With Casino Royale now out on DVD, we look back at some great moments in the 007 series.By Bryan Reesman
Few film series are as celebrated as the James Bond saga, which encompasses 21 official movies, from the famous 1962 debut Dr. No to last year's fantastic Casino Royale. Adapted from and inspired by the spy novels of Ian Fleming, the cinematic adventures of British Secret Service agent 007 have left audiences shaken and stirred bysinister nemeses, stunning "Bond women," cool cars and contraptions, exotic locales, pithy one-liners, and nail-biting action sequences. And there are the inevitable debates over who's better. Sean Connery? Roger Moore? Pierce Brosnan?
The series got an upgrade last year when it brought lesser-known actor Daniel Craig into the fold. The dark-horse contender quickly won audiences over with his gritty portrayal of a young Bond who has just been promoted to 007 status. We see him make his first kill and how it transforms him, watch him nearly get killed, and witness him having his heart broken. Based on the first Bond novel, Casino Royale is bloody good entertainment, and it returns the series to more character-driven situations and subtler moments, which had been overwhelmed by gadgetry during the flashy Brosnan era.
MGM honored the return of Bond with the re-release of all his movies in four box sets last fall, and I went back and watched them all again to pull out some golden moments. Following are what I consider to be the high points in the series. You'll no doubt have your own. But that's the fun of it: so many great scenes, so many memorable one-liners, so little space …
SPYING'S A GAS
About to be assassinated on the Orient Express by a cunning SPECTRE agent (in From Russia with Love), Bond tantalizes the agent by mentioning the gold sovereigns located in his briefcase. His foe falls for the gag, and tear gas explodes from the case, allowing Bond to slam into him and fight for his life. (Thanks, Q!)
IT'S A MAN, BABY!
While Thunderball is notable for its shark bait and its underwater battle sequences, its wacky inaugural scene finds Bond seemingly attacking the widow of an enemy agent after the agent's funeral. But we discover that the agent is in disguise, having faked his own death. Bond quickly rectifies that.
IT'S NOT SIZE THAT MATTERS …
We've seen plenty of aerial fights before, but when Bond tests out a gyrocopter in You Only Live Twice, four helicopters descend upon him to take him out. It's a battle of wills and wits, high in the sky over a Japanese island, with our hero coolly maneuvering through the cross fire.