Bond in Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service part two

Still in the area, Bond stops by a local hotel and casino, where the woman’s car is also parked. Inquiring as to the owner, he learns that she’s Count Tesera De  Vicenzo. As the night closes, Bond settles down for some baccarat in a nice casino. I’m drawing another Goldeneye connection here….first a small race with a red car, now baccarat in a fancy hotel.

However, instead of the innuendo and subtle interrogation of the later game, Teresa-who wishes to be called Tracey, as “Theresa was a saint”-makes a dumb move, and what’s worse, she has no money on her at all! So Bond bails her out, rescuing her for a second time, although perhaps from jail rather than drowning. During their little table chat, he flirts with her a bit, and the chemistry of Lazenby and Rigg here is very, very good.

Going to meet Tracey for a late night rendezvous, Bond instead meets Che-Che. He’s one of the few fights in Bond films in which Bond later becomes buddies with his opponent (The other being Quarrel/Pussfellow and I suppose Pussy Galore.) After knocking him out-with a gate no less (With Bond quipping about him being a “Gatecrasher”) Bond samples some caviar (originally intended for him and Tracey), and is able to figure out exactly what fish they came from (A Royal beluga sturgeon from the caspian sea). Maybe it’s from Valentine’s stock.

Cavier Torture

 

Bond returns to his own room, where Teresa is pointing a gun at him, but he quickly disarms her and wonders what her deal is. I kind of like how Lazenby’s able to play a mix of toughness and utter confusion here at the same time. After trying to figure her out, the two just give in.

Bond awakens to find her gone, but on the way out, Cheche and a few other guys show up, and direct Bond to a car which then takes him to some facility, and we get an instrumental version Listen closely to the janitor here as they take Bond in-he’s whistling “Goldfinger”.

Bond’s able to fight them off and enter the office-and then we get this great shot of Bond about to throw his knife-which hits the calander behind….

Marc-Ange Draco.  Draco fits the sort of “Kerim Bey” or “Columbo” role here, as Bond’s ally who has a bit of a rap sheet, but one that works with Bond regardless. In this case, Draco is the fictional head of the (actually real life group) Unione Course, as well as his own construction company as a front.

However, his meeting with Bond is not really about that-he’s actually Tracy’s father…it turns out he spoiled her too much, she became rebellious and now is pretty much just depressed. The men Bond fought earlier (and probably killed at least one!) were actually just keeping an eye on her, more or less. However, he think’s Bond’s rescues are starting to make her feel better-and he actually wants Bond to get engaged and married to her-but Bond wants to live the bachelor lifestyle and doesn’t have too much faith in his own ability to help Teresa (Maybe his failures with Fiona and Helga blew his ego a bit). However, Bond knows that Draco has connections, and might know where Blofeld is hiding….and he might consider it.

Next we get a more typical Bond scene, of sorts, as Bond stops into M’s offices, with the usual Moneypenny flirting (Lois Maxwell looks a bit older here, especially next to Lazenby, who was 30 at the time. However her aging worked a bit better with Roger since they were pretty much the same age anyway). However, the meeting with M is unusual-it’s not a mission briefing, but a bit of a scolding-M wants Bond off of Operation Bedlam since he can’t seem to find Blofeld yet. Bond isn’t too happy about this, and tells Moneypenny to tell M that he wants to quit.

Along with the opening credits and the guy whistling Goldfinger, we get another reminder to the audience of the legacy of the older films,  as Bond goes through various gadgets and mementos from the previous films, complete with their associated themes (with “Underneath the mango tree” for Dr.No and Honey’s knife). Funny that the film most often associated for beginning the whole “Bond is simply a code name” thing is also the one that hits the audience on the head over and over again with the whole “This is the same guy!!!!” thing. While Bond films do of course reference the past films-most notably in the anniversary films Die Another Day and Skyfall-it’s still fairly early days here, and mainly to establish Lazenby as a legit 007. Other Bond debut films wouldn’t quite do this-“Live and Let Die” in many ways did it’s best to distance Roger Moore from Connery (Roger, for instance, smokes cigars while Connery smokes cigarettes) as did “The Living Daylights”, “Goldeneye” (Especially with Judi Dench’s M) and most of all, “Casino Royale”. But here it’s pretty much part of the sell.

However, Bond doesn’t have to quit, as Moneypenny reworks his request into simply asking for leave. Which also is sort of James Bond movie doublespeak for “You can still do your mission, but just be discreet about it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bond In Review: From Russia With Love Part III

Bond returns to his suite…and Tatanya is waiting.

 

It should be noted that this classic scene was used as an audition for James Bond in the 80’s for Roger Moore’s replacement. Here’s Sam Neill of Jurassic Park fame (part of the audition exists on video; the Tatayna stand-in seems to be Fiona Fullerton, who had played Pola Ivonava in View to A Kill; other variations of the audions had Maud Adams and Mary’Am D’abo.)

 

James Brolin….

 

And finally Brosnan, winning the James Bond role….8 years too early.

And of course, Dalton.

 

 

After a brief bit of flirtation-pretty much verbatim from the novel (Including the “Mouth” line!)she says she’ll tell Bond about it in the morning and the two start their romance….but SPECTRE is filming, setting up for the “humiliating” death that Blofeld wants for the agent.

 

Bond next arranges for her to drop plans for the Consulate where the LEKTOR is kept at the Haggia Sophia. Connery dons the sunglasses here, and is pretty much a natural with it, pretty much like Daniel Craig is….I’m pretty sure Lazenby never wore any, Moore and Dalton were kind of awkward with theirs (Mainly because they doubled as gadgets, and his second pair was mainly used to hide) and Brosnan, although he came close, just didn’t quite have the ‘cool’ that Connery and Craig have with the sunglasses. This scene also illustrates the “Guardian angel” aspect of Grant, as he once again stops a spy from interfering with SPECTRE’s masterplan-while keeping to the shadows.

 

 

After a brief scene with Kerim and Bond, wondering who killed the guy and Bey questioning Tatanya and Bond’s motives (But in a playful way)Our next spot is the Bosphurus straight (or not-it’s quite clear that in the scene there’s some fake backdrop involved, so this was probably shot at least in part in studio) a kind of funny scene where Bond is asking her about the details of the device (using a camera that is in fact a tape recorder, another of the film’s gadgets-this and the later shoe would start an escalation of gadgets within the series as the films go on), but Tatainya can’t help but wander off-topic about how sexy Bond is. Back home in London, M and his staff listen to the recorded conversation, and Moneypenny’s expression is pretty hilarious….

…..as is M’s nervous reaction when Bond mentions a prior mission in Tokyo (Which is referenced later on in the film as well; film-wise, Bond wouldn’t go to Tokyo until “You Only Live Twice”) in response to Tatanya asking about “Western girls”. Moneypenny of course still listens even after she’s excused, and M has her send a wire to Bond, which tells him to make a go for the Lektor…

Bond next arrives at the consulate, checking the time is correct despite the assurances of a strict receptionist. Bond’s expression when Kerim detonates an explosion, causing the consulate to panic and Bond able to steal the LEKTOR-and Tatanya-in the confusion, is pretty funny too, as is his mouthed “Thank you” to the running receptionist.

 

 

The three-with LEKTOR in tow-escape onboard the Orient Express-but unfortunately are spotted by a Russian security man who also boards the train-and Grant’s onboard too….and so we leave the Istanbul portion of the film…with the film now becoming a bit more hitchcockian.

 

Next: Murder on the Orient Express as the he starts to realize what a bloody fool he’s been…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bond In Review: Dr.No Part I

Here we are again, with the very first Bond film (although one based on one of the middle novels). Dr.No. “No” although the first film, isn’t exactly a trend-setter for the series as much as it’s sequels-the film is largely limited to one location (Jamacia, although there’s a short bit in London), there’s really no gadgets unless you count a gun and a geiger counter, no song with the movie’s title in it….but there’s still plenty set here: The classic catchphrase, “Bond, James Bond” (and the vodka martini line is in here, sort of), Bond’s quips and women, the interesting villain with a secret lair, and of course, the gunbarrel and theme song.

There’s a few differences though. Contrary to popular belief, the man here is not Sean Connery but stuntman Bob Simmons-Connery wouldn’t record his own gunbarrel until Thunderball. There’s also no Bond theme leading up to the shot, just a sort of radio-like and then telescoping sound effect, but when the shot hits, the classic theme starts.

So technically Simmons is the first on-screen film James Bond (Barry Nelson played the role in a TV adaptation of Casino Royale in the 50’s).

Instead of going to a pre-title sequence like the others, this goes straight to the opening sequence and theme. The gunbarrel becomes several circles that kind of dance around the screen, then becoming a group of various dancers set to a sort of Caribbean-style music.

Finally, we have in silhouette, the “Three Blind mice”-pretty much the first Bond henchmen, hitmen who work for Dr.No who pose as blind panhandlers to throw people off.

Their target is Strangways, an MI6 agent in Kingston, Jamacia, and the reason for the mission. He’s set to contact London after playing bridge at a country club, but is shot by the men.

When Strangeway leaves, the facial expression of Professor Dent as he watches Strangways leave makes it quite clear who is behind the hit.

 

 

They also kill his secretary (Played by the woman who owned actually owned the house her scene takes place in, Dolores Keator) and remove all files on the mysterious Dr.No

 

Back in London they figure out something’s wrong, and soon we’re introduced to James Bond. But first, we see the woman he’s playing against: Sylvia Trench. A game she’s losing. Apart from Moneypenny, Vesper Lynd (sort of) and Judi Dench’s M, Trench is one of the few female characters to appear in more than one film, although there were plans to include Michelle Yeoh (Tomorrow Never Dies) and Halle Berry (Die Another Day) in other films that didn’t pan out. Trench makes a short appearance in the next film, From Russia With Love. There’s almost a missed opportunity with Tommorow Never Dies here; perhaps they could’ve had Hatcher’s character-an ex of Bond’s-to be Sylvia Trench instead of a new character? One wonders how Bond breaks it off with some of the girls, especially ones he seemed to be fairly close to (Although some of course, like Tracy and Vesper, are killed off) instead of just casually. Makes me wonder what’s going to happen to SPECTRE’s Madeline Swann in the next film, too….

Anyway, Bond asks her name, and we get this classic exchange:

Bond: I admire your courage, miss?

Sylvia: Trench. Sylvia Trench….I admire your luck, Mr…?

Bond: Bond. James Bond.

Right there, he’s pretty much got it right away. Even though the book Bond is a bit different (Far less humorous, for one), he definitely has got the cool, somewhat detached look down here. Although Casino Royale of course wasn’t the first film, it does seem right to introduce Bond in a Casino as a sort of compensation for that (This scene btw wasn’t in the book-The Jamaica assignment was intended for an ‘easy’ mission for Bond-M figures Strangeways just ran away from his secretary-recovering from injuries in “From Russia With Love”, and not really up to smoking and gambling just yet)

Bond gets a summons, and after flirting a bit more with Sylvia and giving her his number, we’re introduced to Moneypenny-not a major character in the books, but she becomes a major part of the film universe….and of course, their constant playful flirtation is brought up right away. Connery and Maxwell have excellent chemistry here.

 

M then briefs Bond on Strangway’s disappearance, in that Strangways was investigating missiles and rockets that have been directed off-course by powerful radio waves near Jamacia (presumably at Cape Canavral). We see some of his sternness with Bond here, as he tells Bond that he needs a new gun instead of his old beretta, which jammed on him on his last mission and as a result he was injured and sent to a hospital for months-which, in the novels, was in “From Russia With Love” where Bond’s gun jammed and therefore he wasn’t successful in fighting off Rosa Klebb’s deadly poison shoes. However, since FRWL is the sequel to this, taking place after (That’s made quite clear, as the events of this film are referenced many times) that mission continuity wise is something else entirely.

As he’s given his new Walther PPK-his trademark gun-we’re also introduced (sort of) to Q. Except he’s not the one we’re familiar (Desmond Llewlynn) with, but is the same character, Major Boothryd. (This is made clear in “The Spy Who Loved Me” when Anya addresses Q by his real name and rank.). The actor-Peter Burton-is more stern than Desmond by a bit, but not nearly as fun and likable as the later actor.

He leaves the Beretta-somewhat sadly-with Moneypenny, and then heads to his flat, one of the few instances in the series where we actually see Bond’s home (although it looks somewhat different in Live and Let Die). Turns out Sylvia decided to show up after all, although Bond nearly shoots her as he’s doing a bit of golf. in his living room (her favorite sport, something also mentioned earlier on in the Casino scene, and also in From Russia With Love).

The two share a quick fling, making her officially Bond’s first on-screen “conquest”.

 

Next: We’re introduced to Quarrel and Felix Leiter, who at first appear to be enemies, but become important allies, and Bond’s investigation into Strangway’s appearance begins. However, there’s a few people out there that want to see him vanish as well.

 

 

 

 

Bond In Review: SPECTRE Part II

 

Bond quickly escapes from the SPECTRE meeting, but Hinx is in hot pursuit. The car chase is pretty good, although it’s a bit heavy on the comedy-Most of the car’s gadgets haven’t been loaded yet, Bond has to deal with getting stuck behind a slow driver, and he’s trying to get in touch with Moneypenny to figure out the identity of the “Pale king”, as well as why Hans Oberhauser-the man he recognized at the meeting-is still alive.

 

 

 

Turns out the “Pale King” is Bond’s old nemesis Mr. White, who vanished after “Quantum of Solace”.

Bond’s finally able to get one gadget working-the “Backfire” flamethrower, which is able to temporarily blind Hinx enough for Bond to make a quick getaway with an ejection device, complete with a parachute. Bond casually swaggers away, and Hinx is momentarily satisfied that he’s killed Bond. On the other hand, there’s now a DB10 in the Tiber.

 

Something that hasn’t escaped the notice of M and Tanner, who are busy dealing with Max’s plan to push the “Nine eyes” program. Bond, in the meantime, tracks down Mr. White, in a chilling atmospheric scene that was pretty much used for SPECTRE’s first teaser trailer.

 

It also kind of reminds me of Bond’s look in the Heineken commercial from around “Skyfall’s” release a bit (although he’s got a much better jacket in that).

Mr. White isn’t exactly looking that great these days-he’s dying from cancer, from radiation implanted in his cellphone because he disagreed with Oberhauser over SPECTRE’s evil nature, saying his new plan could affect “Women and children”. Funny, this is the same guy who in CASINO ROYALE seemed to condone such acts; and it’s a bit of a circle in a square peg kind of thing, which unfortunately also goes for a lot of the film’s attempts to ‘connect the dots’ of the Craig Bonds, especially later in regards to Oberhauser. There’s even a bit of almost friendship between the two, which is a bit awkward considering it was White who pretty much got Vesper killed in Casino Royale.

 

White wants Bond to protect his daughter, and then he takes his own life with Bond’s gun after telling him where to find her, as well as making a cryptic reference to something else: L’American.

Meanwhile, Mallory talks to Max, and like his predecessor, defends the right of personal intelligence against surveillance.

 

Yes, you have information. You can find out all about a man, track him down, keep an eye on him. But you have to look him in the eye. All the tech you have can’t help you with that. A license to kill also means a license NOT to kill.

Max counters though that he recorded Moneypenny and 007’s conversation, and therefore M can’t take keep an eye on his own agents. There’s no love lost between these two.

 

Bond’s next port of call is the clinic where White’s daughter-Madeline Swann-works. The mountaintop clinic is somewhat similar from an outside visual standpoint to Piz Gloria, Blofeld’s HQ in On Her majesty’s Secret Service.

 

Bond and Madeline have a bit of an interview, sort of a ‘sizing up’ as well. We get a callback to Bond’s parents again (Which Skyfall elaborated on) and a “Shaken not stirred” from Craig (I think it might in fact be his first one, he says “Shake it over rice” & we see someone ask him about it in Casino Royale, and a woman shook a drink but I think this is the actual first line). Of course, they don’t have any, instead some kind of green drink that Bond would rather put in the toilet.

Q stops by as well, saying that Bond is following a false lead with Oberhauser, as he’s quite dead and is also imperiling all their jobs by going, more or less, rogue (although less so than in “License to Kill” and “Quantum of Solace”) however, his tone changes when he runs a check on Sciarra’s ring, which somehow has DNA from all of the villains from the past films, as well as Oberhauser and White. It’s kind of unclear how Silva, who had a personal vendetta with M, was somehow part of this (Apparently the connection is revealed more in deleted scenes). Also, it’s a bit unclear how Quantum fits into everything; subsidiary? Alternate name? In real life Quantum was intended to be the name of a Spectre-like organization if they never got the rights back. But when they got Spectre back, it kind of gets swept under the rug. Also I find it funny that although Patrice-Silva’s henchman-gets a ‘tentacle’ but Greene’s Elvis is once again left out. LOL! Also, although Greene is eventually name-checked by Oberhauser, for some reason Q skips mentioning him, instead saying “Quantum” instead.

 

As Q figures that out (and tries to evade SPECTRE agents sent to apprehend him in a cable car), Swann is quickly captured by Hinx, and Bond gets a plane from the clinic to pursue him, in one of the film’s most entertaining action sequences.

Hinx’s got a bit of an interesting weapon here, the double-barreled Prismatic dueler, which is in fact a real weapon, although to my knowledge this is the first time it’s been used in a film. Like Jaws, although Hinx is mainly a physical presence, he’s not above using firearms for the more long-range tasks (and he doesn’t have a steel-rimmed hat either).

File:Spectre 205.jpg

Although I can’t get the exact frame, Bond does a salute from the plane to Hinx, which seems to be a bit of a reverse nod to Caterina Munro/Naomi’s similar gesture in “The Spy Who Loved Me”.

 

It’s quite a harrowing chase, with quite a cool visual at the end, with Bond’s plane smashing through a lumber barn.

Hinx is down, but not out (He seems nearly as indestructible as Jaws!), but Bond is able to persuade Swann to come under his protection. The two rendezvous with Q at a local hotel, just as an inciddent is underway in South Africa (Justifying Max’s “Nine eyes”). Q tells Bond he now believes him, and that Oberhauser is connected to all his old enemies, but it’s Madeline Swann who tells them the name of the organization:

 

“SPECTRE. It’s name is SPECTRE.”

 

 

Bond In Review-The Man With The Golden Gun

Man with the Golden Gun was, in many ways, the end of an era for James Bond. It’s the final film produced with the Cubby Brocolli and Harry Saltzman, with Cubby-and later his heirs Barbara and Michael J. Wilson-taking control of the series from then on. (With the exception of Never Say never Again). The next films would overhaul Roger Moore’s portrayal of the character somewhat.

It’s also the last of the 70’s films to be shot in a sort of reduced widescreen ratio, with a much wider look for the next film, The Spy Who Loved Me.

It’s also somewhat of a mess. While Roger Moore’s Bond was somewhat more of a gentlemen in “Live and Let Die”, “Man” tries to fit him into a more Conneryish mold, with him just kind of being standoffish, kind of a jerk, and cold and sometimes indifferent. I mean, to a degree Bond is supposed to be a cold-hearted agent, but even this is going a bit too far-and it’s not one of his strengths as an actor unfortunately (Moore actually found some of Bond’s colder moments in his films-such as kicking Locque’s car off a cliff in “For Your Eyes Only”-sort of uncomfortable).

 

 

A green Roll royce.

Bond even pushes a kid trying to hassle him into purchasing a wooden elephant out of his boat-which is a bit ironic given that Moore would eventually become a UNICEF goodwill ambassador. Even M and Moneypenny sort of come off as unpleasant, especially in the film’s opening scenes.

 

The film also sort of repeats a lot of the faults of it’s two predecessors by pushing too much campy comedy into the series. While this is sort of a hallmark of the series as a whole sometimes-especially Moore’s era-it seems somewhat even more forced here. Sheriff J. W Pepper-the comic relief from “Live and Let Die’s” speedboat chase-shows up here once again, and is even more shrill here.

Plus like in “Diamonds Are Forever” when he swaps IDs with Peter Franks, EVERYONE seems to know who Bond is, if only by reputation if not by sight (Bond poses briefly as Scaramanga-a cover which fails because the bad guys already know what Scaramanga looks like). So much for being a ‘secret’ agent.

The film’s signature stunt is even somewhat played for laughs-the complicated AMC hornet car jump-which required early computer simulations to perfect-is kind of ruined by a slide whistle.

 

As for the Bond girls, Britt Ekland as Mary Goodnight (Who is Bond’s secretary in the novels, which she sort of does in this film; in the other films her role in the novels is pretty much supplanted by Moneypenny). She’s mainly portrayed as a major ditz, especially in the end of the film where she pretty much messes up Scaramanga’s fortress by dropping a guard into a tank that’s supposed to be at zero, and nearly zapping Bond with a laser by accidentally pushing a button with her butt.

Maud Adams does much better as the trapped Andrea Anders, Scaramanga’s girlfriend who pretty much sets the whole plot in motion by delivering a custom-made golden bullet to MI6. She’s one of the few Bond girl actresses to appear in more than one film (as a different character though) as of course she later plays Octopussy-also showing a lot of range since Andrea and Octopussy are pretty much very different characters.

 

 

There are certain things the film does right, however. The location shooting-primarily in Thailand and China-is very nice-especially Scaramanga’s island fortress. The wreck of the Queen Elizabeth II also serves as an interesting hidden tilted MI6 station, a break from the usual setting of M’s London office.

 

 

 

Bond also has a memorable ally in Hong Kong with Lt. Hip: 

and his two karate-fighting nieces:

 

 

Of course there’s Christopher Lee as Scaramanga, which is a pretty good performance full of understated menace and his fancy lifestyle is sort of a darker version of Bond’s own. It’s a bit of a shame though, that instead of just wanting to kill Bond, he sort of has a more typical Bond villain plot-stealing an energy device known as the solex agitator to gain a monopoly on solar power…and a big laser.

 

 

That’s another thing about Scaramanga-Bond is pretty much gadgetless in the film-The AMC hornet is simply something he borrows, and it’s really just him and his PPK. Scaramanga, on the other hand, has a flying car:

A complex funhouse complete with a shooting gallery with robots and mirrors to confound intruders and serve as training for Scaramanga himself:

 

And the Golden gun itself-in fact a combination of a pen, cigarette holder, cufflink and lighter- which also has one of the film’s best gags-as Scaramanga relinquishes a regular gun- “a harmless” toy as he calls it, in hence “unarming” himself-and then offers Bond a cigarette from the holder.

 

The final duel between Bond and Scaramanga is also memorable-it’s not so much fighting as a game of cat and mouse-with Bond cleverly taking the place of Scaramanga’s funhouse dummy of him to take him out.

 

Of course the impact of this is somewhat downgraded as the film takes another twenty minutes to end, with Bond fleeing the fortress and then in a dumb fight played strictly for laughs with Scaramanga’s henchmen, Nick Nack. Although it’s kind of interesting that Nick Nack is one of the few Bond henchmen to actually survive-although unlike the seemingly indestructible Baron Semedi or Jaws, Bond is able to simply best him by capturing him and putting him up in a wicker basket.

 

This also happens at the same point Bond’s actual name is sung in the ending version of Lulu’s title tune. Other Songs in the series-Thunderball, Spy Who Loved Me, You Know My Name etc. of course allude to Bond, but they never say James Bond, or 007. Except this one.

“Goodnight, goodnight, sleep well my dear, No need to fear, James Bond is here!”

Speaking of music, John Barry returns to the series after skipping “Live and Let Die” (Which is okay, as LALD has a memorable and different score all it’s own). MWTGG sort of has a more traditional Bond song, although Barry’s Bond theme now sounds far more orchestral than the usual well-known Guitar riff. This would pretty much continue for every future Bond film he scored.