Last Bond movie you watched.

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  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent
    edited April 25

    [Continuing Napoleon Plural's review of Moonraker, seen last week at the Prince Charles Cinema in London]

    The movie looks very good, as ever. It misses something without the audience laughter and participation however, unlike OHMSS which is never really very funny, this is like watching half a film. The lack of tension in it is a bit deadening. A tad gloomily, I began to think that I might enjoy For Your Eyes Only more but I didn’t go for that so much at the time and it does have some cringe scenes in it.

    Then I got to thinking, are any of the Bonds really that brilliant? I know they’re all worthwhile but in terms of standalone quality? OHMSS is close but I don’t care for Lazenby. In 60 years it’s slim pickings. It’s a bit like the Beatles, my fave band - but is there one album you don’t lift the needle on ever? Let it Be is great I think now, but it’s got the rubbish One After 909 - couldn’t they have put on Don’t Let Me Down instead? Most have a song or two that you’d rather they didn’t or jazzed up a bit. I’d even go so far as to say that the best Beatle album is Wings’ Band on the Run - not a duff track on it, it’s brilliant esp on vinyl, with the Plastic Ono Band right up there too.

    With the Bonds you almost get the sense they sometimes put in something rubbish so the bar isn’t set so high the next time.

    Bernard Lee’s nose - what’s going on with that? A proper drinker’s nose.

    Still, at least they got him out to Venice this time, for the first and last time he gets off set and goes to a location, methinks.

    The sci-fi Logan’s Run-style plot is impressive and takes everything one stage further than previous Bonds, but it is a bit distasteful and not wishing to bang my political drum, a bit close to home given what I thinks been going on in care homes, and general all-round economic murder. It unwittingly seems to be putting its finger on something whereas modern blockbusters would do so deliberately. 

    There is a strangeness to the film, almost like a conspiracy thriller. Bond cuts a lonely character away from the omniscient audience laughter. It’s as if he is in his own world, going from place to place. One recognises that for Drax’s plan to work he must be operating some kind of cult. They even seem to dress like that, it’s a bit sinister.

    The eerie, sci-fi vibe extends to nobody carrying much of a weapon in this film. I mean, Bond never fires his own gun in this does he, unless I missed it. Nor does Jaws much. It’s like those horror movies where they pretend mobile phones don’t exist or it messes up the premise or continuing the sci-fi theme, we don’t see mobile phones in space, or anyone wearing glasses. Likewise no guns for Bond in this movie, it would throw everything out.

    One wonders I suppose how a villain who can micromanage a world’s genocide can’t hire a hit man with access to some kind of gun he might use to take out his prey, but it’s not that kind of movie is it? One is meant to alternate between serious and silly just as a musical invites us to care one minute then have us watch the characters burst into song and dance around, one just accepts it. I think The Expendables is one modern action film that does that kind of thing, one minute it’s all ‘I’ll be back’ in jokes the next it’s played deadly serious as a comrade falls. Maybe the last Spiderman film did that too.

    So Drax is this great genius who messes up with his genocide plan because he hires Jaws, still we’ve got Putin in Ukraine who has been in power for decades and he’s making an unexpected hash of things. Perhaps people whose idea of power is saying to an individual ‘Do what I say and now’ struggle to reconcile that with the whole teamwork ethic.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    I quite fancy Lois Chiles as Holly but the other women seem more outrageously attractive - Manuela ‘… is good enough for me’ in Brazil, or Corine Dufour excellent dubbed by our old friend who did Ursula Andress all those years ago, or even the stewardess in the pre-credits. Chiles’ character gives it more sass than Triple X, it never really happened again for Moore.

    I suppose I’l get around to watching Corrinne’s The Story of O at one point, it was on YouTube but I think if you go look for it now, it turns out it’s just a trailer, or it’s ‘Cough up for a rental!’ Or it turns out, another film entirely. A bit like the erotic drama The Duke of Burgundy which is only ever shown on telly at 1am.

    Jaws’ giant doll outfit takes a long time to get down that alley, doesn’t it. A lot of time is spent in warehouses in this film, relatively speaking.

    But the Rio carnival is massively impressive, so much more so than the one in Thunderball.

    At times I did find myself yawning a bit, it’s a one-joke film really, it doesn’t alternate much. I think it was the scene with Jaws messing about with the cable car that did it for me, not saying I didn’t love it as a kid. But unlike other Bonds, Moonraker struggles to present its childish guilty pleasures in an acceptable adult format.

    Sometimes I found myself thinking back to Christopher Wood’s final novelisation of the film, some of his writing, that helped give a depth to the goings-on not really in the film. You don’t get that with many Fleming films except From Russia With Love.

    That noisy trumpet jaunty tube we get around the cable car with the Banana Splits, that’s Barry is it? A sort Welcome to Miami track, but it’s not on the soundtrack. Not saying it’s his best, but it’s another example of how the official soundtrack could have been a better and jollier affair all round.

    Quick lift off for Drax, no faffing about ‘Sorry Sir, there’s been a delay, you may need to set it back by two days…’ with Bond and Goodhead dying of starvation or having to send out for a pizza.

    It’s set in summer, is it always snowing in Russia?

    It’s a streamlined movie but somehow there isn’t the same amount of detail in it. You don’t see Bond interact with many people outside his clique - M, Q, Moneypenny. Again, this adds to the eeriness of the film, and trying to make it more realistic might even have the opposite effect. Actually, the slapstick save making this film potentially quite dread-inducing, the whole genocidal conspiracy thriller plot - though arguably as it’s just Drax in command, it’s not wholly a conspiracy, it’s just him and his underlings.

    Watching a younger Roger Moore in re-runs of The Saint on Talking Pictures TV, it’s amazing how much of a natural actor he is in that, but in this film he is always putting it on, I mean I know he liked to send up the character but it didn’t occur to me at the time… It’s almost as if he doesn’t like Bond, which is justifiable given that he is a womanising killer, but it veers into sabotage. The archness, the camp, the preening. Perhaps Moore was out of practice acting in the 70s, face it, he didn’t do that much of it, did he.

    For all that, his delivery of some of the lines - often very good indeed - brings joy to the series. ‘Hang on, James’ ‘The thought had occurred to me…’

    And you have the way he exits the centrifuge scene - amongst the best acting in the series.

    Anyway, I enjoyed it but maybe it’s better sometimes to check out the more ‘problematic’ Bond films on the big screen, otherwise it’s a bit ‘Don’t meet your heroes’.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    awesome epic Moonraker review, keep'em coming!

    nice to see that classic poster at the top of the page. Lois Chiles is dressed far sexier than she is in the film, like a wench from a barbarian movie instead of a highly accomplished astronaut/secret agent. But who are the other three ladies meant to be? they all have quite specific faces.

    I remember when it first came out, my mum took me to the theatre, and when Drax gave his final evil speech to Bond before being pushed out the airlock, she turned to me in the theatre and said "You know, this is really corny!" So there's Caractacus Pott's mum's review to add to the collection.


    Story of O I found online a while back, but I seem to have lost the link. Anyway I was watching late at night and realised I probably had the volume too loud for an apartment building with thin wooden floors, much of the "dialog" consists of whipping, moaning and screaming. I felt I had to knock on all the doors the next morning and explain to my neighbours I had been watching an "art" film not the usual online gentlemen's entertainment, but instead just avoided eye-contact for a couple weeks.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    The blonde on the right is v similar to one of Drax's ladies who accompany him, I think at the shooting party all dressed up, and later seen looking on hard faced as Bond tackles a python. Actually, that does point to the cult-like aspect of the film, it's rare we see underlings so personally vehemently nasty, isn't it? Not based on anything personal, just... he's the enemy, like he's a whistleblower, if you've ever been on the wrong end of that. That said, I don't recognise the others on the poster, don't some actors get a bonus fee if they're on the poster, would that be a factor?

    It took your Mum that long to figure out Moonraker was corny!?

    As with 'gentlemen's club' the word gentlemen has come to mean the opposite... 😀

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,065MI6 Agent

    A great review again, Napster. I'd like to give you a 👍️ for mentioning the centrifuge scene, one of Moore's best snippets of acting in the whole series. Indeed that whole scene had me gripping my cinema seat back in 1979. Interesting you mention the 'cult' thing. This isn't really stressed in the film, or in Wood's novelisation, although he does hint at it. All the girls are featured elsewhere in the film - we see shots of them astronaut training, the two women in the salon, the two at the shoot, the guide and the receptionist in the Venini Glass museum - and then of course Bond's recognition in the temple draws all this together. I like the two brief reaction shots Lewis Gilbert gives us as the python slithers into the pool to strangle OO7 - you are right, they are genuinely excited by the idea Bond will be killed, they have been brainwashed to the cause. Curious though, I know we have all the space station technicians, but, as 'the animals went in two by two', where are all the brainwashed procreative men folk in he runup to this?

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    Perhaps they were all on some stag weekend before heading off to space! A decadent mask-less ball in Venice, perhaps - and they were eon the cargo being flown out!

    I suppose we're meant to think all those women fancy Bond, but in fact they wall want him dead we later find out. Again, begs the question why they didn't do it at any point they encountered him before but it's a bit like asking why Bulgera the panther can talk in Disney's Jungle Book. Besides, it makes dramatic sense for this not to happen, as Bond is the big beast and would require a special death (ahem! whether he would ever get one or not is another question.)

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent
    edited May 7

    Up again to London’s Prince Charles cinema in Leicester Square, this time it’s For Your Eyes Only.

    I probably enjoyed this more than any time, I wasn’t too fussed about it first time round back in 1981, seeing it a stone’s throw away at the Odeon Leicester Square. That said, I am mindful that back then I was comparing it to expansive, fantastic films like its immediate predecessors, whereas now I’m setting it against Craig’s miserable swansong.

    What I took from it this time round was good old-fashioned, unpretentious adventure. It’s terrific stuff and while reruns are going on at Vue and Odeon cinemas across the country, I must say the Prince Charles does recapture that old vibe of sitting in the dark and looking up at the screen. New cinemas are great in that being tiered there’s less chance of Mr Tall sitting in front of you, but they can’t recreate that old feeling when you’re kind of looking down at the screen.

    The shot of Moore’s Bond narrowing his eyes as he sees the priest cross himself against the backdrop of the helicopter propellers is one of the great Bond moments.

    In Sinclair Mackay’s excellent and witty book about Bond, The Man With The Golden Touch, he does a great sociological point about Thatcher’s Britain and the renovation of Docklands, tying it in with this film.

    The tonally off moments didn’t annoy me so much this time round. Okay, it’s a great set-up with Blofeld in his cruddy push button wheelchair and you could say it’s thrown away by having it turn comic, but I went with it. Not sure the ‘Keep your hair on!’ line is so good, sort of alienating part of your audience. The pay off was meant to be a dig at McClory trying to bring Thunderball and Blofeld back to the screen but it does throw away a very promising set-up - and perhaps the baldy dig was aimed at Connery? If we get a female 007, perhaps Jemima Bond will taunt a water-retaining foe by saying, ‘Hey, fat-ankled cow - do Jimmy Choo do a special range for your sort?’ We may soon find out.

    The song is brilliant. Previously I had it down as a bit Ratners, but it may be the best of the 1980s. What’s great about it is that it sums up the sound of 1981, a kind of crystalline, cold, chilly sound we hear in Ultravox’s 'Vienna' or the Human League’s 'Don’t You Want Me' or OMD’s 'Souvenir'. It’s highly evocative. Not sure the lyrics make any sense, it’s like they put the thing through a Bond lyric algorithm but still. Credits very nice too, especially as the opening scene didn’t give Maurice Binder much to work with visually - I suppose he could have done Bond hanging off the hands of Big Ben but he did something like that for OHMSS.

    [To be continued...]

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    While the film is largely formulaic it feels a bit off to have the opening danger that kicks off the mayhem right after the song, unlike in previous films. Thankfully, this makes for a single issue, short pre-credits unlike so many others where the amuse bouche instead feels like the main course. On reflection, to open with the sinking of the British spy ship would draw attention to similarities with The Spy Who Loved Me and the submarine crew, which only would draw attention to a certain downsizing. 

    In truth Bond going after the ATAC is a bit like him going after the microfilm in Spy, spending the whole movie just doing that, it’s not gold dust.

    I had a go at Spectre’s Paris HQ on my Thunderball rewatch - Largo goes through some swing doors and then one big clunking door later and he’s at the heart of the Spectre meeting! It’s not like this with Our Boys, the British trawler is likewise a front for other skulduggery, but one has to go below deck and through a number of doors for this to be revealed. It’s nicely done, though it does touch on a flaw here - with Glen’s film you sense he’s making heavy weather of what ought to be the lighter stuff. The film was set up to be something like From Russia With Love but compare this to the way Klebb just whacks Grant with a knuckle duster then walks off.

    Now, I was a great fan of Moonraker but being a precocious kid I thought, wow, a return to FRWL sounds great! Bizarrely, I hadn’t actually seen FRWL. Neither VHS nor DVD existed and for some mad reason British TV weren’t showing early Connery films in the late 70s/early 80s. I finally got to see Connery’s second film when I was about 12, until then I’d read Fleming’s novel and heard bits of the soundtrack, but that’s it.

    I was well-up for a return to this kind of movie but For Your Eyes Only has some very silly things in it that at the time let the side down.

    Perhaps because of this I only saw it once at the cinema, the second viewing was at school on an arranged video evening on a colour TV - mind you, back then that was glamour parfait, bringing the cinema into your own situation, but it does mean this may be the first time since that first time I’d seen the movie in full widescreen, and even on telly I wouldn’t watch from start to finish.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent


    The ATAC McGuffin aka excuse for a plot is okay but unlike other scenarios we can’t really visualise the danger so we need it spelt out to us vehemently by MI6, okay, but it’s a bit ‘show don’t tell.’ Unlike other films, things don’t develop too much with regards to it, there are no new disclosures.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    Fans recall that M doesn’t feature in this movie due to the passing of Bernard Lee but of course he is there, he’s played by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab based on his inability to return from ‘Leave’ when there’s an international incident. Why didn’t he think to close the sea?

    This again doesn’t lend itself to the idea that this is a gripping yarn and one thing needs mentioning - it’s meant to be a disaster than the ATAC might fall into Soviet hands but General Gogol seems such a nice, avuluncular chap in these films, it’s not like he’d get it and just start a nuclear war, is it? I don’t know how scary a bloke can be when we’ve seen him being cuckolded by Fontaine Khaled in The Stud. I suppose the Cold War was a bit more scary back then, good job there’s nothing to fear in that way now, eh?

    The plot set-up does allow Bond to get right into the action with the 2CV chase in Greece - actually Corfu - which is good fun. Normally with Bond, we get a load of detective work where he meets an attractive woman in an Beirut club or Egyptian townhouse or tent and gets info from them, or he’s treated to a guided tour of some villain’s plant, all quite fun but it does get a bit repetitve, there’s none of that here.

    Moonraker solved some credibility problems by, erm, not having its protagonists carry weapons of any kind (unless hidden gadgets, none ever used against Jaws one notices many years later) - FYEO has loads of hoods with guns, funny thing is none of them can hit a barn door at 10 paces. In a way this swaps one set of incredulity for another. 

    It’s odd to have Gonazales gesture that his men shouldn’t shoot Bond at first - why? Possibly because of the bikini babe witnesses but it’s not indicated. He might say, ‘This is a pool party, not a shooting party!’ But of course he’s mute throughout the film.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    At times Moore looks great in this, more bouffant swept back hair and chunky knitwear. Other times he’s looks really old and we don’t see him in a suit so much here, as it tends to add years to a bloke. The scene with him and Moneypenny is cringe because they both look ruddy old, Lois Maxwell looked better in subsequent films but not here, any teenager might think, why am I looking at these old schoolteachers flirting with each other?

    Now, at the time this became one of those films that rankle - if only they’d had John Barry back, if only they’d dropped the silly slapstick moments better off in Moonraker, that kind of stuff. But the odd truth is - if they’d done a lot of that, you might just wind up with a bog standard action movie, which at times FYEO perilously comes close to. 

    Anyway, I don’t miss Barry so much now, though having bought and loved the Moonraker soundtrack, I griped at Conti, thinking he was on board for good, but as a one-off it’s not bad. The incidental music is often unobtrusive and fine, the 'Runaway' theme with its 'Come On England, Come on England' football trill for the ski chase is too pat, too cocky, but the 'Drive in the Country' car chase stuff is great. Barry for all his greatness didn’t lighten a heavy Bond film when needed, and The Living Daylights does become quite heavy as it goes on. 

    That said, the Rocky fanfare accentuates Moore’s age and he’s at a crossroads here, surrounded by younger people, the gals, the villains, the thugs, even the ‘M’ character. The locations are, as one Bond writer put it, confined to the Saga cruise settings but - and this is crucial - the tone is often Club 18-30 with the scenes around the pool party and young Bibi. This tonal inconsistency creates a slight oddness in the film.

    I’m glad Moore stayed on for two more films but one also wonders how the film would have been with a younger, more dashing actor. It wouldn’t be a great debut however, because it lacks that surreal, sinister vibe, that sense of strangeness that works in the best debut movies. 

    It’s based on a Fleming short story where Bond goes after a bunch of thugs who killed the Havelocks, they seem a bit beneath him and it some ways the movie resembles Thunderball as seen through the eyes of Bond scribe Sinclair Mackay, the villains are a bit humdrum with no touch of the strange. Eyes Only doesn’t embrace the bizarre so makes heavy weather of itself, likewise Glen doesn’t have a humorous tone in this, so one finds oneself griping a bit at scenes that you gloss over normally.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    That said, I sat in the cinema throughly enjoying all this, far more than the first time round. I admit the Odeon Leicester Square crowd in 1981 were too over the top, laughing excessively as if expecting Moonraker all over again, when it’s not that kind of film, it’s more autumnal. Moore is pretty good in this, better than I remembered. Swanning around Cortina, he’s a bit like David Niven in The Pink Panther, and Moore’s great pal Niven would have still have been alive then to enjoy the comparison.

    Again, the advantage is that the plot really moves, there’s none of the elaborate set-up or celluloid foreplay of most of these movies, it gets right to it.

    Yet two relatively mundane scenes gave great pleasure for reasons I can’t quite explain - the meeting at the ice rink between Bond, Luigi and Kristatos, oddly the extras in the background are so natural, it almost drew attention to itself the first time round. Also, the scene in the casino is quite natural also, you feel like you want to be there, albeit it has the flavour of faux late 70s early 80s glamour, a bit like those all-you-can-eat pubs one used to enjoy, there’s a whiff of Demis Roussaus about the whole thing but I quite like it, I could almost see myself there whereas I couldn’t mingle with the clientele seen in other Bond casinos such as OHMSS or even Casino Royale. Sitting in the cinema, it’s quite delightful to feel part of that world. Another natural scene is Bond’s meal with Kristatos, they actually order food and seem to eat it, there isn’t the usual nonsense we see in CR where the conversation somehow lasts just four minutes over a meal that would take an hour.

    These mundane but thoroughly pleasant moments - of the kind that used to be in the early Bonds - heighten the glamour and excitement of other scenes.

    That said, the immersive pleasure isn’t quite as charming as that of the 60s films Thunderball or OHMSS, generally speaking.

    The character Luigi appealed more this time round, he seems a bit dweebish. His vague physical resemblance to Locque doesn’t help the casual viewer. His first meeting with Bond has him abruptly avoiding potential eavesdroppers, you could infer that he’s a bit green and taking the spying game too seriously. Bond’s reaction almost hints at this but it’s not clear because it could also be newbie director Glen overdoing the point that this is a Cold War spy thriller. 

    Perhaps because of the Pink Panther similarities of location (and wasn’t that rooftop meeting used in Grant and Hepburn’s Charade?) I thought Luigi could almost be a bit of a Clouseau character.

    If Luigi is so big on avoiding listeners, why pick a rendezvous with so many people around? Surely he was the one who left the message in Bond’s hotel mirror? Perhaps Bibi broke in to Bond’s room and banged Luigi’s brains out - in which case, Bond might echo Leiter’s line in Diamonds are Forever - ‘Next time, do us all a favour, and pick a rendezvous when you’re standing up!’

    Anyway, I prefer the idea that Luigi is a bit gauche, given that later at the ice rink - and this is a brilliant low-key moment in the series - he moves to shake Kristatos’ hand but finds himself ignored - Bond just shoots him a look as if to say, never mind, and they move on.

    Sadly, one suspects that Luigi inspired the Nigel Small-Fawcett character in Never Say Never Again; Bond’s gauche brief accomplice who takes the whole spying business seriously and is advised by Bond to ‘take full advantage of the natural cover.’

    Luig’s death doesn’t register much coming after a silly scene at the ice rink, possibly because we miss Barry’s ominous orchestral tones here.

    Glen misses one chance for minor fun with the introduction of Bibi Dahl - when he says she is not aware of the sins of the world or suchlike, it should be said after it’s been made clear she’s a goer, so Bond, Luigi and the audience can enjoy their secret knowledge. The script doesn’t really play up this comedy potential but later plays it broad, when she jumps into Bond’s bed it feels a bit horrible, it takes us too much by surprise.

    Topol’s Columbo is a brilliant character and really helps the movie. Despite him now sharing a name with the mac-wearing detective, a tad more distracting at the time than now. I find him far better than the actors who usually play these sorts of characters - Kerim Bey, or Tracy’s Dad, who seem a bit neutered compared to the way Fleming wrote them. Topol is the real deal - though at the time I now recall he wasn’t quite as Fleming wrote him. He and Moore complement each other very well.

    Everything up to the raid on Locque’s docks is all pure enjoyment, despite some dialogue being a bit from A to B, especially between Bond and Melina. Carole Bouquet isn’t too bad, she seems harmless but of course back then she suffered by not being as good as Triple X or Holly Goodhead - there’s scarcely a memorable line of dialogue from her really - but now I find her preferable to Craig’s Bond gals. 

    It’s not Bouquet saying the lines of course, she’s another one who’s dubbed and once again it’s a brilliant job, you’d hardly notice.

    Physically I guess she resembles Domino in Thunderball, in that she is better looking on the big screen, but also is a woman out for revenge for a family slaying, possibly this was another attempt to shoot McClory’s fox even if it is Fleming, and it’s a surprise she is allowed to shoot her nemesis with a crossbow, and that would negate the climax of Thunderball too.

    I noticed a couple of similarities with Raiders from that same year, I can’t recall them now but it’s not unlikely Cubby had his spies on that film.

    Just occasionally For Your Eyes Only resembles a big screen version of Moore’s Saint episodes, due to it not quite having that touch of the bizarre or outlandish. His advice to Melina has the whiff of one of his homilies that he offers up at the start or end of an episode. You wouldn’t be surprised to find Warren Mitchell turning up in a fez.

    Bond does a lot of pulse checking in this film to check someone is really dead, more than in the entire rest of the series. It’s okay, but suggests Glen is trying to make a realistic film, a bit of a non-starter with Bond. He doesn’t do it with the helicopter pilot, merely sends him back to earth, perhaps the reason Blofeld helpfully points out he’s ‘one of my less useful people’ in case we’re all thinking Bond is a bit heartless here; it’s only a Spectre agent. Bond checks Liesl’s pulse - rather unhelpfully we see the actress’ mouth move before Bond confidently declares her dead.

    Around this time, one’s concentration either starts to lag or the plot inconsistencies kick in. Having dispatched with Melina’s crew, there’s no need to have an elaborate keel-hauling death for her and Bond rather than simple shooting, it’s not that kind of film. There’s nothing to suggest a kinky, sadistic side to Kristatos’ nature so far. And Bond hasn’t upset his plans exactly. It’s not clear to me if Bond led K to the ATAC machine like delivering the Lector - perhaps he did, he needed the key to unlock it? Couldn’t K have done that? What was he waiting around for? And as Bond knew K was on to him from the two attacks underwater, surely he shouldn’t be too surprised to find a chilly welcome on board Melina’s ship.

    Back to the pre-credits - what is Blofeld trying to achieve here? He just waits to see Bond climb outside the helicopter to get to the front where he can retake control. Does Blofeld not realise this? When he steers him into the deserted warehouse, what’s the idea? To crash it at a time when he can’t actually witness Bond’s demise? Couldn’t Bond just jump out and onto a rafter at that point? Wouldn’t the copter blades touch on something so the whole thing would snag and blow up? Would that be a good thing from Blofeld’s point of view, or not? These incongruities stay in the back of one’s mind in this film, whereas in other films you can just go with it.

    Is it normal for Colombo to offer up his mistress or lover for Bond on a plate to get information? Would his ‘heart be so heavy for my poor Lisl’ if he knew she and Bond had been up all night with the oysters and champagne? Or, this being the early 80s, when thanks to Dallas and Dynasty it was quite socially normal for folk past a certain age to jump into bed with each other, perhaps this is all hunky-dory?

    After the raid on the docks, the film gets a bit heavy. Possibly the underwater action was more fox-shooting from Broccoli but as with many films, it slows everything down and suffers in comparison to the Lotus submersible - perhaps that’s why they blew it up. Actually, it’s very suspenseful but part of the problem with this and the subsequent rock-climbing scene is that it’s not exactly enjoyable for all that. These aren’t happy, expansive Bond thrills though it feels mean to knock Glen for that.

    Some nods to the previous Bond - the yellow jumpsuits worn by our leads seem a hangover from the Moonraker space scenes.

    [Married to future Bond Pierce Brosnan, Cassandra Harris seemed a bit something of nothing back in the day when I saw it but now she seems to have a real understated way about her, something very charming and a bit off kilter. Of course like so many in the cast - James Villier, Michael Gothard, Jill Bennett, they left all too soon thought it’s nice to know that Topol and Julian Glover are still with us, the latter good form on Bond Twitter and appearing in an episode of the feted Inside No 9 only last year.]

    Perhaps I missed a deleted scene set atop the St Cyril’s monastery: ‘Look, doofus, it’s your snoring that kept us awake all night. So you’re on dawn patrol tomorrow - and no matter what you see or hear, you’re to deal with it yourself. Don’t care if some spy is creeping up the side of the rock, we don’t want to know, we’re sleeping in’ ‘If you say so, fellas…’

    You’ve got to hand it to Glen though, he does generate real tension. I wouldn’t be hanging off a rock looking down at Topol’s hand gestures.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent
    edited May 2

    Ultimately Glen reminds me of other editors turned directors - Peter Hunt, Roger Spottiswoode - who are a bit too buttoned down in their style, there’s a joylessness to it, a literal quality. They don’t cut loose.

    Making a realistic Bond movie doesn’t solve problems, it generates them. Bond works as a comedy, albeit a highly sophisticated one preferably.

    One can’t help thinking that despite FYEO being more ‘realistic’, an ageing Roger Moore presents problems in a film that’s all about sun, sex, sand and skiing. You don’t quite believe he can bed these babes, or battle these younger villains, while I don’t have that problem believing it in his later Bond films. What would a younger actor have brought to the role? A growing sense is that as preposterous as Moonraker was, it had a classy and sublime John Barry score, some exotic and otherworldly locations and a leading man not shown up by his action scenes. In some ways this introduced a new trend for the 80s and beyond, that of 'Didn't like the last film? Well, we'll make up for it with this one!' unlike the 70s where generally they would do a variance on the previous film until that presented problems.

    There is technically no reason why a 50-year-old couldn’t manage the exciting freefall. The gondola is nonsense - but our hero is sitting down throughout. Ditto the boat chase over the waterfalls, or the descent from the cable car which is outlandish but not physically taxing. Ironically, the action is more grounded in the next film, but you don’t really believe a creaky Moore could do those ski stunts. Glen seemed to recognise this, as in the next film he was heard directing the stuntmen atop the aeroplane to ‘Make it look hard. Don’t make it look easy!’ 

    One snag at the time was that the action was largely non-groundbreaking, a disappointment for a kid, but less so when everything’s moved on since. The more routine Bonds age better than some of the others.

    The enmity between Bond and the villain is a bit muted, there’s no sense of anger that Bond feels he’s been scammed. They don’t share much screen time as enemies actually. It’s a bit of an odd film like that come to think of it, as supposed villain Columbo doesn’t appear for much of the film either and doesn’t make that much of an impression in his absence. He doesn’t cast much of a shadow despite these lapel badges he supposedly leaves.

    You could watch this film and think, right, the stage is set for Connery to make a comeback with the same gritty Cold War style, but some wittier lines and action that pushes the boat out! Of course, Never Say Never Again turned out to be rubbish.

    Yet it shouldn’t have been. In an interview with Starburst magazine around this time, Connery discussed whether he’d return to the role - McClory and Warhead wasn’t mentioned. That he’d be open to even discussing it was an eye-opener. He said how he’d seen For Your Eyes Only and said how it opened with a very good scene, Bond hanging off the helicopter - but then they threw it away with dumping in down the chimney. Or the car chase - the villain’s car pulls up alongside, ‘and Roger gives him a wave! Well, there’s nothing to stop that guy from blowing Bond’s head off…’ From these comments you’d think you’d have the right guy for the next Bond film but NSNA had so many scenes exactly like that, it’s like, how?

    Octopussy returned Bond to the more outlandish scenario, and in this world one accepts 007 can do all sorts of things. I personally didn’t have a problem with the ski scenes in AVTAK. I’m afraid The Living Daylights returned Bond to a world where I sat there thinking, this is more realistic but not quite credible.

    The movie ends with a cameo from Prime Minister Thatcher - strange to think that in time Bond would be seen not with a fake Premier but the genuine Her Majesty the Queen.

    It’s odd to think that this was 1981 and Thatch was seen as a largely popular figure - to see her in later films would have drawn fury from Northern cities and plenty elsewhere. You could imagine good laugh Boris Johnson being slated for a cameo in some recent film, but now as Prime Minister he could pop up and jibe at Bond: ‘License to kill - you’re speaking to one who “Let the bodies pile high”, what?’ Or ‘Nothing you do with that woman would faze me - you should see what people are watching in the Commons these days!’ What a time to be alive.

    @caractacus potts offered his mother's succinct review of Moonraker on this thread, so I'll offer up my father's bitter review after we went as a family to Odeon Leicester Square to see a smirking Bond for my birthday treat in 1981: 'All one can think about when seeing a film like that is, he should be paid and we should be paying!'

    We attempted Never Say Never Again two and a half years later to similar disgruntlement and that was the last time we took Dad to James Bond film, it really was a case of 'never again'...

    Anyway, I thoroughly enjoyed watching For Your Eyes Only this time round at London’s Prince Charles cinema, without the accompanying anxieties and expectations I had the first time round some 30 years ago. Maybe life should be lived like that - as if you’re living it for the second time, to reduce one’s anxieties and enhance one’s pleasure.

    Ends...

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    gosh you type fast @Napoleon Plural !!! how many words per second?

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,065MI6 Agent

    Thanks for that entertaining trawl through FYEO. If tge snooker finishes early @Napoleon Plural you've tempted me to whack it on the DVD player.

  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    thanks for the hi-rez acans of the Programme! I never knew such a thing existed. are there similar programes for the other films?

    napoleon said:

    Is it normal for Colombo to offer up his mistress or lover for Bond on a plate to get information? Would his ‘heart be so heavy for my poor Lisl’ if he knew she and Bond had been up all night with the oysters and champagne? Or, this being the early 80s, when thanks to Dallas and Dynasty it was quite socially normal for folk past a certain age to jump into bed with each other, perhaps this is all hunky-dory?

    In the book Lisl is described as a "luxus whore"

    the story (in which Lisl lives) ends with this exchange

    'let us hope you will find some girl as charming as your friend Fräulein Lisl Baum to put you on the right road to the truth.'

    'What do you mean "my friend"? She's yours.'

    Colombo shook his head. 'My dear James, I have many friends. You will be spending a few more days in Italy writing your report, and no doubt,' he chuckled, 'checking on some of the things I have told you. Perhaps you will also have an enjoyable half an hour explaining the facts of life to your colleagues in American Intelligence. In between these duties you will need companionship--someone to show you the beauties of my beloved homeland. In uncivilized countries, it is the polite custom to offer one of your wives to a man whom you love and wish to honour. I also am uncivilized. I have no wives, but I have many such friends as Lisl Baum. She will not need to receive any instructions in this matter. I have good reason to believe that she is awaiting your return this evening.' Colombo fished in his trousers pocket and tossed something down with a clang on the table in front of Bond. 'Here is the good reason.' Colombo put his hand to his heart and looked seriously into Bond's eyes. 'I give it to you from my heart. Perhaps also from hers.'

    Bond picked the thing up. It was a key with a heavy metal tag attached. The metal tag was inscribed Albergo Danielli. Room 68


    I can see how this film resembles an epiosde of The Saint more than most other Bond entries. Except for all the killing and explosions. But the scale of the adventure, the mediterranean scenes, and especially the relationship between Bond and Melina are Templar-like. I dont think we see Bond giving advice to characters he meets in other films, he just does his job.

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    Vendetta for the Saint or whatever it's called was on Talking Pictures TV again today and it was amazing to watch a younger Roger Moore go through much the same motions, and in this one not looking that much younger in the way he held himself. A couple of moments where it was clear what Moore meant when he revealed upon taking the Bond role that he couldn't really run - he looked like a broom handle was up his backside - they sort of cut away quickly when he has to move anywhere. You do see this very briefly in The Man With The Golden Gun during the karate scene. This possibly led to the allegation that Moore used a stunt double to simply get up - not quite true but he could do with it for any kind of running.

    I didn't see such brochures during any other Bond movies. They had a kind of promo leaflet for Moonraker with the poster on the front and a competition offering a trip to Rio de Janerio if memory serves, plus an advert for Seiko on the back with Moore modelling the watch. I saw Octopussy and AVTAK and TLD at Odeon Leicester Square but saw no brochure to go with them.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,065MI6 Agent

    So, I did watch FYEO last night.

    I can't comment much on it otherwise I will end up writing an essay of excessive length. I enjoyed it. There are some missteps.

    1. Why is Melina in the casino and why is this never raised as a topic of conversation?
    2. I have the impression Jacoba Brink was originally intended to be a KGB agent watching over Kristatos. All the sly glances in her first two scenes hint at it - especially the one she gave OO7 leaving the ice rink before the hockey players cause chaos. That would create a more interesting dynamic to Kristatos' entourage.
    3. What on earth is the casino scene about? It was nice to see Bond back in one, he'd played a swift hand of mah-jong or something in TMWTGG, but all that just to tell us Bond never plays the odds?
    4. Bibi is a terrible character. It might have been more fun if she's been Brink's associate KGB agent and she'd been skiing after OO7 intending to eliminate him [and obviously not being seen] Lynn Holly Johnson was nowhere near as young as her on screen character; she was almost as old as Carole Bouquet.
    5. The hotel scene with Bibi is appalling. Really appalling. I completely blame the writers here. Moore was looking a little jaded, but by emphasising it they don't make the scene funny, only a bit creepy. In 1981, I think this was considered something of a step forward, but Moore was over 50 by now. Should he as a spritely 40 year old have been bedding 20 yo Jane Seymour ? I think it's a bit late for Bond to be picky about the age of his bed mates. Bibi looks pretty old to me. No one ever says she is underage or even a teenager.
    6. What's the wedding scene for, when Q arrives to give OO7 zero help whatsoever? This scene should have been featured in Bond and Melina's earlier walkabout, hinting at their budding romance, etc. The stuff about St Cyril's should have been said by Melina and Topol.
    7. I was pleased to see that the writers had attempted to insert elements of THR, QOS and FAVTAK in the movie. They are very minor. Melina kills a bad guy saving Bond's life (FAVTAK). The St George's is sunk by a mine; Bond was in the Caribbean after sinking a ship with a mine (QOS). Kristatos (the villain) has a luxury yacht, as does the 'bad guy' in THR, who also has a kept woman, although exactly how 'kept' Bibi is is open to interpretation. I might be straw-clutching here, but I'd never noticed before.
    8. Kristatos thanks Bond for extracting the ATAC as his goons don't know how to disarm it; but they've had days and days to figure this out. I find that unlikely. Additionally, why is his salvage team in such a cumbersome diving suit? It doesn't even have hand sockets, only wire cutters. Does it fit in the submersible which attacks the Neptune? I'd never noticed how small that little sub was. The Neptune is like a giant beside it.
    9. I really dislike the PTS, not for the helicopter stunts, which are quite well done, but because of the Blofeld / Tracy /white cat memories it draws on [would everyone be aware of this in 1981? are they aware of it now? I doubt a casual viewer would understand the references]. You can tell it was an add on, that the original shooting script had a PTS including the scenes immediately after the credits; there's a real clunky zoom on Melina's eyes after her parents are shot which suggests John Glen was planning to cut to Maurice Binder's credits from this freeze frame. It's so obvious the scene turns from drama to melodrama in seconds.
    10. The misplaced humour surrounding Luigi.
    11. The less said about the Thatcher coda the better.

    Basically, it's a very good movie, although it isn't as joyous as TSWLM or MR. It needs tightening, and it's already pretty tight, so it could have come in about 1hr 50min, which would make it more rewarding. The second half, as Napoleon suggests, begins to sag. Some of Moore's best scenes are in this movie: when he discusses digging two graves with Melina, the identigraph scene, kicking Locque's car over the cliff, the scene with the parrot 'Atac to St Cyrils', and the confrontation with Gogol.

    FYEO used to sit in my top five. With the passage of time, it's slipped a bit and sometimes I can't even place it in a top ten. But it's a very good product all the same and features a strong, slightly more believable supporting cast of characters who are all acted well (Bouquet, Topol, Glover & Harris in particular).

    Thanks @Napoleon Plural for jogging my memory. This was a nice way to end a Bank Holiday weekend.

    Oh, and congratulations to Ronnie O'Sullivan.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,450Chief of Staff
    edited May 3

    Yes, the original plan was to cut to the titles after the zoom into Melina's eyes.

    I was obviously aware of Blofeld/Tracy/white cat on first viewing in 1981 but I'm a Bond nerd and can't speak for everyone.

    The wedding scene lets MGW get his cameo in! 😁

    IIRC, critics at the time were favourable about the ageing Moore declining Bibi's advances and felt it was acknowledging Bond getting older.

    The casino scene leads into 007 having dinner with Kristatos leading into him going off with Lisl after her fake fight with Topol. It's almost pure Fleming and is played beautifully by all.

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,703MI6 Agent

    Superb essays in this thread... a thoroughly good read!

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent
    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    Re @Barbel and who remembers Blofeld, well, I remembered it but I was a Bond nerd even then. I think it would have been common knowledge in a way as the Bond movies were shown on telly - maybe not the first three for some mad reason but they don't feature Blofeld much anyway. However, of course for anyone unfamiliar the vibe is - mad, baldy villain seeks to destroy Bond gets dropped down a chimney, it doesn't matter they don't know who it is, might even work better frankly.

    Glen the director was quoted as saying that they couldn't come up with a pre-credits then late in the day he reiterated his idea to Cubby, earlier rejected, about Bond hanging on to the helicopter controlled by Blofeld and Cubby said it was the first he'd heard of it and swore Glen had never mentioned it. So they went with that, I don't know if that was after they found the original pre-creidts didn't have any kick. I did think the whole segue into Melina's eyes as odd but assumed they were trying to match it with the 'Eyes Only' document in the next scene but it didn't work. The song wouldn't have worked with that original opening - but then I read that Conti wrote that to fit with the helicopter pre-credits, and indeed originally had the opening lyrics as 'Put me down, put me down' to match what Blofeld said but the credit guy Maurice Binder said, no, don't do that, just start the song with 'For Your Eyes Only' with pretty much the opening bar or at least emphasis...

    @chrisno1 - I did wonder what Melina was doing in the casino but it slipped my mind to mention it, it just seems a one-off and doesn't lead to anything, you sort of assume it might though. It may hint that she has romantic feelings for Bond as it looks a bit jealous or hurt, nothing much until then in the film suggests she's keen on him.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • caractacus pottscaractacus potts Orbital communicator, level 10Posts: 3,394MI6 Agent

    we dont know the backstory for the baddies in most of the other films' precredits, so its more like this one is just as comprehensible as those but its a bonus for those who know their Bond history.

    the gravestone might confuse some people however

  • Napoleon PluralNapoleon Plural LondonPosts: 9,719MI6 Agent

    So on Thursday, London's Prince Charles cinema was showing Never Say Never Again.

    "This is where we leave you Mr Bond."

    Roger Moore 1927-2017
  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,065MI6 Agent

    Awww poor Prince Charles...

  • chrisno1chrisno1 LondonPosts: 2,065MI6 Agent
    edited May 7

    Thunderball at the Vue, Valley Park, Croydon

    Got there !

    TB is never going to be one of the very best Bond films, but it's one of my favs and sits comfortably in my top ten, despite having a tremendous number of continuity issues, which jar - although not when I first saw it, only after repeats. It looks fabulous on the big screen, one of the best photographed of all the Bond's, and the sound quality is immeasurably better than that delivered off a home entertainment system. What it lacks is an efficient narrative drive. I think Napoleon might have mentioned this in his epic review. Peter Hunt's editing really is all over the place in this one and whole scenes pass where nothing is achieved. Take Bond going to Palmyra for lunch; he should be doing something, or asking something, be suspicious of something, but he doesn't do anything except spout silly one-liners. He ought to be using his geiger counter watch, raising a reason to investigate the mansion. Another example is when Bond and Domino are on the beach; Bond's dialogue feels as it its been switched out of order, there must be more to this conversation, Domino accepts her role in Bond's plan far too easily, then she mentions the landing stage but doesn't offer any explanation as to why it should be important nor why she's mentioning it, Bond hasn't asked her for this kind of detail. Similarly, their conversation at the casino is ridiculously short. When Bond asks "Are you staying aboard TONIGHT" surely it's because he's going to raid the yacht that night - but he doesn't do it until the next evening. Exactly what he does do for the whole day in between, other than thump Felix and a goon, is never revealed. Those water sports M told us about perhaps? This means all the investigation is done by [presumably] intuition and fails to ring true. The climatic underwater fight is too long and I would have preferred some decent character interchanges than the second act of that colossal battle.

    All the women are gorgeous in this. I remember some talk about the Molly Peter's character being abused, but I think this is more to do with TB being of its time; Pat is clearly a sexually liberated woman who doesn't take her work that seriously - she's going to lunch with Count Lippe, seems not to wear underclothes, and doesn't exactly scream and run away when Bond propositions her; although he resorts to blackmail, she clearly enjoys his attentions. Martine Beswick's character was apparently created solely so Terence Young's girlfriend could get in the movie and that's a pity for the film because her role is irrelevant and detracts from Bond doing proper investigative work. I mean, just because she's checked out of the hotel, why does Bond think she's at Palmyra? He needs a reason to go there and this isn't it. All Paula's lines should have been Pinder's. Luciana Paluzzi and Claudine Auger are beautifully spectacular on the big screen.

    These narrative slips ups don't irk me as much as I make it sound, but they are a major failing with what is basically, visually, a quality product. All the ingredients are there, but Peter Hunt, Terence Young or the writers, have worried too much about the frosting and forgot to bake the thing first.

    Great music. Fantastic titles. Brilliant fight scenes. I even forgive the over cranking. That's enough. I'll stop. Loved it.

  • Shady TreeShady Tree London, UKPosts: 2,703MI6 Agent
    edited May 11

    TB seen simultaneously at another Vue!

    My full review of TB is here (written prior to NTTD's release):https://www.ajb007.co.uk/discussion/comment/967952#Comment_967952

    One question that occured to me this evening, when seeing TB again, is: what exactly's at stake?

    Bond's concern that "thousands... hundreds of thousands of people will die" unless Largo can be stopped (as he explains to Domino on the beach) seems undermined and drained of dramatic impact by the fact that, in London, the Home Secretary has grudgingly but repeatedly stated his decision to pay the ransom if push comes to shove. His people are already "on to De Beers". So ultimately it wouldn't be the lives of everyone in Miami at stake, but the diamonds! (One wonders if the U.S. would be chipping in with a share of the ransom payment too, or perhaps they don't deal with terrorists.)

    Let's assume that, in the event of Bond's failure to throw a spanner in SPECTRE's works in time, the criminal organisation would receive its ransom payment as the Home Secretary has arranged: Number One would presumably honour his word in allowing NATO to recover the missiles (unless, of course, he'd have a hissy fit about the casualties already inflicted on his organisation by Bond - or unless he'd end up behaving like Angelo, who attempted to change the terms of an agreement when it suited him. But Angelo's behaviour provoked SPECTRE's ire, and it would be out of character for Number One to trash SPECTRE's reputation as an organisation which meets terms: they'd never credibly be able to hold the western world, or anyone else, to hostage again!)

    The plot doesn't bear much scrutiny, but it's all good fun!

    Critics and material I don't need. I haven't changed my act in 50 years.
  • jdjohnUKjdjohnUK Posts: 11MI6 Agent

    Hi!

    Last Saturday I watched NTTD, after that I had to re-watch Spectre the very same day, at the end of the day I managed to finish Moonraker.

  • BarbelBarbel ScotlandPosts: 33,450Chief of Staff

    Three in one day! Very dedicated, sir. Which did you enjoy most?

  • jdjohnUKjdjohnUK Posts: 11MI6 Agent

    Moonraker, of course.

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