My dad (or as I call him in Arabic, Baba) tends to play one of the following on TV:
- English Premier League. Unless you are going to sit there and cheer on Liverpool with him or bad-mouth Manchester United, do not bother him when the game is on.
- British period dramas, especially the ones that are basically cheesy soap operas (he refuses to accept this).
- A James Bond movie.
Baba holds a deep affinity for the man who drinks his martinis shaken, not stirred. He insists that Sean Connery will always be the best James Bond, due to his comedic chops and charisma on screen and that it’s best if we all just forget that George Lazenby was technically part of the franchise. He’ll tell you which of the gadgets are the coolest and why Dr. No is one of the worst Bond movies. Baba rarely watched any Disney movies with us (he was shocked when I told him that we had seen Beauty and the Beast together), but he showed my sister and I every Bond movie, a family tradition that continues to this day.
In honor of Father’s Day, I decided to ask Baba to help me write this article by recommending the must-see James Bond movies you can stream. I invite you to join in on our family ritual of spending time with 007.
Baba’s thoughts: “I really like the dialogue in this film. It’s funny; there’s a lot of play on words. I also love the gadgets in it. This was the first film with all of James Bond’s toys, and they were all really cool. I like that even though it’s not a comedy, there are some funny moments. By contrast, the new movies with Daniel Craig don’t have funny moments. You end up making fun of the situations he’s in and how ridiculous they are.”
Why you should watch Goldfinger: The third installment of Bond’s adventures, Goldfinger follows Connery’s Bond as he investigates a gold smuggler. Baba is correct that this is the first film in which Bond uses technology to his advantage (the most memorable of which is his Aston Martin) and includes a lot of tongue-in-cheek humor. Unlike the previous two Bond films, Goldfinger includes many of the features that have made James Bond so popular today— globe hopping, beautiful women (including the infamous Pussy Galore) and death defying scenes (Bond’s nether region is nearly lasered off). Goldfinger has been spoofed multiple times, especially by parody series Austin Powers (which Baba also loves), so watching it will also help you keep up with the numerous references.
Where to watch it: Tubi, Amazon Prime, YouTube (to rent)
Baba’s Thoughts: “I don’t like Dr. No. It’s boring. Nothing really happens in it. From Russia with Love doesn’t really have any gadgets, but I did think the plot was different for the time it was made. In most of the movies the enemy is Spectre, but this one had Russians as the enemy. It seemed slightly more realistic because Russians were considered the enemies at the time. The scenery is really beautiful too—it introduced Turkey and Istanbul to a larger audience, which is good. That made more people want to visit there, which they should because Turkey is lovely.”
Why You Should Watch From Russia with Love: Contrary to Baba’s belief, Spectre is in fact the main villain in the second Bond movie. However, the Soviets do end up working with Spectre to assassinate Bond. From Russia with Love has one of the more complicated plots for a Bond film (especially when compared to the simplicity of Dr. No). Originally, From Russia with Love was chosen as the successor to Dr. No because JFK stated the book was one of his favorites. Behind the scenes, From Russia with Love faced quite a few complications, including falling behind schedule, going over budget, and the actors and stuntmen receiving multiple injuries. Despite all of the struggles, From Russia with Love was a success, thus proving that Bond would indeed return.
Where to watch it: Tubi, Amazon Prime, YouTube (to rent)
Baba’s Thoughts: “This one is a lot more glamorous than the others. They go to Las Vegas, which is fun, and they go to Amsterdam too. I thought it was a bit like Goldfinger. There were some funny moments and there’s a lot of play on words.”
Why You Should Watch Diamonds Are Forever: After the catastrophe of the one and only George Lazenby Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Sean Connery returned for the final Eon Bond production. Diamonds are Forever does have an outrageous plot (even by Bond standards) as 007 impersonates a diamond smuggler and soon uncovers a plot by a former nemesis to use the diamonds to make a space-based laser weapon (none of that is an exaggeration, that’s the literal plot). Depending on how seriously you take Bond, Diamonds are Forever will either be great fun for you or a horrid take on the series. Rather than being too serious, it seemed that the filmmakers decided to do a bit of self parody, as Diamonds are Forever feels like a caricature of Bond. Some of the most absurd moments include Bond riding a moon buggy through a fake moon set in a laboratory (where he is chased by men in space suits), two assassins trying to kill Bond by putting a bomb in an ice cream cake, and Bond being buried alive in a desert (which still isn’t as weird as him riding a moon buggy).
Where to Watch It: Tubi, Amazon Prime, YouTube (to rent)
Baba’s Thoughts: “In my opinion, Daniel Craig is the second-best James Bond (Sean Connery will always be number one). I felt that Daniel Craig plays Bond very differently. It’s a different type of James Bond. This Bond is a serious agent. He doesn’t have all these crazy gadgets. I think this film is more realistic than the others. Even though the story is different from the book, the plot is not that far fetched. I think it’s believable that something like this could actually happen.”
Why You Should Watch Casino Royale: Starring current James Bond Daniel Craig in his first turn in the role, Casino Royale is actually the third screen adaptation of the book (although it is the one that is considered the most canon). Unlike previous films, this Bond is far more vulnerable. The film takes place earlier in Bond’s career when he is just becoming the infamous 007. As Baba pointed out, Casino Royale’s plot is actually far more believable. Bond is sent to bankrupt a terrorist financier at a high stakes poker game at the Casino Royale in Montenegro. The film’s tone is also far darker than previous Bonds, and as Baba pointed out, Craig does indeed play him differently. He actually shows that Bond has emotions and is affected by the work he does. This new take has continued in the more recent films.
Where to Watch It: Netflix, Apple TV, YouTube (to rent)
Baba’s Thoughts: “I thought that Spectre was similar to Casino Royale, and that’s why I liked it. I also thought the women in it were very beautiful.”
Why You Should Watch Spectre: In all fairness to Baba, he fell asleep halfway through Spectre and had to watch it again, but was too distracted by the action sequences and Lea Seydoux and Monica Belluci, the two “Bond” girls, who are indeed gorgeous. Spectre, the latest Bond film to be released (we should be getting a new one this year!), was actually the most expensive Bond film ever made. Like Casino Royale, Spectre has a bit more of a realistic plot. Bond has to go up against Spectre and their leader (Christoph Waltz), who is planning to launch a national surveillance network to facilitate criminal enterprises. Like previous Bond films, Spectre included globe trotting (including the UK, Italy, and Morocco) and intense action sequences. While Spectre isn’t as strong as Casino Royale, it does prove that there are still many villains for Bond to catch and ladies for him to seduce (although a bisexual or gay Bond should happen in the future!)
Where to Watch it: Fubo, FX Now, Apple TV, YouTube
Baba’s Final Thoughts on James Bond: “It’s fun. It’s entertaining. Bond was truly a different thriller for its time. It combined comedy, gadgets, and many beautiful women. I still love Bond today and I can’t wait for the next movie!”
*Note: Baba also ended his thoughts with a story about how he met Sean Connery at the French consulate in London where they were both getting visas, but considering that this story was never told until recently, I can neither confirm nor deny whether it is true.