Jeff of Earth-J said:
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME was the first James Bond movie I saw in the theater.
I was in high school in 1964 when Ian Fleming died. The TV news told me that he had created the villains Dr No and Goldfinger, accompanied by still photos. I said to myself the “James Bond fights supervillains.” In the midst of the Silver Age, that was enough to sell me. I made a point of going to see Goldfinger during its first run, later catching up with the first two movies, also in theaters. I also started reading the novels in paperback (50 cents each!), and bought the Thunderball paperback as soon as it came out. Like you, I read them all and have seen all the movies. I read the first post-Fleming book, Colonel Sun, and decided not to continue.
By the way, the novel The Spy Who Loved Me would have been called The Spy Who F---ed Me if our society used accurate words instead of euphemisms. “Making love” is a poor phrase to describe having sex which may or may not involve love. Also, in the book Fleming attempts to write from the woman’s perspective. This would be hard for most male writers and is embarrassingly bad from Fleming.
I used to think the James Bond series underwent a change when Roger Moore replaced Sean Connery in Live and Let Die, but that's not it.
I did notice two minor and one major departure in Live and Let Die, the movie. In the book the character Quarrel is introduced. In Dr No, book and movie, he dies, Dr No being published after Live and Let Die. So in this movie we meet Quarrel Junior. In the book, Felix Leiter is fed to sharks and is maimed for life. An evil (but clever) message is left for Bond: “He disagreed with something that ate him.” The more severe injury and the message are used in a later movie.
The major departure I noticed was the following. In the book, Kananga/Mr Big is bobbing in the water at the end, about to die. It is observed in the book that he has a large head “like a football.” In the movie they inflate his head, which become huge, lifts him into the air and explodes like the shark in Jaws. Up until then, the movies (like the books) had stuck to the plausible. When I saw this my reaction was that this reminded me too much of the much-hated “camp” stories. The Roger Moore movies got increasingly bad after this. The only ones I have in my movie collection are Dr No through Live and Let Die.
After this, they used his novel and short story titles for movie titles until they ran out of them, with no story relationship. Fleming had a knack for good titles.
The end credits foreshadow that "James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only," but the next movie is actually Moonraker. (Actually, it would have been preferable if the next movie had been For Your Eyes Only.) The paperback adaptation of The Spy Who Loved Me follows the same basic plot as the movie, but its basic approach is so much better. Don't watch the movie; read the book.
One of the guys on the board was considering reading a James Bond book. I recommended the book Moonraker. Anyone who hates the movie of that name would love the completely unrelated book.
Richard, I could talk about James Bond all day. But Tracy will be returning home soon after a week away and I don't want to be online when she gets here.
"I read the first post-Fleming book, Colonel Sun, and decided not to continue."
I bought a copy of Colonel Sun years decades ago but have never read it.
"I recommended the book Moonraker."
As soon as I finished James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me I started reading James Bond and Moonraker, both by Christopher Wood. (I never noticed the slight title differences until today. Of course, it's been over 40 years since I read either of them.)
I see an even earlier turning point in the series with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. After You Only Live Twice threw out the plot of the book and went with an over the top, sci fi flavored story, OHMSS was a relatively faithful adaption of the novel, making it the most serious-minded Bond film since From Russia With Love. The movie did not fare as well at the box office as its predecessors which gets blamed on George Lazenby – good story, bad Bond. I wonder if the producers also felt that audiences didn’t want a serious take on 007 so with Diamonds Are Forever they returned to the over the top plotting with camp overtones which continued on through the Moore years.
That may have been me. I remember asking about that, either here or on FB. I still haven't gotten around to reading any.
Richard Willis said:
"I still haven't gotten around to reading any."
If you're going to read only one, I would recommend Goldfinger.
MOONRAKER: Last week I identified The Spy Who Loved Me as the first James Bond movie I saw in the theater and my third least favorite. Moonraker is the second I saw in a theater and my second least favorite. If Spy was a pastiche of previous James Bond movies, then Moonraker was a pastiche of post-Star Wars space films. When I was 13, I thought Jaws was a caricature of a James Bond villain, and when I was 15 I saw Moonraker as a blatant rip-off of Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, etc. Not only that, but Moonraker features the most blatant and obvious product placement of any James Bond movie. By this point, the franchise had fallen into an unfortunate cycle of one-upsmanship and was no longer being imitated but was the imitator.
I noted in my thoughts on the movie tie-in yesterday that Christopher Wood had not removed the slapstick elements from the novelization as he had from the paperback adaptation of Spy, but that's not exactly the case. It turns out that he did, in fact, tone down or remove the most egregious examples of slapstick comedy. As I mentioned yesterday, the "Moonraker" of Fleming's original 1955 novel was a conventional rocket, but it had been upgraded to a space shuttle for the movie. Also changed was the name of the female lead; "Gala Brand" became "Holly Goodhead," almost a parody of itself (although, I must admit, "Pussy Galore," a Fleming-named character, was pretty over-the-top as well). I remember reading an interview with Lois Chiles at the time in which she explained to her mother it meant she had a "good head on her shoulders."
At the time I thought the idea of multi-millionaire Hugo Drax self-financing his own space rocket to be preposterous! Now, not so much anymore. In another bit of present day verisimilitude, we get to see what a "Space Force" might look like (although they are referred to as "Space Marines" here). As little as I like this film, it is still not my least favorite James Bond movie.
I am currently watching the 1935 British masterpiece "The Tunnel" (titled "The Transatlantic Tunnel" in the U.S.). Richard Dix plays Richard McAllan, the man behind a scheme to build a tunnel between the U.S. and Britain. The acting is superb, the sets are magnificent, and the story is gripping.
The first Bond movie I saw in the theater was, I think, From Russia with Love. It might have been Goldfinger, but I think it was Russia because I badgered my parents for the James Bond briefcase toy that Christmas. (It had a rubber knife that popped out if you hit the right button, a camera that turned into a gun if you hit the right button, and parts of a sniper rifle you could assemble. Both guns fired pink, plastic bullets capable of putting out an eye. I loved it.) The briefcase toy was based on the scene in Russia where Bond assembles a sniper rifle from a briefcase while being hunted by a helicopter. I had seen that scene, which why I was so excited, so I must have seen the movie. And this was when the fam was living in Chicago, which would be the right time frame. But I could be wrong.
Anyway, since I saw all the Sean Connery movies at some kind of theater -- somehow I saw Dr. No in Chicago as well, maybe at the drive-in? -- Connery was "my" Bond, and I stopped watching the 007 movies when Connery was replaced with Roger Moore*.
Eventually, though, I got over myself and went to my first Moore movie. I figured I was denying myself good entertainment out of some kind of hubris and should just go have a good time.
The movie was Moonraker. I never went to another Moore Bond at the theater again.
* I somehow missed the George Lazenby movie entirely, to the point I was unaware of its existence until I was an adult.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
When I watched this I wished I could turn off the Rifftrax stupid comments. After it was over I saw that I could have. At that point I just returned it in the mail to get my next selection.
Richard Willis said:
I found Maniac on DVD as a Rifftrax version. Should be watching it soon.
I plan to watch the new Guillermo Del Toro movie Nightmare Alley.
It came to my attention that it is a remake of Nightmare Alley (1947), which starred Tyrone Power in the lead. He said it was his favorite role. I just watched the 1947 full movie on YouTube, and it's great. The one I watched was "Nightmare Alley - Full Movie - GOOD QUALITY (1947)" from "The Smoking Hat."
THE VAMPIRE BAT (1933): Life has interrupted out B-movie watching schedule, but we resumed last night with this offering from Majestic Pictures. It is a kind of Frankenstein/Dracula mash-up, almost up to Universal Studios standards, and featuring several of Universal's actors (Lionel Atwell, Melvyn Douglas, Dwight Frye) plus Fay Wray. Worth watching.
Over the weekend I watched Shock (1946, dir. Alfred L. Werker), a by-the-numbers gaslighting picture starring Vincent Price. Anabelle Shaw witnesses Vincent Price kill his wife, then goes into a catatonic shock. The hotel doctor calls in a specialist to treat her...and, whoa, it's Vincent Price! So now VP and his scheming nurse side piece, Elaine (Lynn Bari), have to keep Shaw incapacitated, so she can't accuse him of the murder...all while disposing of his wife's body. There's enough untapped potential that there's definitely the possibility of a remake here, but aside from the joys Vincent Price always brings, this one doesn't have a lot else to recommend it.
Much better is All Is Lost, a Robert Redford movie from 2013 about a solo yachtsman in the Indian Ocean, and what happens when his boat's hull gets punctured in an unexpected collision. I finally saw it last week, and it's amazing.