From Russia With Love (1963). Soviets try to kill Bond - sending a superagent played by Robert Shaw. His fight with Connery on the train is the best of the Bond series. The first Bond movie to feature the action vignette before an elaborate opening credit sequence, which is now the formula.
Goldfinger (1964). Purists believe it to be the best. Because it is. Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) wants to turn Fort Knox radioactive. Oddjob is the franchise's best henchman, Honor Blackman has the quintessential bond babe name ("Pussy Galore"), Shirley Bassey sings the best Bond theme song. Frobe and Connery have the best Bond movie exchange. "Do you expect me to talk?" "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die."
Thunderball (1965) Bond in the Bahamas, where SPECTRE is ransoming some stolen warheads. The price? $100 million, prompting the Dr. Evil joke decades later. Adjusted for inflation, this is the most profitable Bond movie ever. That's Tom Jones singing the title tune.
You Only Live Twice (1967). Bond in Japan, where SPECTRE is building a missile inside a fake volcano. Plot has Connery in Asian makeup, which still looks goofy 35 years later. (We're looking at you, "Cloud Atlas.") Screenplay by Roald Dahl, whose first draft had Bond battling a giant peach.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). Connery takes a break, replaced by Aussie George Lazenby. Alternate title: "You're Only Bond Once." This time, Bond gets married, to Diana Rigg.
Diamonds Are Forever (1971). Connery returns, hits Vegas, finally defeats SPECTRE and hooks up with Jill St. John. The movie's noted for its bad reviews and hint of homophobia in the persons of two gay hit men. Connery swore he'd never do another. Trina Parks is the first African-American Bond girl.
Live and Let Die (1973). Roger Moore takes over as the franchise ditches Cold War spy plots for a more contemporary theme - 007 is investigating heroin traffickers in Harlem and New Orleans with the help of Gloria Hendry, the first African-American Bond girl hookup. Fans voted Paul McCartney's theme song the best ever. They're wrong.
The Man With the Golden Gun (1974). Christopher Lee appears as one of the series' better villains, a hit man/businessman who wants a piece of Bond. His henchman Nick Nack is played by Herve Villechaize.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Bond chases down more stolen nukes. Curt Jurgens is the villain, with an assist from Richard Kiel, making his first appearance as the steel-toothed Jaws. Carly Simon sings "Nobody Does It Better."
Moonraker (1979). Sci-fi angle (stolen space shuttle) is seen as an attempt to exploit the "Star Wars" craze. Lois Chiles plays Bond girl Holly Goodhead. Because she had a good head on her shoulders. In inflation-adjusted dollars, one of the most expensive in the series.
For Your Eyes Only (1981). This time Bond is trying to retrieve sunken launch codes for British nuclear submarines (always with the nukes), assisted by Carole Bouquet. Some action at an Olympic training facility with a skater named Bibi Dahl. Bond beats up biathlete and hockey player assassins. The title song, sung by Sheena Easton, was written by "Rocky" composer Bill Conti.
Octopussy (1983). Yes, children, before there was Octomom, there was Octopussy. One of the most ridiculous in the series - Louis Jourdan is the bad guy. And his evil scheme isn't armament, it's DISarmament. Maud Adams is the Bond girl in the title role.
Never Say Never Again (1983). Connery returns to this bond franchise asterisk - made outside the traditional producing cabal, enabled because of a legal battle that stemmed from credits for "Thunderball," and could only be made as a remake of sorts. Connery's last spin.
A View to a Kill (1985). The Moore era comes to a merciful end. Christopher Walken plays a megalomaniac trying to obliterate Silicon Valley. Tanya Roberts is the girl, Grace Jones makes an appearance, Duran Duran does the lame theme song.
The Living Daylights (1987). Timothy Dalton takes over for pushing-60 Moore, tries to recapture the spirit of the original Fleming novels. If you remember Maryam d'Abo as the Bond girl, you need another hobby.
License to Kill (1989). A rare R-rated Bond, with Bond (Dalton in his last appearance) going after Robert Dav in the poorest-performing Bond outing at the box office. Carey Lowell and Teresa Soto are the eye candy, and Benicio Del Toro has a small role.
Goldeneye (1995). After its longest on-screen vacation, six years, Bond returns with Pierce Brosnan, again looking for stolen weapons. Judi Dench makes her first appearance as M. Audiences liked it - one of the better performing Bond movies. With Sean Bean, Famke Janssen.
Tomorrow Never Dies (1997). Bond tries to stop Rubert-Murdoch-ish media mogul (Jonathan Pryce) from starting war between U.S. and China. Michelle Yeoh, Teri Hatcher.
The World is Not Enough (1999). Robert Carlyle uses nuke threat to pump up oil prices. The last movie to feature Desmond Llewelyn as gadget guy Q. Fans regard Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) as perhaps the worst Bond babe in the series, though Sophie Marceau turns up as well.
Die Another Day (2002) Get another Bond. Diminishing returns catch up with Brosnan, and the series gives itself over to outlandish product placement. Brosnan gives up the ghost, and it's a good move for him. He's become a much more interesting actor since leaving the series. Halle Berry in an orange bikini is a highlight.
Casino Royale (2006). Reboot brings in Daniel Craig, returns Bond to his original tough guy roots. Smashing financial success.
Quantum of Solace (2008). Whatum of whatsis? Despite off-putting title and nonsensical plot about the Bolivian water supply, the most expensive Bond to date showed the franchise to be as strong as ever.
- Gary Thompson