Bondathon 2012

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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by ribbon » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:01 am

Who caaares about the image?
I like that one a good deal, though.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Stu » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:01 am

Non-Craig, trend-following Bonds:
Live And Let Die (trend: Blaxploitation craze)
Moonraker (trend: Star Wars craze)
License To Kill (trend: Miami Vice craze)

They've done it more than I realized...
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by ribbon » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:02 am

dreiser wrote:Many people hate these two as well:
Octopussy
Shit doesn't suck when it involves men on elephants shooting at Roger Moore.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Stu » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:03 am

dreiser wrote:
Many people hate these two as well:

Octopussy
Die Another Day
I liked Octopussy, and Die Another Die as well, or at least I liked the latter when I was 14... not so much now.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MrCarmady » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:05 am

Die Another Day is an abomination. And yeah, Smalley, it's those plus Spy sort of jumping on Jaws' bandwagon and TND ripping on Hong Kong action movies.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Mon Feb 06, 2012 4:10 am

ribbon wrote: Shit doesn't suck when it involves men on elephants shooting at Roger Moore.
:P I meant to say Never Say Never Again.
Smalley wrote: I liked Octopussy, and Die Another Die as well, or at least I liked the latter when I was 14... not so much now.
It does have one of my favorite Bond girls.
Rosamund!
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Fist » Wed Feb 08, 2012 3:18 am

That was really well written, and hits on a lot of recurring themes and concepts that analysis of future films in the franchise will surely benefit from. One of the things I like about that one is that it manages to take itself seriously (not in and of itself a positive, as it has its downfalls in films like License to Kill and maybe the Craig films to some extent) while still playing up the particular charms and idiosyncrasies that make the series endearing at its best, along with capturing either inadvertently or by design the zeitgeist of the time of its production, even integrating major global events directly into pulpy pop fiction. You point out as well how the sexism inherent to the film is negligible because of how charismatic everyone is, which tends to also be a strong point of the series' best films - OHMSS or The Spy Who Loved Me to name just two. It's a facet that pretty blatantly becomes part of the whole mythology's self-awareness which starts in the next film and blossoms into full on satire I'd say (when the films are good, of course) in the 70s.

Also, never realized reading your first paragraph how much this Bond film in particular sets up Metal Gear Solid 3's conceit, though the general Bond influence was always incredibly present.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Colonel Kurz » Wed Feb 08, 2012 11:38 am

Magic Fister wrote:You point out as well how the sexism inherent to the film is negligible because of how charismatic everyone is, which tends to also be a strong point of the series' best films - OHMSS
Except ol' Lazenby of course. :P
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Fist » Wed Feb 08, 2012 2:38 pm

Was talking about the sexism :P
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Colonel Kurz » Fri Feb 10, 2012 11:30 am

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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Fri Feb 10, 2012 10:59 pm

(P)ussy!
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:39 pm

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Goldfinger (Guy Hamilton, 1964)

Goldfinger is generally considered the quintessential Bond film, and I would be inclined to agree, for better or for worse. There tends to be two camps in Bond fandom; those who view From Russia with Love to be as absolute epitome of the Bond franchise, and those who view Goldfinger as that film; I'm firmly in the former, but the latter's greatest influence on the franchise is undeniable. Bond's mission, the first in the franchise to not involve SPECTRE, has him investigating the smuggling operations of British gold tycoon Auric Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe) and discovering and attempting to thwart Goldfinger's Chinese-backed plot to attack the United States Bullion Depository at Fort Knox, Kentucky with a nuclear device in order to increase the value of his own holdings.

Viewing the film there becomes on fact that is increasingly obvious; this movie is incredibly gimmicky. Absolutely everything in the film revolves around gold: the villain's name contains two references to gold; his main henchman, Oddjob (Harold Sakata), is Korean; he receives his backing from the Chinese; he surrounds himself exclusively with blondes, save for his Asian stewardess Mei-Lei; the majority of his possessions are colored some shade of gold or yellow, including his clothes, his Rolls Royce, and his sidearm. It drives home the point that Goldfinger "loves only gold," but it doesn't do a whole lot for suspension of disbelief.

Goldfinger and Oddjob are both memorable adversaries, even with the former's gimmickiness; Honor Blackman portrays Pussy Galore as the first capable Bond girl; that's about where it ends, as she can't match the allure of the previous films' leads, even if they did generally serve as eye candy. Cec Linder takes over from Jack Lord as Felix Leiter; I personally really hate recasts, especially when the franchise had continuity going for it as this point. The reappearance of Nadja Regin, Kerim's Bey mistress from From Russia with Love as Bond's initial conquest, also comes across as lazy. He's definitely a step down from his predecessor; it's a shame that's how the studio system works. Refreshing, however, is their discussion of Leiter's activities in Jamaica; Goldfinger may not involve SPECTRE in any way, but establishing a continuity is a nice touch. I'm not really sure how Leiter role as Bond's primary ally seeing as the film takes place within the United States; domestic operations were the FBI's jurisdiction, and the power of J. Edgar Hoover at the time when this film came out would have made any CIA operations stateside impossible. Desmond Llewelyn, whose debuted From Russia with Love as Boothroyd, makes his first real impression in the series as the re-branded Q.

While there are fewer instances of sexism in the film, they tend to be more obscene; Galore puts up physical resistance to Bond's advances in Goldfinger's barn, and he basically forces herself upon her afterwards. I'm not sure how that doesn't borderline constitute rape is beyond me. It's left vague for most of the film whether or not Galore is a lesbian or just resistant to Bond's advances. Bond's initial mission takes him to Latin America to destroy a drug lab of a Mr. Ramirez; yes, smuggling "heroin flavored bananas" generally lacks justification, but the revolutions taking place in Latin America around this time generally were. Bond's quip on the subject exposes the sort of worldview at the time that has resulted in countless lingering systemic world issues.

Overall, Goldfinger is weaker than From Russia with Love and stronger than Dr. No, though the lingering effect the film has on the series is unfortunate at best; only recently has the franchise traded the excesses of Goldfinger for the strengths of its predecessor's consistency. Yes, the film did incredibly well commercially, but that's not a license to compromise a franchise's artistic integrity.

Film Ranking
1) From Russia with Love (1963)
2) Goldfinger (1964)
3) Dr. No (1962)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
2) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
3) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
4) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
3) Quarrel (Dr. No)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
3) Professor Dent (Dr. No)
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:50 am

Pussy Galore was a lesbian in the book, so that's where the constant resistance to Bond comes from. Blackman is my second favorite Bond girl after Famke. Re: the scene where 007 "turns her out" in the barn, I'm not sure how much sense it makes to be outraged over sexism in a ~ 50-year old Bond movie.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Colonel Kurz » Wed Feb 22, 2012 12:54 am

I thought Leiter was recast because the original actor demanded an equal role and salary to Connery.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Fist » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:48 am

I think you hit on something regarding the film's gimmickry. It's a fact I've resigned myself to that taken on the whole and as an arguably significant cultural artifact, the Bond series entirely exists for and because of this... it nears camp at it's most flamboyant moments, and that becomes part of its charm. I think when the film takes itself most seriously, you end up with some of the smarter filmmaking the series sees (i.e. From Russia With Love or OHMSS) but after Goldfinger those cases tend to be somewhat at a remove from what the series stands for. At least, I mean insofar as being serious fiction which it isn't. As zeitgeisty pop culture escapism it's something else entirely and I've come around to appreciating the charms of the self-consigned goofiness in films like Goldfinger (still not crazy about it on the whole as far as the films go), but especially in the Moore films for instance, which range from outstanding to terrible but all maintain those qualities Goldfinger emphasizes for the future of the series... and as you know I happen to like them more than most in the series overall and enjoy all of them to varying degrees outside of maybe Live and Let Die.
I Watch Films, But...
In a word, I think that, far from favoring directors’ formal inventiveness, widescreen, instead, stifles it. It is, I’m more and more persuaded, if not the only, at least the main culprit for the expressive poverty of the image today. - Eric Rohmer
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:20 am

BTW, I saw Casino Royale again the other night. Still a masterpiece. Initially I wasn't very happy with the Chris Cornell theme song. Now I look at it much more favorably.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Fist » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:24 pm

I Watch Films, But...
In a word, I think that, far from favoring directors’ formal inventiveness, widescreen, instead, stifles it. It is, I’m more and more persuaded, if not the only, at least the main culprit for the expressive poverty of the image today. - Eric Rohmer
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MadMan » Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:42 pm

That's a great find, Kurz. And sadly I know everyone listed alphabetically.

Goldfinger is one of the best Bonds, and is quite entertaining. Plus I can't hate a movie where one of the characters' first names is "Pussy."
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:32 am

MadMan wrote:Plus I can't hate a movie where one of the characters' first names is "Pussy."
"I must be dreaming."
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:36 am

Image

Thunderball (Terrence Young, 1965)

Of all the films in the Bond franchise, Thunderball is the film I've probably had the least experience with; I only first viewed it within the last couple years, and this is actually my second viewing of the film. I find it incredibly hard to assess; there are many strong elements that return from the pre-Goldfinger films that work in its favor, but for some reason the film doesn't make as strong an impression as I find it should. SPECTRE returns from the Goldfinger absence with a vengeance; they steal two nuclear weapons out from NATO and hold the West for ransom, threatening to destroy a major British or American city if their demands for £100 million are not met. Bond's mission takes him to Nassau, hoping to find a lead that will lead him to the nukes.

First of all, the plot works; a terrorist organization holding the world for ransom with nuclear weapons is a cliché now, but Thunderball pulls it off with surprising finesse. MI6's response is shown to be one of complete seriousness and competency; Bond is only one of many 00 agents sent across the globe in an effort to prevent SPECTRE's plot from succeeding. Bond's investigation mirrors Dr. No; it's a detective story set in the Caribbean, and the similarities are obvious when viewing the film; even Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter) follows his exact same routine from the earlier film, down to the sunglasses, with it not being clear who he is or why he's stalking Bond into later in the film, the recasting playing to this. Issues with recasting aside, he's a welcome replacement for his predecessor in Goldfinger.

Like the film as a whole, the key characters are adequate but unfortunately unmemorable, Leiter included. SPECTRE's second in command to Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), the man behind the nuclear ransom scheme, works well in the film but isn't particularly memorable past having an eyepatch; Domino (Claudine Auger), the film's Bond girl, is beautiful; unfortunately, she's not particularly memorable either. However, the most interesting character in the film, SPECTRE assassin Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), leaves a bit more of an impression; she more or less functions as a female Red Grant, with a scene of her intellectually and sexually humiliating Bond mirroring Grant's intellectual and physical humiliation in his scenes in From Russia with Love. Again, she suffers from the same issues as the rest of the characters and the film in general, but probably leaves the strongest impression of anyone.

This is the first film in the Bond franchise that seems to be evolving with the changing times; it may seem minor, but many of the female characters in Thunderball all wear bikinis that showcase significantly more skin and look much more contemporary than those worn by previous characters in the franchise, particularly Honey Rider's oft-remembered bikini from Dr. No. Again, it may seem minor, but it's an important detail nonetheless in tracking the franchise's evolution along with the times.

In closing, Thunderball's almost-paradoxical qualities make it particularly difficult to assess against its predecessors. It's strong, yet bland; there are numerous qualities that would make for crafting a strong film in the franchise, yet many additional ones that fail to set it apart. Overall, Thunderball is probably the weakest film yet in the franchise, despite its numerous formidable strengths.

Film Ranking
1) From Russia with Love (1963)
2) Goldfinger (1964)
3) Dr. No (1962)
4) Thunderball (1965)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
4) Emilio Largo (Thunderball)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
2) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
3) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
4) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)
5) Domino Derval (Thunderball)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
3) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
4) Professor Dent (Dr. No)

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
3) Quarrel (Dr. No)
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MrCarmady » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:31 am

The series really takes a dip after these first four. I'd go GF > TB > FRWL > DN, though.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MadMan » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:59 am

I liked Thunderball, but it ended up being the last truly good Bond film Connery made. You Only Live Twice only gets a passing grade from me because of ninjas, and Diamonds Are Forever was merely decent, although I liked it more than I should have. One Bond film that I used to dislike but end up digging a lot on a second viewing was License To Kill-Timothy Dalton should have gotten more than two outings as James Bond.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Fist » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:02 am

Man I hate that movie so much from the two (really one and a half, I guess) times I've seen it, but it may have just been really poor mood/conditions that lead to that opinion. I should revisit it sometime, as I don't unfortunately have a whole lot to say about it right now in response. You make a good case for it though.
I Watch Films, But...
In a word, I think that, far from favoring directors’ formal inventiveness, widescreen, instead, stifles it. It is, I’m more and more persuaded, if not the only, at least the main culprit for the expressive poverty of the image today. - Eric Rohmer
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Derninan » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:22 am

Thunderball was my favorite Bond film for the longest time. From Russia with Love and Goldfinger are slightly better in hindsight, but I still love it so.

I missed this thread! I plan on doing some semblance of a Bond marathon as we get closer to Skyfall's release. Oh man my balls are tingling with excitement!
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:27 am

Thunderball is a decent Bond. I do find that the underwater fighting sequences become repetitive and tiresome. But Volpe and Domino are awesome Bond girls.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MadMan » Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:32 am

Domino is my favorite Bond girl.

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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MrCarmady » Thu Mar 29, 2012 10:25 am

Volpe is everything that's good about the series, she purrs FFS.
Also, Diamonds Are Forever is an underappreciated masterpiece.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Colonel Kurz » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:59 pm

Diamonds is one of the worst. Connery's hairpiece is too obvious, he's phoning it in to get the cash, and then there's the awful villains, the stupid moonbuggy chase and him blending in in a country by speaking the one language that would most antagonise people.
MadMan wrote:Timothy Dalton should have gotten more than two outings as James Bond.
He gave it up himself because he had to wait too long - which had to do with litigation over the rights of the series. So they went with whom they wanted in the first place before they went with Dalton in the late '80s.
dreiser wrote:I do find that the underwater fighting sequences become repetitive and tiresome.
This.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MrCarmady » Sun Apr 01, 2012 1:55 pm

him blending in in a country by speaking the one language that would most antagonise people
does he speak german in holland or something? OH WOW SO NOT REALISTIC
the moonbuggy chase is just a light-hearted stab at moon landing conspiracies, he donated all of the money for charity and looks less bored than in YOLT and is less of a whore than in NSNA, the hair really shouldn't factor into evaluation of films (BLAH BLAH CRAIG IS BLONDE!!!), and the villains are hilarious and awesome.
i just think people have a problem with it being camp since they have higher expectations of connery than moore or brosnan, but in fact it's one of the funniest and funnest films in the series
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Sun Apr 01, 2012 6:38 pm

Thunderball ranking edited.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MadMan » Mon Apr 02, 2012 6:14 am

He gave it up himself because he had to wait too long - which had to do with litigation over the rights of the series. So they went with whom they wanted in the first place before they went with Dalton in the late '80s.
Ah. Well considering that they waited too damn long to make the next one I can't blame him, and yeah I knew that they did want Pierce in the first place but he couldn't get out of his contract for Remmington Steele in the 80s.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by JediMoonShyne » Fri Apr 06, 2012 9:11 am

“Bisogna essere molto forti per amare la solitudine.” - P.P. Pasolini

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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MrCarmady » Fri Apr 06, 2012 10:56 am

well, at least it's not pabst blue ribbon. this is more of an offence than the ford stuff, i guess, since bond never drove an aston martin in the novels, but it's certainly not enough to stop me being excited for the film.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:09 pm

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You Only Live Twice (Lewis Gilbert, 1967)

You Only Live Twice is undoubtedly the first weak film in the franchise. An American spacecraft has been hijacked mid-orbit by a mysterious larger vessel of unknown origin; the Americans blame the Soviets, but British intelligence shows that the vessel touched down somewhere in the Sea of Japan. Bond's mission takes him to Tokyo in a race against time to determine the origin of the vessel before the Soviets and the Americans launch further spacecraft into orbit. It turns out that SPECTRE, under the direct leadership of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, is behind the hijackings at the behest of an unnamed Eastern power to manipulate the Soviets and the Americans into a conflict.

Of course, the plot is ludicrous; any confrontation between the Soviets and Americans would have had dire consequences for every country the world over. Bond finally meets Blofeld face to face; Donald Pleasance generally works well as Blofeld, despite, well, having a face. The film fumbles the Bond girl aspect; Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi), a member of the Japanese SIS, is the obvious Bond girl until she is killed off and replaced in the final third of the film by Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), another member of the Japanese SIS. Neither are particularly memorable, especially the latter. Tiger Tanaka (Tetsurō Tamba), the head of the Japanese SIS and Bond's main ally, also shares the same fate.

The film stands out in being incredibly outlandish; Bond piloting and dogfighting Little Nellie, Q's specially designed autogyro and the film's climax, in which dozens of handgun and katana wielding ninjas assault SPECTRE forces inside an erupting volcano, are the general stand outs. Where Thunderball began to show signs of progress in regards to gender, You Only Live Twice falls back in line with the previous films' issues with sexism; at one point Tanaka says to Bond "...in Japan, men always come first; women, second." to which Bond replies "I might just retire to here." Seeing how contemporary Japanese culture still grapples with, it comes across as crass.

The film does harken back to Dr. No, however, in SPECTRE's interference in the Space Race between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., which works in its favor and gives it a historical relevance. On the flip side, however, the film breaks continuity when Bond tells Dikko Henderson (Charles Gray), his MI6 contact with Tokyo, that he's never been to Japan before; in From Russia with Love, Bond begins to tell Tatiana Romanova about a time when he and M were in Tokyo. The film also seems to have a subtle non-smoking message; when Bond meets with Mr. Osata (Teru Shimada), the head of SPECTRE's Japanese corporate front Osata Chemical, Osata says to Bond "You should give up smoking. Cigarettes are very bad for your chest." Later in the film, when Bond asks Blofeld if he may smoke in an attempt to recover one of his explosive cigarettes, Blofeld replies "It won't be the nicotine that kills you, Mr. Bond."

Once again, You Only Live Twice has the unfortunate distinction of being the first weak Bond film, with the formula beginning to feel stale, even moreso than Thunderball. It's outlandish, the characters save Blofeld are forgettable, and the Japanese setting is regretfully underused. It has the most epic scale of any of the Bond films to date, but that's not necessarily a positive when not particularly well executed.

Film Ranking
1) From Russia with Love (1963)
2) Goldfinger (1964)
3) Dr. No (1962)
4) Thunderball (1965)
5) You Only Live Twice (1967)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
5) Emilio Largo (Thunderball)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
2) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
3) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
4) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)
5) Domino Derval (Thunderball)
6) Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
3) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
4) Professor Dent (Dr. No)

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
3) Quarrel (Dr. No)
4) Tiger Tanaka (You Only Live Twice)
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MrCarmady » Sun Apr 15, 2012 11:14 pm

Tanaka is better than Quarrel, come on. Quarrel is a racist stereotype, mostly fetching Bond's shoes and believing in dragons. Tanaka is not the Tanaka of the book (which is possibly the best thing Fleming wrote, BTW), but he's still far ahead of Quarrel in terms of memorability and importance.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Fist » Thu Apr 19, 2012 3:23 am

God, nearly all I remember is the hilarious section when Bond is in seclusion or some sort with the Japanese, and they "make him up" to blend in with them. Jesus Christ. Then again it is hilarious in hindsight so maybe that's worth something. The action climax of the film is legitimately memorable though, in an equally silly way. Ninja's repelling into Blofeld's secret volcano lair, that little train track scooter thing, I don't really remember all that much. Noteworthy for the film's overall iconography though, along with Goldfinger this one's probably had the biggest popular culture splash. Particularly with how SPECTRE's portrayed, and the general evil lair yadda-yadda. Also interesting to see how a lot of these elements get (more successfully) recycled in later Bond films.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:42 am

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On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Peter Hunt, 1969)

On Her Majesty's Secret Service is without a doubt my favorite film in the franchise. The film generally gets a lot of heat for the replacement of Sean Connery with George Lazenby as Bond; the film is bookended by Connery films You Only Live Twice and Diamonds are Forever, so it often gets ignored as well. I find this to be more or less criminal; while it heavily deviates from the established post-Goldfinger formula and it takes the "James Bond Theme" as an audio backdrop during the climax to remind the viewer they're actually watching a Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service definitely deserves more recognition than most other films of the series.

After two unsuccessful years, Blofeld's trail has gone cold; M reassigns Bond from Operation Bedlam, which prompts him to resign out of frustration from MI6 entirely. Moneypenny alters Bond's resignation letter to a request for two weeks leave, allowing him to pursue a lead through Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti), the head of Union Corse, the largest crime syndicate in Europe after SPECTRE. After catching Draco's eye during Bond's pursuit of his troubled and often-suicidal daughter, Tracy di Vincenzo (Diana Rigg), Bond is brought to Draco by his strongmen and the two strike a deal; if Bond romances Tracy, Draco will use his position to direct Bond in the direction of Blofeld. Tracy falls in love with Bond, and Blofeld is revealed to have established the clinical allergy-research institute of Piz Gloria in the Swiss Alps while attempting to claim a title of Swiss nobility. Blofeld's scheme is to use brainwashed patients of the institute to distribute bacteriological warfare agents unless he is granted amnesty for his past crimes.

The biggest change, of course, is the replacement of Sean Connery with George Lazenby. Lazenby plays Bond as more of a playboy than Connery but as much less of a physical presence. His impersonation of kilt-wearing London College of Arms genealogist Sir Hilary Bray doesn't particularly come off as the paragon of masculinity one imagines of James Bond. On the other hand, Lazenby portrays a refreshingly more vulnerable Bond than Connery; as the film is more or less set up as a love story, it works well. A scene when Bond attempts to hide from Blofeld's strongmen in the crowds of Lauterbrunnen effectively portrays him as frightened and vulnerable. In addition, his chemistry with Diana Rigg's Tracy is excellent, as is Rigg herself, who is portrayed as Bond's equal and not mere eye candy as her predecessors were. Telly Savalas takes over the role of Blofeld from Donald Pleasance and portrays him as a more physically active villain; he personally leads the film's two ski chases and attempts to make his escape from Piz Gloria via bobsled. He comes across as awkward, however; a scene when he attempts to seduce Tracy has a cringe-worthy moment where Blofeld unzips his jacket, revealing his out-of-shape midsection. Ferzetti's Draco, on the other hand, works well, as does Ilse Steppat as henchwoman Irma Bunt, who recalls Lotte Lenya's Rosa Klebb from From Russia with Love.

Sexism still rears its ugly head, particularly in the manner Draco treats his daughter. During his initial encounter with Bond, after Bond suggests that "she needs a psychiatrist, not me," Draco snaps back with "what she needs is a man, to dominate her!" His original proposal to Bond for capturing Tracy's heart is a personal dowry of £1,000,000; he attempts to honor this offer when the two marry at the end of the film, despite Bond's refusal at the beginning of the film. During the climax, when Tracy refuses to leave Piz Gloria without Bond during the climax, Draco knocks her unconscious by clocking her in the face. Likewise, early in the film when Bond first meets Tracy, he slaps her when she answers "I don't know what you're talking about" when Bond interrogates her on the identity of Che Che (Irvin Allen), one of Draco's strongmen who attacked him upon entering her hotel room at the Palacio. Homophobia also returns, as the genealogist Sir Hilary Bray Bond is posing as is gay, with Blofeld's English Angel of Death (Joanna Lumley) snidely remarking "Of course I know what he's allergic to." Irma Bunt may or may not also be a lesbian, though this is one area where she does not recall Rosa Klebb as vividly.

Obviously, both Bond and Blofeld have been recast; the film hits a major continuity snag in that Bond and Blofeld don't immediately recognize each other, despite coming face-to-face in You Only Live Twice. The film is adapted directly from the novel, which preceded Bond and Blofeld's first encounter, but it still follows the canon of the film series. Other sections of the film, reference past films, with Bond removing from his desk Honey Rider's knife belt from Dr. No to "Underneath the Mango Tree", Red Grant's garotte wrist watch from From Russia with Love to "Opening Titles: James Bond Is Back/From Russia with Love" and his own rebreather from Thunderball to "Thunderball." When Bond is being led to Draco's office, the janitor (Norman McGlen) is whistling "Goldfinger." The opening title sequence features a montage of scenes from each preceding film as well. All these work remarkably well in connecting On Her Majesty's Secret Service to past films, which makes is easy to gloss over the aforementioned hiccups.

In closing, On Her Majesty's Secret Service is an excellent film and the best in the franchise to date, overcoming the odd casting choices of George Lazenby and Telly Savalas. It's a welcome return to form after You Only Live Twice. The love story at the heart of the film gives it a strong emotional core, and the different aspects of the film work incredibly well together. On Her Majesty's Secret Service is the capstone to the most relevant era in the James Bond franchise. It represents a high mark that no film in the franchise has yet to reach since, and one that, for some reason, few films since seem to even attempt to.

Film Ranking
1) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
2) From Russia with Love (1963)
3) Goldfinger (1964)
4) Dr. No (1962)
5) Thunderball (1965)
6) You Only Live Twice (1967)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
5) Emilio Largo (Thunderball)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Tracy di Vincenzo (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
3) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
4) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
5) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)
6) Domino Derval (Thunderball)
7) Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
3) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
4) Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
5) Professor Dent (Dr. No)

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Marc-Ange Draco (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
3) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
4) Quarrel (Dr. No)
5) Tiger Tanaka (You Only Live Twice)
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Wed Oct 03, 2012 4:57 am

Zaius Nation wrote:On Her Majesty's Secret Service (Peter Hunt, 1969)

In addition, his chemistry with Diana Rigg's Tracy is excellent, as is Rigg herself, who is portrayed as Bond's equal and not mere eye candy as her predecessors were.
I would not refer to Pussy and Fiona in that fashion.
Zaius Nation wrote: It represents a high mark that no film in the franchise has yet to reach since, and one that, for some reason, few films since seem to even attempt to.
I think Casino surpasses it for sheer emotion and romance.

Enjoyed the write-up, btw. Nice work.
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Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Fist » Wed Oct 03, 2012 6:53 am

Yeah, one of your best write-ups so far. Hit on a lot of the reasons it's still likely my favorite of the series still as well, along with maybe From Russia With Love and The Spy Who Loved Me. Maybe I'll watch a few of these again too before November.

Draco's fucking hilarious.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Das » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:02 am

On Her Majesty's Secret Service and From Russia with Love are probably the only two Bond films I strongly enjoy.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by ribbon » Wed Oct 03, 2012 7:05 am

same, so far
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:08 pm

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Diamonds Are Forever (Guy Hamilton, 1971)

Following the mixed reception and diminished box office returns of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever reunites Sean Connery and Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton for a very Goldfingeresque film set against the backdrop of 1970s Las Vegas, Nevada. It's not just a noticeable return to the established post-Goldfinger formula, but to Goldfinger as well; the film emphasizes diamonds, just as Goldfinger did gold, "Goldfinger" singer Shirley Bassey returns as title theme singer, and the camp is turned up to a level even beyond its predecessor. It all amounts to Diamonds Are Forever being a goofy, if enjoyable, mess clearly intended as a throwback to Goldfinger.

Sir Donald Munger (Laurence Naismith), chairman of the legal diamond trade-controlling Diamond Syndicate, has convinced the British Prime Minister to assign MI6 to investigate an increase in South African diamond smuggling, where 80% of the world's diamonds are mined. The Syndicate is alarmed at not only the increase in smuggling, but that none of the stones seem to have reached the market; Munger believes that an unknown party is stockpiling the diamonds to either depress prices by putting all of the stones on the market at once or blackmailing the Syndicate with a threat to do so. Due to several recent murders, the Syndicate is threatened with the South African mines shutting down operations; if the identity of the unknown party is not discovered before this happens, it would be catastrophic to Syndicate as well as the government. Bond's mission to track down the smugglers takes him initially to Amsterdam and further to Las Vegas, where it is revealed that the unknown party is none other than Ernst Stavro Blofeld, thought killed by Bond at the beginning of the film presumably in retaliation for Tracy's death in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Blofeld, posing as reclusive Las Vegas billionaire Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean), is using the smuggled diamonds to create a diamond-powered laser satellite powerful enough to destroy entire nuclear stockpiles from orbit, proposing an international auction between China, the United States, and the Soviet Union for nuclear supremacy.

The biggest aspect of Diamonds Are Forever, of course, is the return of Sean Connery as James Bond, as George Lazenby had become convinced that the character would be archaic in the oncoming decade. Connery, who had been starting to show his age in both Thunderball and You Only Live Twice, looks terrible in Diamonds Are Forever. Viewing the film, Connery appears to have filmed his scenes in not 1971, but 1981; he's very visibly out of shape as well, especially when his shirt comes off. The setting of Las Vegas, unlike Connery, however, is captured well in the film; everything from mob goons to the clear Howard Hughes-inspired omnipresence of recluse Willard Whyte captures the essence of the city. The setting also works well with the outlandishness of the film; it is Vegas, after all. Charles Gray, who previously portrayed Bond's MI6 contact Dikko Henderson in You Only Live Twice, takes over the role of Blofeld from Telly Savalas; he has more of a screen presence then his immediate predecessor, but, like the rest of the film, he's not really a character to take seriously, especially when there are multiple doubles of him walking around or he's incognito dressed as a woman still toting his trademark cat and cigarette holder. Tiffany Case (Jill St. John), the film's Bond girl, is pure fluff, only serving as eye candy and enhance the camp. Felix Leiter returns, recast for the fourth time as Norman Burton, and he turns in the weakest performance of any Leiter yet. Leiter and his CIA agents are completely inept, allowing not only Tiffany Case to escape from their surveillance at Circus Circus but Blofeld in drag to walk right past them at the Whyte House. It's still not clear why the CIA are even conducting domestic operations at all, especially considering J. Edgar Hoover was still Director of the FBI at this time. When Willard Whyte is finally introduced into the film, he comes across as a country bumpkin. Two characters that do leave an impression, however, are Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), two Blofeld assassins that eliminate each link in the smuggling chain as the final shipment of diamonds is brought to the underground laboratories of WW Tectronics outside Las Vegas. The two make campy quips after every successful (and in Bond's case, attempted) assassination, and steal every scene they appear in.

Bond is still slapping around women; when he asks Case "who's your connection" in the smuggler ring, he slaps her when she responds "You sound like a cop to me." Homophobia is more prevalent than in past entries; Mr. Wint, who is heavily implied to be Mr. Kidd's lover, is always shown to be drenched in perspiration, sporting a five o'clock shadow and reeking of an aftershave which Bond remarks "smells lie a tarse handkerchief." Tarse, of course, is Old English for a man's genitals. During the final encounter between the two on the deck one of Willard Whyte's cruise liners, Bond pulls Wint's coattails backwards between his legs, eliciting verbal and physical delight from Wint. On the other hand, there are lots of African-Americans in the film, reflecting growing racial equality in the United States. Thumper (Trina Parks), one of the two women guarding Willard Whyte for Blofeld, is African American herself; she works well alongside her Caucasian counterpart, Bambi (Lola Larson). It's a far cry from how the character of Quarrel was portrayed in Dr. No, and shows the changing of the times.

Overall, Diamonds Are Forever is a noticeable step back from the high point reached of On Her Majesty's Secret Service; it's a shame that there wasn't an effort to expand on the strength of its immediate predecessor, and it more or less sweeps the events of the past film under the rug in the opening sequence. Connery looks terrible, and the pervasive camp and scenes like Bond escaping from WW Tectronics in a moon buggy make it hard to take seriously. It's mindless fluff, though admittedly enjoyable, to say the least.

Film Ranking
1) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
2) From Russia with Love (1963)
3) Goldfinger (1964)
4) Dr. No (1962)
5) Thunderball (1965)
6) Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
7) You Only Live Twice (1967)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
5) Emilio Largo (Thunderball)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Tracy di Vincenzo (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
3) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
4) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
5) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)
6) Domino Derval (Thunderball)
7) Tiffany Case (Diamonds Are Forever)
8) Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
3) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
4) Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever)
5) Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
6) Professor Dent (Dr. No)

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Marc-Ange Draco (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
3) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
4) Quarrel (Dr. No)
5) Willard Whyte (Diamonds Are Forever)
6) Tiger Tanaka (You Only Live Twice)
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Colonel Kurz » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:11 pm

I think you're being very kind on it.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by MrCarmady » Thu Oct 04, 2012 11:17 pm

I think it's the best Bond film apart from the Casino Royale parody.
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Fri Oct 05, 2012 12:14 am

Jill St. John and Natalie Wood's sister look fantastic, but mostly a bad film.
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Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
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The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Sat Oct 06, 2012 7:36 pm

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Live and Let Die (Guy Hamilton, 1973)

Following Diamonds Are Forever, Sean Connery decided to permanently retire from the role of James Bond; enter Roger Moore, who combined with the film's permeating 1970s atmosphere represents the first clear break from its predecessors and the beginning of a new era in the Bond franchise. Three British agents have been killed in a twenty-four hour span; Baines (Dennis Edwards), who was stationed on the Caribbean nation of San Monique; Dawes, who was keeping an eye on San Monique's Prime Minister Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto) while visiting the United States; and Hamilton, who was assisting with the CIA's investigation of Harlem heroin kingpin Mr. Big in New Orleans. Bond's mission to investigate the murders and determine the link between them takes him to Harlem, Louisiana and San Monique, where he discovers that Kananga, who is Mr. Big, plans to use his diplomatic protections to smuggle two tons of San Monique-grown heroin into the United States and distribute it for free, spiking the number of addicts and creating a monopoly he can exploit for financial gain. There's also lots of blaxploitation tropes and voodoo.

The first third of the film draws heavy inspiration from the blaxploitation genre that was popular in the early 1970s; it doesn't work well. Juxtaposed against dozens of pimps and hoods, Bond comes across as awkward, stiff, and uncomfortable in his own skin. It's a terrible debut for Roger Moore, and showcases Bond as significantly less relevant as a pop culture symbol in the 70s. The script doesn't make it much better; when Bond's cab driver (Arnold Williams) warns him that Kananga's car is heading uptown towards Harlem, Bond responds "Oh, you just keep on the tail of that jukebox and there's an extra twenty in it for you." His driver's response of "Hey man, for twenty bucks, I'll take you to a Ku Klux Klan cookout." It's horrendous, and the insults of "honky" and "cue ball" directed towards Bond stick pretty easily. The remaining two-thirds of the film, which shifts the focus to voodoo, fare better, but much of the damage has already been done. Despite his rough debut, Moore is a noticeable improvement from Diamonds Are Forever's Connery; where Connery appeared aged and out-of-shape, Moore appears youthful and toned. Like Lazenby, Moore can't match the physical presence of Connery in his prime, but narrows the gap between Lazenby's and Connery's appearance. Where Lazenby portrayed Bond as a playboy, Moore portrays him as more of a quipping gentleman. It's an improvement from the portrayal of Bond seen in Diamonds Are Forever and, to many degrees, On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Kotto's Kananga is a respectable and capable, if forgettable, debut villain for the beginning of a new era of Bond. His performance of Kananga as a controlling, power-hungry dictator of a small island nation leaves more of an impression than performances of Telly Savalas and Charles Gray as Blofeld in the previous films, if not the character itself.

The Bond girl, tarot card-reading Solitaire (Jane Seymour), is Kananga's sole Caucasian in his entourage. She's a significant improvement on the mindless Tiffany Case in the previous film, though she's not a particularly interesting character. In one particularly slimy scene, Moore seduces her using a deck of tarot cards containing only the Lover card, preying on her devotion to tarot reading. It's not as crass as Connery threatening to report his pursuit to her superiors unless she sleeps with him like in Thunderball, but still a particularly unflattering scene for Bond nonetheless, especially considering her clairvoyance derives from her virginity. Her character then develops a bit of a sex addiction, but remains bland otherwise. Felix Leiter returns, recast as David Hedison, who is probably the strongest Leiter since Jack Lord in Dr. No. With J. Edgar Hoover having died in 1972 and Richard Nixon in the White House, it's more plausible for the CIA to be conducting domestic operations. Roy Stewart portrays one of Bond's CIA contacts in the San Monique, Quarrel Jr., son of Quarrel from Dr. No; it's a nice throwback, though the character, like others, is forgettable. Bond's other contact, double agent Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry), stands out as being Bond's first black conquest, but isn't much use for anything else. Kananga's right-hand Tee Hee Johnson (Julius Harris), sports a hook for his right-hand due to his entire arm being devoured by a crocodile; he's also capable, but unmemorable. The final player is Kananga associate Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder), a 9-foot tall voodoo cultist who protects Kananga's heroin-producing poppy fields from suspicious San Monique natives. He may also be the voodoo Loa of sex and resurrection. He doesn't do much besides smirk, laugh, and seemingly resurrect from death. His fame derives more from Rare's 1997 video game adaptation GoldenEye 007 then Live and Let Die.

Obviously the film has lots of racial overtones; it's never as explicit or pointed as anything during the Connery era, however. During the third-act Louisiana river chase, the film turns into a parody of deep-south race relations, with Kananga's hoods facing off against the Louisiana state police led by redneck Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James). The sexism of the Connery films has completely dissipated; Kananga's domineering grip on Solitaire is portrayed as a serious negative. Midway through the film, Kananga threatens Solitaire by exclaiming "Your power exists to serve me, and it is mine to control. If and when the times comes I decide you are to lose it, I myself will take it away" after she claims she drew a Death card instead of a Lover card in regards to Bond. Later, when Kananga discovers she had slept with Bond, he violently knocks her to the floor and says "When the time came I myself would have given you love. You knew that. You knew that!" He's portrayed as an angry, violent man, another clear break from the Connery era. Kananga's race doesn't factor in to his abuse of Solitaire, however.

Live and Let Die is the first Bond film to really show historical progression, captured by the film's inspirations, atmosphere, score and most notably Roger Moore himself. It's a very bland film, suffering from the same problems that Thunderball did, and it's the weakest since You Only Live Twice. There's not much that really justifies repeated viewings, unless James Bond killing black people peaks your interest. It's a clear break from its predecessors and the beginning of a new era for Bond, though not a particularly impressive one.

Film Ranking
1) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
2) From Russia with Love (1963)
3) Goldfinger (1964)
4) Dr. No (1962)
5) Thunderball (1965)
6) Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
7) Live and Let Die (1973)
8) You Only Live Twice (1967)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
5) Emilio Largo (Thunderball)
6) Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Tracy di Vincenzo (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
3) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
4) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
5) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)
6) Domino Derval (Thunderball)
7) Solitaire (Live and Let Die)
8) Tiffany Case (Diamonds Are Forever)
9) Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
3) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
4) Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever)
5) Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
5) Tee Hee Johnson (Live and Let Die)
6) Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
7) Professor Dent (Dr. No)

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Marc-Ange Draco (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
3) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
4) Quarrel (Dr. No)
5) Willard Whyte (Live and Let Die)
6) Tiger Tanaka (You Only Live Twice)
7) Quarrel Jr. (Live and Let Die)
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:53 pm

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The Man with the Golden Gun (Guy Hamilton, 1974)

On October 6th, 1973, Egyptian and Syrian forces crossed Israeli ceasefire lines agreed to during the resolution of the 1967 Six-Day War, sparking the month-long Yom Kippur War. When U.S. President Richard Nixon announced Operation Nickel Grass, an airlift to resupply Israel with weapons and supplies, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries declared an embargo, raising the price of oil by 70% and cutting production by continuous 5% increments. This created an economic recession in the West, leading to a greater interest in renewable energy by Western governments. The Man with the Golden Gun is set against the backdrop of the 1973 oil crisis; it's the first Bond film since From Russia with Love and to a lesser degree You Only Live Twice to incorporate ongoing world events. It's refreshing to see the series leave the historical vacuum it's existed in for over a decade, even if it doesn't amount to much more than background noise. MI6 receives a golden bullet, trademark of illusive assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), inscribed with 007. Believing Bond to be targeted for assassination by Scaramanga, M removes him from his current assignment of tracking down Gibson (Gordon Everett), a British solar energy expert gone missing in possession of a Solex agitator, a component capable of converting solar radiation into electricity on an industrial basis at 95% efficiency. Bond sets out to track down Scaramanga, leading him from Beirut to Macau and finally Hong Kong; his two assignments converge in Bangkok after Scaramanga assassinates Gibson and takes the Solex agitator for himself. Bond discovers that Scaramanga, having successfully weaponized the Solex, plans to auction it off to the highest bidder; Bond's antagonizing of Scaramanga causes the assassin to develop a grudge, forcing Bond into a duel to cement his place in history as the world's greatest assassin.

Francisco Scaramanga is the series' best villain since Auric Goldfinger. The film's opening sequence pits him in a duel against Rodney (Marc Lawrence, who previously portrayed a Las Vegas mobster in Diamonds Are Forever; it's unclear whether the two characters are one in the same) in which Scaramanga is unarmed for the majority of it; it effectively establishes the character for the rest of the film. Lee channels his Hammer Horror characters, coming across at times as a frightening sociopath; his tall, slender, suited appearance evokes the more contemporary Slender Man, giving his character an unsettling vibe. It's also implied that he's physically abusive; after successfully assassinating Gibson, he returns his junk to find his mistress, Andrea Anders (Maud Adams) waiting for him in bed. He caresses her body with the barrel of the Golden Gun; when she recoils, he grows angry, and moves the barrel across her lips. It's no wonder that it was Anders who sent the bullet to MI6, hoping that Bond would free her by killing Scaramanga.

Moore, on the other hand, gives a less flattering performance. The freshness he brought to Live and Let Die has evaporated; what remains is the out-of-place Bond from Harlem. Moore just doesn't fit; his attempt to channel Connery fails horrendously. When Bond breaks into Anders' hotel room at The Peninsula Hong Kong and subsequently watches her shower, he doesn't come across as Connery did in Thunderball; he comes across as a creep, just as he did in the previous film when he used a stacked deck of tarot cards to deflower Solitaire. As he roughs her up trying to glean information on Scaramanga's whereabouts, he comes off as abusive; it may have worked for Connery in the 60s, but not as much for Moore's post-second-wave feminism Bond of the 70s. It's a Bond fading fast into irrelevancy, if not already there. Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland), an M16 staffer assigned to Hong Kong, is the film's Bond girl. She's got an endearing smile and generally has adequate knowledge and know-how; she's still a complete ditz, though not quite as bad as Diamonds Are Forever's Tiffany Case. Her defining trait is yearning to sleep with Moore's Bond, which somehow hasn't happened yet, despite his sleeping with everyone else. She's passable, though, again, endearing enough to stand out. Hervé Villechaize portrays Nick Nack, Scaramanga's French-accented dwarf manservant. Like Scaramanga, he's a great addition to the film, though he doesn't quite reach legendary status. Still, he's the best henchman the series has seen in almost a decade. Soon-Tek Oh rounds out the cast as Lieutenant Hip, an MI6 agent in Hong Kong who assists Bond in Bangkok. He's forgettable, but fits well into his role.

The Man with the Golden Gun is the first film where it becomes apparent that the James Bond series has lost its identity. It's no longer about intrigue; Bond has essentially become a plug-in for other genres. Where Live and Let Die plugged Bond into the blaxploitation genre, The Man with the Golden Gun plugs him into the popular martial arts films of the early 1970s. Nowhere is this more apparent then halfway through the film when Bond regains consciousness in a martial arts school and has to fight for his life against the students. What's more, the elements that remain from Bond are recycled from earlier films in the series. Obviously, the title The Man with the Golden Gun recalls Goldfinger, as does Bond's white dinner jacket. Scaramanga and Nick Nack recall Goldfinger and Oddjob. The oriental setting recalls You Only Twice; Hai Fat (Richard Loo) and his front company Hai Fat industries recalls Osata and Osata Chemicals and Engineering. When M removes Bond from the hunt for Gibson, Bond submits his resignation to which M gives him leave from MI6; the same thing happened when Bond was removed from the hunt for Blofeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Scaramanga's abduction of Goodnight and her subsequent bikini-clad reappearance on Scaramanga's island recalls Tiffany Case from Diamonds Are Forever. The riverboat chase recalls Live and Let Die; even J.W. Pepper returns. It all comes together as an action comedy. This is nowhere more evident than in the scoring; it often edges into cornball. A particularly excessive moment comes during Bond's pursuit of Scaramanga late in the film; Bond, finding himself on the opposite river from Scaramanga, launches his car off a broken bridge; as the AMC Hornet spins a full 360 degrees, the frame slows to an accompanying slide whistle. Scaramanga's AMC Matador then subsequently transforms into an aircraft and he escapes.

In closing, The Man with the Golden Gun is still an enjoyable film, even though it's become obvious where the franchise is heading. Scaramanga is one of the classic Bond villains, and his Golden Gun is even more legendary than Bond's own Walther PPK. Bond's mission of recovering the Solex Agitator and alleviating the West's dependence on Middle Eastern oil is still incredibly relevant nearly four decades after its initial release; it's bit of an indictment of Western governments that it is. However, It's a film that lacks an identity, recycling elements from previous films and dropping Bond into the martial arts genre; the film's devolution into comedy makes one wonder if The Man with the Golden Gun's producers take the character and the franchise seriously anymore.

Film Ranking
1) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
2) From Russia with Love (1963)
3) Goldfinger (1964)
4) Dr. No (1962)
5) Thunderball (1965)
6) The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
7) Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
8) Live and Let Die (1973)
9) You Only Live Twice (1967)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
6) Emilio Largo (Thunderball)
7) Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Tracy di Vincenzo (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
3) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
4) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
5) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)
6) Domino Derval (Thunderball)
7) Solitaire (Live and Let Die)
8) Mary Goodnight (The Man with the Golden Gun)
9) Tiffany Case (Diamonds Are Forever)
10) Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
3) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
4) Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5) Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever)
6) Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
7) Tee Hee Johnson (Live and Let Die)
8) Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
9) Professor Dent (Dr. No)

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Marc-Ange Draco (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
3) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
4) Quarrel (Dr. No)
5) Lieutenant Hip (The Man with the Golden Gun)
6) Willard Whyte (Live and Let Die)
7) Tiger Tanaka (You Only Live Twice)
8) Quarrel Jr. (Live and Let Die)
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by dreiser » Wed Oct 10, 2012 2:00 am

I will always have a soft spot for The Man with the Golden Gun flaws be damned. Very thorough write-up, especially the relevant political and economic backdrop for the film.
"I hate the dark, the sharks liars. And the stems of cherry..."

Like Someone in Love (Kiarostami, 2012) 4/10
Killing Them Softly (Dominik, 2012) 2/10
The Wonderful World of the Brothers Grimm (Pal/Levin, 1962) 6/10
The Dark Past (Mate', 1948) 7/10
New Rose Hotel (Ferrara, 1998) 3/10
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Fri Oct 12, 2012 10:50 pm

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The Spy Who Loved Me (Lewis Gilbert, 1977)

Two nuclear submarines, the British Ranger and the Soviet Potempkin, have mysteriously vanished at sea. An unidentified party has developed a submarine tracking system; Bond's mission takes him to Cairo, where the plans have leaked onto the market. At the same time, the KGB assigns their best agent, Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) codename Triple X, to recover the plans for the Soviet Union. As the two agents become aware of each other, MI6 and the KGB decide to pool their resources, leading Bond and Amasova to Karl Stromberg (Curt Jürgens), head of the Stromberg Shipping Lines, in Sardinia. Stromberg, the two discover, used his supertanker the Liparus to capture the two nuclear submarines. Stromberg's plan is to launch nuclear attacks on New York and Moscow, pushing the two superpowers into open nuclear conflict and allowing Stromberg to create a new underwater civilization. Sound familiar? The Spy Who Loved Me's plot is heavily recycled from You Only Live Twice: in the former, SPECTRE had used a massive spacecraft to swallow up smaller American and Soviet spacecraft, hoping to manipulate the two powers into an open confrontation; in the latter, it's Stromberg using his supertanker to swallow up American and Soviet submarines, hoping to manipulate the two into a nuclear war as well. The climactic sequences, set inside SPECTRE's volcano base and Stromberg's Liparus, might as well occur on the exact same set, down to the enemy forces fortifying their command center behind armored shutters and the monorail systems that run throughout both. It's no coincidence that The Spy Who Loves Me's director, Lewis Gilbert, was also the director of You Only Live Twice.

Thankfully, The Spy Who Loved Me is significantly better then You Only Live Twice, as well as most of its predecessors. It manages to do so despite having many of the same flaws Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun suffered from. Like those films, Bond is still a plug-in to other popular films; in The Spy Who Loved Me, it's Steven Spielberg's 1975 Jaws. The film has a number of scenes set against an ocean backdrop, some underwater, and Stromberg has a pet shark he feeds his traitorous assistant (Marilyn Galsworthy) and attempts to feed Bond to. Stromberg's henchman, a seven-foot tall strongman sporting a set of metal teeth, is even named Jaws (Richard Kiel). Despite the obvious goofiness, Jaws is the series' best henchman since From Russia with Love's Red Grant. There's even a fight cramped train compartment between him and Bond, a clear nod to the encounter between Bond and Red Grant. He's an excellent, memorable character, and he stays silent throughout the entire film. He's backed up by a strong performance by Jürgens's megalomaniacal Stromberg, as well as a capable performance by Bach. Agent Triple X falls short of classic, but she's still a breath of fresh air after the throwaway characters of Tiffany Case, Solitaire and Mary Goodnight. She's intended to be Bond's equal; when she's first introduced, the camera focuses on her lover, fellow KGB agent Sergei Barsov (Michael Billington), as if he's Triple X. It's not quite the dramatic reveal its intended to be, but it gets the point across.

She doesn't last very long against the charms of Moore's 007, however; it's still pushing the suspension of disbelief, though he's much better than he was in The Man with the Golden Gun. When Bond goes to the apartment of Aziz Fekkesh (Nadim Sawalha), the intermediary of Majava Club owner Max Kalba (Vernon Dobtcheff), who's selling the leaked plans, Fekkesh's associate Felicca (Olga Bisera) is in his arms within sixty seconds. Roger Moore's Bond must exude pheromones, because he's starting to look too old for the role. Still, he's significantly less stiff and more believable in the action scenes, especially the climactic battle aboard the Liparus. When Amasova is reciting Bond's dossier and mentions "Many lady friends, but married only once. Wife killed...," Moore's Bond cuts her off with a well delivered "Alright, you've made your point." It's a nice callback to Tracy, who more or less has been forgotten by the series since Sean Connery sent one of Blofeld's doubles into a pool of superheated mud in Diamonds Are Forever. Overall, it's a noticeable improvement from The Man with the Golden Gun.

The Spy Who Loved Me is the first film set against the backdrop of détente; the film's plot clearly reflects this with the cooperation of Britain and the Soviet Union through Bond and Amasova. It's a stark contrast from earlier films like From Russia with Love, where the plot revolved around stealing Soviet technology to bolster the British position in the Cold War. Other then that, the film sticks to its fusion of Jaws and You Only Live Twice. The film's score is influenced by disco; it's much better then The Man with the Golden Gun's often slapstick score, even if it is a bit dated now. There's still a fair amount of its immediate predecessors inclination towards action comedy, but The Spy Who Loves Me takes itself much more seriously, and it shows. There's still bits like Bond and Amasova's bumpy ride through the desert in Jaws' decimated telephone service van set to circus music, as well as Bond's Union Jack parachute while escaping KGB forces in the Austrian alps. Sure, it's now considered an iconic moment, but it's a hell of a way to broadcast that James Bond isn't as much a secret agent as he is a superhero. Still, it's overall a change for the better.

Overall, The Spy Who Loves Me really threads the needle and emerges as one of the best Bond films to date. It suffers from a lot of the same foundational problems as Live and Let Die and The Main with the Golden Gun, specifically recycling the entire plot from You Only Live Twice. Still, it's a particularly enjoyable film with a number of iconic moments and characters, and outperforms when it would be otherwise held back. It's not a true return to form for the series, but it's a well done film nevertheless.

Film Ranking
1) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
2) From Russia with Love (1963)
3) The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
4) Goldfinger (1964)
5) Dr. No (1962)
6) Thunderball (1965)
7) The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
8) Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
9) Live and Let Die (1973)
10) You Only Live Twice (1967)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5) Karl Stromberg The Spy Who Loved Me
6) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
7) Emilio Largo (Thunderball)
8) Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Tracy di Vincenzo (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
3) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
4) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
5) Anya Amasova (The Spy Who Loved Me)
6) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)
7) Domino Derval (Thunderball)
8) Solitaire (Live and Let Die)
9) Mary Goodnight (The Man with the Golden Gun)
10) Tiffany Case (Diamonds Are Forever)
11) Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me)
3) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
4) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
5) Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
6) Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever)
7) Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
8) Tee Hee Johnson (Live and Let Die)
9) Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
10) Professor Dent (Dr. No)

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Marc-Ange Draco (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
3) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
4) Quarrel (Dr. No)
5) Lieutenant Hip (The Man with the Golden Gun)
6) Willard Whyte (Live and Let Die)
7) Tiger Tanaka (You Only Live Twice)
8) Quarrel Jr. (Live and Let Die)
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Re: Bondathon 2012

Post by Zaius Nation » Wed Oct 17, 2012 12:05 am

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Moonraker (Lewis Gilbert, 1979)

Released following the runaway success of George Lucas' 1977 Star Wars, Moonraker is a clear attempt to take advantage of the immense popularity of Star Wars, as well as other popular science fiction such as Star Trek, 2001: A Space Odyssey and even Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Like The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker takes cues from Lewis Gilbert's freshman effort, You Only Live Twice; unlike its immediate predecessor, however, it's doesn't turn out well. A Boeing 747 carrying an American-made Moonraker space shuttle destined for Britain has crashed in mid-flight under mysterious circumstances. Despite the wreckage of the 747 being discovered in Canada, no trace of the Moonraker was found. Suspecting hijacking, MI6 assigns Bond to investigate, beginning his search at shuttle manufacturer Drax Industries in California. Bond's investigation takes him to Venice, Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon and even space itself as he attempts to stop a genocidal plot by Drax Industries head Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) to use nerve gas to exterminate all human life and repopulate it with his own master race.

Sound outlandish? Moonraker manages to not only be moreso than You Only Live Twice, but also upend its predecessor as the worst film in the franchise. It's a mess of jumbled science fiction cliches. Drax comes across as a generic Star Trek villain who is established as a mix of Auric Goldfinger and Karl Stromberg; his genocidal ambitions recycled from the latter, except he doesn't need to manipulate the Americans and the Soviets into destroying humanity as he has his very own space station. Most of his crew appears as if they were on loan from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which also released in 1979. Drax's space station is obviously drawn from the Death Star in Star Wars, with an interior that's a mix of the Rebel blockade runner Tantive IV and the Discovery One from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The climactic laser shootout is drawn from the opening scene of Star Wars, at least the sequence that isn't horrendously set in the void of space, where defeated soldiers are hurled off into the abyss like Dr. Frank Poole from the latter; Drax also shares the same fate after Bond vents him out of an airlock. There's even Also sprach Zarathustra played on a horn during pheasant hunting at Drax's estate and the motif from Close Encounters of the Third Kind used as a door code as Drax's Venetian laboratory.

Roger Moore is more out of place than he's ever been, especially when he's bedding women despite being twice their age. Again, his Bond has to exude some sort of powerful pheromone. His seduction of one of Drax's pilots, Corrine Dufour (Corinne Cléry), ends up getting her killed, just as his seduction of Solitaire in Live and Let Die nearly did her. When he first meets the film's Bond girl, undercover CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), he is visibly taken aback that the person designated by Drax to assist in his investigation is female, even uttering "A woman?" When he runs into Goodhead again in Venice and she explains she's in Italy to address a seminar of the European Space Commission, he retorts "My, heady stuff. But there again I keep forgetting that you are more than just a very beautiful woman." He comes across as a misogynistic fossil, especially considering Britain's Prime Minister is by now Margaret Thatcher, and he still doesn't fit in very well in the action scenes. Goodhead is another capable yet unmemorable Bond girl, though it's a wonder her role isn't filled by Felix Leiter. Jaws returns, and once again steals the scenes he's in, even if his newfound relationship with Dolly (Blanche Ravalec) and 11th-hour conversion to ally is relatively bizarre, though minor against some of the film's other excessive moments. Drax's henchman Chang (Toshirô Suga) doesn't leave much of an impression before he's dispatched by Bond mid-film.

Beginning with Live and Let Die, Bond has been thrown into genres not his own with mixed success; Moonraker is the first film to make the case that there's little justification to continue the series as its lost identity entirely. There's absolutely no reason a series that began as spy vs. spy against the backdrop of the Cold War should send its protagonist into orbit. It's a complete mess, and it doesn't even attempt to take itself seriously. The intrigue the series was able to capture in its early entries has completely left the series. Lazenby may have destroyed his career by walking away from the role of Bond following On Her Majesty's Secret Service, but his assertion that Bond would become archaic in the following decade wasn't far from the truth. There's not even a shred of an argument for the series to continue following Moonraker, especially when it doesn't offer anything that a generic Star Wars knockoff couldn't. Overall, Moonraker is the weakest film yet, and it's hard to justify continuing the series after it.

Film Ranking
1) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
2) From Russia with Love (1963)
3) The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
4) Goldfinger (1964)
5) Dr. No (1962)
6) Thunderball (1965)
7) The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
8) Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
9) Live and Let Die (1973)
10) You Only Live Twice (1967)
11) Moonraker (1979)

Villain Ranking
1) Ernst Stavro Blofeld (From Russia with Love)
2) Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger)
3) Rosa Klebb (From Russia with Love)
4) Francisco Scaramanga (The Man with the Golden Gun)
5) Karl Stromberg The Spy Who Loved Me
6) Dr. Julius No (Dr. No)
7) Emilio Largo (Thunderball)
8) Dr. Kananga (Live and Let Die)
9) Hugo Drax (Moonraker)

Bond Girl Ranking
1) Tracy di Vincenzo (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
2) Honey Rider (Dr. No)
3) Tatiana Romanova (From Russia with Love)
4) Pussy Galore (Goldfinger)
5) Anya Amasova (The Spy Who Loved Me)
6) Sylvia Trench (Dr. No)
7) Domino Derval (Thunderball)
8) Solitaire (Live and Let Die)
9) Holly Goodhead (Moonraker)
10) Mary Goodnight (The Man with the Golden Gun)
11) Tiffany Case (Diamonds Are Forever)
12) Kissy Suzuki (You Only Live Twice)

Henchman Ranking
1) Red Grant (From Russia with Love)
2) Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me)
3) Oddjob (Goldfinger)
4) Fiona Volpe (Thunderball)
5) Nick Nack (The Man with the Golden Gun)
6) Mr. Wint & Mr. Kidd (Diamonds Are Forever)
7) Irma Bunt (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
8) Tee Hee Johnson (Live and Let Die)
9) Baron Samedi (Live and Let Die)
10) Professor Dent (Dr. No)
11) Chang (Moonraker[/])

Ally Ranking
1) Kerim Bey (From Russia with Love)
2) Marc-Ange Draco (On Her Majesty's Secret Service)
3) Felix Leiter (Dr. No)
4) Quarrel (Dr. No)
5) Lieutenant Hip (The Man with the Golden Gun)
6) Willard Whyte (Live and Let Die)
7) Tiger Tanaka (You Only Live Twice)
8) Quarrel Jr. (Live and Let Die)
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