Goldeneye (1995): Returning after a six-year absence, the first Bond film starring Pierce Brosnan as 007 needed to open with a splash – and it did. Flashing back to the Cold War, the movie begins with a jaw-dropping bungee jump off a dam as Bond and a fellow agent infiltrate an illicit Soviet chemical-weapons facility, plant explosive charges and steal an airplane. It almost lets you forgive the filmmakers for bestowing on the Bond girl (Famke Janssen) the ridiculous moniker Xenia Onatopp.
Casino Royale (2006): Vodka martini, shaken not stirred, sure. But the best Bond cocktail scene takes place at the card table, where he spontaneously invents a new drink (later called the Vesper after Bond girl Vesper Lynd): Three parts gin, one part vodka, one-half part Kina Lillet, well shaken and served in a champagne goblet with a slice of lemon. Everyone at the table promptly places the same order. According to Esquire magazine’s resident mixologist, the gin would drown the liqueur, resulting in a dry, harsh drink – but do you think Bond gives a damn?
Best Bond girl
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969): Yes, this film included George Lazenby’s one-off and notorious version of Bond (the former Australian model’s voice was dubbed over), but the smart, suicidal, enchanting Diana Rigg as Contessa Teresa (Tracy) di Vicenzo was the only Bond romantic interest of any real depth – and naturally the only woman he (briefly and tragically) married.
Best chase scene
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service wins again. Perhaps determined to distract from Lazenby’s inadequacies, editor-turned-director Peter Hunt packed this film with chase scenes – on skis, on a demolition-derby race track and, most spectacularly, on a bobsled run, with dizzying high-speed point-of-view shots, a grenade and a sickening encounter between a neck and a tree branch.
Best fight scene
From Russia with Love (1963): Sean Connery is Bond, Robert Shaw is the Irish SPECTRE agent Donald (Red) Grant and their scene is a bloody, grappling, stabbing, head-butting and finally garrotting battle on a train. This level of vicious intensity wasn’t approached again until the bathroom fight scene at the start of Casino Royale.
Goldfinger (1964): The somewhat aquatic-looking silver Aston Martin DB5, of course. Ejector seat, oil-slick release, guns optional. The DB5 appeared in four subsequent Bond films, including the current Skyfall, where its appearance on the screen has been applauded by audiences. One of the Goldfinger models sold for $4.6-million at auction in 2010.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974): From radioactive pocket lint to a blow-gun cigarette, Bond always had the best gadgets – but the neatest belonged to the villainous Scaramanga (played by Christopher Lee): A gun made out of a pen (the barrel), cigarette lighter (the chamber), cigarette case (the handle), cufflink (the trigger) and a bullet stored in Scaramanga’s belt
Goldfinger: Sultry cabaret belter Shirley Bassey’s best-known hit set the template for all Bond songs to follow. The tune was by Bond-theme composer John Barry, with lyrics by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, inspired by Mack the Knife. For good measure: Production was by George Martin of the Beatles fame, with future Led Zeppelin founder Jimmy Page on guitar.
Best torture scene
Casino Royale: True, Bond’s rivals have a habit of placing him in overly elaborate and escapable predicaments. But none compares to the scene where, true to Ian Fleming’s novel, he is tied to a bottomless chair and whacked repeatedly in the testicles. No wonder Raymond Chandler called Fleming “a bit of a sadist.”
You Only Live Twice (1967): Mike Myers’s Austin Powers parody as Dr. Evil has made the white-kitty-stroking Ernst Stavro Blofeld hard to take seriously, but for indelible pop iconography he takes the Bond cake. Though appearing or heard from in six Bond features (as well as in the non-Eon Productions Never Say Never), Blofeld was best played by the egg-headed, facially disfigured Donald Pleasence in You Only Live Twice, who uttered the deathless words: “I shall look forward personally to exterminating you, Mr. Bond.”