Netflix Bond, Lack of Bond

Alright Netflix – Hulu skunked you on the James Bond series but maybe you can redeem yourself with some good movies featuring the stars of Bond.

Sean Connery will always be my Bond. I first saw him as a wee tyke in Diamonds are Forever, one of my first movie memories. Growing up I loved catching the expurgated versions on network television. When VCRs came around, you can imagine how ecstatic I was.

The Longest Day

Connery has never been the most prolific of actors but he has 93 imdb credits to his name, including such gems as The Man who Would be King, The Rock, Marnie, The Hill, The Molly Maguires, and my favorite Robin and Marian. Netflix has exactly three Connery titles: The Longest Day (pre-Bond), Playing by Heart, and the animated feature Guardian of the Highlands. Poor showing Netflix.

The Wild Geese

Ignoring the abortive Lazenby attempt, Roger Moore took over the mantle with Live and Let Die. Moore too has 93 imdb credits but not nearly as many gems. Netflix has but a single Moore title. Thankfully it is probably his best non-Bond effort: the mercenary saga, The Wild Geese with Richard Burton and Richard Harris.

Hot Fuzz

After Moore retired the 00 designation, Timothy Dalton attempted to bring back Bond’s edge. He has 67 imdb credits, including the delightful Penny Dreadful series. Netflix has Hot Fuzz (hysterically funny) and Disney’s Secret of the Wings.

Not well played at all, Netflix. Just counting Hulu’s Bond movies, they beat you on these three actors.

James Bond Week – Hulu

Hulu of course has nowhere near the depth or breadth of the movies available on Netflix. However someone in their programming and procurement office is pretty savvy.

Hulu

At the beginning of the month, just in time for Spectre, Hulu acquired the exclusive rights for a slew of Bond films. Connery is well-represented, with Goldfinger, From Russia With Love, Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, and Diamonds are Forever – even the non-canon Never Say Never Again. Only his first, Dr. No, is not available. Goldfinger and From Russia With Love are justifiable classics. The others are worth watching just for Connery though Never Say Never Again is a very lazy remake of Thunderball.

From Russia With Love

All seven Bond entries from the Moore tongue-in-cheek era are here: The Spy Who Loved Me, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill, Moonraker, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Live and Let Die. Both Dalton’s The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill are available. Heck, they even have George Lazenby’s single outing as Bond, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. That one is worth watching for the absolutely radiant Diana Rigg.

The more recent Brosnan and Craig entries are not on Hulu but 16 movies of the franchise is 16 more than Netflix or Amazon Prime have.

Mockingjay Double

Unfortunately I will be missing the Mockingjay double feature but both Hulu and Amazon Prime have The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part One streaming in time for the theatrical premiere of Mockingjay Part Two. Netflix has….umm…the not really a satire Starving Games so good luck with that.

Fleming, Ian Fleming

I just used that title so that I could highlight the fact that Ian Fleming not only wrote the James Bond novels but was also responsible for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Netflix has recently put the following on instant:

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) – Rated G

“Dick Van Dyke stars as quirky inventor Caractacus Potts, whose magical flying car transports his family and lovely lady friend to Vulgaria, a kingdom strangely devoid of children, ruled by the evil Baron Bomburst.”

From Russia with Love

Sean Connery as James Bond

Dr. No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball, Diamonds are Forever, Never Say Never Again (aka Thunderball 2: Electric Boogaloo)

Non-Bond recommendation: Well I guess you can’t beat the role he won an Oscar for: The Untouchables.

George Lazenby as James Bond

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Non-Bond recommendation: Umm, well, that’s all he did really. Give On Her Majesty’s Secret Service a whirl and try to stay awake.

Live and Let Die

Roger Moore as James Bond

Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill

Non-Bond recommendation: The Wild Geese

The Living Daylights

Timothy Dalton as James Bond

The Living Daylights, Licence to Kill

Non-Bond recommendation: Mary, Queen of Scots

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond

Goldeneye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is Not Enough

Non-Bond recommendation: The Long Good Friday

Daniel Craig as James Bond

Okay, these aren’t available but Craig is pretty entertaining in Archangel.

The Rest of the Bonds

While instant Netflix is a goldmine if you like Connery or Moore as Bond, you are completely out of luck if you prefer Daniel Craig or Pierce Brosnan. Also missing is the screwball 60s comedy Casino Royale. Still there are a few more Bonds for me to cover.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

George Lazenby takes over the role of Agent 007 for what many consider to be the finest Bond film ever made. Bond tracks archnemesis Ernst Blofeld (Telly Savalas) to a mountaintop retreat where he’s training an army of beautiful but lethal women. Along the way, Bond falls for Italian contessa Tracy Draco (Diana Rigg) — and marries her in order to get closer to Blofeld. Meanwhile, he locates Blofeld in the Alps and embarks on a classic ski chase.

This one is better than many give it credit. Unfortunately what sinks it is the casting. George Lazenby is a cipher as Bond and shows little charisma and Telly Savalas makes the worst of the Blofelds. Diana Rigg is quite good as Tracy Draco and is thankfully treated as more than the arm candy that some of the Bond girls end up as.

The Living Daylights (1987) – Rated PG

Timothy Dalton makes his suave and lethal debut as superagent James Bond in this turbo-charged action-adventure. This time, Bond’s charged with protecting a Soviet general (Jeroen Krabbe) from a beautiful sniper (Maryam d’Abo). But after being used as a pawn in a fake defector scheme, Agent 007 must trek across the world to find the escaped general and stop a terrifying weapons conspiracy that may be linked to the Soviet military high command.

Licence to Kill (1989) – Rated PG-13

James Bond (Timothy Dalton) resigns from the Secret Service after a friend in the CIA (along with his new wife) is brutally murdered by drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi). With a score to settle, Bond partners up with pilot Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell) and Sanchez’s mistress (Talisa Soto). While avoiding the British government, Bond races across land, air and water in a whirlwind of action and suspense.

Timothy Dalton was not bad as Bond. He jettisoned the tongue-in-cheek approach of Roger Moore to bring back some of the Bond toughness but I am afraid that he comes across as the successor to George Lazenby. They tried him a couple times and then rebooted with Pierce Brosnan.

Casino Royale (1954)

Having gambled away a vast sum of his country’s funds, a diabolical Soviet spy (Peter Lorre) tries to recoup his losses through a high-stakes game of baccarat, but secret agent James Bond (Barry Nelson) enters the competition to foil him in this 1954 teleplay. Intended as a pilot for a weekly TV series that never materialized, this first screen adaptation of a James Bond novel finds 007 portrayed as an American.

Casino Royale (1954 – not the 1967 comedy or the 2006 reboot) is quite an oddity. It showcases many of the limitations of 1950s television. I’ve always enjoyed Peter Lorre from his scary debut as the serial killer in “M” up through his humorous AIP turns in The Raven and Comedy of Terrors (both 1963) but this is not one of his best roles.

There is not much to recommend this film except as the first appearance of James Bond and that it is less than an hour long. Still if you are curious, instant Netflix offers it up.