Shaken, not Stirred

by Alan Rapp on November 12, 2008

in Essays , Theme Week

After Sean Connery’s one film return, Diamonds are Forever, to keep the franchise alive, producers Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman needed to find a new leading man to keep the Bond saga alive.  Jeremy Brett, Julian Glover and Michael Billington were considered (Glover and Billington eventually showed up as Bond villains).

In the end the role went to The Saint star Roger Moore who had briefly been originally considered for the role before it was given to Connery.  Moore would go on to star in seven of the now 22 Bond films, the most of any actor to play the role in the series (discounting Connery’s late remake Never Say Never Again).  Fleming hardliners and die-hard Connery fans were upset with Moore’s lighter touch and more humorous and suave version of 007.  However the fans, and money, still rolled into the box office, and Moore found his own niche as a different, but still enjoyable, Bond.


 


Live and Let Die

Moore’s first film is something of a trainwreck that ended the most turbulent Bond years.  It’s a wonder the series survived the disappointing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the terrible Diamonds are Forever and the unbelievably strange Live and Let Die.  Of all the films in the series this one stands out as the most dated as a 70’s film that more resembles a blaxploitation film of the era (or even a “B” horror film with it’s interest in voodoo, the supernatural, and the ability to tell the future through tarot cards) than your typical Bond flick.  Still it contains Moore’s first performance as Bond, the lovely Jane Seymour as Solitaire, and one of the best Bond title songs, ever.  The plot involves Bond investigating the death of MI6 agents in New York which leads him to San Monique and a deadly drug dealer Dr. Kananga (Yaphet Kotto).  Not Bond’s best hour, but far from the worst of the series.

 
 


The Man with the Golden Gun

James Bond becomes the newest obsession for the infamous assassin Fransisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee), better known for his weapon of choice as “the man with the golden gun.”  The plot of the film centers around Bond and Scaramanga hunting each other as Bond also investigates a scientist with a new solar power energy source that Scaramanga has deadly plans for.  We get two Bond girls, the lovely Maud Adams as Scaramanga’s mistress Andrea, and Bond’s MI6 operative, and former flame, Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland).  In all facets a good entry for Moore, who had begun to grow comfortable in the role, and for the series by returning to a more classical Bond-style picture.  The film also was helped by Lee as a classic Bond villain, and a new take on the sidekick by casting Herve Villechaize (Fantasy Island‘s Tatu) as Scaramanga’s devious assistant Nick Nack.

 
 


The Spy Who Loved Me

Bond’s tenth film, and Moore’s third, is the first of the series not to be based, at least in part, on an Ian Fleming novel (though Fleming allowed them to use the title from an unrelated story).  It’s Moore’s best, and one of the best of the entire series.  The film focuses on a joint operation between the British and the Soviets to prevent a madman (Curd Jurgens) from launching stolen nuclear weapons and beginning WWIII.  The British of course send Bond, the Soviets send their best agent Anya Amassavo (Barbara Bach), codename XXX.  The partnership produces some heat and hatred as XXX discovers Bond killed her former lover in Switzerland.  The film is memorable for Stromberg’s underwater city, a female agent who is Bond’s equal, big battle scenes (of the type not seen since You Only Live Twice), the title song “Nobody Does it Better” by Carly Simon, and the first appearance of Jaws (Richard Kiel).

 
 


Moonraker

James Bond in space.  Bond is sent to investigate the disappearance of a Moonraker space shuttle orchestrated by Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), who plans to eradicate the Earth from space, creating a new world aboard his space station to be the beginnings of the new human race.  With the help of terrifically named undercover CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), Bond goes into space, once again fights Jaws, and saves the day.  The ridiculous premise (in an attempt to cash-in on the sci-fi box office boom Star Wars began) has earned it snicker and sneers from many fans and critics.  The film also “borrows” more than a few of the themes and plot threads for The Spy Who Loved Me including a villain bent on destroying the world from the safety of his secret base.  Although it’s far from the best of the series, it does contain some memorable moments that make it an enjoyable, if campy, entry into the franchise.

 
 


For Your Eyes Only

A script that was melded together from parts of three different Fleming stories gives us the last great Bond film with Roger Moore.  Bond attempts to recover an ATAC, an important military system used to coordinate the British Navy’s nuclear submarines.  Bond’s search is aided by the daughter of murdered marine archaeologists (Carole Bouquet) who’s beauty is matched by her deadly accuracy with a crossbow.  They find themselves in the middle of a battle between Greek spies Kristatos (Juline Glover) and Columbo (Topol).  With the help of Columbo and his men, Bond storms Kristatos’ mountaintop fortress and stops the ATAC from being handed over to the KGB.  Deadly and beautifully shot in the coasts of Italy and Greece, including some wonderful underwater photography, the film is also memorable for it’s opening sequence involving Bond’s final battle with Ernst Stravo Blofield.

 
 


Octopussy

The death of 009 and the theft of a Faberge egg lead Bond to an Afghan prince (Louis Jordan), a Soviet general (Steven Berkoff), and a smuggling cult led by a woman named Octopussy (Maud Adams, making her second appearance as a Bond girl), in India.  Bond wins over Octopussy and together they try to stop Khan’s plan which involves a train, a traveling circus, a nuclear device, and James Bond dressed up like a clown.  That’s right, James Bond dressed up as a clown.  Not much of interest here in this forgettable entry into the Bond franchise.  Robert Brown takes over the role of M.  Roger Moore really starts to show his age (55), though he does supply some rather super-human abilities in the action scenes that make Moonraker seem quite rational.  Also, Bond plays Backgammon instead of Baccarat?  Huh?  Someone want to explain to me how that’s cool?

 
 


A View to a Kill

Not even Christopher Walken and Duran Duran can save Bond here.  In Moore’s final film, Bond investigates microchips and racehorses.  Wow.  A look at a businessman (Walken), who was experimented on as a child by Nazi scientists, and whose company makes the chip, reveals a plot to fix races by a time released drug given to the horses during a race.  He also plans to detonate bombs along the San Andreas fault creating a huge earthquake.  With the help of a beautiful geologist (Tanya Roberts), Bond defeats the mad horse racing, earthquake plotting psycho, and his crazy Amazon sidekick (Grace Jones), and saves the day.  Not the best Bond, but memorable for the last performances of Moore (and his least favorite) as well as Lois Maxwell as Ms. Moneypenny, and the opening Siberian icecap sequence (including the iceberg submarine) with Bond girl Mary Stavin.

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