Thursday, April 4, 2013

Questionable Bond No. 3

A good villain is like a box of chocolate. . . that wants to kill you. And nobody does villains like the James Bond series.

Question: "Name the Top 5 Bond villains!"

Scott's Answer: In no particular order...

1. Blofeld - You Only Live Twice (the face that launched a thousand parodies)
2. Auric Goldfinger - Goldfinger
3. Dr. No - Dr. No
4. Alec Trevelyan - GoldenEye
5. Le Chiffre - Casino Royale

Andrew's Answer: In particular order...

1. Dr. No (Dr. No). This guy set the standard for villains when he dismissed Bond as just "a stupid policeman."
2. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger). Brilliant plan, all the right traits.
3. Kananga/Mr. Big (Live and Let Die) Another brilliant plan and just the right amount of psycho.
4. Emilio Largo (Thunderball). Created the nuclear blackmail template.
5. Dominic Greene (Quantum of Solace). Vastly underrated.


Tennessee Jed said...

wow - no room for Red Grant in there? turn in your Bond cards!! (l.o.l.) I'll have a glass of the red.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I view Red Grant as a henchman rather than a villain.

K said...

1,2. The unseen head of SPECTRE in From Russia with Love and Thunderball. This is presumably Blofeld, but remaining unseen and ominous is far more effective than the frankly corny Donald Pleasence/Telly Savalas versions. I also see Largo as more of a henchman in Thunderball.

3. Auric Goldfinger - the Gold standard in Bond villains.

4. Dr. No, because the bad guy should be smarter than Bond but arrogant enough to make the mistakes that undermine himself. Dr. No fits that bill.

5. The Charles Grey Blofeld from Diamonds are Forever. More of the sophisticated evil rather than the thug.

Tennessee Jed said...

since there are people who read visit this site who are, I presume, fans of Star Trek, it is probably an acceptable break in protocol to mention that The Star Trek Motion picture collection box set is Amazon's Gold Box set "Deal of the Day". This means, for collectors, it is available at a heavily discounted price if you order today. Blu-Ray is going for about $34 I think.

As far as the villain vs. henchmen, it is kind of a distinction without a much of a difference. If one looks at the books, there is really only one "villain" above all others, and that is Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Given that, both Dr. No and Eemilio Largo are "subordinates" of Blofeld, although I suppose those two had a certain "professional/managerial" role in running their operation. Blofeld had no role in those films, and in FRWL he appears only as a white pussycat held by a pair of hands. Both Rosa Klebb and "Red" Grant were the enemies with substance in that story, and they are among the most believable and best played roles in the franchise. Worst villains include the Jimmy Dean sausage guy, and I really didn't care much for the cyber king in SKYFALL either.

Anonymous said...

Jed -

You presume correctly. And I bought that set three years ago! ;-) (Most of the films need a good remastering at this point though.)

And I'm with Andrew on this one - Red Grant is more of a henchman than anything else, though apparently all three of us picked him as our favorite overall Bond villain for one of the Sunday debates... wow, that was more than a year ago!

It's a matter of semantics. Does hierarchy matter? Or simply the amount of screen time? You're right: Largo was simply one of Blofeld's guys but since we only see Blofeld for one scene, then that makes Largo the default "villain" (not henchman) of that particular movie.

I use the Wikipedia list as a reference to determine who's a villain and who's a henchman, but everyone else's mileage may vary.

Anonymous said...

K -

I thought Pleasence and Savalas were quite good in their roles as Blofeld but Charles Gray was a little too hammy (in a movie full of hammy moments). It also didn't help that Gray played one of Bond's allies just two films earlier so he was kinda fresh in the audience's mind.

Dr. No and Goldfinger are definitely up there - gold standard, indeed! :-)

AndrewPrice said...

K, I agree about him being more ominous when you didn't see him. I think they would have been smart to never show the head of SPECTRE.

I think you're right too about Dr. No, that the villain should be smarter than Bond, but just arrogant enough to give Bond what he needs to win. A villain who isn't smarter than Bond is no real challenge.

tryanmax said...

Can't not include Bloefeld b/c he's in, like, all the early ones.

Of course, Dr. No and Goldfinger.

I like Raoul Silva (Skyfall) or rather, I found him really disturbing, so that's aces right there.

I'm stuck for five, so I'll just go with Dr. Evil.

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, We broke the world into henchmen and villains because the films typically have a villain and henchmen and they are different levels, with one answering to the other. It's all subjective, but that's what this is.

Thanks for the info on Star Trek! Here's the link LINK

AndrewPrice said...

Jed, I just ordered it! :)

Backthrow said...

1. Auric Goldfinger
2. Ernst Stavros Blofeld (the 'unseen' version, Savalas and Pleasance... Gray's version was ultimately too much of a buffoon; too bad, because he could be great at playing sinister, such as in Hammer's THE DEVIL RIDES OUT/THE DEVIL'S BRIDE (1968))
3. Rosa Klebb/Red Grant*
4. Dr. No
5. Emilio Largo

Runners-up: Le Chiffre, Silva, Scaramanga (a bright spot in a film I mostly dislike)

* Red Grant seems to be more than a mere henchman (mainly because, though he's a hired thug, he's pretty smart and has got his own twisted internal thing going on), but less than the main baddie. In fact, looking at it, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is unique in that it seems to have a bunch of co-villains in an malicious relay race, passing the baton of evil from one to the other; Kronsteen to Blofeld (briefly) to Klebb to Grant (who gets the most screen time, by far) again to Blofeld (briefly) to Morzeny and back to Klebb.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, Dr. Evil is, of course, the epitome of the James Bond villain. Good choice. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, From Russia With Love really is an unusual Bond. It doesn't have any of the normal elements and it's probably the most brutal Bond and Villain ever until Daniel Craig. It really does stand out.

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -

As we wait for Andrew's Skyfall review, all I'll say is I liked Silva but the film could've used one more draft. His plan doesn't quite hold up to scrutiny upon repeat viewings.

Anonymous said...

Backthrow -

Christopher Lee is the lone bright spot (other than John Barry's work) in The Man with the Golden Gun, my least favorite Bond movie, period.

Most people here probably know this already but he and Ian Fleming were cousins (or step-cousins... something like that). :-)

tryanmax said...

Scott, no matter, I'm grading on personality rather than feasibility of plan. I almost included Hugo Drax in spite of the awfulness that is Moonraker just because I like the cut of his jib.

Anonymous said...

tryanmax -

No worries. I will say one thing: that long shot in which we first see Silva as he tells the story about the rats... might be one of the best moments in any Bond movie. He approaches the camera and pauses at just the right moment - I don't want to know how many takes they did to get it just right. :-)

K said...

tryanmax: Hugo Drax???????

Wimpy wimpy wimpy!

Maybe I just couldn't get Michael Lonsdale's turn as humble Inspector Lebel in Day of the Jackal out of my mind.

rlaWTX said...

mmmm... Daniel Craig.... Oh, what was the question?

Anonymous said...

My faves... and I know someone's going to get tweaked with one of them...

Auric Goldfinger - Goldfinger
Merciless, brilliant, and driven. While he wouldn't pass muster for today's Bond, he was the perfect 60's villain.

Alec Trevelyan - GoldenEye
Nicknamed Janus, he fills out the role of Bond's opposite pretty well. Plus, well... Sean Bean dies really, really well.

Franz Sanchez - Licence to Kill
While the script was muddied and full of unnecessary and silly trappings, killing Dalton's brilliant Bond far too early, Robert Davi does a great job as Sanchez. He takes the role more seriously than the writers do (whipping your girlfriend with an iguana - really?) and presents a challenge to Bond who's not only rich and powerful, but smart, too.

Raoul Silva - Skyfall
He's the first Bond villain who I felt was not only a good match for Bond, but who was also truly and completely psychotic.

Dominic Greene - Quantum of Solace. I agree - he is vastly underrated as a villain.

AndrewPrice said...

Roger Ebert just died... which makes tomorrow's film review ironic as I insult him in it. If he had been nicer, I might even have changed that, but he was a turd. So there is that.

AndrewPrice said...

annoyedelephants, We don't get bent out shape about the choices people make. It's those differences that make blogging interesting.

That said, Franz Sanchez? Who's that? ;)

In all seriousness, I'm glad to hear that I'm not the only one who thinks Greene is vastly underrated. I think he's an excellent villain in so many ways.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I like Lonsdale as Drax, but I don't care for the character much because he's kind of a knock off of Stromberg... plus, his plan is ludicrous.

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I'm sensing you like Craig as Bond? LOL!

Backthrow said...

Andrew said: "I like Lonsdale as Drax, but I don't care for the character much because he's kind of a knock off of Stromberg... plus, his plan is ludicrous."

Yes, and Stromberg is a knockoff of Blofeld (with some Dr. No mixed in), specifically due to the legal problems involving Kevin McClory (going back to THUNDERBALL), which prevented using Blofeld and SPECTRE by name, after DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER.

Lonsdale's Drax is so low-key as to become dull, though he had a few good moments, especially his line, "Look after Mr. Bond... make sure some harm comes to him.".

Voz said...

I was watching Skyfall with the director's commentary and Mendes said that he did the whole speech in one uncut performance...he didn't say how many times they had to redo the take though...but he said it was extremely difficult for Bardem because he doesn't speak English very well at all and for him to do the scene in one take was extremely difficult.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I thought perhaps Blofeld wanted too much money to appear in the sequels. ;P

In all seriousness, Blofeld is what became the template and I don't think it's a great template. I like Blofeld, but he should not have been repeated over and over.

And you're right that Drax is dull in many parts of the film, but he does have his moments. I'm not saying he's great by any stretch. We will be doing worst villains and he may appear on that list. But he does have a couple fun lines.

Anonymous said...

Voz -

Interesting! I haven't listened to the commentary yet.

Anonymous said...

Annoyed -

Nice to see some love for Alec Trevelyan. Sean Bean gives as good as he gets and GoldenEye was my first Bond film (I was 12) so there's some nostalgia there, too - he'll always be my first Bond villain. :-)

Dave Olson said...

Not sure if it counts, but Klaus Maria Brandauer was great as Largo in "Never Say Never Again." I suppose he could be dismissed as just another henchman since the great Max Von Sydow does a cameo as Blofeld himself to start the movie. But it's just a cameo; Largo is 007's main adversary and KMB plays it like any good Bond villain: suave, smart, charming, and batshit crazy. He elevated the movie from "mediocre" to "not bad", a Herculean effort to be sure.

NSNA was released the same year as Octopussy, and General Orlov was also an adversary who improved a movie, this time from crap to mediocre. I'll have more to say about Octopussy when Andrew continues his rankings, and based on how it's remembered, I suspect that I won't have too long to wait. For now, I'll just concentrate on Stephen Berkoff as Orlov. His plot may have been even better than Goldfinger's: Steal Imperial Russian treasures from the Kremlin Art Repository, replace them with fakes, and use the profits to finance a scheme that will detonate a nuclear bomb at a US airbase in what was then West Germany. The resulting backlash would compel the removal of all US forces from Europe and would leave the Soviet Army free to roll over the continent. To paraphrase Larry the Cable Guy, I don't care who you are that's Machiavellian right there.

Anonymous said...

Dave -

Steven Berkoff is always entertaining to watch and Octopussy is no exception.

I'll have to differ when it comes to Brandauer - he has his moments but I recall one of his first scenes, when he comes aboard the boat. It's like he's a middle manager - saying hi to his people, going through some papers. His intro should've been stronger.

rlaWTX said...

sorry, I got distracted when you said "James Bond", but then I don't really have an opinion on the bad guys...

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