Bondathon 60


On 5 October 1962, a film phenomenon was born.

Ian Fleming’s superspy James Bond made his leap from the page to the silver screen with Sean Connery starring in Dr. No – and 60 years later the franchise is still going strong. Over the past few months every film has been re-released and screened in cinemas, all building up to this anniversary; it’s certainly been great for those of us who hadn’t previously had the opportunity to see these classic films on the big screen before – plus giving the more recent ones a rewatch has been wonderful.

To that end, I’m going down the MI6 rabbit hole once again and embarking on a 60th anniversary Bondathon. Keep an eye on this page for reviews and blog posts over the next 007 weeks…

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REVIEW: The Sound of 007 in Concert, Royal Albert Hall ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Never one to take the cheaper options in life, James Bond’s 60th anniversary celebrations began early with an intimate bash at the Royal Albert Hall, with roughly 5,000 in attendance for The Sound of 007 in Concert. Curated by prolific Bond composer David Arnold, the evening saw performances of a variety of theme songs and instrumental compositions from the soundtracks of others – and featured a wealth of special guests along the way. Read more…

Dr No (1962)
A complete story in itself, which also manages to establish several key Bondian tropes along the way – and don’t forget that orchestrated tarantula killing.

From Russia With Love (1963)
The Cold War comes to the fore, as Bond finds himself caught between SMERSH and SPECTRE – a terrific balance of action and international intrigue.

Goldfinger (1964)
Sean Connery’s Bond at his coolest, featuring some of the franchise’s most memorable quotes – and a top hat to die for.

Thunderball (1965)
An intriguing, if slightly overblown, plot and supervillain – the final underwater skirmish is impressive, if a little convoluted in its execution.

You Only Live Twice (1967)
One of the more problematic episodes in Bond’s silver screen history, courtesy of Roald Dahl – though a welcome sense of genuine jeopardy.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
A film that’s had an unfair reception over the years, but manages to combine a compelling plot with true character development for 007 – perhaps fitting it’s Lazenby’s solo outing after that unexpected ending.

Ranking the theme tunes (25-21)
Hardly an original idea, but it’s taken me until doing this Bondathon to consider the canon of theme tunes as a whole, rather than the regular few favourites. This isn’t an intensely analytical series by any means – it’ll mostly be subjective, with a little dash of objectivity thrown in every now and then. Maybe you’ll agree, maybe you won’t. Read more…

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Connery returns, looking as little worse for wear since his last outing, in a film with a slightly convoluted plot – linked to the continued obsession with the space age.

Live and Let Die (1973)
Roger Moore sets out his stall early with this caper, diverging from all the Bond films up until this point – George Martin’s score adds a slight rock edge to harden it up.

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
It’s a rather silly but nonetheless enjoyable film, with a terrific (if mad) car stunt and a brilliant turn from Christopher Lee as Scaramanga.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
An iconic car and theme song, as well as the introduction of legendary henchman Jaws – it would also have been good to see Agent XXX make a return later in the franchise.

Moonraker (1979)
Released earlier than originally planned due to the success of Star Wars, it’s obviously completely camp & ridiculous – in more ways than one, with its female lead’s name & Drax’s bizarre masterplan.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)
A much-needed return to a slightly more serious tone, with an emphasis on conspiracy rather than overblown masterplans – though not without its own touch of silliness.

Ranking the theme tunes (20-16)
I think this shows a bit more variety, and has also made use of some of my critical faculties, rather than solely relying on personal taste; a couple of them are songs I do really enjoy, but had to look at them through the Bond theme lens to work out their value in this list. Read more…

Octopussy (1983)
A clash of tones, as the silly & the dark struggle for supremacy (the clown costume is an All Time Low) – and intriguing to see Maud Adams return in a different role just a few films after her previous performance.

A View To A Kill (1985)
A fitting way to close Roger Moore’s account as Bond, with a camp but deadly plot from the psychopath Max Zorin (played with relish by Christopher Walken) – Grace Jones also thrills as May Day.

The Living Daylights (1987)
One of the very best Bond films, starting adventurously and remaining gripping throughout – Timothy Dalton makes an instant impression, and there are plenty of classic moments to savour.

Licence to Kill (1989)
This dark, grown-up film has had a poor rep over the years and it’s hard to see why – it has a truly excellent villain in Franz Sanchez, a zeitgeisty plot, and another strong performance from Dalton.

Ranking the theme tunes (15-11)
After going through songs 25-21 and songs 20-16, we’re getting down to the nitty gritty now. This is potentially where things start to get a little controversial, as personal preference plays a larger role this time. It’s a bit of a mix, though leaning more towards the modern side of things overall. Read more…

GoldenEye (1995)
Pierce Brosnan starts his tenure excellently, re-injecting some campness without losing too much edge – Sean Bean is one of the all-time great Bond villains.

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
A slightly odd plot (maybe quite on-the-nose in the Rupert Murdoch era), but an enjoyable adventure – and it features one of my favourite ever car chases.

The World Is Not Enough (1999)
They couldn’t resist shoe-horning in the then Millennium Dome in the expansive opening sequence, in another film with an elaborate plot – Sophie Marceau, though, is another great modern villain.

Die Another Day (2002)
Potentially the silliest Bond film of all time (and that’s taking the Moore era into consideration), though it does have some good ideas – and Halle Berry as Jinx is a definite breath of fresh air.

Ranking the theme tunes (10-6)
Having gone through from 25-21, then 20-16, then 15-11 – you should hopefully have a reasonable idea as to what is left, and what might be featuring in this penultimate post… There’s a decent mix of up-to-date and classic Bond themes in each post, though for this one we are looking back a bit further on the whole. That’s personal preference for you! Read more…

Casino Royale (2006)
Not just the perfect introduction to Daniel Craig’s Bond, but also a smart & sophisticated reboot of the franchise – all the classic elements are there, in an engrossing action adventure.

Quantum of Solace (2008)
It’s a lot better than most seem to give it credit for, although admittedly it does feel a little rushed in places and has a questionable villain – Craig gives an excellent follow-up performance.

Skyfall (2012)
There are so many iconic & memorable moments in this film, which feels like it’s got the blend of classic and new Bond absolutely spot-on – and it’s great to have the whole team together at last.

Spectre (2015)
The strands of Craig’s previous films begin to come together with the introduction of Christoph Waltz’s diminutive, yet menacing, Blofeld – it has some great action sequences and Léa Seydoux makes an impactful start.

Photo credit: Danjaq, MGM, CPII

BWW Review: Spectre in Concert, Royal Albert Hall ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“The dead are alive.” Spectre hammers home this message early on, from the epigraph and the impressive Day of the Dead opening sequence, to the lyrics in Sam Smith’s theme tune “Writing’s On The Wall and the opening credits design (“A million shards of glass / That haunt me from my past”). Even the film’s title is redolent of a haunting presence – although hardened Bond fans will know the true significance of this word. Read more…

Ranking the theme tunes (5-1)
Before I get into the final five, after meticulously running through 25-21, 20-16, 15-11, and 10-6 over the past few weeks, I want to give an honourable mention to a song that a lot of people will associate with the Bond theme genre. We Have All the Time in the World by Louis Armstrong is a wonderful song and now linked to both On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and No Time To Die, but as it isn’t an opening theme song it doesn’t place on this list. Read more…

No Time To Die (2021)
It’s a long one but worth it, as Daniel Craig signs off in style with a demonstration of true growth as a character – Rami Malek’s villain for the ages and the homages to classic Bond (and unused ideas from the novels) make it a fitting final chapter.

“Wait… three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel.”

Casino Royale