It’s only natural that with the arrival of a new James Bond movie, the eternal cottage industry of ranking all of the movies up to that point revs up production again. I’ve seen a whole lot of these articles popping up the last month or two, and as I start writing this I’m listening to a podcast that is generating a ranked list of the Bond films via a “draft” like a sports draft. That particular podcast is taking its sweet time: two episodes, each of which is more than four hours long! So we have a group of people taking around three or four entire Bond movies’ worth of time to rank all the Bond movies. This is serious stuff, folks!
Now, every ranking out there is going to feel deeply, deeply wrong to most other Bond fans, so it’s never worth ripping them too much…but there was one that I ran across that I’m not going to link here, but I did link it on Facebook with a “Wow, get a load of how awful this Bond ranking is!” comment, because if there’s one thing Facebook is good for, it’s ranting to a small pre-selected audience about the stuff that you, and only you, care about. But of course in the comments there, someone asked me the very obvious question:
“Well, Kelly, where’s YOUR official ranking of the Bond movies, for comparison?”
And wouldn’t you know it, I had no response. I wrote about all of the Bond movies way back in the early days of Byzantium’s Shores (it was one of the first things I did that got me any traffic), but I don’t recall ever actually generating a full ranking of all the movies. If I did, it was a while ago, and anyway, such rankings are sure to change as new movies arrive and as old ones either rise or fall depending on evolving tastes. So if there IS an old ranking that I did someplace, ignore it. This is the one.
The thing with James Bond is that he’s been around forever. They’ve been making these movies for nearly sixty years now, and the character predates the movies by a full decade. Bond has shifted with the times, many times over, and in this series of 25 movies (plus one–more on that later), we’ve seen vastly different styles of story, of storytelling, and even of genre, when the stories have not just veered close to the line of science fiction but actually crossed over it. This also explains why the rankings are always so wildly different: That many movies made over that many years are going to hit individual tastes in individual ways.
Nevertheless, my ranking is Right and Correct and will stand for all time. Until I revise it. And if you disagree, well…I’m sure you’ve been wrong before!
So, thus we begin with a full ranking of all of the official James Bond movies, plus the one unofficial film, 1983’s Never Say Never Again. I include this one because its existence is interesting to me. I do not include the 1967 Casino Royale spoof/parody/pastiche film, because I haven’t seen it and I don’t really plan to do so any time soon. This will probably span a number of posts, because this will get long-winded. I mean, we’re THIS far in and I haven’t actually ranked a single movie yet!
Also, some movies will get a longer capsule review in this series than others, because of factors like how I feel about certain films, what time of day I write these posts, and so on.
Before we get going, if anyone wants to know my personal history with James Bond, I wrote about that a bit here. Short version: I first encountered James Bond via Moonraker when it came out in 1979; I was 7 going on 8 and I have been a fan ever since. While I missed For Your Eyes Only in the theaters, starting with Octopussy I have seen every single Bond film since in the original theatrical run. Anyone passingly familiar with opinions I’ve shared online many times over the years won’t find my final destination in this series a surprise; I will basically corner strangers on the street to wax poetic about On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. But I hope there are a few surprises in getting to that point!
And one more proviso: with exactly one exception, I really do like each James Bond movie ever, on some level. Every one of them is watchable, I’ve seen every one of them multiple times (some of them dozens of times), and I’m likely to watch them all a few times more as the years continue marching by. Movies ranked toward the bottom are movies that I am unlikely to choose when I say “I’m in the mood for a James Bond movie”, or they’re movies I’m as likely as not to skip if I happen across them while clicking the remote. If it sounds like I’m ripping on some particular films, well…
Every Bond movie is almost certainly someone’s favorite, and every Bond movie is someone’s virginal Bond, the one they saw that made them a fan. So if I cast aspersions on your particular First Bond, well…I’m sure you’ll have things to say about mine.
With that, let’s get going…next time out!