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

We next go see Tracy attend her father’s birthday, to the tune of “We have all the time in the world” but a bit lighter. Of course, Bond is there, and Tracy is immediately wise to her father being up to something.

She puts an ultimatum to father: Give him the information about Blofeld, or never see her again-Draco reveals that Blofeld might have a lawyer in Sweden, but Tracy is still upset that she was used as a pawn. Bond apologizes, and the two seem to reconcile and we get a nice montage set to the lyrical version of Louis Armstrong’s “We have all the time in the world”, with the two horse-riding, walking through a fancy garden, running on the beach etc. It’s a little sappy but pretty effective at the same time. It ends with them looking at each other happily in the car with Draco in-between, who seems a bit uncomfortable, and even a bit worried the two are in love. Hey, it was your idea!

We next get a nice, tense scene where Bond breaks into the lawyer’s office to crack his safe and copy some documents about the Blofeld connection (He also enjoys some nice newspapers and magazines while doing so). We’re shown scenes of the lawyer nearly returning to amp up the tension a bit.

The safe cracker is one of the few gadgets in the film, along with the reprises ones in the opening (and I suppose Q’s lint) and Bond’s office, as well as Blofeld’s later deadly makeup kit. Bond then chucks the gadget into a barrel operated by crane from Draco’s construction crew, where Campbell-played by British actor Bernard Horsfall, known for many guest roles in Doctor Who-among others-collects it nearby.

It’s not quite made clear if Campbell is one of  Draco’s men or a fellow secret service guy, although it’s made clear in the novel that he’s the latter (Although Bond is “on leave”). Then again, sometimes MI6 would go over M’s head to help James if he’s in a pickle (As we see in License to Kill and Spectre).

We see Bond visit M at his mansion, something we haven’t seen at the film yet, looking over his butterfly collection (M butterfly? Sorry, bad pun) with Bond showing off that he knows a bit about the study of butterflys as well, in addition to alcohol, weapons and women (Although he doesn’t know much about diamonds as we learn in the next film).

He manages to convince M to let him back on Operation Bedlam, and we learns that Blofeld-using the alias de Bleucham (Which is french for Blofeld)-wants to become a count and has asked the college of arms to look into it. Bond takes the opportunity to learn about his own past as well, including his family crest.

 

Orbis non suffict-AKA The World Is Not Enough….hey, that sounds like a good title….

Bond meets with-and intends to impersonate-Sir Hilary Bray, played by George Baker here (Baker would return to Bond to play a different character in “The Spy Who Loved Me”, but is otherwise perhaps best known as the troubled Emperor Tiberius in the I, Claidius series. )  so that he can get close to Blofeld, find out what he’s up to, and finally capture him (He’s given a hint by Bond that “Bleauchamp” has no earlobes). Funny thing is, Bond’s impersonation includes his *voice* as well, which means for pretty much the next 45 minutes, Bond sounds exactly like him with a few exceptions. In a sense, George Baker “plays” James Bond!

And so the deception begins, with Bond wearing a hat, glasses and trenchcoat. Not exactly the most convincing disguise (The hat’s somewhat similar to the one’s he worn before, even)….and Bond set off to Switzerland.

 

Bond in Review: For Your Eyes Only

tchOriginally, “For Your Eyes Only” was going to be the Bond film that would follow “The Spy Who Loved Me”-something made clear by the end credits of that movie. However, the success of “Star Wars” prompted them to (extremely loosely) adapt “Moonraker” instead. After that film was released, FYEO was back on the table. However, perhaps due to negative critical reaction to Moonraker (although it was a box office success), the producers decided to bring Bond back to earth-literally-with a more traditional story, and one heavily based on Fleming material, specifically, Fleming’s short stories For Your Eyes Only and Risico, as well as a sequence from Live and Let Die (I won’t go into details, since I already have in another article).

The film begins with Bond, visiting his wife’s grave, before being called back to MI6 but then his helicopter is commandeered via remote control by a bald guy with a cat-obviously meant to be Blofeld,  but due to rights issues he’s never named (Blofeld’s basic look and white cat however were never in the original books and are pretty much fair game, although I’m a bit unclear how that worked in reverse with “Never Say Never Again”), but with both Tracey’s grave, and Blofeld sporting injuries very similar to the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the callback is very clear.

The scene is merely played for camp, with Blofeld sporting a cartoony accent that sounds like an attempt to mix his original “From Russia With Love” voice with Donald Pleasence, but not quite making it. He’s also got some strange lines, most notably the infamous: “We can do a deal! I’ll buy you a delicatessen…in stainless steel!”

However, the opening is one of the few sequences in the film that’s comparable in tone to the campy nature of pretty much every other Roger Moore Bond film. We then come to one of the more unique Bond openings, as singer Sheena Easton actually physically appears and sings the song among the usual footage of Bond, guns and girls.

It’s a pretty decent song, sort of following the lead of Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker as having a love song as the main title, which would continue with “Octopussy”‘s “All Time High” before Bond returned to rock/pop with View To A Kill and Living Daylights.

The movie’s main plot begins with sort of a Bond trope of a British ship being compromised (although this time by accident, more or less). This kind of plot point is used in Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker, and although taking a break for a bit, it returns with a vengeance in “Tomorrow Never Dies”. In this case, it’s the St. Georges, which contains the ATAC Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator, used to coordinate submarines….and this sets in motion the plot, as Bond-teaming up with this film’s “Bond girl” Melina Havelock (The daughter of an archaeologist killed in the search for the ship) and Greek smuggler Columbo (Topol)-races across the Mediterannan to uncover the wreck of the Georges and recover the ATAC before it falls into the hands of the KGB, who are being aided by the film’s villain, Kristatos (Julian Glover). It’s definitely a bit different from the plots of both “Spy” and “Moonraker”, where the villains hoped to create Armageddon so people could live in the sea, or repopulate Earth with “perfect” people.

Glover is an actor well-known for villanous roles in media-having played the AT-AT Commander General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back, the multiple incarnations of the masked alien Scaroth in the Doctor Who serial “City of Death” and also the main villain Donovan in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Initially, we’re led to believe he’s actually a good guy, helping to sponsor a talented young skying girl in  the Winter Olympics and appearing to aid Bond in his search for the ATAC and the murderers of the Havelocks. However, he’s mainly trying to frame fellow smuggler Columbo, and his true, more sadistic side is unveiled in the film’s half-way point. Glover plays both sides of the character well.

Equally and entirely sadistic is Locque, his main henchman. Like a great deal of Bond henchmen, he’s rather quiet (although not mute). Although not quite a strongman like Jaws or Oddjob, he’s still an intimidating presence with his cold stares, only really smiling when he runs over Columbo’s mistress Lisl (played by the late Cassandra Harris).

He’s also the subject of one of the film’s best moments-and one of the coldest kills by Roger Moore’s Bond in any of his films-as Moore kicks his car off a cliff. 

However, we do have a somewhat more ‘strongman’ henchman in Eric Kreigler, a KGB agent assigned as the go-between the KGB and Kristatos. Bond’s main confrontation with him is a thrilling winter sports ski chase.

Future “Game of Thrones” star Charles Dance also has a small role as a minor henchman, Claus.

Girl-wise, we’ve got Carole Bouquet as the Bond girl. Her character is given better motivation-and acting I think as well-than Anya and Holly before her, and Carole Bouquet plays her as both really sympathetic but also a bit badass as well. She also doesn’t really fall for Bond until the end of the film either, which is a bit of a departure.

Speaking of falling for Bond, Kristatos’s ward Bibi-a kind of more bubbly, dumb Bond girl certainly does. Bond pretty much rebuffs her advances (and with good reason too-she’s in her late teens or early twenties and Roger Moore is in his mid 50s at this point, so that would just be weird). She’s kind of one of the goofier aspects of the film, but Moore’s reactions to her relentless flirting are some of the film’s best laughs, and she’s not quite annoying as Mary Goodnight a few films ago.

Finally Bond-girl wise we have Cassandra Harris in a small role as Countess Lisl, Columbo’s mistress and collaborator,  who has a brief fling with Bond before she’s murdered by Locque. Harris plays it pretty well, although we don’t see too much of her and it’s not quite clear why Lisl is faking an accent. Fun fact about Harris-before her death, she was married to future Bond Pierce Brosnan, and it was she who introduced him to the producers. This led to Brosnan eventually almost replacing Moore in 1986, however due to TV contract things Brosnan couldn’t play it at the time. He eventually of course got his chance in 1995.

Gadget-wise, the film is a bit light, especially compared to the previous two films. In fact, Bond’s original Lotus is taken out of action early on when the bad guys attempt to break in, triggering it’s self-destruct!

Apart from that, the ATAC itself and a radio watch which really isn’t used that much except for the film’s comic relief ending, we really just get the Identigraph which Bond uses to identify Locque. It’s used entirely in Q’s lab, which, like in many of the other films, shows off a large group of gadgets being developed, but not used by Bond in the field at all.

Speaking of that watch, it’s used in a pretty hilarious scene that closes the film, in which Margeret Thatcher-England’s PM at the time (played by a look-alike actress in this of course) congratulates Bond on the sucess of his mission, but ends up speaking with Melina’s parrot instead while she and Bond have a “moonlight swim.” It’s kind of interesting that the most serious of the Moore films is pretty much book-ended by goofy scenes-The Blofeld stuff at the beginning and then this.

Music-wise, like “Live and Let Die” and the “Spy Who Loved Me” For Your Eyes Only doesn’t have John Barry as composer, instead using the talents of “Rocky” and “Karate Kid” composer Bill Conti. Although a bit different than Barry’s talents, Conti’s music really kind of fits the “Winter sports” feel of the middle of the movie.

 

Overall, FYEO was a pretty good return to form for the series to it’s espionage roots and more serious tone, with Moore being able to adapt to it pretty well. Although by this point he’s aging and starting to lose some of his credibility as a convincing Bond, he still gives it his best in my opinion, proving that he’s got some dramatic teeth beyond the One liners. Next “Octopussy” would attempt to put a bit more comedy back into the series, while still having a semi-serious tone….

Bond novel/film comparisons: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is an interesting sort of turning point in the Bond films. After Sean Connery left the series due to tiring of the role (and also due to the immense media coverage of You Only Live Twice damaging his privacy), it was decided to cast a new James Bond. The man they chose was Australian model George Lazenby, whose only acting job had been a Chocolate commercial.

“This never happened to the other Fella”.

The film received mixed reviews, and Lazenby, due to several factors, quit after one film, leaving the producers to briefly re-cast Connery as Bond in Diamonds Are Forever before finding a more permanent replacement with Roger Moore. The legacy of Lazenby and the film adaptation of OHMSS have often been disputed; although it’s often agreed it’s fared better in the years since it’s release, and that Lazenby, while not an actor, does okay with the material. The film’s storyline and one-time director (Peter Hunt), as well as lack of a sung theme, instead using a classic orchestral piece by John Barry (Who scored most of the films up to 1987) also give it a fairly unique place in the Bond film canon.

In both the novel and film, Bond is in pursuit of Blofeld and SPECTRE (in the film, after the events of You Only Live Twice, in the novel, Thunderball), as part of “Operation Bedlam”-but the search for the criminal has reached a dead end, and M isn’t happy, putting Bond on temporary leave. Bond also tries to help a troubled young woman, Countess Teresa Di Vincenzo. Unexpectedly, her father, Draco, is a criminal himself, but more of a noble man who, in exchange for Bond courting his daughter, is willing to help him find Blofeld. (Although Bond is really interested in her, despite the incentive).

Bond eventually finds a clue to the villain, that he seems to be seeking to be declared a count by the coat of arms, but that those claims need to be confirmed. Bond goes undercover as Sir Hilary Bray, a Coat of Arms member. It’s also here that Bond learns his family motto “The World Is Not Enough” (Which became the name of the third Brosnan Bond film).

Bond goes to the mountaintop resort and clinic Piz Gloria, where he finds out that Blofeld is brainwashing young woman to try to ‘cure them’ of phobias (but in fact his real aim is far more devious). There’s a slight continuity error in the film here. In the novel timeline, Blofeld and Bond have not yet met each other face to face, and it makes sense that they don’t recognize each other.

However, film-wise, they had already met each other in the previous film, You Only Live Twice. Although they both look different-Bond now looks like George Lazenby, and Blofeld now looks like Telly Savalas and lacks the scar over his eye (He’s still got that cat though!).

Bond’s cover is blown eventually in both cases. In the novel, it’s because a man-Shaun Campbell-another MI6 agent-is captured who recognized Bond. This same man appears in the movie, but he mainly is Bond’s backup, and Bond ignores him to maintain his cover. In both cases Shaun is killed by Blofeld.

However, Bond’s cover is blown differently in the film, once it’s clear he’s not Sir Hilary Bray because respected Coat of Arms men don’t romance women, like he was doing at the clinic (Bond in other words, being Bond). Blofeld then monologues his plan to Bond, that the girls have been brainwashed to spread a deadly disease that will destroy livestock and grain products, and eventually humans if Blofeld doesn’t get his way. In the book, this is mainly discovered later during a debriefing at MI6 after Bond escapes.

In both cases Bond attempts to escape by ski, eventually making his way to the village below, but with SPECTRE in hot pursuit. Thankfully, Tracy shows up in the nick of time.

However, whereas in the book she mainly helps him get to a local airport, the movie adds in more action, with a car chase which spills over into an actual race:

and then, after proposing to Tracy, she is captured by Blofeld after a ski chase.

Both film and novel end with Bond, with the help of Draco, returning to Piz Gloria with an assault force to take down Blofeld’s operation, ending with Blofeld injured but able to escape….and then Bond and Tracy are married.

But their happiness is short-lived. Blofeld and his henchman drive-by and shoot up the Bonds’ car. Bond is unscathed, but Tracy is dead from a fatal bullet wound. As a shocked Bond cradles his dead wife, he says to an arriving police officer:

“It’s all right. It’s quite all right, really. She’s having a rest. We’ll be going on soon. There’s no hurry, you see. We have all the time in the world.”

The credits then show the damaged window from the bullet.

The film series wouldn’t have this depressing an ending until “Casino Royale”. Bond’s wife would be mentioned in passing in future films, or alluded to many times. What’s worse, in License to Kill, Bond’s friend Felix is maimed (A similar thing happened in the novel of Live and Let Die) and his new wife killed by the villains as well-perhaps providing some of the impetus for Bond’s quest for revenge in the film.

Next: The Spy Who Loved Me…which is *really* different.

James Bond novel/film comparisons-For Your Eyes Only

“For Your Eyes Only” was a collection of short stories featuring James Bond by Ian Fleming-From A View To A Kill, For Your Eyes Only, Quantum of Solace, Risico and the Hildebrand rarity. The movie version of “For Your Eyes Only” is sort of a merger between the title story, with of course, several embellishment. The film is generally recognized as perhaps the truest of Roger Moore’s Bond films to the tone of the original Ian Fleming novels-especially important since the last film-Moonraker-has Bond in space.

In both novel and film, one of the main things that happens is the murder of the Havelock couple, with their daughter seeking revenge on hitman Gonzalez. However, the motive is different; in the novel it’s because they refuse to sell their estate; in the film, it’s because Timothy Havelock-a marine archaeologist-has been trying to find the wreck of the St.Georges, a disguised British naval ship carrying the Automatic Targeting attack Communicator (ATAK) which was sunk, on orders to retrieve the device.

Havelock’s daughter’s name is changed from Judy to Melina, and she is also given a Greek backstory via her mother. Also, while the novel is set in Vermont, the movie is mostly centered in Greece. In both cases, the daughter’s signature weapon is a bow and arrow, which also figured prominently in the film’s marketing. In both cases, she is able to get revenge by shooting the bad guy just as he dives into a pool.

The villain of For Your Eyes Only, Kristatos, as well as his rival (and eventual Bond ally) Columbo, originate in the story For Your Eyes Only. Bond initially investigates Columbo in connection with smuggling, in both the film and novel (although the film adds the ATAC element, with Kristatos aiding the KGB). In both cases, Columbo sends his girlfriend, Lisl, to get information on Bond (In both cases Bond poses as an author, but Lisl isn’t fooled).

Cassandra Harris, the actress who played Lisl, was actually married to future Bond Pierce Brosnan, who was introduced to the producers during a set visit-so she pretty much helped Pierce become Bond. Unfortunately, she died in 1991 of cancer, as did her daughter in 2013.

In the novel, Bond is almost immediately captured by Columbo’s men when he meets Lisl on the beach. However in the film, Bond and Lisl are ambushed by Kristatos’s man, who kill Lisl. Bond is saved-but then knocked out and captured-by Columbo, who tells him that Kristatos is the bad guy all along. In both cases, to prove it, the two then raid one of his shipping centers, although in the film Bond kills Locke, Kristatos’s sadistic and silent henchman, in one of the more ruthless moments of Roger Moore’s Bond.

“He had no head for heights.”

One of the film’s most memorable action scenes involves Bond and Melina being bound and dragged through shark-infested water (with a lot of sharp coral too, although this ultimately helps them escape) by Kristatos’s boat. This scene actually originated in the novel version of Live and Let Die, which I covered a few months ago.

There’s one more element from the novels that’s sort of in the film: The Death of Blofeld. In the novels, Bond is finally killed by Bond in “You Only Live Twice”, where Bond discovers the villain has adopted the identity of Dr. Shatterhand, and Bond kills him by strangling him. In “For Your Eyes Only”, Blofeld (although not named on screen due to rights issues at the time, something I’ll eventually cover in a Thunderball article) is killed after using a remote control helicopter to kill Bond, only for Bond to sever the link, pick up Blofeld in the landing gear of the chopper and throw him down a smokestack (Although Blofeld’s persian cat is able to escape. Blofeld of course was given new cinematic life in SPECTRE, and given Blofeld’s use of body doubles in Diamonds Are Forever, maybe he’d still be around in the old continuity too.) In both cases, it’s Bond’s final revenge for the death of his new wife,Teresa/Tracey, in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The film makes this especially clear with one of it’s opening shots, as Bond visits her grave and drops off flowers.