25 Facts About All The James Bond Movies
James Bond is one of the most famous characters of all time, right up there with Jesus and Paul McCartney. His 25th film has just come out, so what better time to look back on his life than now? All the girls he’s kissed, all the shots that missed, all the martinis shaken but not stirred, and all these insane facts.
1. Doctor No (1962)
Doctor No, being the first Bond film, lacked a few of the later films signature features—including an action-packed cold open, any budget, and a Bond theme. Also missing? A Bond girl’s voice. Ursula Andress, the first Bond girl ever, didn’t voice a single line on film. Her lines, along with those of most of the other film’s women, were re-dubbed by Nikki van der Zyl. Van der Zyl “wouldn’t stop traffic,” but her voice was interesting and exotic enough to stand in for the more plain Jane–sounding hot women in the film, including the bikini-clad first Bond girl.
2. From Russia with Love (1963)
Moneypenny’s Louis Maxwell, Sean Connery, Roger Moore, and Daniel Craig all agree this is the best Bond film. It features a device based on the Nazis' own Enigma Device, which Ian Fleming was supposed to crack during World War II,
3. Goldfinger (1964)
Goldfinger features some of the most iconic Bond characters, including pseudo-lesbian Pussy Galore and Oddjob, the hat-throwing minion, but it was Goldfinger himself, Gert Fröbe, who got the film banned in Israel. See, Fröbe was a real-life former Nazi. But he was one of the good ones, leaving the Nazi party years before the war started and even attempting to help those he could.
4. Thunderball (1965)
After a brief moment away during Goldfinger, Doctor No and From Russia with Love director Terrence Young returned for this flick. The sharks in this film were supposed to be held apart from Connery by a plastic barrier. They instead swam over the barrier and directly at Connery, terrifying him. Ah, to be a shark in a cage with a young Connery.
5. You Only Live Twice (1967)
While production of this film was going on, a competing film was in production. It was Operation Double 007, also known as Operation Kid Brother, starring Sean Connery’s young brother, along with a host of series regulars, and featuring a score by Ennio Marcone. This partly led Connery to hate the Bond role and leave the film series. It also led to one of MST3K’s weirder episodes.
6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
George Lazenby, the next Bond, was a male model whose only acting credit had been in chocolate commercials—but, unlike every other Bond, he had a background in Special Forces and had even been trained in martial arts by Bruce Lee. Fleming's own choice for the role, George Baker, dubbed over Lazenby when he was impersonating Sir Hillary Bray, so that’s something at least.
7. Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Sean Connery got over a million dollars to return for this film, and this was back in the '70s, when that was more than a down payment on a house in the suburbs. He used all of it to set up a charity, the Scottish International Education Trust, to help artists in Scotland, so they wouldn’t have to leave and go film dumb movies about international spies shooting men with names like Goldfinger.
8. Live and Let Die (1973)
When Salvador Dali was contacted to make a tarot deck for the film, he declined due to the low pay. He was inspired by the idea, however, and he continued working on it himself and eventually released the set in 1984. The deck is just super great.
9. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Aside from being the most ridiculous and therefore best of the classic Bond films, The Man with the Golden Gun also almost featured the on-screen death of Bond girl actress Britt Ekland, who, during the final run from the island, almost died. The explosions were timed exactly, and during filming, she was a little slow. An explosion hit her. But Roger Moore grabbed her and “pulled me up to safety” just like Bond would—although he didn’t also sexually harass her, so he hadn’t gone totally method.
10. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
This film is based on an Ian Fleming novel and yet also has its own novelization. That's due to the massive changes to the plot and Ian Fleming’s own disdain for the original novel. The novelization is by one of the film’s screenwriters, Christopher Wood, who would later go on to write Moonraker.
11. Moonraker (1979)
James Bond … in SPACE! This, one of the weirdest Bond films ever, almost had Steven Spielberg as a director. It was his second attempt at getting behind the camera, but he was turned down both after directing Jaws for lack of experience and after Close Encounters—but if he hadn’t, this is the film he would’ve made. Despite Spielberg not being behind the lens, the film does feature the five-note motif from Close Encounters, so that’s … something.
12. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
While having famous pop artists behind Bond themes is en vogue as of late, it wasn’t quite as much of a thing back in the Moore era. Which is partially why when Blondie submitted a song, it was turned down.
13. Octopussy (1983)
While You Only Live Twice had to compete with Sean Connery’s brother, this film had to compete with Sean Connery himself in Never Say Never Again, a borderline-remake of Thunderball allowed to be made due to complicated rights surrounding the original film. Roger Moore, who had been considering retiring as he thought he appeared too old to be with the Bond girls (Leo could never), is rumored to have stayed for the film only because it would give the film the edge it needed to compete against Connery.
14. A View to a Kill (1985)
While Christopher Walken plays the blood-curdling villain Zorin, David Bowie was originally up for the role. He turned it down for Labyrinth, presumably because it involved more ball touching. The real villain, though, was apparently Bond girl Tanya Roberts, a diva who wouldn’t film a scene until a custom-form fitting outfit was made for her, leading to Roger Moore’s ad-lib mocking her.
15. The Living Daylights (1987)
While this was the debut for the new Bond, Timothy Dalton, it originally was going to be the story of the original Bond—and feature Pierce Brosnan. However, the prequel angle was dropped (the film originally ended with Bond getting his assignment to go fight Doctor No) and Remingston Steele, Brosnan’s show that had been cancelled, was reupped, leading to him dropping out. Nonetheless, both Dalton and former Bond Moore adore the film, and Christopher Nolan lauds Dalton as the best Bond.
16. Licence to Kill (1989)
While the Licence to Kill theme song was eventually done by Gladys Knight, the original song was almost entirely different. The song was a collaboration between an original session musician who worked on the first James Bond Theme Song (the dun dun durundundun one) and Eric Clapton. Despite commissioning the song, the Bond producers eventually turned it down, and the song has yet to be released, with no one even knowing where to find it.
17. GoldenEye (1995)
Xenia Onatopp, the sexiest villain Bond girl—a dominatrix who squeezes men with her thighs so hard she kills them—broke a bone while filming. During a scene, Famke Jannsen insisted that Brosnan throw her against the padded walls as hard as he could … ending up with a broken rib, the very thing that Brosnan’s Bond was about to endure.
18. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)
Everyone hated working on this film. While Goldeneye was considered one of the better Bond films, and a first step in a new era, this one … was not. The film suffered considerably from having a release date before any pre-production had happened, including a script. The script was written during shooting, with actors having to learn lines only for a new script to be delivered midway.
19. The World Is Not Enough (1999)
And the bad news continued with The World is Not Enough. Perhaps due to Tomorrow Never Dies being a black hole of a film, it took a while before this film found its director. Joe Dante was considered, then came Peter Jackson (who was unconsidered due to The Frightners) and even Alfonso Cuarón, who would go on to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Gravity, and Children of Men.
20. Die Another Day (2002)
As planned, this film was going to confirm a long-running fan theory—James Bond is just a codename, and the different actors playing the role are playing different characters. Sean Connery would’ve come back for a bit role and have a conversation with Brosnan’s Bond. But that was changed, and instead we got … whatever the hell this movie was.
21. Casino Royale (2006)
Before Casino Royale rebooted the series, there were originally plans for a gritty, down-to-earth spinoff for Halle Berry’s Jinx from Die Another Day—but then Catwoman happened. Which seems almost like it should be a saying: "It was a great day, but then Catwoman happened.” “September 11 started out fine, but then Catwoman happened.” While the film didn’t get made, its tone did go on to influence Casino Royale, which also featured the return of Goldeneye director Martin Campbell.
22. Quantum of Solace (2008)
Quantum of Solace is one of the only negatively viewed Craig Bond films, and for good reason. The nearly incomprehensible script was written during filming by Daniel Craig and director Marc Forster due to the Writer’s Strike, and hey, neither of them are terribly great writers it seems.
23. Skyfall (2012)
While Skyfall was a celebration of fifty years of Bond history, it also turned into a celebration of how much money could be wasted on gloves. See, Daniel Craig found a pair of gloves he loved and decided to wear them during filming—which is great and all, save for the fact that part of the plot hinges on his gun only firing for him, by reading his fingerprints. So all of the scenes in which Bond wore gloves needed to be CGI’d to show him with his normal hands. Of course, had the gloves stayed in, it probably would’ve caused the price of gloves to skyrocket. A scene with Miss Moneypenny shaving Bond with a straight razor caused sales of razors to explode, going up 735%.
24. Spectre (2015)
Spectre, while being a bit bloated and slightly underwhelming, did what no other Bond film has done—made a parade. See, the Day of the Dead parade featured in the film didn’t exist—but now does! After seeing the film, Mexico City decided to host its own parade!
25. No Time to Die (2021)
While this pseudo-remake of Dr No is considered the twenty-fifth Bond film, it’s not really. That honor belongs to Skyfall. See, while EON has produced 25 films, there’s actually two other Bond films out there. There's the comedic Casino Royale, starring Pink Panther’s Detective Clouseau, Peter Sellers, and original Bond girl Ursula Andress. And then there was Connery's Never Say Never Again.
Top image: MGM