Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’

I preparation for No Time To Die I have been re-watching the Daniel Craig Bond films. It’s the first time I have watched them all back to back. A few things sprang to mind watching them.Daniel Craig Bond Posters

  • Casino Royale stands alongside From Russia with Love as the best films about Bond, rather than the best Bond Movies, in that they can be appreciated on their own merits away from the franchise and its baggage.
  • Quantum of Solace is the misunderstood and underappreciated masterpiece that I always suspected. A direct sequel to Casino Royale, it takes virtually nothing other than its title from Ian Flemings novels, but in its tone it is probably the closes in style and tone to the source material.
  • Roger Deakins should have won the cinematography Oscar for Skyfall, he was robbed by a CGI spectacular.
  • Spectre is a better film than I gave it credit for, despite the Blofeld reveal that was even worse than I remember.

But, on thing stands out over all of this.  There is a missing film between Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.

Let me explain; Casino Royale gives us the Young upstart. Quantum of Solace is a direct sequel pick it up moments after Casino Royale’s epilogue.  A slightly jaded, almost broken man working through the loss and apparent betrayal of Vesper, coming out the other side, moulded rather than healed,   the complete Bond, cold, cruel, detached, but able to appreciate, if not enjoy life.  Something akin to the best of Cornery, Dalton or Brosnan, but more importantly the character seen on the pages of Fleming’s books.

But then Skyfall has an older Bond past his prime, fighting for relevance, we are missing a movie. We need to look at M (Judi Dench) aka Basil Exposition for to explain this.  It was M after all who on her first screen meeting with Bond (Pierce Brosnan in GoldenEye) called him “a sexist, misogynist dinosaur. A relic of the Cold War“.  In Casino Royale (2006) just after giving Bond his 00 status, his licence to kill, she told him “I knew it was too early to promote you” but just six years later in Skyfall (2012) she said “You know the rules of the game. You’ve been playing it long enough“.  Future M, Gareth Mallory (Ralph Fiennes) tells Bond “It’s a young man’s game.” Craig’s Bond has always been on his way up, or past his best.

The speculation for No Time to Die is that Bond has retired and his 007 codename has passed to Nomi (Lashana Lynch).  This in itself could be problematic, as I can’t see Bond being retired, by the end of the film this means they have to find a way of giving him back his 007 code.  If Nomi is indeed 007, how will this pas back to Bond?  Kill, demote, or incapacitate her, or even worse something akin to 006 Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean).  Let’s not forget, she is potential not only the first female 00, but the first none white one.  Her fate is far more significant than that of 006, 002, 004 (The Living Daylights), and 009 in (Octopussy). Some of the Fun Bond Movies

I’m getting off track; the Daniel Craig movies are the best Bond movies, and I don’t want to see the character turn into the Roger Moore or Pierce Brosnan versions of the character, who had far more misses than hits in terms of the quality of their movies.  However, I would have liked to have seen Craig have a film as an established character, not one on the way up or down, and one where he gets to have a little fun with the part, think: You Only Live Twice (1967), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), or GoldenEye (1995).  Sadly this will not happen, but we may get to see the other thing I want to see, Bond coming out of retirement, sadly it won’t be an older Bond; Timothy Dalton, or Pierce Brosnan but it’s still an idea with real millage.  One thing is certain,

James Bond WILL return!

Read Full Post »

WARNING CONTAINS SKYFALL PLOT SPOILERS

Okay so the title of this article isn’t true but there are certain elements of Skyfall that are similar to an idea I wrote about three and a half years ago. Following Quantum of Solace and given the state the studio was in the direction and future of the franchise was less than certain, it didn’t stop me giving an idea of a film I would like to see. My basic idea revolved around the un-filmed The Spy Who Loved, the 1977 film only used the title. For those who don’t know, Ian Fleming’s novel The Spy Who Loved Me was like no other Bond book in that Bond isn’t in it very much. Instead, concentrating of the female lead Vivian, a young woman who gets caught up in an arson plot.

The three key ideas I had that feature in Skfall (the middle one is vague at best!) that I wrote about are:

  • A pre credit sequence involving Bond chasing killer on a motorbike to retrieve a stolen McGuffin.
  • A wholly new act designed to get Bond to the final act:
  • A Die Hard style conclusion with Bond taking on a group of bad guys in a remote isolated location.

As a huge fan of James Bond who has not always been happy with the direction the film series has taken, it is fantastic to see the filmmakers so in tune with audiences, well with this audience member at least. I believe the success of the film lies in a perfect blend of the original Bond from Ian Fleming’s novels and a new 21st century character shaped by the modern world and cinema of the last 50 years. You can see my original post HERE.  The other novel that was largely discarded in favour of a new story was Moonraker. You can read about my idea for a film based on the original novel HERE.

Read Full Post »

I started writing a review of The Living Daylights (1987) for my Groovers Video Vault, it quickly became clear that I was not writing about the movie but about its star, Timothy Dalton. He probably isn’t the best James Bond, but he is certainly the most underrated, probably the closest to the character Ian Fleming wrote, and possibly the most influential since Sean Connery. The review of The Living Daylights will have to wait for another day.

In 1985 a 58 year old actor played James Bond, the actor Roger Moore was playing the part for the seventh and final time in his twelve year tenure. An older Bond could have made an interesting character as it did when (the younger) Sean Connery reprised the role for the unofficial Never Say Never Again (1983), but thanks to lazy writing, Moore still playing the part as if he were a much younger man. This was exacerbated by the over reliance of silly gadgets and comedy one liners. In essence the small elements that made Bond, Bond had taken over. It was a bit like watching an aging rock star putting all their effort into an extravagant stage show but forgetting to sing the songs. The final nail in the creative coffin was that they had run out of Ian Fleming novels and were writing new stories, bad stories. Bond had become a parody, the result A View to a Kill was a terrible film, the franchise was an unsustainable mess, something had to be done. There was little of merit in the Roger Moore movies after his third outing, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), the series really needed new direction back then. I suspect that remembering the failure of George Lazenby as Sean Connery’s replacement, the producers were scared of upsetting the status quo and kept Moore in the role for an extra decade. As bad as the films got (Moonraker (1979), Octopussy (1983) and A View to a Kill (1985) being the low points) they still made money.

Producers, particularly Cubby Broccoli courted a young little known Irishman Pierce Brosnan who was staring in the TV show Remington Steele. Contractual obligations prevented Brosnan from taking the part so attention turned to Shakespearean actor Timothy Dalton. Dalton had been approached to replace Connery in the late 60’s but felt he was too young, and then again in the early 80’s when Moore’s contract was in dispute. Comments in various interviews have suggested Dalton was not happy with the direction the franchise was going, he also suspected that he and other actors were used force Moore’s hand. When he eventually took the part he did it on his own terms. A fan of Flemings source novels, Dalton insisted on scaling back the sci-fi/fantasy elements of the plot in favour of a grittier more plot driven story. He played Bond as a reluctant hero who like his literary counterpart drank and smoked too much. He was a man clinging to small pleasures while he tried to take away the taste and guilt of the repugnant side of the job. This can be seen early in his first movie, The Living Daylights (1987). It took its name from an Ian Fleming short story that was originally published along with Octopussy.

The story saw a jaded Bond on sniper duty, his mission to take out a KGB sniper and aid an agents escape from East Berlin. On realising the KGB sniper is a beautiful, blonde cellist he had seen on her way to and from practice earlier, he decides to shoot her weapon from her hands rather than killing her. Captain Sender his local contact, explains to Bond that he had to mention Bonds actions in his report stating “You should have killed that sniper whoever it was” Bonds response:

James Bond Said wearily “Okay with any luck it’ll cost me my Double-0 number. But tell Head of Station not to worry. That girl won’t do any more sniping. Probably lost her left hand. Certainly broke her nerve for that kind of work. Scared the living daylights out of her. In my book, that was enough. Let’s go.”

It is with this defiance that Timothy Dalton played the part. Most of the short story makes it to the screen reworked into the plot of the movie. Bond’s words became “STUFF my orders! I only kill professionals. That girl didn’t know one end of her rifle from the other. Go ahead. Tell M what you want. If he fires me, I’ll thank him for it.”

Bonds relationship with Saunders (based on Captain Sender from the short story) is unusual within a Bond film, in that it brings out many emotions in him. Initially the two don’t get on, but they grow to respect each other. When Saunders is killed Bond loses heart in his cover and becomes agitated and on edge. There is nuance in this performance you don’t expect from Bond. This isn’t a new Bond this is a return to the real Bond, the Fleming Bond. We can see this in his interactions with General Pushkin, the new head of the KGB. This the Bond we have seen on screen and read about on the page who has always been more interested in following his instincts than his orders. Dalton’s second and final Bond film Licence to Kill (1989) takes Bond a stage further refusing M’s orders and resigning in order to seek personal revenge. The film was both praised and criticised for darker and more violent tone of the movie taking it away from the family audience and more towards contemporary Hollywood thrillers. Interestingly it wasn’t that well received by American audiences. Receiving a 15 certificate in the UK and Rated PG-13 in America probably didn’t help.

In 1990, MGM/UA was sold, this led to various legal disputes that are too complicated to go into. The legal disputes caused delays and the next film due to go into production in the early 90’s was delayed until early 1994, this again was delayed and Dalton resigned from the role despite originally signing a three picture deal.

The interesting thing about Daltos time as Bond is what happened when he quit, Cubby Broccoli got his man, the actor he always wanted to play Bond, Pierce Brosnan. After a promising start GoldenEye (1995) the series descended into something very similar to the latter Roger Moore films, farces filled with silly gadgets and product placements. Bond as a character was conceived during World War II and was a cold war character, for that reason he lost a little of his relevance after The Living Daylights. While he was away fighting drug dealers and on a brief hiatus, the world was changing, Russia was changing. To their credit this became an underlying plot point in Brosnan’s début film but it was never expanded on or played with in future films. Then in 2006 in the wake of the Jason Bourne movies for the first time ever, Bond wasn’t recast, it was rebooted with Daniel Craig getting the part to the surprise of almost everyone. His début Casino Royale (2006) was a return to form, its sequel Quantum of Solace (2008) (a direct sequel is another Bond first) was less well received. And now the Zenith of what Dalton started, Skyfall (2012) has taken Bond further from Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan than many thought possible. He may have taken it too far to be recognisable as a Bond, but it is proving popular with fans (including me), audiences and critics. Don’t expect the ever humble Dalton to take any credit where Bond is today, but I don’t think he would have got to this point without the new direction he took the character in 1987.

Read Full Post »

 It was announced this week that Adele would sing the title track for the new James Bond movie Skyfall, but lets be honest who didn’t already know, it is officially the worst-kept secret in the history of secrets. Last month Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo from the BBC 5live radio movie show “Wittertainment” joined forces with BBC Philharmonic for a James Bond special where viewers were asked to vote for their favourite Bond themes.

The top three were:

  1. Live And Let Die from Live And Let Die, Paul McCartney and Wings
  2. Nobody Does It Better from The Spy Who Loved Me, Carly Simon
  3.  Goldfinger from Goldfinger, Shirley Bassey

Its hard to argue with the top three as classic Bond themes, but along with Tom Jones they are a little predicable and lets be honest the classics aren’t always as good as we remember them. Shirley Bassey’s Moonraker was a terrible song and Tom Jones’ Thunderball was lumbered with the most preposterous lyrics. The show like all discussions about classic Bond themes tnd to focus on the 60’s and 70’s but there are some more recent songs worth remembering.

A View To Kill sung by Duran Duran: The movie was terrible but the song was good and managed to be combine the elements you would expect from a Bond theme with 80’s pop.

The Living Daylights sung by A-Ha: just like Duran Duran, A-Ha nail the classic Bond combined with 80s pop.

Licence To Kill sung by Gladys Knight: Ditching the 80’s vibe and returning to a big ballad out of the Shirley Bassey school.

GoldenEye sung by Tina Turner: after a brief hiatus Bond needed a big return, and he got it thanks to Bond fans Bono and The Edge from U2 who wrote the song.

Tomorrow Never Dies sung by Sheryl Crow: I was unsure about this song when I first heard it, I thought it was trying to hard to be a Bond theme and moving away from what Crow does best, but it really has aged well and sits well with the classics.

The World Is Not Enough sung by Garbage: with soaring strings and a slow deliberate delivery from Shirley Manson that almost oozes out, the song has the Bombast that only a Bond theme can get away with.

Read Full Post »

Talking about James Bond in last weeks Radio Times, film critic Barry Norman made the statement: Ask anybody: who is your favourite James bond? I guarantee the answer will be the first one they ever saw”. I’m not sure if I am more discerning or just awkward, but it isn’t true of me. To the best of my knowledge and memory the first Bond I saw was Roger Moore in Live and Let Die. Moore is far from my favourite Bond, but I have recently come to the conclusion that I don’t know who my favourite Bond is! For years I have always claimed it is Sean Connery with the caveat that Timothy Dalton is the closest to the character from Ian Fleming’s novels.

I hold with the popular opinion that George Lazenby was the worst Bond, and this is a great shame as On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is one of the best Bond films despite him. He is closely followed by Roger Moore whose comic version of Bond just doesn’t work for me. He did however make some decent movies, Live and Let Die and The Spy Who Loved Me were both really good films. The Man with the Golden Gun isn’t as good but does benefit from a fantastic performance from Christopher Lee as the villian Scaramanga.

So Back to who is my favourite Bond, Sean Connery certainly had the best stories with relatively faithful adaptations of Dr. No, From Russia with Love, Goldfinger, Thunderball. You Only Live Twice is the point where the franchise started to get silly and even became a parody of itself, it was however still a good film in its own right. Connery’s only misstep was Diamonds Are Forever that was both silly and dull.

I have already said Timothy Dalton most closely resembles the character from the books in his portrayal, but there is another actor who probably looks most like Bond, Pierce Brosnan. This may be a bit of a stretch as there is little description of Bonds appearance beyond his short black hair and a resemblance to Hoagy Carmichael. Pierce Brosnan isn’t my favourite Bond either. He is perfect for the films he made and the time they were made, but sadly most of them weren’t actually very good. After a strong opening with GoldenEye the rest of his films got progressively worse culminating with the car crash of a movie, Die Another Day that was as bad as anything Moore did.

This leaves us with two contenders: Timothy Dalton who was hamstrung by only making two appearances both of them being good but not great films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill. Had he made more films he could well have been my favourite Bond but for reasons to long winded and complicated to go into today he didn’t. And finally Daniel Craig, Casino Royale is certainly one of my favourite Bond films and Quantum of Solace is underrated and will probably age well, but is he my favourite? Not yet but he may well be in future, with three more movies including Skyfall due out next month, he will certainly have a chance before handing his Aston Martin and Walther PPK to Michael Fassbender, my choice for the next James Bond.

Read Full Post »

With the latest Bond Film, Skyfall just six months away I am already thinking of where the franchise goes next.  While I’m working on a post to suggest a few alternatives I thought I would share an on post from three years ago.    It will never be made so this is  little more than a bit of fun but if it does get made tell everyone you read about it here first.

The idea is go back to original source material.  Having used little more than the title for the films Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me represent the largest un-filmed Ian Fleming stories remaining.  The Spy Who Loved could make a great Die Hard style film.  It was the tenth novel and fits in between Thunderball and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service although it stands alone without any baggage from the other books, it acts as an interlude in what has become known as the “Blofeld Trilogy”.  Bond isn’t really the main character in the book.  It is told in the first person by a young woman called Vivienne Michel rather than the usual third-person narrative concentrating on Bond.  Fleming didn’t want the film to be made and only sold the rites to the title but far worse things have been produced in Flemming and Bonds names.  A film like this would divide opinions of Bond fans but could be a real chance to make a completely different film.  For those who haven’t read the books below is a breakdown of The Spy Who Loved Me and how it could be made into a film:

The book is split into three parts “Me”, “Them”, and “Him”.  Me deals with Vivienne’s back story and can be dropped for a film version. The second part of the book “Them” would be truncated.  Vivian is working in a motel as she travels through America.  At the end of the season the manager leaves her in charge for the night until the owner comes to shut up for the winter.  Instead a pair of thugs arrive on behalf of the owner.  Their plan; to burn the motel down placing the blame on Vivienne who will die in the fire allowing the owner to claim on the insurance.

The third section starts with Bond’s arrival it time to prevent the thugs from raping Vivienne.  In typical Bond style he kills the bad guys and sleeps with the girl.  This part of the film would be extended to form the majority of the film.  Probably sixty minutes in a ninety-five minute film.  I would suggest a larger number of the thugs/gangsters would be needed for the idea to work. If more material is needed a final act could be tagged on where Mr. Sanguinetti the gangster owner of the motel tries to get revenge on Bond.  A note of trivia one of the thugs is called Sol “Horror” Horowitz and was the basis for Jaws who was one of the few elements to make it into the 1977 film of the same name.  It may need an extra act such as the Bahamas scenes in Casino Royale to make it work as a film.  For this to work it would need to fit around the original text and within the context of a Bond film, in other words, how Bond got the motel rather than how Vivian got there. 

A nice touch would also be to use an un-filmed short story as the pre-credit sequence the way they did in The Living Daylights (the opening sequence is based on a short story of the same name).  The one I would suggest is “From a View to a Kill” in which Bond investigates the murder of a motorcycle dispatch and the theft of his top-secret documents.  To do this he takes the place of a dispatch-rider, kills a would be assassin and tracks down their HQ.  This could be broken down to just the motorcycle action involving Bond and the Assassin.

Read Full Post »