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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

So Tell Me, Which James Bond Film Is Your Favorite?

Link: A. On Her Majesty's Secret Service...Wikipedia
          B. Live And Let Die...Wikipedia
          C. Diana Rigg Voted Sexiest Bond Girl

Who doesn't love to talk about James Bond films?  I've loved them for as long as I can remember.  I didn't discover 007 until Roger Moore was riding high in the saddle, but later in life I went back and enjoyed both Sean Connery and George Lazenby as Bond.  My favorite of all the Bond films, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, is Lazenby's only entry into the series.  I think George made a wonderful Bond, especially given his ability to mature from lothario to faithful husband, all in one film.  Sadly, George was dropped when the owners of the franchise decided they needed a more conservative look (in keeping with the times, Lazenby had let his hair grow wild and was sporting a leather fringe jacket and probably smoking lots of weed).  Sean Connery was brought out of retirement for a few installments, and then the eternal Roger Moore took over.  Let me begin this commentary by opining that
Roger Moore's Bond
in my mind Roger Moore is James Bond.  Daniel Craig will probably eclipse Moore one day, but I still see Moore as the super cool, always prepared spy with a never-ending supply of awesome British sarcasm.  As for looks, I never thought Sean Connery was particularly handsome.  He never seemed to be in shape, and had no problem showing off the ample forest of hair on his back.  Its true that Connery was super smooth, and the accent was second-to-none, but he came from a time when men only had to sound good to look good.  To continue with the brutal honesty, Roger Moore wasn't particularly outstanding in the looks department either. But Moore seemed to be aware of this fact (to this day, Connery at 84 yrs. still thinks he's the sexiest stud in the stable, which is something to be admired).  Roger Moore's greatest skill was in allowing "the Bond girl" to take everyone's attention.  Why look at Roger's comb-over when you have Maud Adams, Jane Seymour and Grace Jones (!) on stage?  Also, Roger followed the age-old entertainment industry rule to "never let 'em see you sweat".  Even when Jaws was eating the door off of the van in The Spy Who Loved Me, Roger managed to look cool and...undisturbed.  I think that's the key to being a successful 007: to master the art of looking "undisturbed".  I don't have much to say about Timothy Dalton, who should have been perfect, and Pierce Brosnan, who just wasn't butch enough, but Daniel Craig is perfect as Bond in 2014.

My favorite installment in the series is On Her Majesty's Secret Service.  I can't find anything wrong with this film, except the unfortunate inclusion of a bullfighting match.  This film is quirky, funny, sexy and unpredictable; check out Bond enjoying a Playboy magazine
George Lazenby's Bond in On Her Majesty's Secret Service
when Playboy was still shocking. Two or three of the best chase scenes in the entire series can be found in this one film.  The car chase in the snow which culminates in the most romantic Bond scene of all, really makes the film for me.  For those of you who are fond of BBC comedy, Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous makes an appearance as one of many gorgeous Bond girls in the movie.  Another reason to worship this film?  On Her Majesty's Secret Service introduces us to Telly Savalas as Blofeld, the bald, Nehru-suit wearing bad guy who gets a reboot from the Austin Powers series.  And who can forget the evil Frau Bunt, who fires the shot which changes everything forever?  The movie begins with Bond rescuing a beautiful young woman who appears to be in distress.  It never slows down.  The distant runner-up in my list of favorite Bond films is The Spy Who Loved Me.  The story line is fantastic: Curd Jurgens (no, its not "Curt") is Stromberg, a megalomaniac who keeps feeding people to his pet sharks, and wants to steal nuclear submarines to start World War III.  The gadgets, including Stromberg's Spider-like ocean lair and Bond's Lotus Esprit S1, which seconds as a submarine, are the best we will see in the series.  The secondary plot is a bit much for me: it has Bond romancing Barbara Bach (Ringo Starr's wife), despite the film beginning with Bond killing her lover.  But Bach is sure nice to look at, even if she does compete with Lynn-Holly Johnson from For Your Eyes Only as the worst actor in the series. 

I won't waste too much time commenting on the "sexiest" or "best" Bond girl.  The truth is, there will never be another Tracy.  Diana Rigg, fresh from her success as the leather-clad British Agent Emma Peel in The Avengers (a great show itself), is perfectly cast as Bond's love interest.  As James falls in love with Tracy, so do we.  She is clever, beautiful, mysterious, and always sexy.  Her role in the film is quite a bit different than what we are
Bond & Tracy
On Her Majesty's Service
used to from Bond girls.  Instead of the character Tracy supporting the storyline, the storyline supports the character.  Rigg is a classically-trained actor, who chose to eschew Hollywood after only a few more films.  A Bond girl with acting chops is not something we've seen often, at least not until the more recent installments (Eva Green as Vesper Lynd comes to mind).  Tracy starts the film as Teresa di Vicenzo, the daughter of a good-guy mobster who makes a deal with Bond for information on the location of the dastardly Blofeld.  Rigg is still acting, and if you are a fan of Game of Thrones, then you have undoubtedly seen her as Olenna Tyrell.  I appreciate Dame Diana Rigg for her many accomplishments in the arts (who am I kidding?), but for me, she will always be Mrs. James Bond.

I don't want to sign off without mentioning Live and Let Die, the installment which introduced the world to Jane Seymour's character, "Solitaire".  I love the Caribbean and Louisiana settings for this voodoo-laced entry, and the demise of the bad guy in the end is, well, explosive (sometimes I put on the DVD just to watch the last scene).  My favorite Bond song will probably always be Carly Simon's  The Spy Who Loved Me (Nobody Does It Better).  My last comment: Javier Bardem's Raul Silva in Skyfall is a great villain because he seems so real.  I love Savalas, as Blofeld, and Jurgens, as Stromberg, but Javier Bardem brought so much dimension to Silva.  We have been lucky to watch Dame Judi Dench as "M" and Daniel Craig as 007.  I'm sorry to see Dench go, and I hope Craig stays around for a few more films.  But back to Javier Bardem's Raul Silva: there is no question that Bardem should have received an Oscar nomination for his performance.  I read as much online from people who know more about this stuff than I do.  But some movies, especially an entry in a group of films, will never get consideration from the Academy Awards (at least not in the acting category).  Remember Ricardo Montalban as Khan from "Star Trek II; The Wrath of Khan"?  Again, lots of buzz about his performance, but no one would ever consider giving an Academy Award nomination to a film starring William Shatner!  So there you have it.  My inner most feelings about the James Bond series of films, and a William Shatner mention to boot.  It's your lucky day!

P.S. I want to know if you agree with me, and if not, then what are your favorites?  We can agree to disagree, because at the end of the day, we like them all...its just a question of degrees.

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