Thursday, May 07, 2015

Ranking the First Five Bond Movies

Before we get into On Her Majesty's Secret Service this weekend, I figured I'd touch base and rank the five movies we've looked at so far. I'll probably do this every time we hit a milestone in the series.

Since I'm ranking various, individual aspects of the movies, I came up with a formula to see which films are getting the highest scores. I won't bore you with the details, but I put more weight on the Women and Villains rankings, slightly less weight on the Theme Song, and the least weight on everything else. Based on pure math, my favorite Bond films so far are:

1. Thunderball
2. From Russia With Love
3. Goldfinger 
4. Dr. No 
5. You Only Live Twice

That of course doesn't take other important factors into account like Connery's performance in each movie or the plots or the action or many other things I'm not ranking, but it's pretty darn accurate. If I were to go purely on my gut, the rankings would look more like this:

1. Thunderball
2. From Russia With Love
3. Dr. No
4. Goldfinger
5. You Only Live Twice

I'm still surprised to see Thunderball at the top of that list, but this project has reminded me of how much it has going for it. Yes, it drags a lot in some of the underwater sequences, but it's also Connery's best performance as Bond (ever), it's got SPECTRE at its most dangerous, the plot makes sense, it's version of Felix Leiter is one of the series' most accurate to the books, and it's got two of my favorite women in the movies: Fiona Volpe and Paula Caplan.

[UPDATE: In the comments, Erik got me to rethink my gut ranking. Thunderball has better individual parts than From Russia With Love, but they don't add up to the better movie. So my revised ranking should look more like this:

1. From Russia With Love
2. Thunderball
3. Dr. No
4. Goldfinger
5. You Only Live Twice]

How would you rank the first five?


Erik Johnson Illustrator said...

I'd put From Russia and Goldfinger at the top, they're iconic for very different reasons. Dr No would probably come in the middle for its historical importance.

You Only live Twice has great production quality but Connery is sleepwalking through the whole thing. I really think The Spy Who Loved Me was an over better presentation of this same story.

Thunderball is one I remember being very slow. Your ranking makes me think it's high time to check it out again.

Michael May said...

The pacing really kills it for a lot of people, so your mileage may vary. Let me know what you think though.

The more I think about it, the less confident I am about putting Thunderball above Russia. I like individual aspects of Thunderball better than their counterparts in Russia, but Thunderball as a whole isn't equal to the sum of its parts. Overall, Russia is the better movie.


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