Words About Bond: Part IV

It's been a while, but I haven't forgotten to continue my reviews(with spoilers) of the various James Bond films:

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Words About Bond, 1-3
Words About Bond, 4-6
Words About Bond, 7-9

10Live and Let Die
Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Dr. Kananga/Mr. Big(Yaphet Kotto)
Bond Girl: Solitaire(Jane Seymour)
Henchman: Baron Samedi

Roger Moore's first outing as the British secret agent remains one of my favorites in the series, and one of my most watched thanks to receiving it as a gift from an aunt and uncle one Christmas. It also made me appreciate the beauty of a young Jane Seymour in her role as the tarot reading psychic Solitaire, and a recent rental of Somewhere in Time reminded me how beautiful she was(which isn't to say that she hasn't aged well, either). Live and Let Die is also memorable for the McCartney theme song, even if I had heard the Guns N' Roses version first.

Bond takes on a drug lord and dictator, facing dangers ranging from crocodiles to voodoo assassins. The film includes a climactic showdown with a henchman on a train, like From Russia With Love, though more formidable given his mechanical arm. Later Moore films would be campier, almost parodies of the early movies, but this was more serious for the most part. Deviations include a stereotypical Southern sheriff played by Clifton James, who plays a prominent role in an impressive speedboat chase scene. The only film to lack a Q, it doesn't lack Bond's trademark gadgets, including a magnetic watch. Despite dangers both natural and supernatural, there's little to fear when Bond is around, although the final image of the voodoo Baron Samedi laughing maniacally is a bit scary.

11 The Man with the Golden Gun
Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee)
Bond Girls: Mary Goodnight(Britt Ekland), Andrea Anders(Maud Adams)
Henchman: Nick Nack (Hervé Villechaize)

Long before he was a Sith lord, Christopher Lee was the title villain in Moore's second Bond film. Prior announcing the planes on Fantasy Island, Hervé Villechaize was his henchman. Lee, step-cousin to Bond author Ian Fleming, played a different adversary than previously seen in the series. While most Bond villains were bent on world domination, with large forces at their command, Lee's three-nippled Scaramanga was an assassin, albeit a high paid one at one million dollars per hit. One thing he had in common with other Bond foes was an impressive lair, and on the collection of islands he called home he had an impressive training facility, one that included a wax replica of Bond, his next target.

Both beauty and comic relief are provided by Mary Goodnight, a fellow agent whom Bond flirts with even as he also seduces Andrea Anders, Scaramanga's mistress. Anders had sent a golden bullet with “007” etched in it to Bond to enlist his help. After Scaramanga kills her at a boxing match and confronts Bond in the audience, stealing an important piece of technology, he escapes while Goodnight secretly hides in his trunk. Bond gives chase, teaming up with a vacationing Sheriff J.W. Pepper, Clifton James reprising his role from Live and Let Die in an unlikely and campy turn of events. Even after performing an amazing jump, Bond fails to catch Scaramanga when he converts his car to a plane and flies off. Bond must track him to his island lair for a final showdown, mano a mano, and prevent him from using the stolen part to activate a giant solar cannon, and even larger golden gun. Scaramanga's golden gun, often disguised as a cigarette lighter, case, cufflink, and pen, proves no match for Bond, who uses Scaramanga's own training facility to outwit him.

12The Spy Who Loved Me
Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Karl Stromberg
Bond Girl: Anya Amasova/Agent XXX
Henchman: Jaws

Stromberg is a Bond villain with an impressive nautical base. Stealing both Russian and British submarines attracts the attention of both governments, and their best respective agents, XXX and Bond, are dispatched. The film opens with Bond skiing down a mountain as he did in On Her Majesty's Secret Service, this time evading Russian agents and killing one in the process. He eventually teams with the lovely XXX in their mutual investigation, facing off against the steel-toothed inhumanly strong Jaws. XXX is also searching for her lover's killer, and it turns out he was the Russian agent Bond killed.

After a showdown at Stromberg's base, Bond manages to dump Jaws in a shark tank which Stromberg previously used to kill a woman who betrayed him. Jaws defeats the shark, and swims off to return in Moonraker, the only henchman to survive and return in a sequel. Bond and XXX escape the base's destruction in a small pod, and with their mission complete she can now exact her revenge. She draws her gun but Bond's charm saves the day; over the course of the film she's fallen in love with him, and thus cannot kill him. The pod is retrieved by the allied Russian and British forces, and upon its opening their superiors are stunned to find the agents in a compromising position together. When Bond explains to his superiors that he's only “keeping the British end up”, Nobody Does it Better, the Carly Simon theme song for the film, heralds the end of the film and the start of the Moore trend of campier situations and endings...

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Words About Bond will return!



Blogger SwanShadow said...

The Spy Who Loved Me is the only Moore Bond film worthy of repeat viewing. The only other Moore Bond films worth watching even once are Live and Let Die and For Your Eyes Only.

The rest are, to put it kindly, dreck.

10/22/2006 6:27 PM  
Blogger MCF said...

I enjoyed Golden Gun for breaking the mold of the series, and seeing Lee's work earlier in his career. I do agree for the most part, and think that the Moore Bonds got progressively worse, which I'll get into in the next installment of this series.

10/22/2006 11:05 PM  
Blogger Curt said...

For an interesting experiment in surrealistic Hollywood adaptation insanity, read Ian Fleming's novel "The Spy Who Loved Me." It's an enthralling book that bears no resemblance to the movie, except that it has a character named James Bond. It's a first-person narrative from the viewpoint of the woman. It has, if I remember correctly, only four characters. It offers some fascinating insights into the psychology of Bond and the women who give themselves over to him.

10/23/2006 10:08 AM  

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