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Friday, August 8, 2008

The Spy Who Loved Me

#10Let Bond be Bond.

Really, it was as simple as that.

After The Man With the Golden Gun, the Bond franchise was in trouble. After the box office ticked upwards for Sean Connery's return in Diamonds Are Forever, the first two Roger Moore movies had seen consecutive box office declines, and generally poor critical receptions. I have nothing to back this up with, but I have no doubt if the next Bond movie didn't show substantial improvement at the box office, Roger Moore would have been cast aside as a failure.

Furthermore, Bondmania was long over, and even the imitators and spoofs had folded up their tents and gone home. The Kevin McClory legal wranglings had raised their ugly head, which resulted in the longest ever break between Bond movies. Harry Saltzman had left the production team, so suddenly Cubby Broccoli was alone. And it became fashionable to question whether or not, in a time of detente, a spy series was relevant. And when cinema was moving towards more realism, whether or not massive spectacles were still viable or desirable.

So there was a lot at stake in making the 10th Eon Bond movie. Attempts to make the series "relevant" (with drugs, or the energy crisis) and cash in on other genres (blaxploitation, kung fu movies) had not proven successful. What to do?

It was simple, really...Let Bond be Bond. Or, as Bond said at the end of Tomorrow Never Dies, "Give the public what they want." Don't try to reinvent the wheel...don't try to stuff Bond's square peg into some other genre's round hole. Commit to the over-the-top secret agent fantasy. Bring back Ken Adam and have him give us mind-boggling sets. Give us exotic cars, not AMC Hornets. We can have fun and wink at ourselves, but the movie must take itself seriously at some level.

And it worked brilliantly. The Spy Who Loved Me more than doubled the box office of TMWTGG. It was also a massive critical success. More importantly, just as the cinema was beginning to shift towards blockbusters and events, TSWLM put Bond back on the map, put the name James Bond back on everyone's lips, and re-inserted Bond back into the cultural consciousness. For an entire generation of Bond fans, this movie defined what the franchise was about.

And I'm here to tell you that it is the most overrated Bond movie ever. (editor's note--Sorry. folks, I tried to stop him...)

That doesn't mean that it's not good--hell, it's really good. But something can be good and still be overrated. Fans and critics of a certain age, by a huge majority, will tell you that this is the best Bond movie. Whenever they talk about a more recent Bond movie, or villain, or gadget, they will invariably phrase it as "the best XX since The Spy Who Loved Me." Check it out...go look at how many Casino Royale (2006) reviews used that phrase in one form or another.

And I'm here to tell you that, not only is TSWLM not the best Bond movie, it's not even the best Roger Moore Bond movie (editor's note--again, sorry, readers...I think he's off his meds today).

One of the first problems Broccoli faced was that he had a Fleming title, but not a Fleming story, to work with, and nobody had any idea what the hell the movie was even going to be about.

Why? Because The Spy Who Loved Me was the one Bond novel Eon was not allowed to the content of...they could use only the title. Why? Because Ian Fleming so hated the novel, he had that stipulated in the deal when he sold the rights--that only the title, and none of the prose from that book could be used!! He so hated the book, he prevented in from being published in paperback in the U.K.

Why? Because TSWLM the book ISN'T a Bond book...it's a romance novel that guest stars James Bond for a few chapters. Seriously. It's told first-person perspective by Vivienne Michel, a young woman who ends up managing a hotel in the Adirondacks. After reminiscing about her past loves, two gangsters (Horror and Sluggsy--really!) show up to burn down the hotel and kill her (and worse). James Bond doesn't show up until 10 chapters in. Thanks to a convenient flat tire, he shows up at the hotel, offs the gangsters, does the nasty with Viv, and leaves by chapter 15, and we watch as Viv deals with the aftermath and pines for the spy who loved her. If you ever get around to reading this book, I promise you that it's even more of a romance novel than I've made it sound like.

So the decision to announce at the end of TMWTGG that TSWLM was coming next was odd, given that there were other titles available that afforded at least some Fleming content to be adapted. Now, for the first time, they would have to make a 100% original Bond movie, with no characters or plot from the books to draw upon--which could only have added to the pressure of having to salvage the franchise.

Although the screenplay is credited to Roger Maibaum and Christopher Wood, at least 8 different writers toiled on prospective screenplays through at least 15 drafts, including comic book writer Cary Bates, John Landis (!), and Anthony Burgess (!!). Ideas from almost all of those versions ended up in Maibaum's scripts. When Guy Hamilton left because he thought he was going to get to direct Superman The Movie, Lewis Gilbert came on board to direct and brought along Christopher Wood to tie everything together.

S.P.E.C.T.R.E. was to be the villain again (with or without Blofeld, depending on which version of the script you're looking at), but just before production was to begin Kevin McClory tried to get an injunction halting the film, claiming he owned S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and Blofeld. Not wishing a lengthy legal battle, Broccoli punted, having Wood remove all S.P.E.C.T.R.E references. All of this wrangling and re-writing was to have an impact on the movie, the result being a weak, generic and underdeveloped villain in a plot that is largely a remake of You Only Live Twice.

Before we go too much further, I did promise you folks some actual frontal nudity, and it's right here in the teaser, 1 minute and 15 seconds into the movie...just on the sailors right...

Don't ask, don't tell?Holy schnikes!! A closer look ( but blurrier, though):

Lots of boobageLadies and gentleman, the first and only fully bare breasts in Bond history. I never noticed this until the first DVD's came out. Obviously the set designer wanted to make the submarine authentic, with nude pin-ups and everything. Did Gilbert not notice when shooting, or not care? Did Broccoli notice? Given that back in those days bare breasts were pretty much an automatic R from the MPAA, it's a good thing that no one noticed...

Back to the teaser. The first half of the teaser, the taking of the British submarine, plays out virtually identically to the teaser from YOLT (albeit much better filmed), when an American spacecraft is captured by forces unknown. And thus we've begun the reincarnation of that movie's plot: ships (space or sea) from the superpowers are captured by a larger ship that swallows them. The reason: to cause a nuclear war. In YOLT, the Chinese want to eliminate the other superpowers and rule what remains of the world; in TSWLM it's Stromberg who wants to eliminate the surface would which he deems corrupt, so he can begin his undersea kingdom. So right off the bat, we get low marks for originality, as the best that all those writers and drafts could come up with was repeating the Bond movie of a decade ago.

Ahh, but the rest of the teaser...that's what everyone remembers. The summoning of Agent XXX. And after this bit:

She's the spy...he's the beefcake..it's a wacky switcharoo!!...all of us sexist bastards in 1977 assumed that XXX was the man. OK, no we didn't...after all, the title and all the publicity had already given up that game. Still, for you young 'uns, this was considered fairly shocking stuff back then.

Then we get the Log Cabin Girl, and perhaps the most iconic "Oh, James" in the entire series. And the printing watch, which is pretty silly (if you have a watch that can receive a radio signal and print out a message, why not just have it scroll on the watch face, instead using an ersatz label maker, which can't have a lot of capacity?), but a good gag nonetheless. Then we get a nice little ski chase, which they don't overdo. Well shot, exciting arrangement of the James Bond theme by Marvin Hamlisch. It is marred a bit, though, by the fact that we (meaning I) don't get initially that it's Barsov, Anya's boyfriend, who is pursuing Bond. When we saw him before, he was naked...now we see him with his body and head covered and, frankly, his face just wasn't that memorable. Even now, on my 526th viewing, in his ski outfit he really doesn't look like he did when he was with Anya. There's also the problem of context--it's less than two minutes of screen time later, and there's been no indication that time has passed, so it doesn't compute in our heads that he's made a journey to Austria in that time. Seriously, the first time I saw this, I had no idea they were the same guy. Better writing/editing direction should have been able to avoid this confusion...or maybe I was just stupid...

Hmmm, so much for plausible deniabilityThis all leads, of course, to the Asgard jump, which is so good and so impressive that it's justifiable to call it the greatest Bond stunt ever. Compare the execution with the Barrel Roll jump in TMWTGG. With the car jump, the movie calls a lot of attention to the stunt beforehand, telegraphing it clumsily. They use slow motion and a stupid slide whistle to call attention to how cool it is. And they use J W. Pepper afterwards to loudly proclaim how cool it was. Not so the Asgard jump. You don't see it coming ahead of time...the cliff is just suddenly there. The score falls silent, letting the stunt itself take main stage. And Bond himself treats it nonchalantly, without self-congratulation or whoopin' about how cool that was. And like any good set piece, the audience is so enthralled and enraptured they don't have time to ask delicate questions (would someone trying to be a secret agent really emblazon their parachute with their country's flag? So much for covert...And where, exactly, does Bond land? And his skis are gone...how does he get out of the mountains? On foot?).

We then proceed to the perfect combination of song and credit sequence. Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" is one of those songs that has become part of the culture, and is so ubiquitous that you tend to forget how good it actually is until you take the time to really listen to it. And Maurice Binder gives us what is probably his best title sequence, that works well in unison with the song. With the 1976 Montreal Olympics having thrust gymnastics back into the American consciousness, the acrobatic women swinging around the guns seemed to hit a real chord.

Then, after a couple of meetings, we're off to Egypt. And while the filmmakers have obviously used exotic locales to good effect before, they use the living hell out of Egypt, and to great effect. The desert, Cairo, the pyramids, the temples...all make for awesome and memorable set pieces. Jaws' murder of Fekkesh at the pyramid show, with the use of light and sound, is one of the best scenes in all of Bond--almost Orson Wellsian! The atmosphere, the jousting between 007 and XXX, lots of good spy work in tracking down the microfilm...all very enjoyable. Not perfect, mind you...the fight with Jaws trying to destroy the van was a little too cartoonish. Hamlisch is a little too eager to put in goofy music or sample other movies' music as a joke (a habit that would continue through the rest of the Moore movies). And we'll deal with Stromberg in a bit. But overall, 55 minutes in, this movie IS on a pace to be at least the best Moore Bond.

But then the gaps in the patchwork script start to show through. That's not to say the movie becomes bad. But there are definite some valleys of mediocrity popping up in amidst the thinning peaks of quality. For example, after they leave Cairo, Bond and Anya take the train. Now, what route, exactly, are they taking from Cairo to Sardinia that requires an overnight train trip?? Especially when their mission--to locate missing submarines and nuclear missiles--seems a little urgent for such a leisurely mode of transport. So why? My best guess is, they just wanted to have (yet another) train compartment fight. Maybe it made more sense in one of the earlier versions of the script, but as is it just comes across as another attempt to recapture "Bond's Greatest Hits." The fight with Jaws is nice, but it's not substantially any better than the fight with Tee Hee in LALD, and we're already starting to over rely on Jaws to keep interest up.

Then, Bond and Anya go to visit Stromberg at Atlantis, his wonderful sea city. For some reason, they pose as a marine biologist and his wife. This ruse results in a short meeting between Bond and Stromberg, and nothing is accomplished. Bond doesn't find any clues, gets no guilty admissions from Stromberg. 007 does nothing clever or heroic or secret agenty, and Stromberg does nothing particularly menacing. I've had more tense meetings with my mailman. Anya spends the time taking a tour of the facility, off screen. How pointless was this meeting? The only clue they obtain is looking at the publicly displayed model of Stromberg's tanker, the Liparus! That's right, if Stromberg doesn't have that model sitting on a pedestal in plain sight, our intrepid spies are at a complete dead end. Rather than their investigation turning up anything, the clue is shoved beneath their noses, unlike the first hour of the film.

The rest of the movie has about 10 minutes of plot to fill 55 minutes of time. They do a decent job--the action pieces are nice, the pace within each piece rarely flags--but it is noticeable that what's happening over the last half of the movie is a bit padded. Stromberg's goons try to kill Bond; Bond and Anya go on a submarine; submarine gets captured; Bond and sailors capture boat; Bond kills Stromberg and rescues Anya. Most of these pieces aren't bad, some are pretty good...but they all last longer than they should, and several end in distinct anti-climaxes.

The car chase is pretty good--after 3 straight Guy Hamilton films, it's nice to see a director who knows how to stage a vehicle chase in an exciting way. And if you're not going to drive an Astin Martin, well, a Lotus that can turn into a submarine is a pretty fair substitute. Two things slightly mar this sequence, though...having Jaws walk away unscratched from the fatal car crash simply adds to the cartoonishness of the character; and too long is spent having bystanders gawk at the Lotus as it drives onto the beach. Yes, it's cool--but do we really need two reaction shots each from the guy drinking win,e the kid, THE DOG?!?! Too self-indulgent, too much calling attention to how cool the filmmakers thought they were (although nowhere as near as bad as Moonraker would get).

If it's a Lewis Gilbert directed film with a massive Ken Adam set, you know we're going to have an overlong battle at the film's climax. So as it was in YOLT, so as it is in TSWLM. On the plus side, this one is better filmed and more exciting than the battle in YOLT. However, this one is egregiously overlong--the entire battle, up to the sinking of the Liparus, lasts nearly 20 minutes. That's a long time for any set piece, even a good one. (Aside: a number of people, including myself from time to time, have complained about the finale of Tomorrow Never Dies being "too Rambo," too much machine gunning and action movie as opposed to Bond movie. Well, if true, what does that say about this movie?).

And it ends in the most enormous anti-climax possible. Bond defeats the threat--by pushing some buttons on a control panel and watching icons on a screen. Oh, and they give us some stock footage of missiles and nuclear explosions, too. Very emotionally unsatisfying. 007 might as well have been playing a video game.

The rescue of Anya features the fairly unmemorable death of Stromberg, and (yet another...sigh) battle with Jaws, who is now deflecting bullets with his teeth. All in all, a fairly mediocre ending, until the memorable escape pod recovery, and the greatest line in Bond history, "Keeping the British end up, sir." (editor's note--every week you say some line is "the greatest line in Bond history." snell reply--Sue me, I'm fickle).

So a brilliant start, and a substantially less brilliant finish. What drags it down?

Why does everyone make a big deal about my webbed hands when they're NEVER mentioned on screen??First, there's Stromberg. A lot of the problems can be blamed on the fact that they had to make the last-minute change in villains. But this character clearly needed 2 or 3 more passes through the word processor. This was something new for Bond--someone who wasn't out for riches or power, but a megalomaniac who actually thought he has doing the world a favor, a true madman. This could have been very interesting. But, frankly, Stromberg is boring. He doesn't have a single memorable line. His motivation is completely undeveloped...his single speech about how the world is "corrupt" and needs to be replaced has no examples of how the world is bad, no clues about how his undersea world would be better, nothing besides a bare thesis statement--it's the Cliff's Notes version of a Bond villain!! (Not to mention, of course, that his complaint about the corruption and decadence of the surface world is belied by the opulence of his quarters and dining hall...).

None of this is helped by Curt Jurgens' lethargic performance. He didn't have a lot to work with, true, but there's not a shred of charisma is his Stromberg, not a sign of the leadership qualities that would get people to follow such a madman. There's nothing there for the audience to latch on to, to like (as they should at least secretly admire something about most Bond villians) or hate. There's absolutely no chemistry between him and Bond, so the three scenes they have together are flat and lifeless. Stromberg is probably the worst villain in a top-tier Bond film.

Octopus' Garden is my favorite song...And then there's Anya. It is popular to declare that she was "something new," the "first liberated Bond girl," the first to be "Bond's equal." Seriously, even devoted Bond fans who should know better act as if Anya Amasova is the first competent women to ever appear in a Bond film. Allow me to quote, as just one example, Stephen Jay Rubin from the excellent The Complete James Bond Encyclopedia:
Beginning with Major Amasova in The Spy Who Loved Me, the Bond flimmakers began to give the women in 007's life a stronger dose of reality. The chauvinistic approach to the breathless, bosomy female of the 1960's was replaced with a more believable female protagonist who could defend herself and sow 007 a thing or two...

Major Amasova is, in effect, the first liberated woman in the James Bond series..
Well, pardon me, but I call poppycock on that. Aside from the fact that they try to sell us this bill of goods every decade or so (Wai Lin is a new type of Bond Girl!! Jinx is a new type of Bond Girl!!), even in 1977 this was revisionism of the rankest kind. Pussy Galore was a "breathless, bosomy female" (well, bosomy, sure, but breathless)? Aki and Kissy in YOLT were both competent secret agents, both saving Bond's life. And I sure wouldn't want to be the one to tell Tracy Bond that she was unliberated and couldn't defend herself. Even Tiffany Case was a hard-nosed and in control character, until the writers lost track of her character in the second half of the film.

And really, what does Anya do that's so impressive? Yes, she outwits Bond with the sleeping powder cigarette...that puts her even with Pussy, who knocked Bond out unexpectedly. Bond has to rescue her from the villains more than once. She lets Jaws get the drop on her while she's picking up the microfilm in a way that would embarrass a rookie cop. She breaks out one martial arts stance, but in her only fight scene she's utterly helpless. The character doesn't even get any stunts!! Bond gets to kill several people, Anya...zero (OK, maybe the guys in the mini sub she dropped the mine on...). Bond does all the heavy lifting to save the world and killing the villains, Anya is tied up for 30 of the last 35 minutes of the film. To claim that she's Bond's equal, or that she's something new even by 1977 standards, is wrong, a symptom of fond memories of people's first Bonds and a belief that what the press releases tell you is the truth. Don't get me wrong, she's not a bad character...but she's not the revelation that many people claim.

A For Your Eyes Only preview poster?And the good parts of Anya are substantially undercut by Barbara Bach. Don't get me wrong, she's verrrry beautiful, and Ringo is one very lucky man. But (editor's note--uh-oh, here it comes) she is a terrible actress. She has no ability to emote. Her laborious Russian accent hides the fact that 100% of her line readings are identical. Happy, sad, angry, vengeful, determined, uncertain...all with exactly the same tone and inflection and cadence, a flat monotone. Seriously...listen to the film without looking at the screen...see if you can figure out her emotional state is supposed to be. (I would consider the excuse that having to do a Russian accent so strained her concentration that she couldn't give anything more to her lines...but that's an explanation, not a defense, and hardly an indication that she's actually a better actress than she showed here.)

So why do people so sing her praises--aside from her beauty, that is? She get's cachet from two things. First, she had the good fortune to fall between Britt Ekland and Lois Chiles, which would make anyone look better by comparison. Secondly, she's got a good role with a HUGE pop culture significance as "the first liberated Bond girl." Well, I'm declaring that the empress has no clothes. She is awful in the role, and hurts the movie.

Wile E. CoyoteFinally, there's Jaws. Yes, he's a pretty good henchman (but again, a lot of that is because he follows Knick Knack, the lamest henchman). But they overuse him in the movie, and turn him into Tom the cat to Jerry's mouse...he's electrocuted, thrown off a high speed train, walks away from a flaming wreck that kills his companions, deflects bullets with his teeth, kills sharks, swims away from exploding sea fortresses...it's too much, too far, and drags Bond too far past the line of not-quite-realism into unbelievability. He's a better cartoon character than henchmen. That's why Bond's fight against Sandor is so much more compelling and more memorable. A fight against someone who can be hurt and killed is much better than a fight against someone who can't, because there can be an ending. Ah, well, at least Jaws won't be back in any other movies...

You like me now! You really, really like me!!As for Bond himself, another popular thing to say is that "he grew into the role of Bond" in this movie. Again, I have to be the contrarian. It IS the film in which the public accepted him as Bond. But as to his performance, I think that he was more hard-edged in LALD and TMWTGG, even though those were inferior movies. Don't get me wrong, he's perfectly fine here, and when he kills Sandor and pumps 4 rounds into a blubbery, defeated Stromberg, yeah, he's a bad-ass. But what most people see as "Moore coming into his own" is really the writers actually giving him better things to do and say. It's not like he had a chance to show his pain at the mention Tracy's death in LALD, or had a line anywhere as near as good as "keeping the British end up" in TMWTGG. It's an improvement in writing, not an improvement in acting, people.

So what do we have overall? A pretty good Bond movie, at times a VERY good Bond movie, which is especially laudable considering some of the circumstances under which it was made. But it's also a movie that's built up a huge amount of critical and cultural baggage--"the movie that saved Bond;" "the first liberated Bond girl;" "the first Bond blockbuster;"--that have caused a lot of people to overestimate (or just plain misremember) how good it really is. It didn't save the franchise (but it may have saved Moore). Even without adjusting for inflation, it still finished far behind Goldfinger and Thunderball in box office, so it was hardly the first Bond blockbuster.

So you see, a movie can be both overrated AND still good. If you remove TSWLM from the context of the hoopla, and watch it for what it actually is, you can see that it's far from perfect, and certainly not the best Bond movie. Too much is recycled, the second half is slack compared to the first, the villain is uninteresting, the girl not as good as advertised.

But it is pretty damned good, because they finally managed, for the first time under Moore, to let Bond be Bond. And now that the series had regained its footing, there's no way they could blow that momentum and screw up the next movie, is there??


**As a consequence of the ad hoc nature of the script, timeline problems abound. In the teaser, XXX and Barsov are on leave somewhere in Russia. Anya gets orders to report to HQ immediately, while Barsov has to leave for his mission in Austria. We then see Bond and Barsov in Austria, where Barsov dies. After the opening credits, we see XXX reporting to Gogol, where she is informed of her mission and of Barsov's death. Wait--Barsov had time to get to the mountains of Austria, die, and have word get back to Gogol, all before Anya even made it to Gogol in person?!? What, she took the scenic route?

Similarly, as they prepare to investigate the Liparus, we learn that Bond killed Borsov three weeks ago. Even allowing for non-precision or exaggeration (but both Bond and Anya say it was 3 weeks...), does that seem credible from what we've seen? Both were told to report immediately, both presumably went to Egypt directly. Is there any way the events we've witnessed could have taken 3 weeks?? That must have been one slooooow train to Sardinia...

**And that, of course, means Stromberg had possession of the British and Russian subs for 3 weeks. WHAT THE HELL WAS HE WAITING FOR!?!?!?! Since the Liparus never put into port during that time, and he had the flipping nuclear subs and nuclear missiles, why the frak didn't he start his own personal Armageddon 3 weeks earlier? Or two?? Why wait until Bond and Anya got closer, and closer?? Why wait for the British and Russians to team up, so they'll know you're responsible, which makes it much less likely you're plan will spark an immediate nuclear war from each side??

**You can't find good help, can you? The nimrods that Stromberg had captain his stolen subs just reset the missile coordinates for the EXACT OPPOSITE DIRECTION of their original targets, and they don't even ask a question? They never think to ask why they're firing their missiles into the middle of the ocean? They don't require a password or failsafe code for that drastic a change in their plans????

**In Dr. No, Crab Key went up in a nuclear fireball. Now, two more spots in the Atlantic have burst into mushroom clouds. Are there any open shipping lanes left in the Northern Atlantic? It must be a pretty damn radioactive ocean by now...Irony: this probably killed a lot of Stromberg's precious sea life.

**So Stromberg was going to trick the surface world into destroying themselves, while he and his droogs live happily ever after underwater. I'm not at all sure how they were going to repopulate, though...In all of Stromberg's ships and complexes, we only saw two women...his assistant, whom he killed, and Naomi, who died. Did he have a hidden cache of women hidden on Atlantis somewhere? Maybe that's why he wanted to keep Anya...

**Speaking of Naomi...va va voom. The camera likes her a lot, and the film would have been better with more Naomi and less Jaws.

Casual day at Stromberg Industries**The Iron Rule of Bond Movies--hotel clerks are hot from James:

Damn, he's sexyIs it just me, or does she get waaay to much screen time? Was she dating Lewis Gilbert?

**He's back:

Ken Adam=lots of headroomMan, you can tell a Ken Adam set from three miles away, can't you? He hasn't been with Bond since Diamonds Are Forever, and won his first Oscar for Barry Lyndon in the meantime. But that hasn't dulled his ability to do completely insane Bond sets. I mean, who in the world has an office like this?

The heating bills must be a bitchOr a nightclub like this...

Beats the hell out of the Fillet of SoulAnd if I'm a super-villain, Ken Adam is designing my underwater lair...

This set makes me so wish I was back in the 70's
I'll avoid the 'pass the salt' jokesand my escape pod.

With an escape pod this luxurious, who wants to be rescued?!?!And of course, there's the Liparus interior, so huge they had to build a a special soundstage for it, the world's largest. By the way, those sub exteriors are about 5/8 scale, while the interiors we see are about twice as big as the real thing. Ken Adam--bringing Time Lord design sense to nuclear submarines.

uhhh.....coolAnd you know what I want for Christmas:

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad worldThat globe.

**Stromberg may have been a lame villain, but he does get the unique honor of the DOUBLE BLOFELD KILL!! First, he makes the two scientists who developed his sub tracking system think that he believes one of them is the traitor...but then he (surprise) kills his unnamed assistant, instead!! Phew...then he lets them leave...and he blows up their helicopter!!! Two Blofeld Kills (with three victims) for the price of one!!

**I am puzzled, though, why he kills the scientists. They did the work for him, right? He promises to give them their $10 million each. Is he trying to save the money? (He does specifically stop the payment on the wire transfer after they're dead..but then again, the cost of that helicopter must have offset that.) Is he afraid they'll squeal, or be traced back to him? Or is it just because he's a dickweed?? No reason at all is given. It's not a mystery of Goldfinger proportions, but it is puzzling. (And what about the copter's pilot?? Hmm??)

**You know that scene where Bond and Anya pretend they're not going to have sex, and get ready, and keep waiting for the other one to come to their room? Spielberg soooo ripped that off in Temple of Doom...

**Hey, look, Bond has learned how to defuse a nuclear bomb since Goldfinger...

**Bond Score: 3. Log Cabin Girl, the Arab Beauty with the rose in Hosein's harem, and of course Anya. A number of missed opportunities, because don't think he wouldn't have gotten it on with Felicca, the hotel clerk, or Naomi if he got the chance. Cumulative Bond Score: 29.

And as always...

No, I'm sorry, that is the wrong answer!!Wait a minute...there must be a black hole or quantum tunnel, because For Your Eyes Only didn't come next...what could possibly have happened to change their minds?? DAMN YOU, STAR WARS!!!!


  1. I just found your blog, and it's great! I went back and read all your reviews, and not only are they informative and entertaining, they're almost 100% correct! Keep it up!


  2. I can't believe you made that whole post about The Spy Who Loved Me without linking to Alan Partridge reenacting the opening teaser:

    Stop getting Bond wrong!

    Also, Jaime J. Weinman's blog (from which I first found your blog) has a comparison video proving your point about Lewis Gilbert's opening sequences being absolutely identical:


  3. Snell,
    Great post as usual. I am noticing a trend though in these Bond movies, which is that more often than not, even in the weaker movies the first hour and change is decent, but for some reason afterwards the movies tend to substantially weaken (in all the ways you articulate). Is this inherent to the spy genre? (That it's easier to set up a premise and get us juiced with some cool stunts, but the actual mission/climax/way Bond wins has been poorly conceived by writers/directors?) Does any movie have the opposite pattern, where the movie gradually gets better? (I'd say OHMSS is one candidate).

  4. I like star wars

  5. darthyan: Must be pretty lonely in your niche ;-).

    Snell: Greatest Hits was exactly my reaction. Watching them in order though, it's the best Moore... YET. (So the best is what? For Your Eyes Only? Cuz it can't be the other three...)

    I was not a kid who had a lot of little cars (Hot Wheels or other). My parents got me books, comics and later, action figures. But one I did have, possibly my first, was the Lotus. It had its fins out and everything. Wish I still had that thing.

    XXX is an example of the Soviet Robot, such as also seen in the musical Silk Stockings. Our hero must melt her metal heart and make her feeeeeeel like a woman. That's me accepting a no-prize for her bad acting.

  6. Sorry If i was confusing. I wanted to know if you hated the movies as a whole or liked it but was irritated at the fact that moonraker tried to rip it off and sucked as a result

  7. I loved TSWLM, although it was overrated, in part because of the slackness at the end. It is a pretty clear top 10 Bond film, though.

  8. Your mention that the sailors' pin-ups being the only instance of explicit nudity in a Bond film immediately brought to mind another similar instance in a Bond film where I had almost been sure that there had been a glimpse of breasts.

    Namely, in OHMSS when Lazenby's Bond is leaving the office of the Swiss lawyer while admiring the torn out centerfold picture he had just stolen from the lawyer's Playboy magazine. I went back and re-watched it to make sure, and granted it's at an angle, but you do see the goods for like a split second.