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The Man with the Golden Gun: The British superspy with a license to kill takes on his dark underworld double, a classy assassin who kills with golden bullets at $1 million a hit. Roger Moore, in his second outing as James Bond, meets Christopher Lee's Scaramanga, one of the most magnetic villains in the entire series, in this entertaining but rather wan entry in the 007 sweepstakes. Moore balances the overplayed humor of the film with a steely performance and Lee's charm and enthusiasm makes Scaramanga a cool, deadly, and thoroughly enchanting adversary. --Sean Axmaker Goldfinger: To own Goldfinger (1964) on DVD is to have at your fingertips the proof that Sean Connery is the definitive James Bond. No one but Connery can believably seduce women so effortlessly, kill with almost as much ease, and then pull another bottle of Dom Perignon '53 out of the fridge. Goldfinger contains many of the most memorable scenes in the Bond series: gorgeous Shirley Eaton (as Jill Masterson) coated in gold paint by evil Auric Goldfinger and deposited in Bond's bed; silent Oddjob, flipping a razor-sharp derby like a Frisbee to sever heads; our hero spread-eagle on a table while a laser beam moves threateningly toward his crotch. Goldfinger's two climaxes, inside Fort Knox and aboard a private plane, have to be seen to be believed. --Raphael Shargel The World Is Not Enough:Bond 5.0, Pierce Brosnan, undercuts his usually suave persona with a darker, more brutal edge largely absent since Sean Connery departed. Equally tantalizing are our initial glimpses of Bond's nemesis du jour, Renard (Robert Carlyle), and imminent love interest, Elektra King (Sophie Marceau), both atypically complex characters cast with seemingly shrewd choices, and directed by the capable Michael Apted. The story's focus on post-Soviet geopolitics likewise starts off on a savvy note, before being overtaken by increasingly Byzantine plot twists, hidden motives, and reversals of loyalty superheated by relentless (if intermittently perfunctory) action sequences.--Sam Sutherland Diamonds Are Forever: Sean Connery retired from the 007 franchise after You Only Live Twice but was lured back for one last official appearance as James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever. Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton keeps the film zipping along gamely from one entertaining set piece to another, including a terrific car chase in a parking lot, a battle with a pair of bikini-clad killer gymnasts named Bambi and Thumper, and a deadly game with a bizarre pair of fey, sardonic killers who dispatch their victims with elaborate invention. Connery retired again after this one but he returned once more, for Never Say Never Again 15 years later. --Sean Axmaker The Living Daylights: Timothy Dalton made his 007 debut in the lean, mean mode of Sean Connery, doing away with the pun-filled camp of Roger Moore's final outings. This James Bond is ruthless, tough, and romantic. The Living Daylights, set during the thaw of the cold war, begins with the defection of Russian KGB General Koskov (Jeroen Krabb) and his revelation of a Soviet plot to eliminate Britain's secret agent force. Assigned to eliminate Koskov's Soviet boss (John Rhys-Davies), Bond uncovers a conspiracy involving Koskov and an American arms dealer (Joe Don Baker). Veteran series director John Glen's action scenes have never been better--especially the show-stopping mid-air battle on the net of a speeding cargo plane--and he returns the series to the smart, rough, high-energy adventures that made the Bond reputation. --Sean Axmaker A View to a Kill: Roger Moore's last outing as James Bond is evidence enough that it was time to pass the torch to another actor. Beset by crummy action (an out-of-control fire engine?) and featuring a fading Moore still trying to prop up his mannered idea of style, the film is largely interesting for Christopher Walken's quirky performance as a sort-of supervillain who wants to take out California's Silicon Valley. Grace Jones has a spookily interesting presence as a lethal associate of Walken's (and who, in the best Bond tradition, has sex with 007 before trying to kill him later), and Patrick Macnee (Steed!) has a warm if brief bit. Even directed by John Glen, who brought some crackle to the Moore years in the Bond franchise, this is a very slight effort. -- Tom Keogh Thunderball: James Bond's fourth adventure takes him to the Bahamas, where a NATO warplane with a nuclear payload has disappeared into the sea. Bond (Sean Connery) travels from a tiny health spa (where he tangles with a mechanized masseuse run amuck) to the casinos of Nassau and soon picks up the trail of SPECTRE's number-two man, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), and his beautiful mistress, Domino (Claudine Auger), whom Bond soon seduces to his side. Equipped with more gadgets than ever, 007 escapes an ambush with a personal-size jet pack and takes to the water as he searches for the undersea plane, battles Largo's pet sharks, and finally leads the battle against Largo's scuba-equipped henchmen in a spectacular underwater climax. This thrilling Bond entry became Connery's most successful outing in the series and was remade in 1983 as Never Say Never Again, with Connery returning to the role after a 12-year hiatus. --Sean Axmaker Die Another Day: The 20th James Bond adventure, Die Another Day succeeds on three important fronts: it avoids comparison to Austin Powers by keeping its cheesy humor in check, allows Halle Berry to be sexy and worthy of a spinoff franchise, and keeps pace with the technical wizardry that modern action films demand. Pierce Brosnan is paired with American agent Jinx (Berry) in chasing a genetically altered North Korean villain (Rick Yune) armed with a satellite capable of destroying just about anything. John Cleese and Judi Dench reprise their recurring roles (as "Q" and "M," respectively); they're accompanied by weapons-laden sports cars, a hokey cameo by Madonna (who sings the techno-pulsed theme song), and enough double-entendres to keep Bond-philes adequately shaken and stirred. Die Another Day makes you welcome the familiar end-credits promise: James Bond will return. --Jeff Shannon The Spy Who Loved Me: The best of the James Bond adventures starring Roger Moore as tuxedoed Agent 007, this globe-trotting thriller introduced the steel-toothed Jaws (played by seven-foot-two-inch-tall actor Richard Kiel) as one of the most memorable and indestructible Bond villains. Jaws is so tenacious, in fact, that Moore looks genuinely frightened, and that adds to the abundant fun. This time Bond teams up with yet another lovely Russian agent (Barbara Bach) to track a pair of nuclear submarines that the nefarious Stromberg (Curt Jürgens) plans to use in his plot to start World War III. The Spy Who Loved Me is a galaxy away from the suave Sean Connery exploits of the 1960s, but the film works perfectly as grandiose entertainment. From cavernous undersea lairs to the vast horizons of Egypt, this Bond thriller keeps its tongue firmly in cheek with a plot tailor-made for daredevil escapism. --Jeff Shannon License to Kill: Timothy Dalton's second and last shot at playing James Bond isn't nearly as much fun as his debut, two years earlier, in the 1987 The Living Daylights. This time Bond gets mad after a close friend (David Hedison) from the intelligence sector is assassinated on his wedding day, and 007 goes undercover to link the murder to an international drug cartel. Robert Davi makes an interesting adversary, but as with most of the Bond films in the '70s, '80s, and '90s--and especially since the end of the cold war--one has to wonder why we should still care about these lesser villains and their unimaginative crimes. Still, Dalton did manage in his short time with the character to make 007 his own, which neither Roger Moore did nor Pierce Brosnan did. --Tom Keogh Goldeneye: The 18th James Bond adventure was a runaway box-office success when released in 1995, thanks to the arrival of Pierce Brosnan as the fifth actor (following the departure of Timothy Dalton) to play the suave, danger-loving Agent 007. This James Bond is a bit more vulnerable and psychologically complex--and just a shade more politically correct--but he's still a formally attired playboy at heart, with a lovely Russian beauty (Izabella Scorupco) as his sexy ally against a cadre of renegade Russians bent on--what else?--global domination. All in all, this action-packed Bond adventure provided a much-needed boost the long-running movie series, revitalizing the 007 franchise for the turn of the millennium. --Jeff Shannon Live and Let Die: Roger Moore was introduced as James Bond in this 1973 action movie featuring secret agent 007. This film marks a deviation from the more character-driven stories of the Connery years, a deliberate shift to plastic action (multiple chases, bravura stunts) that made the franchise more of a comic book or machine. If that's not depressing enough, there's even a good British director on board, Guy Hamilton (Force 10 from Navarone). The story finds Bond taking on an international drug dealer (Yaphet Kotto), and while that may be superficially relevant, it isn't exactly the same as fighting supervillains on the order of Goldfinger. --Tom Keogh For Your Eyes Only: After a ship sunk off the coast of Albania, the world's superpowers begin a feverish search for its valuable lost cargo: the powerful ATAC system, which will give its bearer unlimited control over Polaris nuclear submarines. As Bond joins the search, he suspects the suave Kristatos (Julian Glover) of seizing the device. The competition between nations grows more deadly by the moment, but Bond finds an ally in the beautiful Melina Havelock (Caroline Bouquet), who blames Kristatos for the death of her parents. The non-stop action includes automobile chases, thrilling underwater battles, and even a breathtaking tour over razor-sharp coral reefs. But all of this is merely a prelude to 007's cliffhanging assault of a magnificent mountaintop fortress. -- Robert Lynch From Russia with Love: Directed with consummate skill by Terence Young, the second James Bond spy thriller is considered by many fans to be the best of them all. Certainly Sean Connery was never better as the dashing Agent 007, whose latest mission takes him to Istanbul to retrieve a top-secret Russian decoding machine. His efforts are thwarted when he gets romantically distracted by a sexy Russian double agent (Daniela Bianchi), and is tracked by a lovely assassin (Lotte Lenya) with switchblade shoes, and by a crazed killer (Robert Shaw), who clashes with Bond during the film's dazzling climax aboard the Orient Express. From Russia with Love is classic James Bond, before the gadgets, pyrotechnics, and Roger Moore steered the movies away from the more realistic tone of the books by Ian Fleming. --Jeff Shannon On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Australian model George Lazenby took up the mantle of the world's most suave secret agent when Sean Connery retired as James Bond (although Connery returned in Diamonds Are Forever before leaving the role to Roger Moore). In On Her Majesty's Secret Service, 007 leaves the Service to privately pursue his SPECTRE nemesis Blofeld (played this time by Telly Savalas), whose latest master plan involves a threat to the world's crops by agricultural sterilization. Lazenby hasn't the intensity of Connery but he has fun with his quips and even lampoons the Bond image in a playful pre-credits sequence. Former editor Peter Hunt makes a strong directorial debut, deftly handling the elaborate action sequences with a kinetic finesse. --Sean Axmaker Dr. No: Released in 1962, this first James Bond movie remains one of the best, and serves as an entertaining reminder that the Bond series began (in keeping with Ian Fleming's novels) with a surprising lack of gadgetry and big-budget fireworks. In his first adventure James Bond is called to Jamaica where a colleague and secretary have been mysteriously killed. With an American CIA agent (Jack Lord, pre-Hawaii Five-O), they discover that the nefarious Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) is scheming to blackmail the U.S. government with a device capable of deflecting and destroying U.S. rockets launched from Cape Canaveral. Of course, Bond takes time off from his exploits to enjoy the company of a few gorgeous women, including the bikini-clad Ursula Andress. This is Bond at his purest, kicking off a series of movies that shows no sign of slowing down. --Jeff Shannon You Only Live Twice: The film boasts the best of the Bond title songs (this one sung on a dreamy track by Nancy Sinatra), but the movie itself is one of the weaker ones of the Sean Connery phase of the 007 franchise. The story concerns an effort by the evil organization SPECTRE to start a world war, but the not-so-super villain behind the plot is the awfully civilized Donald Pleasence. The thin script is by Roald Dahl (shouldn't we have expected a better Bond nemesis from the creator of mad genius Willy Wonka?), and direction is by British veteran Lewis Gilbert (Alfie). But the movie can't hold a candle to Dr. No, From Russia with Love, or Goldfinger. --Tom Keogh Octopussy: Roger Moore was nearing the end of his reign as James Bond when he made Octopussy, and he looks a little worn out. But the movie itself infuses some new blood into the old franchise, with a frisky pace and a pair of sturdy villains. Maud Adams--who'd also been in the Bond outing The Man with the Golden Gun--plays the improbably named Octopussy, while old smoothie Louis Jourdan is her crafty partner in crime. Two Bond films were actually released in 1983 within a few months of each other, as Octopussy was followed by Sean Connery's comeback in Never Say Never Again. The success of both pictures proved that there was still plenty of mileage left in the old license to kill, though Moore had one more workout--A View to a Kill--before hanging it up. And that title? The franchise had already used up the titles to Ian Fleming's novels, so Octopussy was taken from a lesser-known Fleming short story. -- Robert Horton Tomorrow Never Dies: Pierce Brosnan returns for his second stint as James Bond (after GoldenEye), and he's doing it in high style with an invigorating cast of costars. It's only appropriate that a Bond film from 1997 would find Agent 007 pitted against a media mogul (Jonathan Pryce) who's going to start a global war (beginning with stolen nuclear missiles aimed at China) to create attention-grabbing headlines for his latest multimedia news channel. It's the information age run amok, and Bond must team up with a lovely and lethal agent from the Chinese External Security Force (played by Honk Kong action star Michelle Yeoh) to foil the madman's plot of global domination. Luckily for Bond, the villain's wife (Teri Hatcher) is one of his former lovers and 007 finds ample opportunity to exploit the connection. Armed with the usual array of gadgets (including a remote-controlled BMW), Brosnan settles into his role with acceptable flair, and the dynamic Yeoh provides a perfect balance to the sexism that once threatened to turn Bond into a politically incorrect anachronism. He's still Bond, to be sure, but he's saving the world with a bit more sophisticated finesse. --Jeff Shannon Moonraker: This was the first James Bond adventure produced after the success of Star Wars, so it jumped on the sci-fi bandwagon by combining the suave appeal of Agent 007 (once again played by Roger Moore) with enough high-tech hardware and special effects to make Luke Skywalker want to join Her Majesty's Secret Service. This time Bond is up against a criminal industrialist named Drax (Michel Lonsdale) who wants to control the world from his orbiting space station. Bond thwarts this maniacal Neo-Hitler's scheme with the help of a beautiful, sleek-figured scientist (played by Lois Chiles with all the vitality of a department-store mannequin). Despite Moore's passive performance (which Pauline Kael described as "like an office manager who is turning into dead wood but hanging on to collect his pension"), Moonraker had no problem attracting an appreciative audience, and there are even a few renegade Bond-philes who consider it one of their favorites. --Sean Axmaker