In honor of James Bond's 24th "official" adventure, Spectre, debuting Friday in theaters, a look back at qualities keeping the franchise running:
Success comes down to who plays agent 007, the women he seduces, the villains he'll face, the weapons he'll use and pithy or punny comments he makes. Here are (Double-Oh) seven of each, shaken — not stirred — for your pleasure.
(00)7 actors playing James Bond, ranked worst to first
7. Anyone in 1967's unofficial spy spoof Casino Royale — The list includes Woody Allen, Peter Sellers, David Niven and Ursula Andress (Dr. No's Honey Ryder)
6. Timothy Dalton — A humorless counterbalance to Roger Moore's comical approach, in line with author Ian Fleming's vision of 007 but not the audience's.
5. Roger Moore — Unconvincing as a fighter or lover, Moore's mugging was fun but stripped Bond of his dignity and danger.
4. George Lazenby — Only one appearance as Bond (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) but the former fashion model is better than his relative anonymity suggests.
3. Pierce Brosnan — The most dashing 007, when Brosnan finally got out of his Remington Steele commitment to play him.
2. Daniel Craig — Dalton's weary menace, a dash of Moore's wryness, Connery's earthy good looks; Craig is just a steel-brim derby's throw away from topping this list.
1. Sean Connery — The once and always king of secret agents, setting the bar sky-high more than a half-century ago and never topped.
(00)7 memorable Bond girl names
Pussy Galore, Goldfinger
Plenty O'Toole, Diamonds Are Forever
Xenia Onatopp, GoldenEye
Chew Mee, The Man with the Golden Gun
Penelope Smallbone, Octopussy
Strawberry Fields, Quantum of Solace
Holly Goodhead, Moonraker
(00)7 formidable Bond villains
Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of SPECTRE and inspiration for Austin Powers' nemesis Dr. Evil (Telly Savalas, Donald Pleasance, Charles Gray, Max von Sydow, Anthony Dawson, maybe Christoph Waltz?)
Jaws, supervillain henchman and orthodontic poster boy (Richard Kiel)
Red Grant and Rosa Klebb, hired assassins in From Russia with Love (Robert Shaw, Lotte Lenya)
Oddjob, chauffeur to Auric Goldfinger with deadly tastes in hats. (Harold Sakata)
Dr. Julius No, Ruling the quintessential arch villain's secret lair with a literally iron hand. (Joseph Wiseman)
Francisco Scaramanga, The Man with the Golden Gun, a dwarf henchman (Herve Villachaize) and three nipples. (Christopher Lee).
(00)7 great Bond gadgets
Aston Martin DB5, Goldfinger and Thunderball — Bond's signature ride equipped with machine guns, rotating license plates, oil slick spouts and, of course, an ejection seat.
"Little Nellie," You Only Live Twice — One-seater autogyro copter, tricked out with rear-aim flamethrowers, guns, missiles and mines.
Rolex Submariner watch, Live and Let Die — Magnetized to stop bullets (and unzip a dress), the watch's face became a life-saving buzzsaw for Bond.
Lotus Esprit submarine, The Spy Who Loved Me — Perfect for car chases off piers, complete with torpedoes and surface-to-air missiles.
Booby-trap briefcase, From Russia with Love — Stocked with ready-to-assemble rifle, 20 gold coins and a can of talcum powder that explodes when the case is improperly unlocked.
Car invisibility cloak, Die Another Day — Take that, Harry Potter.
Jetpack, Thunderball - Fifty years later, we're still waiting for ours.
(00)7 amusing Bond mots
"I think he got the point." — Bond in Thunderball, after spear-gunning a bad guy.
"My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done. Such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs." - Goldfinger
Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale: "It doesn't bother you? Killing all those people?" Bond's reply: "Well, I wouldn't be very good at my job if it did."
"Mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead." — After using a femme fatale as a human shield in Thunderball.
Xenia Onatopp in GoldenEye: "You don't need the gun, Commander." Bond's reply: "That depends on your definition of safe sex."
"That's quite a nice little nothing you're almost wearing. I approve." — Admiring Tiffany Case's fashion sense in Diamonds Are Forever.
"Would you like to check my figures?" asks Giulietta da Vinci in The World is Not Enough. Bond replies: "Oh, I'm sure they're perfectly rounded."
Contact Steve Persall at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365. Follow @StevePersall.