When it comes to Bond, the popular consensus tends to favour Connery over his later
counterparts. Despite Ian Fleming’s famous disdain for the Scot, Connery is the alpha dog of the Bond tribe. You Only Live Twice, the crown jewel of the ‘Blofeldt Trilogy’, is his finest hour.
The fifth film in the Bond canon is sublime. Roald Dahl’s screenplay provides Bond with some brilliant dialogue and manages to mix bombastic cinematic ambition with gritty espionage action. Of course it’s the best.
“You’re forgetting, Moneypenny, that I left Cambridge with a double first in Oriental languages.”
It’s 007 in Japan! Not only does he undergo surgery to look ‘convincingly’ like a Japanese rural fisherman, he drinks sake, pilots a gyrocopter and watches sumo wrestlers.
Bond is the consummate Brit abroad; bedding the local women, brawling with security guards and remaining suspicious of just about every foreigner he meets. And all in a damned fine suit.
Let’s not forget his accomplices – Tiger Tanaka, the subterranean spymaster who cackles as his grunts drop cars in the sea from helicopters (“How is that for Japanese efficiency?”) – and Q, who appears ruddy-faced and grumpy with the heat to dispense murderous stationary whilst modelling some fetching khaki shorts.
“I shall look forward personally to exterminating you, Mr Bond.”
It also has the finest villain in film history. Cat lover Ernst Stavro Blofeldt is despicable, Machavellian and brilliant. What’s the easiest way to provoke an apocalyptic war between two superpowers? Well, kidnap their space rockets with your own Pacman-esque spacecraft and bring them back to your volcanic lair, of course.
Donald Pleasance’s rendition of SPECTRE’s main man simply oozes style. Who else would have the chutzpah – the sheer force of will – to build a monorail-equipped volcano base with a piranha pool and a drawbridge?
You can keep your realism and emotional subplots to yourself. I’ll take Sean Connery and a glass of sake any day of the week.