Sean Connery casts a long shadow over the James Bond legacy. He created the movie persona and starred in six of the first seven features, all but establishing the cool cold warrior as the world's most suave secret agent. The six titles in MGM's third collection celebrate the Connery Bond with three of his classics, including From Russia with Love
, 007's second and perhaps finest outing. A blond, buff Robert Shaw plays Bond's most ruthless nemesis, and Lotte Lenya and the great Pedro Armindáriz costar in this sleek, high-energy trip through the Iron Curtain. Connery travels to the Far East in You Only Live Twice
, which introduces the international criminal conspiracy SPECTRE and its cat-loving mastermind, Blofeld (Donald Pleasence). After a brief retirement, Connery returned for Diamonds Are Forever
, his final "official" appearance in the Bond series (15 years later he played Bond for a rival studio's Never Say Never Again
). This more tongue-in-cheek adventure takes 007 to Las Vegas, where he battles Blofeld (this time played by Charles Gray) and his minions--namely, a pair of fey, sardonic henchmen and a team of bikini-clad karate killers.
Octopussy, a colorful cold war thriller and one of Roger Moore's better Bond outings, stars Louis Jourdan as a corrupt Afghan prince and Maud Adams (making her second Bond appearance) as the ringmaster of an all-babe traveling circus team that unknowingly carries a nuclear bomb. Christopher Walken hams it up under a platinum-blond hairdo while his Amazon bodyguard, Grace Jones, growls through A View to a Kill, a silly but often visually impressive adventure that made it obvious Moore was too old and stiff to carry on the Bond legacy. The torch was passed to Timothy Dalton in The Living Daylights, an attempt to clear away the camp elements of Moore's portrayal and return to a lean, hard-edged spy thriller for the post-cold war era. It lacks the larger-than-life characters and spectacle of previous Bond pictures, but Dalton was a tough, ruthless 007 and a worthy inheritor of the legacy, which was then passed on to Pierce Brosnan.
The DVD editions of the films each feature audio commentary by the director and key members of the crew, "making of" documentaries, and a host of stills, TV spots, trailers, and other supplements. --Sean Axmaker