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Old 05-19-2009, 02:17 PM   #126
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Default Re: CFE's James Bond Countdown

#4

DR. NO (1962)



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Directed by ... Terence Young
Written by … Richard Maibaum, Berkley Mather and Johanna Harwood
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Associate Produced by … Stanley Sopel
Cinematography by … Ted Moore
Production Design by … Ken Adam
Costume Design by … Tessa Prendergast and Eileen Sullivan
Editing by ... Peter R. Hunt
Original Score by ... Monty Norman and John Barry

Sean Connery ... James Bond
Ursula Andress ... Honey Ryder
Joseph Wiseman ... Dr. No
Jack Lord ... Felix Leiter
Bernard Lee ... M.
Anthony Dawson ... Professor R. J. Dent
Zena Marshall ... Miss Taro
John Kitzmiller ... Quarrel
Eunice Gayson ... Sylvia Trench
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Peter Burton ... Maj. Boothroyd
Yvonne Shima ... Sister Lily
Michel Mok ... Sister Rose
Dolores Keator ... Mary
Reginald Carter ... Jones
Louis Blaazer ... Pleydell-Smith
Colonel Burton ... Gen. Potter

James Bond's investigation of a missing colleague in Jamaica leads him to the island of the mysterious Dr. No and a scheme to end the US space program.

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By the early 1960s, action pictures were personified by “The Guns of Navarone” and Stanley Kubrick’s “Spartacus.” Still taking hints from the spectacles of the 40s and 50s, films were garnished with overblown sets and choreography…and action hadn’t ceased its clumsiness to be deemed ‘stylish.’

When producer Albert R. Broccoli (nicknamed ‘Cubby’) became interested in Ian Fleming’s “James Bond” spy novels, he teamed with Harry Saltzman, whom already held the rights to translate the books into features.

Thus began the James Bond series with 1962’s “Dr. No.”

“Dr. No” is the film that introduced the movie world to James Bond, the world's most famous `secret' agent. This is where we first see most of the things that have come to be traditional in 007 movies, such as Bond's indestructibility, his blatant but perpetually uneventful flirtatious exchanges with Moneypenny, and the fact that he always gets the girl, or, as is often the case, girls. What we don't see here are the fast paced opening sequence (although there is a skeletal version that can be found here) or many of the high tech gadgets that are 98% of the reason that Pierce Brosnan is able to pull off the role. Disagree? Just imagine Pierce trying to be James Bond without a brand new remote control BMW or some cool x-ray glasses. Pierce is the flashy version of the calm, collected James Bond that Sean Connery portrayed.

What “Dr. No” lacked in sheer technological paraphernalia it more than made up for with it's character development and it's quality story. Dr. No himself is built up to be the real star of the film. We find out that people are more willing to risk substantial personal injury rather than cross him, and we know so much about him far before we ever see him that he develops a mysterious aura. He is not exactly an imaginative villain, but this suspensefully slow introduction makes him very effective (similar to the eventual introduction of Harry Lime in “The Third Man,” a method that prompted Orson Welles to call his part as Lime a `true star role'). While this is very effective in developing his character, his ‘Wizard-of-Oz’-like appearance in that strange room at the end of the pier was a little more on the clumsy side. But hey, he's the proud owner of the biggest baddest goldfish on the planet, so who's to argue with him?

With an essential Chinese look, Canadian actor Joseph Wiseman brought to life Dr. No—the first megalomaniac super villain of the atomic age…We first see his black steel hands when he pulls back the bed sheets covering a sleeping 007…Wiseman looked the perfect combination of crippled scientist and criminal: From his heavily staffed underground base and using atomic energy, Dr. No—on behalf of the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. organization—was operating a device on the tropical island of Jamaica that massively interferes with the critical rocket launchings from Cape Canaveral...

For our first outing, the plot concerns a British agent, John Strangways, missing in Jamaica... Bond is sent to investigate… He discovers that Strangways was on the track of a certain Dr. No, owner of a mine on the nearby island of Crab Key… The locals avoided Crab Key, believing it haunted… Bond landed there, but instead of ghosts, came upon a girl named Honey on the beach… He was soon caught up in a deadly battle of wits with Dr. No, who planned to destroy the entire US space program…

Now it's true that “Dr. No” is not the same hard core and high tech action film that James Bond has come to be known as in the latest films, but it still is not afraid to clearly broadcast its commercial intentions. While the more recent Bond films are little more than entertaining BMW commercials, this one heavily advertises vodka – I guess BMWs weren't cool enough back in 1962. In one particular scene, Bond picks up a half empty (or half full?) bottle of Smirnoff vodka, smells it, suspecting poison, and then opens a drawer and pulls out fresh bottle of Smirnoff vodka. For someone with such an important job and who has so many enemies who would love to catch him a little off guard and kill him, James Bond sure drinks a lot.

Of course, being the first Bond film, “Dr. No” had a lot of influence on the Austin Powers films, and this is something that is fun to watch for in the old 007 movies. We see the way Dr. No is dressed, in a prototypical outfit later adopted for Dr. Evil (the origins of that name can be found here as well), you have the goofy plastic radiation suits at the end of the film, and there are also a few pieces of dialogue that the first Austin Powers film has rendered completely hilarious (`I'm sure the west would welcome a scientist of your…caliber?'). Interestingly enough, Dr. No seems to have borrowed from previous films as well, but not with such great success. The control room at the end of the film is strangely similar to the great machines from Metropolis, which is pretty weak as far as set design. Sure, sets in 1962 weren't as spectacular as many are today, but Metropolis' sets were just as good as those seen in Dr. No, and Metropolis was filmed in 1926.

(spoilers) Bond's relationship with Honey Ryder - played by the stunningly beautiful Ursula Andress, one of the most beautiful Bond girl ever, but with by far the ugliest name - is not very realistic (he meets some girl on the beach who travels the world collecting shells and they are initially forced to team up, after which they gradually fall in love).But despite this, she added a great deal to the rest of the film, and she also established the tradition of the Bond girl.

And seeing Andress coming out of the water on Crab Key, dressed in a skimpy bikini, is one of the most famous introductions for a performer in screen history—paralleling Omar Sharif's arrival on camel in David Lean's "Lawrence of Arabia," the same year…

Now “Dr. No” has its fair share of negative aspects.

The day for night photography was not convincing at all, and the film even had some traces of racism that were very disturbing. For example, just after having been shot at on the beach, and the three of them are preparing to leave, Bond tells Quarrel, the simple-minded black man, to `Fetch my shoes.' Not only that, but this poor guy is dressed in a bright red shirt while they're trying to hide in the jungle, and needless to say, he dies a horrible death early in the film. It's a good thing that this racism didn't become a Bond film tradition.

Aside from all that, “No” is a delightful film and a tremendous first impression for the character. Monty Norman created one of THE most iconic cinema themes in history and his material in the film is tremendous, working alongside John Barry…who would go on to become the maestro of Bond composers.

In the end, ”Dr. No” is the film that started it all in the seemingly endless 007 film series, and is therefore required viewing for any James Bond fan. The film is interesting and entertaining, despite its many shortcomings, and is also worth watching because of the many things that are now amusing but were not originally meant to be. The Austin Powers stuff, of course, is funny to see, but there are also more subtle things, like Sean Connery's line, `There are no such things as dragons.' Who would have thought that this guy would go on to provide the voice for a digitally created dragon in a mediocre fantasy film in 1996?

But in all seriousness, If you are into fairly well developed action films, this one absolutely cannot be missed.

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Old 05-19-2009, 02:36 PM   #127
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Default Re: CFE's James Bond Countdown

Nice to see the reviews rollin' along in, CFE. However, I think I'll begin reading them once you've posted them all up so I know they're all there. Anyhow, another terrific movie list, CFE

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Old 05-19-2009, 02:57 PM   #128
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#3

THUNDERBALL (1965)



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Directed by ... Terence Young
Story by … Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham and Ian Fleming
Screenplay by … Jack Whittingham
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli, Harry Saltzman and Kevin McClory
Associate Produced by … Stanley Sopel
Cinematography by … Ted Moore
Production Design by … Ken Adam
Costume Design by … Anthony Mendleson
Editing by ... Peter R. Hunt
Original Score by ... John Barry
Title Song Performed by … Tom Jones

Sean Connery ... James Bond
Claudine Auger ... Dominique 'Domino' Derval
Adolfo Celi ... Emilio Largo - SPECTRE #2
Luciana Paluzzi ... Fiona Volpe
Rik Van Nutter ... Felix Leiter
Guy Doleman ... Count Lippe
Molly Peters ... Patricia Fearing
Martine Beswick ... Paula Caplan
Bernard Lee ... M
Desmond Llewelyn ... Q
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Roland Culver ... Foreign Secretary
Earl Cameron ... Pinder
Paul Stassino ... Major Francois Derval / Angelo Palazzi
Rose Alba ... Madame Boitier
Philip Locke ... Vargas
George Pravda ... Wladislav Kutze
Michael Brennan ... Janni
Leonard Sachs ... Group Captain Pritchard
Edward Underdown ... Air Vice Marshal Sir John
Reginald Beckwith ... Kenniston

James Bond heads to The Bahamas to recover two nuclear warheads stolen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E. agent Emilio Largo in an international extortion scheme.

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Yes…after a classic like “Goldfinger” there’s no way the next installment could hope to measure up. And sure the series started to get gimmicky with 1965’s “Thunderball,” But I personally love it.

Connery is still at his peak, the villain is exciting, the babes are bodacious and the underwater angle on the picture’s action sequences (a total 180 to the eventual act of taking Bond up into space in “Moonraker”) is just awesome.

In several ways, "Thunderball" is one of the best (and most quintessential) Bond films ever made: The photography are first-rate, the dialogue has a lot of wit ("Don't worry, I'll call the chef!"), Connery gives perhaps his most confident and charismatic performance as 007, the good girl Claudine Auger is, like the other French Bond girls Carole Bouquet and Sophie Marceau, gorgeous, and the evil girl Luciana Paluzzi is delicious ("But I may not be in the mood later", a man tells her. "You wanna bet?", she replies).

For this adventure, the stakes start off both raised and personal. When two colleagues of James Bond (Connery) are murdered, James follows the widow of a double agent who has been killed - and a confrontation ensues. The double agent is part of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and the organization's meeting in a secret lair in Paris regrets the agent's passing as it deals with new criminal business. Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi), a ruthless and flamboyant eye-patch wearing enforcer, has hatched a scheme against the North Atlantic Treaty powers that begins at a rehabilitation clinic near an RAF airbase. Scheduled to pilot an RAF Vulcan strategic bomber on a normal "fail-safe" flight is Francois Derval (Paul Stassino), who is having a passionate affair with the magnificently endowed beauty Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) - an affair that S.P.E.C.T.R.E. exploits. Soon, the Vulcan and its warload of two nuclear bombs has been hijacked, the bombs seized by Largo, for use in S.P.E.C.T.R.E.'s most audacious extortion scheme yet. James Bond, however, finds a key clue in the sister of Francois Derval, Dominique "Domino" Derval (Claudine Auger), a beautiful young woman who is a passionate scuba-diver living in Nassau. When James investigates Domino, he comes into contact with a S.P.E.C.T.R.E. operation on the island, and he gets help from a fellow Secret Service man in Nassau, Pinder (Earl Cameron), and in old CIA chum Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter). But when James and Felix find out what S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is up to, it may be to late to save a major US coastal city from nuclear annihilation.

The entire thing leads up to one of the most interesting, violent fight sequences in the entire Bond franchise as a giant underwater battle erupts between S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and a group of Scuba commandos (joined of course by Bond) as they attempt to prevent Largo from detonating the bombs off the coast of Miami. Excitement and bloodshed erupts and the title of "Most Violent Connery Bond Film" is one by the end.

intricate story that makes “Thunderball” such a good installment in the Bond series, as well as excellently created tension throughout the film. Sure, there were a few weaknesses here and there, such as the fact that the hijacked nuclear weapons had the moronic phrase `Handle like eggs' stenciled on the side, as well as the below average traditional one-liners during the movie. Some of the one-liners were good, but then there were stupid ones like `I think he got the point,' and `See you later, irrigator.'

With the limited technology available in 1965, the special effects and the action were especially effective, as was the quality scene with Q introducing the newest series of Bond's new high tech toys. There is also the unusual quality (at least in a Bond film) of using a cinematic technique in order to achieve a particular response. Normally, the Bond movies are straightforward action films that require little to no film knowledge in order to understand or fully appreciate them, but in this film, there were things like the excellent use of shadows late in the film that were used to create very effective tension. Also, there was some extremely fast paced editing done several times in the film that was in the same style as during the infamous murder scene in “Psycho,” although not nearly at that level of skill and precision.

“Thunderball” not only has the best tension filled chase scenes of the entire series, but it also stars one of the best Bond girls, Claudine Auger as Domino, who ranks up there with other excellent Bond girls like Kim Basinger from “Never Say Never Again” and, of course, Ursula Andress as the charming Honey Ryder from “Dr. No.” The underwater battle at the end of the film was ironically one of the best action scenes in the entire movie, although it's strange that the editing in the rest of the movie was so good, whereas here, it is badly messed up.

There are countless editing flaws during this still good sequence, the most obvious of which is probably the fact that at one point, Bond gets his bright blue face mask pulled off, so he grabs a black one off of a dead enemy and puts it on (you can't do that underwater, by the way), and in the shots that follow he is wearing the black one, then the blue one, then the black one again, and then back to the blue one! This wouldn't have been so obvious if his mask hadn't been so bright blue, but luckily it didn't take much away from the scene as a whole.

Sean Connery as usual proves that he IS James Bond and delivers his lines perfectly. At this point Connery obviously has the character down to near perfection. He can fight, shoot, smoke, gamble, drive nice cars, and seduce women and make it come across as convincing. This is definitive proof that he was born for this role and that the series wouldn't have gone very far without his leaving such a great impact upon his initial run as the character.

Adolf Celi makes a superb villain with his scimitar shaped snout, the black eye patch, and his razor sharp voice. He is despicable from start to finish, especially when he threatens to apply hot and cold torture to Domino with a burning cigarette and ice cubes. He feeds one of henchmen to the sharks when the man fails to deal with 007. Later, after the RAF Vulcan lands in the Bahamas, he refuses to cut the impostor pilot Angelo Palazzi (Paul Stassino of "Escape to Athena") free of the cockpit straps but slashes the man's air hose so that he drowns. Earlier, after the villains killed the real RAF pilot, Palazzi demanded more money because of the plastic surgery that he had to undergo to impersonate the pilot. Clearly, Palazzi's greed motivated Largo in part to kill him, but Largo is just enough of a dastard to have done it anyway to keep from paying Palazzi period.

The plan to crash land an RAF Vulcan at sea, retrieve the bombs, and camouflage the aircraft with sharks swimming around it is inspired itself. While the landing isn't that convincing, it will do, but once the plane is on the ocean floor, it looks cool. The climactic undersea battle off the coast of Miami has been vastly underrated. At the time, this represented the biggest underwater battle in cinema history; indeed, the Bond producers would mimic it in outer space for "Moonraker." Despite the continuity problems in the underwater battle, Young and second unit director Peter Hunt have a blast, even the lobster trying to avoid the fighting is amusing. All the scenes with the sharks are neat. Bond's first two encounters with Largo at the casino and later on Largo's estate where they shoot skeet are first-rate. Young keeps the tone of the film rather serious and the one-liners and puns pay off beautifully. The briefing of the double-00s in London in that cavernous room with the huge wall map is very atmospheric.

John Barry's music is absolute tops and, second to “Goldfinger” it might be one of my favorite of his scores. And of course the bombastic title song provided by the bass-filled Tom Jones…it’s one of my favorite songs from the series, it’s so powerful.

With ingenious gadgets provided by Q, wonderful underwater sequences, great special visual effects (rewarded with an Oscar), nice music score, and exotic scenery, the film remains as a lavish tropical paradise where sandy beaches, coral reefs and bikinis prevailed... The viewer suddenly gets a tremendous sense of the tropics, of carefree vacations, cool tropical drinks, and moonlights romance…

Overall, one of the most high octane and entertaining Bonds ever.

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Old 05-19-2009, 04:25 PM   #129
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#2

GOLDFINGER (1964)



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Directed by ... Guy Hamilton
Written by … Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Associate Produced by … Stanley Sopel
Cinematography by … Ted Moore
Production Design by … Ken Adam
Costume Design by … Elsa Fennell, John Hilling and Eileen Sullivan
Editing by ... Peter R. Hunt
Original Score by ... John Barry
Title Song Performed by … Shirley Bassey

Sean Connery ... James Bond
Honor Blackman ... Pussy Galore
Gert Fröbe ... Auric Goldfinger
Shirley Eaton ... Jill Masterson
Tania Mallet ... Tilly Masterson
Harold Sakata ... Oddjob
Bernard Lee ... 'M'
Martin Benson ... Solo
Cec Linder ... Felix Leiter
Austin Willis ... Simmons
Lois Maxwell ... Moneypenny
Bill Nagy ... Midnight
Michael Mellinger ... Kisch
Peter Cranwell ... Johnny
Nadja Regin ... Bonita
Richard Vernon ... Smithers
Burt Kwouk ... Mr. Ling
Desmond Llewelyn ... 'Q'
Mai Ling ... Mei-Lei
Varley Thomas ... Swiss Gatekeeper
Margaret Nolan ... Dink
John McLaren ... Brigadier
Robert MacLeod ... Atomic Specialist
Victor Brooks ... Blacking
Alf Joint ... Capungo
Gerry Duggan ... Hawker
Michael Collins ... Auric Goldfinger (voice)

Investigating a gold magnate's gold smuggling, James Bond uncovers a plot to contaminate the Fort Knox gold reserve.

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“Goldfinger” is the Bond picture that has it all…

Goldfinger could best be described as the quintessential, definitive Bond film, the first of the series to set the necessities of the entire saga in motion. It is also the best of the Bond movies, arguably the most suave and sophisticated, far superior to the Roger Moore era and those who followed in Connery's footsteps. It is the Bond ultimatum, so to speak.

Sean Connery is just a shade over his prime in the third installment, but he’s still very (VERY) close. In fact this might be his most charismatic performance as 007. I especially love all of his scenes at the beginning of the film in Miami.

“Goldfinger" is one of those films where everything comes together very well. It's fast paced and displays the kind of wit and humor that lets us know that none of this will ever be taken too seriously. It's grand escapist fare moving from one dazzling set piece to another.

There's the sight of ill-fated early victim Jill (Shirley Eaton) completely covered in gold paint, the sight of Bond (actually displaying a genuine and obvious nervousness for once) in danger of being cut in half by a laser, the climactic raid on Fort Knox, and so much more. The film is certainly an important entry in the franchise for firmly establishing such elements as well staged action, impressive foreign locales, wonderfully elaborate villainous designs, awesome gadgets (the Aston Martin makes its first appearance here), and colorful bad guys.

Goldfinger and of course the mostly mute sidekick / henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata) became so iconic as to get spoofed many times since (Random Task in the original “Austin Powers” picture). From the jaw dropping moment of taking a statue’s head off with his steel-brimmed derby, Oddjob instantly became my favorite Bond foe, followed closely by Jaws.

Desmond Llewelyn as gadget designer Q makes his first substantial appearance in a Bond film (although he did appear in “From Russia with Love”) and is delightful as always. In addition to series regulars Bernard Lee as M and Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, the supporting cast includes Tania Mallett as Jill's revenge-seeking sister Tilly, Martin Benson as the mobster Solo, Cec Linder as Bond's CIA contact / friend Felix Leiter, Michael Mellinger as henchman Kisch, and Burt Kwouk (Cato in the "Pink Panther" series) as Mr. Ling.

”Goldfinger” was also the first to truly setup the suave nature of 007, the tongue-in-cheek humor (absent in the first movie, Dr. No), the far-fetched gadgetry (including fast cars, this one being an Aston-Martin…one of the most famous screen automobiles in history) and, arguably, the first of the series to feature the famous line, "Bond, James Bond," as a 007 catchphrase, versus a mere line of dialogue. When Bond storms out onto the patio of the motel room, the camera zooms in towards his face, the 007 theme song roars through the speakers, and he says his motto with cool confidence. It's Bond, baby.

Both of Goldfinger's predecessors were darker, more serious motion pictures -- more in-tune with the writing of Fleming versus the suaveness to later be salvaged from the series with the third installment. Although Dr. No was a terrific movie, and although From Russia with Love is exciting, Goldfinger beats them both. It features the best (and most famous) Bond villain to ever grace the screen, constantly spoofed in countless productions: Goldfinger (Gert Fröbe), the target of Austin Powers in Goldmember and referenced and spoofed in well over 100 other productions, at least.

There isn't much of a plot, really…but perhaps the simplistic angle of the story is what makes it so clean and effective. Goldfinger plans to rob Fort Knox and become the richest man in the world. Bond finds out and tries to put a stop to his mission. What entices us, and what makes the film so entertaining despite the absurdity, is its leniency towards itself. It doesn't mind being silly because the entertainment value far outweighs any flaws.

Plus, it has some of the most memorable scenes in the series' history, and arguably the best Villain Explanation Scene to ever be recorded in film.

"Do you expect me to talk, Goldfinger?" Bond (Sean Connery) asks as a laser beam slowly makes its way towards his groin.

"No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!" he says with mock ridicule, before walking away.

The following shots is one of the only sequences in James Bond history where the iconic character actually seems fairly worried that fate may be playing a deadly hand.

Released in 1964, forty years later it stands as one of the most risqué Bond films to date. Especially for its time, there is brief nudity during the opening credits, sexual scenes, constant innuendo (including a Bond girl named "Pussy Galore," played by Honor Blackman) and implications of lesbianism.

Galore's sexual orientation is not delved into as deeply and explicitly as it may be dealt with in today's day and age, but the inclusion exists. Bond struggles verbally with Galore, trying to woo and seduce her, and she subtly implies from their very first meeting that she will not be seduced, claiming it is impossible for Bond to get very far with her, thereby insinuating that she is, in fact, a lesbian. According to the director of the film, Guy Hamilton, the entire situation is given much more emphasis in the novel by Ian Fleming, but it was simply too foul a subject for audiences back in 1964. Surprisingly, the verbal exchanges and implications behind the subject matter are much more effective.

All of the actors in “Goldfinger” are, at the very least, very good. But of course, it is really Sean Connery who demands our utmost attention and respect, for it is Connery whose inhumanly strong screen presence launched Bond into the heights of Movie Legend.

John Barry’s score is my absolute favorite Bond score ever (EVER!) And who can’t help but get goosebumps at the bravado opening trumpts and smooth-as-silk vocals from Shirley Bassey’s title song!?

There are many things that make “Goldfinger” a better than average Bond film, despite the fact that it obviously has many weaknesses. Sean Connery was just as great as he ever was before or since as the endlessly charming James Bond, even though this film, like every single other Bond film, was filled to capacity with dozens of idiotic one-liners that serve only to lower the standard of the film series as a whole. But in that sense, you can't really hold the one-liners against this film. On the contrary, maybe it should count in the film's favor that it was able to overcome the stupidity of the one-liners and still deliver an exciting and engaging action film.

“Goldfinger” is iconic, definitive…and it put the super in ‘super secret agent 007,’ paving the way for generations of forthcoming action films as one of Guy Hamilton’s best.

A bonafide classic.

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Old 05-19-2009, 04:26 PM   #130
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#1

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)



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Directed by ... Terence Young
Written by … Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Associate Produced by … Stanley Sopel
Cinematography by … Ted Moore
Art Direction by … Syd Cain
Costume Design by … Jocelyn Rickards
Editing by ... Peter R. Hunt
Original Score by ... John Barry
Title Song Performed by … Matt Monro

Sean Connery ... James Bond
Daniela Bianchi ... Tatiana Romanova
Pedro Armendáriz ... Ali Kerim Bey
Lotte Lenya ... Rosa Klebb
Robert Shaw ... Red Grant
Bernard Lee ... M
Eunice Gayson ... Sylvia Trench
Walter Gotell ... Morzeny
Francis De Wolff ... Vavra - Gypsy Leader
George Pastell ... Train Conductor
Nadja Regin ... Kerim's Girl
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Aliza Gur ... Vida
Martine Beswick ... Zora
Vladek Sheybal ... Kronsteen
Lisa Guiraut (Leila) ... Gypsy Belly Dancer
Hasan Ceylan ... Foreign Agent
Fred Haggerty ... Krilencu
Neville Jason ... Kerim's Chauffeur
Peter Bayliss ... Benz
Nusret Ataer ... Mehmet
Peter Brayham ... Rhoda
Desmond Llewelyn ... Major Boothroyd
Jan Williams ... Masseuse
Peter Madden ... McAdams - Chess Player
Anthony Dawson … Ernest Stavro Blofeld

James Bond willingly falls into an assassination ploy involving a naive Russian beauty in order to retrieve a Soviet encryption device that was stolen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

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While most people usually cite Goldfinger as their favorite of the Connery Bond films, I will stick with the second underrated entry in the series.

Before Sean Connery started flying around in jetpacks and mini-planes, before Roger Moore went into space and dressed up like a clown, before Pierce Brosnan got into his invisible car and well before Daniel Craig embarked on his vendetta leaving a trail of bodies in his wake, we had a simple, straight forward and realistic Bond film which is still undeniably the best in the entire series history.

If that electric guitar in the opening credits doesn't do it for you, the rest of the film will certainly give you the ultimate expression of everything that the word BOND is. Here is Agent 007 in his purest form, and it's in the form of 1963’s “From Russia with Love.”

First of all, this movie improves on absolutely every aspect from the first film, Dr. No. The acting, the directing, the story, the dialogue, the music, the spectacle...everything is at least half a notch higher. Perhaps the most difficult thing for any sequel to achieve is to top the first one, and with a bigger budget, a bigger story, and a stellar cast, this movie nails it.

We get one of the most well thought out James Bond stories, as well as one of the closest portrayals of Fleming's literary works.

The manipulative S.P.E.C.T.R.E. organization is arranging to steal a cipher machine from the Russian government and draw Britain into the scene, in an effort to assassinate an interfering 007 while at the same time pitting the two super powers against each other. Ignorant of the scheme, Bond is sent on a mission to snatch the Russian encryption device and accompany the beautiful Russian cipher clerk, Tatiana Romanova across the Iron Curtain, while avoiding any potential trap. What begins as a simple mission turns into a strategic battle of wits between 007 and his adversaries.

Although, one might find this film to be a bit slow on the pacing compared to more recent Bond films, I personally love this film for two reasons: 1. It was made in the 60s. Bond was originally created during the heart of the Cold War, and he was a man of his era. In the current films, there is always some sort of need to be retro. There is always a nod to the old days. Well, this IS the "good-old days" so to speak.

We have grey suits, fedora hats, travel by train, cigarette cases, along with a tremendous clash of East versus West. There's just something that feels pure about the atmosphere of this film…what Bond films were meant to be.

The film itself is quite different to its 1962 predecessor. Very Hitchockian, particularly the helicopter chase ( obviously inspired by the crop dusting plane scene in 'North By Northwest' ). Terence Young once again handles the directorial chores superbly, and gets first-rate support from editor Peter Hunt.

As Bond, Connery is cool, elegant, sophisticated and slightly arrogant, you can see why even now his is still regarded as the definitive portrayal. Yes, in my opinion, this is Connery's Bond at his peak.

The supporting cast are marvellous too, particularly Daniela Bianchi as 'Tatiana', Pedro Armendariz as 'Kerim Bey', Vladek Sheybal as 'Kronsteen', and Lotte Lenya as 'Rosa Klebb'. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. boss 'Ernst Blofeld' makes his debut, but is glimpsed rather than seen. The scene-stealer though is Robert Shaw as 'Red Grant'. He looks as though he really could kill Bond. His fight with 007 aboard the Orient Express is still for my money the most impressively choreographed action sequence in the whole series.

Having arranged Monty Norman's 'James Bond Theme' for 'Dr.No', John Barry was promoted to composer, and turned in the first of several memorable scores (though his “Goldfinger” score is my favorite). The title theme was by 'Oliver!' composer Lionel Bart, and sung by Matt Monro and it’s a sweepingly romantic piece of material…very nice.

Richard Maibaum's script is by and large faithful to Ian Fleming's book with the addition of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and a number of outdoor action scenes, including the speedboat finale. Connery’s performance is also a bit more faithful here then in subsequent films (a huge precursor to Daniel Craig…so for those who thought we didn’t get a Bond more in line with Fleming’s character until Dalton or Craig…tsk tsk).

The structure is impressive; the first part has the villains setting up the trap, the next sees Bond walking into it ( to obtain both the Lektor and the girl ), and in the last he fights to stay alive as the jaws begin to close shut.

This movie is arguably the most intricate piece of film-making in the series. Nothing is taken for granted. There are so many subtleties and when something happens, it's always for a reason. There are so many turns in the story, little bits of symbolism and foreshadowing here and there, and some characters, in the beginning of the film, are not the same when you reach the end of the film.

The gypsy scene was superbly written. Bond and Kerim visit a gypsy camp were they are welcomed. Two girls who are in love with the same man fight it out until one kills the other. However a huge fight brews and the fight ends. Insiders from Turkey nearly destroy the whole camp but Bond and Kerim put up a brave fight and save the camp from total devastation.

Also, this film isn't hindered by the usual Bond formula. Rather than a single master villain, we have multiple bad guys in different places, all with their own agenda. Likewise, the movie doesn't settle in one place, but rather, is continually moving from one place to the next, and the gadgets don't outweigh the characters or the story, but compliment them instead.

The set design and cinematography are absolutely lovely and work very much for the picture’s benefit.

The action is also dynamic and explosive, particularly the aforementioned speedboat sequence. I also loved the fight on the train!

The movie is a wonderful "spy" movie with lots of action as opposed to an action/special effects film with a spy element. This is Bond as it should be- intrigue with detective work, traitors, hidden allies (and enemies), mystery, suspense, and action. This is a tale of espionage- fighting the Cold War (or criminal element), not saving the whole world from one maniac with a paid army.

If there is one Bond movie that steps out of the realm of sheer entertainment and into the realm of a great cinematic achievement, I think “From Russia with Love” may be it.

Combined with lush scenery that is photographed and explored deeply and the first of many magnificent John Barry scores, "From Russia With Love" still stands up today as a classic example of pushing against the odds to create a thrilling piece of entertainment that is serious and is one of the best to watch multiple times. While other movies in the Bond series might have one or two flaws that prevent them from becoming much better than they are, “From Russia with Love” contains almost no such faults and is my favorite film of them all.

----------------------------------------------

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Old 05-19-2009, 04:28 PM   #131
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There is an iconic legacy surrounding the entire Bond franchise that will probably never die. Different action heroes come and go, and nowadays Rambo looks criminally out of date, but Bond, in his black-and-white tuxedo, with all his suave sophistication, will never grow old, because he is a timeless hero who is comprised of all the greatest heroic attributes to ever be assembled, and although his style and looks may grow weary amid the changing ages, his character will remain the ultimate hero, and I very much doubt that we will ever live to see a day when Bond becomes outdated.

With his brash attitude, unmatched tenacity, collected sense of sauve and deadly skills…Agent 007 has solidified himself as a pinnacle both of British and American action cinema.

I, along with the rest of the world, will be sitting on pins and needles to see the new ground that the character breaks, and I can’t wait to see what Bond does next.

I’m gonna go get a martini (shaken, not stirred).

Until next time…here’s looking at you kids.

See you on the next mission...this September

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
When I count down 100 Science Fiction films leading to the end of the year...I promise we won't have another computer meltdown right in the middle


In the meantime, you can catch my reviews of the big event films this Summer, starting with "Terminator: Salvation" this weekend.

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Old 05-19-2009, 04:34 PM   #132
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Default Re: CFE's James Bond Countdown

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Originally Posted by CFE View Post
There is an iconic legacy surrounding the entire Bond franchise that will probably never die. Different action heroes come and go, and nowadays Rambo looks criminally out of date, but Bond, in his black-and-white tuxedo, with all his suave sophistication, will never grow old, because he is a timeless hero who is comprised of all the greatest heroic attributes to ever be assembled, and although his style and looks may grow weary amid the changing ages, his character will remain the ultimate hero, and I very much doubt that we will ever live to see a day when Bond becomes outdated.

With his brash attitude, unmatched tenacity, collected sense of sauve and deadly skills…Agent 007 has solidified himself as a pinnacle both of British and American action cinema.

I, along with the rest of the world, will be sitting on pins and needles to see the new ground that the character breaks, and I can’t wait to see what Bond does next.

I’m gonna go get a martini (shaken, not stirred).

Until next time…here’s looking at you kids.

See you on the next mission...this September

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
When I count down 100 Science Fiction films leading to the end of the year
Well, congratulations on completing yet another incredible-to-read list, CFE. Rest easy, my friend. And I'll definitely spend a good portion of my time on the computer reading through your reviews in full.

Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
And, good luck on the upcoming "100 Sci-Fi Films" list. I'll certainly be interested in reading it, but which forum/section will it be under?

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Old 05-19-2009, 08:45 PM   #133
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#1

FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963)



VIDEO-CLick to Watch!:


VIDEO-CLick to Watch!:


Directed by ... Terence Young
Written by … Richard Maibaum and Johanna Harwood
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Produced by ... Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman
Associate Produced by … Stanley Sopel
Cinematography by … Ted Moore
Art Direction by … Syd Cain
Costume Design by … Jocelyn Rickards
Editing by ... Peter R. Hunt
Original Score by ... John Barry
Title Song Performed by … Matt Monro

Sean Connery ... James Bond
Daniela Bianchi ... Tatiana Romanova
Pedro Armendáriz ... Ali Kerim Bey
Lotte Lenya ... Rosa Klebb
Robert Shaw ... Red Grant
Bernard Lee ... M
Eunice Gayson ... Sylvia Trench
Walter Gotell ... Morzeny
Francis De Wolff ... Vavra - Gypsy Leader
George Pastell ... Train Conductor
Nadja Regin ... Kerim's Girl
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Aliza Gur ... Vida
Martine Beswick ... Zora
Vladek Sheybal ... Kronsteen
Lisa Guiraut (Leila) ... Gypsy Belly Dancer
Hasan Ceylan ... Foreign Agent
Fred Haggerty ... Krilencu
Neville Jason ... Kerim's Chauffeur
Peter Bayliss ... Benz
Nusret Ataer ... Mehmet
Peter Brayham ... Rhoda
Desmond Llewelyn ... Major Boothroyd
Jan Williams ... Masseuse
Peter Madden ... McAdams - Chess Player
Anthony Dawson … Ernest Stavro Blofeld

James Bond willingly falls into an assassination ploy involving a naive Russian beauty in order to retrieve a Soviet encryption device that was stolen by S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

----------------------------------------------

While most people usually cite Goldfinger as their favorite of the Connery Bond films, I will stick with the second underrated entry in the series.

Before Sean Connery started flying around in jetpacks and mini-planes, before Roger Moore went into space and dressed up like a clown, before Pierce Brosnan got into his invisible car and well before Daniel Craig embarked on his vendetta leaving a trail of bodies in his wake, we had a simple, straight forward and realistic Bond film which is still undeniably the best in the entire series history.

If that electric guitar in the opening credits doesn't do it for you, the rest of the film will certainly give you the ultimate expression of everything that the word BOND is. Here is Agent 007 in his purest form, and it's in the form of 1963’s “From Russia with Love.”

First of all, this movie improves on absolutely every aspect from the first film, Dr. No. The acting, the directing, the story, the dialogue, the music, the spectacle...everything is at least half a notch higher. Perhaps the most difficult thing for any sequel to achieve is to top the first one, and with a bigger budget, a bigger story, and a stellar cast, this movie nails it.

We get one of the most well thought out James Bond stories, as well as one of the closest portrayals of Fleming's literary works.

The manipulative S.P.E.C.T.R.E. organization is arranging to steal a cipher machine from the Russian government and draw Britain into the scene, in an effort to assassinate an interfering 007 while at the same time pitting the two super powers against each other. Ignorant of the scheme, Bond is sent on a mission to snatch the Russian encryption device and accompany the beautiful Russian cipher clerk, Tatiana Romanova across the Iron Curtain, while avoiding any potential trap. What begins as a simple mission turns into a strategic battle of wits between 007 and his adversaries.

Although, one might find this film to be a bit slow on the pacing compared to more recent Bond films, I personally love this film for two reasons: 1. It was made in the 60s. Bond was originally created during the heart of the Cold War, and he was a man of his era. In the current films, there is always some sort of need to be retro. There is always a nod to the old days. Well, this IS the "good-old days" so to speak.

We have grey suits, fedora hats, travel by train, cigarette cases, along with a tremendous clash of East versus West. There's just something that feels pure about the atmosphere of this film…what Bond films were meant to be.

The film itself is quite different to its 1962 predecessor. Very Hitchockian, particularly the helicopter chase ( obviously inspired by the crop dusting plane scene in 'North By Northwest' ). Terence Young once again handles the directorial chores superbly, and gets first-rate support from editor Peter Hunt.

As Bond, Connery is cool, elegant, sophisticated and slightly arrogant, you can see why even now his is still regarded as the definitive portrayal. Yes, in my opinion, this is Connery's Bond at his peak.

The supporting cast are marvellous too, particularly Daniela Bianchi as 'Tatiana', Pedro Armendariz as 'Kerim Bey', Vladek Sheybal as 'Kronsteen', and Lotte Lenya as 'Rosa Klebb'. S.P.E.C.T.R.E. boss 'Ernst Blofeld' makes his debut, but is glimpsed rather than seen. The scene-stealer though is Robert Shaw as 'Red Grant'. He looks as though he really could kill Bond. His fight with 007 aboard the Orient Express is still for my money the most impressively choreographed action sequence in the whole series.

Having arranged Monty Norman's 'James Bond Theme' for 'Dr.No', John Barry was promoted to composer, and turned in the first of several memorable scores (though his “Goldfinger” score is my favorite). The title theme was by 'Oliver!' composer Lionel Bart, and sung by Matt Monro and it’s a sweepingly romantic piece of material…very nice.

Richard Maibaum's script is by and large faithful to Ian Fleming's book with the addition of S.P.E.C.T.R.E. and a number of outdoor action scenes, including the speedboat finale. Connery’s performance is also a bit more faithful here then in subsequent films (a huge precursor to Daniel Craig…so for those who thought we didn’t get a Bond more in line with Fleming’s character until Dalton or Craig…tsk tsk).

The structure is impressive; the first part has the villains setting up the trap, the next sees Bond walking into it ( to obtain both the Lektor and the girl ), and in the last he fights to stay alive as the jaws begin to close shut.

This movie is arguably the most intricate piece of film-making in the series. Nothing is taken for granted. There are so many subtleties and when something happens, it's always for a reason. There are so many turns in the story, little bits of symbolism and foreshadowing here and there, and some characters, in the beginning of the film, are not the same when you reach the end of the film.

The gypsy scene was superbly written. Bond and Kerim visit a gypsy camp were they are welcomed. Two girls who are in love with the same man fight it out until one kills the other. However a huge fight brews and the fight ends. Insiders from Turkey nearly destroy the whole camp but Bond and Kerim put up a brave fight and save the camp from total devastation.

Also, this film isn't hindered by the usual Bond formula. Rather than a single master villain, we have multiple bad guys in different places, all with their own agenda. Likewise, the movie doesn't settle in one place, but rather, is continually moving from one place to the next, and the gadgets don't outweigh the characters or the story, but compliment them instead.

The set design and cinematography are absolutely lovely and work very much for the picture’s benefit.

The action is also dynamic and explosive, particularly the aforementioned speedboat sequence. I also loved the fight on the train!

The movie is a wonderful "spy" movie with lots of action as opposed to an action/special effects film with a spy element. This is Bond as it should be- intrigue with detective work, traitors, hidden allies (and enemies), mystery, suspense, and action. This is a tale of espionage- fighting the Cold War (or criminal element), not saving the whole world from one maniac with a paid army.

If there is one Bond movie that steps out of the realm of sheer entertainment and into the realm of a great cinematic achievement, I think “From Russia with Love” may be it.

Combined with lush scenery that is photographed and explored deeply and the first of many magnificent John Barry scores, "From Russia With Love" still stands up today as a classic example of pushing against the odds to create a thrilling piece of entertainment that is serious and is one of the best to watch multiple times. While other movies in the Bond series might have one or two flaws that prevent them from becoming much better than they are, “From Russia with Love” contains almost no such faults and is my favorite film of them all.

----------------------------------------------
Knew it.

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Old 05-19-2009, 10:24 PM   #134
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Old 05-20-2009, 12:05 AM   #135
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Default Re: CFE's James Bond Countdown

Damn, I called Goldfinger at #1!

Seriously, congrats on just completing another one of these.
Spoiler!!! Click to Read!:
I look forward to following the sci-fi countdown.
I'll have my own reviews for the remaining 8 here tomorrow.

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Old 05-20-2009, 07:53 AM   #136
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I did too. Great list CFE. Are you going to do another one?

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Old 05-20-2009, 08:05 AM   #137
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Well I think I'm going to be putting the Science-Fiction Countdown in the Misc. Films...I mean these technically do talk about films both past and present and whatnot.

Also it may get a bit more attention in there than in here (no offense to this 'Bond' one though)

In the meantime Sage, I'll be doing reviews for most of the event films this summer...which will obviously be a smaller affair before going back and doing another 100 days.

Doing daily stuff is rewarding but hard lol...not so hard that I can't do it, but hard enough that I can't do it ALL the time (i.e. I can't start up another one tomorrow or something).

After Sci-Fi there will be others though...100 Horror Films, 50 Musicals, 50 Disney Animated Films, Godzilla Films, etc...

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Old 05-21-2009, 10:12 AM   #138
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The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)



VIDEO-CLick to Watch!:


VIDEO-CLick to Watch!:


Directed by ... Guy Hamilton
Written by … Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz
Based on the James Bond Character Created by ... Ian Fleming

Roger Moore ... James Bond
Christopher Lee ... Francisco Scaramanga
Britt Ekland ... Mary Goodnight
Maud Adams ... Andrea Anders
Hervé Villechaize ... Nick Nack
Clifton James ... Sheriff J.W. Pepper
Richard Loo ... Hai Fat
Soon-Taik Oh ... Lieutenant Hip
Marc Lawrence ... Rodney
Bernard Lee ... 'M'
Lois Maxwell ... Miss Moneypenny
Marne Maitland ... Lazar
Desmond Llewelyn ... 'Q'
James Cossins ... Colthorpe
Chan Yiu Lam ... Chula
Carmen du Sautoy ... Saida
Gerald James ... Frazier

Bond is led to believe that he is targeted by the world's most expensive assassin and must hunt him down to stop him.

----------------------------------------------

Often cited as one of the worst James Bond films, 1974’s “The Man with the Golden Gun” is hardly that. While it’s certainly not among the pinnacle, I do think it gets a bad reputation.

Though I've seen every 007 film, some of them several times, I cannot describe myself as being an avid fan, so I can't be bothered with questions like which film was most faithful to the books, etc. Differentiating one Bond film from the next is almost like differentiating one Twinkie from another Twinkie: simply put, it's formula film-making. With “Golden Gun,” I can sort of see why some might think it's not up to the usual 007 extravaganza: it just doesn't follow the formula like other Bond films. There are no gadgets here, the ending is not as spectacular as other Bond flicks and some characters (the sheriff) might seem trite but of all other 007 adventures.

But you know something…this might be the most down to earth one. I for one love the fact that there's no huge battle at the climax or ridiculous gadgets (invisible Aston Martin). No…this a Bond adventure that can actually be described with adjectives like ‘plausible’ and ‘believable,’ which is no mean feat or easy task.

This time around, things aren’t overblown and flashy for Bond (Roger Moore). This time the mission is gritty and personal. When a golden bullet arrives at MI6 with "007" engraved on it, the British believe that James Bond is the next target for international assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee). 007 is given the assignment to kill Scaramanga before he kills Bond and collects his $1,000,000 fee.

What's remarkable about “Golden Gun,” for me, is the cinematography; the composition, the natural colors, the sheer tangible ‘real’ of it all. Gone is the grubby cinematography of LIVE AND LET DIE. But it's also not as super-slick as other Bond made before or after this one. It's an odd thing to cite beautiful cinematography for such a commercial project as this one. The most stunning scenes are at the end, when Bond flies to Scaramanga's secret base.

The other great thing about the film is the wonderful casting Christopher Lee as Scaramanga, who provides one of the more eccentric and memorable Bond foes in the series. Here Scaramanga is a real character, not some cartoon villain like 90% of Bond villains (yes, I prefer all of the earlier Bond films that include *drum roll* ‘cartoon villains’…but after a good handful of those, this was quite welcome personally). The fact that the story is about two men going mano a mano is also a nice change from the tired and re-treaded "villain who wants to dominate the world" plot line. Casting Lee as Scaramanga was a stroke of genius. He's what makes “The Man with the Golden Gun” so memorable.

Another essential component? Guy Hamilton, my favorite Bond director, continuing in the director’s chair. With touchstone series entries such as “Goldfinger” and “Live and Let Die” under his belt, Hamilton arguably laid some of the best groundwork for the Bond character and his direction is just as distinct here. Much appreciated.

Lastly, the other memorable element is John Barry's score. It's one of his most evocative for a James Bond film since “Goldfinger.” Lulu’s title song is a bit more comical in its lyrics and more psychedelic than I would’ve liked, but oh well…it’s catchy!

As for the Bond girls this time out, Britt Ekland and Maud Adams are absolutely gorgeous. Though Adams' acting can be described as stiff, she's one of the classiest and is the saddest Bond girl ever (her actions propel the story) while Ekland is funny as the ditsy operative. The belly dancer at the beginning was, hmm, scary looking though.

But, of course, the film isn’t without its weaker elements (it has a few I’ll admit).

The film's biggest weak points are: the script, which is sorely underwritten in some spots (despite the involvement of Tom Mankiewicz, whom I absolutely adore for obvious reasons).

Then of course there’s the re-introduction of (ugh) the J.W. Pepper character, which even if he's quite funny here, is just too improbable; and the blatant AMC product placement.

The last two points almost make “Golden Gun” "jump the shark" but after the excellent climax, all is forgiven. The big glaring mistake in “Golden Gun,” and maybe (probably) the main reason why so many Bond fans don't like this film, is the fact that Bond doesn't appear before the opening credits. No kick-ass intro action scene with Bond in a jet-pack or falling out of plane without a parachute that sets the tone for the rest of the film. I have to admit that the film seems to be missing something because of that.

Even so, there are still many other reasons why “Golden Gun” is better than its reputation would suggest: the entire karate school scene, which is the high point of the film, is quite fun. The abrupt "kick to the head" joke was even copied (in context) years later with Indiana Jones shooting the sword wielder in “Raiders of the Lost Ark”; the arena scene (excellent direction there); the whole 1970s look; a confident Roger Moore who gives one of his better performance as 007 and says some of the funniest one liners of the series with impeccable timing.

And let's not forget about Herve Villechaize as Nick Nack. He almost steals every scene he's in, which is either good or bad, depending on how you like him.

In closing, “The Man with the Golden Gun” has just the right balance of seriousness, action, acting, exotic locations and humor…it may not be a defining entry for the series, but I honestly don’t think it’s as bad as others might lead you to believe.

Some fans would label it ‘campy’ or ‘boring’…but sometimes you just have to let it go and have some fun. “Golden Gun” lets me do that.

----------------------------------------------
I was watching this one last night and I realized how much of an unlikable dick Bond is in this movie. With Connery you got an ******* in the style or Reed Richards from the old Fantastic Four comics, so it was enjoyable seeing him be a dick. With Craig, it was a natural progression of his character to be a cold hearted bastard.

But Moore's Bond was just simply an unrepentant dick in this movie.

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Old 05-21-2009, 12:07 PM   #139
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Great reviews CFE. FRWL is also my favourite Bond movie and Robert Shaw my favourite Bond villain.
I hope you are a professional critic or become one some day because in the immortal words of the Joker "When you're good at something, never do it for free". Thanks again.

PS : I'd love to see a Craig Bond poster done in the style of the old Moore and Connery ones. They were great (sometime even better than the movie itself).

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Old 05-21-2009, 01:47 PM   #140
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Although Dr. No was a terrific movie, and although From Russia with Love is exciting, Goldfinger beats them both.
Did I miss something?!

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Old 05-21-2009, 02:26 PM   #141
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THE SPY WHO LOVED ME

The Spy Who Loved Me still ranks among the very best Bond films. After the previous 3 dreary and campy entries, Bond was once again where you went for lavish adventure of the highest order.

This is Roger Moore’s best performance as James Bond, no doubt (even he has said as much). The part is completely his own now, and he has loads of fun with it without making the character a joke, as would happen in the next film. His Bond isn’t much of an action hero, never was; for instance, his “fights” with Jaws are hardly that, and the most he does when confronting Sandor is take his hands off his tie so the latter can fall off the roof (which is funny in a dark, Terence Young sort of way). He and Barbara Bach’s Major Amasova are an engaging pair, and she’s one of the best Bond girls in terms of both beauty and character interest. It shows that Bach is not the finest actress, but she suits the part just the same. Curt Jurgens is cast very well as the archetypal “you do the hitting, I’ll press the buttons” megalomaniac Karl Stromberg – they went for the same ‘laid-back and authoritative’ manner for Michael Lonsdale’s Hugo Drax, but Jurgens’ performance is actually menacing throughout. Speaking of menacing, Richard Kiel is fantastic as Jaws; he hits the right balance between scares and laughs. It’s a shame…well, I already did my Moonraker review. Caroline Munro is certainly memorably sexy; I wish she was in the movie more.

In terms of stunts and gadgetry, TSWLM harkens back to the likes of Goldfinger and Thunderball, introducing the aquatic Lotus Esprit and featuring it in a standout sequence in the middle of the film. (Interestingly, the moment where Q brings it to Bond and Anya, she calls him Major Boothroyd, the only time Desmond Llewelyn is referred to as such.) The ski chase and long fall in the pre-credits sequence, culminating in that excellent reveal of the Union Jack parachute, is top-notch, ranking among the best Bond openers. Add to that an expertly choreographed final battle, an iconic theme sung by Carly Simon, and one of Maurice Binder’s greatest main titles, and you’ve got classic 007. (One of the few things I don't care for is the Marvin Hamlisch score, which dates the movie more than anything else.)

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY

For Your Eyes Only quite literally brought Bond back down to Earth after the ludicrous (even by Bond standards) Moonraker. It was a new decade, and spectacle for spectacle’s sake wouldn’t do again. So Richard Maibaum and Michael Wilson set out to restore some intrigue and danger to the series.

Roger Moore is admirably restrained in this movie, so much so that I find it hard to believe this is the same actor who carried Moonraker. From his visit to Tracy’s grave (showing right off the bat that this will be a more serious endeavor), to warning Melina on the futility of revenge, to kicking Locke’s car over the cliff after Luigi’s death, he gives much more depth to the part than was there previously; it’s a very solid performance. Carole Bouqet is also very good as Melina; like Olga Kurlyenko’s later Camille, there really is no romantic storyline with these two, but an identification that they’ve both been down the same painful path (although this angle is played up much more in Quantum of Solace). Lynn-Holly Johnson’s Bibi Dahl, however, is just grating – at least they did pick up on the fact that she’s young enough to be Moore’s granddaughter. A bigger weakness in the cast to me, however, is Julian Glover as Kristatos. Now, Glover’s a fine actor, but there isn’t much to grab onto in the role. I’m not saying every villain has to be as flashy as every other villain, but this one is totally unmemorable. Topol is one of the more charismatic allies to come through a Bond film, however.

Although pretty much gadget-free, FYEO does have its share of quality set pieces, including the third (and most recent) standout ski chase, the chase scene in Melina’s distinctly un-Bond Citroen, and the keel-hauling sequence, moved here from the Live and Let Die novel.

I haven’t mentioned Peter Lamont in any of my reviews, but this being his first 007 entry as production designer, I will now. Lamont’s work overall hasn’t been as big (literally and not) or memorable as Ken Adam’s, so he tends to be underrated, but he really was and is one of the best in the business. His sets are always distinctive, natural, and extraordinarily detailed, the highlight probably being the Casino Royale in that film. I don’t know if he’s off the franchise now after being MIA for Quantum of Solace, but he has a fine legacy of his own whether he is or not. (And while watching Aliens the other night, I was pleasantly surprised to see his name in the credits there.)

For Your Eyes Only has a few significant weaknesses (another being the very synthetic Bill Conti score), but for restoring a seriousness to the series, it stands as one of the better Roger Moore installments.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Well, I did use the words dreary and campy to describe the previous three entries to The Spy Who Loved Me, so that says a little something about how I feel toward this one. However, Diamonds Are Forever gets a lot of slack because it's a Sean Connery movie with Ken Adam sets and a John Barry score. It's worth a watch just for those elements.

However, Connery's is a disappointing performance to watch. Yes, he did it for the money, plain and simple...and there's no doubting that when watching the movie. He's bored with the part, and that's clear. That being said, the man throws off a one-liner like no one else. He carries the movie well, and certainly this is leagues better than his turn in Never Say Never Again. Jill St. John as Tiffany Case is the reason screenwriters worked hard to craft actual characters like Anya Amasova and Wai Lin, that's the best way I can put it. Charles Gray's Blofeld fits perfectly into the tone of the film: totally over the top, without the slightest bit of menace or threat. The key henchman in this case aren't much of a challenge either, but Bruce Glover and Putter Smith as Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd are good for a few deadpan laughs.

There isn't much that stands out for me in the action department either. The climax on the oil rig, for instance, is rather generic. The Las Vegas setting, although not really exotic as usual, was, I think, almost inevitable for a Bond picture. It's interesting how after the disappointing (at the box office, at least) of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, the filmmakers set about to recapture the luster of Goldfinger: bringing back Guy Hamilton, Ken Adam, and Shirley Bassey, featurng a US setting, a considerably more lighthearted tone, and at one point considering Gert Frobe to return, this time as Goldfinger's brother, in a revenge plot against 007 for Auric's death. Well, Goldfinger this is not - Bassey's rendition of the theme is the only element that remotely matches that film.

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Old 05-23-2009, 02:26 PM   #142
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Default Re: CFE's James Bond Countdown

I missed a whole load of this. I'm so shocked that neither #9 and #10 were #1.

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Old 05-27-2009, 06:55 PM   #143
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ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE

I can’t watch On Her Majesty’s Secret Service without thinking of what Sean Connery could have brought to it. He was a fine actor in his own right, we know that, and this was a challenging movie; George Lazenby wasn’t up to it, I feel like Connery would’ve been.

Lazenby isn’t terrible, but he brings no charisma or wit to the role. He does acquit himself very well in the fight scenes and action sequences, and he does not embarrass himself in the romantic moments. He and Diana Rigg have a decent chemistry together, but the relationship isn’t quite as compelling as it should be. That said, the final moments of the film are as heartbreaking as intended, and they are the standout for Lazenby, he’s excellent there. Among the rest of the cast, Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas are of course the ones who stand out; Rigg is charming and strong like no Bond girl to that point, and Savalas' Blofeld is a little closer to the presence from From Russia With Love and Thunderball, more intimidating than Pleasence's and played as basically a cultured thug. It's interesting, that take would probably have been more at home with Craig's contemporary "blunt instrument" 007, made for a strong parallel.

Bringing on newcomer George Lazenby may not have worked out as well as was the hope, but bringing in former series editor Peter Hunt, the man who revolutionized action movie cutting, was a great choice. I do think the movie’s longer than it needs to be, but Hunt keeps a nice pace and scales the series back to a much more human level effectively. It’s funny the way the pre-title scene begins with Q proposing radioactive lint to M mocks the very idea of the now-outlandish gadgetry of the franchise. The action set pieces are a strong bunch as well, my personal favorite being the bobsled chase.

OHMSS boasts, to my ear, the 2nd finest collection of music for a Bond film. John Barry’s score is big and dynamic, starting with the theme played over the credits (great title design from Maurice Binder too, with the hourglass theme), and Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World” is a classic ballad.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a very good film, but I’d say the weakness of the lead actor prevents it from being great.

DR. NO

The birth of James Bond on the big screen, Dr. No really holds up. It may be dated to a degree, but this is still an elegant and fun little thriller.

Sean Connery would, of course, give better performances in the role, but as with Daniel Craig 44 years later, I’m sort of amazed at the confidence he displays in his debut as a character that can’t be easy to get right. Connery’s Bond gives the impression that you never really know if he’s going to turn over to kiss you, grab you and take you to the police, or stab you in the back. The first scene in the Les Ambassadeurs casino is…well, I’ve probably overused the term, but ‘iconic’ is just the right word, it’s legendary now. Connery always had the best way with a one-liner among the Bonds (yes, even Roger Moore, in my opinion): some of the sharpest here are “I think they were on their way to a funeral” and “Lt., make sure he doesn’t get away.” He and Terence Young formed a sense of humor for the series that’s dark and very distinctive. Naturally, Ursula Andress is stunning, and she (actually, Monica Van Der Zyl deserves credit as well; she dubbed Andress’ voice) projects the necessary naivete and independence. Joseph Wiseman as the good doctor himself is one of my very favorite Bond villains; he has a great austere menace and pomposity and he definitely laid the groundwork for some megalomaniacs down the line. Jack Lord is a good enough Felix Leiter, although maybe not as relatable as, say, David Hedison’s. It’s strange to see Peter Burton in the role that would be taken over by Desmond Llewelyn in the next one, too.

Some other points:
-This movie is pretty low-key when it comes to the action and set pieces – I mean, it climaxes in an explosion!
-Monty Norman’s score is fair – not bad, but nothing really stands out to me but the Bond theme.
-I still can’t believe it, but I hate Binder’s title sequence. The patterned dots, the calypso dancers, the three blind men…it seems so uninspired.

In the end, Dr. No was an awesome start to the series.

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Old 11-29-2012, 01:31 AM   #144
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Excellent list, CFE and well-written.

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