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  1. 'Never Say Never Again' Celebrates 25 Years (Part I)

    ‘Good to see you Mr. Bond. Things have been awfully dull ’round here.’

    25 Years Of Never Say Never Again

    Never Say Never Again, the film that marked the return–once again–of Sean Connery to the role of 007 and sparked the Battle of the Bonds in 1983 against Roger Moore’s Octopussy celebrates its 25th anniversary this month.

    Following up it’s world premiere in Los Angeles, California on 6 October 1983, the film opened in the US the following day and then premiered in London on 14 December (opening for general release the following day in the UK). Never Say Never Again eventually went on to gross more than $137 million worldwide.

    Taking into account the 25th anniversary of the film, CommanderBond.net asked our forum members to recall their first (or most memorable) Never Say Never Again viewing experience…

    Never Say Never Again – DaveBond21

    Never Say Never Again was my first Bond experience on the big screen, in December 1983.

    It was my 9th birthday, and my parents had organised a day out including a screening of Never Say Never Again in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, where I lived. I had 9 friends with me.

    We were all very excited waiting in the cinema foyer, looking at the poster. We had all enjoyed Goldfinger and Diamonds are Forever on TV earlier in the year, and we all loved Live and Let Die and were hoping for something the same.

    It all went by in a blur, and we loved it. I can’t remember if we knew it wasn’t an official 007 movie, but I don’t think we would have cared. We enjoyed the opening scene, thinking for a second that James Bond had been killed – surely not!? And the bike chase was the highlight of the movie, with Bond and Fatima Blush facing off in a warehouse. I remember that when she exploded and all that was left were her shoes, my friends and I were adamant that she had been a robot!

    After the movie, my parents took us to a restaurant for some food (mainly pizza and chicken nuggets, followed by cake and ice cream), and then back to my house to re-enact the movie, with me as Blofeld, and my friends as Bond, Q, and two pretended to be Oddjob and Jaws, who weren’t even in the movie!

    All in all a memorable day, and my first taste of 007 on the big screen. Since then, I saw The Living Daylights, GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World is not Enough, Die Another Day and Casino Royale at the theater. And it all comes around again with Quantum of Solace in a few weeks. But it all started back then, at Christmas 1983.

    Never Say Never Again – solace

    I was 13 in 1983. My parents always took me to a film on new years eve and in 1983 it was due to be Never Say Never Again. However that afternoon my health was not fab and I ended up going to hospital instead. The next day my parents phoned the cinema to explain why we hadn’t collected our prebooked tickets and the manager said “no problem” come when your ready and we will honour the booking. True to his word three nights later we saw the movie, treated like guests of honour with complimentory drinks and popcorn and shown to our seats. Loved the film at the time. The fantastic opening sequence, the excellent villains, a gorgeous fatima Blush, albeit a slightly embarrassed 13 year old sat with his mum and dad watching quite a sexy love scene on the boat and Rowan Atkinson to boot. Watching it now, I’m not sure its aged that well but it doesn’t matter. It was a great night for my parents and myself.

    Never Say Never Again – MarkA

    Boy! This still ranks as one of the worst experiences I have ever had at a cinema. I was so excited by this coming out. Really pro Connery and I thought Octopussy was terrible. So, I saw it at a preview on a Sunday morning in Leicester Square about a month before it was due to be released. The full team who ran The James Bond British Fan Club (as it was then called) were going to see it together. Every one of us so Pro-Connery, you can imagine our excitement. I remember talking to Irvin Kershner in the foyer. He signed my preview ticket, (Which I still have) and hoped I enjoyed the film. Pat Roach sat behind us. One of the team had just interviewed him for 007 Magazine so he was quite chatty.

    Well the film started. That music. Oh dear, those credits, what was happening. That awful fight at Shrublands that went on forever. Those murky underwater scenes. That truly terrible video game. No suspense, lifeless action, no pace. It just sat there going through the motions of Thunderball, but with none of the style or class. I sat next to someone extremely well known in fandom (he knows who he is) and all I could hear was him routinely sighing very loudly.

    I remember we all retired to a restaurant after. You have never seen such a depressed bunch of people. We were stunned into silence by the awfulness of it. It has been years since seeing it. It is the only Bond I just cannot watch.

    Interesting side to the story. On the way out we saw Maurice Binder with Harry Saltzman (Yes, Harry Saltzman!) in the foyer. I wonder if they enjoyed it.

    Never Say Never Again – zencat

    Saw it at the Chinese Theater opening night. We took a limo for fun. I liked Connery, but I was somewhat let down by the film. Especially after the superb Octopussy the summer before.

    Never Say Never Again – dee-bee-five

    I saw it at my local cinema in ’83. I’d been to the Octopussy premiere and had loved–and still love–it for being utterly bonkers and for featuring one of my favourite Roger Moore performances. I’d followed the so-called “Battle of the Bonds” like everyone else and was expecting great things of Never Say Never Again. How wrong I was; I couldn’t believe what witless tripe I was watching, or how Sean Connery–admittedly trimmer than his last Bond outing–looked like a tribute to the embalmers’ art. Everything in the movie fell flat for me–the score, the script, the woeful direction and the performances. By the end of the movie, I actually started to resent everyone involved in its production for squandering their opportunity. I still find it hard to watch even to this day.

    Never Say Never Again – Simon

    Watched this in the local 3-screen fewplex and was left with the same flat feeling felt on first viewing LTK and most considerably TWODDLE.

    LTK has improved with age as the world gets grit, while …well anyway.

    Never Say Never Again was flat and grey. Was it really filmed in North Africa and South of France? Shrublands fight, M, Q branch, Rowan, Bassinger, just everything looked second hand, slow and tired. It just goes to show how tough film making must be because undoubtedly, all the ingredients were present and correct.

    It’s just that they didn’t show up for the final print.

    Never Say Never Again – Publius

    Although the video game battle was my first Bond memory (well, that or Bond choking Marie with her bikini top), it was a long time before I saw this in its entirety. Back in the VHS age, for some reason I found this the hardest Bond film to come across.

    When I finally did see it… I thought it was okay. Wasn’t bothered at all by the absence of EON elements (although I hated Lani Hall’s theme song) and I even liked Edward Fox’s M and “Algernon” instead of Q, but it did pale in comparison to Thunderball (hard to avoid comparisons when you’re a remake). Fatima Blush was fantastic, though.

    Definitely better than Diamonds are Forever, A View to a Kill, The World is not Enough, Die Another Day, and probably a few others. I should probably watch it again, as it’s been close to two years since I’ve seen it.

    Never Say Never Again – hilly

    Christmas 1983. I was 15.

    For some reason the whole Broccoli/McClory battle had completely passed me by. I think I just figured that, if Connery had come back once before, he could come back again. Therefore I was a bit bemused as to where the gunbarrel and Bond theme were… My friend hastily filled me in about the whole thing as we sat through the opening credits and song and we spent the next two hours laughing at how old Sean looked and waited for his wig to fly off etc (this would come back to haunt me a couple of years later as I sat in the same cinema and watched Roger creak through A View To A Kill).

    I remember thinking it was ok, if a bit unremarkable. I next saw it about 3 years later when it premiered on UK tv and my opinion has never really altered. Its entertaining enough, but, like most remakes, ultimately a bit pointless–except as a two fingers from McClory to Cubby (although for sheer comedy value, the line “Sho whatsh the Americansh shtory on how the damn thingsh were shtolen..” cracks me up every time).

    Never Say Never Again – Safari Suit

    On ITV2 or ITV3 in late 2006. Knew much about the production background of the film, and even though a few of my friends who had seen it had not liked it, I expected an interesting film. I was surprised by how dull it was.

    Bought it in Oxfam sometime early-ish in the following year. Found it similarly mediocre on my second viewing.

    Watched it for the third time a couple of months ago and really enjoyed it.

    Never Say Never Again – sthgilyadgnivileht

    God knows when I actually saw it, maybe 93-94 time. I know It was way off its 1983 release, on some drab VHS copy I think. I just remember it never seemed credible, and I didn’t like its tone.

    My main reaction was thinking how much better Octopussy was and how good the EON series is/was in comparison to this film.

    I never grew up with Connery as Bond, so him returning to the role was not the plus for me that it was for the older fans who know Connery as their Bond.

    When I think of the Bond films I don’t really think of Never Say Never Again. It never resonates in my memory somehow and I have seen it far fewer times than any other Bond film, save perhaps Die Another Day!

    Never Say Never Again – Fiona Volpe lover

    I became a Bond fan around ’85 so I didn’t see this at the cinema. However, a year or so later in the course of hiring out and copying [naughty I know] the ones video-to-video that I hadn’t seen on TV, I got to Never Say Never Again. I knew it was an ‘unofficial’ Bond film although I didn’t really know the whole story.

    We all sat down to watch it and 15 minutes in I was saying “this is Thunderball“. The trouble is, I had recently seen Thunderball on TV and it really wowed me, especially the underwater battle, it became instantly one of my favourites. So throughout Never Say Never Again I kept comparing it to Thunderball and very unfavourably and couldn’t really enjoy the film on it’s own merits. The rest of my family really liked it although we didn’t end up copying it for some reason.

    A couple of years later it came on TV and I enjoyed it alot more a second time. It helped that I fell in lust with Kim Basinger around then [probably more due to 9 1/2 Weeks!] although now I prefer Barbara Carrera. After that I watched it as often as the other films.

    I think Never Say Never Again is better than four or five of the official series [Licence to Kill, A View to a Kill, GoldenEye, The Man with the Golden Gun, possibly The World is not Enough]. It’s really quite enjoyable, it just lacks……panache [can’t think of a better word]. And Connery, although looking like he’s enjoying himself [dispite the production difficulties], I can’t put my finger on it, but I don’t really like his performance much. It almost seems like he’s trying to be a bit like Roger Moore [I love Moore, but Moore is Moore].

    Never Say Never Again – Blofelds Cat

    I saw Never Say Never Again on the day of it’s premiere here in Western Australia. I clearly remember that I enjoyed the film. Surprisingly, the lack of the familiar 007 film motifs didn’t have as much of an adverse impact on the viewing experience as I had supposed it might

    I thought that Carrera’s Fatima Blush was a superb femme fatale; and that Brandeur’s, Largo, totally crapped on Celi’s particularly weak portrayal of the villain. Thought Bernie Casey made a great Leiter but was not given enough to do. Kim Basinger, as an actress, was far too weak for the role of Domino.

    The extended sex scene on the boat was plain embarrassing.

    Overall, I was of the opinion that Eon could certainly learn a few things from Never Say Never Again; but then we were in the middle of the ‘flimsy’ Moore-as-Bond era, so anything would have been an improvement.

    The Never Say Never Again music soundtrack featured some terrific motifs but these were overpowered by the overall ‘mess’ that was the complete soundtrack.

    Now that 25 years have passed, I prefer my version.

    Never Say Never Again – Zorin Industries

    I think I first saw Never Say Never Again on video. I think I rented it out from the local videostore come petrol garage with a carousel of VHS and Beta tapes to rent. I remember the owners being quite into their films and even allowed customers to reserve their films (I would save the biggies like The Empire Strikes Back and E.T. for the Christmas holidays as they would be closed and I’d get to keep the tape for longer).

    I think I must have been 10 or 11. I remember knowing that Never Say Never Again wasn’t a real Bond film but still thinking it was good. I have very much rendered that viewpoint since though. I remember the bike chase and the death of Fatima Blush and getting bored by the last act (I still do).

    Interested in sharing your own experience of seeing Never Say Never Again for the very first time? Simply register for the CommanderBond.net Forums and then visit this thread!

    As always, stay tuned to the CBn main page for never-ending James Bond coverage.

    Devin Zydel @ 2008-10-11
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