50 Years of James Bond

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Who is your favorite James Bond?


Who is your favorite James Bond girl?

Gary Thompson on the first 23 Bond films (click title for each movie's opening credits)

An obscure actor named Sean Connery, former body builder and soccer player, gets the lead in the first film adaptation of Ian Fleming’s spy novel series, made for less than $1 million. It grossed the then-considerable sum of $60 million and launched a franchise. It featured the famous gun-barrel opening shot, the twangy signature guitar riff, and Ursula Andress in a teeny weeny bikini. 

Purists believe it to be the best. Because it is. Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) wants to turn Ft. Knox radioactive. Oddjob is the franchise’s best henchman, Honor Blackman has the quintessential bond babe name (“Pussy Galore”), Shirley Bassey sings the best Bond theme song. Frobe and Connery have the best Bond movie exchange. “Do you expect me to talk?” “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.” 

Bond in the Bahamas, where SPECTRE is ransoming some stolen warheads. The price? $100 million, prompting the Dr. Evil joke decades later. Adjusted for inflation, this is the most profitable Bond movie ever. That’s Tom Jones singing the title tune.

Connery takes a break, replaced by Aussie George Lazenby. Alternate title: “You’re Only Bond Once.” This time, Bond gets married, to Diana Rigg. 

Connery returns, hits Vegas, finally defeats SPECTRE and hooks up with Jill  St. John. The movie’s noted for its bad reviews and hint of homophobia in the persons of two gay hitmen.  Connery swore he’d never do another. 

Christopher Lee appears as one of the series’ better villains, a hitman/businessman who wants a piece of Bond. His henchman Nick Nack is played by Herve Villechaize.

Bond chases down more stolen nukes. Curt Jurgens is the villain, with an assist from Richard Kiel, making his first appearance as the steel-toothed Jaws. Carly Simon sings “Nobody Does It Better.” 

Bond tries to retrieve sunken launch codes for British nuclear submarines (always with the nukes), assisted by Carole Bouquet. Some action at an Olympic training facility with a skater named Bibi Dahl. Bond beats up biathlete and hockey player assassins. Title song by Sheena Easton was written by “Rocky” composer Bill Conti.


Yes, children, before there was Octomom, there was Octopussy. One of the most ridiculous in the series — Louis Jourdan is the bad guy. And his evil scheme isn’t armament, it’s  DISarmament. Maud Adams is the Bond girl in the title role. 


Moore era comes to merciful end. Christopher Walken plays megalomaniac trying to obliterate Silicon Valley. Tanya Roberts is the girl, Grace Jones makes an appearance, Duran Duran does lame theme song. 



Timothy Dalton takes over for pushing-60 Moore, tries to recapture the spirit of the original Ian Fleming novels. If you remember Maryam d’Abo as the Bond girl, you need another hobby. 


After its longest on-screen vacation, six years, Bond returns with Pierce Brosnan, again looking for stolen weapons. Judi Dench makes her first appearance as M. Audiences liked it — one of the better performing Bond movies. With Sean Bean, Famke Janssen. 


Reboot brings in Daniel Craig, returns Bond to his original tough guy roots. Smashing financial success.