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the first twenty James Bond films (1962-2002)


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Links to our threads on the reboot films Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), Skyfall (2012) and Bond 24 (in development).

Link to our thread on 'Star Trek and James Bond: comparing the reboots'.

Hope y'all don't mind if I copy-and-paste something I just wrote at Facebook:

 

So I saw The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) for the first time in ages last night, and the thing that sticks with me today is just how... dated, to put it politely... the film's treatment of women is.

I mean, okay, I actually admired the way the Barbara Bach character was introduced. The Russians say they're going to contact "Agent Triple-X" and then we cut to a shot of a hairy man in bed with a woman, and the hairy man tells the woman that he's got to go on a "mission", and I guess we're supposed to think that the hairy man is Agent XXX. But then there's a signal that comes from an object on the bedside table, and the man gets up and out of the way so that the woman can lean over and answer it -- and aha! we discover that it's the *woman* who is the agent here. (Well, okay, the man is an agent too; just not the one the bosses were looking for.)

But the first time Bond and Bach meet? He's attacked out of the blue by two guys who were apparently sent as her assistants or something -- and who we never saw beforehand and never see again afterwards -- and she just stands there and watches, at which point I turned to my friend and said that, if they had made this film today, she would have had to throw a few punches or something too.

And then, when Bach is sitting in a truck's driver's seat and trying desperately to get away from Jaws, who is ripping the truck apart to prevent Bach and Bond from getting away, Bond, rather than respond to the danger at all, makes "woman driver" jokes.

And then there's the whole final sequence, where Bach is basically reduced to a damsel in distress and has little to nothing to do with her own rescue. (Compare this to the rescue sequence in the original Star Wars, which came out the same year. Compared to this Bond flick, George Lucas's movie looks downright progressive.)

But the creepiest part, by far, is when Bond visits an old college chum who is now some sort of Arab sheikh, and the chum invites Bond to spend the night in his tent and calls over one of his servant girls, who *very timidly* offers Bond a flower, prompting Bond to make another joke about the sex they're going to have. Like, ew. She is, quite literally, a sex slave -- and this is funny? And what makes it even creepier is that we've already seen some of the sheikh's *other* female servants, and they all had a bit of a va-va-voom-nees to them, but the particular servant who is offered to Bond does *not* send out any come-hither vibes.

Later on in the film, when Bond and Bach are stationed on an American submarine, there's a gag or two involving the fact that Bach is the only woman on the entire ship; they even try to hide her long hair (i.e. her gender) when the submarine is taken captive. And I'm sure bits like that are reflective of the era in which the film was made.

But still, some bits *really* don't come across all that well today. And you wonder how they could have passed muster even then.

I should add that there are things I do *like* about The Spy Who Loved Me, chief among them the way the film acknowledges that Bond is not just a spy but a *naval officer*. This is mentioned early on, when Bach tells Bond what she knows about him, and it is evident all through the final act, in which Bond wears his naval uniform.

Plus, the whole final act has the feel of a "war movie", which most Bond films don't: you've got the English, the Americans and the Russians all teamed up to defeat a German supervillain, and if *that* doesn't hark back to World War II, I don't know what does. Plus, Bach's promise to kill Bond when the mission is over, as revenge for the death of her lover, kind of reminds me of The Guns of Navarone, and how the Anthony Quinn character there has promised to kill Gregory Peck once World War II is over. Although, all that being said, I don't think this film's combat footage is really among the best that I've seen.

I also tweeted last night that I found it hard to take this supervillain seriously when he finally explains what he's up to and says that he wants to destroy all land-based civilizations so that he can create a new civilization "beneath the sea". Apart from reminding me of this Simpsons non sequitur...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pacgT1BNQf0

...it also makes no sense when you consider that Stromberg's entire operation seems to be male, male, male, male -- except for two women, one of whom was killed by Stromberg and the other of whom was killed by Bond. The supervillain of the *next* Bond film, Moonraker (1979), also planned to destroy all land-based civilization so that he could start a new civilization in space -- but at least he had the good sense to set up a "stud farm" populated equally by men and women.

And I know that Ken Adams is a god among production designers, but honestly? I don't care for how *metallic* everything looks here, from the British nuclear-sub monitor thingy to the interior of the giant tanker that swallows up the submarines.

But I do love Q. I love the way the British admirals are all "Oh no! it's impossible! how could someone have stolen our nuclear submarine!" and then Q pipes up, quite cheerily (as though his nation hadn't just lost a vital part of its self-defense), and says, "No, it's quite simple, really!" Maybe it's because my dad's an engineer, but just seeing that one of the good guys (whose loyalty is *never* in question) enjoys the technology so much for its own sake that he isn't fazed by what the bad guys have done with it cannot help but make me smile.

More thoughts later, perhaps.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Just remembered one other sexist/misogynistic element in this film: There's a whole sequence where Bond and Agent XXX meet one of Stromberg's female assistants, and Bond is constantly making quips that are designed to encourage Agent XXX to be jealous of the attention that he is paying to the other woman. Again, it's belittling and one-sided, and I don't find anything terribly funny about it.

As I told someone at Facebook, I don't mind sexual humour when both parties are in on the joke -- so I don't find it terribly demeaning that one of the circus pilots in Goldfinger calls herself "Pussy Galore", for example. But the *kind* of humour that Roger Moore's Bond engages in here is consistently belittling and one-sided, and I don't get the sense that the women are in on the joke *at all*. (Though Bach's character does one-up Bond a few times in terms of what she knows about him and their mutual nemesis.)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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So is this a thread for The Spy Who Loved Me, or are you going to write one of your (in)famously long blog posts exploring the themes and nuances (if any) of the first twenty Bond films? Go for it!

 

I bought some of the older Bonds second-hand last summer and had fun watching them. TSWLM is actually the only Roger Moore I've seen - it's okay, I guess, but I think the whole thing has dated quite badly, not just the sexual politics. To be fair, Barbara Bach has the physical presence of a Barbie doll, and would be about as much use in a fight. Her non-involvement never really bothered me, or not to the same extent as Buttercup's in The Princess Bride - I mean, your darling is being devoured by a Rodent Of Unusual Size, and all you can do is prod it tentatively with a dead branch?! Sigourney Weaver would have thwacked the living daylights out of it... (tangent over)

But yes, the whole film is bathed in 70s camp, and Roger Moore would be about fifth on my Bond list, after Connery, Craig, Brosnan and Dalton. The song is pretty decent though - or at least as Bond songs go.

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Anodos wrote:

: So is this a thread for The Spy Who Loved Me, or are you going to write one of your (in)famously long blog posts exploring the themes and nuances (if any) of the first twenty Bond films? Go for it!

Oh, heavens, no, I haven't got the time for that. I've got too much backlogged work on Bible movies to do! But I do think a catch-all thread for pre-reboot Bond films would be better than individual threads for each film, just as we have a thread for pre-reboot Star Trek films.

: The song is pretty decent though - or at least as Bond songs go.

I *love* the song, and especially the way it sneaks the title in there ("Like heaven above me / The Spy Who Loved Me / Is keeping all my secrets safe tonight..."). Though I don't like the score very much; this was one of the few Connery/Moore Bond films that John Barry *didn't* score, and the Marvin Hamlisch music is just too... disco-y in places. Not my cuppa, at any rate.

Incidentally, I do like the occasional "serious" moments in this film. Like when Bach is telling Bond what she knows about him, and as soon as she mentions the dead wife, Bond cuts her off, and Bach says, "You're sensitive, Mister Bond," and he replies, "About certain things, yes." The scene where they discover that Bond killed Bach's boyfriend is also reasonably well-handled. A bit more *character* stuff like that would have been nice, I think, instead of all the arched eyebrows Moore gives whenever a hot woman knocks on his door.

There's also a shot that I really like, as Stromberg's assistant is bringing Bond and Bach to his outpost at sea, and we get this view of the ocean from inside Stromberg's lair -- but the only hint that the camera is *inside* the lair is the fact that Stromberg's face is *reflected* in the window. So it kind of looks like Stromberg's ghostly translucent face is hovering above the ocean, and above the rest of the lair as it extends beyond the window.

Note, also, how this film references *two* David Lean films with Maurice Jarre music. Agent XXX's bedside communicator plays a music-box version of the theme song from Doctor Zhivago, while in another sequence, Bond and Bach trek across the desert as the theme from Lawrence of Arabia plays over the soundtrack.

Ryan H. wrote:

: The Moore films (particularly the first three) are the apex of Bond film misogyny.

They were just following in Diamonds Are Forever's footsteps, though, surely.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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 and the thing that sticks with me today is just how... dated, to put it politely... the film's treatment of women is.

Yep. I saw FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE  last week at the same retro and I was really surprised by how callous it is. Many things that hadn't hit me before, hit me at this screening, and nearly all had to do with the treatment of women. The belly dancers (in the credits sequence and in the camp) who get lots and lots of leering screen time, the insinuation that Bond's role as judge between the two Gypsy women fighting over a man means he has to have a threesome with them to make his decision (handled with a wink, of course), the casual acceptance of Kerim Bey's sexual appetite, Bey's vacuous mistress who accidentally saves him by enticing him to bed, the utter cluelessness/uselessness of Tatiana Romanova, and even the somewhat lesbian subtext between Col. Kleb and Tatiana (I'd read about this somewhere down the road, but never really noticed it until this screening).

 

Now, Tatiana is basically a clerk and an unknowing pawn in a larger game, but Bond's condescending treatment of her throughout because of this fact gets pretty grating, especially with the memory of a civilian heroine as brilliant as Vesper Lynd still fresh in mind. Tatiana is playing a role, of course, which casts at least one of her "clueless blond" scenes in a nuanced light - the one where Bond questions her on the boat about the Lektor, in which she keeps interrupting to tell him how horny she is. One could reason that she's playing it up to keep up the cover of her attraction to him, but the scene is played for laughs once we see M and company listening to the recording. And then there's the scene where her "mission" ends, now on the train to Europe, and she finds herself easily distracted by trying on all the dresses Bond bought her and acting like their fake honeymoon cover is actually her dream come true. There's enough there to suggest she's just keeping up her end of Kleb's deception really well, but the direction never highlights that possibility - she's always playing the bimbo, unaware of the dangers around them.

 

I consider RUSSIA and CASINO to be my two favourite Bonds, with the edge to RUSSIA, but this last viewing might tip it the balance in CASINO's favour.

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The Moore films (particularly the first three) are the apex of Bond film misogyny.

Yeah, I don't think the Moore Bond met his equal (?) until Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only.  I think there are a couple of times she saves his butt, and very few times that she's the damsel in distress.  It still didn't prevent some of the misogynistic quips.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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I've got to say, the Giza sequence remains one of my favorite Bond moments (and, actually, TSWLM is one of my favorite Bond movies--and Moore my favorite Bond--though I would put OHMSS, FRWL, and possibly CR and Skyfall above it). It's absolutely skeevy, of course, in several places--and the plot isn't worth a darn--but it clips along at a decent pace and it's got some lovely/strange location shooting.

 

I do think the "camp" element goes a long way in explaining how these movies "got away" with being so problematic. Moore!Bond is so arch and so misogynistic that there's no way he can be taken as a serious character in a serious drama (and, indeed, my impression is that Moore intended to play him this way). TSWLM, in particular, is less a movie in its own right than a boiling-down of Bondian cliches--a plot from YOLT, the necessary perfunctory sexual conquests, the exotic locations--only, in marked contrast to either LOLD or TMWTGG, this movie is massive. It's Bond boiled-down and then blown up. It's all the excessive and frivolous elements of the franchise dialed up to eleven. And as such it's gloriously, ludicrously camp, and it undermines itself in this way; any reactionary substratum latent in the series implodes under the weight of the movie's own frivolity.

 

--none of which is to say that the skeevy parts aren't skeevy. But I think it helps explain why some of us [i.e. me] love it anyway.

 

 

 

The Moore films (particularly the first three) are the apex of Bond film misogyny.

Yeah, I don't think the Moore Bond met his equal (?) until Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only.  I think there are a couple of times she saves his butt, and very few times that she's the damsel in distress.  It still didn't prevent some of the misogynistic quips.

 

 

I think Havelock and Octopussy (in the movie of that name) both give Moore!Bond a run for his money.

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John Drew wrote:

: Yeah, I don't think the Moore Bond met his equal (?) until Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only.

More and more, I'm glad that *that* was the first Bond film I ever saw. It begins with Bond visiting his wife's grave. Later, Bond actually *turns down* an offer of sex from a young figure skater. And then, well, okay, he has a one-night stand with a "countess" in an attempt to get closer to the bad guy. And for *most* of the film, Melina Havelock is simply a woman out for revenge whose objectives happen to overlap with Bond's (and I think the film is considerably less misogynistic in its treatment of her than the original short story was).

Alas, the movie does have to end with Bond and Melina sleeping together, just because that's the way these movies end. The makers of this film didn't quite have the guts to do what the makers of Quantum of Solace did, in pairing Bond with an out-for-revenge woman for the duration of his mission and *leaving their relationship at that*. But Melina is, at least, almost an equal of Bond's; not a secret agent, but a cold-blooded killer in her own right and anything but the sort of plaything that Moore's Bond encountered in so many of the other films.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I've got to say, the Giza sequence remains one of my favorite Bond moments (and, actually, TSWLM is one of my favorite Bond movies--and Moore my favorite Bond--though I would put OHMSS, FRWL, and possibly CR and Skyfall above it). It's absolutely skeevy, of course, in several places--and the plot isn't worth a darn--but it clips along at a decent pace and it's got some lovely/strange location shooting.

I love the Giza sequence, and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME certainly boasts some of the finest locations from any Bond film. But I find it to be something of a drag. It's way, way too long. Once you hit the the tanker sequence, the film becomes almost interminable.

Primarily for that reason (and for the fact that the film gives Bond a better villain; THE SPY WHO LOVED ME's Stromberg is a big, vacuous nothing), I find MOONRAKER to be superior.

Edited by Ryan H.
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I've got to say, the Giza sequence remains one of my favorite Bond moments (and, actually, TSWLM is one of my favorite Bond movies--and Moore my favorite Bond--though I would put OHMSS, FRWL, and possibly CR and Skyfall above it). It's absolutely skeevy, of course, in several places--and the plot isn't worth a darn--but it clips along at a decent pace and it's got some lovely/strange location shooting.

I love the Giza sequence, and THE SPY WHO LOVED ME certainly boasts some of the finest locations from any Bond film. But I find it to be something of a drag. It's way, way too long. Once you hit the the tanker sequence, the film becomes almost interminable.

Primarily for that reason (and for the fact that the film gives Bond a better villain; THE SPY WHO LOVED ME's Stromberg is a big, vacuous nothing), I find MOONRAKER to be superior.

 

 

I actually only caught up with Moonraker last year--I was put off by its reputation as TSWLM II--but as a kneejerk reaction I'm inclined to [largely] agree (favoritism being not at all connected to objective value; otherwise I wouldn't really like Moore as much as I do). The tanker sequence does go far too long.

 

The "hunt" scene in Moonraker is stunning. And as far as camp goes--well, Moonraker goes even further than TSWLM, so far that the franchise had to dial radically back in the very next movie (once Bond has gone to space, there's not really anywhere else to send him).

 

[On the other hand, I think Stromberg as a "big, vacuous nothing" makes him in some ways the most typical villain possible, and may speak to the ways in which TSWLM "blows up" the Bond formula. Looking back at SPECTRE, they don't seem to have much more of a plan than Stromberg does; they seem like they have a plan because they're occupied with multiple "little" plans, but in terms of big picture stuff they're about as nonsensical as Stromberg. He just makes all of his little plans fit into a single movie, where SPECTRE spreads them out over several.]

Edited by NBooth
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Aaaargh. I spent the past hour typing up some random thoughts about the Dr. No and From Russia with Love double-bill that I saw tonight, and then, as I was toggling back and forth between browser tabs, I clicked on the "x" by mistake and closed the tab in which I was writing my post. (Didn't a recent version of the A&F message board have an auto-save feature? Any chance we could get that back?)

Sigh.

Maybe I'll have the will to get into it all later. But for now, I believe the topics I had raised included things like: Space. Superstition. Goya. Pacing. And maybe some other stuff.

Oh, plus there was a trivia contest between the films, and, despite the fact that I got 7.5 out of 25 answers wrong, I actually tied for first place -- so I walked away with $60+ worth of tickets to the local film festival, and the other guy got the box with six James Bond vehicles made by Corgi. (I've got way too many souvenirs at home as it is, and I haven't qualified for a press pass to the festival ever since the local Christian community paper folded, so I definitely wanted the tickets!)

Anyhoo. Maybe more later. Or maybe not. We'll see.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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How do you get 7.5 answers wrong?

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
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CrimsonLine wrote: : How do you get 7.5 answers wrong? For the question involving A View to a Kill, any answer that involved horses got a half-point (but you had to get the name of the actual race to get a full point). I believe that was the only question for which any half-points were given. The question involving Moonraker was something like "What does Jaws have in this film that he didn't have in The Spy Who Loved Me?" Some people seemed to assume that this referred to some sort of physical feature, but eventually I (and some other people) concluded that the answer must be "a girlfriend". The host said he would accept that answer and give it a full point, but the answer he was *looking* for was "dialogue". Strangely enough, I found I did a lot better on the first half of the quiz (which concerned the first 12 films, from 1962's Dr. No to 1981's For Your Eyes Only) than I did on the second half of the quiz -- even though I've seen all the Bond films since 1981 during their initial theatrical run and I've had to play catch-up with all the earlier films. And even when I got the answers right during the second half of the quiz, it was often because the questions had tied the later films back to the earlier films in some way. For example, the question for 1983's Octopussy was something like "Name the blond co-star that Maud Adams had in the *other* Bond film that she starred in, in 1974" (I was surprised at how many people didn't get that one right, since I thought mentioning the year of the other film's release was, itself, a dead giveaway; as for me, I could have answered the question even without that hint). Similarly, the question for 2002's Die Another Day was something like, "In this film, Madonna sings the theme song *and* has a small role as a fencing instructor; name the only other person who both sang the theme song and appeared in the film for which that song was sung." I actually wanted to clarify this in a way that wouldn't give anything away, so I asked, "Are you referring to *any* part of the film?" and the host said, "Yes, from the first frame of the gun barrel sequence on, any part of the film." So obviously the answer was Sheena Easton, who is actually *onscreen* when she sings the theme song to For Your Eyes Only (and the reason I asked my question was because Sheena Easton wasn't playing a character like Madonna did, so I wasn't sure if she counted -- but I wanted to avoid saying anything about the opening credits, lest I give it away). FWIW, if I had time, I might flesh out some of the bullet points I mentioned in my previous post. But another one occurs to me now: the tarantula! Is the spider that Bond kills in Dr. No the first actual kill that he makes in that film (and thus in the entire series)? I can't recall; I know at least one person dies in Bond's custody early on, but that death was a suicide (the person asks Bond to give him one of his cigarettes, and it turns out to be full of cyanide). Anyway, the way the music Mickey-Mouses Bond's bold, desperate attempt to KILL THAT SPIDER!! had sections of the audience tittering, and rightly so. In that moment, at least, Connery's Bond is a far cry from the cold-blooded machine-gun-toting commando that, say, Pierce Brosnan played. And I could not help but wonder how John Barry might have scored that scene.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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John Drew wrote:

: Yeah, I don't think the Moore Bond met his equal (?) until Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only.

More and more, I'm glad that *that* was the first Bond film I ever saw.

 

 

It begins with Bond visiting his wife's grave. Later, Bond actually *turns down* an offer of sex from a young figure skater. And then, well, okay, he has a one-night stand with a "countess" in an attempt to get closer to the bad guy. And for *most* of the film, Melina Havelock is simply a woman out for revenge whose objectives happen to overlap with Bond's (and I think the film is considerably less misogynistic in its treatment of her than the original short story was).

 

 

Same here (FYEO was my first Bond film).  One of the things I like is that Melina (like Domino before her) has an actual story independant of Bond.  Had their paths not crossed, I still felt like there could have been a whole story told about her and her "mission".

"You know...not EVERY story has to be interesting." -Gibby

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John Drew wrote:

: Yeah, I don't think the Moore Bond met his equal (?) until Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only.

More and more, I'm glad that *that* was the first Bond film I ever saw.

 

 

It begins with Bond visiting his wife's grave. Later, Bond actually *turns down* an offer of sex from a young figure skater. And then, well, okay, he has a one-night stand with a "countess" in an attempt to get closer to the bad guy. And for *most* of the film, Melina Havelock is simply a woman out for revenge whose objectives happen to overlap with Bond's (and I think the film is considerably less misogynistic in its treatment of her than the original short story was).

 

 

Same here (FYEO was my first Bond film).  One of the things I like is that Melina (like Domino before her) has an actual story independant of Bond.  Had their paths not crossed, I still felt like there could have been a whole story told about her and her "mission".

 

 

This was my first Bond, as well.  And because of that (even though I'm not a huge fan of Moore), FYEO is the film that I tend to compare to all other Bond films.

Formerly Baal_T'shuvah

"Everyone has the right to make an ass out of themselves. You just can't let the world judge you too much." - Maude 
Harold and Maude
 

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Okay. I'm borrowing my wife's laptop, the kids are back in school, and I might be able to finish an actual post this time.

 

A few nights ago, I caught a double-bill of Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963), and I was struck by how the first film felt kind of... slow... to me, whereas the second film stepped up the pace considerably. Maybe it's because FRwL has more interesting characters who are a joy to spend time with; maybe it's because FRwL introduces its villains right at the beginning instead of keeping Bond (and thus basically the audience) in the dark for half the film; maybe it's because I find the ancient settings of Constantinople etc. in FRwL more interesting than the much more recent (or contemporary) Jamaica settings of Dr. No; maybe it's because FRwL was the first Bond film scored by John Barry. But whatever it was, I was struck by the considerable upgrade in entertainment value between the first two films.

 

I was also impressed by the 2K projection, though I thought I could detect some faint blurriness around the edges of the characters as they moved in certain shots (the characters were fine, but the blur effect affected our view of the backgrounds behind them).

 

A day or two later, I caught a double-bill of On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) and Moonraker (1979), and I decided *not* to stick around for The World Is Not Enough (1999). I'm not sure why those three films were grouped that night, apart from the fact that they all came out in years ending with 9, but I was struck by the fact that the two films I *did* see both made reference to sterilization via chemical weapons: in OHMSS, Blofeld has brainwashed some women into releasing toxic chemicals that will sterilize plants and/or animals on his command, while in Moonraker, Drax has taken a plant that caused sterilization in humans and turned it into a chemical weapon that will kill humans but *not* plants or animals.

 

Oh, and OHMSS features a criminal named Draco, while Moonraker features a villain named Drax -- and did I mention that Dr. No includes a subplot about a "dragon" that scares the Jamaican "natives"? Dragons are a big deal in Bond stories, and indeed I have a book at home about the spiritual/Christian elements in Bond that makes a point of noting how there is often a "St George slays the dragon" element in the Bond stories. Except, in OHMSS, Draco is not a villain but the father of Bond's wife, so the dragons aren't always all *that* bad.

 

I found the "dragon" subplot in Dr. No kind of silly, I must admit; it was *very* obvious to the audience that we were looking at a tank or some similar sort of mechanical vehicle with a flamethrower, rather than an actual magical beast, and I had a hard time believing that the "natives" in Jamaica would be fooled by it.

 

I was also really struck by the fact that M, in Dr. No, says something about the fact that the Americans have announced their intention to orbit the moon soon -- and yeah, it turns out this film came out only five years after Sputnik, one year after Yuri Gagarin became the first man to orbit the Earth, and something like seven months after John Glenn became the first American to do so. I was born over a year after the first moon landing, so the fact that we've been to the moon has always been there; it's good to be reminded of a time, not *too* long before I was born, when all this stuff was so very, very new.

 

OHMSS is a frustrating film. It makes a big, big deal of the continuity between it and the previous films -- by showing clips from the previous films during the opening credits, and by having Bond pull a few items out of his desk that are souvenirs from the previous films -- but then it follows the plot of the novel in having Blofeld not recognize Bond at all when they meet. This is a problem, because Bond and Blofeld actually met in the previous movie (1967's You Only Live Twice, which was not only filmed out of order but was also the first Bond movie to basically jettison the plot of the books in favour of something made up just for the big screen).

 

But there's also the fact that Bond is played in this film by George Lazenby -- and not too badly, I might add -- yet the very fact that Bond gets married was obviously supposed to serve as *some* sort of pay-off after years of sleeping around, and the fact that the married Bond is played by a different actor than the Bond who had all those other relationships cannot help but undermine things, to a point. Believe it or not, a tear actually came to my eye during the wedding sequence, when Bond sees Moneypenny crying from a distance and tosses her his hat, the same way he always used to toss his hat whenever he stepped into her office. It's a beautiful, beautiful gesture, and I will always wonder how the scene would have played if Connery himself had been the one to toss his hat to Moneypenny there.

 

Speaking of which, I wish Bond wore hats again. Or maybe I don't. But I do like the fact that he wore them in the '60s.

 

I was intrigued, too, by the fact that one of Bond's gadgets in Moonraker, the 1979 film, is disguised as a cigarette case. Bond smokes in the 1960s films, but was he still smoking by 1979? I know that it was a bit of a big deal when Timothy Dalton brought smoking *back* to the Bond films in 1987.

 

Oh, and Moonraker was projected off of a Blu-Ray, and looked it. Actually, I almost wonder if they were projecting an upconverted DVD or something; the edging and flat colours were that bad. OHMSS looked okay, though; I'm not sure what the advertised format for that film was.

 

Oh, back to OHMSS: One of the reasons I find that film frustrating, I think, is because I rather like the character-based stuff, especially where Bond and Tracy are concerned, but the whole subplot with Bond visiting Blofeld's lab in Switzerland feels like it belongs in a whole other movie; it almost feels like it was dropped into the movie from somewhere else. Bond and Tracy have character and emotion that goes somewhere new with the character, while the Blofeld stuff feels a bit like a "typical Bond" story plopped into the middle of the movie.

 

In other news, I have often thought it might be fun to tally up the religious references in Bond films, but I wasn't taking any notes this weekend. Here are a few things that stuck in my memory, though:

 

-- Dr. No: The "superstitious" stuff around the "dragon". Bond taunts Dr No by telling him that England's asylums are full of people who think they are Napoleon "or God."

-- From Russia with Love: The tour guide in the Hagia Sophia (a former Christian cathedral that was converted to a Muslim mosque and is now a secular museum) talks about "ablutions" etc. More talk of "superstitions" when Bond suggests that Tatiana defect with the Lector on the 14th of the month instead of the 13th (though he actually takes them both on the 13th, to keep the element of the surprise).

-- On Her Majesty's Secret Service: Bond throws a dagger into Draco's calendar on the 14th, even though today is the 13th, because he's "superstitious".

-- The Spy Who Loved Me: There is a brief bit of confusion when an image caught on microfilm seems to say "oratory" and shows something that "looks like a bishop's mitre"; it turns out to be the fish-based logo for a marine "laboratory".

-- Moonraker: One of the Brits' stations is disguised as a monastery, and we see guys dressed as monks engaging in martial arts (and then one of them crosses himself after he defeats the other). Drax gives a speech to his underlings about the new future they are creating and how their descendants will look up and know that there is order in "the heavens". Bond sees the physically superior specimens aboard Drax's shuttle and compares them to the animals going "two by two" onto Noah's ark.

 

Those are the bits I remember from the films I saw last week. I might have remembered more if my earlier attempts to post to this thread hadn't been thwarted by technological failures etc. Did I forget anything?

 

Okay, I'll hit the "Post" button on this before I lose everything again. More later, maybe.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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A few nights ago, I caught a double-bill of Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963), and I was struck by how the first film felt kind of... slow... to me, whereas the second film stepped up the pace considerably.

It's not just you. Bond spends so much of it doing run-of-the-mill detective work, which, compared to its sequels, makes it seem pretty low-key, at least until things get to Crab Key. That said, the Blu-Ray release is ravishing (I don't think I've ever seen better restoration work on an older release), and it has its share of great moments. In fact, DR. NO has more iconic moments than its sequel, even if, like you, I prefer FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE.

I was intrigued, too, by the fact that one of Bond's gadgets in Moonraker, the 1979 film, is disguised as a cigarette case. Bond smokes in the 1960s films, but was he still smoking by 1979? I know that it was a bit of a big deal when Timothy Dalton brought smoking *back* to the Bond films in 1987.

Moore frequently smokes cigars, but I don't think he ever smokes a cigarette.
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Oh! One other thing I forgot to mention was how interesting it was to see that the earlier Bond films, which were produced with, I think, a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, looked *bigger* than the later films, which were produced at 2.35:1 or whatever. The VanCity theatre's screen isn't that wide, and they physically adjust the screen to suit the aspect ratio of whatever film they're showing... so the early Bond films actually looked *bigger*, which is to say taller, on that theatre's screen than the later Bond films. They filled the screen quite nicely. :)

 

Ryan H wrote:
: Moore frequently smokes cigars . . .

 

In real life, yeah; I've seen interviews with him on the set of the Bond films, during which he smokes 'em. But in the films themselves, when he's in character?

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Oh! One other thing I forgot to mention was how interesting it was to see that the earlier Bond films, which were produced with, I think, a 1.66:1 aspect ratio, looked *bigger* than the later films, which were produced at 2.35:1 or whatever. The VanCity theatre's screen isn't that wide, and they physically adjust the screen to suit the aspect ratio of whatever film they're showing... so the early Bond films actually looked *bigger*, which is to say taller, on that theatre's screen than the later Bond films. They filled the screen quite nicely. smile.png

Yeah, I wish they would go back to that ratio, actually. SKYFALL looks splendid as is, but I maintain that the larger framing of its IMAX release looked better than the standard release, in no small part because of how *tall* and roomy the image was.

In real life, yeah; I've seen interviews with him on the set of the Bond films, during which he smokes 'em. But in the films themselves, when he's in character?

Yeah, he lights up a cigar quite a few times in character. In LIVE AND LET DIE, I think he smokes *two*, and he definitely smokes at least one in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. I don't remember whether he lights up in any of the later Moore films.

It was actually in Moore's contract that he would be provided with an unlimited supply of Montecristo cigars while filming.

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Ryan H. wrote:

: It was actually in Moore's contract that he would be provided with an unlimited supply of Montecristo cigars while filming.

 

I love it.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Oh, and can I just say that "Back to the sale mines" just might be my favorite line of dialogue ever, right now? :)

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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