The camera pans across a crowded high-class casino room. Cigarette smoke billows everywhere. Gamblers are enjoying their evening as we settle upon a poker table… and the man sitting at it.
He has brown hair, a calm demeanor, and a stack of chips in front of him. A beautiful woman sitting across from him says, “I admire your luck, Mister…” And without missing a beat, he tells her his name:
“Bond. James Bond.”
It was the very first time the audience had laid their eyes upon Sean Connery’s iconic British spy. His character summed up by one instantly famous phrase, repeated by five successive men who later took up the role (ignoring David Niven’s unofficial film).
James Bond is cinema’s greatest and most famous assassin. His exploits have taken him around the world, and audiences have loved every moment of him escapades for decades.
Let’s revisit some of the best James Bond scenes and moments across all of the entries in the franchise—which comprises 24 movies as of this writing.
8. The Dam Jump (GoldenEye)
As new Bond introductions go, this one was bettered only by Sean Connery. The opening of a new era for Bond saw a man dressed head-to-toe in black, running along the top of a dam, before hooking himself up to nearby holds and performing a bungee jump down.
After he stabilizes, he takes out a grapple gun and pulls himself onto the roof of the building below. Shortly after, he disables a guard in a toilet and infiltrates the base.
That was the very first sight we saw for Pierce Brosnan’s iteration of James Bond, and it was quite the thrilling opening. The stunning dam jump was its own introduction to a new Bond in style.
7. Meeting Blofeld (You Only Live Twice)
Ever since From Russia With Love, we knew who Blofeld was—the man with a white cat—and his involvement behind many of Bond’s adversaries.
As the secretive leader of SPECTRE, he’s the most challenging antagonist for James Bond, which made their eventual face-to-face meet a moment to savor.
Donald Pleasence was the actor chosen to portray the scarred villain, and the legendary British actor gave Blofeld a withdrawn and cold feel that was intertwined with true intellect.
Seeing him and Bond meet for the first time was a remarkable moment in cinema history, and Blofeld has never been portrayed better than he was by Pleasence.
6. Mirrors (The Man With the Golden Gun)
The dreaded island of Scaramanga. The man who had the golden gun. A detachable weapon lethal with one shot in his deadly hands. When Bond and Scaramanga reach the thrilling conclusion of the film, they hunt one another to the death on Scaramanga’s island.
During that tense sequence, there are all kinds of obstacles and tight hallways to maneuver—but the room full of mirrors is the most panic-inducing as it makes Bond’s chances of survival slim.
Though the scene itself was directly lifted from The Lady From Shanghai and the genius of Orson Welles, it still works devilishly well in this Bond outing.
5. The Laser (Goldfinger)
Few sequences in film history are as well-remembered as the one where we see Bond strapped to a table with a slow-burning laser cutting through the steel and heading right for him.
As Bond desperately attempts to negotiate his value to Goldfinger, the laser draws closer and closer, with the iconic line of “I expect you to die” being shouted at Bond by the eponymous villain.
The moment is thrilling as deep-down one knows that Bond will survive; however, to see him in such a predicament still holds the audience in their place with bated breath.
4. Skyfall (Skyfall)
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After five decades of Bond goingf all over the world, we finally saw him go home. Not to his solitary apartment in London, but to his parents’ country house in Scotland—where he grew up, where they’re buried.
The whole third act of Skyfall is set there, and watching Bond walk around his hated house, filling with emotion that he’s desperate to suppress, is a series moment like none other.
His shoot-out with Raoul Silva destroys the house; however, the quick seconds where Bond looks upon the graves of his parents as he saves M comprise the most deeply-cutting moment.
3. Vesper Dies (Casino Royale)
In Casino Royale, we watch an angry Bond fight his way through various enemies as he realizes the woman he loves has taken the money and is about to hand it over to the bad guys. Few moments in the Bond franchise are as emotionally-charged.
However, it’s when he reaches his love—who’s trapped in a sinking elevator—that we see what Daniel Craig’s Bond truly is: not the quipping, ruthless, emotionless killer from previous iterations, but someone who was capable of feeling pain and agony.
2. Bond Is Poisoned (Casino Royale)
Casino Royale is by far the best James Bond movie made since the early Connery era—and now with hindsight, we’d go so far as to rank it above those movies, even.
It’s a classic adventure that re-invented the character for the modern age. Daniel Craig brought a new kind of raw energy to the role, and we saw a dramatic change to the role of James Bond accordingly.
When he sits at the poker table within Casino Royale, the villain he’s opposite—Le Chiffre—has him poisoned. Realizing what has happened, Bond attempts to throw up the poison before staggering out to his Aston Martin, where he tries to defibrillate himself.
Passing out before he can fix the device, Vesper shows up and brings Bond back just in time, at which point he asks her if she’s okay. It’s a fully realized moment of Bond-ness and fallibility, as the famous spy is shown to be unable to save himself from dying.
1. Bond, James Bond (Dr. No)
Not just the best Bond moment ever put to screen, it’s one of cinema’s most celebrated character introductions in history. The first time the world saw Sean Connery in a full tuxedo, playing poker, and looking as calm as a cucumber? That was pure Bond distilled.
His tone of voice, his suave demeanor, and his slightly sardonic wit became the blueprint for every Bond actor to come after him.
While there have been moments that showed Bond in ways that the audience hadn’t yet seen, this first moment perfectly sums up every iteration of the character—not just Connery’s—and that’s why it will forever be the best James Bond scene of all time.