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  1. #1


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    Some thoughts on the James Bond movies

    While I have read several books about the James Bond movies, “Some Kind of Hero” helps thread together the 26 movies and brings me closer to an understanding. You see, I had read all the published Bond books, by Ian Fleming, before I saw my first Bond movie, Goldfinger.

    I had always wondered why many of the movies are so disjointed and even inconsistent with each other. And sadly why were they to often, formulaic and repetitive.

    It is important to stress that there have always been “two” James Bonds. The Bond in THE BOOKS was not a handsome man and had a scar on his face, he drank and smoked too much and was not in great health. He looked forward to retirement and wondered about his pension. He was vulnerable, snobbish and a difficult man to like. And he was an assassin who drove a 20 year old Bentley with no sense of humor.

    The James Bond of the movies was a character created by Sean Connery and Terrance Young, the director. He was handsome, sophisticated, affluent, great with woman and drove recent, expensive cars.

    The producers (EON Productions) would tell you that the first three Bond movies (Dr. No, From Russia With Love and Goldfinger) were the best. Yet, you can see that by You Only Live Twice (the fifth movie) they begin to make him a super-hero and invulnerable. Now there are spectacular stunts rather than man to man (or realistic) fights. By Connery’s last film (Diamond are Forever) the humor and outlandishness totally take over over.

    What I learned by reading these books, sadly, is how uncoordinated the productions were, although it may not be any one person fault. That is the movie studio puts up the money and REQUIRES a due date. So production begins before a script is written, or a director chosen or before they even know who will play Bond.

    So the writing for Roger Moore’s first movie, “Live and Let Die” begins before a director is hired. And he changes the script. But the writers have outlined a script for the more serious Sean Connery and Roger Moore comes in. Mr. Moore, a class act, and a better actor than he himself believes, sees Bond as a COMIC BOOK hero, not serious at all, full of humor, and wants great, long and preposterous stunts. Mr. Moore was a product of TV series, including the Saint. So he felt the audience wanted to always see something familiar and something they were comfortable with. This created for me, and Mr. Moore accepted, the repetitious and silly formulas in each movie. For example, all Bond movies were to have three Bond girls, one of which is killed quickly. Moore showed in his fourth Bond movie, “For Your Eyes Only” that he could be a serious and effective actor, but he disliked that movie because it was too serious. (It’s my favorite of his). And never returned to that format.

    While the Bond movies did well with Moore, they began to make less money in his last three movies. I guess no one wanted to go through that search again for a new Bond. But Moore was near 60, playing the lead to 25 year old women.

    MGM (not the Bond Producers) were now having financial troubles when “The Living Daylights” was scheduled. Again, the writers NOT knowing who Bond would be played for, wrote a more “generic” script geared towards Roger Moore. Pierce Bronson was at first chosen but NBC would not release him from his contract, so kind of at the last minute Timothy Dalton was brought in. Dalton was the closest to the BOOK Bond, but the script wasn’t. He didn’t do well with silly one-liners and was better in smaller scenes (as in the first Bond movies) that the elaborate Roger Moore stunts. In a perfect world, this would have been figured out before production, but the filming of the stunts had already begun. You see in all Bond movies, the filming of elaborate stunts and foreign scenes are done moths before the principal shooting. So without a star or a finished script they are locked into many things. With money spent promoting Bronson, on top of MGM problems, there was not the grand opening for this movie.

    Because of MGM’s financial problems, there was also a long time before Dalton’s second film, “License to Kill.” MGM did not have money for publicity and the film, very adult, with a very serious plot, mixed into all those formulas, did not do so well. Although the producers wanted to keep Dalton, MGM wanted him fired. He was. He was, in my opinion, terrific in the role and I wanted him back.

    Pierce Bronson got the role and he was truly, a reworking of Connery, that is, he was a MOVIE Bond, not the book Bond. And he was okay. But, again, the writers and directors were called in separately and PB struggled with the silly formulas, silly invisible cars and CGI effects. And incomplete scripts. He never, ever got to do the Bond we wanted, EXCEPT at the very beginning of “Die Another Day.”

    I didn’t forget George Lazenby who was in the sixth movie, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.” Frankly, that movie was to be a return to the books, like the first three movies, and begin a new James Bond cycle. Lazenby mucked that up badly, by not being involved in production; condemning the movie and not letting the producers publicize and build on the new James Bond because he announced he was leaving. Still profitable those movies grosses were way down. Not EON, but UA wanted Connery back for the next film (“Diamonds”). So that movie has a total disconnect from OHMSS and most of the earlier Bond movies. This leads to all the Bond movies being disconnected from one another. (Also, casting different people for the same character in different movies, something avoided today, added to that.)

    But it changed, recently. The original producers (Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman) have passed and the studio is different.

    Now Barbara Broccoli and her half-brother run the company. And this part is a long story but let me just tell you the results. The Bond people got back the rights to “Casino Royale,” the first Bond book and to Blofeld and SPECTRE. So what did they do? They knew they had to start COMPLETELY over. And they did.

    First they fired Bronson, who was surprised by this and then EON hired Daniel Craig. Craig is definitely the closest to the BOOK Bond. Then they hired the directors and writers (and actors) and they worked TOGETHER to produce the movies. And each film since seems to follow each other. I’ve have liked three out of his four, (Quantum of Solace was awful.)

    But sadly, they have started production on the next Bond movie, without knowing if Craig will return. This means they will be writing a script based on Craig’s talents, but he may be replaced and we will get a generic’ Bond script again with a new actor trying to fit in.
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    Barry
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  2. #2


    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Just if you want to be filled in: Casino Royale was sold to CBS in 1954 and they made a TV show of it starring Barry Nelson. The screen’s first Bond. EON bought all the other books from Ian Fleming. Colgems (a/k/a Columbia Pictures) got the rights to that movie in 1968 and made a very bad comedy. EON got the rights from Sony (who now own Columbia) in 2003.

    SPECTRE and Blofeld were created by Fleming and Kevin McClory in 1959 for the screenplay of Thunderball. McClory always claimed he owned, or co-owned the rights to those characters and James Bond. After losing several lawsuits, he passed in 2007. His estate finally sold all those rights to EON in 2013, which is why we now have a movie entitled, “Spectre."
    Barry
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  3. #3
    Senior Member David Vaughn's Avatar
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    2 out of 2 members found this post helpful.
    Great recap Barry!
    David Vaughn
    Technical Writer/Blu-ray Reviewer
    Sound and Vision Magazine

  4. #4


    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    Thanks Barry and great historical recap.
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  5. #5
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    1 out of 1 members found this post helpful.
    I was talking with my son the other day about buying the boxed set. I grew up with Connery in the role so obviously I relate to him the most. No one could say Pussy like Connery. Life got in the way with Moore and Brosnan but I'll always compare them to Connery. Lazenby (agh!) and Dalton, well, I can't discuss Dalton because I never watched him. I agree that Craig is probably most like the real James Bond. He's a killer, and I like that, but he let's his humanity through sometimes. Great recap indeed.

    By the way, the 60's movies-even though the colors pop, they look very dated.
    Last edited by jive420; 06-10-2017 at 08:06 AM.

  6. #6


    Roger Moore (R.I.P.) will always be my Bond. I don't care about the books' version- a movie is a movie and exists in a different space (literally).

    The rest of the best in descending order:
    Lazenby (Bring it on. His Bond had almost no action and he had to carry nearly the whole picture on his charm alone, which he did very well.)
    Dalton (Didn't feel like any previous Bond at all- very stern and serious. But he did what he did well.)
    Craig (Great start with Casino Royale, but as the tone shifted to the less serious in Skyfall and Spectre, he didn't seem to get the memo. Also, ZERO charm.)
    tie
    Connery (Eh, Connery does nothing for me, tbh. He seems like he cares less about being Bond and practically assaults women.)
    Brosnan (Seemed like the perfect choice, right? Instead we get a cheeseball Bond who can't read a double entendre to save his life. Moore was king of those.)

    To be fair, some of the Bonds (Brosnan/Craig) got saddled with bad scripts, but then again, they all did, save Lazenby. But I guess that's the true test. Moore made A View To A Kill good (not great) and I doubt any of the other Bonds could have done that.
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  7. #7


    Back in the 60's when the Bond books were hot, (JFK read them) Harvard Lampoon did a Bond called Alligator, iirc. The reviewers said it was over-the-top, but so were the original books and it was hard to tell them apart!.
    JR

  8. #8


    We respect Brandon and his opinions and we can fun differing. But, since there is no accounting for taste, (and I never claimed I had any) everyone’s opinions are right and as valid.

    Just one thing. Brandon wrote, “ a movie is a movie and exists in a different space.” I agree with that, EXCEPT when a property, or title is being adapted, Bond, Harry Potter, Mission Impossible or even Santa Claus, I feel the movie should incorporate some of the basic and more important traits of the original. Or why bother? I just think of what a disaster the movie “Wild, Wild West was.

    Let me, however, instead of rating the Bonds, let me rate the 26 Bond movies. From 1 to 4 stars:

    4 stars:
    From Russia With Love
    Goldfinger
    On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

    3.5 stars
    Dr. No
    For Your eyes Only
    License Renewed
    Casino Royale (Daniel Craig)
    Skyfall

    3. Stars
    Thunderball
    You Only Live Twice
    Spy Who Loved Me
    The Living Daylights
    Goldeneye
    Tomorrow Never Dies
    The World Is Not Enough
    Die Another Day
    Spectre


    2.5 stars
    Diamonds are Forever
    Moonraker

    2 stars
    Never Say Never Again.

    1 Star and below
    Casino Royale (1968)
    Live and Let Die
    Man With the Golden Gun
    Octopussy
    A View to a Kill
    Quantum of Solace
    Barry
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  9. #9


    With all due respect:

    ONE star for FOUR of Moore's Bonds?????!!?! THREE for SPECTRE?!?!?!?!??! Gaaaaaaaaaaaah!

    And, although it's popular opinion, Goldfinger was not that great. Barely even good. It took place mainly in KENTUCKY for god's sake and the "plot" was basically just one coincidence after another. I do agree on From Russia With Love and OHMSS, though. (And, as such, I'm guessing you like Lazenby, too.)
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  10. #10


    Actually Goldfinger was filmed in Florida. They had KFC there too.
    Barry
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