Very recently I asked myself this hypothetical question; which film would I use to introduce Bond to a newcomer? Having thought about it I realised that you would need multiple films to really do the franchise justice, five in fact. And so here are those five, arranged in the order that I would show them.
Start off with the ultimate example of the extreme, often implausible bond films which we all know and love. This film lies just the right side of over the top; with the ultimate bad bond girl in Xenia Onatopp and the brilliant tank chase. The level of humour, spectacle, action and cast are all amongst the best in the franchise and these elements all cohesively work together in this film. The continual high standard makes this film the greatest example of the Bond films to show a newcomer, it is a joy to watch and would set up the majority of the series.
Now that you have shown them GoldenEye, show them the 60’s equivalent with this classic Bond film. I say its equivalent because they really are the same kind of Bond film. Although they are all fairly similar there are certain subcategories to Bond films; the more realistic, the darker and more emotional, the comedic and then the spectacular and these two films both belong to the spectacular category. It’s the first to fully demonstrate the template which all other Bond films would be based upon, for example the use of multiple and ridiculously excessive gadgets. Still I argue that it has its flaws and it’s not my favourite Bond film, but its classic status demands that it has to make this introductory list. There are several scenes in this one which have dated extremely badly, the ‘seduction’ of Pussy Galore springs to mind, but that is pretty much the case for all of the early Bond films.
3. From Russia with Love
I actually prefer this film to Goldfinger and maybe even GoldenEye, but it’s not truly representative of the series and so I can’t really open an introduction with it. Having said that, there are several staples of the franchise which are established here, the most obvious two being; the introduction of Q Branch and their gadgets, and also the beginning of the pre-credits sequences. This entry would be a representative for the more realistic side to Bond; here Bond is actually believable as a spy, one who isn’t omniscient and super human. Of course this side of Bond is rarely seen, however it does exist and thus needs to be shown.
4. Live and Let Die
Here we have one of the best Bond girls, Solitaire (Jane Seymour), she is one of the few that we actually can make an emotional connection to. Bond’s seduction technique is uncomfortable to watch here; he pretty much creates the fragility which then causes her to need his protection. However, this makes her considerably more believable and memorable than a lot of Bond girls. Yes, it also has the best theme song. There are several obvious contenders I know but none captures Bond quite like this one; it’s aggressive and yet cool, lots of fun but with a darker undertone, most of all though it’s just a really great song. Live and Let Die would be a good choice to now introduce the cartoon quality Bond sometimes inhabits, like it or not it is there and an integral part of Bond’s history – surely nothing can exemplify that more than Kananga’s death scene?
5. Casino Royale
Having seen a selection of Bond films, it would now be time to bring out this one. Aside from the fact that it is a great film, this one is here to represent the darker, more emotional side to Bond – hence no Dalton. It also has, in my opinion, the best ending out of all the Bond films. The Bond theme is excellently used here. We are missing it for the length of the entire film and then, just when we think it’s all over, we get are hit with it and it isn’t done just for that surprise factor but also it forms an integral part of the narrative. Brilliant stuff. Really for the ending to work, this person should have seen considerably more Bond films. Would you miss it enough after only seeing four films? Maybe. Not as much as a fan would but hey we have to be sensible, this is an introduction, not a film history lesson. Demonstrating to our viewer that Bond is current, fresh, and still going very strong indeed, Casino Royale absolutely deserves its place on this list.