I’m a big fan of the Bond franchise and have been ever since I can remember – although growing up, I always wondered why I never met any women with names like Plenty O’Toole, Tiffany Case, or Honey Ryder.
As an aficionado of both the movies, the novels, and the comic strip (yes, there was a comic strip!), I can say that, in my humble opinion, the newest Bond movie Skyfall is unarguably the best Bond movie yet. The storyline, which revolves around an aging M and Bond and the perception that their time is done, is thematically rich with subtle imagery and references to growing older and presumably irrelevant. The haunting theme song from Adele as the movie opens sets the ambiance perfectly: “This is the end. Hold your breath and count to ten…”
I particularly enjoyed the brilliant use of an excerpt from Tennyson’s poem Ulysses towards the movie’s conclusion:
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
I saw Skyfall with my wife over the weekend and on the drive home from the theatre, I realized that the evolution of Fleming’s iconic British Secret Service agent is intimately linked with my own personal evolution.
If you’re like me, particular Bond movies can bring you back to specific moments in your life.
The Sean Connery era was my childhood. I will never forget the first time I saw the body of Auric Goldfinger’s secretary covered in gold paint lying on the bed in Goldfinger. Roger Moore followed me from junior high to high school. When I hear Paul McCartney and Wings’ “Live and Let Die,” I am instantly taken back to the hallways of my high school in tenth grade. Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan watched me land my first real job and get married. Daniel Craig was there for the birth of my children.
So many unforgettable moments come to mind… Here are just a few of my favorites:
• In Goldfinger, Bond, about to be lasered in half, asks Auric: “Do you expect me to talk?” and he replies, “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!”
• The part in Moonraker where villain Jaws bites through the steel cable like it’s a Snickers bar.
• In Casino Royale, Bond returns to the poker table after being poisoned and says, “I’m sorry. That last hand... nearly killed me.”
• The guy with three nipples in The Man with the Golden Gun.
• Plenty O’Toole being thrown out of a hotel window and into the pool from multiple stories up in Diamonds Are Forever.
• The speedboat chase in Live and Let Die featuring Sheriff J.W. Pepper.
• Nick Nack’s fashion sense in The Man with the Golden Gun.
• The final heartbreaking scene in Skyfall with Bond and M.
• Ernst Stavro Blofeld's cat Solomon.
After 50 years and 23 movies, what’s your all-time favorite James Bond moment?
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can follow him on Twitter at @paulgoatallen and get all the latest Barnes & Noble book news from @BNBuzz.