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Five. Friday Five: 5 Best of James Bond

JamesBondopenHi! Gosh, it's been a while, hasn't it? To make up for having left everyone dangling for months, I'm doing my very own Friday Five, all by myself. And my subject, of course, is James Bond. Because if there's one subject I can carry on (and on... and on) about, it's James Bond.

Also, the Bond film franchise is fifty years old.

Favorite Bond films

5. License to Kill
4. Goldfinger
3. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
2. Casino Royale
1. Thunderball

I expect you might be surprised by License to Kill above; it's a deeply flawed film, but I appreciate that it was an effort to make Bond more brutal and violent and thoughtful. Thunderball remains my favorite because it is monumentally insane, and because that extraordinary underwater battle is utterly hypnotic.

More after the jump!

Favorite Bond novels

View to a kill5. The Spy who Loved Me. Fleming's effort to experiment with the Bond novel, TSwLM is written from the perspective of the love-interest and takes place almost entirely in a motel in the Adirondacks. Also, Bond teaches his novice paramour about nice soap and expensive perfume.
4. Casino Royale.  I have no idea how to play baccarat.
3. From Russia with Love. Fleming gave himself an out at the end of the novel, as he wasn't sure he wanted to write any more Bonds, by having Rosa Klebb succeed in kicking Bond with her poisoned spike - a somewhat less permanent, and less problematic, solution than throwing him over a waterfall.
2. Goldfinger. You should probably read this novel; its structure (happenstance, coincidence, enemy action) is really well done, and God knows how Fleming made a game of golf interesting, but he did. Which is just as well, as it's nearly 1/3 of the book.
1. Moonraker. The best, most brutal of the bunch. If you read one Fleming Bond, read this one. Also: best bridge game ever. Seriously.

Favorite Bond setpieces

5. Thunderball: underwater battle.
4. Goldfinger: the golf-game.
3. From Russia, with Love: the Istanbul catacombs. So atmospheric!
2. Casino Royale: the Parkour sequence. Oh my god.
1. A View to a Kill: Battling Christopher Walken, with an ax, on the framework of the Golden Gate Bridge. What. The hell.

Favorite Bond villains, ladies, gadgets and sidekicks

Bond door5. Mayday. Legitimately terrifying, killed someone with a poisoned fishhook hidden in a fake butterfly, and had something approaching depth. Also, very confusing clothes.
4. The door to M's office. You know what I'm talking about, right? The padded leather door that separates Moneypenny's office from M's? Why is it padded? Who pads a door like a chesterfield?
3. Is it weird that I keep mentioning View to a Kill? Whatever. Worst Bond girl, yes. But Christopher Walken as the villain! I mean, really.
2. Bond's jetpack, Thunderball. In answer to the question 'why' one can only shake one's head and sigh 'why not?'
1. Goldfinger. 'Do you expect me to talk?' 'No, Mr Bond! I expect you to die!' BEST EXCHANGE EVER. (Followed by the best 'most excruciatingly slooooooooooow, yet legitimately tense, Bond-in-peril' scene of the entire 50 year run of 'em.

Favorite Bond other

5. Hot Fuzz: Jared's pretty sure the entire film was produced just to give Simon Pegg and Nick Frost the opportunity to beat up James Bond. And Timothy Dalton is a delight in his role as (spoiler!) a villainous supermarket-manager.
4. The Incredibles: it's an homage to a lot of different films, but the regular subtle Bond (early 60s) touches - straight down to a soundtrack obviously informed by the famous Thunderball score - never fails to delight me.
2. Sean Connery. What can I say? I don't care what kind of a misogynistic asshole he is in real life. Dude is 100% hot, even at nine billion (or however old he is today). Honorable mention to Timothy Dalton. And, uh, all the rest of 'em.
1. Something to talk about. I used to struggle with small-talk, as I was a giant nerd who cared obsessively about nerdy things. And then I discovered this single, indisputable fact: everyone has an opinion about the James Bond franchise. As a life-long Bond fan, I have devoted way too much time, energy, and headspace to my Bond fascination, which means I have a world of opinions and factoids at my disposal. The day I learned to deploy them was the day I discovered how to be comfortable in casual conversations with strangers.

Five Other Bond Things

James bond RPG5. Goldeneye (the video game). I'm shit at video games. But playing this, with three friends in college, was hilarious good fun. I distinctly recall Jared getting his character (Oddjob, I'm almost positive) stuck in a corner and making Blair Witch Project jokes about it. OH, THE LATE 90S.
4. James Bond 007: Roleplaying in Her Majesty's Secret Service. Jared whipped this RPG together and DMed it one night as a surprise for some friends and me AND IT WAS AWESOME.
3. Casino Royale (the film): We went into CR expecting very little, and walked away seriously impressed. And talked about it for hours after. Franchise officially reinvigorated!
2. The Imperial War Museum put on an exhibit (For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond) a couple of years ago. (Oh, shit; four years ago.) And it was brilliant. Did you know Fleming got thrown out of his posh public school for impregnating a maid? At, like, 15? Also, he was a bit of a dickhead. Of the many Bond exhibits I've ever visited, this was the best.
1. My mom. Mom's the real Bond fan of the family, and introduced me to the films when I was probably a wee bit too young for them. Nevertheless, they were a hugely important part of my childhood, and remain a major part of my relationship with her. We see the films together when they're released, we rewatch our favorites together on DVD, we talk about them, we go to Bond exhibits together... Bond is just a thing we do. Isn't that nice and squishy?