Jump to content

James Bond Watchathon


Loki
 Share

Recommended Posts

So Amazon have put all the Bond movies on their service in beautiful HD, and I've decided to watch them through all in order.   Each one I get through I'll post a little summary here - people can join in and watch along, or just tell me I'm getting Bond wrong.  Actually as @Devon Malcolmhas pointed out there are two types of Bond, Serious Spy and Camp Fun so I'll try categorising them according to that criteria as well.

The first couple will be from memory so forgive me they'll be a bit hazy as I watched these last week.

 

Dr No (1962)

Dr._No_-_UK_cinema_poster.jpg?2020022808

Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Ursula Andress
Villain: Dr No
Henchmen: 3 Blind Mice
 

How Bond Is It?

As the first of the Bond movies there's a number of key things missing from the formula - no gunbarrel sequence, no pre-credits sequence to speak of.  In fact, the film opens with one of the least Bond scenes, the "Three Blind Mice" musical number.  It's also lacking Q and his gadgets, and doesn't have a main theme to speak of apart from obviously introducing the classic Barry/Norman motifs.

The character of Bond in this film is fascinating though - he's a genuine psychopath who hold no real affection for anyone and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.  Connery has this smile that he uses where nothing changes in the eyes, it's quite chilling.   Best scene for me was Bond waiting up for someone to come and try and kill him, with a whisky and a game of Solitaire.  Properly Bond.

We get SPECTRE introduced as the big bad here so plenty of foreshadowing but obviously no callbacks yet.

I'd rate this 6/10 and classify it as a full Serious Spy outing.

Women Bedded

A slowish start in this movie - he beds Sylvia Trench early doors after the casino, quite ruthlessly shags a relucant Miss Taro who's a Dr No spy, and obviously beds Honey Ryder near the end.  It has to be said Ursula Andress is a truly terrible actress - Connery often seems to be simply ignoring her and acting with someone just to the side of her as she's so wooden.  
 

Women Hurt

Not the full Bond experience here yet either, we've got a lady photographer strong armed and Miss Taro gets manhandled quite a bit but no actual murders.
 

Minorities Killed

This being the Caribbean we get started nicely here - the 3 Blind Mice get bumped off (burnt to death in a car) and hapless sidekick Quarrel gets too close to a flamethrower and is also incinerated to absolutely no reaction from Bond.
 

Accommodation?

One thing I've noticed in the first few films is how much screen time is devoted to Bond checking into and using his hotel rooms - there's usually a scene at reception, then he sweeps for bugs and often takes a shower. The writers must have spent a lot of time on the road.  So I'll keep a track of this as we go forward.  A large classic suite here with ensuite bathroom - and a valet to mix him a martini which is a bonus.  No sweep for bugs but Bond fixes the room so he can tell if someone looks through his things which is a nice touch.  Some light flirting with the receptionist.  There's also a classic scene where they try to kill him in his hotel room with a tarantula.  

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

From Russia With Love (1963)

From_Russia_with_Love_%E2%80%93_UK_cinem

Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Daniela Bianchi
Villain: Blofeld/Rosa Klebb
Henchmen: Donald Grant

How Bond Is It?

We are absolutely up and running now.  Gunbarrel sequence, a lavish pre-credits where Bond appears to die and the full jiggly ladies in the title sequence.  We are also gifted my personal favourite baddie, in the form of Robert Shaw.  He's very cleverly written to put a mirror up to Bond - he's superficially suave but is actually a gorilla in a suit, trained to pass in polite company whilst murdering without compassion.  The two of them dance around each other most of the movie without meeting, and their fight in the train is one of the best fights in Bond history.  Red chianti with fish though, tut tut Shaw.

We've also got gadgets - Grant's watch garotte and Bond's attaché suitcase full of knives, stun gas and gold sovereigns.

The plot is actually one of the best in the series.  You've got a three-way dance between MI6, SMERSH and Spectre where the viewer knows exactly who is working for whom, but Bond doesn't.  It's also beautifully shot on location in Istanbul and has the memorable sidekick Ali Kerim Bey who out womanises Bond even.  Best scene for me is where Robert Shaw is eavesdropping on Bond, and you can just see his reflection in the window of the train.

Apart from Sylvia Trench, no callbacks really here though Bond's still got the Walther PPK from the first film.


Women Bedded

Sylvia Trench returns for some messing around in boats at the start.  Then we have the clever double seduction with Tatiana Romanova.  And we've also got Bond scoring handsomely with two Gypsy girls at the same time, which ups the ante somewhat.  
 

Women Hurt

There's a major Will Smith style slap to poor old Romanova when Bond realises he's been double-double crossed.  The two gypsy girls get into a vicious fight but they make up later so we'll let this one slide.  And of course Rosa Klebb takes a bullet to the back courtesy of Romanova although you know Bond was itching to do it himself.

Minorities Killed

Somewhat hampered by the European setting here so not many exotic kills, but there's an absolute ton of gypsies and Bulgarians shot, stabbed and strangled to make up for it. 
 

Accommodation?

Hard to top this film - you've got Bond's boutique hotel in the centre of Istanbul - and not only does he sweep the whole place for bugs (to a huge dramatic score) but he demands an upgrade to the honeymoon suite!  His company card takes a roasting in this film.  The suite is suitably palatial, and Bond takes time to draw a nice bath.  I cannot imagine modern films spending time on this sort of thing.  Security is a bit lacking though as Romanova breaks in easily, and she's not a spy.

Bond also spends a night at the gypsy camp in a lovely tent which comes with in-house escorts and a clothing repair service. 

Finally the double berth in the train, and how luxurious does train travel look in the 60s, with dining car with extensive wine cellar.


Overall

For me, the definitive Bond, sorry Devon.  Yes it's missing the humour of the later Moore outings and the bad guys aren't very over the top, but you've got all the glamour and exotic travel that typifies Bond.

I'm going to rate this 10/10 on the Bond scale, and this is very much still Serious Spy.

Edited by Loki
Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 minutes ago, DavidB6937 said:

I had noticed yesterday that they're now appearing in the titles disappearing in the next 30 days section. Just in case you didn't know ūüôā

Well fuck, they were only added last month!  I'll see how many I can get through.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
40 minutes ago, Loki said:

For me, the definitive Bond...

The start of the best run of Bonds.  No other Bond has a three film run as good as From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, and Thunderball.

44 minutes ago, Loki said:

Then we have the clever double seduction with Tatiana Romanova.

Daniela Bianchi with a dubbed Eastern European accent remains ridiculously sexy.  I think the only reason she's rarely mentioned in loveliest Bond Girl lists is the lack of name recognition outside of Bond.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Paid Members
2 hours ago, Loki said:

.

 

Dr No (1962)

Dr._No_-_UK_cinema_poster.jpg?2020022808

Accommodation?

One thing I've noticed in the first few films is how much screen time is devoted to Bond checking into and using his hotel rooms - there's usually a scene at reception, then he sweeps for bugs and often takes a shower. The writers must have spent a lot of time on the road.  So I'll keep a track of this as we go forward.  A large classic suite here with ensuite bathroom - and a valet to mix him a martini which is a bonus.  No sweep for bugs but Bond fixes the room so he can tell if someone looks through his things which is a nice touch.  Some light flirting with the receptionist.  There's also a classic scene where they try to kill him in his hotel room with a tarantula.  

 

This was mentioned on a podcast I listened to not so long ago (possibly the book cheat episode on From Russia with love) and there's an obvious reason for it.. People never used to go on holiday abroad. The idea of foreign hotels and travel was just as fantastic as the spy stuff to working class Brits at the time. They probably could have filled 30 min with him just going through the complimentary toiletries and describing the smell and it would have had them on the edge of their seats. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I’m a sucker for the sort of crazy services you get in large or old fashioned hotels.  There was one down in Devon that had a barbers, a jewellers and a full laundry service.  Bond would never have checked out!

 The movies are definitely travelogues.  Bond did all the sights in Istanbul - Hagia Sophia, Galata Tower, Blue Mosque, Justinian Cistern.

The other thing I’m noticing is the tailoring.  His little luggage can hold about half a dozen 3 piece suits, pyjamas, shorts, plus black spy costume.  Some of his suits are incredible.

 Goldfinger next - Bond discovers private jets!

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I always love the scene where Bond returns home to find Sylvia Trench has broken in. Hope he didn't have any secret documents lying around.

Supposedly she was going to be around for a few more films with the idea that her and Bond could never have a relationship because he'd have to keep going off on missions. In the end she had a clash of dates and couldn't make the next film and they forgot all about her. I do wonder whether they'd have eventually revealed her to be a spy as well. 

It's interesting looking back at Doctor No and comparing it to the Bond formula because they absolutely nail the stakes from the very first film. Dumping the plot about bird droppings in favour of rockets and nuclear reactors really sets the whole film franchise in motion. 

It's also quite fascinating how Connery becomes the quintessential James Bond, even to Fleming. He's not the Bond that Fleming had written up until that point but even Fleming is so taken with the performance that he changes the literary Bond. I do wonder if his Scottishness makes the joke, and some of the critics at the time did recognise that the idea of a British super spy saving the world was a joke (far more than I think the people involved in making the Craig films did), more palatable. But either way, Connery and Terence Young create the movie Bond from the very first film. I'm not sure Young ever really gets enough credit for that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Posted (edited)

Goldfinger (1964)

Goldfinger_-_UK_cinema_poster.jpg

Bond: Sean Connery
Bond Girl: Honor Blackman
Villain: Auric Goldfinger
Henchmen: Oddjob

How Bond Is It?

As Bond as it gets.  A bad guy with nominative determinism, a henchman with equally silly name, gadgets, quips... the whole Bond formula is now here.

This appears to be the highest rated Bond of all time on places like Rotten Tomatoes, and you can see why.  Bond jet-sets around the world, kills people, drives fast cars, drinks, and the bad guys are properly scenery-chewing and cartoonish.

Oddjob is a top-drawer henchman, the first in a number of mute aide-de-camps who Bond has to deal with.  Goldfinger himself I found a bit disappointing this time round - they hint that he's British but clearly he's German, and his plan is a slightly underwhelming one to cripple the financial markets.  He does have the right combination of megalomania and unnecessary interior design though - in one memorable scene he gathers all the C-movie hoodlums he can, shows them his evil plan with a bewilderingly expensive unfolding secret display, and then kills them all, which does beg the question "why did he bother with all the plan revealing?"

We have some foreshadowing of later Bond obsessions - ice skating and european winter sports. Felix Leiter is back from Dr No looking, well, different.  There's also a neat callback to the last film, when Bond is captured he asks for his attaché case (presumably to access hidden weapons) and is told it was "damaged during investigation" which also suggests someone got a talcum powder to the face offscreen.

New gadgets aplenty though, with our first visit to Q Division and its flamethrowers, bullet vests and other futuristic nonsense.  Bond gets a new car here, the classic Aston Martin BD5, filled with toys, as well as two tracking devices.

An absolute highlight of this film is the music score - one of the best of the series and oddly familiar to fans of late-nineties band Sneaker Pimps, who sampled it extensively on their debut album "Becoming X".  Dangerous to cross Eon with copyright infringement but they got away with it.

 Bond himself is softened a bit around the edges - less ruthless killer, a touch more compassion and he starts his trick of getting captured by the baddies and taken to the lair, saving M some airfare but otherwise looking a bit less super-spy.  The quips and one-liners are very deliberate now, but they always sit uneasily in Connery's Bond - Moore is a lot better at the comedy.  

Bert Kwouk makes an appearance but disappointingly doesn't attack James from behind a door.


Women Bedded

Full libido mode engaged - he's been shagging local South American girl Bonita in the pre-credits, has clearly been getting his leg over his Miami masseuse Dink, moves very quickly onto soon-to-be-gold Jill Masterson, and of course un-lesbians Pussy Galore in the stables at the appropriate stud farm.  Dink is also the girl in the poster and the opening credits.

Women Hurt

Bonita takes a solid punch to the face, Dink gets a friendly 60s slap on the arse, and then we're into classic Bond territory with Jill Masterson dead from asphyxiation, her sister Tilly dead by broken neck, and we should probably talk about how Bond basically rapes Pussy Galore.  No does not mean no for Bond.

Minorities Killed

I might rename this Minorities Roasted, as we're back to fiery deaths.  A car full of (I think they are meant to be) Koreans gets burnt up in a fiery plunge, and of course poor Oddjob is electrocuted - his death cleverly foreshadowed by an assassin in the pre-credits getting zapped in the bath, which is actually where Bond delivers the "shocking" quip.
 

Accommodation?

Highs and lows here.  On the one hand, two wonderfully luxurious private planes, Goldfinger's and the US President's, with leggy girls delivering drinks and a nice en-suite.  On the other hand, Bond's South American hotel is positively dingy though the bathtub comes with pre-installed naked girl.  And Goldfinger's accomodation is a straight up prison cell.  Still, his Miami vacation suite looks nice and the room service look delicious too.

I forgot to mention in Dr No the undersea hotel with carpeted walls and views of the ocean!

Whilst it's not technically accommodation we do get a long scene on a private golf course - again a luxury that the average punter wouldn't have been able to afford at the time.  

Overall

An excellent film although the locations weren't really as glamorous for me, and Goldfinger is no Blofeld.  I have a theory that Bond doesn't work as well when he visits the US, it's too easy for the Pinewood-based filmmakers to get it all a bit wrong.  Felix Leiter spends most of the film in a KFC though, which is a nice detail.

I'm going to rate this 9/10 on the Bond scale, and this is probably still Serious Spy, although the cracks are starting to appear.

Edited by Loki
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...