Connery Redux

Woohoo! Yesterday I posted that the four lesser Connery Bond films are available on instant Netflix and *surprise!* today the three best Connery Bond films became available on instant play – in HD no less! I look forward to rewatching these classics some time in the next week or so.

Dr. No (1962) – Rated PG

On a mission in Jamaica, suave Agent 007 (Sean Connery) — in the first of the James Bond films — finds mad scientist Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) plotting to derail the U.S. space program and take over the world.

While not the first Bond adaptation, Dr. No is the first of the official MGM adaptations and thus the first of the Sean Connery Bonds. I rank this one third of the Connery Bonds. The pluses to this film are the portrayal of Bond as ruthless (something the series gradually steers away from until Casino Royale brought the series back on track), the performance of Connery who is front and center for much of the film, and the lack of distracting gadgets.

Goldfinger (1964) – Rated PG

The third installment in the 007 series — which racked up an Oscar for its sound effects — finds uberspy James Bond trying to thwart baddie Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) and his elaborate gambit to corner the gold market by contaminating Fort Knox.

“Do you expect me to talk?” – “No Mr. Bond I expect you to die!”

Considered by many to be the height of the Bond series, Goldfinger is a fun romp with several memorable villains, signature gadgets that do not overwhelm the story, and an interesting, if implausible, plot.

From Russia with Love (1963) – Rated PG

Bond is back — and so are the bullets, beauties and bad guys! You’ll be shaken and stirred by Sean Connery’s second outing as 007, which has him paying the price for his previous adventure when SPECTRE seeks revenge for the death of Dr. No.

This is my absolute favorite Bond film. Being the second film, the rough edges of Dr. No have been polished out but the gadgets have yet to overwhelm the series. The plot is thankfully not about a megalomaniac trying to take over and/or destroy the world but is instead about the intrigue between British intelligence (and their allies), the Russians (and their allies), and SPECTRE.

Although quite dated, it features one of the first realistic fist fights put on film. Much of it takes place on a train which is a personal favorite of mine and the beginning takes place in (and under) Istanbul which I had the joy of visiting some years back. Pedro Armendariz gives a wonderful performance as Ali Kerim Bey in spite of being terminally ill with cancer during the filming.