July 02, 2012

Hube's James Bond Bests (and Worsts)

After watching several Bond flicks this weekend (Casino Royale, Tomorrow Never Dies, For Your Eyes Only) my creative "list" juices got flowing. I absolutely love James Bond films; I rarely will change the channel when one is on. And so -- because nobody demanded it -- here's Hube's list of Bond Best (and Worsts)!

Of course, the list could be much longer, but we got a lot to cover here, natch. Hube's judgment doesn't include just physical hotness, mind you, but an overall combination of beauty, sexiness, strength, and brains.

#5. Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997). Admit it -- you craved seeing Yeoh in something skimpier than that silver sequined dress at Elliot Carver's big celebration. But what makes Yeoh so damn attractive is that she can kick Bond's ass, let alone just about any other dude she comes across!

#4. Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore (Goldfinger, 1964). I wasn't aware that she preceded another Bond girl, Diana Rigg, as the female lead in Britain's "The Avengers" TV series. Blackman is tough, smart, and sexy as all hell (her husky voice can melt a dude in mere seconds). Oh, and she's a pilot, too.

#3. Claudine Auger as Domino Derval (Thunderball, 1965). It was quite a step down when the unauthorized 1983 remake of this flick -- Never Say Never Again featuring the "comeback" of Sean Connery -- assigned Kim Basinger as the female lead. Auger's beauty is virtually unsurpassed -- my God just look at those eyes! -- and she made an otherwise so-so flick oh-so watchable.

#2. Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only, 1981). Absolutely the greatest natural beauty of any Bond girl, she was also tough as nails: She came from money, but that didn't stop her from going after some of the baddest asses in the underworld for the murder of her parents. She also saved 007's ass, too, by the way.

#1. Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier (Licence to Kill, 1989). I know I'm gonna get grief for this pick, but only Lowell rivals Bouquet for the top spot in natural beauty. But Lowell possesses that rough-edged American charm ... not to mention she's a CIA operative. After she cuts her hair in Licence and puts on that shiny silver gown ... whoa. Not to mention, check out the outfit she has on when Wayne Newton's character tries to make the moves on her!

Without a doubt it's Hugo Drax's brainchild of eradicating all humans on Earth and replacing them with his hand-picked genetically perfect specimens. (Moonraker, 1979.) Drax, before being offed by 007, managed to launch a trio of poison-carrying modules, each capable of killing 100 million people. But Bond's marksmanship saves the day, natch.

Without a doubt it's Hugo Drax's brainchild of eradicating all humans on Earth and replacing them with his hand-picked genetically perfect specimens. (Moonraker, 1979.) I mean, really -- how would Drax manage to employ hundreds -- thousands -- of workers, most of whom would have to be aware, even marginally, of his nefarious plot? C'mon -- building a massive, radar-proof space station? Building a space shuttle launch base ... in the Amazon River Basin?? And hey, if Jaws could figure out that he'd have no place in Drax's new world order, why the hell didn't all the other genetically imperfect employees inhabiting the space station?

Without a doubt, it's Casino Royale's (2006) romp through the Madagascar construction site. And it's "merely" a foot chase. In case you're wondering, the dude Bond pursues is named Mollaka, and his skill is called "parkour running." What Bond lacks of this skill he more than makes up for in brains -- he analyzes every situation instantly during the chase and uses it to his advantage. (Need to descend quickly? No worries -- just hop on the hydraulic scaffold and hack off the hydraulic tubing!) Not to mention Mollaka can't come close to 007's fighting prowess, natch.

Definitely Casino Royale. Chris Cornell's powerful vocals in the song "You Know My Name" alongside way-cool playing card-style graphics of 007 fighting bad guys can't be beat. And you know the babes were swooning at the conclusion -- the slow approach of the new Bond, Daniel Craig, vacillating between all-black and vivid color.

One of the first is still the coolest: The Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger. What wasn't to love about such a car in the mid-1960s? Machine gun fog lights? Check. Oil slick? Check. Passenger ejector seat? Oh yes.

Casino Royale's for several reasons. One, it's the only James Bond opening sequence done in black and white. The cinematography is perfect. Two, it details the very beginnings of James Bond as a double-oh. Third, the action is brutal and incredibly realistic. And lastly, the sequence's conclusion leads into the best song/intro in Bond history (see above).

#5. Hugo Drax (Moonraker, 1979). Masterfully portrayed by French actor Michael Lonsdale in an otherwise cheeky film, Drax had the most ambitious bad guy scheme ever: the death of every person on the planet (see above). Drax coolly dispatched of anyone who f***ed him over (like calmly snapping his fingers to release a pair of dobermans to tear apart a former female aide who had assisted Bond) and never lost his cool until the film's climax, when he merely raised his voice to reprimand fellow bad guy Jaws in his orbiting space station.

#4. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977; Moonraker, 1979). The giant with the cobalt choppers was essentially turned into comic relief in his second outing, but you know he freaked you out back in those halcyon days of the late 70s!

#3. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger, 1964.) "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE!" 'Nuff said. He employed babes (Pussy Galore, see above) and bad-ass enforcers (the razor-edged hat throwing Oddjob, who just missed this list), and devised far-out nefarious schemes (robbing Fort Knox). Oh, and he "neatly compacted" two agents inside their car. And almost lasered off Bond's private parts.

#2. Franz Sanchez (Licence to Kill, 1989). Sanchez didn't mastermind any diabolical conquering schemes; he was "just" a drug kingpin whom Bond's CIA cohort, Felix Leiter, happened to royally piss off. So, Sanchez kills Felix's new bride, and feeds Felix to a shark. Bond resigns from the service to get vengeance, and through a wacky twist of fate, lands in the drug lord's confidence. Masterfully portrayed by Robert Davi, he perfectly embodies Scarface-ish sociopathy and fierce loyalty.

#1. Le Chiffre (Casino Royale, 2006). Mads Mikkelson is creepily sensational as the terrorist who makes millions in the stock market by having underlings commit assorted acts of terror. He's also a mathematical genius, smoking opponents in high stakes card games. But if you start to get the better of him, he'll have your drink poisoned ... or even better, he'll tie you to a chair with the bottom cut out, and then smash your balls to jello.

#5. Jaws surviving everything. He lives through a cable car smashing through a massive concrete building. He survives falling into a circus without a parachute from thousands of feet in the air. And, most head-shakingly, he and his new girlfriend survive their descent from orbit in a busted piece of Drax's obliterated space station (all in Moonraker, 1979).

#4. Bond survives Gustav Graves' heat beam by wind-surfing on a tidal wave (Die Another Day, 2002). Aside from the fact that the heat beam still should've crisped Bond despite him hanging aloft on the side of the cliff, his escape via surfing atop the collapsing cliff's-caused tidal wave defies more belief than when 007 surfed into North Korea in the film's opening.

#3. Hugo Drax constructs space shuttle launch facilities in the Amazon jungle (Moonraker, 1979). I already mentioned this major head-scratcher, but it bears repeating: How in the hell does a major corporate figure manage to build such a base in the middle of the densest jungle on the planet ... with no one noticing? After such a massive intel failure, the CIA and MI6 should've been completely dismantled ... and then rebuilt from scratch!

#2. Casting Lynn-Holly Johnson in For Your Eyes Only. It's bad enough her movie name was "Bibi Dahl," but what were the writers thinking -- M would have to spring Bond from jail for statutory rape?? Johnson's "acting," such that it is, may be the worst ever witnessed in a Bond film, and her mere inclusion in the FYEO was ridiculously gratuitous.

#1. The "Bondola" in Moonraker. Cracked.com nails this one perfectly:

Sure, the Bondola looks like a Venetian gondola, but there’s one crucial difference: the Bondola is embarrassingly stupid. Okay, two crucial differences: with the flip of a switch, Bond (Roger Moore) converts the craft from mundane gondola into high-speed turbo Bondola to escape an assassination attempt. An enemy motor boat pursues the Bondola through the canals of Venice. At one point—this is hilarious—the bad guy boat slices a regular non-turbo gondola neatly in two. The two lovers on one half of the bisected gondola are so busy kissing they don’t even notice, while the gondolier in the other half keeps rowing.

The Bondola has yet another trick up its figurative sleeve. Bond presses a button labeled “LAME” and the turbo gondola turns into a hovercraft gondola. He drives that bad boy up on to dry land and across St. Mark’s Square, blowing everyone’s mind. A waiter spills wine on a patron, another fella decides to quit drinking on the spot, and a pigeon does a double-take. Yes, a pigeon does a double-take. The Bondola freaks that pigeon’s shit out! That is comedy Moonraker-style.

Maybe Bond skipped the class on keeping a low profile in Secret Agent School.

That's it for now, folks, but stay tuned for more still more Bond-related lists!

Posted by Hube at July 2, 2012 03:15 PM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

I'll back you up on Carey Lowell, but to not even mention Barbara Bach from The Spy Who Loved Me? For shame. I will also back you up on Claudine Auger and further nominate Luciana Paluzzi also from Thunderball.

Surfing the tidal wave might be the worst moment in the worst Bond movie. Just embarrassing for all involved. (In a prior discussion of the Bond movies, I may have argued vehemently that Moonraker was the worst. If I did, it was only because Die Another Day had been blocked from my mind. Moonraker is the second worst.)

The "Bondola" was yet another example of how Roger Moore's version of Bond repeatedly forgot the "secret" part of "secret agent."

One of my college roommates and I would randomly approach each other and say "Do you expect to me talk?" just to set the other up for the response.

Jaws strained credulity from the start and just got progressively worse.

Posted by: Paul Smith at July 2, 2012 11:26 PM

I agree with Paul, Barbara Bach has to be in the top 5.

Posted by: John Galt at July 3, 2012 09:13 PM

C'mon -- no mention of Blofeld?

Posted by: LS at July 5, 2012 12:53 PM

C'mon -- no mention of Blofeld?

The guy offered to buy 007 a delicatessen in exchange for Bond not killing him! WTF??

Posted by: Hube at July 11, 2012 04:13 PM