Last Bond movie you watched.

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  • StrangewaysStrangeways London, UKPosts: 1,468MI6 Agent

    MOONRAKER

    I always think of this as a sequel to TSWLM. I love em both 😎

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,698MI6 Agent

    Definitely great fun. I see MR as another take on the same formula that TSWLM inherited from YOLT, rather than as a sequel, as such; TSWLM and MR do sit next to each other as a closely related pair.


    @Napoleon Plural Some say it's not actually a dummy but Moore himself in that pose in the pre-credits, perhaps plausible as it might have been hard to get a true waxwork likeness.


    I think Moore is playing the mannequin in the PTS of TMWTGG. The Al Capone mannequin is definitely played by an actor - he blinks! - so it's reasonable to assume that Moore plays his own mannequin too. Moore's face has been given an application of waxy make-up (perhaps recalling Connery as the dummy Bond in the PTS of FRWL), but the facial detail looks 'real person', not fake. As Moore tries to hold his pose he can be seen wobbling slightly in the long shot during the dialogue between Scaramanga and Nick Nack. ("I'll get you yet! And I'll enjoy everything you leave me!") But of course, the shot-to-bits fingers are fake!

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,047MI6 Agent

    I watched NTTD last night on DVD, my third visit. My thoughts are in the NTTD thread.

  • CoolHandBondCoolHandBond Mactan IslandPosts: 4,748MI6 Agent

    GOLDFINGER. Often quoted as the best Bond of all, and it’s difficult to deny that assessment, although OHMSS is my favourite, this third entry in the series has Sean effortlessly portraying the spy we have all come to love. There are so many classic scenes: The PTS, the titles, Miami sequence, M’s office and the dinner briefing, the golf match, the laser scene etc etc etc., it all blends into one luxurious mixture of sixties fun and excitement. The casting is superb, as all the early Bonds were, it’s impossible to think of anyone who could better Frobe and Sakata, and although Blackman and Eaton could be replaced, I’m not sure they could have been bettered. The Leiter casting was the only poor decision, he was patently too old for the role. Guy Hamilton directs with a smooth, light touch, and Barry’s score is magnificent and Shirley belts out the classic song.

    I can still remember seeing this as an eight year old, in a pitch black cinema, through a haze of cigarette smoke, and being captivated by the sheer magnificence of it all. Those first 6 movies of the 60’s are something very special, and the spectacle and excitement of it all can never be replicated, but you had to have lived through it to understand the majesty of it all, it’s difficult for those who were not born at that time to understand, but it’s certainly one saving grace of being old now.

    Yeah, well, sometimes nothin' can be a real cool hand.
  • JoshuaJoshua Posts: 1,125MI6 Agent

    FRWL. I must admit that this film was not among my favourites, but I watched it a week or so ago and realised for the first time just how good it actually is. Being able to sit back and concentrate on it all the way through made all the difference and made me appreciate it for what it really is for the first time.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    There's a poetry to @CoolHandBond 's quote.

    As for FRWL, I watched Fort Apache for the first time tonight, a classic Western with Henry Fonda and John Wayne, also Shirley Temple (grown up, a decent role in a classic film, why didn't she go on the the big stuff?) plus of course the Kerim Bay actor in his younger days. If you see this film. you'll appreciate better his role as Kerim Bay.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • ichaiceichaice LondonPosts: 512MI6 Agent

    I caught the first hour of You Only Live Twice last weekend. Not one of my favourites but still a decent watch. I just might retire here was a great line.

    Yes. Considerably!
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lukey_sparrow/
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    I very much enjoyed watching Thunderball at London’s Prince Charles cinema - though to paraphrase a line from another film, ‘If that’s 4K, I’m Arnold Palmer!’ Much of it looked like it really was filmed nearly 60 years ago, aside from the final ‘reel’ from Miami onwards, where the underwater battles really were vivid and comic-book colourful, as if filmed yesterday. I have a chequered history of seeing Thunderball in Leicester Square - I caught a showing at the massive Empire many years ago and it was a bit duff, a very ratty print.

    But sitting down to watch this at the Prince Charles, well, even the blurb they have beforehand is better than your usual, slightly anodyne Odeon ‘So, sit back in your seats…’ experience, they have ads telling you not to disturb other cinemagoers, using clips from classic cult movies, Tarantino et al. Though I kind of miss the ad with the cartoon snake going across the scream, reminding you to keep an eye on your belongings.

    The seats are bit more cramped after the revamp, it’s not great for leg room. Frankly, unless you sit up near the front, it’s not quite a cinematic experience. Contrast with the BFI Imax Waterloo, where I can only tolerate the big screen if sat right at the back.

    The good thing about Bond on the big screen is that you immerse yourself for 2 hours in the world of Bond. Thunderball doesn’t always grab me on TV, it’s too samey, too plodding, but as a cinema experience you get caught up in the narrative, the actual story. You immerse yourself in the whole Thunderballness of it all. OHMSS is much the same - I don’t care to dip into it on telly, but at the cinema it’s a different experience. On TV, the episodic Bonds do better. 

    I thought I might catch a few other Bonds here as there’s a season showing, maybe even Never Say Never Again although I think that isn’t being shown. Possibly I got caught up in the moment.

    Of course, what a big-screen Bond does is show up those moments you overlook on the small screen.

    Thunderball made me feel right at home from the start. Why? Well, I’ve been meaning to get a painter in to do the French windows but they don’t do small jobs these days, and you tend to get ‘ghosted’ by decorators who show up and look around and you never hear from them again. When the widow enters Chatuea d’Arnet (I think, north of the Caspian, I mean Paris) via the French windows, my, those metal doors could do with a lick of paint. Can’t any members of Spectre nip along to the local branch of Wilko’s?

    I’ve already mentioned on another thread how mad it is that Largo should enter his Spectre meeting by simply walking past his front organisation for migrants, via swing doors and then straight past a nosily, clunking door into said meeting - no going along a corridor or down some stairs or anything. It’s a wonder someone doesn’t just stroll in by mistake, ‘Oh, sorry, I was looking for the WC…’ ‘Well, was it a number 1 or number 2 you were after?’

    But the absurdity of it would have struck one as pleasing back in the 1960s.

    (Continues...)

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent
    edited February 25

    Thunderball would be perfect for one of those watchalongs because as entertaining as it is, there are so many little quirky things that make you go 'Huh?'

    It sometimes has the look of being made on the hoof. When Largo stands up to announce his operation, walking along the catwalk to do so, the minions we see gazing up at with with awe and reverence that’s a bit OTT. Some acting is a bit off here, Pat at Shrublands is great on telly but in the movie the acting is just a bit OTT, she could dial it down by ten per cent. 

    Later, at a later Spectre meeting, one notices a brunette with specs on the left - who is she? What’s her backstory? Is she an agent - do the glasses pull of the same trick as Bond’s the pre-credits of TWINE? Or did she wander in looking for the powder room?

    In truth much of the Spectre agents - there aren’t many here - seem a motley crew, a bunch of travelling salesmen. If No Time To Die is anything to go by. Blofeld is the Sir Keir Starmer of Bond villains - his team seem to be in finer fettle with bigger membership, when he isn’t around.

    It’s the little things you notice on the big screen. Fans of 1970s sitcom Steptoe and Son should look out for the time when the fake Captain Duvall looks at the wad of cash in the envelope and decides he wants more money. The acting is pure Harry H Corbett, all frozen comedic indignation: ‘May I REMIND you father, we specifically agreed…’ Guy Doleman, who showed up in The Ipcress File the same year, channels Captain Von Trapp throughout. 

    At the casino it goes unnoticed that a female Dr Strangelove is sat alongside Largo, perhaps keeping tabs on whether nuclear destruction will again ensue.

    Fiona Volpe seems more attractive and personable on the big screen as does Claudine Auger as Domino, who seems a bit boring on telly, but at the cinema shows she is the best looking of Bond girls with fantastic legs and her acting is perfectly fine, never a duff moment really, but like Domino in the remake, the part doesn’t do an actress any favours.

    The last time Connery would look youthful as Bond, he nonetheless looks a bit rough at times, like’d been on the booze every evening. Lean in the final scenes where in unconvincingly infiltrates the Spectre frogmen - the movie becomes ludicrous at this point - at other times in Nassau one senses he’s enjoyed the local hospitality a bit too much.

    But a lot of Thunderball seems to be winging it, as if Bond is chancing his arm, stopping to drop flowers over his now dead assassin, hanging back as if deliberately to let his opponents see him escape through the wood panel door, or stealing a grape, allowing - I take it Duvall the imposter - to see him make his exit from the Shrublands room. Much of this plot doesn’t resonate - it didn’t quite figure with me that the guy in bandages is the phoney agent undergoing plastic surgery, in other words the guy who kills Domino’s brother and takes his place, the cautious movements of the bandaged guy seems nothing like him, was it the same actor under the bandages?

    Bond’s ‘seduction’ of Pat drew laughs in the cinema at the inappropriateness of it all.

    When Lippe is about to shoot Bond with a silencer for stumbling up on the bandaged corpse, who is the other assassin with the gun through the window, who Bond disables with a telephone? We’ve never seen him before. And why doesn’t Lippe just shoot him then?

    Moneypenny is great in this. But why does she raise her eyebrows suggestively when she mentions yoghurt and grapefruit juice to Bond? They’re on the phone, it’s not like he can see her. Later, in the office, there’s the case of Bond having a hat when he came in, then it isn’t as leaves - but the dialogue actually draws attention to it. Are we to infer that MI6 has a sneak thief about the premises? Or Pinewood? ‘Where’s that bloody hat, we need it now!’ ‘I don’t know, it was there half an hour ago!’ The line where Moneypenny asks Bond how he’ll recognise Domino is a feed, I mean, he’s been looking at her photo ffs… even if his response is funny.

    (Continues...)

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent
    edited February 25

    If I’m harsh on Spectre’s meet-ups, MI6 don’t do much better. The reel-to-reel tape they use is so clunky it could be from the 1940s, even my Dad’s reel-to-reel on which he taped the Beatles’ 'Maxwell Silver Hammer' and Macini’s 'Baby Elephantwalk', looked more modern than that. This does seem to be a thing with early Bonds, some of it looks way more vintage. I mean, the lecture by Colonel Smithers in Goldfinger could be him in late 30s warning of the intentions of Her Hitler. It may be deliberate, to generate a classic look and of course it makes the snazzy Aston Martin DB5 seem even more modish. 

    At the meeting you notice more on the big screen an unhappy looking bloke with bad hair, a bit like Eric Blore in Top Hat, who seems to have not a line of dialogue but whose job is to just look unhappy and distraught at Blofeld’s plans. He reminds me of Kenneth Griffiths as the unhappy older relative sitting through Hugh Grant’s speech in Four Weddings. I guess all these scenes cold have been filmed in one day.

    Now, all this is supremely entertaining stuff, but not always for the reasons one envisaged. It still has that happy 1960s vibe, all the thing that’s missing is the Pa-pa-pa-pa-pa advert at the beginning, or the Anytime Anyplace Anywhere Martini ad.

    Would the Vulcan really have the range to fly out to the Bahamas? I’d have to look at that map again. The size of a house and shown for all of 10 seconds.

    Visually, it picks up in the Bahamas but narratively, it’s okay, not hugely interesting. Again, the Spectre agents seem a bit rubbish aside from Fiona. A bit Bernard Cribbins. You notice there’s a sadistic streak to Thunderball - Vargos we see is smiling as he drops grenades into the sea to kill Bond, so that’s his vice. If Paula hadn’t taken her suicide pill she’d have been saved by Bond - sad. Pity she didn’t do as cowardly Bond did in DAD - ‘I threw them away long ago…’ We see more sadism of a kind when Bond takes the spines out of Domino’s foot - we see a lot of Auger’s naked feet in this, it must be Tarantion’s fave Bond - and when Largo threatens to go to work with the ice and cigars, again some trussed up squirming on the bed here, but I found it a bit off for a Bond film, it sort of lowers the tone.

    Thunderball gets worse as it goes on. Among Binder’s swirling swimming ladies, Kevin McClory gets sole producer credit so he can take the blame. He had years to think this up - wasn’t he set to go into production within weeks, with Laurence Harvey cast as Bond, or was that a charlatan’s ruse? But the film increasingly becomes a long-winded dog’s dinnner, much like Never Say Never Again, where he had a decade to think up something good but instead had the writers cook it up as filming unfolded.

    That Nobel prize professor does his Peter Lorre impression, at the end when his is begging Domino he might be in Casablanca begging Sam to spare him from the Nazis. ‘Help me Sam, hide me please, I beg of you…’ The way that character is handled, with Bond shoving him an inflatable ring and booting him off the boat (‘Can you swim? It’s not your day, is it?’) having serving his plot function of freeing Domino sums it up. That daft winching of Bond and Domino is Derek Flint really, Domino would be left with her arms wrapped around Bond’s torso, his arms wrenched off him and high in the air. ‘First time I feel really safe all day!’

    The end credits didn’t say ‘James Bond Will Return in You Only Live Twice’ or any film for that matter, did they cut it short?

    I asked at the til about the whole thing not being 4K (in fairness, I thought it was 5K, I thought we’d be getting a preview of the new BluRays but what we see is only what they show on ITV4 on the telly anyway) and he was amiable and wholly uninterested - nobody else was commenting on it so maybe it’s just me.

    However, back home BBC4 HD was again showing The Third Man - now that print really was exception, unlike this one. This one had great sound but I prefer Barry’s music to be analogue. Or am I the one being anal? Ideally, I’d like a print with 5K polish and precision transferred to film alongside an analogue soundtrack. But I am overthinking this of course.

    It was nice to hide away and watch Thunderball in a darkened theatre as tanks rolled into Ukraine - I guess when Hitler invaded Poland I’d have been in my study listening to Al Bowlly on the gramophone, or watching a Buster Keaton silent film at the Pictures.

    Prince Charles cinema’s reshowing of Octopussy will prove timely.

    Tomorrow, however, they’re showing You Only Live Twice.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,047MI6 Agent

    As you may recall, I have previous with the Prince Charles.

    I enjoyed your review, @Napoleon Plural . You tell it well. The most noticeable aspect of your piece is that you mention several time how much better the film comes across in the cinema compared to the TV. I've been telling people this for years - as you probably know - and I often wonder if the film's major detractors on forum sites have ever watched it in a cinema environment. I don't know about 4D, but the movie was originally filmed in Panavision, which is the full wide screen experience. This allows an audience to immerse itself in the action. The fact the plot dithers and the ending meanders doesn't matter so much when you're staring at that enormous screen. Ah, yes and Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi, Molly Peters and Martine Beswick, possibly the loveliest selection of ladies ever to grace a Bond movie, look especially ravishing.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    4D? Don't you mean 4K? Oh don't you start....

    I watched a 4D print once, in it Claudine Auger reaches out her hand and pleasure you by reaching through your box of popcorn.

    The showings on ITV4 boast of being 4K I think, they mention it on a placard at the end of the film. The effect is somewhat lost however because ITV4 isn't a HD channel. Of course, you'd get it full whack on ITV HD whenever they bother to show a Bond film these days.

    Judging by this cinema, it would hardly be worth seeing the first three Bonds there, or Live and Let Die even, as they are not particularly widescreen. I picked TB for this reason and because it's the last of those Bonds - OHMSS aside - that have one foot in reality, even if struggling to make it work puts the film under stress. The final straight of an action movie should be like sex perhaps, first part is plot, introduction, drink and dinner, explain yourselves, compare notes, then the final bit be hell for leather get to the good bit - I've turned middle-aged recently, nobody young talks like this - but you see what I mean. But the last part of Thunderball is interminable underwater action with awful join-the-dots plot exposition holding things up, like McClory had the locations in his head but didn't know how to join them up into a narrative.

    But as you say, this matters less when in the cinema immersed in that Thunderball world...

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 25,621Chief of Staff

    The showings on ITV4 boast of being 4K I think, they mention it on a placard at the end of the film. The effect is somewhat lost however because ITV4 isn't a HD channel

    At the risk of incurring your displeasure again, @Napoleon Plural ☺️ ITV4 has both SD & HD variants

    YNWA 97
    Currently Head of Station C: Canada πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    awesome epic review @Napoleon Plural , lotsa discussion points buried in there

    Hope you get to see all of them on the big screen if they're showing them even if the legroom is more like a commercial airliner. How many others were in the audience?

    napoleon sez:

    Thunderball would be perfect for one of those watchalongs because as entertaining as it is, there are so many little quirky things that make you go 'Huh?'

    its been done! @Higgins did the whole series two years ago! see here for the worldwide team of scholars' wisecracks while watching Thunderball


    what do theatres use for digital projections? is it the same blu-rays we can buy for ourselves or do they have an even more hi-def format only available to theatres? if you walk right up to the screen in a theatre when they project from a digital source, can you see the pixels?

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,393MI6 Agent

    napoleon sez:

    Moneypenny is great in this. But why does she raise her eyebrows suggestively when she mentions yoghurt and grapefruit juice to Bond? They’re on the phone, it’s not like he can see her.

    I notice when I watch Lois Maxwell in other contemporary appearances, like Danger Man, the Saint, or OK Connery, her persona is a seen-it-all worldly cynicism. Its only as Moneypenny she is this virginal spinster living fantasies vicariously through Bond. Maybe this suggestive eyebrow arch is a little of her real self slipping through?

    _________________________________________________

    The reel-to-reel tape they use is so clunky it could be from the 1940s... This does seem to be a thing with early Bonds, some of it looks way more vintage. I mean, the lecture by Colonel Smithers in Goldfinger could be him in late 30s warning of the intentions of Her Hitler. It may be deliberate, to generate a classic look and of course it makes the snazzy Aston Martin DB5 seem even more modish.

    Maybe worthy of debate: we think of these early films as being set five minutes into the future, all the Ken Adam sci-fi type set design and the obsession with technology and the latest brands. Thunderball is the most techno-fetishistic of the early films, but its also directed by Terence Young who made the first two. From Russia with Love is all old world vibes, and Dr No is an image of Colonial Jamaica that was probably out of date when it was being filmed. Much of the analysis of both Fleming's books and the films argues the appeal is nostalgia for a time when Britain really did rule the world, and maybe we tend to forget that aspect of the fantasy 60 years later.

    _________________________________________________

    when Largo threatens to go to work with the ice and cigars, again some trussed up squirming on the bed here, but I found it a bit off for a Bond film, it sort of lowers the tone.

    That bits straight from Fleming and Fleming's full of torture scenes. But pre-Die Another Day, the films did tend to bowdlerise that aspect of the source material

    _________________________________________________

    Thunderball gets worse as it goes on. Among Binder’s swirling swimming ladies, Kevin McClory gets sole producer credit so he can take the blame. He had years to think this up - wasn’t he set to go into production within weeks, with Laurence Harvey cast as Bond, or was that a charlatan’s ruse? But the film increasingly becomes a long-winded dog’s dinner, much like Never Say Never Again, where he had a decade to think up something good but instead had the writers cook it up as filming unfolded.

    We probably have to revisit what we know of the original Battle of the Bonds, and I've forgotten much of it. @Revelator 's been round lately and knows this material well, maybe he can help?

    What I recall is that McClory got the sole producer credit because it was he who owned the rights and let EON co-produce it with him. I don't get the idea he was an actual experienced filmmaker except for something called the Boy on the Bridge years before, and the regular EON team did most of the work, with the loudmouthed amateur trying to interfere. I'm not sure they actually let him change anything but his involvement made things more difficult than the first three films.

    There was an interview with Maibaum posted recently where we learned Maibaum wrote a Thunderball script for EON before Dr No, before they learned they did not have the rights to Thunderball. And that the script for the final film was built up from Maibaum's early draft, not the earlier collaborations between Fleming McClory et al. But that's the script, not the production.

    Other thing I remember from Fleming bios, is they were brought together by a mutual interest in scuba diving, and all the scuba diving content is as much McClory's underwater fantasia as it was Fleming's. So was it perhaps McClory that kept adding more underwater photography with little idea how to make it add up to a story?

    One more complication is that the director Terence Young left before the film was finished, and the editor Peter Hunt asked for extra time trying to cobble what was filmed into a coherent narrative.

    Have I got any of that right? I know a lot has been written about the behind-the-scenes of this film.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    Hi @Sir Miles is ITV24 HD only available on Smart TVs? I never come across It scrolling on my old 32in Panasonic...

    Re Moneypenny's suggestive eyebrows, I was being mega pedantic - just saying, she's making an expression at Bond - but he can't see her so it's wasted, they're on the phone if you see what I mean.

    I have Battle of the Bonds but it's thin on the mooted McClory project about to go into production in 64/65 if it was ever a goer or just a bluff to draw in EON.

    Thanks for your comments @caractacus potts !

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,417Chief of Staff
    edited February 25

    Thoroughly enjoyed your review, np, makes me want to watch it again. caractacus, you’re mostly right but I don't have time right now to get into the huge TB story.

    Edit: But briefly you're correct, Maibaum wrote a TB script before DN was decided on as the first film. And McClory was not an experienced filmmaker, with "The Boy And The Bridge" The Boy and the Bridge (1959) - IMDb being his major claim to fame. Part of his deal with Eon was that he would receive sole producer credit (notably placed on the ass of one of the swimmers; see how there is a momentary pause while his producing credit appears Thunderball Opening Title Sequence - YouTube) while Broccoli & Saltzman would present the film and act as Executive Producers- in reality, all three would produce it together, dividing duties and, obviously, profits of which there were more than enough to go round.

    The book "The Battle For Bond" is the major source to go to for all the details.

    @Napoleon Plural the end credits were cut short since they said that James Bond would return On Her Majesty's Secret Service but that was changed to You Only Live Twice.

    And Blofeld being the Sir Keir Starmer of Bond villains πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚- but does that make Angela Rayner Fiona Volpe then?

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    Ah, I see, being a red head and all that. What about Mad Nads? Doesn't bear thinking about.

    But we all know a bent copper and who she'd be...

    There is nothing like a Dame! Nothing in the world!

    Hey @caractacus potts about 40 people in the cinema. But aside from reacting to the un PC moments, very silent as we all knew all the jokes and some of us had face masks on - but not all. Cinema prob could hold 200 so not packed out. One both missed that full on cinema experience while at the same time not wanting to cos of Covid. Had it been packed out I wouldn't have bought a ticket.

    Hey @Barbel stick Taffix up yer nose!

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Sir MilesSir Miles The Wrong Side Of The WardrobePosts: 25,621Chief of Staff

    Hi @Sir Miles is ITV24 HD only available on Smart TVs? I never come across It scrolling on my old 32in Panasonic...

    I believe it is…

    YNWA 97
    Currently Head of Station C: Canada πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    The sometimes slightly sunburned look of Connery in the Bahamas scenes may be the reason they gave Connery a fake perma tan in the remake, to avoid continuity problems too. Of course, it looks rubbish, esp when he's at Shrublands.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • IcePakIcePak Perth, Western AustraliaPosts: 165MI6 Agent

    From Russia with Love

    Still the classic I remember it to be.

    1. CR 2. OHMSS 3. SF 4. TLD 5. GE 6. FRwL 7. TSWLM
    8. TMwtGG 9. GF 10. FYEO 11. OP 12. LtK 13. TND 14. AVtak
    15. DN 16. NTtD 17. MR 18. LALD 19. SP 20. TWiNE 21. YOLT
    22. TB 23. QoS 24. DAD 25. DaF
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service at London’s Prince Charles cinema.

    A now out-of-bounds venue for @ChrisNo1 due to a dispute over his ticket purchase last year, I can confirm that they are a miserable bunch. We all know that OHMSS is not great for chuckles, largely due to star Lazenby’s way with a one-liner, so I thought it would be only fun to liven up the final scene of the movie where the camera pans across the bullet hole in the windscreen by singing ‘Autoglass replace! Autoglass replacement!’ Across the auditorium.

    Well! Seems there a lot of Bond fans present who took exception, and many began assailing me for my witty catcall. ‘You’ve just ruined a two-and-a-half hour movie!’ One shouted - I pointed out it was Cubby and Harry who’d done that, by picking Lazenby to star in it.

    The police were called. Now - say what you like about the Met, teenage girls being made to strip search for cannabis, selfies of dead people, psychopathic murderers, strong-arm arrests during a vigil, but I’ll not hear a word against them, for they know their Bond films. ‘Lazenby’s film is pretty awful, the accused was quite within his rights to make the comment he did’ offered the sergeant.

    Now, despite all that, I must say that watching OHMSS is even more enjoyable than Thunderball, though both are the type of film that work better on the big screen with your undivided attention, they don’t quite work for dipping into on the telly. Yet OHMSS is a strange film to me - when I expect to dislike it, I instead enjoy it, is will be ready to enjoy it the next time it’s on, only to find I dislike it again. I had quite mixed feelings about seeing this time, and it paid off.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    The big surprise is that on the big screen, Lazenby seems a bona fide movie star, not a mere pretender or stand-in. After slagging off Connery for going to seed even in bits of Thunderball, it’s a positive pleasure to see a young, trim and virile leading man who looks happy to be playing the role, largely engaged in the part, not having to have a bit of a baggy area around the midriff of his suit to cover up middle-aged spread. And that’s already having factored in Connery’s toupee, which we’re okay about, but doesn’t always look convincing.

    The one-upmanship chemistry between him and Rigg at the casino hotel - seemingly non-existent on the telly, is far more agreeable and I found myself shifting in my seat with happy expectation.

    Not only that, it seems that we get to see a full-on, bona fide blockbuster Bond movie. It’s a pleasure to see a Bond film that seems based loosely on real-life commando operations at times, rather than video games as in recent years, decades even.

    Lazenby’s poor way with a one-liner matter less at the cinema - we’ve all seen the film so unlikely to be laughing at any of the gags. In fact, at Thunderball the main laughs came from the inappropriate and unPC seductions of various women, in particular of course Pam at Shrublands. Of course, on its initial release the lack of good jokes and also I have to say all-round lack of happy mirth would have counted against it, with an audience expecting a good time. This is also a reason why the film doesn’t work so well on the telly, with a family gathered round, it becomes more painful when the jokes fall flat, the atmosphere just a big more judgemental.

    Things that grated on the small screen just a bit - the segue from day time to night time overlooking the hotel pool (‘Oh, we’ve been to film school have we Mr Hunt?’) on the big screen evoke pure pleasure and appreciation, the change in atmosphere beautifully conveyed on the soundtrack - not the music but the change from poolside frolics to discrete chinking of glasses at the roulette table.

    It doesn’t quite match the dialogue however, where the concierge is talking about Bond’s ‘special requirements’, presumably his way with the women. The script probably called for the sort of thing we see at the Miami Beach Hotel in Goldfinger, or Nassau in Thunderball - obvious shots of bikini babes sashaying across from right to left, big ass on view, a staple of the Kennedy era, the time of Playboy magazine, but we don’t get that here as it might interrupt the flow of the day to night segue. I must say, we never see Oswald and his wife Martha trying to change behind a windbreaker in these shots, their kid whining about his dropped ice cream.

    It’s possible that Hunt missed an obvious trick here. But what worked in 64/65 might well not have done in 69 (you were expecting me) where feminism was on the rise and more than that, it all might have looked a bit dated by then. That not withstanding, it lends a high minded feel to the film, as we are made to concentrate on the main love interest Tracy and not what else he might be getting around the pool.

    I hesitate to ask whether it may be because Peter Hunt was gay and so less interested in this aspect of things - partly because I’m not sure that holds true - but the same goes for Blofeld’s belles in Piz Gloria, none of them to my eye seem exactly that attractive but again, it allows for us to see Rigg’s Tracy as the main love interest.

    The only hot woman in this film seems to be, well, either Draco’s graceful bridge partner, or the one to incautiously advises Tracey about her father’s intentions, and I think neither are seen at Bond’s wedding when there’s no reason why not, unless to avoid being a distraction.

    But nothing dates a film like sex, so downplaying this is yet another reason why this film seems so startlingly contemporary.

    There’s an anecdote someone on set told about Peter Hunt, where someone in the studio was griping about how they couldn’t get on in the industry, saying to do so you had to be either gay, or a freemason or something else, maybe from public school, and they were laughing ‘because, of course, Peter was all three!

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    The whole film is shaping up to be a wonderful experience in the dark of Prince Charles cinema, not least because in spite of what I said on my Thunderball review, they do indeed include a kind of homage to the famous Pearl & Dean adverts of the 60s and 70s.

    That said, lest ChrisNo1 is gnashing his teeth, this venue is not what it was. After refurbishment, the screen is surely smaller than before, the idea to generate two screens and more seats in the downstairs one to pack em in. I personally would only sit in the first few rows to get the cinema experience and even then it might not be so different to sitting up close to a 50in flatscreen. The key thing is, one is looking up at the screen, so it does resemble the old-school movie experience from our youth.

    Candidly I do not get the whole 4K thing. It’s not bad, but the first shot - aside from noticing how cluttered M’s mantlepiece in his office is - doesn’t seem so polished or up to date. I seem to recall a print of Goldfinger doing the rounds nearly a decade ago, now what was cleaned up and looked uncanny - almost too much, almost ersatz, though the sound wasn’t loud or thunderous enough. I recall a print of OHMSS some years ago at the BFI Imax and it seemed better than this. Was it the same or a different one?

    And it being digital, well, the sound is decent enough but not quite the crash bang wallop of Barry in his prime as it’s not analogue. I listened to my You Only Live Twice LP two nights before and that really did resonate, this however wasn’t quite there, so it’s not the exemplary experience it might be. Which makes one think - if Bond is the big British movie hero, if it’s his 60th anniversary, if London’s Prince Charles is one of the most notable cinemas in the UK, shouldn’t it be possible to get hold of a pristine original print of this film? In the same way I can pick up on eBay a copy of a Beatles LP from the time, in mono, with a yellow Parlophone label, so I can hear what everybody else heard? I know film stock deteriorates unlike vinyl records, but still… one of the trailers at the Prince Charles was for Space Odyssey where it boasted of a 70mm print, ‘unrestored’ so why can’t they do something like this for the Bond films?

    I would also say my day was enhanced by making it up to London Victoria by train on one of the first balmy, sunny days of the year and checking out the area, Elizabeth Street then Sloane Square, then up Piccadilly to Leicester Square so the film was almost an afterthought, a highly pleasant one, with not the entire day riding on it.

    In spite of all my bonhomie, it was cut dead by two of the film’s most boring scenes, in fact in the history of the Bond films, in fact of all films. One is the meeting between Bond and Draco and his exposition-heavy account of Tracy’s background. The film critic John Brosnan felt compelled to criticise Lazenby’s acting here, for looking bored, but really it’s badly directed. Hunt does much of it in long shot so it can’t be easily cut or edited, even so I would have cut out some stuff in particular the bit about Tracy marrying someone out of spite. It’s basically irrelevant and not mentioned again, even when Bond proposes to her. The scene drags on, in fact any willing suitor asking him his daughter’s hand in marriage would have second thoughts - ‘If she’s as boring as you, daddy-oh, I’m out of here…’

    It’s also badly scripted. This might be an opportunity for Draco to explain why his stooges beat up Bond without so much of a by-your-leave - ‘In view of her previous male attention, you can see why I’m so protective of her…’ Maybe he does say that, and it was lost on me. Or, ‘How was I to know you were with Her Majesty’s Secret Service? They’ve earned their salary this week…’ Or later, at the bullfighting match, they could tie it together when Draco’s men - realising that Bond is now in favour with their boss - appear more conciliatory or pleasant. As it is, even in the grand finale, when former enemies sit side by side in the helicopter, very little is made of this reversion of old emnities.

    Some of us like the idea of Connery being Bond in this film, but it was bad enough to see him joshing with Kerim Bey about crumpet, to do so with Draco leering ‘Yes, sleep on it’ would be too much and I’m not sure Connery would have known to look bashful as Lazenby does.

    The other boring scene is so bad I seem to have forgotten it.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    There are little things you pick up on the big screen, namely the naff framed prints on the walls of Moneypenny’s office.

    Later it appears during the bull fight scene Rigg had the day off so being filmed at Pinewood they got in Carry On star Kenneth Williams to play her role, it’s very convincing but you can see it’s him, the waspish, snake-like facial manner.

    The actress who plays Irma Bunt is facially quite handsome, she could be Fiona Volpe’s mother, maybe she was if Spectre is all in the family. I don’t see why Bond couldn’t have got into bed with her, they both could have had a good time.

    If Bond’s spectacles are a ‘prop’ why does he not deploy them when he actually has to meet Blofeld? Bit of a waste really. But you do notice that en route he is flattening down his kilt so nobody might see Ruby’s handiwork with the lipstick, a nice detail.

    To be continued....

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    We think of Casino Royale as Craig’s first film but he’s in this one of course, as the Piz Gloria guard who eavesdrops on Bond’s bedroom schedule and later duffs him up with another and has him consigned to a makeshift prison, it’s clearly a young Craig. Explains why he looks so old as Bond.

    On the big screen we can see that one of those goons is the one with the sideburns in the pre-credits of the next one, Diamonds are Forever. Possibly even a nod to continuity seeing as that is the Spectre organisation too.

    One scene appears cut - on his arrival at Piz Gloria, Bond - as Sir Hilary - is instructed to take a medical and during this time his baggage is searched. What went on in the medical? We don’t know.

    The seasons might be out of whack. It’s suddenly Christmas in Switzerland but was it really winter during the scenes on the beach, or the bullfighting scene? This is different to the book of course, which began around September, an Indian summer in the south of France then naturally progressed to Christmas. It’s not clear in the film how long Bond spends on his studies at the College of Arms to get into character and it might break up the idea of his romance if it’s suggested that it’s been three months or so.

    One trick missed might be the shot of snow falling outside Bond’s window in Piz Gloria to emphasise how stranded he is up there, but generally it’s amazing how Hunt doesn’t really miss a trick, it’s all very good.

    The film benefits from looking great, certainly far better than Thunderball. Now, one benefit is the allocation of the budget. While You Only Live Twice was filmed in the Far East, Japan, that must have accelerated costs to get all the actors and filming equipment over there. Then you had Ken Adam’s amazing volcano set, not as expensive as the producers claimed at the time, but pricey for sure, plus all those vehicular stunts and set pieces too, that would have cost a fair bit, on top of that Connery’s salary was not as much as he’d liked, but would have been higher than Lazenby’s.

    This film is one of the few Bonds to be filmed exclusively in Europe (there’s just one other I think that has that claim, can you work out which one it is?) so that keeps costs down. There are fewer extras needed. Much of the action is punch ups and latterly ski chases. Essentially they are using natural locations and these look terrific.

    So all the budget could go into making the film look chic and sophisticated, more so than any of the other Bonds really, certainly for that era. I mean, the first three punched above their weight in terms of budget, but the budgets weren’t high. Once Bond became a big hit, there were always trying to catch up with themselves. There are cheap bits in most of these Bonds, but not this one. This one has the big budget, but isn’t blowing it on gimmicks and tat.

    I mean, I like the Ken Adam volcano but whenever I see it, I think, okay, we’re back in Pinewood now, we’re not in Japan. That sort of thing never happens in OHMSS, for once Bond is exactly where he Is meant to be, it’s not doubling for some place else.

    I love the natural scenery of the Alps in this film - magnificent on the big screen - but that said, I’m the age where I would. As a kid, the mock volcano would intrigue and delight me far more. I do think a kid might not nag their parent to take them to see OHMSS a second time as it doesn’t have those WTF? Gimmick moments that kids like to process and talk about at school. The action is a bit vanilla.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    There are odd snags, less conspicuous oddly on the big screen but there anyway. I think it’s the sheer cinema experience that compensates or distracts. But all that stuff about ‘bessants’ I mean what is all that? A bit distracting, a bit strange. Perhaps Hunt being a freemason found all that heraldic talk a bit familiar, more than we might. And the joke about Bond’s ‘balls’ and having three of them isn’t a great innuendo, you’d need to have Connery’s comic genius to pull that off. Ruby seems delighted and amused by it but we’re not.

    Then there’s that odd stuff about Blofeld’s lack of ear lobes - did Telly have his pinned back then? What’s the deal there? It just seems a bit off kilter, a bit unwise too given Lazenby’s somewhat large jugs, unhelpfully silhouetted in the very opening scene of the film.

    ‘I mean, what sort of person wears a hat in a car, I mean really?’

    It’s a fool’s errand wondering how this film would have fared with Connery. For a start, everyone raised their game on this because it was Lazenby’s first, it needed to be a hit. Secondly, it wouldn’t have starred Telly or Rigg, as they were relatively big names to pull in audiences to compensate for Lazenby not being a star. Connery might well have been up against Brigitte Bardot, who instead starred with Connery in Shalako. I can’t see her having much personality. Pleasance might have been more suitable as Blofeld in this, as Fleming seemed to model his villain here on Count Dracula, hiding out in a forsaken lair with angels of death, and his enemy posing as a scholar on a research project, the actor’s Hammer credentials might have worked. But Hunt disliked the actor because of his ‘mincing’ gate, he said they had to keep cutting him in YOLT to make it less obvious, and Telly poses a greater physical threat. You can’t see Pleasance taking to the skis really. And you’d still have the problem of the two characters not recognising each other despite having met already.

    The film might make more of the fact that Bond is disobeying his bosses and the British state to carry out his - frankly unnecessary - demolition job on Piz Gloria; there’s no evidence that Blofeld’s hostage will come to any harm, she’s more likely to come to harm by this approach - Bond is no Richard Ratcliffe, is he - and it’s not like Blofeld is even demanding £400 million for tanks not delivered to ensure her return, oh alright, you know. Might it be that in going against Her Majesty Bond is doomed to fail and be punished? If so, the film doesn’t really stress that. Not saying it would be more enjoyable if it did, just saying…

    As impressive as the film is, it becomes something of a sitting duck in that it doesn’t quite send itself up so much, it’s not trying to. It doesn’t undercut itself the way the other Bonds do, and like its predecessor again seems easy to send up; You Only Live Twice also became a bit long-winded, a bit pompous in its third act for sure. Some of the pan pipes or flutes on the soundtrack surely influenced the piss-taking Austin Powers soundtrack. Then again, the nervy urgent John Barry cues for the final scenes in Piz Gloria, all a bit Ipcress File in their styling, stayed with me days after.

    The finale of the film earned a smattering of applause.

    I may check in for more Bonds here (only joking, folks, about being barred for my gag - in fact the entire audience loved it and bought me drinks at the bar afterwards) - I can, however see how fans get annoyed with Diamonds are Forever. It doesn’t really follow on from this movie. In a film season or movie marathon, I wouldn’t put this in the same bracket as You Only Live Twice or Diamonds are Forever. Chronologically it comes after Thunderball but even then it doesn’t feel right. I’d put it after From Russia With Love really, both have a young actor as Bond, both seem to be taking it seriously, as are the films.

    You could do Dr No, FRWL, OHMSS, TSWLM, FYEO and LTK as an all-nighter, that might work. Maybe TWINE at the end if you wanted.

    Above: English national treasure Joanna Lumley in a rare shot - for OHMSS - looking hot in the film.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,417Chief of Staff

    Very impressive work there, np. Detailed and thorough. I now feel like watching the film (yet) again!

    And yes, I could name the other Bond film you mention above.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,713MI6 Agent

    At last a comment! I thought everyone was miffed because of my Autoglass joke. Which I didn't actually make in the cinema of course!

    'Detailed and thorough'... one of those euphemisms! πŸ˜€

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,417Chief of Staff

    Not intended as a euphemism, just a compliment.

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