So, I've decided to watch the James Bond films in order and comment about them. I will be limiting myself to the movies featuring the only two actors that I feel portrayed Bond properly--i.e. Sean Connery and Roger Moore--and ignoring anything else that calls itself a Bond movie (with the possible exception of the 1967 Casino Royale). To begin with, 1962's Dr. No. A quick synopsis courtesy of The James Bond Films:

Dr. No intends to destroy a U.S. moon rocket from his nuclear-powered base on an island near Jamaica.

Now for my thoughts on the movie:

* First appearance of Bond shooting the camera with blood pouring down from the top--No Bond theme until after the shot, and Bond is wearing a fedora. I like fedoras, but Bond just doesn't seem a fedora type of guy.

* I like the danciing silhouettes during the opening titles.

* I love the styling of old cars.

* Silencers made guns really quiet back then.

* Bond and Baccarat...they go together like peanut butter and chocolate, or rum and cola.

* Lois Maxwell looks quite lovely as Moneypenny, and her flirtation with Bond seems more playful than his other interactions with women...very likeable.

* Hmm...not sure how close this movie is in time to the Cuban missile crisis, but I know the timing is close.

* I never knew Bond used a Beretta before the Walther.

* No Q...no gadgets either.

* I should like to return to my hotel finding a beautiful woman wearing my pajamas and practicing putting in my room, although I can also see how that would be off-putting as well.

* Jack Lord is supposed to be in Hawaii, not Jamaica.

* The fighting in this movie seems almost to be a parody of itself--however, I'm sure that's more to do with 50 years of similar movies since then.

* The police commissioner in Kingston, Jamaica is a white man...doesn't sound quite right to me. A-Ha! Jamaica had not declared it's indepence from Great Britain in 1962.

* He doesn't say "shaken, not stirred" but that is how he orders his vodka martini.

* Why is the bartender East Indian? Eh, likely the British connection again.

* Lots of product placement for Red Stripe. Hooray Beer!

* I guess rasslin' alligators doesn't quite prepare you for Bond, James Bond.

* Very Marvel comics...the good guys fight, then team up.

* So...all the natives have American accents...

* Disembodied voices are so cool and scary sometimes.

* The way women hunger after Bond is quite funny.

* Backup vodka is always a good idea when you're a superspy.

* You know, if I woke up in the middle of the night and found a huge tarantula on my back, my first instinct would likely be to roll over and attempt to smush it.

* I love how the orchestra is in sync with him smashing the spider with his shoe.

* Ruh-Roh! The pretty eavesdropping secretary is a bad girl!

* And that's what you get for being a bad guy in a big ugly car.

* Bond womanizes...of course, she's likely to be dead by the end of their date.

* He was nice...he only had her arrested.

* Quarrel is a dead man...I know it.

* Ursula Andress...yes, please!

* Oh sure, the old "breathing through a hollow reed underwater" trick.

* Yup, 1962, black guy, red shirt...Quarrel just got it.

* Okay, superspy 101...do not drink or eat anything the enemy offers you.

* Umm...yeah...Ursula...yeah...

* With names like Sister Lily and Sister Rose, they'd better be sinister.

* He sends Honey off to be ... mistreated. That's the Bond I'm familiar with.

* Ooohhh, S.P.E.C.T.R.E.!

* Sure, electrify the grating, but don't take away his rubber-soled shoes. Good move.

* A gruesome, but fitting end for Dr. No.

* And of course, Bond is the mack...

Reasonably fun, I suppose, but a very uneven movie. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and key points of the plot make as much sense as the Adam West Batman! series. Still, if you don't take it too seriously, it's not bad.

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Randy Jackson said:


I've said before that Roger Moore is my favorite Bond, but I don't think I've ever said why.

In my mind, Bond is superhuman.  In fact, it's almost unfair to expect him to have a hard time with anyone he deals with, therefore I enjoy it less when the films are taken seriously and portrayed seriously.  It's easy to discern that Connery is a better actor than Moore, but the tongue-in-cheek quality that Moore brings to the character just fits my personal idea of the character better.  This is not to say that Connery was a poor Bond--in fact, I'd say he was a great Bond.  I just enjoy Moore's portrayal better.

 

You've just described something which it took me awhile to figure out about Moore-as-Bond fans, and I couldn't have put it better.

 

I'm unswervingly in the Connery camp---Sean Connery is James Bond, and anyone else is a pretender to the throne.  My viewing experience with James Bond started when Dr. No came out, but my championing of Connery stems from more than just "he was the first one I saw portraying Bond."

 

One quality which Connery has brought to Bond, which none of the other actors have (though Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig come close) is that Connery's Bond always eminated an undercurrent of menace.  He wasn't tough and chillingly competent because the script told you he was.  No, Connery oozed it.  It didn't matter what the scene was.  Whether playing cat-and-mouse with the villain or getting a briefing in M's office or in the sack with his latest conquest, lying just beneath the surface of whatever current mood he was displaying was that sense that he could be coldly dangerous.

 

For example, while he were engaged in some light-hearted badinage with Moneypenny, if she had suddenly pulled a gun and tried to shoot him, Connery's Bond would react by killing her, without hesitation.  Recriminations and questions would come after, but his immediate reaction would be instantaneous and deadly.  That was the aura that Connery had as Bond, and that's what made the character credible to me.

 

Even after the later Connery-Bond films started to vaguely spoof their own conventions, this subtle menace in Connery's performances kept things serious.

 

The George Lazenby Bond was a small blip on the radar screen, but when Roger Moore assumed the rôle permanently, I groaned.  Moore was good as a Maverick, better as the Saint, but he was no James Bond.

 

Of course, eventually the wardroom discussions would get around to the "Connery vs. Moore as Bond" issue.  And I remember being slightly astounded that anyone could prefer Moore or the virtual parodies that the Moore Bond films had become.

 

It took awhile, but it finally dawned on me:  nearly all the Moore-as-Bond adherents were at least half a generation younger than me.  They had come into the Bond series when or after Moore had taken over.  They were introduced to the Bond series after it had become lighter, more comedic, more satirical of itself.  This was how the series had always been to them and this is the aspect of it they enjoyed.  Thus, Moore, to them, was perfect as Bond.

 

In other words, their perspective was just as you stated it above.

 

I think that one's perspective of what Bond and Bond films were supposed to be also affected the reception to Timothy Dalton as Bond.  For those of us old-timers, who had been steeped in the grimmer, more serious Connery Bond films, Dalton was a return to the vintage.  He played the part with more seriousness and an undertone of menace, as had Connery, and his two films were revisits of the earliest Bond films, with little comedy and no slapstick.  We liked that.

 

But for those who had started with Moore-as-Bond and the lighter, more comedic tone of the films, Dalton's take and the overall more serious mood of his two films were alien to what those fans expected a Bond film and their hero to be.

 

Dalton detractors would tell me, "He was too serious as Bond.  There wasn't anything funny in his films."

 

"But," I would respond in protest, "that's the way Bond is supposed to be."

 

It's best, I guess, if one regards the Connery Bond films and the Moore Bond films as two separate series, rather than a continuation of the same series.  The thematic tone clearly shifts to humour after Moore takes the rôle, so much so that Connery's undertone of menace would have detracted from it, or worse yet, come across as a lampoon, being in so contradistinction to the light slapstick going on around him.

 

With all of that said, From Russia, with Love is my favourite Bond film.  It is the best spy thriller in the Bond film series.  Part of that, I believe, comes from the fact that Goldfinger (my second favourite Bond film; Dr. No is my third) had not yet come along to establish the template from which most of the subsequent films would derive.

 

The principal guest players displayed distinctive personalities that were sometimes not in keeping with their positions, but never so much as to lose credibility.  Pedro Armandáriz played Kerim Bey casually as if Section "T" was a conventional business company, rather than a branch of British Intelligence, but nevertheless, you knew he was competent at his work and could be deadly if required.  I can easily see him bringing his sons into the "family business".

 

Robert Shaw gave off an air of lethal menace as Red Grant.  Though he played it low-key throughout the film, he was much more chilling as Bond's prospective assassin than the buffoonish Jaws ever was or could be.

 

And Lotte Lenya as Colonel Klebb and Vladek Sheybal as the reptilian Kronsteen were perfectly malevolent without going over the top or lapsing into satire.  As a viewer, the idea of being in the same room with Klebb and Kronsteen made your skin crawl.

 

As you pointed out, Randy, it's not a seamless picture.  There are a couple of loose ends and a minor plotline or two seem to dead end without explanation.  But overall, it's an excellent spy thriller.  Especially if one can watch it, keeping his mind divorced from the formula for Bond films established by Goldfinger.

 

Oh, and I think we're on the same page here.  I'm a hat wearer.  I won't go out in a suit without wearing a fedora.  But some folks just aren't suited for that type of headgear, and Sean Connery's Bond was one of them.  I think the fedora was added just to be able to insert the "toss the hat onto the hook of the hat rack" bit into the first scene in which Bond enters M's office in every picture.

 

In fact, this bit, which appeared in the first five Bond films, was responsible for one of the few lighthearted bits that appeared in the more serious early films, and it actually fit in plausibly.

 

After Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Goldfinger established the pattern of Bond entering M's outer office and tossing his hat across the room, to land unerringly on the hook of the hat rack, Thunderball gives the audience a chuckle.

 

Bond opens the door to the outer office, stands there, fedora in hand, ready to toss it across the room (as we faithful viewers have come to expect).

 

Then, he discovers that the hat rack has been moved.  It now sits right next to the door.  With a disgusted look, he places the hat on the hook and moves on.

 

You had to follow the series from Dr. No to appreciate the subtle gag.  Whenever I catch Thunderball, I always laugh at that bit, and everyone else wonders what I think is so funny about Bond hanging up his hat on the rack.

No big surprise Commander, I am with you on your assessment of Connery as Bond. However Goldfinger is at the top of my Bond film favorites with From Russia With Love and Thunderball at two and three. My introduction to 007 came in 1971 when the studio re-released the Bond movies in double feature packages, which I assume was done to promote Sean Connery's return to the role later that year in Diamonds Are Forever. The first double feature I saw was Thunderball and You Only Live Twice followed a few weeks later by Dr No and From Russia With Love. Finally Goldfinger made its return paired with Dr No (again). I managed to see the first five Bond films in the span of less than one year - in addition Diamonds Are Forever was released and was the first 007 movie I was able to see first run in a theater.

My introduction to James Bond came with Ian Fleming's death in late 1964. Watching the news, they announced Ian Fleming's death and talked about the movie versions of his villains Dr. No and Goldfinger. I said to myself "this is about supervillains", and was immediately interested. Shortly after this I saw GOLDFINGER toward the end of its run, later seeing DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE when they were reissued in theaters. Somewhere in there I began reading all the Fleming books. Watching GOLDFINGER, little did I know that a little more than three years later I would be in Basic Training at Fort Knox.

WOW!  Did it look anything like how they portrayed it?

Richard Willis said:

My introduction to James Bond came with Ian Fleming's death in late 1964. Watching the news, they announced Ian Fleming's death and talked about the movie versions of his villains Dr. No and Goldfinger. I said to myself "this is about supervillains", and was immediately interested. Shortly after this I saw GOLDFINGER toward the end of its run, later seeing DR. NO and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE when they were reissued in theaters. Somewhere in there I began reading all the Fleming books. Watching GOLDFINGER, little did I know that a little more than three years later I would be in Basic Training at Fort Knox.

My experience was the same as yours, Doc... it was probably the same run of double features that I saw in the theatre as well.

I think I went to a drive in for a tripple feature in Fall 1974 with a girl, and stayed up WAY too late...3a.m. or something...and knew that it was a mistake in my first quarter of college. I had to dump some courses before I flunked out. This is linked to Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger, as I recall...

doc photo said:

No big surprise Commander, I am with you on your assessment of Connery as Bond. However Goldfinger is at the top of my Bond film favorites with From Russia With Love and Thunderball at two and three. My introduction to 007 came in 1971 when the studio re-released the Bond movies in double feature packages, which I assume was done to promote Sean Connery's return to the role later that year in Diamonds Are Forever. The first double feature I saw was Thunderball and You Only Live Twice followed a few weeks later by Dr No and From Russia With Love. Finally Goldfinger made its return paired with Dr No (again). I managed to see the first five Bond films in the span of less than one year - in addition Diamonds Are Forever was released and was the first 007 movie I was able to see first run in a theater.

I never had the feeling that Roger Moore was the cold-blooded killer that Bond of the books was supposed to be. He was too polished, too upper-class, too cute, too clever...his adventures depended upon his turning the threat back upon the villian or henchman...rather than anything else.  I welcomed the grim determined look that Tim Dalton brought to the role when they couldn't get Remington Steel  Pierce Broson.  But Daniel Craig has really done it for me. Except for his excessively muscled body and his cut too tight suits, he does it well... (even though I know in my heart that Sean Conrey will forever be James Bond for me.)

Randy Jackson said:

I never really saw it as camp as much as I saw it him having fun with the role.  Sure, he would never be the actor that Sean Connery was, but the movies were very enjoyable all the same.  Sort of like Bob Haney's The Brave And The Bold. Perhaps not the best scripts, but always fun.

Richard Willis said:

I actually liked all the actors who have played Bond. I didn't like the "camp" tone of most of the Roger Moore movies, but that wasn't his fault.

Well, the gold depository is actually referred to as "At Fort Knox". It's actually on the edge of the fort, not in it. One time I walked up to the edge and could see the building at the end of long walkways. There were no visible guards but you can bet that anyone who approached would have had a problem. The military part of the fort was actually filmed there, and is accurate. Most of the soldiers who keel over in the movie are actual soldiers being extras.

Tonight's film is Goldfinger

Villainous Goldfinger plans to explode a nuclear device in Fort Knox to create global economic chaos. This film featured an Aston Martin DB5 with ejection seat and machinegun taillights.

* Still rocking the fedora

* Rocking the bird decoy scuba headgear too.

* And sure, he has to have a grapple gun.

* Secret entrance to villainous headquarters.  Nice.

* Plastic explosives, timer, barrels of nitroglycerine...almost overkill, really.

* And of course, the impeccable tuxedo under the wetsuit.

* Now, we all know as soon as he takes off his holster that he's gonna get attacked, right?

* The old "see the badguy reflected in the beautiful girl's eyes--always 100 percent effective.

* Electrocution death is quite nasty.

* And somehow, she's still alive...Bond must be slipping.

* Opening credits, Shirley Bassey time!

* Really, the names of some of the Bond girls are absolutely shocking... :D

* I do like seeing the scenes of the film reflected against the gold skin of the body.

* What is it that Goldfinger loves? Oh, I guess it's gold.

* Miami looked like the place to be when this movie was made...I would love that pool. In fact, I wish I was there right now, with a bottle of good Scotch and a beautiful woman giving me a neck rub.  Then I look out the window and remember it's Chicago.

* Man talk...that'll get you sued today.

* She's remarkably composed for having been surprised by a stranger in her room...well, Goldfinger's room.

* Oh, and you know you have a good villain when he cheats at cards just because.

* That Bond, a magician with the ladies.  Shirley Eaton is quite fetching too.

* Did I say Shirley Eaton looked fetching?  Why, her glow is almost golden.

* Even M enjoys the byplay between Bond and Moneypenny.

* I love how James identifies exactly what's wrong with the brandy...

* The Top Gear guys are all drooling over the Aston Martin DB5.  It is a nice looking car.

* That is one sweet car.  As a kid, I totally marked out about all the cool gizmos.

* Oddjob! He sort of makes Fluff Cowan seem a tad...boring.

* So the next time I'm involved in a game of golf with a supervillain, I'll remember to drop the gold bar when he's putting.

* Never play golf with James Bond.  Never.

* I would love a hat like that, but I know I would just cut my fingers off the first time I tried to use it.

* Oddjob is a baaaaad man...I wonder who would win in a fight between him and Mr. T?

* I'd grown so used to seeing the airplane staircases in my youth on TV that when I finally got to fly I was disappointed that there was a walkway from the terminal into the airplane.

* I like the Rolls, but the color doesn't quite work for me.  The yellow and black really makes it look more like a taxicab than a fine luxury car.

* Uh oh...convertible.

* Ooh...Mustang Convertible...yes!

* Although Bond has irritated the heck out of Goldfinger, one gets the feeling that he's playing out of his league, especially given the persistent ambushes.

* Swiss alps...car chase...way cool.

* Auric Enterprises, Auric Goldfinger...wow, I wonder if that word 'Auric' has some sort of meaning? :D

* One of the great cliches...the car runs off the road and off the cliff, yet explodes for no reason whatsoever.

* Oddjob not always so lethal with his hat.  I guess it's like Captain America's shield--razor sharp when the writer needs it to be, blunt and clubbing when the writer needs it to be.  Well, okay, lethal enough.

* I guess the windshield glass is bulletproof, but it could be a much better bulletproof, if you know what I'm saying.

* so, caught like a fly in a trap by a mirror...silly mirror.

* "I expect you to die".  If this wasn't a classic Batman! trap, I'd give Goldfinger props for beign a great villain...nah, he is a great villain.

* You know, it might be nice just once to meet 008.  Is he--or she--as effective as say Agent 99?  One wonders.

* Tranq gun!  Ouch!

* Ms. Galore in a fetching velour jumpsuit.  Nice.

* I prefer my martinis shaken too...

* Gotta love the green screen

* Musical spy holes...gotta love it.

* You know, she's likely to serve you a spiked martini for treating her that way.

* Nice to see that M and Leiter have such confidence in James.

* Oh, she's got a flying circus too? (nudge, nudge, wink, wink, say no more)

* The flying circus is all attractive females too?  Wonders never cease.

* Goldfinger is supposed to be English, but he sounds very, very German.  I still love his villainny though.

* Goldfinger has a nifty pad.

* Hmmm...I think James is up to something.

* Hey, how do you confound a stupid guard?

* Kick in the throat. That's nice and lethal.

* So Operation Grand Slam is robbing Fort Knox.  "Robbing Fort Knox, that's crazy talk."

* Ms. Galore is a bad 'un, she is.

* Oh no, he's double crossing the hoods!  Whatever happened to honor among thieves?

* Man silencers sure are nifty!

* This is why Bond shouldn't wear fedoras.  Hoods wear fedoras, and they just end up getting shot all the time by Asian assassins.

* Okay, one thing against Goldfinger...he doesn't really like cars.

* Well, I guess James' message won't get through.

* El Camino for the win...or should I say Falcon Ranchero!

* Hmm...I kinda like what Ms. Galore is wearing now...but something more suitable could impress.

* I see they've increased James' guard.

* Okay, I don't know all of this economic stuff, or at least not enough of it.  Haven't we basically abandoned a gold-based economy? Would irradiating the gold in Fort Knox be that big of an issue, even in 1964?  

* Judo!  Yes, judo and karate! (have to add the bang) were all the rage back in 1964.  Just ask the Mandarin(obscure comic book reference).

* He may know just a tad more judo than you do, Ms. Galore.

* That particular manoevre is dangerous to your honor, Ms. Galore.

* Well, if money won't work, he can always kiss his way into your heart.

* Why do Piper Cubs carrying bombs remind me of Sopwith Camels?

* I'm sure that if any formation of five Piper Cubs were to even come within 100 miles of Fort Knox now they'd be shot down unceremoniously.

* Hmm...all the girl pilots are blonde too...I wonder if that means anything.

* The attack got the CIA too...maybe now they won't be quite so confident that 007 "has everything well in hand".

* Put the laser in the ambulance...way to throw peopkle off.

* Sweet! The CIA did get the message!

* Bond and Oddjob handcuffed together...it seems just like little brother and big brother, except big brother is a bit of a jerkhole.

* Man, I love Goldfinger as a villian.  Evil just because, but also damned competent as well.

* Oddjob ready to die for the cause.

* Holy guacamole!  Oddjob missed!

* Nah, hitting him with a gold brick won't stop Oddjob.

* This is what's cool about this movie.  James is totally, completely outclassed.

* Yup, it's a nice job, but James has to trick him into being electrocuted. He outsmarted Oddjob, but not by much.

* Nice to see an expert show up.

* All right, all right, I'll give Bond his due.  He turned Ms. Galore. Very nice.

* Special plane? [Commander Akbar]It's a trap![/Commander Akbar].

* Yup. Trap.

* Like all super villains, easily distracted when they need to be. A tad disappointing, really.

* This is no time to be rescued.  Classic Bond.

So, a very good movie, especially in terms of having not one, but two great villains(the unstoppable force in OddJob, the scheming mastermind in Goldfinger), several extremely attractive women, and a very fallible, if ultimately successful Bond.  Sure it's not perfect, but what movie is?  Sure, I could pick small minutiae of this movie apart (the two Masterton sisters are much more attractive than Ms. Galore, in my opinion, not to mention that Ms. Galore should have been immediately arrested at the end of the movie) but it really does hit on all cylinders.  Excellent movie.



The earliest movie I know of where a car explodes on the way down a cliff is The Invisible Man (1933), but there could easily be an earlier one.

 

You've got a point about the plan. The US was still on a gold standard at the time, but the world didn't come to an end when the link was broken (in 1971, Wikipedia tells me). I would suppose there would have been an economic shock but the actual break suggests it would have been surmountable. Perhaps there would have been a mess until everyone figured this out.

 

At the time of the film China was not a member of the UN; or rather, the UN (and the US and some other countries, including Australia) still recognised the government of Taiwan (the Republic of China) as the government of China.

 

The previous two films were directed by Terence Young, this one by Guy Hamilton. Young returned for a final time for the next one. Hamilton directed the first Roger Moore ones.

 

I want to say that I'm enjoying your reviews, Randy.

Danke Schoen Moi Aussi.

Luke Blanchard said:


 

I want to say that I'm enjoying your reviews, Randy.

* You know, it might be nice just once to meet 008. Is he--or she--as effective as say Agent 99? One wonders.

In the books and movies they occasionally refer to 008 or another "00" (usually after they have been killed).

* Goldfinger is supposed to be English, but he sounds very, very German. I still love his villainny though.

He is played by the German director Gert Frobe. In the book when M discusses him with Bond it is pointed out (after Bond asks if he’s Jewish!) that he is originally German and that he changed his name to Goldfinger (which helps to explain "Auric").

* Hmm...all the girl pilots are blonde too...I wonder if that means anything.

Well, they did say the guy liked gold. I guess that extends to hair color.

* Like all super villains, easily distracted when they need to be. A tad disappointing, really.

In the book, Oddjob is sucked out the window, while Goldfinger is manually strangled by Bond. The movie deaths are better in this case.

At the time of the film China was not a member of the UN; or rather, the UN (and the US and some other countries, including mine) still recognised the government of Taiwan (the Republic of China) as the government of China.

You'll notice that they had no problem portraying China as the enemy, as they were assisting Goldfinger. At the same time they were going out of their way not to portray the Soviet Union as the enemy, substituting SPECTRE every step of the way.

* Electrocution death is quite nasty.

If you want REALLY nasty, the book version of Dr. No's death has Bond burying him alive in suffocating bird guano!

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