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The Bond Films

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Definitely Goldfinger. Still the quintessential Bond. Best theme song, best "love interest" name (how many takes until she could say Pussy Galore with a straight face?), best car, best henchman's weapon, best laser-in-the-crotch scene, best villainous gloating ("no, Mr. Bond - I expect you to DIE!"), the list goes on and on.

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  • 3 weeks later...

After a holiday respit, I went back to continue my Bond exploration. Chronologically, the next in line is the


1967 - Casino Royale


Yes, technically I know this is not a "real" Bond film. But it was partly written by Ian Flemming and does contain the character of James Bond... Obviously this is not a very good film on many levels, but for those of us that remember the campy send-ups of the '60s (What's Up Tiger Lily? and Laugh In), this is actually a nice romp through absurdity. I have also enjoyed films with cameos and this has a bucketfull. Acting-wise, it is a shame to see the talents of those like the beloved David Niven, Deborah Kerr, and Orson Welles so horribly abused. Given what they had to work with, it can still be fun to watch them while ignoring the plethora of flying saucers, foam fights, and camp.

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1964 - Goldfinger


Well, Hollywood, I anticipated exactly your sentiments and part of my fears is that I will reach a point of disgust for the subsequent films trying to top each other. Unsure how many of these I'll be able to do in fast succession without a break, but I'll make a valiant effort!


The gadgets begin in earnest with Goldfinger with the introduction of the <sigh>Aston Martin</sigh>. This is also the first film to showcase an opening song (could we have handled Bobby Vinton or Paul Anka singing about Dr. No?) which is arguably the best and most memorable movie theme song EVER.


I think part of the interest of Goldfinger lies in its villain's intention inasmuch seemed physically plausible -- vs. the sci-fi plots to rule the world. And what childhood fantasy didn't include taking over Fort Knox? We are beginning to see the display of the strong woman in Pussy Galore. I like the fact that throughout the film, he and Pussy flirt but he doesn't succeed with her until the end. We don't get as much of the thinking, show-off Bond in his world knowledge with only an opening reference to the proper temperature to drink '53 Dom. Mostly, he follows Goldfinger around and occasionally reacting instead of acting.


This is classic Bond and with the addition of the car, makes him a complete man.


The financier and platinum / gold tycoon Charles Engelhard was often cited as a model for Auric Goldfinger. Engelhard and Fleming were longtime friends, and had homes near each other in Jamaica. The Engelhard firm managed the US supply of platinum for many years, and his connections with Anglo-American gold gave him access to that highly regulated (1960s) commodity.

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1967 - You Only Live Twice


So, this one must be considered the Japanese Bond. I thoroughly enjoyed the beginning of this movie -- up until the point where they tried to make Sean Connery look Oriental. The Japanese location of the movie and the understated elegance of the Japanese Bond girls is certainly different from their over-the-top, over-make-up'd predecessors. Karin Dor as an all-too-brief villainess was entertaining. But it got boring and the plot of WHY Blofeld was trying to start a war between the US and Russia, seemed weak. I also had problems with Bond having to get married and ultimately having the wife survive. I always assumed it was only the Lazenby Bond who married (for love, of course), but this provided an unresolved plot development that just didn't sit well.


On a slightly related note, if you haven't heard it, the Natacha Atlas cover of the song is one of my favorites...

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1969 - On Her Majesty's Secret Service


The Lazenby Bond. I can see why Bond fans hate this film; a Bond that takes time to fall in love and get married, for chrissakes? But romance aside, I like this movie -- or I should say, I like George Lazenby. The opening sequence with Diana Rigg running away from him and Bond quipping, "that never happened to the other guy" adds enough levity to the whole flick to make it watchable. Yes, I was annoyed by the cars "squealing" in sand and the fact that Lazenby's voice was dubbed by George Baker whilst he was pretending to be Sir Hilary Bray.


The bottom line for me is that Lazenby is just plain gorgeous to look at -- maybe it is the dimpled chin or something. I think he is a good actor and sorry he didn't do others (always curious why no more Bond for him?). The love interest aside, I liked Telly Savalas as the evil antagonist and the fact that there was more physical action than gadgets.

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1971 - Diamonds Are Forever


So we have Sean Connery back in the Bond saddle after the Lazenby stint. What truly earmarks this Bond film for me are the two gay hit-men, Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint -- they are just plain bizarre. I like Charles Grey as Blofeld but I've sort of always liked Charles Grey from my early Rocky Horror days. Jill St. John, on the other hand, seemed more of an annoying, whining scantily-clad body. Connery seemed to be going through motions and it makes one wonder what carrot was dangled to bring him back into the fold. The interesting battle sequence of the two ninja girls was (in my opinion) a way to show that Connery was still viril. It made me laugh.

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1973 - Live And Let Die


The first of the Roger Moore bonds. I'm sure I had seen this one or another as I have a vague recollection of having seen a Moore Bond, but not being able to remember anything beyond that. I had to chuckle a little at everyone joking about Craig being a blonde Bond but in this film, Moore is definitely on the blonde-ish side. I also noted that this Bond smokes cigars instead of cigarettes. The locale of the film seems seedier for some reason and having Jane Seymour as a virgin, almost ludicrous. The boat chase sequence almost laughable and Moore seems to be trying to hard to deliver the puns. Good opening song and so far, second best after Goldfinger for me.

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1974 - The Man With The Golden Gun


I know I have never seen this film; I would have remembered it. What can I say other than Christopher Lee carries this film. It is great to see the villain introduced early on, be given lines, and actually have screen time. I know Goldfinger falls into these categories, but then again, Gert Fröbe wasn't nearly as gorgeous as Christopher Lee is, now is he? Hervé Villechaize is fun as the antagonist side-kick as well. I also enjoyed the repeat performance of Clifton James as Sheriff J.W. Pepper in referring back to Live And Let Die. Roger Moore was, well, boring and wooden. He just never seems to have any panache...

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  • 2 weeks later...

From the weekend...


1977 - The Spy Who Loved Me

I am beginning to like Roger Moore. Somehow in the beginning, he was a bit too youthful and inexperienced in his Bond-ness. Here, he is settling into the role and showing a bit of grace and panache. I liked Curt Jurgens' *Nemo* character and the plotline was typical for the 70s Bond. Barbara Bach never really came off like a Bond girl to me -- she was almost too smart, being a Russian secret agent.


1979 - Moonraker

I remember when this came out. This was the reason I stopped watching Bond films because it was so ripped apart by critics and views alike. During the first three-quarters of the film, I almost couldn't understand why it was so maligned. Other than the incredibly silly musical movie references (the Close Encounters theme on the touch pad, the Magnificent Seven theme when they ride like cowboys on horseback) it held my interest until the extremely regrettable space scenes. Then I understood why it was so hated. contrary to the Alien tagline, "in space, no one can hear you scream," apparently in in this film, when lasers are killing men in suits, you can certainly hear them scream... I also wondered why Jaws was brought back. As a henchmen of one arch-rival, is it that easy to find employment with another arch-rival in a different part of the world? Whatever...

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