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A View to a Bond Baddie: Dr. Julius No

‘To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen, we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

In many ways, Dr. No feels like a rather strange first instalment for a franchise that has managed to persist from half a century. Many of the trademarks we associate with the series are absent. There’s no pre-credits sequence. No powerful theme song involving the title of the film. Even the music playing over that iconic gun barrel shot sounds weird. There are no gadgets and gizmos, save for a Geiger Counter. The movie’s iconic Bond girl, Honey Rider, only shows up past the mid-point of the film.

As such, it’s amazing that the Bond villain emerged almost fully formed, with Dr. No providing perhaps the archetypal James Bond baddie.

He didn’t spend 6 years in evil physics school to be called “Mister”…

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The Six Faces of 007: George Lazenby

To celebrate James Bond’s 50th birthday on screen (and the release of Skyfall), we’re going to take a look at the character and his films. We’ve already reviewed all the classic movies, so we’ll be looking at his iconic baddies, and even at the character himself.

George Lazenby stands out as perhaps the strangest on-screen Bond. He only appeared in a single film before retiring from the role, shortly before the premiere, causing such a crisis that the studio paying a huge amount of money to re-hire Sean Connery for Diamonds Are Forever. His one film, however, stands out as one of the very few movies in the series to give the character Bond a logical character arc, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service remains one of the most polarising films in the series. I actually think that Lazenby’s tenure is perhaps the one that lends itself best to the “multiple Bonds” theory, as he plays the version of the character harder to reconcile with the other portrayals.

And not just because of that awkward line that closes the opening sequence. There’s a lot here that never happened to the other fellas.

Washed up?

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The Sky is Falling: Skyfall & The Return of a Distinctly British Bond…

Country?

England.

– first lines of the trailer

I actually really liked the first trailer for Skyfall, released on-line last week. There were a lot of reasons for that: the fact it looks more stately than Quantum of Solace; the abundance of shots of Bond in a tux; the promise of incredible action paired with genuine character development. However, the most appealing facet of the trailer was the suggestion that this was a Bond who wasn’t ashamed to be British. Bond is a British icon, arguably a relic left over from the last days of the British Empire, but it seems like the past few films have been increasingly uncomfortable with that.

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Non-Review Review: GoldenEye

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

GoldenEye saved James Bond. Bond had wallowed in obscurity for six years by the time that Pierce Brosnan’s first appearance in the role was released. As a kid, James Bond was something that was dead to me. Sure, it came on television from time to time (mostly on holidays) and they filled up a shelf at the videostore, but I always felt like they were something that had happened in the past – like the original Star Wars movies, or any Star Trek films featuring Captain Kirk. Even though I lacked the sophistication to articulate it at the time, I think I felt that the entire James Bond franchise would be reruns for me. There was nothing new happening.

And then GoldenEye was released.

Brosnan is Bond...

And it meant business.

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Non-Review Review: The Living Daylights

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

The Living Daylights is a forgotten Bond film, sitting as it does between the twin “duds” of A View to a Kill and Licence to Kill (although I am not quite as critical of those films as most). It’s the first of the Bond films to feature Timothy Dalton, taking over from Roger Moore – who by this stage seemed as likely to be getting a free bus pass as he was to foil enemy spies. Although the word didn’t quite exist in media circles when the movie originally came out, there’s a strong smell of “reboot” about the film, as if the powers behind the scenes are attempting to consciously remodel the franchise in the wake of a disappointing previous film. Though not quite as obvious (or as far-reaching) as subsequent reboots in GoldenEye and Casino Royale, The Living Daylights isn’t a bad Bond film – it’s just a really poorly dated one.

Tim, you scared the Living Daylights out of me…

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Non-Review Review: The Spy Who Loved Me

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

The Spy Who Loved Me was just what Bond needed after The Man With The Golden Gun. Let’s be honest here, the movie has perhaps the strongest and most iconic opening sequence of any Bond movie – even those who haven’t seen the film know the beats off by heart. Bond is skiing, escaping a Russian ambush in the snow. He’s giving as good as he gets, but he’s cornered – out numbered and outgunned. In a moment of desperation, Bond flees his attackers, skiing off the side of a cliff.

It’s a cliffhanger…

For a moment, there is nothing but silence. As the stunt man tumbles through the air, the music stops cold. It’s not just the audience holding their breath as they watch Bond enter free fall. Is this it for our illustrious secret agent? You know it can’t be more than a couple of seconds, but it seems to last an eternity. And then…

And then…

The Bond music kicks into gear as the parachute opens – a Union flag. And then the opening beats of Nobody Does It Better sound in the background as Bond makes good his escape. Let’s face it, the movie could end there and it would be the best thing to happen to Bond since Sean Connery left.

Nobody does it better…

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Non-Review Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

This post is part of James Bond January, being organised by the wonderful Paragraph Films. I will have reviews of all twenty-two official Bond films going on-line over the next month, and a treat or two every once in a while.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is a relatively low-key Bond adventure. The action set pieces aren’t spectacular, it’s mostly confined to one geographical locale and it features a genuinely moving love story. Coupled with the fact that George Lazenby is replacing Sean Connery, you’d be forgiven for assuming that you’d accidentally been given the wrong video at the video store. It’s not that the changes are necessarily bad (though, to be frank, some of them are), just that it doesn’t exactly feel like the smoothest possible transition.

… And I thought Bond was only married to his job….

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