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Top 10 James Bond Opening Sequences

November 14th, 2008 3:04pm EST
Casino RoyaleOpinions may vary about which Bond movie has the best villain (From Russia With Love), the best Bond girl (Dr. No) or the worst theme song (The Man With The Golden Gun), but one thing people can agree on is that the opening sequences have only gotten better over the years.

Here's a list of the best opening sequences of Bond films in honor of the 22nd 007 movie opening today:

10) Licence To Kill

The film opens with Bond in a tuxedo ready to get married, or is he? And there's a ruthless bad guy, Sanchez, played by Robert Davi. We know he's ruthless because he orders Benicio Del Toro to cut his cheating girlfriend's lover's heart out then he bends her over his knee and flogs her for being a naughty girl. Bond and his best buddy, CIA operative Felix Leither, are on their way to the church when they get word that Sanchez is escaping. Bond and his boys move in to capture said bad guy and a helicopter chase ensues in which Bond uses a tow cable as a lasso. He is lowered down onto Sanchez's escape plane and wraps a cable around the tail. Once the plane is tilted into a vertical position with Sanchez securely in tow the boys all skydive down to the chapel and reveal that Felix is about to take the plunge down the aisle into marital bliss. In this lighter opening to an otherwise dark film Bond gets the bad guy and his best friend gets the girl. It's bombastic nature proved that Bond could hold his own against an onslaught of macho, over-the-top films like "Batman", "Lethal Weapon 2" and "Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade" all of which opened in the same summer as "Licence." This was also Maurice Binder's last opening credit sequence for the Bond franchise.




9) From Russia With Love

It opens with a fake Bond being stalked and killed by a henchman with a wire that comes out of his watch. The evil organization, Spectre, is out to kill 007 again. It's clean, simple and straightforward. It gets right to the point and doesn't mess around. We get to see Bond and what might be a weakness, though we suspect there's a trick because Bond always finds a way into and out of trouble. The credit sequence was very risqué for its time. Created by Robert Brownjohn, his use of light and shadow established the world of Bond. Naked women shaking boobs and behinds, undulating pelvis' gyrating to the Bond theme was titillating to a very conservative American audience. A bit tame by today's standards, it reminds us of a simpler and more innocent time in film history.




8) For Your Eyes Only

It's the epitome of all things Bond. James visits his wife's gravesite; a helicopter picks him up for an assignment and turns out to be controlled by his arch nemesis, who remains nameless in this film due to copyright infringements. Still the stereotyped, bald, wheelchair bound, cat-petting super villain is a force to be reckoned with. He steers the helicopter by remote control, toying with Bond before he tries to kill him. This gives Bond just enough time to turn the tables on his enemy, take control of the helicopter, lift the clichéd bad guy up by his chair and dump him into an industrial smoke stack. Daring at the time with stunts that still amaze and thrill this opening inspired Mike Myers to create Dr. Evil. And all the creative ways to hide a villain's face led to very inventive and artistic shot choices. Sheena Easton sings the title song, which proved to be a hit separate from the film. She was the only singer to be featured in the opening credit sequence before or since, making this one feel a little more like a modern day music video than an opening to a film.




7) You Only Live Twice

Opens with Astronauts doing a space walk. With some creative use of NASA stock footage and good voice-over work we really believe a larger spacecraft swallows the U.S. space ship whole, killing one of the Astronauts. Space travel is always terrifying if we stop to think about it, the loneliness of space compounded with the need for life support leaves us feeling vulnerable. The perfect reminder for why we need Bond. The bad news is this opening kills James while he's on the job and in bed with a girl. Of course a woman would be the death of Bond. Bond lies in bed while pretty girl Ling gets up and presses a button causing the Murphy bed to flip back into the wall. Then machine gun wielding assassins riddle the bed with bullets. Police arrive on the scene and one of them points out, "He died on the job. He would have wanted it that way." The credit sequence is a parade of pretty Asian girls in traditional headdress and a theme song that feels as if it came right from Hong Kong. This opening uses the same "Bond is dead fake-out" trick as "From Russia With Love" but doesn't let you off the hook. You actually have to watch the rest of the movie to figure out how James cheated death again.




6) Die Another Day

This opening represents the moment Bond left the series with nowhere to go but back to the beginning. Bond surfs onto a beach in North Korea with a couple of pals. His surfboard holds all the gadgets he needs for his mission. James poses as an arms buyer and plants C4 under the diamonds in his briefcase. After the deal goes bad he fights his way out and blows the C4 causing diamonds to be embedded into a bad guy's face. But things don't go Bond's way in this one. He's captured and tortured after a fantastic hovercraft chase sequence. The controversial Madonna song plays over a credit sequence that feels more like a scene from the film than an opening; with footage of Bond being tortured inter-cut into the CG effects of fire and ice dancing women. Sexy, bold and unusual it caused debate among fans and put Bond into a holding pattern for four years until the recent reboot of the franchise.




5) Goldfinger

Opens with Sean Connery as Bond wearing a fake duck on his head in order to swim into a secret passage of the building he plans on blowing up. He plants the charges and strips off his wet suit to reveal perfectly styled hair and a white tuxedo. He walks into a bar reminiscent of "Casablanca" and tends to business as the building across the street explodes. After kissing a girl he uses her as a shield and electrocutes the bad guy sent to kill him. In the first use of a pun James says, "Shocking," after frying the baddie. Gold painted women dance as scenes from the movie are projected onto their bodies and the first and best Bond theme song is sung by Shirley Bassey.


4) The Spy Who Loved Me

A nuclear submarine goes missing and Moscow assigns their best agent to the job, Agent Triple X, who is (Yikes!) a woman. In a great reveal which comments on the then growing feminist movement that made Triple X out to be just another silly, needy woman until she answered the call from Headquarters. MI6 calls its own man, Bond into action, making sure to, "Tell him to pull out." He gets the call while in bed with a snow bunny. She informs the bad guys, after Bond leaves, that he's on the move. A ski chase ensues with amazing stunts performed by Rick Sylvester who jumps off a cliff, releases his skis and deploys a parachute in mid-air. Then Carly Simon kicks it into high gear with "Nobody Does It Better" as naked girls perform gymnastic routines over the opening credits.




3) On Her Majesty's Secret Service

A film lover's feast. Ultra close-ups, quick cuts, speed ups, day for night, telescoping views, a hot red head, fast cars and plenty of action this opening hits hard and won't let up until Bond breaks the fourth wall and says directly to camera, "This never happened to the other fella." The irreverent, unorthodox and cinematic feel of this opening makes it one of the best. It also doomed George Lazenby as Bond. Too tongue-in-cheek for some, not Sean Connery enough for others, Lazenby never stood a chance. At least he left a solid legacy with a very memorable and entertaining Bond film before he was replaced.




2) Casino Royale

The reboot of the series after a four-year hiatus and the beginnings of Bond as a 007 agent make this one special on several levels. The only opening in black and white, this gritty and emotional entrance into Bond leaves the audience with plenty to think about. "It takes two kills to grant double O status," says the unknowing victim, "Don't worry the second is," and Bond shoots to get his second kill. Then James agrees as he says, "Yes considerably." We are left with the debate over the right of man granting the privilege to kill versus Bond's struggle with his morality and his willingness to do it. This opening is also the best use of the gun barrel as Bond turns to shoot the guy he thought he drown in the sink. And the theme song, which felt strange in it's preemptive release before the movie's but seems perfect now as it plays over images of cards and sixties feeling, Bond-shaped, moving paper dolls. The most powerful and disturbing of all the openings this one is classy and packs a punch while revealing Bond's beginnings and reminding audiences why we all love our double O agent. Daniel Craig is a vision as Bond. Blue eyes, dusty hair and more muscular than any before him, he was the center of a heated debate which ended after this opening proved he had the acting chops to carry the mantel into the new Century of Bond.




1) GoldenEye

An instant classic. After six years with no Bond and coming after the darkest period in Bond film history the franchise needed a hero to restore it to it's former glory. It found what it needed in Pierce Brosnan as the new "Double O" and got a new generation excited to be Bond fans. A stunning bungee jump off of a damn opens a heart pumping sequence where 006 and 007 team up to give us back-story of a friendship and set-up for a betrayal. With 006 shot and presumed dead moments into their mission, Bond is left to get out on his own. He uses a rack full of oxygen tanks with a squeaky wheel for comic relief and an escape route. After freefalling into his escape plane he pulls up over a mountain and saves not only himself but also the Bond franchise from certain death. Tina Turner sings one of the best theme songs in Bond history written by Bono and The Edge, as women destroy statues of Stalin and Lenin and reveal guns hidden in their lipstick-lined mouths. This opening marks the first use of CG in the credit sequence and is a real stunner. A sultry song and a powerful opening proved Bond was as sexy as ever and back for more of what we love, action, in and out of bed.




Erin MacMillan-Ramirez
Story by Erin MacMillan-Ramirez

Starpulse contributing writer