I, like most people I’m sure, have fond memories of long, cold winter nights, when the family would gather around the open wood fire and play “Rank the Bond Films”. If there was a particularly bad storm, the power would quite often go out and everyone would move just a little bit closer to the fire. For the unfamiliar, “Rank the Bond Films” is where you put the James Bond films in order from your favourite to your, well, um, least favourite. With no TV or power we needed something to do for entertainment, something to pass the time. Like most families, we usually played a game, and like most families, more often than not the game in question was “Rank the Bond Films”. For a miserable stormy night, a round or two of this old favourite was just what the doctor ordered, and it always brought the family closer together*.
To make things interesting, and to inject a bit of sibling rivalry into proceedings, our parents and granny served as judges and offered various “prizes” based on how well each of us four kids (my sister, two brothers and myself) could justify our rankings. The person who finished in fourth (and last) place would have to go outside with a blunt axe, braving the harsh wind and cold, and chop up some more fire wood. Third place would be dragged out to the back shed where out father would take off his belt and give them a thrashing. Second place would have to clean the outhouse and whoever finished in first place would get off scot free. As the winter came towards an end, the weather became a little more mild. Well, more mild than one of fathers brutal beatings anyway, making fourth place a better position to finish than third. When it got to this time of winter, my brothers Wally and Underdunk, who didn’t give themselves much of a chance of winning, would quite often try and sabotage their own efforts, in an attempt to finish in fourth place instead of third. It was a real cat-and-mouse game between the two of them as they tried to lose, but not make it look like they were trying to lose. It always resulted in hilarity, much to the confusion of our parents would couldn’t work out what was going on.
Just like a sporting event always opens with the national anthem, our family games of “Rank the Bond Films” traditionally opened with our father boasting about how good he was at the game when he was younger, how he always took our uncles to the cleaners and how he even represented the state in the National “Rank the Bond Films” finals. Anyone who reminded our father that he grew up in the 50’s, before there were any Bond films, would be locked up in their bedroom for a month without food or water.
After father’s stories the game began. Each of us would take turns ranking the Bond films in order from best to worst, ie if Goldfinger was your favourite, you would go “1 – Goldfinger” and give a one sentence explanation on why it was the best, and then “2 – The Spy who Loved me” and so on, giving an one sentence explanation for the positioning of each of the films. Ofcourse, it’s easier to argue something that you genuinely believe, but it doesn’t hurt to conform your beliefs to match with those of the judges. Example, Granny was Sean Connery’s biggest fan, had a lock of his hair in a safe place and all. If you put a Connery Bond film worse than 12th on your ranking list, you’d receive a swift whack courtesy of Grannys cane. Not a mistake you make more than once let me tell you, sigh, good times.
I’m sure nearly everyone has played their own version of this game many, many times. But for those who grew up deprived of this wonderful experience, here is part of one of my attempts of ranking the Bond films. Can’t remember if this effort won me the game on that occasion, but I’m sure that I managed to avoid a beating..
1 – Goldfinger
2 – Thunderball
3 – From Russia With Love
Three Connery films first up, sure to appeal to Grannys heart, at any rate it will keep that cane of hers well away. Plus these three films are probably the best three anyway. Goldfinger is the ultimate Bond film. With a gadget filled car, a gold painted girl, a larger than life villian and Connery in fine form, it has everything but the kitchen sink. In fact, If this was a George Lucas film, GL would probably go back and digitally add a kitchen sink so that this film could truly have everything. Thunderball beats From Russia With Love because of the size and epicness (real word ?) of the former.
4 – Octopussy
5 – The Spy Who Loved Me
6 – The Living Daylights
7 – Diamonds Are Forever
Everyone loves The Spy Who Loved Me, especially Mumsy, can’t remember weather she likes it because Anya is portrayed as Bonds equal, or because of the awesome ski jump in the pretitle scene. Anyway it’s a top film and worthy of being near the top of the tree. Octopussy is a superb film if you can look past the silly gags, and since it’s very much a love/hate film, I scored points with father for not just regurgitating popular opinion. After the first seven films, I was off to a pretty good start.
Until next time,