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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service: After saving some ginger chick from suicide a ‘James Bond’ gets dragged into a plot that sees him save the world from a biblical-scale man-made plague!

All in a day's work for the world's best spy

For a Sean Connery replacement Lazenby is so meek and timid in comparison, with no real screen presence, charisma or any of the charm that the other Bond actors have. In parts he looks as uncomfortable as a schoolboy dressed up in a suit! It’s an interesting technique used to try and convince us that this is still James Bond: the credits are littered with iconic shots from previous outings, Lazenby lovingly sifts through props from previous adventures as the theme songs get played, and we even see a midget whistling the Goldfinger theme!! Another random motif was “All The Time In The World” being played throughout.

"When I click my fingers you will believe he is Bond"

The number of girls in this film was ridiculous, and the “Angels of Death” is clearly a shady plot device used to springboard the featured girls to stardom. Worse still, despite being chemically imbalanced and hypnotised, Bond still takes advantage of these unstable girls! Tut tut James!

He's got 99 problems and his bitches are at least 12

It’s also pretty dark for a Bond film; opening with a suicide attempt, followed by Bond resigning from MI6, then engaging with Terrorists. And as for the ending, yikes, that’s about as bleak as the franchise gets.

James Bond, married... Pah!

MacGyver Bond sneaking between the ‘allergy clinic’ rooms is about the only remotely interesting part of the first hour – the set up is so boring… it drifts along into the final 20 minutes or so, which pick up a little and are the only redeeming feature in an otherwise tepid effort.

I hope nobody's allergic to snow...

Between the late 60s psychedelia / ‘far out’ vibe, and campy story, this is as close to Austin Powers as Bond ever got. As a one-off film – with another spy at the centre – this may have worked, but as a James Bond film, it’s absolutely rubbish.

Score: 2/10

"Who loves ya, baby Bond?"

TOP TRUMPS

Villain: Ernst Blofeld (Legendary Megalomaniac) executing the most trippy scheme. 6
Henchmen: Ginger Manchild Lady – pretty rubbish! 4
Babes: Tempremental Red-Head – good times. Several mentally unstable girls – bad times. 5
Action: Last 20 minutes – Guns, Skiing, Toboggan. 3

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You Only Live Twice: as USSR and American space ships disappear above the sea of Japan, and US-Soviet tensions reach boiling point only one spy can get to the bottom of this…

Commander Bond PUNK's his colleagues

No doubt inspired by the space race, the opening credits are out of this world. Then WTF – Bond gets killed! This is the first film where the emphasis and scale of the action is pushed to the next level; there’s a board room fight with the sumo wrestler; large dock fight with all the sailors moving up to the roof; an aerial dogfight in Little Nellie; Ninja trainign camp, and storming of the secret volcano lair…

Little Nellie - Such a cool autogyro. Real too!

Japan is the backdrop of this and plays a large part in the story; it’s represented pretty well – a fine balancing act between the (then) cutting edge technology and the historic & traditional. Also, Japanese James Bond = Lloyd Christmas.

"We got no food, no jobs - our Pets' heads are falling off!!!"

This also has one of the most unforgettable real sets of any film, in the hollowed out volcano lair with full-scale control room, launch pad, monorail, helipad. Such a great achievement for Pinewood studios.

This mammoth set would all be CGI today!

Other than a couple of long-ish story sections – like the marriage – this is a top-drawer Bond flick, with plenty of action, a gripping story and just a little bit of ridiculousness – making it oh-so easy to spoof in the likes of Austin Powers.

Score: 7.5/10

First look at Ernst Stavro Blofeld - another plan to start WWIII foiled

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Ernst Blofeld – Head of SPECTRE and legendary original megalomaniac. 8
Henchmen: Mr Osato – Old Businessman / Ronald Rich – Red Rip-off. 3
Bond Girl: Ginger Helga – Looking good pre-piranha  / several Japanese wimin. 6
Action: Too much to mention. 8

although the at the door sign reads "Beauty Parlour" this is a sumo match!

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Thunderball: A NATO bomber carrying nukes ditches in the sea prompting a ransom from SPECTRE and 7-day ultimatum – and James Bond is the only person with a lead.

Ciao... Seeing double vision

Thunderball is a pretty shocking follow-up to Goldfinger, with almost zero memorable – let alone iconic – scenes /or lines. It’s also punctuated with too many lengthy and boring underwater set-pieces, peaking with a battle that goes on forever and lacks any audio element.

What's that sound? Nothing...

The only vaguely famous scene would be the card game in the casino with one-eye’d Largo. As far as villains go, Largo is pretty poor, but his main henchman – straight-edge Vargas, takes the piss: what a pitiful baddie. I almost felt sorry for those two.

Aye aye cap'n

If Thunderball’s good for something it’s showing us deeper into Bond’s psyche – he blackmails and forces himself upon women,  will sleep with absolutely anyone, does whatever it takes for King and Country, and is so reckless that he doesn’t care who’s life he endangers!

Bond getting ready to pump for information

The most memorable scene is the ridiculously sped-up projections at the end, genuinely laugh out loud material – yet Thunderball won the Oscar for best SFX. It’s a bit of a car crash for a Goldfinger follow-up and far, far, far too long given how little happens.

Score: 2.5/10

Now pay attention 007

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Largo, one eyed sailor – Number 2 – just following orders. 5
Henchmen: Ginger Fiona / Straight-Edge Vargas – the worst henchman ever. 2
Bond Girl: Bikini girl Domino / Spa Worker Patricia. 4
Action: Tranny fight / Boat Chase / Scuba War. 4

Vargas does not drink... does not smoke... does not make love... loser

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Goldfinger: 007 is sent to investigate a gold-smuggling operation, but uncovers a much larger plot involving Fort Knox, a nuclear bomb, lethal gas, and a lot of gold bouillon…

Epidermal Suffocation - debatable, but iconic!

It’s impossible to do justice in such a short review, but Goldfinger is  cinematic gold (!!). It’s crammed end-to-end with iconography, from unforgettable imagery through to the timeless – but slightly cheesy – script. The opening scenes where Bond stealthily snorkels behind enemy lines and blows up a secret base (the first proper pre-credits mini mission) sets the tone for Goldfinger, and from there on in the story thunders through until Bond’s capture, when it slows down until the raid on Fort Knox.

Aston Martin - arguably Bond's true sweetheart

Despite almost every scene being recognisable, some of the highlights are; the Aston Martin debut – packed with gadgets, Golf playoff (should be boring!), / Pussy Galore, scuba gear to white tux, ‘shocking’, Laser Scene “Do you expect me to talk”, ticking nuke, Auric and his Gold fetish, explosive decompression, hundreds of collapsing soldiers, Oddjob and his hat, gold body paint…

Goldfinger - Star of the show

Random Task - Oddjob and his current hat

It’s also the pinnacle of Bond’s unbelievable sexist streak – when he condescendingly explains to his female colleague: ‘run along dear, man talk’ then proceeds to give her a massive slap on the arse. They just don’t make ’em like that these days!

As Felix stares on... wrong on so many levels

Another interesting aspect is that of all the physically dominating, power-hungry, and certifiably insane Bond villains we’ve seen over the years, it’s a small, fat (& dubbed) – and in the end, greedy -German that sits up there with the best of them. Despite the film’s greatness some questions are best left unanswered, like why is there a mass of asian labour in the middle of Kentucky? or how did such rubbish gangsters ever make it big (“What’s this?” “Who’s that!?”).

Perhaps the single still that sums up the franchise

The final product is an unforgettable, and near-perfect blend of the two themes that make Bond films great; mystery-thriller and large-scale action. Fantastic as a stand-alone film, and one of the highlights of the franchise.

Score: 8/10

Pussy Galore - proof that even lesbians digg Bond

TOP TRUMPS

Villain: Auric Goldfinger – Golf, Gold and laser-loving menace. 9
Henchmen: Oddjob – Silent but violent. 9
Bond Girl: Pussy Galore / Masterton Sisters – three’s a crowd. 8
Action: Car chase, opium explosion, golf, long Fort Knox fight. – 7

Still haven't seen a game of golf this tense

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From Russia With Love: James Bond must assist a Soviet Defector, while watching his back as SPECTRE are out to avenge the death of Dr No.

Bond and Bey - an espionage dream team

First appearance of Ernst Stavro Blofeld - Number 1

As with Dr No, this film expands on several more recurring themes in the series; most notably Q Branch and the gadgets, pre-title action (although technically a mini mission), and Red Grant – the first of Bonds larger-than-life opposite numbers – and more generally ‘henchmen’ carrying out the grunt work on behalf of the main villain. More than anything else From Russia is quite the sexist film, with crass lesbian overtones, full-on belly-dancing credits, a ridiculously overlong scantily-clad girl fight and continual put-down of the women – what happened to the ladykiller from Dr No?!?

Tatiana Romanova - Bond Girl and defecting agent

For me this film is summed up by “Trains and Tunisia”, as it takes around an hour for anything substantial to happen. Unfortunately, Bond doesn’t even make it to Russia (Cold War tensions were high at the time), yet the film’s full of Terrible Russian – and English – accents. For being one of the most celebrated and highly rated films I personally don’t think that there’s much to like in From Russia, and that the majority of the film is mediocre and forgettable.

Score 4/10

Red Grant - the first of many muscelmen

TOP TRUMPS
Villain: Rosa Kleb – looks mean, pointy shoes but killed by the Bond Girl! – 5
Henchmen: Red – benchpressing benchmark for super-strength bad guys / Footnote for chess Grandmaster – 7
Bond Girl: Tania – Hot Russian – 8
Action: Train fight, helicopter, Boat Chase – 3

The main weapon - "she got her kicks"

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Dr. No: Britain’s best spy James Bond is sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of another agent, when he uncovers a more sinister plot. The first thing we see is Bond’s silhouette crossing the screen then going for ‘the gun barrel shot’, followed by the unmistakable Bond credits.

The now famous gun barrel shot, which opens up every movie

Opening credit silhouette - another hallmark of the films - no nudity in this one

I always wonder if anyone could have known how iconic these scenes would become. As the first film in the series Dr. No does a superb job of delivering a rock solid spy story, while simultaneously setting up the franchise potential by introducing the main people, themes & concepts: Bond, Double O’s, M, Moneypenny, SPECTRE, PPK, exotic locations, universal exports, quips, action, car chases, licence to kill, fights, exploding cars, theme song, Spectre, alcoholism, espionage and boner-inducing bond girls. Bond himself bursts on to screen embodying suaveness, ingenuity, Britishness, intellect, sex appeal, and – of course – sexism!

Bond's entrance, the epitome of cool

We also quickly come to realise that only in a Bond film would you find great and believable gadgets/technology, but the most lenient use of scientific principals like gravity and radiation! There’s a few glaring continuity errors, but that’s another aspect of the films that we’ve all grown to love. Given that this was made in 1962 the film still stands up well today as a touchstone for the genre. While it’s primarily a detective story backed up by a little action, it’s still a great way to open up the series, and the idea of a ‘secret agent’ film.

Score: 7/10

Honey Rider's entrance - still to be topped

TOP TRUMPS

Villain: Dr No – Crushing metal hands & general megalomaniac – solid, archetypal villain. 8
Henchmen: Asian secretary Spy and the Marine Biologist – weak line up. 3
Bond Girl: Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) with the most iconic entrance of any character in the series – Hubba Hubba – 10
Action: Car Chase, several attempted murders, fake dragon, villains base destroyed – more would be gratuitous. 5

Dr. No - the first of many megalomaniacs

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