You Only Live Nice

One’s considerable capacity for being a miserable old sausage teetering from having been a convenient, lazy pose to bait others, into becoming a worryingly true characteristic, and conscious of such dour times for us all, I reflect upon whether even the five least favourite Bond films of m’acquaintance surely have something positive to say about them. Accordingly, this thread is solely about being nice. Kind might be a stretch, but let’s see. I suppose it also “reveals” my notional bottom five and whilst there are reasons for them being there from which I doubt I will be shaken, s’not the place.

Die Another Day - it’s tremendously colourful and much of the design of it is bulletproof.

Licence to Kill - the barefoot skiing stunt is great, and seems to pass underappreciated amongst the annals of Big Bond Stunts which is odd as it’s one of the few that actually has a continued bearing on the story, rather than just being done to show off.

Spectre - the sequence from Bond’s arrival at the funeral to the point he shoots the goons at the Villa of the widow Sciarra is good fun, stylishly done. Daniel Craig is James Bond.

Never Say Never Again - Fatima Blush. Basically.

Diamonds are Forever - the majority of its jokes work. The payoff of the smelling a rat quip - about an hour between the cracked aftershave/pipe in the desert/literally encountering said rodent, and the eventual death of Wint - is fantastically confident scripting.

[That the inclusion of Never Say Never Again suggests I rate these five lower than the Niven Casino Royale is not a suggestion, but a fact. But that’s another story].

So, be nice. All of them must have something… surely?


AVTAK: Great PTS. Got a great reception in the ski town where I live - so raucous, in fact, that I didn’t even hear the California Girls cue the first time (I’m one of those sick, pathetic few who don’t mind it). The Paris scenes were wonderful - it’s only too bad they were over-used in the promos.

LTK is like something Fleming himself would have written (and actually did, under separate cover). The scenes and characters lifted from the source material were the highlights of the film.

FRWL: The one I come back to when I’ve had enough of spectacle and glamour, and would like a little grittiness and genuine suspense without resorting to Michael Caine.

CR 67: I actually came to appreciate (about half of) this one in that dry spell between LTK and GE. My pirate copy is about one hour long and doesn’t make any more sense, but the pacing is more brisk.

TWINE: Two cool movies here;a tense character drama requiring very few action scenes, and a series of slam-bang action set-pieces requiring little context.

As a bonus I’ll mention MR, which I looked forward to enthusiastically and adored upon release. I still enjoy the scenes in Rio and the Tiperape boat chase. Interesting to watch a film set “fifteen minutes in the future” go from science fiction to quaintly obsolete without ever really having a period of relevance in between.


My first hurdle here is actually making my mind up about the bottom five. My appreciation of the Bond films ranges from huge excitement to mild dislike but I don’t as a habit rate them in charts.

What immediately springs to mind is DIE ANOTHER DAY’s brilliant fencing duel till ‘the first blood torn from the torso’ - YAAAY, this is Bond returning to his punk rock roots, to the days he was touring as roady with the Sex Pistols and trashing hotel rooms with Keith Richards (the real-life Doctor Who)! This is pirate Bond fighting on the deck of HM Rule Britannia against the establishment. Might as well have been staged at Buckingham Palace with a distinct shape in the background applauding. Great fun.

SPECTRE in turn has some splendidly surreal imagery, the costumed Bond, the crumbling buildings, the train stop in the middle of nowhere, Lucia’s house haunted by armed ghosts. The most subtle one perhaps Bond watching a figure at the burial from a distance that’s actually looking somehow familiar. Makes me wonder if Craig should maybe have played both parts. I like that particular bizarreness about the film.

The charming thing about THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is no doubt Christopher Lee’s Scaramanga. He’s evidently lacking a couple of gears in the ethics department. And ‘creating a piece of art by killing 007’ seems like taking the freedom of art a wee bit far. But overall I find him to be the more likeable character compared to a Bond who hasn’t qualms about beating up women. Bond justifying himself that he only kills those his government tells him to sounds at least hollow - Bond denying his adversary the gentleman monicker comes across as petty on that particular occasion while Scaramanga displays good-humoured grandeur. The more often I watch this film the more I feel Lee is its star and main attraction.

LICENCE TO KILL, a longtime favourite of mine, has aged much better in memory than it did in real life, as I found to my chagrin after a recent revisit. The thing that still keeps up, against all odds and along with the stunt Jim mentions above and the source material @AMC_Hornet mentions rightfully, to me is the winking fish. Bond in a nutshell - or a fish’s scale as ‘tis.

Finally, THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH. There are actually plenty of good elements here that sadly end up to be less than their sum in the film.
One particular item that never fails to amuse me is how Bond gets out of that Bilbao building, improvising an abseil brake with a goon as counterweight. The film has other moments (and interesting if perhaps undervalued characters) too. But here it’s relying on a neat, if ludicrous, bit of make-do-with-what-we-have.


I am ashamed to like, even love all Bond films, so I’m a notorious apologizer for all their faults (which I do see but shrug off, like a guy intoxicated by a dubious femme fatale).

But my five candidates I especially have to see the great things in while not completely embracing all of their quirks are:

  • THUNDERBALL: It’s so epic and sunny, and it takes its time, does not let anybody rush the story forward, always making me remember the sublime laziness of a hot afternoon at a beach, with my mind drifting away, while looking out at the water. (Sorry, all TB fans, leading my list with this will certainly endear me to you. But I wanted to be honest.)

  • A VIEW TO A KILL: It is just so confident in not offering anything special, taking its time (like THUNDERBALL) to do what it feels it needs to do, throwing in Christopher Walken and Grace Jones almost threatens to disturb the peaceful fulfilling of the obligatory expectations of a Bond film, while still managing to submerge Walken and Jones within all its conventions - and, on top of it - making me not question why Sir Roger does look slightly different than ever before, like a lounge singer copy or the stunt double which came out of retirement under the condition not to do any stunts himself.

  • THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH: Of course, I love the PTS. “I never miss”. And the double entendre about Christmas which is considered as grossly sexual by those, obviously, who forgot about delving into treasures or attempts at re-entry - or appealing to a lesbian´s motherly instincts. Apart from that, one must always be thankful for TWINE being a trial run for SKYFALL. Or disappointed by that, depending on how you like the latter.

  • DIE ANOTHER DAY: I actually enjoy the film start to finish - although, wait, that’s not true. The last scene (“be so good when you’re so bad” or, I don’t know “be best”?) is such a let down after the Christmas joke in the predecessor. But still, hey, the whole film actually is YOLT-like over the top, stringing ideas together, throwing everything at the concept wall, not waiting to see what sticks but making it stick, no matter whether the money or time for decent effects suffice. Again - it has confidence. Which I like most about it. Like a presentation at a huge family anniversary which just has no chance at being not embarrassing but works because everybody just stays until the end, laughing at all the right and wrong places, acknowledging that… well, who knows when we will all be together again.

  • “CASINO ROYALE”: GASP! How can I not completely enjoy this second coming of Ian Fleming? Well, its stop-and-go-pacing, with the most horrible dialogue scene (“You’re more of a man in your little finger”) - yeah, that one must definitely be written by Paul “Crash” Haggis. - But I love the PTS (again), I love the train scene (not the shower scene because, again, sucking blood from someone’s fingers, even if it is imaginary blood, is supposed to be touching and lovable… and not coming off like a tired vampire´s effort?) and I love that Craig forever destroys the idea of Bond having to be tall, dark and conventionally handsome, opening up the door for more than just mannequins to step into the role.

image image


One of the all time best movie endings ever. The left one.


I like all the movies but have to single some out for the sake of the thread. I hope they forgive me:

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER - Hilarious dialogue and fun villains. Gray is excellent, and Wint and Kidd are underrated. They surely have one of the best musical cues in history for hired help.

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY - The reference to Tracy during the pre-title sequence. The soundtrack is full of personality, and the St Cyril’s climb is suspenseful.

A VIEW TO A KILL - Zorin and May Day are a great combination, and so are Bond and Tibbett. The title song rocks. Oh, and I can’t forget California Girls!

THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH - The Q boat, the title song (my favourite from this era), Desmond’s last performance and “I never miss”. The pipeline sequence is also worth mentioning.

QUANTUM OF SOLACE - The car chase, the opera sequence, the title cards and Mathis’ death. I’ve always thought “if this is as ‘bad’ as the Craig era gets, it’s been a good run.”


Yes I do love all Bond movies and do apologise for their shortcomings and will happily watch them randomly on TV even though I may watched the blu ray only a week prior… We all are guilty of this.
Of the five I enjoy least.

Die Another Day
Hardest first. It did have an outstanding post PTS scene in the hotel, bare chested bearded brilliant swagger and it introduced the world to Rosamund Pike, surely one of the best actors to come from a Bond movie.

The World is Not Enough
My favourite theme song since probably TSWLM. PTS sequence is great fun and I really enjoy Sophie Marceau as the villain.

The Man With The Golden Gun
Christopher Lee ! Brilliant fight with a sumo wrestler, one of my absolute favourite MooreBond suits, the Olive pinstripe still gorgeous today, and hey without it we wouldn’t have Skyfall.

You Only Live Twice
“You forget I took a first at Cambridge” … The script has some cracking one liners and Donald Pleasance is iconic for a reason. I also have a soft spot for Little Nellie.

Moore’s performance as Bond is arguably his best. There is a wonderful melancholy just behind the smile which I enjoy. It’s beautiful to look at and I enjoy the jungle chase emmensely.


My god yes! Brilliant actress!!

Though you can say that of most of DAD’s cast - it’s an ensemble many would kill for today.


Very true!

Lewis Gilbert is one of my favourite Bond directors and You Only Live Twice is a movie I need to familiarise myself with again. I prefer the book, and while the movie is a completely different beast I’m happy to embrace it. The score and cinematography are among the very best. Little Nellie is iconic, as well as the volcano base and Blofeld. I admit Connery isn’t as engaged as previous films, but I find there’s plenty going on to compensate for that.


Die Another Day