James Bond 007 film-by-film thread

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by mr_spenalzo, Mar 12, 2018.

  1. bostonscoots

    bostonscoots Forum Resident

    Boston, MA
    Great conversation starters! I'll probably get back to reviewing the other films at some point, but in the meantime there's plenty here to chew over:

    I'm not sure Timothy Dalton (or Pierce Brosnan) would have improved A View To A Kill - the problem wasn't a close-to-elderly Roger Moore (not that he helped) but a creative team that had run dry and had nothing left to give the series. Dalton's two subsequent Bonds would have some fine moments, but on balance they suffer under the workman-like creative abilities of John Glen, Richard Maibaum, and Michael G. Wilson (to list a few prime offenders...).

    Speaking of Brosnan, that he filled the role so effortlessly - and was universally accepted as Bond from the get-go - is the root of our "collective shrug" over the Brosnan Era. GoldenEye was a massive comeback for Bond and proof the character - and the movies - could thrive in the all-too-brief post-Cold War era. Cubby Broccoli's last executive decision for EON was approving the casting of Pierce Brosnan (How sweet that call must have been for Brosnan, right?) I'm sure neither Michael G. Wilson or Barbara Broccoli had any desire to mess with their newly regained success - the soft box office of the Dalton years undoubtedly still stung, as did losing their once-prestigious spot in the summer marketplace to Batman, various Lethal Weapons, and the Die Hards.

    Everything's working, right?

    Post-GoldenEye, the movies hit a comfortable stride - Brosnan's Bonds were reliably entertaining spectacles with stand out set pieces (the motorcycle chase in Tomorrow Never Dies, the spectacular boat chase down the Thames teaser of The World Is Not Enough, the sword fight in Die Another Day) and solid supporting casts (particularly the inspired choice of Judi Dench as M). They even took a few measured risks - the twisted relationship between Renard and main villainess Electra King, Bond's hirsute imprisonment in a North Korean jail, a hint of social commentary about the media's role in international affairs, etc. If the results - and by extension Brosnan - seem slightly generic, it's because EON focused their efforts on making Bond movies that lived up to everyone's idea of "James Bond", regardless if they're fans of Ian Fleming, Sean Connery, or Roger Moore.

    Of Moonraker, let me just say that the movie commits - Albert R. Broccoli decided exactly the kind of Bond movie he was going to make and ran with it, balls out, full speed ahead. Outlandish? Outrageous? Moonraker is those things and then some from the first 10 minutes - and never stops upping the ante. Yes, it's ridiculous - but spectacularly so with Ken Adam's amazing sets, Derek Meddings terrific visual effects, and John Barry's lush score. I get the antipathy towards Moonraker and even share it...but like a bowl of ice cream on a hot day, I only feel guilty for enjoying Moonraker afterwards - never during.
  2. NickCarraway

    NickCarraway Forum Resident

    Gastonia, NC
    Indeed. Roger Moore would never have shot down a helicopter with a PPK :D
  3. BZync

    BZync Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    As I had mentioned in an earlier post, this thread (and a good price on Amazon) inspired me to purchase the Blu Ray Complete Bond set. Am watching them, in order, including all bonus materials & commentaries. I'm not in a hurry, so it is slow going.

    I've seen all of the Bond films but for two of the Moore flicks, but some I have seen far more than others. You Only Live Twice is one that I go back to every so often. Watching it again within the context of the series, I think it stands up well.

    Firstly, it has, arguably, the best theme song of the series. Certainly in the top five. And the credit sequence is the most sensual, so far, of the early Bond films.

    The tone of the film is lighter than any previous Bond film. While it is over the top, it avoids silly. (Some of the later films are pretty silly, indeed). The Incredibles & Austin Powers owe a huge debt to YOLT. The villains lair is fab and still works 50 years on. The shots of an army of ninjas repelling from the roof of a volcano haven't aged at all.

    Connery is looking a touch older than Thunderball (his physical peak, IMO) but is still in good shape. He plays the role with a light touch and completely inhabits the character by this point.

    YOLT contains a great scene in which Blofeld points a gun at Bond and says: "Prepare for a horrible death. But not now when I can shoot you point blank. A little later. For now, wander about without any restraints." Or something to that effect. I guess you're not supposed to scratch too deeply in a Bond film.

    This films Bond women are lovely but don't really contribute much. They show up with a convenient convertible when Bond needs a quick lift. They run about the villains lair with Bond during the climax. They act as the audience's window into the exotic ways of Asia. But they don't do much in terms of forwarding the drama or plot. But, they are competent and do not need Bond to rescue them, so that's good.

    The only cringe worthy aspect of the film is the terrible "Asian make over" that Connery receives in order to blend in. It's a silly idea and badly done. Then completely abandoned just before the volcano attack. Suddenly Bond looks "himself" again with no explanation. Even his chest hair, which was supposedly removed, has returned! Also, did he actually have to marry a woman in order to pose as a married man? Silly, yes, but it allowed us a peek at a traditional marriage ceremony.

    As a travelogue, which every Bond film is, this one does not disappoint. The scenery, from bustling Tokyo, to picturesque fishing villages, to medieval castles, to volcano strewn islands is lavishly photographed. Just beautiful.

    It's the action and the sets that make this such an enjoyable film.

    The bonus features made a point of explaining how Connery was constantly assaulted by hordes of fans and how much he hated the press by that time. Yet, we also saw him clowning behind the scenes and seemingly having a good time. In any case, he didn't show up for the next one, which I watched just yesterday.
    enro99 likes this.
  4. California Couple

    California Couple dislike us on facebook

    Newport Beach
    Watched You Only Live Twice again for the umpteenth time. That poor girl, his wife; after walking all the way up the volcano with Bond, she then has to run all the way back down it, in the dark, and swim all the way back to her island, while being attacked by a helicopter. And she was able to do this and get back in record time with the good guys.
  5. a customer

    a customer Forum Resident

    I don't need to watch the movies up to 1973. I already know them by heart. I don't know if that's good or bad. I always wondered why they didn't redo some of the river Moore movies at least to make them less comical.
  6. BZync

    BZync Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    Yesterday, I watched On Her Majesty's Secret Service for the first time in a great many years. I understand it to be generally thought of as a higher tier Bond film, but I had some major issues with it.

    I found the credit sequence a bit dull, which is a tragedy! I suppose that they were trying to remind the audience that, although a new leading man was cast, this is still the Bond franchise you love. Boring.

    The teaser sequence was well done and ended with a wink and a touch of humor. Diana Rigg was superb and a great Bond woman. Strong willed and competent (and a great driver to boot). Shame that she disappeared during the entire middle section of the film. As to the rest of the Bond women, well, there was really only one, wasn't there? There were a great many beautiful women in this film but they were little more than eye candy.

    Telly Savalas was a great Bond villain. He played it straight, always a good idea. Unfortunately, he seemed to suffer from altitude sickness in the form of amnesia. Blofeld spent a great deal of time in Bonds company during the last film. Bond sure remembered him, but he didn't recognize Bond at all. Maybe it was the glasses. And the accent.

    The plot is completely nonsensical. Blofeld decides to decimate the fertile population of the earth so he does years of allergy research to find a group of beautiful women to cure, but part of the cure is that they will release this infertility pathogen due to his mind control. Or something like that. And, oh yes, this all must take place in a private clinic at the apex of the Swiss Alps. Of course. So how does Bond propose to defeat him? Why he poses as a Genealogist, as one does. Yes, it's all very silly, but that has never stopped a Bond film from being a great ride.

    As a travelogue this film succeeds. The Alps are beautiful and wide screen worthy. The bullfight scenes and car derby sequences were neat.

    Unfortunately, we have some problems. A big one is the fact that the fight scenes are a mess. A bunch of quick cuts and zooms and the viewer can't tell who is getting hit & who is doing the hitting.

    Which brings us to George Lazenby. As an action hero, even though he is slight of build, he does fine. He moves well. He is handsome and looks the part. Unfortunately, I didn't buy him as an actor.

    In his undercover role as the Genealogist, he played it high camp and it didn't suit the tone of the film. So the comedic aspects felt forced to me. But the biggest flaw is the fact that I didn't believe him as a dramatic actor. More than any other Bond film to this point, the lead actor is called upon to display real emotion (other than anger). The film made short work of falling in love by way of a bliss montage. The depth of the relationship was done with such short hand that it failed to register almost completely. I never felt that Bond had developed an attachment to Rigg anymore than he had Moneypenny. If he really was in love he might have shown it a bit when confronted with a dozen beauties at the clinic. But there appeared to be no conflict within him. I get it, to establish Lazenby as the equal to Connery we need to see a bunch of "conquests" but you can't have it both ways. Is he in love or is he a womanizer? Bond gets to be both and it undercuts the true love aspect of the story. Unless he falls for her afterwards. She skis well and drives like a pro, after all. I guess that was it.

    But Lazenby's lack of emotional acting chops ruined the tragic ending. And the filmmakers tried hard. They had Q give warm words of encouragement, had Moneypenny cry, but no amount of emotion from the other characters could make up for Lazenby's tepid response to his wife's murder. There was just no depth or truth to the performance. What should have been devastating was rather limp.

    Honestly, I think if they had taken out the "true love" storyline, this would have been a much more successful outing. But they asked too much of him as an actor, IMO. I have yet to watch the bonus features so I don't yet know how the film was received at the time. But I do know that Connery returned for the next film and that Lazenby didn't exactly become a household name.
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  7. a customer

    a customer Forum Resident

    That movie was very close to the book
  8. BZync

    BZync Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    I read all of the books a few years back. Maybe it made more sense there. :)
  9. kevywevy

    kevywevy Forum Resident

    I've always wondered why they chose a non-actor for what must have been one of the most highly coveted acting roles of all time.
    BZync likes this.
  10. a customer

    a customer Forum Resident

    he was picked because of a cigarette or clothing commercial. Really strange choice. He then refused next film because his agent believed the bond franchise was dead. That would have been a cool movie for Sean Connery. Maybe too cold with all that snow.
    kevywevy likes this.
  11. AirJordanFan93

    AirJordanFan93 Forum Resident

    I have seen a lot of people say that OHMSS would have been better if Connery was in it. As much as I love Connery as Bond I think by that point he was so mentally checked-out that if he had done OHMSS it would have hurt the movie. For his inexperience, I think Lazenby is fine in OHMSS.
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  12. YMC4

    YMC4 Forum Resident

    SF Valley, CA.
    ego, what else ~ both Cubby & (especially) Saltzman probably thought they could do no wrong at that point. i mean...they probably thought Connery was their creation and they could repeat with anyone they choose. obviously, that wasn't the case and i'm sure Sean REALLY enjoyed when the studio begged him to come back...how sweet it must've been.

    although i would've love to have seen what Connery could've done with OHMSS, i don't know....he looked bit out of shape even on YOLT and really out of shape on DAF so...who knows.
    better question is why didn't they use Peter Hunt as director after OHMSS ?? he deserved another chance after all he had done for the franchise (editor for the 1st 5 films).
    kevywevy likes this.
  13. bostonscoots

    bostonscoots Forum Resident

    Boston, MA
    The reason Broccoli and Saltzman didn't use Peter Hunt after On Her Majesty's Secret Service was because no one - EON or United Artists - wanted to take any chances with Diamonds Are Forever. If that movie went bust, the James Bond films would have been in real trouble. Understandably, Broccoli and Saltzman looked back at what worked before - particularly Goldfinger - and did whatever was needed to make it work again. So...Guy Hamilton was back, Ken Adam was back, and most importantly, Sean Connery was back. Other actors were considered - Burt Reynolds, for example - and one even signed (John Gavin) but United Artists wanted Connery and gave Broccoli and Saltzman a million dollars (a then-record salary) to go get him.

    Creatively, the results were mixed - I reviewed the movie in an earlier post - but the film was a smash and worth whatever crow Broccoli and Saltzman ate to bring Connery back.

    Had Connery done On Her Majesty's Secret Service, I'm not convinced it would have resulted in a better movie. Connery was under contract for one more 007 movie after You Only Live Twice - had the producers held him to the deal, Connery probably would have given an even less inspired performance as Bond than that movie and made life miserable for anyone within earshot. The film itself might not have been so faithful to Fleming's novel and instead constructed as another crowd pleasing epic full of gadgets, girls, and giant sets. A new actor filling the role is what triggered the near-strict adherence to the novel - right down to the uncharacteristically downbeat ending.

    Why Lazenby? Broccoli and Saltzman came out of Old Hollywood - where actors were recruited simply because they looked good, not because they killed it on Broadway or in independent films. Connery himself was a relative unknown and a risky choice for Dr. No - the studio was pushing for name actors like Cary Grant and James Mason to be Bond ("What? You want the guy singing in Darby O' Gill and the Little People and not Captain Nemo?"). For On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Broccoli and Saltzman chose another unknown, thinking their good luck and judgement would again prove successful.

    ...and had Lazenby not fired his Walther PPK into his foot, they would have made more James Bond movies with him. The plan was to open Lazenby's follow up - Diamonds Are Forever - with post-wedding murder of Tracy. Instead, the reinstated Sean Connery briskly wraps up the loose end of revenge in the teaser and we're on to business as usual as if nothing ever really happened. Hell, Miss Moneypenny even asks the recently widowed Bond to bring her a diamond engagement from Amsterdam. How's that for not scratching the surface too deeply?

    Post-Connery, the Bond movies never went with an unknown actor again. Roger Moore was chosen for Live And Let Die because he was an experienced actor (Moore could handle the pressure from the press and the public) and a relatively known name to international audiences. Tellingly, it wasn't until his third outing as Bond - The Spy Who Loved Me - that audiences fully accepted Moore as James Bond (and by that I mean showing up in droves to see the movie).

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  14. Spaghettiows

    Spaghettiows Forum Resident

    Silver Creek, NY
    I think that there is one factor needs to be considered regarding whether or not OHMSS would have been better-received if Connery had starred. The original plan was to film and release OHMSS as the follow-up to Thunderball. For several reasons, the producers changed course and instead chose You Only Live Twice, which while enjoyable, really did not expand on or progress the character of James Bond. Connery really wasn't given a challenge as an actor so he phoned it in and went home.

    However, if Connery had starred in OHMSS instead of YOLT in 1967, I think he would have been more engaged with the material, which would have required a more nuanced performance, especially at the end. I believe this would have very likely resulted in not only the best Bond film, but the best Sean Connery Bond film, and it would have been considered as such from day one. In fact, it is quite possible that Connery wouldn't have completely soured on the role as quickly as he did.
    YMC4 likes this.
  15. a customer

    a customer Forum Resident

    Elizabeth Taylor received 1 million bucks in 1963 for Cleopatra I believe. Sean Connery did a good acting job in YOLT. I do not believe he phoned it in. The book has no spaceships. The Roger Moore movies should all be remade.
    I have reread the books in order not really interested in most of the bond movies as much .
  16. bostonscoots

    bostonscoots Forum Resident

    Boston, MA
    Connery's frustrations weren't about the role, but rather the drawn out shooting schedules of the Bond movies (which meant he couldn't schedule other projects until filming was absolutely finished) and his not being paid what he felt he was worth. Broccoli and Saltzman renegotiated their deals with United Artists several times over - but not Connery's. That set Connery off and his relationship with the producers fell apart - particularly with Harry Saltzman, whom Connery wanted banned from the set of YOLT. I don't believe filming OHMSS first would have alleviated this situation at all...

    Would OHMSS have been a better movie with Connery? Sure, he'd elevate the movie simply by being there, but otherwise that's a tough question (but a fun one to debate/discuss) because it assumes two things - that the producers would have made the film as it turned out to be and that Connery would have brought his A-game. One important point worth remembering is Thunderball was HUGE - and Broccoli and Saltzman's reflex was to make the next movie even BIGGER. I don't think the incentive was there to slow down the series' momentum with a modest, more down to earth thriller (albeit one with a stable of supermodels acting as unwitting biological weapons...). They would have continued to go big - and changed the story to suit the public's clear appetite for spectacle...which they did with YOLT.

    ...and by 1966 Connery was done being James Bond. Or more specifically, done being James Bond for Broccoli and Saltzman.
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  17. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Fine as it is.
    A classic !!!!
    Humbuster likes this.
  18. California Couple

    California Couple dislike us on facebook

    Newport Beach
    That blowed in the movie. How does Blow not know Bond in the Alps when he recognized him right away in the volcano?
    But they went by the book, which meant Blofeld had not met Bond yet. By doing the movies out of order they messed things up.
    Even worse, dead Blofeld is still alive and whimpy in Spectre.
  19. LC2A3

    LC2A3 Well-Known Member

    george lazenby best one until he was traded down for sean cunnery due to legal reasons from his suing of the earlier director.
  20. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Bond 25 any news ?
  21. captainsolo

    captainsolo Forum Resident

    Murfreesboro, TN
    In response to some of the above:

    YOLT is in many ways a blowing up of the Thunderball story formula which Roald Dahl was told to stick close to. His choice of the space race as an inversion of the atom bombs was inspired and of course they couldn't use Fleming's book at all outside of Japan as a location and Blofeld as a character. I think what drags Connery's performance down is that the focus is on spectacle and not Bond himself, plus Lewis Gilbert had to run the entire mammoth production and could not focus on Connery in the ways that Young and Hamilton could before him. The photography is absolutely staggering because they turned to Freddie Young I think to try and assist in the notion of going all out as a big epic showpiece and probably to deal with the stupendously huge Volcano base set. Barry's score is one for an epic film and one of the great scores period.

    I agree that Sean doing OHMSS should have been great but probably wouldn't have worked in the way one would expect. That particular story needed to be told honestly and with more of the drive and energy of the down to earth realism of the first two films that Terrence Young directed. I've long felt Peter Hunt was the secret weapon of the series and I think the film works simply because he knew every single element of what made the series work with audiences. George should have been horrible on screen and yet Hunt manages to coax a wonderfully credible performance out of a non-actor in every single scene-in what is the most emotional and hardest story for and actor to play Bond in. Plus there is an element of danger because there are no ties to the earlier film's successes and audience expectations. Binder's work on the main titles are arguably the best in the series in that they are the only ones to tell a story in both character and emotional context, and Barry's score is again perhaps his career finest.

    Up until the Brosnan era, each film knew what it was and set about doing it without outside influences despite changing times. This is what makes Goldeneye the dividing line and despite my love and adoration for them, those four films are not without their problems all of which are primarily due to outside influences and trying to match the style of modern films. This has been carried to extremes from 2006 onwards resulting in the abominations.

    But the Dalton films were magnificent, despite LTK having many setbacks. Maibaum's writing was the heart and brain of the series and I think TLD is the last truly great masterpiece we've received.
  22. BZync

    BZync Senior Member

    Los Angeles
    I’m been under the weather this weekend and did little more than lie on the couch and watch television. I made it through two of the Bond films (including commentary & special features). The first of which was Diamonds Are Forever.

    Diamonds Are Forever and Thunderball are tied for my least favorite Connery film. Both have their problems - but they are very different problems.

    First up - Connery. He is noticeably older than YOLT and not in nearly as good a shape. But, somehow, the weathered look works for the film. You trade the sleek beauty of Thunderball Bond for seasoned confidence that seems less arrogant - more earned. It helps that DAF is played more for comedy than any previous Bond film. Suits the older Bond.

    Which brings us to the tone of the film. This is the most comedic Bond film so far. Some may prefer a tongue in cheek Bond but I prefer a more serious Bond. YOLT is about as tongue in cheek as I go. DAF is silly more often than not. The commentary said that, after the poor box office of OHMSS, they went back to Goldfinger as the template for DAF. But Goldfinger, while outrageous in parts, wasn’t silly. It’s a fine line and DAF blew it.

    Which brings us to the villains. While Blofeld is the primary villain, the two henchmen get a lot of screen time. One of the two can’t act (the toothache scene is cringeworthy) and the other over acts. Homosexuality is played for laughs and it’s portrayal is pretty offensive by today’s standards. I don’t judge films too harshly for being of their time, particularly Bond films which are more reflective of their times than many, but this kind of nonsense keeps DAF from being timeless like it’s template, Goldfinger. Other villains were, oddly, a bunch of (clearly) Italians from Brooklyn that took a wrong turn off of the BQE and wound up in Vegas. Make fun of sexuality, make fun of culture. Oh how funny stupid Italians are! How funny perfume spraying homosexuals are! The Bond films begin their decline into parody.

    The teaser is very good. It sets a serious tone that virtually disappears after the credits. The strangulation of the woman on the beach is particularly brutal for Bond. On a side note, speaking of a film being of it’s time, the sight of an exposed nipple in a Bond film is pretty rare and, I thought, bold for 1971. Then again, there was a visible nipple in OHMSS - even more obvious. Yet, in a later love scene with Jill St John, you can clearly see a nipple patch. The things you notice in Hi Def.

    The credit sequence was typical but nothing special. I thought the credit sequence in YOLT was very sexy, but the ones after were a little unfocused. Love the theme song. Can’t go wrong with Shirley Bassey.

    The Bond women are nothing more than window dressing in this film. Jill St John starts off as a strong, willful woman and suddenly becomes incompetent and looking for Bond to protect and guide her. Silly and a wasted opportunity. Bambi and Thumper are fun and playfully tough, but suddenly lose their abilities when in the swimming pool, yet they both jump in confidently. There is no reason why Bond should suddenly get the upper hand (literally). Finally there’s Plenty O’Toole. Wonderful Bondian Name (as is Tiffany Case). She’s nothing but a punch line, unfortunately. That’s all of the women in the film, and none have any real impact on the plot or on Bond. They are just there to be pretty.

    There are some good set pieces. The part where Bond is buried in a utility pipe is good. The cremation scene is spectacular. The outdoor elevator sequence is fun. I noted that Connery appeared to actually do some of the stunts (like leaping off of the moving space buggy). Best was the elevator fight scene. Very cool and obviously Connery.

    As a travelogue it was a disappointment. I guess Las Vegas was exotic in 1971?

    Good to have Connery back but you’d think they could find a better vehicle for him.
  23. Never noticed the nipple in DAF and believe me I look for these things.
    DAF was the first Bond I saw and I still like it.
    alexpop likes this.
  24. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Think he was referring to OHMSS and playboy mag.
    Frederick Mars likes this.
  25. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Suing of earlier director ?

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