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The James Bond Rewatch

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Best Movie of the Connery era?

Dr. No 0 0.00%
 
From Russia With Love 3 50.00%
 
Goldfinger 1 16.67%
 
Thunderball 0 0.00%
 
You Only Live Twice 0 0.00%
 
On Her Majesty's Secret Service 2 33.33%
 
Diamonds Are Forever 0 0.00%
 
Total:6
Darwinianevolution said:
One question: were the Bond movies made in chronological order? "Diamonds Are Forever" seems more a sequel to "You only live Twice" than to "On Her Majesty's Secret Services", and not just because of the change of actor. In DaF, Bond starts to hunt for Blofeld in Japan, where he ended in YoLT, he doesn't seem affected by the death of her wife, and Blofeld has no signs of the wounds he took in "OhMSS". Am I the only one bothered by this?

It bother me too, but it's just a side effect of the unfortunate reality that the film studio made the movies in a different order from the books.

As @Doc755 will point out, continuity was a minor concern in 60s and 70s filmmaking.



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Back into the swing of things after watching Live and Let Die last night. Last weekend felt empty after seven weeks of Bond beforehand.

I think this is the first Bond film I ever saw (either that or Licence to Kill. I liked it back then and I like it now. I'm going to give it an 8.

Moore settles into the role really well. He's not as physically imposing as his predecessors, but at this point I think he's still able to look the part in fight scenes. The humour is delivered naturally and never sounds out of place - this is where Moore really excels as Bond. I always enjoy his line when he first meets Solitaire and he reveals the lovers card - "now promise you'll stay right there... I shan't be long" - as he's getting hauled out by Mr Big's henchmen. Solitaire is one of my favourite Bond girls - I think the tarot reading is an interesting aspect of her character. Yaphet Kotto does a fine job as Kananga too.

George Martin's music is top notch, as is Paul McCartney's theme song (though I do prefer the Guns n' Roses cover). The scene on the crocodile farm is a highlight. The boat chase is also good, although it goes on too long and features the annoying Sheriff Pepper. The blaxploitation thing is unfortunate, but I do like how grounded the plot is for a Bond film, as well as the voodoo / occult elements.



Sean Connery returns as Bond in Diamonds are Forever! The question is: should he have? We still don’t have the Connery of the early films. But we also do not get the bored Connery who is phoning in his performance in You Only Love Twice. We get the opposite. Here, he barely can take the proceedings seriously. A lot of blame is given to Roger Moore for the Bond films slipping into silliness and camp in the 70s however it really starts here: a cartoonish plot with characters that barely register any type of realism.

My biggest grief is what could have been. Bond on a revenge epic to seek out the man who murdered his wife would have been a gripping story. Licence to Kill 18 years early. Instead, we get a brief, vague write off of the plot line in the pre-credits sequence and for the rest of the film, Bond shows mild annoyance at the man he cannot kill. I get they wanted to distance from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and its disappointing box office and actor change, but to go from such a powerful ending to a rushed “payoff” is so jarring.

It doesn’t help that the supporting cast leaves a lot to be desired. Jill St. John starts out strong as Tiffany Case however by the end she’s essentially played as the bimbo whose aloofness somehow saves her and Bond. Charles Gray is an okay Blofeld. I always ranked him the worst and I still do but I do think his performance is still good. It’s probably the closest to the Blofeld we saw before YOLT, calm, mannered but ready to order lethal force when needed. Diamonds does have, hands down, the worst Felix Leiter, who is little more than a bumbling cop and far removed from the suave Jack Lord in Dr. No.

The story is fine. The diamond smuggling plot line is little more than a macguffin to get to Blofeld’s latest ransom plot. The special effects however are some of the worst in the series. A lot of the explosions appeared to be painted onto stock film. The end battle was completely lackluster and never seemed as if the stakes were that high. One high point was Jimmy Dean as the folksy Willard Whyte, who appears just briefly enough to leave you wanting more.

I don’t have much to say with this one largely because the film seemed a meager effort. They got Connery back but then seemed unsure what to do with him. There are a few good bits. The pullback shot of Bond riding the top of the elevator outside the Whyte House, the silly moon buggy chase and even the Bond on a rampage beginning were some of my favorites. A special shoutout to the car chase in Las Vegas, specifically the parking lot portion. I liked how you got an overview shot of the cars weaving in and out to show the precision driving. Of course, it then ends with one of the biggest goofs in the entire franchise, the car on two wheel stunt where it switched sides between entering and exiting the alley. 🤦‍♂️

I’m going to give Diamonds a 5/10. It was exciting to get Connery back, even for a lackluster affair. It closes out the SPECTRE thread without any real resolution as legal battles would prevent it from being used again until Craig was in the role. What could have been a thrilling story was merely average. I was never bored but I also was never really engaged. As Connery departs for the second and “official” final time, we end one Bond era and begin a new.

Current Rankings:
1) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
2) From Russia with Love
3) Goldfinger
4) Thunderball
5) Dr. No
6) You Only Live Twice
7) Diamonds are Forever



Veknoid_Outcast said:
Darwinianevolution said:
One question: were the Bond movies made in chronological order? "Diamonds Are Forever" seems more a sequel to "You only live Twice" than to "On Her Majesty's Secret Services", and not just because of the change of actor. In DaF, Bond starts to hunt for Blofeld in Japan, where he ended in YoLT, he doesn't seem affected by the death of her wife, and Blofeld has no signs of the wounds he took in "OhMSS". Am I the only one bothered by this?

It bother me too, but it's just a side effect of the unfortunate reality that the film studio made the movies in a different order from the books.

As @Doc755 will point out, continuity was a minor concern in 60s and 70s filmmaking.

I actually typed out a response to this last night however replying in mobile form still leaves a lot to be desired for this site. Coupled with not feeling well, I scrapped it. But yes, it definitely has to do with adapting the films out of sequence as well as shifting from Connery to Lazenby and then back to Connery. The original idea appears to have been for YOLT, OHMSS and DAF to be a trilogy however once Connery left and came back, they adjusted those plans and not very well.

In OHMSS, Bond was supposed to have had plastic surgery which is why Blofeld does not recognize him. Blofeld in the novels employed this as well I believe. However they cut it because it seemed to be winking at the audience too hard and they were trying to downplay the actor change. Never mind it leads to a huge goof in the screenplay.


When Lazenby was to stay on, DAF was to be a direct continuation of OHMSS however when he left, they wanted to distance the series from the one and done entry so Bond is still seeking to kill Blofeld however the reason behind it is left vague. In fact, it’s not even until For Your Eyes Only, that Tracy Bond’s death is affirmed as being canon. Ironically, that was written because they thought Moore was done after Moonraker and it would be a way to introduce a new actor.


The novels do have a Blofeld Trilogy: Thunderball, OMHSS and YOLT. For reference sake, the novel order is:
Casino Royale
Live and Let Die
Moonraker
Diamonds are Forever
From Russia with Love
Dr. No
Goldfinger
Thunderball
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
You Only Live Twice
The Man with the Golden Gun
Last edited by Doc755 - on 30 November 2019

It is quite a messy affair the whole "changing actors in the middle of the series" problem. At least OHMSS turned out to be great. Not so much for Diamonds are Forever, which I struggle to remember for anything other than the out of order affair. Seriously, if I had seen DaF before OHMSS, I wouldn't have even noticed any problem. DaF is also considerably sillier than the previous films, and I don't think it suits it well. Mostly because I don't find the supposedly goofy scenes that entertaining. I liked the process of Bond supplanting one of the henchement's identities and making the bond girl of the week he killed the real James Bond (which brings up the question, if he's so famous how come noone just shoots him on the spot? Not to mention he already faked his death already, so there should be more consequences of his name being out in the public). Otherwise... it's just mediocre. The locations are quite cheap, the scenes in Las Vegas are quite low profile and sometimes with very few people on the streets, the desert is just a desert, the moon landing facility made me chuckle, but it's otherwise silly (why did the stage vehicle have enough engine power and fuel to allow a full escape? Wouldn't that be dangerous and impractical for the shooting?), though the sea platform is quite good.

The plan is... ok? Though considering how powerful the diamond satellite turned out to be, why not just sell the invention to the highest bidder? He would have all of the riches and power he could want. And really, once Blofeld has supplanted the millionaire's identity completely, to the point of noone in the world noticing it, why not just stay that way? He would have all the money he could need forever and noone would've suspected a thing, though just him being so megalomaniac and egotist that he just wants to see everyone bow down to him. Maybe it's the spirit of this movies, but comparing it to Goldfinger's pragmatic, or the grounded scheme of From Russia With Love seem much more solid, simple and safe. Everytime Blofeld appears he has wackier and wackier plans that end up clashing with the more mysterious and threatening persona he built up in the previous movies. The most threatening thing he's done thus far movie-wise is murdering Bond's wife, which was more petty and much more personal scale than the rest of his schemes.

Overall, Diamonds are Forever is another "meh" movie, a 5/10. Maybe it's because I don't feel the older movies have aged that well, but considering we have standouts like Goldfinger, From Russia with Love and OHMSS, I'm not sure if that's really an excuse.



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Live and Let Die went down a bit for me during this rewatch. It's tonally and thematically inconsistent. I feel like there are three movies competing for dominance in 120 minutes: a tongue-in-cheek blaxploitation flick; a globe-trotting spy movie; and a supernatural voodoo film. None of them really land.

Moore will get better in the role but in here he seems lackadaisical, flippant, and soft. Kotto is a fine actor, but he's wasted here. Seymour is spectacularly beautiful in her role, but she's another damsel in distress who melts in Bond's arms.

I will say the movie has good energy, and mostly good pacing--outside of some unusually long chase scenes. The stuff with Baron Samedi is super interesting; it would have been fascinating to see Live and Let Die follow a path toward horror.

Overall, a middling Bond movie that can never decide what it wants to be.

5/10



The Man with the Golden Gun next up. 5/10 for me - a big let down after Live and Let Die.

The premise is interesting enough, but the execution doesn't cut it. It starts well enough, there's a bit of intrigue as Bond starts to put things together, but it all falls away in the second half. The dialogue is average, and any humour falls flat. Christopher Lee has a natural presence on screen, but I feel Scaramanga is less menacing than he could've been. When duelling on his island, he seems to do everything he can to stack the odds in his favour... I just think it's unbecoming of someone who is supposed to be this incredible hitman. We're subjected to Sheriff Pepper again, who dampens an otherwise good chase scene, where a slide whistle makes a mockery of an incredible car stunt.

On the plus side, I think the music is pretty good. Lulu's theme song has plenty of gusto (great voice too), but as an Alice Cooper fan, I'd have loved their song to have been used (can't quite recall the exact reason it wasn't used).

Overall, watchable enough but definitely ranks as one of the weaker Bond films.



Welcome to Phase 2 of the JBU! Live and Let Die kicks off the Moore era and I have to say, it’s better than I remember. I reviewed this film several years ago and called it a solid entry in the middle of the Bond pack but my esteem for it seems to increase upon successive viewings. It’s definitely not the best of Bond or even of Moore, but it’s a good introduction to the man who would play Bond in more (official) films than any other actor. I’d put in on par with Dr. No, of which the film is very reminiscent.

That’s not to say the film doesn’t have its issues. The first being I think it’s the worst introduction to a new Bond we have ever had. I get they didn’t want to replicate the cringe-worthy fourth wall breaking that tainted Lazenby’s intro but this was not the direction to go. The high school hijinks these government agents engage in to hide Bond’s newest conquest just don’t belong. We also don’t get to see Moore in the standard Bond scenes with M and Moneypenny as they show up at his place late in the evening and Q is missing entirely!

The film also has some tonal issues particularly with regard to the heavy blaxploitation elements that are peppered through the film. Why is Bond taking on American gangsters and heroin smugglers? The small stakes are a good respite as you can’t save the world in every film, but it seems below Bond’s attention. I do think these elements add a more gritty atmosphere. In lieu of exotic locales, Bond is steeped in urban decay (that shot of him being walked out of Mr. Big’s hideout in Harlem catches the eye).

The supporting cast after dipping in quality for the last film are also back on point. Kotto may not get a lot to do, but he works with what he gets well. Tee-Hee is a favorite henchmen of mine, not just because of the metal arm, but because Julius Harris plays the role with such relish. Baron Samedi is presented vague enough that you’re never quite sure if he’s an actual supernatural force. It is a shame they never used the character again, as they clearly left the door open for the possibility. Finally, Jane Seymour, only twenty-two at the time, is quite memorable as the virginal Solitaire who gets wrapped up in the plot’s machinations. She is absolutely gorgeous, and while not a character of great agency, she embodies a level of vulnerability that induces actual concern and not disdain for just another damsel in distress.

I will say I absolutely loved the score and feel that contributed greatly to any success the film has. Not only is the theme powerful and infectious, I was impressed with the way it was used throughout. Action scenes were largely absent music, with it only popping in at the climax (like the boat chase or crocodile stunt) whereas it was used to heighten tension into smaller scenes (such as Bond comforting Rosie or Kananga turning Bond into shark bait).

I’ve wavered back and forth on my rating. As I said, years ago I ranked this around a 5 but I’m going to raise that to a 6 here. I was tempted to go even high as 7 but feel that would be too generous. The film is solid but it also doesn’t elevate itself the way some of the other entries does. I do think it gets lost amongst the better Moore entries and the laughable ones and by default is considered weak, but I was entertained throughout and I think that low expectation is what helps elevate it upon successive viewings.

Current Rankings:
1) On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
2) From Russia with Love
3) Goldfinger
4) Thunderball
5) Dr. No
6) Live and Let Die
7) You Only Live Twice
8) Diamonds are Forever



I just saw Live and Let Die. Oh dear.

This movie is extreme in many ways. As Moore's debut as 007, he really does a great Bond, being both suave and threatening if needed. The problem is that the writting doesn't give him that much to work with. The character of James Bond has become a living legend in-universe, and as such, everyone knows who he is. I mean, the super-secret spy being constantly under surveilance and him not really knowing is quite a clash with his character. I was expecting an "I knew you were looking at me, dear chap" during most scenes, but no, he really doesn't realize he's being watched. And this I fear is the major problem with the movie: the writting. It is all over the place. The acting in general is quite good all around for both main characters and extras, the motivations of the characters seem quite well established, but then we get to a slow pace that brings everything to a crawl, actions that should simply not have happened, and plot points that appear out of nowhere (when did they show the watch could be used as a rotating saw??). It also feels somewhat pointless, like they wanted to make a Bond movie out of a plot that really shouldn't bother him. Bond is a british spy, and the bad guy's plan only affects the US. The only reason he really has to intervene is the death of multiple british agents. Why does the bad guy kill them? Kananga has no reason to keep Bond alive, none whatsoever, and yet he tries to execute him in the most confusing of ways. I think I've complained about the villains not just shooting Bond before, but Kananga himself (disguised as Mr. Big) tells his henchmen to just kill him and be done with it! They acknowledged the problem and did nothing to solve it! That's just frustrating. There's also the fact that the last third of the movie becomes a massive cartoon. From the henchmen leaving Bond alone to be eaten by the crocodiles (just keep an eye on him, or drug him so he can't escape), to the boat speed chase through the swamp that crashes to a wedding, someone's pool, a couple of hillbilly cops... then it goes to rescue Solitaire to the old town where the whole village is celebrating a voodoo sacrifice with her, Bond appears and shoots the animatronics of the Baron Samedis, then infiltrate the very complex underground lair, where Kananga, instead of shooting them, decides to throw them into a shark pool. But not just throw them, no. They are very loosely tied to a crane and veeeeeryyyyyy slowly pulled down into the water. That kind of dumb is amazing, but it gets better, because then Bond uses his saw watch, which had never shown that could do that, get free and fight Kananga one on one. Once they end in the water, you'd think he would find his demise by shark attack, right? Karmik and cinematic, right? WRONG. Bond puts a gas bullet into Kananga's mouth while fighting, which INFLATES KANANGA TO THE POINT OF MAKING HIM FLOAT IN THE AIR AND EXPLODE! What. the. fuck. It thew me for a loop, for sure, but I'm not sure if it works in the logic of the movie.
Also, about the elephant in the room. The setup is quite colourful and entertaining, and I was not really bothered with the 70's blackspolitation style the movie decides to go. It's much more disconcerting the more fantastic elements of the film, like the card reading powers of Solitaire, or the out of the blue appeareance of the Baron at the very end of the film. I don't think James Bond and the mystical work together, and I'll be happy if they just sweep this under the carpet.

Overall, this got better as it went along, but it is definitively a so bad it's good movie. A solid 6/10. While other Bond flicks are better put together films, this one is a mess, but it has just enough elements to make it worthwile.



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