Rating the Bond Films

Here’s how I’d rank the James Bond films, from best to worst:

Here’s how I’d rank the James Bond films, from best to worst:

  1. Goldfinger (1964)
  2. From Russia With Love (1963)
  3. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
  4. Dr. No (1962)
  5. GoldenEye (1995)
  6. Live And Let Die (1973)
  7. Casino Royale (2006)
  8. Octopussy (1983)
  9. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
  10. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
  11. You Only Live Twice (1967)
  12. Thunderball (1965) and Never Say Never Again (1983), which are basically the same movie
  13. The World is Not Enough (1999)
  14. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
  15. Die Another Day (2002)
  16. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
  17. The Living Daylights (1987)
  18. Moonraker (1979)
  19. A View to a Kill (1985)

I haven’t seen enough of License to Kill (1989) or Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) to have an opinion of them. (Honestly, I barely remember The Living Daylights, either.)

Specific rankings might change depending on my mood. I would say that Dr. No and above are the great Bond films, The World is Not Enough and above are the good Bond films, and the rest are the bad Bond films.

The high ranking of the Connery films and low ranking of the Brosnan films are more a reflection of the scripts than the actors.

I admit it: I like The Spy Who Loved Me. It’s an incredibly cheesy, campy film, but that’s actually part of its appeal. Somehow it’s so ludicrous that it’s actually entertaining because of, rather than in spite of, its failings.

A lot of people really seem to hate Octopussy. I think it’s a decent run-of-the-mill Bond film. It’s really not much worse than – or much different from – Live and Let Die. But for my money, the best Moore film is For Your Eyes Only, which not only has the best opening sequence of the whole series, but is the one Moore film which is basically played as a straight adventure, rather than a silly piece of camp or with a completely ridiculous plot.

12 thoughts on “Rating the Bond Films”

  1. When was the last time you watched Dr. No? I ask because I watched it and From Russia With Love over the weekend. They’re like night and day. Dr. No is not particularly good. In fact, there are parts near the beginning that aren’t good at all. The recent Casino Royale is much better. From Russia With Love, however, is damn fine. (I watched it last night.)

    I’m reading the Bond novels for the first time, and am watching the series again for the third time (though I’ve never made it past mid-Roger Moore — I think Octopussy is the latest I’ve ever gone in the series).

  2. I saw Dr. No at least once a year ago on SpikeTV. I don’t think it’s as good as its two successors, but I still like it a lot. Putting aside some of the quirks due to not having gotten down the Bond “formula”, I think Connery does a terrific job as Bond, as do Jack Lord as Leiter and John Kitzmiller as Quarrel. The plot is no less sensical (maybe even more sensical) than many other Bond films.

    Looking at my list again, I could see slipping it two – or even three – places on the list depending on my mood, but I’d certainly rate it higher than Octopussy or anything below that one.

  3. In case you didn’t already know, there’s a long legal battle behind why Thunderball and Never Say Never Again are alternate-universe versions of the same movie.


    I think Goldeneye is the best of the “modern” Bond films – the opening sequence is superb, and the tank chase is silly but well done. On some days, I’d class it as a great Bond film.

    Tomorrow Never Dies has Michelle Yeoh sharing the stunt/action work, which is enough to save it from the bad Bond category, but only just.

    The World Is Not Enough has Denise Richards, which is enough to dump it into the bad Bond category unless you mute all her lines :

  4. Oh yes, I’m well aware of the legal battles surrounding Thunderball and Never Say Never Again. For that matter, Thunderball was apparently originally slated to be the first Bond film, but the co-author’s objections prevented that from happening.

  5. Oh, and having just seen Casino Royale, I’d put it up there with Goldeneye – I was very impressed. In particular, the parcouer/free-running sequence was extremely cool, largely because as soon as I saw the guy’s name I knew that most of the stunts were “real” (i.e. no CGI, wires, etc., but people actually jumping twenty feet onto girders, free-climbing I-beams and cranes, and diving through windows onto rooftops).

    Check out http://www.parkour.com/pk/homepage.htm for more of his stuff.

  6. I’m watching Goldfinger right now. I’ve seen it many times before, and never had fond memories of it. It’s just as I remembered. I plan to watch all of the films in order. So far, my order is: From Russia with Love (by a long way), Dr. No, and Goldfinger. I’ll update the list as I watch more.

  7. You Only Live Twice starts in promising fashion, but it quickly devolves into a truly bad film. I almost stopped watching. Ugh. Next up: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Then the campy (but fun) Diamonds are Forever (which I may end up hating — haven’t seen it since high school).

  8. I’m mid-way through the Moore era. I like him and I don’t. He’s a great Bond in social situations, but man does he stink in fights. He’s a prissy boy and his fighting is unconvincing.

    Also, we saw Casino Royale last night. The second time for me, the first time for Kris. “That was much better than the other Bond films,” Kris told me. She actually liked it. For my part, I found it much, much better than any of the other Bond films we’ve watched so far, too. Only From Russia With Love can compete. There’s no way that, for example, Live and Let Die can be held in the same league.

    It’s be a couple weeks before I get my Moore-era review up at foldedspace, but you can count on intermittent updates here. 🙂

  9. My Moore-era Bond entry is scheduled to be up sometime in the next hour. I didn’t enjoy these films as much as I did the Connery films. (I provide a numerical difference between the two eras, but it doesn’t truly reflect how much more I enjoy the Connery Bond.)

    I agree that Octopussy is better than most people say. It’s a little disjointed, and suffers from a lot of the nonsensical stuff present in most Bonds from 1967-1985, but other than that it’s not bad. The acting is *generally* better than in most Bonds. I expected to hate View to a Kill, which I’d never seen before, but actually quite liked the underlying story and the departure — at last — from “comic bookiness”. There are some definite problems with it though.

    On to the Brosnan era!

  10. Hmm, that’s very interesting: I haven’t seen A View to A Kill since it came out, but my recollection is that it’s the worst of all the Bond films (which is why I haven’t seen it since it came out).

    As I said, I think For Your Eyes Only is the best Moore film, and one of the best of the series overall.

    Having just finished reading Charles Stross‘ novel The Jennifer Morgue (review forthcoming), with his afterword on the James Bond novels, films, and “phenomenon”, I have further thoughts on why I enjoyed but was not blown away by Casino Royale. I may write those thoughts up sometime soon.

  11. Okay, now that I’ve adjusted to Dalton, I *like* him. His Bond is very, very different. He’s softer and blends into the film more than Moore or Connery. In fact, during The Living Daylights, you could almost call him a softie. I had a rough time getting into that film, but I found the latter half quite good. And it had a GOOD Bond woman (not perfect, but good). About fucking time.

    I’m watching License to Kill at the moment. It’s the best Bond in years.

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