Last week, a quote from Daniel Craig hit the movie blogosphere about the potential future of the James Bond movies. “Hopefully we’ll reclaim some of the old irony and make sure it doesn’t become pastiche,” he told Vulture, adding that he wishes he could ham it up more but he’s just not good at it. That doesn’t sound like he’s against uttering one-liners, which can be delivered with a straight face, dry as a martini, but rather he seems to want some humor without self-parody or nostalgic trappings of recalling past installments. That makes sense, as his 007 run is a kind of fresh start, minus some nods to the older films as with the Aston Martin appearance in Skyfall.
Whatever Craig is hinting at with his remark, we thought it would be a good time to highlight some of the funnier moments in the first 50 years of Bond movies. And we’ve excluded those scenes making us laugh with just with puns and double entendre and other witty dialogue. We’ve also left out the alligator farm escape from Live and Let Die — my personal favorite — because it was one of the clips we spotlighted in another edition of Scenes We Love last fall. Some of these were definitely scripted or directed for comedy while some others are unintentionally humorous. After checking out our selection of scenes, let us know your favorite funny James Bond moment below.
Blofeld’s cat freaks out in You Only Live Twice
Our own J.L. Sosa reminded me of this goofy moment in which Blofeld’s white cat gets spooked by an explosion and tries to get out of Donald Pleasence’s arms. And Connery as 007 seems to be holding back a laugh because of it. Who knew the Bond franchise was responsible for one of the first great cat videos?
Gondola hovercraft reactions in Moonraker
This time the funny animal reactions are planned. In the goofiest crowd-reacts-to-action scene outside of Superman II, here we have Moore’s Bond racing through Venice in his gondola that’s also a speedboat and hovercraft. Once the latter kicks in and he’s riding on land we see a number of reactions from men and children and dogs and a pigeon, which does a double take. Beer is spilled, and so is a henchman.
Opening scene in Goldfinger
In the first shot of the third movie with Connery’s Bond, we see a water fowl of some kind approaching land. But it’s not really a bird, it’s a faux fowl atop 007’s head. It’s a bit our own Inkoo Kang loves, all the way to when Bond removes his wetsuit to reveal a perfectly pressed white tuxedo (which has been copied in so many films). The scene also ends with one of the character’s best/cheesiest one-liners after electrocuting a bad guy in a tub.
Bond’s arachnophobia in Dr. No
How about one more involving an animal? This time it’s Connery as Bond doing the crazy reaction. Apparently he really doesn’t like spiders, as indicated by a fright worse than we’ve ever seen from the character followed by one of his most savage killings. And he’s carried out some pretty mean deaths. Of course the following remixed video makes the spider-smashing all the more hilarious with its repetition.
Kanaga explodes in Live and Let Die
Possibly the most infamously awful and silly deaths in all of cinema, Mr. Big/Kanaga is climactly blown to bits by a trick up Moore’s Bond’s sleeve. Not only is the scenario ridiculous but the inflated villain looks nothing like actor Yaphet Kotto. As for how the whole thing works, I think we’ll need Kevin Carr to do one of his Movie Truths columns on this scene. Or is that totally unnecessary?
Denise Richards is a nuclear physicist in The World is Not Enough
Speaking of Kevin Carr, one of his suggestions for funniest parts of the James Bond franchise is the entire character of Christmas Jones. Because nobody could get past the idea of Denise Richards playing a nuclear physicist. Possibly the worst yet most ironic casting choice of all time. Here’s her laughable intro:
Jaws falls in love in Moonraker
Back to the funniest — er dumbest — Bond movie of all time, here we see just how far from serious Moonraker truly is. Never mind that Venice nonsense or the sci-fi outer-space elements. Jaws ends up the least scary of all Bond movie henchmen, in spite of his size and crazy metal mouth (we recall him biting a shark in his first film, The Spy Who Loved Me. That’s saying a lot given some of the other goofy bad guys through the years, but only Jaws got his own romantic subplot. And then he turns good. And never died, which is why I’ve been waiting for him to return one day. I’d love to see Richard Kiel make at least a cameo in one of the new Bond films, maybe along with Blanche Ravalec (“Dolly”).
Defeating Nick Nack with a suitcase in The Man With the Golden Gun
Another humorous henchmen was Nick Nack, played by diminutive actor Herve Villechaize. I don’t want to imply that he was mainly funny for being a dwarf, though his size is played for comedy at times, including in the final battle of this film. He’s snuck aboard Moore as Bond’s boat and surprises the spy as he’s trying to make love. Furniture is broken, bottles are thrown and then 007 gets the brilliant idea of using a suitcase as first a shield and then a sort of cage, enclosing Nick Nack and throwing him overboard.
Ruby’s treatment in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Ruby Bartlett is one of the women at Blofeld’s research center/lair in the Swiss Alps. The daughter of a chicken farmer, she has a serious allergy to the birds’ feathers, and one night after having a romp with Lazenby as Bond we get to hear some of her treatment. Through a loudspeaker the villain offers a hypnotic cure to make her love chickens, their flesh and their voice. Of course, it’s less funny if you know about actress Angela Scoular’s real-life psychological problems (she ultimately killed herself horribly by drinking drain cleaner two years ago), so just try to separate the woman from the part she played. See the scene in the video of the ten weirdest moments of OHMSS below. It’s #2.
007 Meets Q in Skyfall
It’s not as if the Craig as Bond movies are entirely serious. In fact, Skyfall has a good amount of well-executed dry humor. Take this scene, for instance, in which there’s a lot of subtle comedy going on beneath the surface of Bond and Q’s dialogue about art and modern intelligence. Or maybe it’s just particularly funny to those of us who do often work in our pajamas?