It’s a debate as old as your dad’s record collection: who is the best James Bond? For some, there’s no topping Sean Connery, who originated the role and made a total of seven films; others like Roger Moore’s campier take on the character, and younger audiences are partial to the current 007, Daniel Craig, who’s brought a hard-nosed realism to the series.
With the upcoming November 6 release of Craig’s fourth film as Bond, (and the 25th overall), SPECTRE, the debate is likely to rise again to create generational discord at Thanksgiving dinners across the country.
And starting today, you can prepare your argument with solid research, as all 24 Bond films, from Dr. No through Skyfall will be available for rent in Sling TV’s Movies On Demand section.
Bond: Sean Connery
Tenure: 1962-1967, 1971, 1983
Films: Dr. No (1962); From Russia With Love (1963); Goldfinger (1964); Thunderball (1965); You Only Live Twice (1967); Diamonds Are Forever (1971); Never Say Never Again (1983)
Comments: Ask anyone born before 1980 and you are likely to hear that Connery was the best Bond: the most suave, the most handsome, the most convincing at ass-kicking. Those people have a solid point, but as great as Connery was, the films he was in are looking more dated every year, with clunky action sequences and slow plot development. Sit down with a millennial, put on Goldfinger, and wait to see how long before she checks her text messages.
Bond: George Lazenby
Films: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
Comments: It’s hard to take this guy seriously as Bond, because he only made one movie. All the good Bonds made at least four movies, right? But give this one a chance, because it’s one of the best-plotted and most realistic (relatively speaking) of all the Bond films; think of it as a precursor to the Daniel Craig era. Lazenby’s Bond was the only one to get married, and to the utterly lovely Diana Rigg (Mrs. Peel on The Avengers UK spy series, now Lady Olenna on Game of Thrones) to boot, which gets him out of the cellar all by itself.
Bond: Roger Moore
Films: Live and Let Die (1973); The Man With The Golden Gun (1974); The Spy Who Loved Me (1977); Moonraker (1979); For Your Eyes Only (1981); Octopussy (1983); A View To A Kill (1985)
Comments: They say a person’s favorite Bond is like their favorite band – chosen in high school and absolutely unshakeable forever after. Roger Moore is the Bond I grew up with, but I can’t pretend to be at all partial to him; his last few movies got really silly and he was ten years too old to believably win a fight with anyone older than 12. His first few movies are great though.
Bond: Timothy Dalton
Movies: The Living Daylights (1987); Licence to Kill (1989)
Comments: Pierce Brosnan, then hot on the strength of his lead performance on the canceled detective series Remington Steele, was all signed up to take over for Roger Moore, until NBC executives decided to capitalize on the buzz by un-canceling Remington Steele and holding Brosnan to his contract. Enter Timothy Dalton, who kept the seat warm for two movies. Like Lazenby’s go-round, Dalton’s movies were an effort to tamp down the campier elements of Moore’s tenure and play up the realism, and the movies are much better than their reputation.
Bond: Pierce Brosnan
Movies: GoldenEye (1995); Tomorrow Never Dies (1997); The World is Not Enough (1999); Die Another Day (2002)
Comments: Ten years after being cast as Roger Moore’s successor, Pierce Brosnan finally got his spin in the Aston-Martin, and though his first two efforts were solid, the camp began to creep back in, and the franchise’s continued quest to top itself in terms of gadgets and setpieces led to increasingly silly movies. Think of Brosnan’s run as kind of like hair metal before Nirvana came along.
Bond: Daniel Craig
Films: Casino Royale (2006); Quantum of Solace (2009); Skyfall (2012); SPECTRE (2015)
Comments: When Daniel Craig was cast as the sixth 007, the big complaint was that he was blond. Bond isn’t blond!! But then half the audience saw him coming out of the ocean in his skintight bathing suit, the other half saw him fight more savagely and realistically than any Bond before him, and all was forgiven. This Bond felt remorse for his kills (except when he didn’t), was haunted by the death of the love interest in the first film well into the third, and wanted nothing more than to quit Her Majesty’s Secret Service. This iteration is so dedicated to realism that they didn’t even introduce Q or his gadgets until the third film. Having laid all that track to make us care about the character and his emotional well-being, it’s an exciting prospect to bring back SPECTRE, an antagonist not seen since the Connery era.
Whichever is your favorite, one thing is for sure: the best Bond theme song is “Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon, from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. That’s just indisputable scientific fact.