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James Bond’s Best and Worst: Peter Travers Ranks All 24 Movies

The Best and Worst of the franchise

best worst james bond films

Courtesy Everett Collection; Francois Duhamel

For half a century, James Bond movies have obsessed audiences. It's not hard to see why Ian Fleming's secret agent man is a global phenom. Bond himself, whether he's played by Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan or 21st-century model Daniel Craig, is an icon of style, sex and macho. Then there's the stunts, the gadgets, the villains, the Bond girls, the vodka martinis served shaken, not stirred. What people forget is that not all Bond movies are created equal. There are stinkers in there with the goodies. Here, to please myself and provoke arguments, are the best and the worst, rated from Number One to Number 24. Happy 50th, Mr. Bond. 

By Peter Travers

you only live twice

Courtesy Everett Collection

7

‘You Only Live Twice’ (1967)

From the Eastern flavor of the opening theme, hauntingly sung by Nancy Sinatra, to the Japanese setting, the fifth film is the Bond series just gets better and cooler with age. The tasty script by Roald Dahl junks most of the Fleming novel, spinning its own witty Cold War fantasy. Connery's Bond finally gets to confront SPECTRE's arch-villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, previously unseen but now played to the creepy hilt by Donald Pleasance. Blofeld petting his white pussy while dropping enemies into a piranha pool spawned a trilogy of Austin Powers spoofs. And the chopper with a magnet to pick up assassins is a marvel.

Dr. No

© Everett Collection / Everett Collection

6

‘Dr. No’ (1962)

"Bond, James Bond." With that intro (and Monty Norman's inimitable theme), Sean Connery started the 007 march into film legend. Shot on the cheap, the film spawned a $5 billion franchise. Connery, first seen through a gun barrel, eases into the role, making hash of the evil Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman). He even sings "Underneath the Mango Tree" in the Jamaica scene in which Ursula Andress, as the first and the ultimate Bond girl Honey Ryder, emerges from the water gathering shells in a white bikini. JFK, a Bond fan, requested a private screening at the White House. To some, the tarantula in Bond's bed is the key scene. I'd go with the bikini.