MI6 Editors caught up with several members of the social organization Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E to reflect on James Bond and his adventures...

Opinion - S.P.E.C.T.R.E. James Bond Top Twenty One Countdown (2)
18th July 2006

MI6 Editors caught up with several members of the social organization Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E.* at their annual meeting and retreat in the US and we posed a series of research challenges to the society’s leadership for inclusion in MI6’s continuing education series over the next several months to coincide with the release of Casino Royale. MI6 will be printing their responses from a series of questions over the next few months. Read the first six choices in part one of ther James Bond Top Twenty One Countdown.

The first of these questions was as follows:

”In keeping with the mounting interest in Bond 21 Casino Royale, what would you list as the 21 most memorable Bond moments and least favorable from the film series?”

The Club humorously acknowledged that fans are free to agree or disagree, but to keep in mind that anyone who seriously challenges these conclusions may well get a dip in Largo’s shark pool, or more inhumanely, be forced to watch the 1967 Eurotrash spy film Operation Kid Brother.

The 21 responses will be published in no significant order or ranking over the coming months.

Most Memorable

7) The Golden Girl in Goldfinger-
One of the most mesmerizing sequences in film history is James Bond’s discovery of one-night paramour Jill Masterson’s body covered head to foot in gold paint - a punishment enacted by Auric Goldfinger for her betrayal.

The scene still has stunning impact today. The sequence caused such sensation in 1964 that it landed actress Shirley Eaton, who appeared for only several minutes as Jill Masterson in the final cut of the film, onto the cover of Life magazine and made her one of the most photographed women of the year.

Right: Shirley Eaton and Sean Connery prepare for Jill Masterson's final sequence in Goldfinger.


8) James Bond Meets Dr. No
This sequence set the tone for a hallmark of the series: the introduction of the larger-than-life villain. As embodied by Joseph Wiseman, Dr. No is a cultured intellectual who hides his menace behind a veneer of polite conversation - another aspect of the series that would become a mainstay. What Bond movie would be complete without the villain preceding his plans for a horrendous death for 007 by inviting him for a sumptuous dinner and duel of wits? If there is anything lacking in Bond films of more recent vintage, it is the absence of these old-fashioned megalomaniacs for run-of-the-mill pretty boys who look like they stepped off of a calendar.


9) Q's exit in The World is Not Enough
Since assuming the role of gadgets genius Major Boothroyd (aka “Q”) in From Russia With Love, Desmond Llewelyn would become a main ingredient of the series (with the unpardonable exception of Live and Let Die wherein the scriptwriters unwisely left his character out of the script - a mistake they would not make again.). Llewelyn, a kind and gentle man in real life who ironically had no ability to even master working with common household appliances, became the defacto Goodwill Ambassador for the producers, traveling the world and enchanting audiences with his tales of being the only series regular to have worked with all five Bond actors. Llewelyn knew that his advancing years would ultimately mean his retirement from the series and it was his suggestion that the character of his assistant, played by John Cleese, be introduced to take over the reigns. No one could have foreseen, however, that Llewelyn’s final appearance in a Bond film would be so laden with unexpected irony.

Left: Pierce Brosnan and Desmond Llewelyn talk about the BMW Z8.

10) The Laser Table Sequence in Goldfinger
Back when laser technology was the stuff of fantasy, we found Bond strapped spread-eagled on a metallic table as Auric Goldfinger’s deadly laser gun aimed its beam slowly and unstoppably up to 007’s most treasured set of gadgets. The brilliance of the sequence was that - despite the fact that we know Bond will escape - he must rely on his wits to do so. In desperation he asks Goldfinger, “Do you expect me talk?” The infamous reply is a casual, “No, Mr. Bond- I expect you to die!”

Least Memorable

11) La Cage aux Folly
Yet another sequence from Diamonds Are Forever that never fails to make Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E members grimace is the cross-dressing getup Blofeld wears to avoid capture at the casino. The fact that actor Charles Gray looks like Ed Sullivan in drag is the least convincing aspect of this scenario. The very idea that the notorious mastermind of S.P.E.C.T.R.E would have to resort to such tactics makes us actually empathize with the would be world-dominator. On the positive side, the scene seems to have inspired a far more successfully directed sequence in the comedy classic The Birdcage.

12) Computer Generated Windsurfer in Die Another Day
One of the mainstay elements of the Bond series has been the consistent use of live stunts and avoidance of trickery in its special effects. This trend came to a screeching halt in DAD when CGI technicians created cheesy images of Bond converting his destroyed ice racer into a metal windsurfer which he rides to safety atop a churning tsunami. All this after having survived a virtual avalanche of snow while he dangled precariously from an icy cliff. The effects were so “over the top” we half expected the Road Runner to emerge atop the surfboard with 007. Fans pined away for the (relative) sobriety of Moonraker where one only had to contend with an amphibious gondola and the sight of Jaws flapping his arms like Big Bird when his parachute fails. MGM actually issued an apology of sorts for the poor SFX work in DAD and the producers have wisely promised to stick with traditional stuntmen for the next film.

Above: A very real Pierce Brosnan hangs from a crane for the landing after his alleged windsurfing.

13) One Giant Leap in Logic: Bond Flies the Moonraker Shuttle
Part of Bond’s appeal is his ability to adapt to any emergency. We’re willing to stretch a certain degree of credibility and believe he could leap into a Moonbuggy and steer it through the Nevada desert in Diamonds Are Forever - partly because the script at least show’s him to be rather inept at the controls. However, in Moonraker, Bond finds himself aboard one of the first space shuttles (it’s 1979, after all) and manages to fly it with less difficulty than a Yank driving a rental car through a London roundabout. All this is achieved without even consulting the “owner’s manual”. Very impressive for those of us who can’t even figure out how to turn the dome light on in a new car.

Discuss the Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E opinions at MI6 Forums.

* Like most private societies, Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E. membership is by invitation only and is dedicated to fellowship and a "Flemingesque" pursuit of the James Bond lifestyle- fine wines and liquors, cigars, exotic travel and beautiful women. The members represent a diverse and international social group consisting of James Bond authors, scholars and enthusiasts who share their common interest through outings and meetings geared toward celebrating all things relating to 007. The group's name ironically does not originate from the evil crime organization found in the James Bond novels and films. Rather, the name relates to the groups founding on Italian actor Adolfo Celi's birthday. (Celi portrayed the S.P.E.C.T.R.E villain Emilio Largo in Thunderball.) Thus, the organization was formed and a definition was assigned to its title: Society to Promote and Celebrate Celi's Triumphant and Remarkable Endeavors. Absurd? Naturally, but a hell of a lot of fun for its members.

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