Hildebrandt Rarity?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

America Still Sucks...

...just not as much!

In an earlier post, I looked at how the Connery-era Bond movies seemed to take a rather dim view of the capabilities of the United States of America. We may have been the preeminent military and economic power in the world, but we were still a bunch of slack-jawed yokels when it came to the "gentleman's game" of international espionage. Despite that, American audience ate Bond up. Curious, eh?

So now, let's take an overdue look at the Moore-era treatment of the good ol' US of A. As always, the movies are rated on the Cletus scale.

Live And Let Die: Oh, my sweet heavens. Let's see if I have this straight. Apparently, every single black person in America is either working knowingly for drug dealing Mr. Big, or cowering in fear of voodoo. A whole nationwide chain of soul food restaurants is being used as a front to pedal drugs, and nobody in America knows (which doesn't exactly justify Felix Leiter's move to the DEA). Roving bands of African-American funeral processions are killing people on the streets. Diplomats are murdered at the United Nations with impunity. And the ONLY ones investigating this are the British secret service??

Meanwhile, southern cops are unrepentant racist rednecks. The U.S. (in violation of international law) has eavesdropping devices in a foreign embassy (I know, I know, they all do it...). The CIA is more concerned with the damages Bond is racking up than actually investigating anything.

At least Felix provides the explosives at the end.

Rating: 5 Cletus' (out of 5). Seriously, if Kanaga hadn't killed a couple of British agents, America would be a bunch of drug-addicted zombies controlled by organized crime...

The Man With The Golden Gun
had no direct American involvement (unless you count the teaser, in which we see the series' continuing preoccupation of showing American gangsters as old, dressing like it was 1942, and worshiping Al Capone). So we go to

The Spy Who Loved Me: Americans come off well enough here...yes, their submarine is captured, but the same happened to the Brits and the Russkies. More importantly, they're good fighters when it comes time to take over the Liparus. And the captain is a stand-up guy, giving Bond extra time so he can rescue Anya.

Rating: 1 Cletus. On of America's best showings.

Moonraker: Wow. Just like You Only Live Twice, Americans don't seem to have invented radar yet. The Moonraker shuttle is stolen--in mid flight!!--over Canada, but somehow gets all the way down to Brazil without being trackable by the Americans.

Then, they're unable to detect 6 (yes, 6) simultaneous shuttle launches from Brazil...even though the space station was shielded, the shuttles weren't. So, if the Soviets were to be launching a massive space shuttle based attack, we'd be clueless and dead. Guess we got lucky it was only a genocidal billionaire madman, and the MI-6 was there to save the day.

Mitigating factor: Holly Goodhead was actually a pretty good secret agent and astronaut (albeit portrayed by a terrible actress). The U.S. does have, ready to roll at a moment's notice, a bitchin' space special forces unit, armed with never-seen-again lasers.

Rating: 4 Cletus'

For Your Eyes Only manages to avoid any American entanglements whatsoever (unless you count stainless steel delicatessins). Which brings us up to

Octopussy: Mostly no American involvement. Yes, it was an American air force base attacked, but most people would have been fooled by this ploy, and not even a British officer would have believed a clown about a nuke.

One demerit, though: after Octopussy's circus smuggled a NUCLEAR WEAPON onto your military base, you just let her (and her circus) go?? Even if it was unknowingly, don't you hold her for a little bit of questioning?!?

Rating: 2 Cletus'.

Never Say Never Again: Interesting to see how a non-Eon production treated us. Sadly, it's not much better. Apparently, our security measures are so slipshod that international terrorist groups have the President's retina pattern. And high-ranking U.S. Air Force officers can be cajoled by heroine-dispensing dominatrixes into betraying their country.

Then again, every other nation is portrayed as being run by bureaucratic bunglers and buffoons, and thanks to M and Small-Fawcett, Britain actually comes off worse than the U.S.

On the plus side, Bernie Casey is one of the more useful Felix Leiters ever, the American troops prove quite useful, and Kim Basinger is at least not as annoying as some other American Bond girls...

Rating: 3 Cletus'

A View To A Kill: A hard one to judge. Unlike Goldfinger, it's hard to say that the U.S. government should have seen this one coming.

Then again, an American (state) official is shown being bribed into allowing Zorin to pump sea water into fault lines, which he knows to be dangerous; American cops are shown as bumbling and stupid; and the head of the KGB can apparently drive around unwatched or followed, picking up nearly naked Russian spies in the street.

And then there's Stacy Sutton...shudder...

Rating: 3 Cletus'.

So, without doing math, I'd say that in general, America came off better during the Moore era. Part of that was the movies shifting to even more international locales, and seemingly a growing sense of confidence that American audiences would accept Bond without having to have an American along to hold his hand (hence, Felix Leiter being written out of the Eon series for 14 years).

And when America was involved, we often came off better than in the 60's.

But LALD? Man, that one set back Anglo-American relations decades...


  1. I love that bit in AVTAK where Gogol picks up the Russian agent in the streets of San Francisco only to see that she had the wrong tape. Let's not forget he held a super-secret meeting with Max Zorin IN THE MIDDLE OF A HUGE HORSE TRACK COURSE IN PLAIN DAYTIME.

    Perhaps we Bond fans need to look back and note how the Soviets are portrayed in Bond films?

  2. "Roger Moore's James Bond Diary" said that the state and local police in Louisiana were friendly and cooperative during the filming of LALD, and they did not complain about the stereotypical redneck sheriff in the movie. Moore said that he doubted if the London Metropolitan Police would have been such good sports.