Opening sequence in "The Spy Who Loved Me" arguably the greatest Bond scene ever
Roger Moore's 007 skis off a cliff and falls thousands of feet before opening a Union Jack parachute
Scene underlines the important role skiing plays in the ever popular movie franchise
Legendary Bond producer Albert Broccoli and stunt co-ordinator Vic Armstrong agree
There are a myriad of options and over 50 years of heritage to tackle in the unenviable quest to isolate the greatest James Bond scene of all time.
Six actors have played Britain’s silver-tongued spy who thrives in a world crawling with agents, double agents, assassins and femme fatales.
Over the course of 23 films, that have grossed over $6 billion, there have been a litany of memorable set pieces as Bond pitches battle against maniacal villains, hell bent on world domination.
Despite this wealth of choice, a series of Bond experts, and one of the film’s legendary producers, are in no doubt as to which scene should be anointed the best ever.
And given the recurring role that skiing has played throughout the life of Bond, it should comes as no surprise our panel’s chosen encounter occurs on the slopes.
“I would argue the most iconic sequence is in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’, when Bond shot straight off the edge of a cliff at Baffin Island in Canada,” Ajay Chowdhury, editor of the James Bond International Fan Club, told CNN.
“We saw him fall and fall, and when the Union Jack parachute opened up and the theme tune kicked in, the world cheered.
“That was Britain’s Queen Elizabeth’s Jubilee Year in 1977 and I think to this day it was (famous Bond producer) Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli’s favorite ever scene in a Bond movie.
“When everything cleared it was him, on his own against the world. You play that sequence around the world and it is James Bond. And he did it on skis.”
The opening scene in any Bond film is a guaranteed thrill ride, but the beginning of “The Spy Who Loved Me,” the tenth film in the franchise, is still hard to top even in today’s world of daredevil stunts and breathtaking computer-generated imagery.
It also encapsulates the qualities that make Bond such an enduring screen icon.
The international man of mystery leaves a love interest in a remote log cabin up in the Alps after a message is sent to his new-fangled watch telling him to patch in to MI6.
Bond then outwits a series of gun-wielding Russian henchmen, before soaring off a cliff on his skis, plunging thousands of feet in the air before releasing his parachute, bedecked in the colors of the Union Jack.
Vic Armstrong has a Bond pedigree almost as impressive as either Sean Connery or Roger Moore. His legacy stretches over half a century, working first as a stuntman, then a stunt co-ordinator.
And even though he has been involved in, and devised, some of its finest sequences, he agrees the best stunt ever features in one of the few films he didn’t work on.
“For me the greatest stunt is when Bond skis off the cliff with the Union Jack parachute, to me that is sensational,” he told CNN.
“I saw that and the whole cinema erupted. I thought that was the most fantastic opening ever – just brilliant.”
“The Spy Who Loved Me” is not the only iconic scene to see Bond shaken and stirred on the slopes.
Ian Fleming, author of the original James Bond novels, passed his love for skiing on to his subject, and it has made regular appearances in some of 23 films that have followed since “Dr. No” showcased Connery as the dashing agent in 1962.
“For Your Eyes Only” includes a daring ski chase in which Moore’s Bond escapes his pursuers by zipping down a bobsleigh run while George Lazenby, in his only appearance as 007, even manages to evade capture in a downhill chase despite being down to one ski in “Her Majesty’s Secret Service.”
Timothy Dalton’s Bond in “Living Daylights” swept down a mountain slope on a cello case to escape danger while Pierce Brosnan battled grenade-throwing baddies on skidoo’s in “The World is Not Enough.”
Given that skiing is a high-octane preserve of the lone wolf, often associated with glamorous and sophisticated circles, it is inconceivable Britain’s premier spy would be be at a loss on the slopes.
“The generation of people who inspired the generation Ian Fleming was in all divided their time between skiing, mountain climbing, writing poems and fighting in the First World War,” said comedian and Bond enthusiast Rob Deering.
“Bond has got the skills written into his hard drive because he’s British. He can drive cranes, cars, submarines, why wouldn’t he be able to drive two sticks?
“If you are going to live the high life you’ve got to ski. It’s action packed, it’s classy, it’s quintessential Bond.”
As well as skiing, the other sports Bond pursues are also individual ones – 007 is as unlikely to be found participating in team sports as the dry Martini loving spy would be propping up the bar of a British pub drinking pints of ale.
“Bond plays golf, Bond scuba dives and he skis; those are his three sports of choice,” said Chowdhury.
“They are all individual, they are not team games, they are slightly glamorous, and not something you can do on your local pitch. Skiing captures the danger, the thrill that Bond would push himself through.”
So when will we next see current Bond Daniel Craig strap on a pair of skis and take to the slopes?
“It is inevitable skiing will return,” Chowdhury says. “Let’s face it, Daniel Craig would look great on skis.”