“Bond … James Bond”: My best of lists from 50 years of movies

There are some obvious dividing lines between people in society based on their preferences. For example, when it comes to rugby league either your support Queensland or New South Wales. In the world of Star Trek you either are a fan of Captain Kirk or Captain Picard. At its basest level people can be divided by whether they are left or right handed.

Another of these “dividing lines” in society arises when one considers the James Bond franchise of fees. Anecdotal evidence suggests that either one is a fan of the Bond franchise or one is not with very little grey in between. This is a blog that will appeal to fans of the franchise. If you are not then you ought probably click away from this blog right now.

The simple fact of the matter is that I am a fan of the Bond Franchise. Actually to say that I am a fan would be understatement: it would be like saying I am only a fan of cricket. I have watched every movie in the Bond Franchise at least 5 times and if I was on a quiz show and I was asked for a special topic it would be tough call as to whether I would choose cricket or the Bond franchise as that special topic.

As we celebrate the 50th year of the Bond Franchise and, I admit, off the back of Adele’s recent scoop of the various available awards for achievement in theme songs with her haunting rendition of the theme to Skyfall, I have given some thought to some of my favourites across a number of parts of the franchise. In all areas I have been forced to pick a top five as there was too many fine options to choose from and when it comes to the actors I have ranked them in order of who I consider to be the “best of Bond”.

It should be noted that for the purpose of this blog and, in general, I exclude from any consideration of the Bond franchise the non-canon version of Casino Royale from 1967 which starred David Niven and Never Say Never Again from 1983 which starred a fading Connery (and was itself a remake of Thunderball).

So here are my best of lists from 50 years of Bond movies:

Best Bond:

This is a simple decision: the best Bond is Sean Connery in my opinion by a fair margin. Whilst the character originated in Ian Fleming’s novels, it was Connery that gave the character a face and voice on the big screen.

1. Connery
2. Craig
3. Lazenby
4. Brosnan
5. Moore
6. Dalton

Of the remainder, I pick George Lazenby at the 3rd best Bond simply because I think the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of the best Bond movies. Roger Moore’s more comedic and even camp portrayal does nothing for me and despite him appearing in the the most Bond movies (7) I do not rate the Moore Bond highly. Daniel Craig has, in my view, nailed Bond in the reboot of the franchise and is as close to Connery as any of the other actors to portray 007 has ever come.

Best Bond Movie:

Dr No is the first movie in the franchise and, despite its age, I continue to rate it the best of the franchise. Funnily enough a close run second in my top 5 Bond movies is the reboot of the franchise staring Daniel Craig (Casino Royale).

1. Dr No
2. Casino Royale
3. Goldfinger
4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
5. Skyfall

The most recent addition to the franchise makes this list and over time may move higher in my top 5. It is just a great movie on top of being a great Bond movie and is one of the few movies in the franchise to cross the divide of Bond fans and just everyday viewer of movies.

Best Bond Girl:

1. Honey Ryder played by Ursula Andress in Dr No
2. Vesper Lynd played by Eva Green in Casino Royale
3. Natalya Simonova played by Izabella Scorupco in Golden Eye
4. Mary Goodnight played by Britt Ekland in The Man with the Golden Gun
5. Professor Inga Bergstrom played by Cecilia Thomsen in Tomorrow Never Dies

Best Bond Theme Song:

1. Goldenfinger by Shirley Bassey in Goldfinger
2. Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney in Live and Let Die
3. You know my name by Chris Cornell in Casino Royale
4. Die Another Day by Madonna in Die Another Day
5. James Bond Theme by John Barry and Orchestra in Dr No

Most Inappropriate Character Name:

The Bond films are known for their inappropriately named female characters. Nothing more needs to be said about these names:

1. Pussy Galore in Goldfinger
2. Octopussy from the movie of the same name
3. Holly Goodhead from Moonraker
3. Plenty O’Toole from Diamonds are Forever
5. Dr Molly Warmflash from THe World is Not Enough

Best Bond villains:

I have not included henchmen in this category and indeed the list of henchman would be dominated by Oddjob and Jaws so I have decided to not include it as a separate list at all given said domination. My choice for the top spot here comes from the most recent of movies: simply put Javier Bardem plays the most menacing of the Bond villains of all in my opinion and seems to cause the most disruption to MI6 than any of the villains which is one of my key criteria. That is why Elektra King from The World is Not Enough gets the second spot on my list given that through her manipulation of Renard she caused a bomb to go off inside MI6 headquarters and kidnapped M. The list is rounded out by the longest surviving villain in Ernst Blofield (who always seemed to survive), the Kossack former MI6 agent Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye and Auric Goldfinger from the movie that bears his name.

1. Raoul Silver played by Javier Bardem in Skyfall
2. Elektra King played by Sophie Marceau in The World is Not Enough
3. Ernst Blofield played by 4 different actors in 4 different movies
4. Alec Trevelyan played by Sean Bean in Goldeneye
5. Auric Goldfinger played by Gert Frobe in Goldfinger

So there you have it: my best of lists for the Bond Franchise. Bond fans: what do you think? Comments and feedback more than welcome!

A tale of two golf rounds: Brookwater and St Lucia Golf Courses

Anyone who knows me will know that I love golf. It frustrates me and makes me swear more than a reasonable person ought but I still love. I was privileged over the weekend just gone to get in two rounds of golf at two courses that one could say are diametrically opposed in just about every way from price to clientele. Brookwater Golf and Country Club quite rightly promotes itself as the best golf course in Queensland and, the fact is, it is. St Lucia Golf Course is a public course owned and operated by the Brisbane City Council open to all comers. See what I mean about diametrically opposed?

That said, for the reasons that follow, I enjoyed my round of golf at St Lucia just a little bit more than my round at Brookwater. Then again: there is much to be said for the maxim that there are no unenjoyable rounds of golf because the other option is not playing golf.


I was part of a group that played in the St George Foundation Golf Day at Brookwater on Friday. A four ball ambrose stroke event in the name of charity is a more than passable way to spend a Friday afternoon. We teed off on the 15th hole which is one of the many shortish testing par-4s on this golf course. I started off somewhat less than well with a shank into the bushes in front of the tee box. 6 holes of shanking the ball around the best course in Queensland mixed in with some fairly solid putting which made me wonder if I was in the twilight zone given that normally my putting is atrocious at best. The 4th hole (our 7th) beckoned with me feeling totally lost and embarrassed as to how poorly I was playing given my 13 handicap. After another shank off the tee, one of my playing partners started a conversation with the line “now I don’t normally give advice but …”. Normally this line would have been with a “so don’t” but given that this was golf with a client I let the conversation continue. Good thing I did because I had not realized the obvious: I was still swinging the club like I was 128.3kgs; viz., I was still hitting around my gut. That adjustment (mostly mental) made, our second shot down the 4th hole became the first of my shots we had taken for the round after I smashed a hybrid 2 iron 210 metres into the wind. I was still scratchy as I got used to my newish swing but that was the shot that got me back.

The thing about Brookwater that you fast realize when you are playing is that it is not only the best course in Queensland but it has to be one of, if not the, most difficult. The intellectual and physical challenge of the course makes for an interesting round of golf but it must also be conceded is exhausting. So much so that I commented to my playing companions when we returned to the club house that I could never be a member of the course because it would destroy my golf game and my soul eventually. Loosing 9 balls will do that to you!

Still it was a great day, with some great people and in support of a great charity and as I said straight up: a round of golf is never an unenjoyable experience.

St Lucia

As I noted above, St Lucia Golf Links is right at the other end of the spectrum when it comes to golf courses given its public ownership, relaxed dress standards and low prices. That does not make it any less of a golf experience however because the course is in a fabulous state that belies its cost and despite being on the short side has a number of holes that test the mind and the golf swing. Again I started with a shank, indeed I embarrassed myself in front of my social golf club by not making the ladies tees down the first. I was again swinging like a 128.3 kg hacker rather than one with my current lighter frame. Fortunately it only took my 3 holes to get my thought process and swing into some shape. Golfers talk about the hole that keeps them coming back and mine across in this round deceptively early. The par 5 6th at St Lucia is the only par 5 on the course and at 476 metres is still moderately short. It is has a sweeping left turning dog leg however and a gully that runs across at about the 130 metre mark. It was here that I had my hole that will get me back the golf course the next time. Off the tee I took driver and hit it over the cover of the dog leg leaving me 192 to the flag (thank goodness for GPS in the phone). I originally wanted to lay up short but I struck my hybrid 3 iron sweetly and ended up on the fringe of the green on the right hand side of the flag. A chip and a putt and there all of a sudden a red number on my score card.

I may not have set the course alight with low scoring for the rest of the round however I still had a great day walking around the course with the added bonus of great conversation and not loosing a ball all round making this golf experience more enjoyable and less tiresome mentally than my round the previous day.

St Lucia is absolutely a course I could play every week: it is short yes but it presents an enjoyable challenge for the mid handicapped golfer. I reckon Brookwater is a place I could only submit my golf game to a couple of times a year though because it would break down any confidence I had in my game raising a “Bradman” (100) every game and loosing nearly a box of balls at the same time.

Still, any weekend with only one round of golf it in is a good weekend so having played two rounds my weekend certainly was a good one. Anyone for a round this weekend?

The Siddle Conundrum: what should the team for the 2nd test look like?

The second test match between India and Australia starts in Deccan on Saturday. Two things are abundantly clear in the aftermath of the Australia’s abysmal showing in the first test: first that the pitch for the second test will no doubt mirror the first and second that Australia must select two spin bowlers if it is to be competitive in this fixture.

These two factors raise two selection conundrums that are polar opposites: the need to lengthen the batting order against the need for more bowling. There will be immediate calls from some factions of Australian supporters to immediately call into the team one of Glenn Maxwell or Steve Smith who, as all rounders, will have the effect of killing two birds with one stone however the answer to Australia’s bowling ills will not be solved by taking that step in my view. The answer to that question actually rests in the position of Peter Siddle in the team.

Before we get to Siddle it is important examine the “candidates” for the role as second spinner in the Australian team for the second test:

1. Xavier Doherty: An excellent one day bowler, Doherty has been brought on tour as an alternate or second spinning option to Nathan Lyon. Off the bat (pardon the pun) it needs to be acknowledged that his test career to date has been less than stellar as a bowling average after two tests of 102.00 at an economy rate of 4.00 attests. Still he is the second spinner on tour and thus the search for reasons why this selection decision came to pass must also be examined. It can not be based on his first class record: a bowling average of 44.56 does not make for pleasant reading even taking into account the seaming home track he plays on. In the interests of fairness it is also necessary to look at his ODI and List A records and whilst the bowling average there is better an economy rate of around 4.50 is still a worry. A blocker at best with the bat he will do little to strengthen the batting lineup.

2. Glenn Maxwell: Seemingly the anointed next big thing in Australian cricket is a batting all rounder who bowls off spin much in the same style as Nathan Lyon. The interests of variety alone mean the selection chances of Maxwell must, on their face, be slim at best. Selecting another off spinner after your main spinner who is also an offspinner has gone for 200 runs in less than 50 overs is not palatable at best and suicidal at worst in my opinion. Still, in the interest of fairness, an examination of Maxwell’s first class record needs also to be considered in this context. 27 wickets in 24 innings at an average of 34 is not the worst record that one has ever seen before a selection for a test. The problem as I see it is that in those 24 innings, Maxwell has only bowled 1808 balls, or roughly 300 overs. To ask a bowler who averages less than 14 overs an innings at first class level to face the best players of spin in world cricket in a test match could only be detrimental to his development and simply should not happen.

3. Steve Smith:Once the golden boy of Australian cricket, Smith has returned to favour in recent times of the back of some solid performances with the willow. The problem with selecting Smith as a second spinner, and to state the bleeding obvious, is that he barely bowls for his state in first class cricket at, of all places, the best wicket for spin bowling in the country. He bowls for his state even less than Glenn Maxwell and a first class bowling average of over 50 again does not make for confidence inspiring reading. I can not see how Smith could be selected as the second spinner for the next test match or in the future.

The foregoing brief consideration of the possible inclusions into the team as second spinner reveals the yawning chasm in Australia’s spin bowling stocks. Nonetheless given the squad that is in India it is fairly clear that Xavier Doherty needs to be selected as the second spinner in the next test match.

That then leads to the conundrum as to who should be left out of the team. Henriques has done the job he was asked to do in this test match and was impressive batting with captain with the pressure was on. In order to avoid lengthening the tail of Australia’s batting order even further Henriques must remain in the team in my view. Which fast bowler needs then to be dropped (or rotated out) for the second test? The choice is down to two players (assuming Pattinson is fit for the second test) between Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle. Both failed to take a wicket in the only innings of note (the first) of India in the first test and both performances were concerning.

It is unfortunate but the only conclusion I can reach is that Peter Siddle is the player who must miss out. Coming only 3 matches after he took 9 wickets against Sri Lanka (albeit on a seaming wicket) and given his full hearted performances over recent years this feels like a very hard call however Siddle’s propensity to look innocuous against quality batting on wickets not offering any assistance counts against him here. Mitchell Starc offers greater variety than that offered by Siddle particularly bowling left arm and will have learned some tough lessons after his performance in the first test match.

Despite Australia’s crushing loss in the first test I am only suggesting one change to the team: Siddle out and Doherty in. Whilst the batting order did not perform all that well (the captain aside), with P Hughes looking particularly out of depth against the spin bowling of India, making changes to that lineup would be a reactionary move at this stage.

India have to be short priced favourites for the second test but it was not that long ago that England found themselves in the same situation and they came back to win the series. Here is hoping that X Doherty can do the same for the Australian team as M Panesar did for England in that series. If he can not one fears that this is going to be a very very long and difficult series for the Australian team.

A trip down memory lane: returning to my old school after 19 years

On this weekend just gone and having read details of a game of cricket celebrating 150 years of the school I decided to head up to my old school, Ipswich Grammar School for a look around and to watch some cricket. I had a dual motive of wanting to test out my new camera which was also a good enough reason to head “home” to Ipswich for the afternoon.

After a quick swing by the old school grounds I fast remembered that some years ago IGS had moved their playing fields to a purpose built facility a little away from the main school. What an impressive facility it is too: a far cry from the days when I was proud to don the red and white of my school in battle on the sporting field.

This is a not a blog post though that is either an advertisement for the school nor an exercise in “back in my day”. Rather I was so struck by the memories that flooded back during my trip to the school that I had cause to ponder not only the silliness of not having been back in so long but also the importance that any institution of education has on the development of young men between the ages of 13-18 and more to the point the teachers and mentors who form part of the faculty of said instituions.

Chatting to the coach of my 16B cricket team who is now the Sports Master and the coach of my 13A cricket team (and before that the Shell Shield U12 team I played in) now retired, who I am happy to say both remembered me, brought back memories of some of my happiest times: not just of my formative years but of my life.

Before I move on here I must declare that I was not one of the popular kids at school, I was not a sports star though I played in mostly A teams and I was not a genius though once I realised I just had to work harder than most to succeed my marks improved. I was just a run of the mill 13 to 17 year old growing up in a private school. I say this only to give context to remarks that follow and not in any way to colour your opinion of this post.

Some of the memories that came back to me put a smile on my face and others made me shake my either in bewilderment at why I had not seen any of the players in said memories for nearly 20 years or embarrassment at how generally awkward I was back then.

From my first interview as a knock kneed and very slight 11 year old with the old headmaster, Mr Ladley, through catching the train with my mates for the first time on day 2 of grade 8 through to becoming a school prefect (obviously not a popularity contest that race) and basically having to beg for a date to the school formal, I have come to realize on reflection that those experiences at school were experiences that led me to be the person that I have become.

Now there is obvious good in my experiences and how they moulded me because I have retained the hard working culture that the school expected of its students as well as my life long love of sport that grew from a slight crush in the beginnings of grade 8 to an all encompassing love affair by the end of grade 12 on the fields of IGS. The undefeated 16B cricket season of 1993 under the watchful eye of Mr Grieve made me realize how much I love winning whilst not making the A team that year taught me on the one hand not to count my chickens before they hatched and how to make the best out of disappointment.

My life long love of reading for meaning also is a direct result of my time at the school. It took me until grade 11 to realize that there were about 50 kids in my class who were smarter than me and that if I wanted to get good marks I would have to work harder and read every single word of every single book suggested by every teacher.

Of course, any institution of any type that one spends 5 years in will also mould some negative traits as well in people: that is just human nature. As a, then, very skinny young man who grew 8 inches in the first semester of grade 11 and had a complexion best described as pepperoni pizza like, I certainly developed a shyness, particularly around the opposite sex, that no amount of school dances or going to netball fixtures could fix. I am a naturally reserved person with new people which I think came from having the same group of friends for 5 years at school.

Probably the thing I remember most though, and the thing that moulded me into the person I am today, was the personalities of the teachers and how they dealt with their classes on a daily basis. I remember Tommy Chay, the senior master and my chemistry teacher, seating me next to a rugby superstar repeating grade 12 in his class so we could be lab partners. We were chalk and cheese, or more to the point, very popular (him) and unknown (me) but we got on well. It took me another decade to realize that Tommy was hoping that I would help my lab partner focus on his work and that my lab partner would help me come out of my shell a bit. He was right on both counts and the rugby star and I are still friends to this day.

My maths teacher in grade 12 and final cricket coach at the school was great bloke called Ray Swan who showed me you can be passionate about both the academic and sporting and mix both together in a balanced way. He was direct and honest and I thought he was an absolute legend.

Mr Grieve I mentioned before was my coach in the 16Bs and was also a PE teacher. As someone who then was about 70 kgs dripping wet and very self conscious I will forever be thankful to Mr Grieve for making me captain of that team and giving me a free reign to run the team tactics. This gave me a confidence I had never had before in myself. I was delighted to talk to him on the weekend and reminisce about that 16B season.

Finally I was very close in my final year to a teacher called Barry Gray who, although he had never taught me, had coached me in cricket and I was fortunate enough to be the class prefect for his form class of grade 8 students. Baz taught me it was ok to have fun but at the same to you always had to respect the people around you while you were having said fun.

If I end up being half the man and mentor that these fellows were to me during the course of my career I will be a very happy person.

That said, this blog is not just about being self indulgent and just talking about my past. My trip to my old school made me think about the fact that we all have important mentors in our lives that rarely, if ever get honoured for the work that they do on a daily basis to make the people under the care or charge better members of society. They are the unsung heroes who teach, who coach and who counsel.

So that being the case I am going to finish this post by setting you a challenge dear readers: if you have had a mentor in your past that has impacted on your life, seek them out and thank them. They are the unsung heroes of day to day life and am sure they will say that no thanks is necessary but I am equally sure that the act of saying thank you will have a positive impact on them as it will you.

In closing, I am so happy I made the effort to go back up to my old school and take a trip down memory lane. I can’t believe it took my 19 years but I will back again soon: if only to watch some more cricket because lets face it, there can never be enough cricket to watch!

Shumpty’s Punt: the recap and a key learning

One of the most important things to recap on when you are punting is to consider your results and whether your strategy is working.

I haven’t had a win on a sports bet multi in 6 months. It is as simple as that. Worse still: most weeks I have gone out in the first or second legs of the multi. The fact is though I love sport and the mechanics of picking a winner is mental arithmetic that I enjoy. On reflection though, where my multi bets have generally fallen over has been in tipping a margin so I am going to jettison margin betting as part of sports multis moving forward. It will lead to skinny dividends but it is what it is.

On the horses I have been going alright save for this weekend just gone when my only return was from a late scratching.

Punting is a swings and roundabouts game but this recent run of form has reinforced for me that it is also a game where you have to bet only what you can afford to bet. My punting on the weekend cost me a grand total of $100 of which I lost $85. That $100 was in my budget for punting and was affordable.

Please though if you are reading this and punting more than you know you can afford you have to stop and talk to someone. Hell email me if you want to have a chat because I see everyday in my real life job the effects that a gambling habit can have on the finances and life.

With that I am off the pulpit and have one eye back on the form guide in preparation for next week.

Shumpty’s Punt: what to do in the Black Caviar Lightning Stakes

Well Black Caviar returns to racing this weekend in the Group 1 Weight for Age Black Caviar Lightning Stakes over 1000m. The Champion Mare returns to the track for the first time in 8 months and has been posted as $1.06 favourite on most fixed price market.

This leads to the usual question of how do you find some value out of a Black Caviar race. I have had a look at the form and reckon there might be some good value in this first 4 bet:

1st: Black Caviar (Number 6)
2nd: Golden Archer (Number 2) / Shamexpress (Number 8)
3nd: First Command (Number 1)/ 2 / Moment of Change (Number 3) / Satin Shoes (Number 7)/ 8
4th: 1 / 2 / 3 / 7 / 8

A $50 bet on this will get you back a little over 2 times the dividend so for a fun bet it is well worth the effort in my view.