Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Best and Worst Bond Films

by Ollie Velasco

Last Friday (5th October) marked the 50th anniversary of the UK release of the very first Bond film, Dr. No. Despite the original novel (the sixth in Ian Fleming’s Bond series) having being slated by many critics and despite the fact that Fleming himself hated the film version, it proved commercially lucrative in its own right and also the first of a very successful Bond franchise. Over the ensuing half century, we have been blessed with over twenty more films based on the British superspy. Here is my opinion of the best and worst of them.
Best Bond Film:
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
If you ask any respectable Bond fan what the best Bond movie is, the answer you will most likely hear is OHMSS. 'Huh?' True,it is a close call for the Number 1 spot --- but allow me to explain:
                                                                                                                                                              The Music: For a start, the theme song for this film isn’t a song at all, but rather a brilliant orchestral piece written by the late great Bond veteran John Barry, and it effortlessly captures everything we know and love about James Bond into one composition. A second piece of music is also prominent during the film – ‘We Have All the Time in the World’, the last recorded song sung by Louis Armstrong, his gravelly voice making it instantly memorable.

George Lazenby as James Bond
The Actor: George Lazenby often gets a lot of stick for his performance as Bond. However, when you consider Lazenby’s situation it is hard to criticize him much. Though the Australian model, who had never acted before, got his role partly through his sheer determination, the producers must have like something about his portrayal of Bond. Reports surfaced recently after the release of the film that Lazenby didn’t get on well with the director, who was disappointed with not having Sean Connery. In fact, Connery was used frequently as a benchmark against which to compare Lazenby, with Lazenby even being told to copy how his predecessor acted. Given all this pressure on him and the fact that he really wasn’t that bad as an actor, a lot of the criticism he received seems invalid to me. He brought a more human element to Bond; he pushed the character forward in a way that only Daniel Craig has ever really attempted to match.  
The Action: A fight on a beach, a bullet-dodging ski chase, a grenade/bobsled battle and a helicopter-attack-on -mountain-base means you’re not really going to be bored watching this film. Unless you’re Chuck Norris.
The Story: The Bond film most faithful to its original book version, OHMSS is also the only Bond film ever to induce any kind of emotional response from the viewer. The ending is unexpected and tearful and the love between Bond and his (spoiler alert!) wife Teresa is meaningful and deep. OHMSS could quite easily stand on its own, separate from the rest of the franchise, as a brilliant piece of cinema.

Worst Bond Film:
Octopussy: James Bond in clown costume
Exotic locations, beautiful women and some good stunts. Oh and Roger Moore doing a Tarzan shout whilst being chased in a jungle. And also dressing up as both a clown and a gorilla. Seriously?
At least they didn’t try and include the film’s title in the theme song.


  1. Personally, I prefer the Connery Bonds, but an interesting article.

    Little known fact: Michaela Clavell, daughter of James Clavell, the author and film director, (who was an Old Portmuthian)portrayed Penelope Smallbone in Octopussy.

    John Sadden, School Archivist

  2. OHMSS is regarded as one of JB's best bond scores and soundtracks. John was very clever at using musical instruments in his arrangements not usually found amongst the common orchestra and for this piece he introduced the electronic synthesiser. Clearly evident after the first couple of bars.


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