Ranking each sequence before title from the Sean Connery movies

The pre-title sequences have become a beloved staple of the James Bond film series. No time to die‘s opening rewrote the rulebook with the longest cold open in the series’ history, including an interrupted prologue, a showdown with SPECTER assassins and a continuation of all the plot threads from Daniel Craig’s Bond film.

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When the franchise first began with the late, great Sean Connery in the role of 007, when the tropics were not fully established, the first group of opening scenes was a mixed bag.

6 Diamonds are forever

Blofeld with his team of researchers at Diamonds Are Forever

Connery’s last official Eon production in the role of Bond (he returned to the role over a decade later for the unofficial Never say never again), Diamonds are forever, follows its predecessor You only live twice with Bond’s globetrotting hunt for a still-living Blofeld. There are a few disturbing moments in this sequence that openly challenge Bond’s characterization as a hero, like unnecessarily strangling a woman with her own bikini top.

There are also confusing comic book characters, such as Bond having a mousetrap in his pocket to catch a fool reaching for his gun, and Blofeld falling into a suitcase. Even Bond’s whimsical one-liner is lazy: “Welcome to hell, Blofeld!”

5 Dr. No

John Strangeways in Jamaica in Dr No

Mostly, Dr. No gets the Bond franchise off to a terrific start. Ursula Andress remains one of the most iconic Bond girls, Joseph Wiseman remains one of the most iconic Bond villains, and Terence Young perfectly characterized 007 from offset. But the opening sequence leaves a lot to be desired, for the tradition of opening with a high-concept action-set-piece was not yet established.

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As a result, the opening does not feature Bond at all. Instead, it sets Bond’s mission up with the assassinations of MI6 Station Chief John Strangways and his secretary in Jamaica. It’s an action scene that starts the plot right away, but now that Bond has become such a cultural icon, it seems confusing that his first big screen outing takes so long to introduce him.


4 You only live twice

James Bond fakes his death in You Only Live Twice

The opening scene of You only live twice apparently ends up with Bond being murdered. It takes a while to introduce 007, starting with the theft of a space capsule and the intersection of various military characters trying to figure out what happened to it. When the film finally gets around to Bond, he is in bed with a woman in Hong Kong before assassins break in, shoot him to death, and his body is swallowed by the bed.

After the title sequence, of course, it’s revealed that Bond’s death has just been falsified to allow him to investigate Blofeld and shut down SPECTER, but it’s a pretty exciting way to start the film – and perfectly sets up Nancy Sinatra’s humorous, heartfelt theme. song.

3 With loving regards from Russia

James Bond in the opening scene for From Russia with Love

The opening scene of With loving regards from Russia is nicely subversive. The film begins with Bond being hit by the henchman Red Grant, played by Jaws‘Robert Shaw. To the great surprise of the audience, he manages to kill Bond when Grant throws himself. For a second, it looks like Bond is dead, and the movie will only last a few minutes – and then it turns out to be a training experiment.

SPECTER trains his best assassins to meet Bond in retaliation for the events in Dr. No, and Grant’s abilities are second to none. The ease with which Grant kills the Bond decoy in this training exercise sets in motion the brutal, authentically life-threatening battle he will have with the real 007 on the Orient Express later in the film.

2 Thunderball

Jacques Bouvar dressed up as his wife in Thunderball

Overall, Thunderball is considered one of Connery’s weaker Bond films, but it ends strongly with an astonishing underwater sequence, and it starts off strong with a twisted opening action scene. Bond attends the funeral of a hostile officer, disappointed that he did not manage to deliver the final death blow, and then goes to the widow’s house to show his respect.

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At first there seems to be no action on the horizon, but the sequence takes a surprising turn as the colonel’s widow turns out to be the colonel himself in disguise – complete with high heels and stockings – ready to fight 007. This is one of the most intense, visceral battle scenes from the entire Connery era.

1 Gold finger

James Bond in the opening scene of Goldfinger

After Dr. No and With loving regards from Russia laid the groundwork, the third Bond film – the 1964s Gold finger – perfected the series’ now familiar formula. Like all other elements of Gold finger, the opening scene is the gold standard (sorry pun) for the episodic 007 formula. Like Gert Fröbe’s eccentric eponymous megalomaniac and the spectacular finale at Fort Knox, Gold fingers opening action scene set a high benchmark for what would eventually become a worn-out franchise trope.

After the confusing revelation of Bond’s disguise (a fake duck strapped to the top of his wetsuit), the gentleman’s spy emerges from the water, plants explosives in a drug lab, and then sneaks out to a bar before detonating them. He takes off his wetsuit to reveal a pristine white tuxedo underneath and coolly lights a cigarette while the lab explodes behind him. In a matter of minutes, director Guy Hamilton reintroduces the character perfectly.

NEXT: Daniel Craig as James Bond’s best film sequences before title, ranked

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