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

    ‘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… [Click Here For Part I]

    Never Say Never Again – Turn

    My enthusiasm for Never Say Never Again came more than a year before it came out. It was late summer 1982 and Sean Connery was being profiled on the U.S. TV newsmagazine 20-20. It was the point when his career wasn’t really going anywhere and the interviewer asked the popular question if he could keep his career going after Bond.

    The big revelation at the end of the story was the interviewer saying Connery would start shoting his new Bond film in the Bahamas in the fall. There’d been rumors for years, but that was the confirmation. The original Bond returning and his successor filming a new adventure. It was going to be the greatest year of being a Bond fan in my young life.

    Aside from being a member of the American James Bond fan club, back then you didn’t get nearly the information on the making of new films you do now. So when something new was rolled out you devoured it. Starlog Magazine that winter put out what it billed as a Double Bond issue with Connery pointing the new Walther and Moore with the classic Walther over the shoulder pose on the cover. That was my first real exposure to Never Say Never Again.

    The build-up was great fun. Two Bond films in the same summer competing against each other. A few magazine articles talked about it. Unfortunately, it was Starlog that also reported Never Say Never Again was being moved back to fall and we would have OP first.

    It was great, getting out of school and having Octopussy to look forward to a few days later, all the hype and excitement, the collectibles, etc. But let’s be honest, as Bond fans seeing “The end of xxxx but James Bond will return in xxxx” as the credits end is also a bit depressing no matter how good the film preceding it is. That feeling wasn’t there after I saw Octopussy, which I would see 3 more times that summer. Not so much for that reason. There was Connery’s long-awaited return awaiting.

    So around 3-4 months later, all the hype and excitement began again. New articles and stories about Connery’s storied return surfaced. Connery was on the Tonight Show singing Underneath the Mango Tree. Siskel and Ebert did their special all-Bond show. And on it went.

    One of the cool things about Never Say Never Again‘s debut in the U.S. was it occurred just four days after my birthday, so it was in a sense a late birthday present. Since For Your Eyes Only, I have a tradition of seeing the newest Bond film the day after it premieres in cinemas (with the exception of Octopussy, which I saw on opening day). So I went with my brother and a family friend to a matinee on Saturday, October 8 to the Regent Theater in my hometown of Springfield, Ohio. I actually sat through it twice that day as my parents joined us for the second show.

    My impressions were I was glad to see Connery as Bond again. I liked the fight with Lippe, Fatima and Largo and many of the lines. As a whole, I didn’t and still don’t think it comes near Thunderball. And I did miss some of the Eon touches. But it was so different and a nice change of pace at the time and I still appreciate it for what it is.

    I never did get back to see Never Say Never Again again in the cinema. I came close the next spring. I was going to a drive-in theater to see Never Say Never Again and the Dirty Harry film Sudden Impact on a double feature. But a friend who didn’t like Bond joined us and persuaded my other friend, my brother and me to watch a cheap teen picture called Hot Dog the Movie on the other screen. It wasn’t too bad because we ended up meeting some girls we went out with for a time that night. But what a double feature.

    One last note with a lasting memory. Us Magazine did a poll at the time of Never Say Never Again‘s release for the next Bond since it was Connery’s, and supposedly Moore’s, last Bond films. Outrageous names like Tom Selleck, Ted Danson and James Coburn mixed more realistic choices such as Ian Ogilvy, George Lazenby and Lewis Collins. The overwhelming winner in the poll was Pierce Brosnan, who was already annointed the obvious Bond successor the season before when Remington Steele premiered.

    Never Say Never Again – TheSaint

    I saw it in the theater when it opened in October 1983. I probably went after high school ended for the day. I liked it, thought it wasn’t better than Thunderball or Octopussy which had preceded it a few months earlier. Found it ironic that Sean was in better shape for this film than he was in Diamonds are Forever.

    Never Say Never Again – Major Tallon

    I saw it in its first week, and I liked it! Despite its flaws, I still do. Many of the things frequently mentioned, the absence of the gunbarrel and the theme, didn’t bother me at all. They’re peripherals, not what makes a Bond movie. The score is another thing frequently mentioned by fans, but I can’t say I paid much attention to it. It certainly didn’t ruin the movie for me.

    Connery looked in great shape, and he was excellent, quick with his fists when he needed to be, and equally fast with a quip. There was much to enjoy: Barbara Carrera’s scene-stealing performance as Fatima Blush, the Shrublands scenes, Bond’s line “Keep dancing!”, the shark battle and the motorcycle chase (both highlights), and supporting performances by Pamela Salem, Bernie Casey, and Alec McGowan. I even liked the finale.

    There was other stuff that puzzled or annoyed me. Edward Fox as M got old very fast, Klaus Maria Brandauer didn’t seem menacing to me (just barmy), Kim Basinger was just ok, I didn’t believe the ending of Bond’s battle with Count Lippe, the video game sequence was dull, and the North African scenes were visually uninspiring. The torpedo-launched rocket platforms struck me as silly.

    Perhaps strangest of all, given the improbabilities that I’ve accepted in Bond films over the years, I was bothered by the notion that Largo could so quickly sail a private yacht from the coast of North Africa, through the Suez Canal, and into the Gulf in the time that elapsed in the movie. This undoubtedly means I’m over-analyzing this movie, but there you go.

    On balance, I enjoy Never Say Never Again. It was great to have Connery back, and the film moved along at rapid pace. If the story was a bit familiar, and there were several aspects of the production to criticize, I was nevertheless more than happy to go along for the ride.

    Never Say Never Again – Double-0-7

    I saw Never Say Never Again at the local theater the week it came out. I took the girlfriend previous to my wife (actually how I met Mrs D07) and was excited to see the “Connery Bond movie” after seeing the very fun “Moore Bond movie” earlier in the year.

    I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me that the EON formula would not be followed, probably figured that the music and titles were Bond elements, not a production company thing. It sure left me out of balance since there was no gun barrel scene, no Bond theme, no 007 theme, the wrong M’s office, M, Moneypenny, and Q. Even my date asked “What the hell was that? It certainly wasn’t a James Bond movie!”

    Not my favorite film, but it gets watched occasionally, and has its good points: the bike chase is good fun, Largo is definitely crazy and creepy, and I think I might be in love with Fatima Blush–what an evil lady!

    I have seen every Bond movie in the theater since The Man with the Golden Gun, this just wasn’t the best one I saw in 1983!

    Never Say Never Again – Judo chop

    I was 12, and it was in my friend’s kitchen watching it on his little 17″ television.

    I distinctly remember him saying “I think Sean Connery is the best Bond. He was the toughest.” And I distinctly remember thinking that he was off his rocker. I guess must have been a Moore guy at that time.

    Never Say Never Again – trevanian

    After years of waiting, I had gotten cold feet about it (Semple being the screenwriter was part of that; was he going to Batman The Series this thing?)

    So a few friends saw it ahead of me, and while they weren’t diehards, they had seen most of the others, and all of them really liked it.

    I … well, I didn’t. It wasn’t the disappointment that the first Trek movie was, but it was a pretty huge downer anyway. I thought Brandauer was the only thing of interest, and it was interest that didn’t really belong, like it should have been a movie about him and not a Bond movie at all. Connery seemed very secure and unstar like. The bit where he says, ‘I wouldn’t know I’ve never lost’ isn’t a closeup or even on him, it is over his shoulder at Largo … very few stars wouldn’t have demanded to be full on for that kind of line, so I remember thinking, hmmm, but the fact I was thinking about this stuff while the movie was going on made it clear it wasn’t connecting for me.

    I’ve seen it maybe half-dozen times over the years (about the same as some of the Moore ones, which is basically, not anywhere near as often as good Connery ones), but it is just paces so ‘stately’ it doesn’t feel right. And it is the one movie where you can tell the stuntman is there every time, because none of them seem to move as well as Connery, so Bond goes from being graceful in closeup to clumsy and/or arthritic when the stunt guys come in.

    I think it peaked for me about 1 minute in, when you got a good closeup of Sean through the brush, before he invades the dwelling to rescue the girl. It was all downhill after that.

    Never Say Never Again – Mr. Somerset

    I was 8 and saw it with my folks one bright (for October) Saturday at an old school style cinema, which has since been torn down. I recall that day vividly as there were car issues and I was afraid we’d be late for the matinee.

    Thunderball had aired on ABC a few weeks earlier, sans gunbarrel (and jetpack as I recall!), so for some strange reason, in my innocent 8 year old mind, I guessed that maybe not all Bond films carried the trademark. The poster was cool, and it was in the lobby reading an article about the film I discovered it was in fact a remake of Thunderball. I actually liked Never far more than Thunderball the first time. But in defence I can say thanks, ABC for butchering Thunderball and, thereby ruining my first impressions of that classic! Let’s give a hearty well-done to ABC! Beg your pardon, that should be a different thread.

    I remember the shot of Sean through Barbara’s lense and in the green hue thinking he he looked real old. Also his goofy facial expressions when being strangled in the gym with the bench press made me laugh. I loved the laser watch and the esacpe from Palmyra, but quickly forgot the climax of the film.

    At the time I had decided for myself that Sean was my favorite after seeing Dr. No earlier that summer, so liked the new film even better than Octopussy.

    Funny looking back how positive Never Say Never Again was in those days. The 21 years of Bond special with Siskel and Ebert really praised Never ay Never Again as one of the best films in the series, as did Benson’s Bedside Companion. So in that mindset, and for nostalgia reasons I can appreciate the film. However, now I feel it is nowhere near Octopussy, but above just a titch, to A View To A Kill. Never does look like From Russia with Love when compared to Die Another Day.

    Never Say Never Again – john.steed

    I always remember 1983 and its “Battle of the Bonds”. I had already enjoyed Octopussy and was looking forward to Never Say Never Again. I was in grad school in 1983 in the Washington D.C. area (where I still live) but I was back in Boston visiting my family and working on my dissertation that October. Hence, as usual, I went to see Never Say Never Again at a first day matinee and enjoyed it very much. I loved seeing Connery back again and thought Klaus Maria Brandauer was a really great as Largo. The one area where I think that the film was substantially weeker than the Eon Bonds of the day was with the music. That is just one think however. Loved it then and still love the film to this day.

    Never Say Never Again – Harry Fawkes

    Seeing Sean back as Bond after so many years was a treat I will never forget.

    I grew up in the Moore era but Connery always fascinated me more as Bond although I’m a Moore fan too.

    The film isn’t that bad but compared to, say, Octopussy or the other EON Bond films it is, unfortunately, a major let down–especially the music! But then having said that, Never Say Never Again wasn’t about being better than EON’s franchise. To me it was about Connery returning in a role he made famous so at the time I couldn’t have given a damn if the film itself was crap.

    To see Sean back up their on the silver screen as the intrepid 007 was tantamount to a couple of hours in heaven.

    And hearing him say: ‘I do owe you an explanation…My name is Bond. James Bond. May I buy you a drink.’ was tops, no less.

    The poster was one of the best I’d seen in a long time and Connery’s pose and devil-may-care look and the way he holds that gun was classic Bond!

    The first time I saw Never Say Never Again I felt as if I was on op of the world!

    Never Say Never Again – manfromjapan

    Never Say Never Again was the second James Bond film I saw in the cinema; Octopussy being the first. So 1983 was an amazing year for an impressionable eleven year-old 007 fan! I very much enjoyed the film, probably the main reason being that I was at that stage a massive Moore fan, and seeing a different actor as Bond was exciting. Connery looked very different in Never Say Never Again, remember!! I did and still do prefer Octopussy though. I remember feeling underwhelmed by Never Say Never Again overall. I feel the same way I do now as I did then, I think. It’s a good, worthwhile, entertaining film. But it didn’t justify the ‘back to basics’ talk, and it’s a film that seems to just lose momentum and interest about the half-way mark. The ending is very anti-climactic. The music is horrendously inappropriate. But it’s a witty film, moderately exciting, and something of a curio with it’s remake status and the return of Connery. The girls are beautiful, Brandauer is awesome, Alec McCowen and Bernie Casey good fun. But it lacks the epic scale of the Eon films, is sometimes incoherent and suffers from pacing issues. A mixed bag…but as is so often the case with the controversial Bond films, it’s neither the disaster or the masterpiece many claim, but a good, if flawed film.

    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 @ 2008-10-13
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