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 How many Bond films are great films in their own right?

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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 2:14 am

In the aftermath of Skyfall, I've been pondering how many Bond films stand up well outside the series.

From Russia With Love is the most obvious contender for greatness. I think it is an outstanding film regardless of its Bond pedigree. However, while I'm very fond of Bond films such as Diamonds Are Forever, I can't pretend they're great films as such. Now I'm wondering if Skyfall may be another contender. I'm loath to commit myself until I've seen it again, but it only got stronger the second time around, the reverse of my experience with most films.

Is there anyone here able to view the Bond films objectively? How many of them have been truly great films? Make your case.

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The White Tuxedo
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 6:51 am

I would say at least FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE and..... I'll prepare to dodge bullets..... GOLDFINGER.

This is actually something I've thought of, and FRWL is an obvious choice. I recall starting a thread years back that pitted it against NORTH BY NORTHWEST, though I would hold that NBNW is a superior film.

GOLDFINGER seems to be pretty unpopular. I remember you, Ambler, calling it something like "the first Disney Bond film". Granted it's a lot more tongue-in-cheek, but I think it's a well-polished escapist adventure action movie, even if it doesn't have as much going on upstairs as FRWL.

I think OHMSS comes close as well. Another unpopular view here is that it needed a different Bond actor. I think that with a really grounded leading man who could deliver the emotional goods (as well just being a good actor who could hold his own with Diana Rigg) this film could have really soared.

Would I call any of them of "great films"? Like, really, really great? I'm not too sure on that. But in terms of standing up on their own outside of the Bond series? Maybe.

EDIT: Mankie even brings up Disney when talking about GOLDFINGER: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uxOJUvxC6hE&feature=g-u-u

laugh
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 9:51 am

Erica Ambler wrote:
In the aftermath of Skyfall, I've been pondering how many Bond films stand up well outside the series.

From Russia With Love is the most obvious contender for greatness. I think it is an outstanding film regardless of its Bond pedigree. However, while I'm very fond of Bond films such as Diamonds Are Forever, I can't pretend they're great films as such. Now I'm wondering if Skyfall may be another contender. I'm loath to commit myself until I've seen it again, but it only got stronger the second time around, the reverse of my experience with most films.

Is there anyone here able to view the Bond films objectively? How many of them have been truly great films? Make your case.


By your definition, I think only FRWL qualifies. I love DN and TB too, but I'm not sure they hold up as well outside of the Bond series. Though I would argue that TB is closer than DN.
The brooding atmosphere makes up for much of the excess camp.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:03 am

Funny that Terence Young made the best Bond films yet by all accounts the rest of his work isn't worth seeing.

I should add that the only non-Bond work I've seen is The Jigsaw Man. It's a stinker, but that may be because the producers ran out of money before shooting had been completed.
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The White Tuxedo
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:05 am

WAIT UNTIL DARK is apparently pretty good, though I've not seen it.
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Largo's Shark
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:07 am

WAIT UNTIL DARK is very good. One of Mancini's most thrilling scores (using two pianos - with one detuned by a quartertone, plus putty, pins and staples stuck to the strings) and Audrey Hepburn at her most vulnerable, though Alan Arkin steals the show.

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The White Tuxedo
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:15 am

Largo's Shark wrote:
though Alan Arkin steals the show.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eExsLq8DPFc#t=1m34s

Off topic I know.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 10:29 am

Can't stand Hepburn, but the score sounds interesting. I'll put it ahead of Inchon on my list.
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 11:42 am

The White Tuxedo wrote:
WAIT UNTIL DARK is apparently pretty good, though I've not seen it.

We tried to watch it last week and I just couldn't get through it, even with talent like Arkin and Crenna. Lasted maybe 40min; my wife saw the rest of it the next day and thought it passable at best.

For me FRWL is the only great Bond movie, because I find myself fully engaged every time. Not just amused or entertained, but the whole ride of emotions, veering from the wacky joy of the Gypsy camp fight to Kerim's death and the Bond/Grant faceoff.
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 12:10 pm

I've seen the first ten minutes of INCHON, but didn't really get into the rest (and Young disowned it I think). It even has Gabriele Ferzetti, Peter Burton and Anthony Dawson. Here it is:

Note: There has never been a home video release, so this might be your only chance to see it, whatever that's worth.

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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Wed Nov 07, 2012 1:55 pm

Erica Ambler wrote:
Can't stand Hepburn, but the score sounds interesting. I'll put it ahead of Inchon on my list.

That was my stance, but she won me over a little in SABRINA.
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hegottheboot
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Sat Nov 10, 2012 8:53 pm

Erica Ambler wrote:
Can't stand Hepburn
Is that even humanly possible?

I too have tried to get through Inchon online and gave up. Need to see Wait After Dark but feel that for the most part I might be interested in Young's earlier work.

This topic question is one I've often wondered about. The Bonds are critically dismissed with only the Connery era gaining any sort of notice if at all. And it is a disservice because all of these are quality films, and certainly of merit despite some of their respective flaws. And of course, I spent my film school thesis defending 007. (Certainly threw them for a loop. You all should have seen my PhD Professor when I, the classical film encyclopedia die hard announced and presented my 007 thesis.) I rank them as Bond films, but when discussing their general merit as films to be studied critically, for the most part they are all 3.5 out of 4 star rated films, films that rise above the general competition and always have that extra spark of imagination.

Personally I rank the 60's films, LALD, TSWLM and TLD as four stars which is my highest normal ranking. Those that could truly be considered great are the timeless masterpieces that are worthy of a special designation much like Ebert's "Great Movies" designation. This is the sort of model I use when writing reviews for my personal blog, under the title of "immortal films".
To be really nitpicky, the top three for this are FRWL, GF and OHMSS. Personally I would include Dr. No which is a damn fine film, sets up everything brilliantly, is a taut thriller that breaks all kinds of new ground and is part of the two-fisted Young style that established Bond on-screen. Then you could and probably should add Thunderball which was the biggest of the initial films and still maintained the young presence, the classic star and a serious tone amidst the island swagger and overbloatedness.

So in my book, the great films are: Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Though I could easily make a case and would for YOLT, LALD and TLD.
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Sat Nov 10, 2012 9:57 pm

All the 60's are the shit.

All the other Bonds are shit, except Spy and Casino Royale.
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:33 am

hegottheboot wrote:
To be really nitpicky, the top three for this are FRWL, GF and OHMSS. Personally I would include Dr. No which is a damn fine film, sets up everything brilliantly, is a taut thriller that breaks all kinds of new ground and is part of the two-fisted Young style that established Bond on-screen.

Yes! I agree DR. NO is a must inclusion as "great in it's own right". It's lean, mean, raw, dark funny ("they were just on their way to a funeral"), dripping with atmosphere (you can nearly taste the sweat). Bond's shooting of Professor Dent, this is Bond before what Ambler would call his "Disneyfication". It's also (save for some of the music and Quarrel and Honey fretting over the "dragon") very sleek and modern. If this had been the only Bond film, it would still be a classic.


Last edited by free_mo on Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:37 am; edited 1 time in total
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:36 am

Who is this Amber? She sounds like a hot chick.
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free_mo
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:38 am

Erica Ambler wrote:
Who is this Amber? She sounds like a hot chick.

Ha! Was editting my post just as you typed that. Sorry.
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Erica Ambler
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PostSubject: Re: How many Bond films are great films in their own right?   Thu Nov 15, 2012 9:42 am

No problem. We're free and easy here. Have you met Rave?

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