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Best James Bond Scenes: The Sean Connery Era

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FILMBest James Bond Scenes: The Sean Connery Era

Best James Bond Moments: Part 1

1: Dr No – Opening Title Sequence

The schizophrenic title sequence introduces John Barry’s famous James Bond theme, but instead of transitioning into the now traditional pop song (which uses the title as a lyric), random portions of two calypso songs were used instead. This was also of course the first of Maurice Binder’s many fantastic title sequences, and while some of the standard conventions are absent (such as the silhouetted nude bodies floating about), we still do get the lines of white dots sliding across the screen before transforming into a gun barrel, through which Bob Simmons fires his gun. From then it’s on to a procession of primary colours and shapes and an Atari-like animated sequence. All in all, this remains one of the most distinctive opening title sequences of the series.

(Watch the clip here)

Dr. No
Image: United Artists

2: Dr. No – Cold Blooded Murder

There’s little doubt that Dr. No’s strongest attribute remains Connery’s iconic performance. His act here comes off as a much more laid-back Bond than what we would later see. Despite his suave surface, his Bond is overconfident, impulsive and careless. Connery does a superb job of infusing the character with just the right blend of charisma and menace. Amongst the many cold-blooded murders, the standout sequence sees the hero himself take full advantage of his license to kill. The Bond of Dr. No is flippant and vicious and Connery gives him hints of chic ruffian; he is a man who takes pleasure in teasing another man right before discharging a dozen or so bullets in his direction.

(Watch the clip here)

Ursula Andress Dr No
Image: United Artists

3: Dr. No – Introduction of the first Bond Girl

When Bond arrives on Crab Key, the lovely Honey Ryder played by Swiss export Ursula Andress is introduced strolling out of the Caribbean in a white bikini, accessorized with a survivalist blade by her side. Her introduction remains one of the most famous scenes in cinema, marking the arrival of the first “Bond Girl”. Not even James Bond himself had such an iconic introduction (although he came close four decades later).

(Watch the clip here)

Bond, James Bond

4: Dr. No  – Bond, James Bond

Sean Connery’s iconic delivery of the infamous, “Bond, James Bond” introduction is without a doubt, one of the most memorable scenes of the entire franchise. It’s a wonder why the writers didn’t have Connery deliver the line in the follow-up, From Russia With Love?

(Watch the clip here)

Memorable Quotes:

Dr. No: One million dollars, Mr. Bond. You were wondering what it cost.

James Bond: World domination. The same old dream. Our asylums are full of people who think they’re Napoleon. Or God.

James Bond: Both hands on the wheel, Mr. Jones, I’m a very nervous passenger.

James Bond: That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six.

James Bond: I would, you know. Only “M” would have me court-martialed for… illegal use of government property.

Dr. No: That’s a Dom Perignon ’55, it would be a pity to break it

Dr. No: SPECTRE. Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, Extortion. The four great cornerstones of power headed by the greatest brains in the world.

Major Boothroyd: [to Bond] Walther PPK, 7.65 millimeter, with a delivery like a brick through a plate-glass window. The American CIA swear by them.

****

Sean Connery’s second outing as James Bond became his personal favourite, and with good reason. From Russia with Love proved bigger and better. There are four action set-pieces spanning several countries including London, Istanbul, Belgrade, Trieste, and Venice – and although they feel low-key compared to future entries, the action hasn’t aged too much. Among From Russia With Love’s many memorable moments are:

From Russia With Love -  Best James Bond Scenes - train sequence

5: From Russia With Love – Strangers On A Train

Russia has several memorable moments including a 15-minute long sequence that sees Red Grant and James Bond mentally and physically match wits. Director Terrence Young expertly mounts the tension and suspense between the two foes, leading to a well-choreographed fight sequence in which both men go head to head in the confined space of two train compartments. Of all the Bond films, this was one of the most realistic scenes in which 007 faces off against a villain. Shaw is fantastic and his Grant is truly a worthy foe – determined, confident intelligent and cunning – much like Bond.

(Watch the clip here)

From Russia With Love – Bond vs. a helicopter and a boat
Image: United Artists

6From Russia With Love – Bond vs. a helicopter and a boat

Shortly after the brutal train brawl, there is a death-defying chase between Bond and a helicopter (a scene that bears a slight resemblance to North by Northwest), followed by a speedboat chase which ends with an eruption of fire over water. The editing is truly magnificent and these scenes demonstrate the vastly increased budget from Dr. No.

(Watch the clip here)

Rosa Klebb
Image: United Artists

6: From Russia With Love – Klebb

Colonel Rosa Klebb (played by Lotte Lenya ) is asked to clean the big mess she’s made for SPECTRE. She attempts to assassinate 007 one final time and fails.

7: From Russia With Love – Opening Theme by Robert Brownjohn

One of few Bond title sequences not designed by Maurice Binder opens up From Russia With Love. This one comes to us courtesy of Robert Brownjohn and assisted by Trevor Bond with Lionel Bart’s composition mixed in between the 007 Theme. It’s a simple concept but effective no less. The titles sequence is also famous for one thing: the way it shows the female body being literally objectified in every way imaginable.

(Watch the clip here)

Memorable Quotes:

Blofeld: I warned you: We do NOT tolerate failure, Number Three. You know the penalty.

Image via The Art of the Title

7: Goldfinger – Shirley Bassey’s “Goldfinger”

The opening credit sequence for Goldfinger was designed by graphic artist Robert Brownjohn, featuring clips of previous Bond films, From Russia With Love and Dr. No projected on Margaret Nolan’s body. But what makes the sequence so memorable isn’t the visuals but rather the song, sung by Shirley Bassey (who would go on to sing the theme songs for two other Bond films). While everyone argues who the best girl, the best film, the best villain, and best James Bond are, everyone seems to agree that Bassey’s tune is by far the best opening theme song of the entire franchise. The song, composed by John Barry, with lyrics by Anthony Newley, ranked 8th in the Billboard Hot 100.

(Watch the clip here)

8: Goldfinger – Emasculating 007 (The Laser Sequence)

One of the most iconic figures in Bond’s rogues gallery is the sexually frustrated Goldfinger. The title character (played by Gert Frobe) isn’t the most menacing villain to stand in the way of 007, but Frobe’s performance is great. He walks a fine line between acting subtle and hamming it up while showing different aspects of Goldfinger’s insecurities and inner demons. Here he attempts to emasculate 007 by aiming a laser directly between Bond’s legs, in hopes of castrating him. This is just one of several scenes that hint at Goldfinger’s jealousy of Bond’s sexual prowess. We’ve seen Bond tied up in many deadly situations in which he must find a way to escape, but this is the first. And if that wasn’t enough, it also features the best line any Bond villain ever delivered:

Bond: “Do you expect me to talk?”

Goldfinger: “No, Mr Bond. I expect you to die!”

(Watch the clip here)

Goldfinger - Golden Girl
Image: United Artists

9: Goldfinger – Golden Girl

A $50,000 sting at Gin Rummy leads to a million-dollar corpse. Bond’s discovery of poor Jill Masterson’s dead body in the infamous ‘Golden Girl’ scene, remains heartbreaking to this day. Shirley Eaton wasn’t given much screen time and even though her ruthless murder took place off-camera, she will forever be remembered as cinema’s golden stiff.

(Watch the clip here)

10: Goldfinger – Now Pay Attention 007

Throughout the years, we’ve witnessed the genius of Q’s gadgets. And while Q has no qualms mixing comedy in the office, he’s still taking his job very seriously. In Goldfinger, Q explains to Bond how his Aston Martin’s artillery, tracker, and ejector seat work. When Bond turns to him in disbelief and asks if he’s joking, Q quickly responds, “I never joke about my work, 007.”

(Watch the clip here)

Memorable Quotes:

James Bond: Shocking! Positively shocking!

James Bond: Now, Pussy, you know a lot more about planes than guns. That’s a Smith and Wesson 45, and if you fire at me at this close range, the bullet will pass through me and the fuselage like a blowtorch through butter. The cabin will depressurize, and we’ll both be sucked into outer space together. If that’s how you want to enter the United States, you’re welcome. As for me, I prefer the easy way.

James Bond: Uh, just a drink. A martini, shaken, not stirred.

Pussy Galore: My name is Pussy Galore.
James Bond: I must be dreaming.

Auric Goldfinger: Choose your next witticism carefully Mr. Bond, it may be your last.

The most commercially successful Bond film to date is Thunderball. The pic earned over $141 million worldwide, of which more than half was generated domestically in the U.S. The film was such a success, it was remade some 18 years later as Never Say Never Again. This is without a doubt my favourite Bond film (although not the best), and the film that perfected the ‘Bond Formula”. Every key player is back: lead actor Sen Connery, director Terence Young, longtime Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum, cinematographer Ted Moore, title sequence designer Maurice Binder, and composer John Barry.

Thunderball title sequence
Image via The Art of the Title

11: Thunderball – Opening Title Sequence

Maurice Binder returns to the fold after two films away and creates the quintessential Bond title sequence. The titles of Thunderball are visually striking, showing silhouettes of naked women swimming around against coloured backgrounds. Binder hired two dancers who actually swam about in tanks in disco clubs and convinced them to do the scene in the nude, promising he would tint the footage in post-production. And finally, Tom Jones tops it off with possibly the second-best theme song (even if the lyrics make no sense).

(Watch the clip here)

Thunderball - Best James Bond Scenes
Image: United Artists

12: Thunderball – Shark Attack!

The endless underwater sequences in the Caribbean’s big blue, are Thunderball’s standout feature. Thunderball’s underwater exploration easily takes up a quarter of its 130 minutes: The early heist and the final climax are noteworthy, but the best underwater scene involves Bond swimming for his life in Largo’s shark-infested pool. Watch how close the sharks actually get to Sean Connery’s face. The look on Connery’s face is actual fear.

(Watch the clip here)

Thunderball – The Wedding Dance
Image: United Artists

13: Thunderball – The Wedding Dance

James Bond and Fionna Volpe find themselves locked in tango after crashing a wedding. Bond spins the dame around locking her directly in the path of an assassin’s bullet. It’s a minor moment in an action-packed feature, but a moment no less than show Bond’s cruel nature, and just how quick he is to dodge a bullet.

Thunderball
Image: United Artists

14: Thunderball – Harpoon to the chest

Thunderball may be packed with underwater action, but one of the most memorable scenes takes place above water. Sneaking up on 007 has proven, a not-so-wise choice. In Thunderball, henchman Vargas quietly approaches Bond while he announces to Domino, her brother died. 007 quickly picks up the harpoon gun and fires it directly at Vargas, leaving him pinned to a tree. Bond responds with one of his best punchlines:

“I think he got the point.”

(Watch the clip here)

Memorable Quotes:

Fiona: Some men just don’t like to be driven.
Bond: No, some men don’t like to be taken for a ride.

James Bond: My dear girl, don’t flatter yourself. What I did this evening was for Queen and country. You don’t think it gave me any pleasure, do you?

James Bond: Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead.

15: You Only Live Twice – Aerial Attack

Amongst the film’s two biggest set-pieces is the battle between four helicopters and Bond’s tiny autogyro. This terrific combination of aerial cinematography and savvy editing cost cameraman John Jordan his foot.

(Watch the clip here)

You Only Live Twice – Bond Meets Blofeld
Image: United Artists

16: You Only Live Twice – Bond Meets Blofeld

“Allow me to introduce myself. I’m Ernst Stavro Blofeld.”

It can be argued that the unmasking of Ernst Stavro Blofeld was a mistake. Arguably Bond’s greatest nemesis was always on the ominous figure, but for the first time, audiences get to see what he looked like. Sure Donald Pleasance’s performance isn’t as good as Max Von Sydow’s portrayal of Blofeld in Never Say Never Again, but Pleasance gives the character an otherworldly creepiness ranking that almost makes us forgive the decision to show his face.

(Watch the clip here)

You Only Live Twice – Ninja Attack
Image: United Artists

17: You Only Live Twice – Ninja Attack

You Only Live Twice is the most action-heavy of all the Connery films. Give credit to the film’s second unit director Peter Hunt, who was in charge of choreographing most of the action, and directing one of the most exciting spectacles of all the early 007 flicks. In the climax of his fifth screen adventure, 007 takes out Blofeld’s massive volcano base with an army of ninjas allies who drop down from the ceiling as Bond rushes to stop the doomsday device. It is absolutely terrific.

(Watch the clip here)

You Only Live Twice – Piranha
Image: United Artists

18: You Only Live Twice – Piranha Feeding Time

Blofeld loves his pets, and apart from his white pussycat, he’s known for housing killer sharks and flesh-eating piranhas. Blofeld is also known to not tolerate the failures of his henchmen. Poor Helga Brandt becomes a happy meal for the man-eating fish swimming below when she unknowingly triggers the walkway trapdoor.

(Watch the clip here)

Memorable Quotes:

Blofeld: Kill Bond! Now!

Tiger Tanaka: Permit me to introduce myself. I am Tanaka. Please call me Tiger.

Tiger Tanaka: I must say I am disappointed with the ease with which I could pull you in. The one thing my honourable mother taught me long ago was never to get into a car with a strange girl. But you, I’m afraid, will get into anything. With any girl.

****

Diamonds Are Forever 
Image: United Artists

19: Diamonds Are Forever – Peter gets shafted

If there is one noteworthy action scene in Diamonds are Forever, it is the fight between Bond and diamond smuggler Peter Franks in an Amsterdam elevator. The scene is reminiscent of the train car sequence in From Russian With Love since both the actors and the cameras are restricted by space. Nevertheless, it remains one of the very best fistfights in the entire franchise.

(Watch the clip here)

Memorable Quotes:

Willard Whyte: I see you’ve met my friends Bambi and Thumper

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published under our old brand, Sound On Sight. The article is part of our James Bond Spotlight.

Some people take my heart, others take my shoes, and some take me home. I write, I blog, I podcast, I edit, and I design websites. Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Goomba Stomp and Tilt Magazine. Host of the NXpress Nintendo Podcast and the Sordid Cinema Podcast. Former Editor-In-Chief of Sound on Sight. Former host of several other podcasts including the Game of Thrones and Walking Dead shows, as well as Sound On Sight. There is nothing I like more than basketball, travelling, and animals. You can find me online writing about anime, TV, movies, games and so much more.

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