Unless you've been hiding under a rock or working on an off-world colony for the past several months, then you know that the 21st James Bond film, Casino Royale, will be hitting theaters this Friday. It promises all the explosions, car chases, fistfights and gunplay that you've come to expect from a Bond film, and an even more emotional Bond, which we might have to get used to.

In preparation for Friday, we're summing up all of the previous Bond movies by capsulizing the plots and picking out our key favorite moments. Oh, who am I kidding, these are my favorite Bond memories. I grew up on these films, reading the novels, playing the role-playing game, obsessively reading the Q Branch Manual to find out about Bond's gadgets. I also must have played GoldenEye on the Nintendo 64 a trillion times, so I like to consider myself somewhat of a Bond-o-phile. Roger Moore was the reigning 007 when I was growing up, but I watched the Sean Connery Bond films on tape, and was sold on his coolness vs. Moore's. This led to an enormous rift between me and my best friend, who idolized Moore (and his dad kind of looked like him). Although we both agree that the latest Bond films are a lot of fun, I think we still want to butt heads over who is the best Bond.

Luckily, you don't have to have seen any of the previous Bond films to "get" the next one, but this little history can help you appreciate all of the effort that has gone into the series. We're serving it up to you shaken, of course ... never stirred.

Dr. No
-- 1962

While it wasn't the first Bond novel ever published (that honor goes appropriately enough to Casino Royale, which hit bookshelves in 1953), it was the first one to be turned into a movie. This book was released in 1958, and made it to the silver screen four short years later. Dr. No introduced the world to James Bond, and brought with it a lot of firsts like the gun barrel opening shot, the theme music, and of course, Connery as Bond. Sun, sand, surf. Ursula Andress in a white bikini, what's not to love about this movie? When I first went to the Bahamas when I was a teenager, I kept hoping Ursula would come up out of the surf in that bikini with the knife attached to it, but she never did. What a ripoff.

Pure Bond:
Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress): Are you looking for shells too?
James Bond (Sean Connery): No, I'm just looking.


From Russia With Love -- 1963
This Bond film got double the budget of its predecessor, a whopping $2,000,000. Since Dr. No only took place on Jamaica and didn't feature a lot of different sets, the producers and director were able to get a bit more wild with this one. It was also the first Bond film that contained a teaser that would play out before the openings credits, a trend that continues to this day. From Russia With Love contains one of my favorite scenes: a Russian agent disguised as Sean Connery gets taken down by a Russian agent in a training exercise played by ... Robert Shaw! That's right, Quint of Jaws fame goes toe to toe with Connery. That double of 007 that they use in training exercises actually gets killed. I guess assistant trainer isn't a position you want to sign up for with this organization. That's as dangerous as being a redshirt on Star Trek.

Pure Bond:
Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz): [translating] The women will fight until one of them is dead or surrenders. The winner will marry the man they both love, the loser will be cast out of the tribe, never to return.
[Vida lets out a long string of curses, glaring venomously at Zora]
Kerim Bey: She said...
James Bond (Sean Connery): Yes, I think I got it without the subtitles.


Goldfinger -- 1964
This is my hands down favorite Bond film ever. It has a great villain in Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe), a supreme henchman with Obbjob (Harold Sakata -- whose hat has a razor-edged brim. Ouch!), cool gadgets (the Aston Martin alone is worth the price of admission) and of course, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). This film got the whole Bond team, not just Connery, firing on all cylinders and it really felt like a full-blown epic adventure. Goldfinger's maniacal plan to render most of the gold supply in the United States radioactive is pure evil genius. Plus the title song by Shirley Bassey will stick in your head for hours after hearing it. This is what a Bond film should be all about.

Pure Bond:
James Bond (Sean Connery): My dear girl, there are some things that just aren't done, such as drinking Dom Perignon '53 above the temperature of 38 degrees Fahrenheit. That's just as bad as listening to the Beatles without earmuffs!


Thunderball -- 1965
Hijacked nuclear warheads, voracious sharks, an evil megalomaniac, and just another day for James Bond. Thunderball has a a bit of odd history behind it. Ian Fleming began developing the story for this screenplay with co-writer Kevin McClory as the first Bond film, but the producers eventually went with Dr. No instead. When production later began on this film, McClory successfully sued the executive producers, was given a producer credit, and the subsequent film rights to this Bond film only. More on that later. Thunderball featured another powerful theme song, this time sung by Tom Jones (that's right, baby), a shot featuring all seven 00 agents (never again done in one of the films, I used to make up histories for the other 00s, including modeling one after myself, obviously) and producers had originally cast Burl Ives as the evil Largo. Could you imagine that? Take that, Rudolph!

Pure Bond:
Q (Desmond Llewelyn): It is to be handled with special care!
James Bond (Sean Connery): Everything you give me...
Q: ...is treated with equal contempt. Yes, I know.


You Only Live Twice -- 1967
This is my second favorite Bond film, mostly because you get to see him interacting with his counterpart in Japan, Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba). Bond fakes his own death, and then later wears a ridiculously awful Asian disguise to blend in. Who would ever believe that Connery was Japanese? Anyhow, this film is almost entirely set in Japan, features tough Bond girl Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), and a cool little gyro-copter packed with gadgets. We also get to see Blofeld's face for the first time (played by Donald Pleasence, although a different actor portrayed Blofeld every time he was in a film), and you can see who Mike Myers modeled his Dr. Evil after. I'm not sure why they decided to give the head of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) a cat to stroke, but it does come off as creepy, so I suppose it works. With Nancy Sinatra providing the theme song, and Blofeld's secret base inside of a hollowed-out volcano (like no one would notice that kind of work going on), you've got another classic on your hands.

Pure Bond:
[Kissy says she will be sleeping elsewhere. Bond shoves his oyster dinner aside]
James Bond (Sean Connery): Well, I won't need these.


On Her Majesty's Secret Service -- 1969
Don't blink here or you'll miss George Lazenby's only turn as 007. Connery had grown tired of the role, and after a chance encounter in a hair salon, the producers decided on Lazenby, who was an Australian-born male model in Europe with extremely little acting experience at the time. Lazenby had big shoes to fill, but he was also given one of the best Bond scripts written. OHMSS (as those in the know call it, mainly to save all that typing) features Bond getting ... wait for it ... married! Lazenby had to be much more human and emotional than Connery ever did, and he manages not only to pull it off, but to do a good job with it. Lazenby's portrayal of Bond in this film has been called the closest ever to the way Bond was written in the novels. Contrary to popular belief, OHMSS did not flop at the box office. True, it took in less than Connery's previous film, but it made over $87,000.000 worldwide -- not too shabby for 1969. Lazenby later quit the role on his own, believing that his contract was too constricting and that he could easily get other film roles. Whoops.

Pure Bond:
[a girl writes on Bond's leg under the table, to which Bond makes an awkward face]
Irma Bunt (Ilse Steppat): Is anything ze matter, Sir Hilary?
James Bond (George Lazenby): Just a slight stiffness coming on ... in the shoulder.


Diamonds Are Forever -- 1971
Things move to Vegas, baby, Vegas as Connery returns and he goes on the offensive (again) against Blofeld. Bond teams up with vivacious diamond smuggler Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) and reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean, the character was based on Howard Hughes) along the way. This movie has four of the most offbeat Bond villains ever. First of all, you have Whyte's female bodyguards Bambi and Thumper. Then you have the evil, apparently gay assassins, Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith). These guys were so off the wall that it became hard to concentrate on the story when they were around. Diamonds may be forever, but thankfully these guys weren't. This was Connery's last "official" time in the Bond role, stating that he would play James Bond "never again." More on that, and the whole Thunderball shenanigans, later.

Pure Bond:
James Bond (Sean Connery): Weren't you a blonde when I came in?
Tiffany Case (Jill St. John): Could be.
James Bond: I tend to notice little things like that -- whether a girl is a blonde or a brunette.
Tiffany Case: Which do you prefer?
James Bond: Well, as long as the collar and cuffs match ...


Live and Let Die -- 1973
So long Connery, hello Roger Moore! Moore steps into the role as Connery vacates the job (for the second time), and hits the ground running. He travels to the United States and investigates a gangster named Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto -- FTW!) who runs a chain of restaurants called Filet of Soul (zing!). Along the way he encounters Bond girl Solitaire (Jane Seymour), and gets mixed up in some crazy voodoo with Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder -- from the 7-Up commercials, "Never Had It, Never Will"). Bond also stops carrying his precious Walther PPK after it gets damaged, and has to exchange it for a truly massive .44 Magnum. This movie features a spectacular powerboat jump and an appearance by character actor Clifton James, who made a career out of playing sheriffs in everything from Superman II to the A-Team. He plays stereotypical southern Sheriff J.W. Pepper in this movie. It's not a bad debut for Moore, but his portrayal of Bond was always a bit too glib for me. The best part about this one is the Paul McCartney & Wings title song.

Pure Bond:
Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto): [to his men] Is THIS the stupid mother who tailed you uptown?
James Bond (Roger Moore): There seems to be some mistake. My name is ...
Mr. Big: Names is for tombstones, baby! Y'all take this honky out and WASTE HIM! NOW!


The Man With The Golden Gun -- 1974
Golden guns, third nipples, Christopher Lee (Ian Fleming's cousin ... who knew?) and Herve Villechaize as Nick Nack. All the trappings of a classic Bond film, right? This was my favorite Moore film as far as his portrayal of Bond goes, and the showdown with Scaramanga at the end is priceless. That golden gun isn't too shabby either. This is the only Bond film where the villain isn't some psychotic maniac. Scaramanga is, instead, purely a businessman. True, he kills for money, but he also believes in honor and fair play ... somewhat. He's been in training to kill 007 for awhile (check out the wax replica of Roger Moore that he has in his creepy training arena), and Nick Nack is a pesky assistant who serves as Scaramanga's showman. Yes, there's a fiendish device in the movie (the "solex agitator," which can harness the rays of the sun), and Scaramanga is trying to get it. But, he doesn't want to use it, just sell it to the highest bidder. You'd think that a man who gets paid a a cool million per hit and uses a golden gun wouldn't be strapped for cash. Maybe those bullets are a lot more expensive than I thought.

Pure Bond:
Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee): A duel between titans ... my golden gun against your Walther PPK.
James Bond (Roger Moore): One bullet against my six?
Francisco Scaramanga: I only need one, Mr. Bond.


The Spy Who Loved Me -- 1977
Stolen nuclear missiles (again?), a plot to jumpstart World War III, more sharks and a deadly female Russian agent, Triple X (HAHAHAHA, er ... hahaha, um ... ha. Uh, yeah). Bond kills her lover while on assignment, although later he and Agent X (Barbara Bach) make it 007 + XXX = LUV 4 EVR (which means until the film ends). At least we get introduced to all seven foot two inches of Jaws (Richard Kiel) and his steel-capped teeth in this film. He has to be one of my favorite movie villains ever. If he somehow manages to ever return in a Bond film, I can die happy. Either that, or someone can buy me Bond's Lotus Esprit from this film that turns into a submarine. While it wouldn't have too many applicable uses, how cool would you look driving into the ocean? Carly Simon's song "Nobody Does It Better" sets the mood for this one, and I'm still not sure why they equip life rafts with champagne.

Pure Bond:
Hotel Receptionist (Valerie Leon): I have a message for you.
James Bond (Roger Moore): I think you just delivered it.

Check back for Part Two of our History of Bond Films. By the time you're done reading, it might be time for Casino Royale to open.