The Best James Bond Movies From The '60s And '70s According To Rotten Tomatoes
When it comes to iconic films of the 1960s and '70s it doesn't get much more classic than the 007 franchise. These films about the adventures of super spy James Bond have taken him from swinging London to the Bahamas, inside a volcano, and all the way to outer space. With 15 films alone in the Groovy era, it's hard to know which is the best. Thankfully viewers have rated and reviewed the films on Rotten Tomatoes so you don't have to slog through something like Casino Royale (1967) to get through the good stuff.
The following Bond films are all from the '60s and '70s with a brief foray into the '80s, but we don't go further than '83 just to keep things on brand. Do you agree with the Rotten Tomatoes ranking of the Bond films? Or do you think that Moonraker and Diamonds Are Forever should be right up top? Whatever the case, hopefully, this list doesn't leave you shaken and not stirred.
Goldfinger is number one with a bullet Rotten Tomatoes or not. This is the movie where the concept of 007 on-screen coalesced into the character we know today. He's sexy, his villain (Goldfinger) is over the top, and it contains quite possibly one of the most famous lines in cinema history - "A martini. Shaken, not stirred."
The film also has cool gadgets, ridiculous double-crosses, and an insane final fight that every Bond film that followed would try to emulate in one way or another. This is Bond at its best.
From Russia With Love
From Russia With Love is unlike any other Bond film of the Groovy era. It's a taut Cold War thriller bereft of the comedy and over-the-top gadgets that would define the series towards the end of Sean Connery's tenure as the dashing 007. The one thing that does carry over from this excellent spy film is its use of action. The fight scenes in this movie feel modern to the extent that it's honestly shocking that they're happening on screen. If this is the one Bond film that you haven't seen, do yourself a favor and check it out.
The very entry in the long-running James Bond series definitely sets the template for 007 films to follow, but it's also very clear that this is the first time around the track for everyone. Dr. No is a stylish, thrilling spy film that takes the audience on a globe-trotting whirlwind, it's not to be missed.
Even though Thunderball is lacking some of the oomph of its predecessors that doesn't mean that it's not really fun at times at the movies. After all, this is the film that introduces SPECTRE, a group that would essentially play the big bad of the Bond universe for the rest of the series.
Connery is charming as ever in this 1965 Bond film that tries to go bigger than Goldfinger and just misses the mark on story and intrigue.
On Her Majesty's Secret Service
Audiences like to hate on George Lazenby for being an inferior Bond, but he's not that bad. Does he have the charm of Connery or the upper-class cool of Roger Moore? Not in your wildest dreams, but he makes for a compelling 007 in this final entry of the Bond series for the 1960s. On Her Majesty's Secret Service also features some killer chase scenes, and Domino is one of the most fascinating Bond Girls of the entire franchise.
The Spy Who Loved Me
This 1977 return to form for the Bond series is sleek and stylish with clues to the over-the-top nature that the 007 films would take from here on out. This really is Roger Moore at his best. He's witty and caustic while managing to be both tender and dangerous as he tries to stop insane multi-millionaire Karl Stromberg from *checks notes* blowing up the above-ground world and starting a new civilization beneath the ocean? Yep! And we've also got the metal mouth henchman Jaws, so you really can't go wrong with The Spy Who Loved Me.
For Your Eyes Only
The first Bond of the 1980s may not be as stylish as the rest of the series but it features Moore going on a satisfying journey to stop a megalomaniac with a secret missile guidance system at his disposal. Compared to Moore's previous outing as Bond, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only is a straightforward thriller that does its best to tell a classic spy story without all the hats on hats of the previous films.
You Only Live Twice
Audiences are always going to have fun with a Bond film that stars Sean Connery even if the plot is pretty much nonsense. In You Only Live Twice Bond travels to Japan where he comes face to face with Ernst Stavro Blofeld for the first time where he stops a nuclear attack from inside the villain's volcanic lair. This may not be the best Bond movie but it's certainly one of the most memorable.
Never Say Never Again
The return of Connery to the Bond franchise is welcome, but it's definitely not his best go-around in the tuxedo. At the perfectly acceptable age of 52, Connery plays a version of 007 who's brought back into the spy game to stop Blofeld from using a couple of pilfered nuclear weapons. This straightforward spy-thriller is definitely worth watching; it's just not as bombastic as many of the other films on this list.
Live And Let Die
Roger Moore's first turn at playing Bond is a stylish and memorable foray into the world of Blacksloitation that features a killer tune by Paul McCartney. The movie itself is more style than substance but not every Bond movie needs to be a sober rumination on Cold War-era politics. Live And Let Die is iconic and well worth your time if you've never sat down with any of the 007 movies from the '70s.
Diamonds Are Forever
Out of all the early Bond films, this is pretty much a dud. The story feels like rewarmed Goldfinger and the goofy henchman makes for a frustrating viewing experience. Connery's onscreen presence and some great action make this a very watchable entry into the franchise.
Moonraker is absolutely bananas. Featuring some truly fun gadgets and a trip to outer space for the world's most well-known super spy, this movie is incredibly fun even if it doesn't make a lot of sense. But hey, who says a movie has to make sense to be good?
Woof. This movie has a few thrilling sequences but on the whole, this 1983 entry into the Bond franchise was a wake-up call to the producers that something had to change if our little secret agent man was going to continue his journey going forward. This isn't the last Bond film that stars Moore (that would be 1985's A View To A Kill) but it's definitely the death knell of the Groovy era films about 007.
The Man With The Golden Gun
Coming in after Live and Let Die, this film doubles down on the saucy dialogue of the iconic 1971 film without delivering on anything else. The coolest thing about this movie is Christopher Lee's performance as Scaramanga, an assassin who can go blow for blow with Bond while using solar power for his own evil deeds. Lee brings it in this movie, but everything else is on autopilot.
Casino Royale is just a total drag. This parody of the spy genre is full of jokes that don't land and double entendres best left in your brother's horrible best man speech. Even with its massive cast (Peter Sellers, David Niven, Woody Allen, John Huston, George Raft, Orson Welles) this movie is a huge waste of your time.