Well, frankly, neither was SPECTERE, particularly, in the first two Connery films--though their role in FRWL was pretty good. Then a break, with Goldfinger
, though, I think the concept really hit its stride--holding the free world at ransom with the threat of a nuclear holocaust! And in YOLT, they played the two sides in the Cold War to the brink of war.
And then--that was it. The concept crashed after that. *sigh*
is probably my all-time favorite of all the Bond films I've ever seen--with Casino
in close second....)