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 (4)
9th October 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.

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 favourable 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 have been published in no significant order or ranking over the last few months. As true Bond fans we're unable to stop at 21, though. Below are a few extra moments.

Opinion - S.P.E.C.T.R.E. James Bond Top Twenty One Countdown (1)
Opinion - S.P.E.C.T.R.E. James Bond Top Twenty One Countdown (2)
Opinion - S.P.E.C.T.R.E. James Bond Top Twenty One Countdown (3)

Most Memorable

22) The Fencing Sequence in Die Another Day

Above: Pierce Brosnan crosses broadswords with Toby Stephens

One of the few saving graces in a Bond film overladen with embarrassing sexual quips and even more embarrassing special effects is the one “old fashioned” action sequence depicting a fencing match between Bond and the villain Graves. Starting as a traditional bout (filmed in London’s Reform Club), the battle quickly escalates to an intense battle with actors Pierce Brosnan and Toby Stephens quite impressive not only in their physical dexterity but also in the intensity of their emotions. If only the rest of the film had side-stepped the shoddy CGI effects in favour of such stirring sequences.

23) Introduction of Judi Dench as M
Many fans anticipated Dench’s first appearance as M in GoldenEye with trepidation, fearing it would simply be a politically correct gimmick. Within seconds, however, Dench asserted herself as being worthy of her notable predecessors, dressing down Bond in a no-nonsense manner. Until this point, the relationship between Bond and previous M’s (Bernard Lee and his successor Robert Brown) was more or less paternal with 007’s crusty superior often criticizing his “offspring” even while it was apparent he admired his talents, if not his methods.

The introduction of Dench’s M, however, introduces the unexpected element of outright hostility between she and Bond and the dialogue bristles with tension. There are ultimately signs that Bond’s new boss also has a degree of respect and admiration for 007, but this aspect of their relationship would remain nicely understated throughout the course of the Pierce Brosnan era.

Right: Dame Judi Dench takes on the role of Bond on Martin Campbell's suggest


Least Memorable

24) Use of Music and Gags for Humour
It’s called “cartooning” in the film business - the use of music, sound effects and trick shots to accentuate a humorous event. This has been a staple of the industry from the silent era to present day. Yet, what worked for The Three Stooges was somewhat less effective for Agent 007, as evidenced by the preponderance of cartooning during the Roger Moore era. Whenever it was employed, the technique destroyed the impact of otherwise impressive stunt sequences – most notably the famed canal jump by Bond’s AMC Hornet in The Man With The Golden Gun. This landmark achievement was the first stunt to be calculated on a computer but its impact was negated by the inclusion of a ludicrous a pipe whistle at the precise moment the car goes into an incredible spiral.

In other crimes against humanity, the device was employed as Bond snowboards to “California Girl” in A View to a Kill and braving the desert to the strains of Maurice Jarre’s theme from Lawrence of Arabia in The Spy Who Loved Me. Other cartoonish transgressions were not limited to an assault on fan’s ears. In several of the Roger Moore films there is a weird obsession with animals doing double-takes. The double-take also pertains to an actor who appears as an extra in several films who can be seen “hilariously” questioning his sobriety when he witnesses Bond’s incredible stunts. Given the embarrassing way both man and beast are presented in these sequences, it’s amazing Eon was not picketed by both animal rights groups and Alcoholics Anonymous.

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.

The views of expressed in this article are not necessarily those of mi6-hq.com or its owners.