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The James Bond franchise is pushing 60, and while the globetrotting super-spy has always been associated with classic cars, timeless tuxedos and elegant timepieces, the films have taken more than a few strange turns over the years. From fake third nipples to shootouts in space, a lot has happened to the six actors who have (officially) gone by the codename 007.
Many of the weirdest moments in Bond history were a result of the franchise trying to keep up with what was happening in the worlds of technology, politics and pop culture. Because while the Aston Martin DB5 may be bulletproof, the James Bond franchise isn’t. In trying to adapt to the times, some James Bond movies can end up feeling hopelessly dated.
Of course, not every Bond oddity is a result of the era it was made in. Some Bond movies are weird all on their own. Some are good weird, some are bad weird, and some are just plain weird. That’s why we’ve ranked the weirdest James Bond films, from just a little unusual to full-on bizarre.
7. The Man With The Golden Gun
THE ONE WITH THE THIRD NIPPLE
The Man With The Golden Gun is the second Roger Moore movie, and it’s something of a preview of the weirdness that was yet to come. Overall, it starts off as fairly standard fare, and there are some pretty stylish and memorable set pieces, including MI6’s hidden headquarters aboard the half-sunken wreckage of the RMS Queen Elizabeth. Then things get a little kooky. One of the plot points revolves around the titular villain’s third nipple. It’s the only identifying information Bond has to go off, and at one point Bond even attempts to use a fake third nipple as a disguise. There’s also a scene where Bond does a corkscrew car flip accompanied by the sound of a slide whistle. It’s presumably for comedic effect, but it ruins an otherwise impressive stunt.
6. Never Say Never Again
THE UNOFFICIAL BOND MOVIE WITH AN OFFICIAL BOND
Never Say Never Again is an entertaining and well-made James Bond movie. What’s weird about the film is that it exists at all. Never Say Never Again was made in 1983, in the middle of Roger Moore’s run as James Bond — except it stars Sean Connery. It was released the same year as Moore’s Octopussy, meaning there were two James Bonds competing for box office domination. The reason this film was allowed to be made is fairly complex, but it stems from the fact that the producers of Never Say Never Again had the rights to Thunderball. There are a lot of new plot points though, including Bond coming out of retirement, which keeps Never Say Never Again from feeling like a straight remake. Since it’s not an Eon-produced film, there’s no gun barrel sequence or traditional Bond theme. The title allegedly comes from Connery previously saying that he would “never” play Bond again. Never Say Never Again was directed by Irvin Kershner, director of The Empire Strikes Back.
THE ONE WITH THE CLOWN COSTUME
Speaking of Octopussy, Roger Moore’s penultimate outing as Bond is one of his campiest — which is saying something. It’s a pretty forgettable movie, save for the fact that it features Bond in clown makeup. In the film, Bond has to dress as a clown in order to blend in with a circus performance and defuse a bomb. But he’s not even the first double-O agent to dress as a clown in the film. Agent 009 gets murdered by knife-wielding twins while carrying a fake Faberge egg. Oh, and there’s a scene where Bond belts out a Tarzan yell while swinging from vines.
4. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
THE ONE WHERE HE GETS MARRIED
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of the best films in the franchise, precisely because it was willing to get a little weird. It’s the first (and only) film to star George Lazenby, who took on the role of 007 right after Sean Connery’s departure. In the opening scene, after Bond rescues a woman from drowning and is subsequently attacked, he turns straight to the camera and quips “This never happened to the other fellow.” In the film, Bond falls in love and even gets married. Lazenby’s casting as Bond is also odd. For one, he had no prior acting experience, and he’s also Australian, making him the only Bond actor to not come from the British Isles.
THE ONE WITH SPACE LASERS
Moonraker was the follow-up to Moore’s most acclaimed film, The Spy Who Loved Me, and it goes completely off the rails. It was the first film James Bond film produced after the release of Star Wars, which the franchise tries to capitalize on by sending Bond to space. There’s a scene where US Marines and Bond are floating around space and battling the villain Drax’s forces using laser guns. Of course, that’s not the only ridiculous thing that happens in this film. Bond drives around the streets of Venice on a boat that turns into a hovercraft, while puzzled Italians look on. There’s even a shot of a pigeon doing a double-take as Bond drives by. The film ends with the henchman Jaws falling in love. Yet somehow (at least in this writer’s opinion) it kind of works.
2. Die Another Day
THE ONE WITH SPACE LASERS (AGAIN)
Die Another Day is Pierce Brosnan’s final outing as James Bond, and the campiness dial is turned up to 11. In the film, Bond squares off against a mysterious businessman named Gustav Graves. Except Graves is actually a North Korean colonel named Tan-Sun Moon, who Bond thought he killed. He was able to alter his appearance using gene therapy and adopt a new identity. There’s also a space laser, a bad CGI scene of Bond surfing away from a tsunami, and an Aston Martin that can turn invisible. The space laser being called Icarus is fitting — this film is the reason the franchise got burned and needed to come back down to Earth.
1. Casino Royale
THE ONE WITH ORSON WELLES
No, not that Casino Royale. Before Daniel Craig’s turn as James Bond in the acclaimed 2006 film, there was the not-so-acclaimed 1967 parody starring Peter Sellers. Along with Never Say Never Again, Casino Royale is a non-Eon-produced film. The film opens with M getting James Bond, played by David Niven, out of retirement to fight SMERSH. The film posits that Niven is the real Bond, who was replaced after he retired (presumably by Connery). Bond’s plan involves enlisting a bunch of agents who all adopt the moniker James Bond in order to confuse SMERSH. That includes Vesper Lynd, played by Ursula Andress (famous for her role as the first Bond girl in Dr. No), Baccarat expert Evelyn Tremble, played by Peter Sellers, plus four other James Bonds. Then there’s Bond’s villainous nephew, Jimmy Bond, played by Woody Allen, and Le Chiffre, played by Orson Welles. It’s as insane as it sounds.