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The best James Bond parodies: 'Austin Powers', 'Simpsons' and more

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Skyfall poster, Daniel Craig, James Bond
The fantastic new entry in the erstwhile Bond series Skyfall is nearly upon us, and marks a serious return to form after the disappointing Quantum of Solace.

The Daniel Craig series so far has been characterised by a return to the gritty roots of Ian Fleming's character, with more in common with the Bourne series and Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy than the campier excesses of the later Pierce Brosnan films, which were beginning to descend into self-parody with their emphasis on outrageous gadgets and clumsy innuendo.

If Craig's Bond is all a bit too serious and self-important for you and you've exhausted your copies of Moonraker and Die Another Day, luckily there have been no shortage of James Bond spoofs and parodies since the release of Dr No in 1963. Here's our selection of some of the most notable - be sure to tell us some of your favourites in the comments below.

Carry On Spying
The very first big-screen James Bond spoof, paving the way for the likes of Austin Powers, Spy Hard and Johnny English, this also served as a link between two of Britain's most famous and enduring film institutions. While the James Bond series was at this point in its infancy, Carry On was already well-established, and this is one of its strongest efforts from the team at the height of their powers. Notable for featuring the first appearance of Barbara Windsor in a Carry On, this campy spoof also makes digs at The Third Man, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and Casablanca. Charles Hawtrey's character was originally named in the script as James Bind 006½ - it proved too close to the bone for Bond producer Albert Broccoli, who quickly threatened to sue.



Help!
One of the only things that had a bigger impact than Bond in the sixties was the Beatles, so it makes sense that for their follow-up to A Hard Day's Night they would try their hands at a jet-setting Bond-esque adventure, taking on a mad scientist and a bizarre Indian cult as the group are chased through London, the Alps and the Bahamas. The relentless grating silliness means that this isn't one of the greatest projects the Beatles were involved in - the band later claimed that the film was made "through a haze of marijuana" - but it's certainly an interesting product of its time. Great songs too, obviously.



The Eurospy genre (various)
Between the 1950s and 1980s the European exploitation film industry, particularly in Italy, was very dependent on Hollywood trends for dictating what films were produced. Which is a kind way of saying they mercilessly ripped off whatever was popular at the time, which led to the dozens of garishly silly 'Eurospy' movies in the latter half of the sixties, including theOSS 117 films based on Jean Bruce's novels, Germany's Jerry Cotton series and the Italian 'James Tont' films. Perhaps most notable was OK Connery, aka Operation Double 007, which featured Neil Connery as a familiar-looking secret agent while his older brother Sean was still playing Bond. The Italian producer of the film cast him after reading in a tabloid that Neil was unable to continue his job as a plasterer in Edinburgh after accidentally misplacing his tools.



Modesty Blaise
This curio was based on Peter O'Donnell's very popular British comic strip of the same name, which ran in the Evening Standard from 1963 to 2001. Notable for being one of the first films to examine the possibility of a female Bond, the stories follow a young woman with a criminal past who becomes associated with the British secret service. Featuring Terence Stamp as Modesty's trusty Cockney sidekick Willie Gavin, this surreal, campy classic is a cut above most of the Bond knock-offs of the period. O'Donnell adapted his screenplay into a hit novel, which may be familiar to you as the book Vincent Vega reads on the toilet in Pulp Fiction before his unfortunate demise.



The Simpsons - 'You Only Move Twice'
One of the most memorable one-off characters in Simpson history, amiable supervillain Hank Scorpio became Homer's boss for this hilarious Simpsons episode which is frequently mentioned as being up there with the show's very best. Bond himself makes an appearance briefly, as Scorpio straps him to a familiar-looking gurney replete with slow-moving laser. 007 is stopped from one of his trademark escapes however by Homer, who rugby tackles him by the vending machines, and gets rewarded with an extra storey on his house. The pitch-perfect Bond theme 'Scorpio!' ("His twisted twin obsessions are his plot to rule the world/And his employee's health") is the icing on the cake.



Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery
For a period in the '90s this trilogy became even more popular than the Bond films it relentlessly riffs from, with Dr Evil and Mini-Me becoming pop cultural icons in their own right. The original movie still holds up as the best, filled with some surprisingly cine-literate references to the likes of Blow-Up, A Hard Day's Night and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls as well as the Bond series, but the sequels descend increasingly into puerility and, ironically, self-parody. But who doesn't love Frau Farbissina, Alotta Fagina, sharks with frickin' laser beams on their heads, Swedish made penis-enlargers and 'orange sherrrrrrbert'?



OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies and OSS 117: Lost in Rio
Before the staggering success of The Artist, director Michel Hazanavicius and actor Jean Dujardin collaborated on these two French-language Bond spoofs that clearly demonstrated their respective emerging talents. Dujardin is effortlessly cool and charismatic as the titular agent well as being an enormously gifted physical comedian, while Hazanavicius recreates the cinematography and period detail with an impressive, obsessive accuracy that foreshadowed his work on The Artist. Before appearing in these out-and-out parodies, the OSS 117 character created by Jean Bruce originally appeared in a series of Eurospy films in the '60s.



Archer
Get Smart was the first TV show to attempt a Bond sitcom, but the idea was perfected in this sharp, offensive and funny animation from Frisky Dingo creator Adam Reed. The suave, arrogant, conceited super-spy Sterling Archer (voiced by Jon Benjamin) works at secret agency ISIS under the supervision of his domineering mother Mallory (Arrested Development's Jessica Walter), and embarks on jet-setting, politically incorrect adventures in the company of long-suffering fellow operative and on-again, off-again love interest Lana. Archer takes Bond's most unpleasant characteristics only hinted at in the series - pathological selfishness, alcoholism, borderline psychopathy, misogyny - and foregrounds them to hilarious effect. Danger zone, indeed.



Skyfall opens in UK cinemas on October 26 and November 9 in the US.

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