For a 60-year-old, James Bond is pretty spry. After six lead actors and 25 films, the Ian Fleming-inspired espionage franchise is still a formidable cultural force. So it’s appropriate that the Academy Theater is celebrating its 60th anniversary with a retrospective devoted to four of the series’ most popular films.
From Dec. 2 to 8, the Academy (which became a first-run theater earlier this year, but maintains robust revival programming) will be showing From Russia With Love (1963), the second film to star Sir Sean Connery as the swaggering British spy. It’s probably Connery’s finest hour as the character, thanks largely to his astounding fight with Robert Shaw on the Orient Express.
However, there’s an even more exciting Bond film playing Dec. 9-15: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969), the one and only movie to star George Lazenby as the character. In addition to featuring stunning ski chases, the film was the first to allow the chauvinistic Bond to experience a genuinely tragic romance (Diana Rigg plays his imperious paramour).
Up next is License to Kill (1989), running Dec. 16-22. A bold and brutal tale of a vengeful Bond pursuing a drug kingpin to Panama, the film features a ferocious Timothy Dalton as 007 and Carey Lowell as fellow spy Pam Bouvier (who kicks ass and, notably, was one of the first Bond girls to rock a pixie cut).
Closing out the series is GoldenEye (1995), Pierce Brosnan’s first turn as Bond. Beloved by Brosnan’s ultra-hardcore fans (the so-called Brozza Brigade), the film also introduces Judi Dench as M, a role she would continue in the Daniel Craig Bond films.