1. The 70's Bond Films

    By Luke Freeman on 2002-04-05

    It’s 12 noon Thursday, I’m sitting in front of the old computer, trying in vain to finish this article. Well, actually, the truth is I haven’t even started it yet. I know, I know, I’ve been a lazy boy this week. But you can’t expect to produce a high quality article on an empty stomach. I put a frozen pizza in the oven to satisfy my grumbling tummy and wander upstairs back to my computer and sit, twiddling my thumbs and hoping for a bit of inspiration, suddenly the phone rings.
    “Yes this is Freemo, who is this?”
    “The taxation department you say?, what a pleasant suprise”
    “Yes, I’m aware that I haven’t paid my taxes since 1998”
    “No I don’t have a secret illegal bank account in Panama”
    “Well I don’t know here you get your information from”
    Despite the fact that you are only hearing my side of the conversation, you are can probably tell that I’m in trouble here, the situation called for some quick thinking and
    some smooth talking.
    “Um, Me no speak English” I stammer before hanging up the phone. Phew, another potential crisis solved, but my last line struck a cord in my brain, “Me no speak English” is that Bond related? Let me think, ah yes, sort of. It’s “I speak English, who is your floor”.

    That’s right, its Sean Connery speaking to the real Peter Franks in Diamonds are Forever, perhaps (but probably not) the first of the ‘Silly Moments” that came, unwelcomed by many, into the Bond films during the 70’s and changed the tone of the series during the Roger Moore years. Hmmm, why not write an article about that, those snotty Dalton fans who take delight in analyzing what is supposed to be entertainment will really be cheesed off, perfect.

    Those “Silly Moments”, the wider audience probably loved them, they probably laughed, so I guess putting them into the films can be justified, but many hardcore Bond fans will disagree, they claim they are cartoonish, un-Fleming like and cover the Moore Bond films like a nasty rash. I think we need to examine some of these ‘Silly Moments’ and determine, which ones worked and which ones we could have done without, lets go though the Seventies Bond films and take a new, enlightened look…

    Diamonds Are Forever – This is the transition film from the serious, smooth 60s Bond films with subtle humour to the light hearted, laidback style of the silly 70s flicks. The Asian Army dude running around on fire when Blofeld aims the laser at the rockets is a weak attempt at getting a laugh, and a strong attempt at getting a groan. There are a few other cheesy additions, some that work and some that don’t. One that I do like though is Bond talking with the rat in the pipes “One of us smells like a tarts handkerchief, I’m afraid its me, sorry about that Old Boy”. Its classy and silly, I give that one two thumbs up.

    Live and Let Die – Kananga’s death, an absolute embarrasment to the series, is almost unforgivable. I liked Kananga as a villain, he’s underrated by fans, he was sophisticated, he was smooth. Some villians are lucky to have one decent henchmen, he had about four, remember Tee Hee, Baron Samedi, the bloke with the claw and that dude who played the flute while he was on marijuana? What I’m saying is Kananga was a good villain. But his death scene, blowing up like a balloon and even worse the explosion, that was very cartoonish, and very bad, they should have just feed him to the sharks, that would have been much better. However, Sheriff JW Pepper is quite a welcome addition to this movie, he has plenty to say and his spitting and he “Yeah Boy” and his racist remarks and his gut all work okay for me. “I’m guessing this ain’t exactly your debut at this sort of thing hey boy” he says while frisking (is that the word?) one of Kananga’s men, classic.

    Moonraker – Somedays I love Moonraker and other days don’t, today I don’t. Well, that’s being a tad strong, but Moonraker is a very cheesy film indeed. Who would have thought that a movie that featured such gems as “You missed Mr Bond” “Did I?” and “Make sure some harm comes to him” could also contain some utter garbage. The pigeon doing double takes, Jaws acting like the Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons and him falling in love would all be laughable except for the fact that its just not funny. Thank goodness Ian Fleming didn’t have to stomach watching his creation become little more than a poor spoof of itself. Don’t even get me started on the space stuff, twenty years later, with the advances in technology, and it still looks far fetched. Don’t get me wrong, some days I sit back and enjoy Moonraker for what it is, two hours of globe trotting adventure fun, some days I laugh along with the jokes and love the film, today is not one of these days.

    Octopussy – Yes, I do realise that because it was made in 1983 it is therefore, technically, not a 70’s film. But it is (after Moonraker) the second silliest Bond film in the series and it more than earns its place in the ‘Silly’ Era. A serious and complex plot about jewel forgery, a rouge Russian general with domination on his mind and that island full of women is marred by some very silly moments indeed. The tennis jokes were okay, but the crowd acting like there watching a game took away from what was a brilliant chase, and yes, it was a great sequence, far more enjoyable than any of the action scenes in The World is Not Enough. The Tarzan yell when Bond is swinging on the vines is a absolute disgrace, I really hope that someone got fired for that blunder. But on the upside the Toro joke “Sounds like a load of bull” was perfect.

    Overall, some of these ‘Silly Moments’ worked and worked well, quite allot didn’t work, particulary with Bond fans, but I’m starting to think thats not the point. I’m sure that the general audience at the theatre would have loved them. Its apparently what they wanted at that time, and you have to give the audience what they want. The series wouldn’t have lasted 40 years without the Non Bond fans buying those tickets and filling those asles. Yes, I prefer the slick one liners from Thunderball as humour over the slapstick of Moonraker, but hey, each Bond film is different and thats the way it should be, change keeps things from getting stale. People who call for the films to be more like novels don’t realise that films aer a whole different thing, with there own style and are brilliant in there own way. Like I said, You have to do your best to give the audience what they want, without them the series would crash and burn.

    I rock back on my chair to contemplate this theory, but the last word seems sticks in my mind. ‘Burn’, I think over and over, Burn, Burn, Burn. “Oh, No”, I remember that there’s that Pizza that has been in the oven for over half and hour now, “Oh No” I say again (I say other things, but they’re not fit for print). Sure enough the pizza has turned a very undelicious black. I take what used to be my Pizza into the lounge room and sit on the couch. I have two choices for this afternoon, I can either watch one of my Bond videos or I can study for Uni. Naturally, I go for the Bond movie. I put my feet up so I can relax a watch while I eat my burnt Pizza. Now, which type of Bond video should I watch? A smooth 60’s one, or a silly 70’s one, I just can’t decide.

    Until next time,