him to stretch–he was Commander Bond: all he had to do was age. In Connery’s case, the writing provided a consistent Bond template from GOLDFINGER through YOLT, yet in YOLT Connery’s performance is tired, as if he can no longer be bothered to inhabit the character (hence the liberating feel of DAF Bond, which is conceived in a different key, though one which was a dead end as I have noted before). Maybe what we need is an animated feature: “James Bond in the Multiverse” where Never-Ending Cruise Bond can meet Retirement Home Bond and One-Shot Bond and Brooding Bonds #1 and #2 and Keep the Franchise Going Bond.

Peter Hunt. The train fight in FRWL set the template for all the action films that followed. That it still stands up now says it all.


It’s this. You’ve brought up Bonds heterosexuality in CR every time you’ve mentioned it in the discussion, so it’s clearly not far from your mind in your issues with the film. You are right, it is very much a heterosexual male view, and it screams through most in the elements that are closest to the source - a book written by a man terrified by his impending marriage. The film does try to move it from Bond’s disdain of women, to a general difficulty with people as a whole (trivia note; that is Mark Gatiss favourite element of the film, the idea that Bond has some sort of emotional disorder) but how much it succeeds in that is certainly open for interpretation.


Yep, but it’s only meant as a bit of cheery fun. I doubt anything scientific should come of it.


John Barry: Thunderball

Shirley Bassey: Moonraker

John Glen: The Living Daylights

I rather like that idea–as if the maturation of an assassin starts with finding a person who has difficulty with one segment of humanity and then works to expand it to others, until the assassin has problems with everybody. SPECTRE then becomes the film where Bond meets someone with whom he has less of a problem or whom he doesn’t want to have a problem with at all, and such a desire/reaction disrupts his training/wiring. As to CR’s success in broadening the disdain: next time I watch the film, I will keep this effort in mind. For now, I would say that any efforts to accomplish this sit side-by-side with the film’s attempt to generate sympathy for Bond, the success of which may depend on the positionality of the spectator.

I would be curious/grateful if heterosexual members would not mind commenting on how their heterosexuality inflects their experiences of Bond (film and prose), and particularly their responses to Craig’s performances. Sexuality/gender is a viewership lens every person has, and yet I often find that it is people on the fringes who speak about how it operates in their aesthetics, while those closer to societal norms tend to remain silent and/or adopt a universal/objective approach. In other words, if as Orion notes I “have issues” with CR, is it that my queer aesthetic interferes with an appreciation of something in the film that is universal/objective, or that the film plays to heterosexualist sympathies/tendencies/inclinations, which behavior facilitates the emergence of identification/sympathy/enjoyment.



Connery: Thunderball (effortlessly cool and confident)

Lazenby: Well, you know

Moore: The Man with the Golden Gun (not as stiff as the first outing, established several of his Moore-isms)

Dalton: The Living Daylights (the essence of Fleming’s Bond)

Brosnan: Tomorrow Never Dies (easily)

Craig: Casino Royale (less forced comedy, ruthless)

Some wildcards in there, for sure!

This is a fascinating question!
As a hetrosexual viewing Bond, I have always been struck by the subversion of the male gaze in Connerys films and the parralel subversion during Craig’s tenure. As a teenager discovering my sexual desires, I was heavily influenced by Connerys Bond. I loved watching Moore and Dalton in the cinema but Connery informed how I presented myself, possibly because of the subversion. Connery is the object of desire in his movies ( the torso is constantly out on display) and showed me the way to be attractive to women was to look as appealing as possible by carrying oneself confidently. Moore, from the beginning was not as deft a physical specimen as Connery so his films returned to a male gaze where the women were lingered on and arguably objectified. As a hetrosexual teenager these movies titillated certainly but the ladies were forgettable, I remember clearly the ladies in the Connery cannon.
Bond in the novels carry a peculiar British type of repression in them Flemming wanted to create a Byron figure, a romantic ideal, but his prejudices and insecurities created someone more interesting.
The books informed my sexual predilections, I found that I found women more attractive who were Bondian. Beautiful but unconventional who looked as if they would cut their own hair ( if that makes any sense)
Moores movies were like those sea side naughty postcards, or the Carry On movies , or the At Trinian’s naughty school girl model.
Dalton looked a bit messy so as young teenager after Connerys schooling he held no appeal as a teacher of masculinity.
Brosnan, they fudged and all his Bonds blend into one.
Craig did something different, he is appealing and confident enough to allow his Bond to be objectified but I think combined that with Flemming’s fractured hetrosexual Book Bond identity to become the most, imo , relatable Bond to me as modern hetrosexual man.


Back to the game…
John Barry - OHMSS
Martin Grace- Octopussy
Bernard Lee - From Russia with Love
Lois Maxwell - Thunderball

John Barry: too hard to decide - I consider all of his Bond scores masterpieces. Yes, even TMWTGG.


The pianola version of The TMWTGG theme is a masterpiece.

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