Ranking The James Bond DIRECTORS (Part IV): Number 6-Guy Hamilton

Again, before I get back on the track towards philosophy, I’ve got to close out a few things.

This series is one of them, and unfortunately (or fortunately) I’ve still got a ways to go.

The list has gone as follows:

12. Lee Tamahori- Die Another Day

11. Roger Spottiswoode- Tomorrow Never Dies

10. Michael Apted- The World is Not Enough

9. Irvin Kershner- Never Say Never Again

8. John Glen- For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View To A Kill, The Living Daylights, License To Kill

7. Lewis Gilbert– You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker

And now, without further ado…

6. Guy Hamilton- Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever (DAF), Live and Let Die (LALD), The Man With The Golden Gun (MWGG)

Truth be told, I want to put Guy Hamilton lower on this list.

But I can’t. Goldfinger alone puts him on the top half of the “Dalton (or John Glen) Scale”. So in many ways, we can think of Hamilton as the Eli Manning of James Bond directors: clearly not the best, but the man has two Super Bowl rings so what are you going to do?

And speaking of Goldfinger…while aesthetically it’s one of the most popular films of all time, it’s extraordinarily uncomfortable to watch nowadays. With the way how James Bond treats women, these Connery films deserve all the criticism they receive. Which, in recent years, has led to a direct criticism of Connery himself and his interpretation of Bond.

So when I say that Sean Connery is the best James Bond, clearly that warrants an explanation.

While Connery the man has a questionable history with women, its unknown how much that bled over into his acting. How much power he had over the script I am also uncertain of. It’s entirely possible that it wouldn’t have mattered who was playing James Bond in the 60s…007 would have been a sexist asshole (as he was in the books).

But what makes James Bond an appealing character, and one of the most important in the history of cinema, is that he isn’t some upstanding hero with a solid moral compass. He’s a psychopath….a gambling addict…a womanizer…an alcoholic. One bad decision earlier in life, he would have easily found employment in SPECTRE rather than on Her Majesty’s Secret Service. He’s a bad guy working for the good guys.

This probably wasn’t the intention of the producers in the 1960s. They probably just saw an exciting book series and thought “hey, these would make great movies!”. Connery looked the part of a 60s leading man, and he played that angle well. But he also elevates this caricature into its modern form: Connery doesn’t play 007 as a perfect human being.

Connery knew that James Bond was a blunt killer and doesn’t pretend he’s anything else. When he praised Daniel Craig’s interpretation by saying “he understands the danger aspect”, we could say the same about Connery. And that’s why Connery is the BEST (not my FAVORITE, however), and while fans might not like him, if they can’t understand that aspect to James Bond…then they really don’t understand James Bond!

I don’t know what that has to do with Guy Hamilton, but I digress….

Goldfinger might’ve been the defining film of the 60s, but not much of it holds up. Some of it is downright hilarious. James Bond and Goldfinger both wearing terrycloth jumpers around a pool in Miami? ROFL! “That’s like listening to the Beatles without ear muffs!”. You’re cracking me up Bond! “If that’s his ball, then I’m Arnold Palmer” is strangely my most quoted line from any Bond film. Goldfinger getting sucked out of a plane window? Great stuff. But out of all the Bond films from the 60s, Goldfinger is certainly the most dated.

In fact, Hamilton’s specialty is making exceptionally dated films. Which leads me to DAF…

It was around 1971 when screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz must’ve discovered cocaine. Below Moonraker and Die Another Day, DAF is the most insane Bond film. Certain the most insane of the Connery era. However, DAF might be an example of why Guy Hamilton is a GREAT director: because of the script and things that the producers wanted to put into the movie, Hamilton completely UNDER DIRECTS the film.

In addition to being the one of the craziest films, DAF is also the laziest. I don’t know what the budget was, but clearly it was mostly going into Connery’s pocket. The sets, the music, special effects…literally, EVERYTHING felt like it was half-assed. There must’ve been a sense around the set that everyone was going to make a LOT of money no matter what, so who gives a shit?

Despite Connery getting paid a record sum to return to Bond, it was once again obvious that he would have rather of been somewhere else. Connery was 41 years of age in DAF, yet somehow this is the oldest he ever appeared in any film. But because of his over abundance in charisma, many of Connery’s half-assed decisions paid off.

Most of the movie meanders along from one scene to the next, sometimes without purpose. Hamilton’s directorial style was seemingly simple: set up a camera and let things happen in front of it.

And somehow…it all WORKED. Because DAF just does not GIVE A FUCK, it’s probably my most watched Bond film…once again proving that Guy Hamilton is the Eli Manning of Bond directors: everything works despite itself.

But also like Eli Manning, you’re gonna gets some stinkers.

I know that LALD has its fans. In fact, it was the first Bond film I ever saw. My instant reaction to it: “the fuck is this shit?”. Even as a kid, I felt that having a posh British guy walking around Harlem was odd. Not odd in a good way, but odd in a way that it appeared that the filmmakers didn’t know what they were doing. LALD is also the debut of Roger Moore as Bond. I wasn’t impressed. Nothing against the late, great Roger Moore. Out of all the Bond actors, he’s the one I would have liked to have met the most. But in LALD, his performance felt like I was watching a made-for-television film (I hated typing that sentence, btw). He simply lacked any screen presence. Watching it again as an adult, my biggest criticism of Moore (not just in this film, but his entire tenure as Bond) was that he lacked the all-important “danger aspect”. Nevertheless, audiences responded well to Moore and he brought stability to the franchise. But, as is the case in all Hamilton productions, LALD just doesn’t age well.

There are things it does RIGHT: The villain/henchmen duos are probably one of the best in the series, the theme song is fuckin’ awesome, Jane Seymour is in it, and I’ll just say…although nobody likes her character, Gloria Hendry as Rosie Carver….she’s probably got the best bikini bod in all of James Bond, just go watch that boat scene again. She can point a gun at me all day. (Don’t worry, I’ll get to talking about dude’s bodies as well…wait till I get to Daniel Craig) But overall, Hamilton goes overboard with the campiness.

I said previously that Tomorrow Never Dies is probably the film I’ve seen the LEAST. I stand corrected…MWGG is the one I’ve seen the least. To me, it feels the least like a Bond film. And not in a good way. It was obvious that Moore had yet to grow into the character. He was too angry and I didn’t like watching him beat the shit out of Maud Adams (Moore, by the way…as much as I can recall…was a victim of domestic abuse himself). It wasn’t enjoyable, which explains why I never revisited it. So unfortunately I can’t quite give a thorough analysis of it.

Although Guy Hamilton was clearly not the best director in Bond history, he was there for many of the important events. Which is how he earned the 6th spot.





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