The Definitive Ranking of Bond Films

because all of the other ones are, well, wrong

Richard Thompson Ford

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Sean Connery in Goldfinger. credit: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images

The arrival of a new James Bond film is a cause for celebration and a good excuse to drink martinis (as if one were needed.) But there are a couple downsides. One, some misguided souls insist on making those martinis with vodka, skaken, not stirred. Bond was just wrong about this on both counts, but that’s for another post. Two, the new film inevitably provokes a slew of wrongheaded lists ranking the old Bond films.

The problem with many such rankings is that the reviewer neglects to consider all of the relevant factors. The holistic experience of a Bond film includes the title sequence, music, mix of exotic locations, charisma (or appealing lack thereof) of the villain, charisma of the female leads (I will try to avoid the somewhat dated term “Bond Girl”), Bond’s clothes, wristwatches, cars, weapons and gadgets, the witty repartee and customary bi-play with Moneypenny and gratuitous references to the fading glory of Britain.

Then there are some basic algorithms to employ. Intelligent female leads are superior to empty-headed eye-candy. Clothing should be classic but not old fashioned (no ruffled shirts or aging C.E.O. business suits, please.) Gadgets must be a satisfying mix of outlandish and believable (revolving number plates? Naturally. Invisible cars? Please, no.) Shirley Bassey title songs outrank, well everyone else.

Methodology established, here, without further ado, the definitive, scientifically developed, university approved ranking of all Bond films.

25. License to Kill

Timothy Dalton is a talented actor but a mediocre Bond, lacking the muscular charisma of Sean Connery, the refined insouciance of Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan or the bristling magnetism of Daniel Craig. Worse, while many Bond films echo other popular films of their era, this one copied Miami Vice. The Gladys Knight theme song isn’t bad for a basic 80s power ballad.

24. A View to a Kill

By 1985 we worry that an aging Roger Moore will slip a disk during the action sequences and the May/ December romantic scenes with Tanya Roberts are a mix of creepy and pathetic. Grace Jones is largely wasted. The Duran…

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Richard Thompson Ford

Professor. Lawyer. Dilettante mixologist. Amateur sartorialist. Watch geek. Author of Dress Codes: how the laws of fashion made history. www.dresscodes.org