Half a century after the release of the first James Bond movie, Dr No, 007 is as popular as ever. Just look at the response to the first still from Daniel Craig’s upcoming new Bond outing, Skyfall, released this week. And to the rumour that it might be filmed in Bognor. And to the fact that the Royal Mail is releasing a set of commemorative stamps….
So, to celebrate Bond’s continued vigour, and mainly because it’s Friday, here’s a video-clip countdown of five of my personal favourite 007 film scenes, featuring some acknowledged classics along with some less celebrated gems (plus Alan Partridge’s take on the opening scenes of “the best film ever made”). And if you detect a slight bias towards the wooden suavity of Roger Moore, well, what can I say – nobody does it better…
5. You Only Live Twice
A rooftop: Sean Connery takes on all comers, darting and slugging his way through a gaggle of miniature henchmen like a powered-up character in a retro computer game. The jaunty brass rendition of the theme from You Only Live Twice only adds to the scene’s surreal quality.
4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
No video clip available for this introduction to George Lazenby’s 007, sadly, but I couldn’t leave it out…
Twilight; a beach: after plunging into the surf to rescue an apparently suicidal Diana Rigg, Lazenby’s brand-new Bond is set upon by a pair of armed thugs. The vicious, desperate ruck that follows leaves us in no doubt Bond is fighting for his life.
As Lazenby dispatches the bad guys, Rigg nicks his car and screeches off up the road. In a nod to his predecessor, Sean Connery, George notes ruefully, “This never happened to the other fella.”
3. Tomorrow Never Dies
Pierce Brosnan, on a motorbike, handcuffed to kick-ass martial arts poppet Michelle Yeoh. Through the backstreets and over the rooftops of Saigon the bickering pair are pursued by a pack of evil black Range Rovers and a machine-gunning helicopter.
The scene culminates with the sinister chopper backing Bond and Wai Lin into a corner, intent on making mincemeat out of them with its rotor blades. Seconds before the s**t hits the fan, Bond turns the bike on its side and skids beneath the whirring blades of doom. Some nifty work with a washing line and the chopper nose-dives to a fiery end. Cool!
2. The Spy Who Loved Me
Now pay attention, 007… No list of Bond moments would be complete without a look at one of Major “Q” Boothroyd’s gadgets, and although this scene involves another excellent car chase, it’s the vehicle itself we’re interested in. Yes, in 1977 white was still a cool colour for a sports car and the Lotus Esprit S1 was just the best car in the world.
After taking delivery of his new toy, Bond foregoes the usual gadgetry rundown from Q, keeping us in the dark as to what exactly is so extra-high spec about this particular car. So when we watch him drive it straight off a dock and into the Mediterranean, we can’t blame his passenger, Agent Triple X, for being slightly concerned. But she needn’t be. Under the water, the wheels fold in, fins appear, a periscope extends – the car turns into a submarine!
And unfortunately for the smug helicopter pilot hovering above (where else but Bond would you see a chopper pilot wearing lip gloss and a diamond choker?), the sub comes fully equipped. In a moment of phallic retribution, the smile is well and truly wiped off her face by a good-sized sea-to-air missile.
1. The Spy Who Loved Me
Exhilarating near-jingoism defines this scene, beginning with Roger Moore’s delicious exchange with some Alpine totty as he leaves her cosy chalet to go to work:
“But James, I need you!”
“So does England.”
Out on the piste, Bond is quickly joined by the obligatory black-clad pursuers. Some funk-fuelled downhill and a spot of hot-dogging later and he finds himself heading towards a cliff edge. A sheer drop awaits Bond – surely some last-minute swerve or one of Q’s gadgets must save him?
But no, shockingly, he skis straight off the cliff and into oblivion. Several beats of silence, broken only by the swirling of the wind, as the tiny be-skied figure flounders towards certain death. And then – a parachute unfurls, a Union Jack emblazoned across it! The huge brass of the Bond theme kicks in: Ba-da! Ba-dam! Goose bumps ensue.
And if that hasn’t convinced you, watch the legendary Alan Partridge‘s take on the scene…