Written By Brad Hansen
Everyone’s thought of trying it, but few take the plunge to watching the entire James Bond movie collection in a row with almost no stops.
My girlfriend (CBn’s Athena Stamos) and I decided that her birthday would be a great excuse to finally give it a try: 25 movies (including the three “non-canon” entries) over the course of three days. We would watch them all in chronological order and only stop for a few hours of sleep in between each day. There would be no escape, for us at least. We invited our friends and fellow LA Bond fans, keeping an “open door” policy so that guests could come and go as they wished. We made a Facebook event with the schedule so that the more casual fans could decide when they’d like to show up. All in all we had over 30 people attend throughout the event. We also had a webcam so those who couldn’t make it would be able to “join” us.
To shake things up, we introduced an Olympics-style ratings system in order to answer that immortal question: Which Bond movie is the best of all? We printed out score cards, 0 through 10 (10 being perfect). After each film each audience member gave a score to the movie they just watched. It didn’t matter if they were Bond veterans or rookies (we had plenty of both), everyone’s score counted the same. The rankings were then averaged and inserted into our time-lapsed video.
You can see results below in the video we put together:
For a Bond fan, the biggest reason for watching a Bondathon is that it forces you to reconsider your opinion of each film. Watching them in order, with an audience, on a new format (like Blu-ray) can all change how you view each film. Movies that you previously dismissed might surprise you, and old favorites might not hold up so well. Some observations about the films and the event:
- The shock of our Bondathon was how well Never Say Never Again held up. Many of us, myself included, have always ranked it near the bottom. But watching the film, none of us could figure out why. Perhaps the languidness of Thunderball was still fresh in our memories, perhaps it was the excitement of seeing Sean Connery again after so many Roger Moore films, but no one could stop smiling. It’s still not a perfect film, as everyone agreed that the ending runs out of steam and that the music leaves a lot to be desired. But there were so many applause-worthy Bond moments that it got a big score. Even the dated elements -The wink at the end, the video games, the leotards- only added to the charm and entertainment.
- Films that followed very high-scoring films suffered more than expected. On their own, flicks like Diamonds Are Forever seem to play much better. Whereas here, following the majesty that is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, it seemed like a U-turn in the wrong direction towards goofier, lighter fare.
- When you watch all the films in order without stop, you’ll find your patience wearing thin for the slower films. A Bondathon only highlights problems in pacing and plotting. This at least partly explains how Casino Royale (1967), Thunderball, A View To A Kill, and The Man With The Golden Gun got ranked on the low end.
- The series has amazing changes in tone, but none is as big as the switch from Die Another Day to Casino Royale (2006). When you go from the villain in the robo-suit fighting Bond on a jet liner that’s been inflamed by a space mirror-laser, to a gritty noir scene of an assassination in an office, you can’t help but think this is the biggest change in tone of the series (and all for the better, judging by the scoring). Casino Royale (2006) was also one of the few films that had the power to bring the audience to complete silence (the end of OHMSS had a similar effect).
Overall, it was a wonderfully memorable weekend, and I would highly recommend a Bondathon for those crazy enough to host one. When you’re done, you’ll feel like a member of an exclusive club of die-hards. It’s a great way to catch up with friends, swap opinions with fellow fans, and expose people to the fantastic world of 007.