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  1. The 007th Minute: ‘Dr No’

    Image Big Ben at 7pm by Martin Cleary (c)

    You see, CommanderBond.net simply cannot let this year go by without presenting you with a decent retrospective of the main purpose of our existence. But as all the pressure is on to be cost-effective and do something against the recession we had to concentrate on the essential bits of our favourite spy and his exploits on screen. So here now is – without further ado – The 007th Minute – a real-time retrospective in 23 parts by Jacques Stewart. Meaning reading it takes you as long as it takes you, nothing else. 

     

    Update: All incidents are fictitious and any resemblance to a proper opinion that could reasonably be taken seriously is entirely coincidental.

     

    Well, what else…?

     

     

     

     

     

    Unburdened with any desire to rewatch all of the Bond films in the run up to the 50th anniversary, genuinely cannot be bothered with all that effort, I thought it would be churlish not to at least recognise it all in some way so plumped on just watching a minute of each one, the 00-seventh minute of each (do you see what I did there? Of course you did. You read it).

     

    Fearing that watching the clock on the DVDmophone tick over between 0.06.00 to 0.07.00 would prove in some cases more engaging than the content onscreen, I steeled myself to my brave endeavour (watching 22 minutes of film – I want a medal) and what you get in this brief and violent series of reviews / petty abuse and juvenile sexual idiom is what I done thought of what I done saw.

     

    Some of the below may be outrageous lies but following the lead of the great green vegetable himself, I can cover that up by asserting that this isn’t science fiction, it’s science fact. Additionally, I have a very old DVD player and doubtless the timings might be off on far more sophisticated technology than mine but now you’re reading the typing of someone who really doesn’t care.

     

    Anyway

     

    0.06.00 – 0.07.00 Dr No

     

    Prior to this minute, a moment to reflect on what’s happened. There’s been a lot of highly colourful balls flung onto the screen, with another 90 minutes of the same to follow. Jamaica looks all hot and glistening and sweaty and lovely and sleek and the natives are in their drink-serving and murdering place, so that’s all good. A woman with those great fifties tits like traffic cones has been paintgunned with scarlet emulsion – metaphorically significant, she was a woman with a job alone in a house, couldn’t possibly shoulder the responsibility, head full of knitting and bridge with the gels, had to die and when she does, laid out on the floor like the crimson-breasted floozy she is, she’s like a relief-map of Nepal. Cor!

     

    All very shocking – actually really quite brutal. What could the unknowing-of-Bond audience seeking a quantum of solace in a fleapit upon a winter 1962 evening have made of all of this? It’s all exotic and foreign and delicious and violent and Cor! More of these “thoughts” to follow. Anyway, we join the action at…

     

    0.06.00

     

    And here’s Buddy Holly and Ross from Friends getting all in a lather because W6N has gone off (I wouldn’t say that; she’s only been dead a few seconds and I’d still have a pop… too much information?). Buddy Holly is sporting the most magnicent quiff, the tending of which probably punchblasted an unhealable chasm right through the ozone layer but that’s OK because it officially didn’t exist in 1962. He’s also wearing a pair of specs I recognise from photos of my paternal grandmother. As a plus, he’s wearing a very natty, and quite foxy, navy cardigan which was subsequently homaged by Daniel Craig in that bit in Quantum of Solace when he visits that nice old man in Italy and then abducts him onto a plane to somewhere-or-other (science fact!).

     

    It’s a very nice open plan office but it’s not surprising they can’t hear poor old W6N (and we know something they don’t know, the clowns) because, temerity hopefully forgiven, it can’t be that easy to hear secret signals in open plan, above hearing about Maud’s lady-operation, whether Richard Dimbleby is a hottie or a nottie and whether licking one’s new asbestos pillows is a good idea or not. I think there might be a design flaw here, but, granted it’s a more muted set from Herr Adam than the sheer foaming lunacy that turns up later in the film, it’s a bit of a corker. I’d like an office like this. Especially if Buddy, Ross and their collected eyewear were hanging around; they would be fine pets and they could fetch me muffins and tease their hair all they liked, the little rapscallions.

     

    Anyway, W6N’s still not responding – why, perchance? – and Buddy and Ross are being all very booted and suited/cardiganed and besporting upper lips not so much stiff as proudly boasting Roger Mortis. What a to do! Hoots, crivens and jings ma boab! Apparently Ross has tried both emergency frequencies (is two really enough? Smacks of unnecessary cost-cutting) and “received no joy there”, presumably because they picked up The Goons and The Clitheroe Kind, so sympathies with on that one. Buddy Holly’s solemn “Well, keep trying” is not really much of a practical solution, is it? Look, honeysuckles, you’re better off sending in a Scottish murderer in a crow-black hairpiece than “keep trying” because, sorry to break it to you boys, she dead. Ooh, she dead big time. There was red paint ‘n’ everyfink.

     

    Buddy, bless his little Dame Edna frames, has to persist, doesn’t he? Perhaps he was set this as a target in his last Career Development Review – “We’ll tolerate the cardigan and the disturbing smell of singed aviation fuel as long as you just, y’know, persist pointlessly and Britishly”. Notably this series is not about Head of Signals and his “persistance” but Alcoholic Ken-Doll and his “murdering” and “insulting the natives” and “being a bit rapey at times”. That, sorry to say Buddy, is entertainment. You were better off face deep in the fuselage, mate.

     

    “Let me know as soon as they come up again,” he bothers us with. Fifty years on, and he’s still waiting. Science fact! Buddy Holly didn’t die; he’s just a very old man in the corner of a Pinewood soundstage waiting for the signal from W6N that still hasn’t come; bit like those weird islanders who haven’t yet heard that World War II has ended (the British).

     

    Hmm, lovely old telephones and teacups and wire baskets there, and look, there’s Daniel Craig in a smashing pullover doing some filing. The set dressing is quite profound; quite what that self-same audience of a few paragraphs ago, that bunch of no-marks, huddling in the cold and watching this nonsense for the first time, quite what they would come to make of slopy rooms with waffle-irons in the ceiling, underwater rocket-base things and nuclear reactors is anyone’s guess. It must have blown their tiny minds, minds previously full of rickets and Tommy Steele and rationing and the Austin 7 and that sort of general old slop.

     

    Right, Buddy, it’s an emergency so you need to speak into a Ministry of Works green telephone, the cord of which is leaving a jazzy pattern down his terracotta tie; it’s just reefer madness, another psychedlic rush after all those flashing coloured lights of, lordy, what is it now, all of five minutes ago. Behind him there’s a map of somewhere completely unrecognisable and a blokey standing right next to it is having exactly the same problem as I am (one of them, anyway) and all the reading of the little names alongside it is no help at all. And now he’s drawing on it, probably crayoning a spurting phallus over Staines or maybe a pair of wazzo jubblies over Windsor Castle. His mind’s been blown, man; those coloured balls, that’s what did it. That Maurice Binder and his green dancing hot birds. I’m gone; solid gone. He might be Banksy. I do like his pullover; it looks warm. There’s a big knitwear thing going on here, isn’t there? All that rushing around in suits and earpieces and flashy computers one sees these days and here they were, calmly getting on with the completely futile task of trying to hold back the loss of an Empire and, more immediately, communicate with a dead woman, but with a nice cable-knit and horn-rimmed faces. That’s style, gang.

     

    OK, so we’re now an exhausting 25 seconds into this and we’re off to Le Cercle, which seems to be bathed in an inappropriate red light. What on earth could they be suggesting? Bit of a wobble on the camera there – OH MY GOD IT’S SHAKY CAM THEY’VE RUINED THE BOND SERIES AFTER ALL OF THESE MINUTES HOW DARE THEY POO ON THEIR OWN LEGACY AND DO SHAKY CAMERAWORK THAT CONFUSES MY BRAIN. et cetera. I for one am assuming it’s because the camera operator is holding it one-handed and I’m not really prepared to contemplate what he’s doing with his other hand.

     

    Becoming faintly amused that it will of course be with 0.07 on the clock that they introduce James Bond to us… hmmm… deliberate?

     

    What’s this? Some bounder trying to crash in without – this is a disgrace – being a member. Hooray, he’s been stopped by the bouncer – possibly the world’s smallest bouncer, admittedly, bit of a pørn dwarf to be honest but fits in with the brothel ambience, but a bouncer nonetheless (with a smashing waistcoat, I want I want I want) – that’s it son, beat him up, g’an glass the little [xx]censored[/xx], bet he’s wearing trainers as well.

     

    Just look at the detail on this set; that painitng behind the bouncer (let’s call him Digby, I like that name, once had a terrapin called Digby) and this utter scoundrel (in what looks like a Harrow tie; I could have guessed. Tossers), that painting is a stolen Goya masterpiece called “Simon Le Bon” (science fact!).

     

    He’s. Not. A. Member. Kill him! At the very least, Digby, you shouldn’t have to lower yourself (not that you really could, Shorty) to talk to this vile social-climber. He’s obviously one of the lower orders trying to pass himself off as a gentleman, but – seriously Diggers – look at him. A bottle green overcoat and a brown hat? What sort of absolute bumming ratbag is this? You’d expect better of the milkman or the sweep or the man who walks in front of your car with a red flag. This is NOT a gentleman, Digby. He’s parted his hair in a sinister way. He’s probably left-handed and a homosexualist, although I accept those terms are interchangeable. Stab him. Do it. Listen to the way he’s shouted out the fact that he’s looking for “Mr” James Bond. How uncouth. How Non-U. I suspect he lives in a semi-detached house and only has the one maid. I suspect he plays Whist rather than Bridge. I suspect he’s never bagged a German nor been debagged by one. I suspect he thinks Darkies are good. Kill him. He buggers subalterns – well we all do that – but he does it more than once a week, which is moral degeneracy. And now he’s raising his eyebrow at you. He thinks he’s Roger Moore. Hmm; that might be enough to rescue him, admittedly. I still want him beat up real bad though.

     

    A three piece suit after 7 pm? You’ve got to be joking. He probably (this is patently horrific) drove himself there. And now he won’t even give you his name – well, that must be a state secret, mustn’t it, even though he’s shouted out “JAMES BOND” all over everywhere, the clot. Look, matey, the series isn’t about you either; it’s Secret Agent James Bond’s series, not Wilfully and Blatantly Inappropriately Dressed Loser’s series – hie thee off back to whatever suburban grothole you were defecated out of and let’s meet the hero, it’s hero time, especially as there are only a handful of seconds left to go in this minute. That’s right, hand Digby your card. I wonder what the card says? Is it the sort you otherwise spend your lonely evening putting in GPO telephone booths in the hope of attracting passing stevadores? “A Very Secret (Actually Still Illegal) Service: I Roger More. More and More. Have A Funny Itch That Won’t Go Away, To Be Truthful. Anyway, Call Me: Lewisham 555”. I’m not totally convinced that’ll work with MR JAMES BOND but it’s now becoming plain that your shouting out his name wasn’t stupidity, more a cri de couer. Bless. Only five more years, and then it’s boyganza. You can wait. And in fact, that’s what you’re going to have to do as Digby says you can leave your coat “over there” and, yes, he’s pointing at the bin.

     

    Rather nice drifty tracking shot following Digby down the stairs, past two old duffers and their crones who have the most amazing white wigs, they look like something Louis XIV dragged in, along with most of this furniture. Look, a woman in a high-visibility orange tabard; must be the Chief Whore. I think that’s how it works in such places. I. Really. Would. Not. Know.

     

    It’s all rather clubby and lovely and smoky and a really very nice set, isn’t it; very plush. That Ken Adam, wasn’t all rocket silos and lairrrrrrs; sometimes he did rather nice things like this. Didn’t he win an Oscar for Mad George King? Similar sort of stuff, although I thought the scene with the giant titanium airship raining down fire and blue wee on the Boston Tea Party was probably a bit excessive. Still, an artist. The wallpaper is mahvellous. Can’t see the carpet but I bet it’s good.

     

    You can tell it’s gambling because they’re talking French. It makes “turning over bits of card and seeing your score” that much more dynamic and exotic to do it in French. This is true of many pastimes: Water Polo is best commentated upon in Dutch, driving is more vibrant when the passenger is shouting at you in violently earthy Italian patois (hello Mrs Jim, what on Earth are you doing reading this, get back to work; fetch my shoes) and Beach Volleyball is only acceptable in the language of love.

     

    Them were Bond’s hands, them were. We just seen his hands. Within the 007th minute ‘n’ all. Yay.

     

    Right, hello you. Dunno your name (yet) but you’re a lickle bit of a honey, aren’t you? Nice scarlet dress. Single woman. Scarlet dress. Red light district. Speaks “French”. Bet she does a lot of things French, yeah? Fnarr. What on Earth are they suggesting about this evident jezebel? Ooh, she’s got some plastic bits on the table in front of her. I think that’s good, in cards. I think the more plastic bits you get, the better you are. At cards. It’s all about the plastic. Isn’t it a thrilling thing, this “cards”? No, really.

     

    OH MY SAINTED AUNT YOU CAN SEE HER SHOULDERS. BOTH SHOULDERS. NAKED SHOULDERS. THIS IS TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE AND I MUST WATCH IT SOME MORE TO MAKE SURE. IMAGINE IF THAT NICE BROOCH LET THE CRIMSON JEZEBEL’S DRESS SLIP FROM HER SHOULDERS. SHE WOULD BE NAKED. NAKED. VERY NAKED. HORRENDOUSLY NAKED. THE [xx]censored[/xx]. LOOK AT HER. LOOK AT HER. LOOK AT HER. THE DAUGHTER OF SODOM, SHE MUST BURN. AFTER I’VE HAD A LOOK AT HER. IMAGINE HER. THE NAKEDNESS. OH, THE HUMANITY. THIS IS VILE AND CORRUPTING AND ALTOGETHER TOTALLY BRILLIANT.

     

    Hmm, that’s a slightly stilted approach to her dialogue but, fair enough, she is acting in a foreign language and that can be pretty tricky: look at Pierce Brosnan and English, for example.

     

    Just look; don’t, under any circumstances, listen. Having given that warning I will not be held responsible for your self-harming.

     

    Damnation and filth, there’s only two seconds of this minute to go, but at least we have a nice wide shot here and around the table we have:-

     

    a)    An inanimate gilded object (played by the actor Pearce Bronsnon in a mercifully non-speaking role). Probably an ashtray. This film is a disgrace! They show people smoking! They have Bond ordering someone of a different colour to lick his shoes, or something! They have a man with metal hands! How does he dress himself? How does he wipe himself? How does he observe International Wank Day (November 1st, science fact!), except in extreme pain?

     

    b )    Hands, played by Hans (science fact!) who is holding a cigarette (for shame! He may as well be holding a burning cross, the bastard). He has lots of plastic. He must be “good at cards” or something.

     

    c)    Roger Moore, who is holding his right hand in the air in what can only really be described as a flagrantly camp manner.

     

    d)    Croupier with his pizza flapper thing, because “cards” are hot and covered in melted cheese and you mustn’t touch them. What, you play cards with your hands? You ratbuggering pleb. Do you eat with your hands too? Jesus.

     

    e)    As we’ll find out in a minute, Sylvia “The” Trench; hobbies include sluttiness, “cards”, “golf” (whatever that is, sounds dirrrty) and being spanked by the croupier with his pizza paddle thingy. Scarlet woman surrounded by elderly men all sucking on hot phallic things. Subtle it ain’t. Saucy, though, it is. Phwooarr.

     

    f)     And, for that matter, g) A weird conjoined gestalt where a standing man has an older man growing out of his tummy, bit like that thing in Total Recall (the original; haven’t seen the latest reheating and wisdom suggests avoiding it; it appears primarily built out of Ebola). A foretaste of the physical deformities so beloved of the Bond films – Dr No’s tinmitts, Blofeld’s scar/lack of earlobes/withering scorn, Jaws’ teeth and “bit tallness” and Ol’ Jodrell-Ears Craig, etc.

     

    g)    As above, still there, smoking away like a burnt baby cut out tumwards. It’s an odd image. Can’t imagine that they thought we wouldn’t notice.

     

    h)    Ian Fleming (science fact!)

     

    i)      Someone’s grandfather; how’d he get in? Is it half price for seniors or something, this brothel? How’d he get past Digby given that he’s not wearing black tie? Digby, stumpy of stature he may be, could slice this nork. He seems to be sitting on a lower chair than the others; perhaps it’s a commode. Bless.

     

    j)      A man wearing a red bow tie who is therefore presumably a) foreign or b ) a boybummer or c) both (habitually one and the same).

     

    k)    Now, this is tricky. Either this James Bond chap is incredibly long of neck or the hands we see there, fondling that shoe (don’t ask) belong to a different cove to the head we see popping up behind “person” l), more of whom in a moment. Having studied this for many years (science fact!) I’m going with it being one and the same person. Whyever not? All the Bonds had distinct physical attributes. Sean Connery has, as can be seen here, a very, very long neck. George Lazenby was largely pieced together from fishfingers. Roger Moore had great tits. Timothy Dalton insisted on his lines being spoken by a barely-housetrained wolf. The Actor Pearce Brosman could talk underwater and usually made more sense when he did so and Daniel Craig’s eyes can spout cress. On balance, I suppose (grudgingly) that we have to accept that only the hands at k) are this James Bond – introduced right on the cusp of the end of the 007th minute, how neat, but the problem lies with…

     

    l)      THIS HAG’S HEAD IS IN THE WAY. Look at her, dully sitting there, in her provincially tedious “top”, is it Marks and Spencer, dear oh dear, domesticity exuding from her like bad gas from a swampcorpse. Look at her pathetic pile of plastic – she must be really bad at carrrrds; take the hint sister, get out of the way so we can see some James Bond. What a [xx]censored[/xx]ing idiot. Look at her there, look at the way the red light of whoredom bounces off her unfashionable hair, look at her, the utter crapwit, she hasn’t even got any arms, look at her, blocking our view of James Bond, bloody hell it’s like one’s thumb appearing all over the holiday snaps. I want her dead, the dismal slagbag.
    On that point, we appear to reach 07.00.00.

     

    Conclusions: Amused at the thought that all that ostensibly iconic “Bond, James Bond” guff hurls itself into view when the little clocky thing on the DVDuliser has 0.07 (or thereabouts) running on it, it’s dawned on me that this is a terribly important minute in the series. We have the plot; we have the hero, we have some element of the lifestyle, we have the general attitude to women encapsulated (dead meat, easy and up for it or getting IN THE WAY; later entries combining all three into one hateful mix) and we have some wacky sets. Frankly, it’s pretty much all there, save for the villain (although me laddo in the green coat is a wrong ‘un and no mistake). It’s only a minute and yet it’s stuffed until it bursts with good Bond nourishment and is probably the most significant standalone minute of World Cinema, other than that bit in Carry On Girls, obviously. Seriously, though, it does set off a number of ideas and themes and Bondiness. Lovely.

     

    One idea especially. Let’s just imagine ourselves in that audience on that cold winter evening, sitting through the rest of this lunacy, and let’s say we’d never heard of James Bond, this was just some respite from the harsh winter and austerity Britain and the wolves running through the streets – my God, one’s mind would erupt. The gloriously wet and silky look of the thing, the blasts of colour and unknown things, a man with tin hands and nuclear reactors and Ursula Andress turning up in her pants and… It’s insane. In contemporary context, perhaps it’s all now looking a little restrained and stilted but this must have been something wild back in the day. Given that it’s toned down from the book, one does wonder whether Ian Fleming spent a lot of time in Jamaica because Customs & Excise were quite keen to have a little chat about his aromatic tobaccos.

     

    How representative is this 007th minute? You could use it to demonstrate “this is a Bond film” and possibly get away with it; as stated, a number of pieces are there. It’s not really representative of where the film’s headed but I’m not joking when I’m proposing that just 007 minutes in, this one is a pretty significant minute.

     

    Bloody hell, these films are good.

     

    James Bond will return in the 007th minute of From Russia with Love. Jacques Stewart is filmed in front of an indifferent studio audience.

     

     

     

    Should you feel an urge to discuss your feelings about this you are welcome to do so here

     

    Helmut Schierer @ 2012-09-09
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