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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I believe you have that lyric wrong.

The words are,

And he strikes that Thunderball....

 

My son had to ask me what that meant...what a thunderball was.  I first told him it was the codename for the search project for the missing A bombs, and he told me he knew that.  But then he asked what it meant.  And I told him that it was a reference to the common man's perception of a nuclear blast...the mushroom cloud.  And he went, OOohhhhh....

I didn't get into any sexual references for him, cause I figure he'll figure that out later on when he's older.

 

Are you 100% certain that the song "Thunderball" is in fact about Largo, or is it about Bond?  Think about it...

If you didn't already know, there are a bunch of LPs out there in the collector market that actually contain the song "Mr. Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang...issued before the song was cut from the movie!  I have four in my collect myself.  In stereo, mono, with and without Mr. KKBB....

I always thought the song was about Bond. Having no regrets, getting any woman, striking. Sounds like Bond to me.

"If you didn't already know, there are a bunch of LPs out there in the collector market that actually contain the song "Mr. Kiss-Kiss Bang-Bang...issued before the song was cut from the movie!  I have four in my collect myself.  In stereo, mono, with and without Mr. KKBB...."

Really?  That's wild.  I know that the LP was issued very early, when around HALF of the score had not been written yet!  (The same thing happened 12 years later with THE SPY WHO LOVED ME.)  Considering the Tom Jones song was recoded so late in the game, it may not have existed when those initial LPs were pressed.

Of course, if you look at the track listing, "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" is on every version... but it's just 2 or 3 different instrumental versions.

Bond & Largo were meant to be opposite numbers, so to speak-- evenly matched, one good, one evil.  So the song COULD be for either of them.  But as "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" was so obviously about Bond, I figured, especially with its DARK, SINISTER tone, that "Thunderball" was about Largo.

I wish the trend of having 2 separate theme songs had continued...

The Living Daylights / If There Was A Man

License To Kill / If You Asked Me To

Goldeneye / The Experience Of Love  (this one sucked)

Tomorrow Never Dies / Surrender  (this one was BETTER than the opening theme!)

In the first of these, the opener seems to be about Bond's life, while the closer is the love theme.  In the 2nd, the opener, while the title seems to refer to Bond, really describes the villain of the movie, while the closer is the love theme.  In the 3rd, ditto.  In the 4th, the opener oddly enough describes the film's tragic romance, while the closer is about the villain.  But then, "Surrender" was, until the last minute, intended as the opening theme.  It's one of the BEST damn Bond themes ever, but because it's at the end, these days, the way they butcher films on commercial TV, you never hear it on a commercial station!

As an FYI, I've decided that this will be a good opportunity to review a few spoofs as well, so after You Only Live Twice, I'll be covering Casino Royale and the Flint movies.

I see that I wasn't clear earlier.  I was referring to the soundtrack album of "Thunderball" when I said there's at least four different versions out there.  Stereo, Mono, including Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang as a vocal and versions where only the instrumentals are included.  It was a big puzzle to me as a kid, trying to figure out why there were SO many variations.

You could find that LP in the cut-out bins marked way down from almost as soon as the movie came out. But the movie poster art was a showstopper!

I initially had thought that the song, Thunderball, was about Largo, which would fit with the pattern of Goldfinger being about the villian, but upon years of listening, I'm not sure anymore.

I think I understood when you said there were more than one version of the album out there.  I imagine any copies of the LP with the Dione Warwick song were the earliest ones. Perhaps they didn't have the Tom Jones song?

When I was buying Bond soundtrack LPs in the late 70's, the one I could never find was THUNDERBALL.  Don't know why.  One day, a copy turned up, and when I got it home, the disc was broken into 3 pieces!  Returned it of course.  Some years later, when the record chain "Peaches" was going out of business, another copy turned up, for $1.00.  It was in PERFECT shape.  Not only that, the label on the vinyl was the black UA label, and the inner sleeve advertised 1965 LPs.  It was an unopened original that had somehow been sitting around for ovber 15 years. I couldn't shake the feeling that after 1965, UA just never did any more pressings of the thing! Maybe they pressed too many the first time.

I never did buy a CD of it... but not long ago, another music fan traded me a copy of the "extended" CD.

Tonight's movie is You Only Live Twice


* I never realized that most of these openings have him wearing the fedora.  Suppose I should stop remarking about it.

* Space, the final frontier

* Okay.  Already, I have to say that this plot is ridiculous, but if the movie is fun, I won't mind.  Well, maybe the plot isn't ridiculous, but the idea that S.P.E.C.T.R.E. could launch such a highly advanced spacecraft without anyone noticing is absurd.

* Ah, the Cold War...rhetoric I'm not missing.

* Hmm....taking odds on this young lady's survival, especially if she attempts to kill James.

* "Darling, I give you very best duck." I won't say anything more...

* Predictable. Predictable.  Still, she's not dead yet.

* Way to fake your own death.

* Nancy Sinatra with tonight's theme.  It's not one of the more memorable themes.

* One of those little things I've always wondered about in both movies and TV and comics and everything--why would the murder of a not terribly well known British Naval Commander make front page news?  Given this was the midst of the Cold War, given all the other things that were going on at the time, it just seems farfetched.

* Moneypenny looking gorgeous as usual.

* Sorry Moneypenny, he'll never say it to you...the damned fool.

* And of course, Bond speaks fluent Asian. :D

* Shooting him out of the torpedo tube.  So far, this film is just loaded with neat ideas.

* Hmm...aren't torpedoes self-propelled?  Wouldn't firing one just be a matter of releasing it from it's restraints?

* Watch out James--the league of geisha is watching you.

* Sumo school?

* As an aside, while I've never followed it, I've always felt there was something very pure and classic about sumo wrestling. It doesn't require great hand-eye coordination (although I'm sure having such will make you a better wrestler), it doesn't require speed, just great strength and technique.

* Man, I love two-seat roadsters.

* Aw man, you messed up James' martini.  Now it's gonna get real.

* I can understand switching clothes, but using another man's mask takes real dedication.

* That is one lightweight sofa.

* There's one for Mythbusters: would you really have time to stand up when someone is flailing at you with a samurai sword?

* "Siamese vodka?"  You know, for someone who is likely in imminent peril, James is pretty cavalier about having a quick double shot of vodka.

* I guess security is just a little less observant in Japan as well.

* I have to say, I understand, but it does suck when James has to kill a man just for doing his job as a security guard.

* "But you, I'm afraid, will get into anything with any girl." No truer words were ever spoken.

* Private subway train is awesome!  I need one of those for Chicago.

* Okay, knowing the correct temperature for sake is just showing off now.

* "Including all of my possessions."  Which just happen to include a small harem. Japan, so advanced in many ways, so 10th century in others.

* "In Japan, men always come first, women come second."  This film was made in 1967, but those thoughts still prevail today, and not just in Japan.

* Mind you, being bathed by several scantily-clad attractive women has a certain appeal.

* He did just say, "She's very sexiful" right?

* Nice to see that Aki will mix business and pleasure just like Bond.

* "I think I shall enjoy very much serving under you."  They aren't even trying to be subtle anymore.

* Hmm...are those machines calculators, or something else entirely?

* Ah so...I haven't heard that since the old Charlie Chan cartoons...and he was not Japanese but Chinese, if I recall correctly.

* "Mr. Osato believes in a healthy chest." I have to admit, so do I.

* "Kill him."  No real surprise there.  James can be absolutely terrible at this undercover stuff.

* Firing off a machine gun in downtown Tokyo is very unsubtle for Japan.

* The car chase is very much a staple of Bond films.

* The roadster is a Toyota 2000GT, and very sexy.

* I love the guy trying to steer the car when it's obviously off the ground.

* While I can understand wanting to get rid of the bad guys in the car, wouldn't it make more sense to interrogate them?

* Aki's wearing pants?  How progressive for...well I'd love to say 1960's Japan, but it's fairly progressive for today's Japan as well.

* Honestly, I think Aki is more competent than Bond in this movie.

* This rooftop fight is screaming out for...Jackie Chan.

* After all that, he gets suckered from behind.

* This...this is a woman who enjoys torturing men...for information, yeah, that's it, information.

* oKay, this is riduculous.  Animal magnetism be damned.

* Man, back when $300,000 was a serious piece of change.  I wouldn't turn it down now, but I don't think I could retire on it either.

* "Oh, the things I do for England."  Uh-huh.  Yeah.

* Now that's just cold. Seduce him, then leave him in the plane without a pilot?

* Karate! (Really, karate was a big thing at that time. Folks thought it could defeat pretty much everything).

* And the airplane explodes!  I guess she put a bunch of nitro-glycerine in the hold, because there was no other reason for that.

* Oh, Aki, Aki, Aki.  You don't know Bond very well, do you?

* Little Nelly.  Want!

* I have to say, I love Q's exasperation with Bond, although it's pretty much all over nothing.

* Even without the weapons, I want Little Nelly.  @$@%@#$ cool!

* Actually, Little Nelly is the old autogyro concept, and not a true helicopter.  Still, I want one.

* company!  Now to see just what Little Nelly has up her sleeve.

* It strikes me that to use a rear-mounted flame-thrower on another helicopter, you'd have to allow that helicopter to get awfully close, which really takes guts considering that it's firing bullets at your autogyro.

* You don't often see dogfights in films, so it's always nice to see one, although this one isn't exactly the most exciting.  It's mainly to show off the autogyro's weapons.

* And S.P.E.C.T.R.E. captures another space shot.

* I like that the whole scene with the Russian space shot is not sub-titled.  It really gives the actors a great opportunity to display their anger, frustration and sadness despite not knowing what they're saying.

* The space special effects are a little cheesy, but I'm not seeing any issues with the science, only the idea that S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is launching it's ship without anyone knowing and how advanced it is.

* Okay, this isn't a great plot.  It requires the governments of both the USA and Russia to behave very, very ignorantly and ignore every iota of intelligence they have available.  If they can't figure out by now that the rogue spacecraft keeps landing in Japan, they're truly a bunch of idiots.

* So, Largo had sharks, Blofeld has piranha.  Eh, why not?

* "Extortion is my business."  I love the way the Japanese just head out the door when he dismisses them, like they know they are absolutely, positively out of their league here.

* Bye Bye number 11.

* Blofeld is an awesome villain.

* Lotsa helicopters in this movie.

* Ninjas? Aw hell no!

* "It can save your life, this cigarette." "You sound like a commercial."  I remember commercials for cigarettes on TV--barely--and I'd have to say, that's true.

* He's okay with becoming Japanese and a ninja, but a wife?  Hell no!

* When I saw this as a kid, I always wondered why he had to become Japanese.  I'm still trying to figure this out.

* Aha! Skullduggery!

* Oh noes!  Poison! Whatever will Bond-san do?

* Poor Aki.

* Hmm...they probably should have studied some good kung-fu films for ideas on how to do training sequences correctly.

* Yeah, face just like a pig.

* Well I have to admit, he looks really, really Japanese...sort of how I look really, really Scottish.

* No nookie for Bond now.  This is business.

* Seriously, why are they continuing to do the undercover bit when S.P.E.C.T.R.E. obviously has everything sniffed out?

* If pigs had faces like that...

* Resting in open ground like that seems foolish.

* Yup, that was inevitable.  No way any woman can resist Bond's charms.

* She must be one hell of a swimmer

* So, we finally get to see Blofeld...now I know who Dr. Evil was supposed to look like.

* That cat is awfully docile.

* Ninja powers are truly amazing, especially not drawing blood after stabbing someone with a samurai sword.

* Why'd he put down the cat to shoot Osato?

* And why is Bond still alive?

* Time for the big sub-boss fight.  How much do you want to bet Hans gets eaten by piranha?

* Yup, I called it.

* Lovely stock footage.

* Blofeld...has to leave a parting gift.

* Ultimately, did it make a difference whether it was commandoes or Ninja?  well, okay, woulda missed the cool training scenes and the throwing stars, but otherwise, it didn't matter.

* No way Blofeld could have survived that explosion. No way, no how.

* When they turned James Japanese, didn't they shave his chest?

* I guess absconding with the female agent is frowned upon.

* Busted by Moneypenny!

So, I'd hardly call this a great movie--the idea is more or less sound, but the execution is really poor.  However, one thing I can say about this movie is that I was never bored.  It was fun, there were some cool gadgets, a good villain, I can't really complain. On the other hand, there was never really the sense of menace that I got from Goldfinger.  In and of itself, that's really not terrible, but one would like just a little more in this instance.

Reportedly Connery wasn't the performer in the gun-barrel sequence used in the first three films. (The sequences have their own Wikipedia page.)

 

The screenplay for this one was by Roald Dahl. The direction was by Lewis Gilbert, who returned for The Spy Who Love Me and Moonraker. (He also directed Educating Rita, of all things.)

 

A fair portion of the novel is taken up with Tiger training Bond to be Japanese. In the book the title is linked to a poem in the style of a haiku Bond writes as part of Tiger's program, "You only live twice:/ Once when you are born,/ And once when you look death in the face."

I beg to differ on the comment that the theme song by Nancy Sinatra is not notable.  I find it one of the more unique and memorable ones ever produced.  It was played on the radio all the time, and along with the radio spot (yes, there were two radio spots produced to promote this film!) you heard it all over the place.

Remember, most of the WWII vets were still alive at this time, and had memories of visiting or fighting against japan, and so, the country and culture still had great allure and mystique for the public.  Also, Japanese transistorized electronics were all over the marketplace and whipping our butt economically, so there were strong business interests tied to Japan as well.

Third, the female star was a notable in Japanese culture so that would guarantee a Japanese market for the film, and they were very careful not to cast the Japanese people as the villains nor at fault.

There were actually two separate "You Only Live Twice" songs recorded by Nancy Sinatra for this film. This is version one that survives.  However the other is included in 40th anniversary collections of the film music scores and is also quaint, but not quite as memorable.

This theme was the first one that I ever learned to play on piano, by ear, and picked out the cords and the melody. It's that good and simple. I think it's one of John Barry's greatest with some great counterpoint melody and wonderful brass and  french horns as well as violins to make my heart race and my chest swell.

 (ahem, I'll get myself under control now....)

You Only Live Twice is one of my favorite Bond novels but one of my least favorite Connery Bond movies. That being said, it is entertaining and better than much of what came after.

Thunderball and You Only Live Twice are two that really need to be seen on the big screen in a theater. TV just does not do the action sequences justice.

I think the idea of disguising Bond as a Japanese fisherman was two-fold:

First, he had been declared dead by the Western World (England) so as not to be as noticeable in undercover assignments (IIRC)...

Second, they wanted his involvement but he couldn't investigate if he was a 6ft 2in westerner prowling around.

So they decided on making him a Japanese fisherman who stood 6ft 2in towering over everyone else with a hairy chest and a Beatle haircut and a huge western schlong... er, accent sticking out all over the place.   No, it doesn't make sense.  LOL

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