Sunday, November 4, 2012

Our Collective Bonding Experiences

James Bond 007: A Primer

Skyfall, the newest James Bond film, will be released in America this week.  I have worked diligently to watch and review every James Bond film released from Dr. No to Quantum of Solace.  I included the unofficial Bond film Never Say Never Again in this Bond retrospective but not the spoof version of Casino Royale because...well, because it is a spoof, while NSNA was at least meant to be taken seriously. 

We not only have the newest Bond film out in theaters, but we're also coming up to Bond's 50th Anniversary, a major milestone few film franchises have achieved.  However, in all the work I've done with the Bond retro I think it would be good to go over set pieces in any Bond film.

You have a title song, usually but not always with the film's title somewhere in it.

You have at least two Bond Girls, a Primary and Secondary Girl.  The Secondary Bond Girl usually, but not always ends up dead, while the Primary Bond Girl is the one that makes it to the end of the credits.  Bond Girls have a requirement that they sleep with 007, or at least that it is implied that they do.

You have a villain, on a few ocassions a duo, along with a henchman (and occassionaly henchwoman), a figure who is the muscle to the villain's brain.

Contrary to the stereotype of a Bond film, not all the movies involve madmen trying to 'take over the world'.  Some of them do involve actual spying.   My own experience is that the better Bond films tend to be the ones more grounded in reality, while the worst ones are the ones that become too outlandish.  Again, usually but not always.

Having said all that, I think it would be good to work across the half-century and hit the marks on all the Bond films to look over what makes a Bond film a Bond Film.

DR. NO (1962)

James Bond: Sean Connery

Primary Bond Girl: Honey Rider (Ursula Andress)

Secondary Bond Girl: Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson)

Villain: Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman)

Henchman: NONE

Theme: NONE

Extra Note: Dr. No was the sixth Bond book published but first to be adapted.


James Bond: Sean Connery

Primary Bond Girl: Tatiana "Tania" Romanova (Daniela Bianchi)

Secondary Bond Girl: Sylvia Trench (Eunice Gayson)

Villain: Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya)

Henchman: Red Grant (Robert Shaw)

Theme: From Russia With Love (sung by Matt Munro)

Extra Note: The character of Sylvia Trench, originally meant to be Bond's regular girlfriend (presumably either very understanding or unaware of his dalliances) was dropped after From Russia With Love.  The theme song was used not at the beginning but at the end of the film.  From Russia With Love was also one of President Kennedy's favorite books.  Bond's creator Ian Fleming died in mid-1964, making this his final Bond film.  

James Bond: Sean Connery

Primary Bond Girl: Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman)

Secondary Bond Girl: Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton) (Dies in film)

Villain: Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe)

Henchman: Oddjob (Harold Sakata)

Theme: Goldfinger (Shirley Bassey)

Extra Note: the Bond Girl name of Pussy Galore met with complaints and was almost changed to "Kitty" Galore, until the censors were convinced that children would not get any double entendre suggested.  Shirley Bassey's rendition of Goldfinger is the first time a song is sung at the beginning of a Bond film, which is now standard for all Bond films.


James Bond: Sean Connery

Primary Bond Girl: Domino (Claudine Auger)

Secondary Bond Girl: Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi) (Dies in film)

Villain: Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi)

Henchwoman: Fiona Volpe

Theme: Thunderball (Tom Jones)

Extra Note: Thunderball is the first time we've had a female henchman as well as the first time a Bond Girl also was a nemesis.  Thunderball's protracted legal issues over rights created a strange circumstance where it could be remade by a separate team at a later date (but more on that later).


James Bond: Sean Connery

Primary Bond Girl: Kissy Suzuki (Mei Hanna)

Secondary Bond Girl: Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi)
                                    Miss Brandt (Karin Dor)
(Both die in film)

Villain: Ernst Stravo Blofeld (Donald Pleasance)

Henchman: Miss Brandt

Theme: You Only Live Twice (Nancy Sinatra)

Extra Note: Billed as Connery's last turn as 007, the screenplay was adapted by Ian Fleming's friend Roald Dahl of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory fame.  The character of Blofeld, having been seen holding his pussy in his lap, was finally revealed, and it is the first interracial romance James Bond has had with the Japanese Aki and Kissy.


James Bond: George Lazenby

Primary Bond Girl: Countess Teresa "Tracy" DiVincenzo (Diana Rigg) (Dies in film, the first Primary Bond Girl to do so)

Secondary Bond Girl: NONE

Villain: Blofeld (Telly Savalas)

Henchman: Miss Bunt (Ilse Steppat)

Theme: NONE

Extra Note:  Lazenby made his debut and farewell appearance as 007 in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.  While there is no official theme song, Louis Armstrong sung We Have All the Time In the World during a romance montage.  Ironically, this was the last song Armstrong sung before his death.  Tracy is the only Bond Girl to marry Bond, but she was killed right after the wedding by Blofeld and Bunt.


James Bond: Sean Connery

Primary Bond Girl: Tiffany Case (Jill St. John)

Secondary Bond Girl: Plenty O'Toole (Lana Wood) (Dies in film)

Villain: Blofeld (Charles Gray)

Henchman: Mr. Kidd & Mr. Wint (Putter Smith and Bruce Glover respectively)

Theme: Diamonds Are Forever (Shirley Bassey)

Extra Note: Connery returns for the last time in an official Bond film, and Bassey also returns to sing the title song, the first time an artist has sung more than one Bond theme song. Though never overtly stated, it is strongly suggested that the assassins Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint are lovers.  Secondary Bond Girl Lana Wood is the sister of Oscar-nominee Natalie Wood.  Diamonds Are Forever is also the last time we see the characters of Blofeld or the secret organization he heads: SPECTRE. 


James Bond: Roger Moore

Primary Bond Girl: Solitaire (Jane Seymour)

Secondary Bond Girl: Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry) (Dies in film)

Villain: Dr. Kananga aka Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto)

Henchman: Tee Hee (Julius Harris)
                    Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holder)
                    Whisper (Earl Jolly Brown)

Theme: Live and Let Die (Paul McCartney...and Wings)

Extra Note: Live and Let Die marks a host of first: the first of a record-setting seven Bond films for Roger Moore (the most of any actor so far), the first major film for Jane Seymour, both the first black Bond villain and Bond Girl (either nods to or attempts to cash in on the blaxploitation craze of the early 70s), and the first Bond song to earn a Best Original Song Oscar nomination, losing to The Way We Were


James Bond: Roger Moore

Primary Bond Girl: Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland)

Secondary Bond Girl: Miss Andrea Anders (Maud Adams) (Dies in film)

Villain: Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee)

Henchman: Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize)

Theme: The Man With The Golden Gun (Lulu)

Extra Note: Christopher Lee is related to Ian Fleming by marriage.  The character of Sherrif J.W. Pepper, who appeared in Live & Let Die, makes a return appearance in The Man With the Golden Gun, the first time a non-MI6 or SPECTER connected character does so.


James Bond: Roger Moore

Primary Bond Girl: Major Anya Asinova, Agent Triple X

Secondary Bond Girl: NONE

Villain: Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens)

Henchman: Jaws (Richard Kiel)

Theme: Nobody Does It Better (Carly Simon)

Extra Note: This is the first time that the film's title did not serve as the Bond Song title, although Nobody Does It Better does have a lyric that says, "the spy who loved me".  Nobody Does It Better has become a catchphrase and it was the second Bond Song to earn an Oscar nomination, losing to You Light Up My Life.   


James Bond: Roger Moore

Primary Bond Girl:  Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles)

Secondary Bond Girl: Corinne Dufour (Corinne Clery) (Dies in film)

Villain: Drax (Michael Lonsdale)

Henchman: Chang (Toshiro Suga)

Theme: Moonraker (Shirley Bassey)

Extra Note:  For Your Eyes Only was the title given at the end of The Spy Who Loved Me as the next Bond film, but the wild success of Star Wars rushed Moonraker into production.  The character of Jaws proved wildly popular, in particular with children, who begged producers to make him a good guy.  They acquiesed.  Moonraker is the third and so far final Bond song sung by Shirley Bassey, who is the only person as of today to have sung a Bond Song more than once. 


James Bond: Roger Moore

Primary Bond Girl: Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet)

Secondary Bond Girl: NONE

Villain: Kristatos (Julian Glover)

Henchman: Erich Kriegler (John Wyman)

Theme: For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton)

Extra Note: For Your Eyes Only is the first and so far only time where the singer (Easton) appeared in the opening credits.  It is also the final Bond Song to earn a Best Original Song Oscar nomination as of today, losing to Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do).  While it is never officially stated, the opening sequence suggests that the person attempting to kill James Bond is none other than SPECTRE head Blofeld.  However, we can only infer that from the pussy in his lap and his Nehru jacket, as the character of Blofeld was unavailable for use in For Your Eyes Only.


James Bond: Roger Moore

Primary Bond Girl: Octopussy (Maud Adams)

Secondary Bond Girl: Magda (Kristina Wayborn) (SURVIVES to ending credits...first Secondary Bond Girl to do so since Sylvia Trench in From Russia With Love).

Villain: Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan)
             General Orlov (Steven Berkoff)

Henchman: Gobinda (Kabir Bedi)

Theme: All Time High (Rita Coolidge)

Extra Note: Maud Adams is the only woman to have been a Bond Girl in two films (having been the secondary Bond Girl in The Man With the Golden Gun).  All Time High is the first Bond Song to not incorporate the rather provocative film title in either the title or the lyrics. 


James Bond: Sean Connery

Primary Bond Girl: Domino (Kim Basinger)

Secondary Bond Girl: Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera) (Dies in film)

Villain: Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer)

Henchman: Fatima Blush

Theme: Never Say Never Again (Lani Hall)

Extra Note: Due to legal reasons, Never Say Never Again was allowed to be a film with the character of James Bond and SPECTRE/Blofeld (which were last seen in Diamonds Are Forever and never to be heard from again) while being removed from the previous Bond films.  A remake of Thunderball, Never Say Never Again was released the same year as the official Bond film Octopussy.  It is the last time original 007 Sean Connery appeared as the British secret agent; the title song was written by Michael Legrand with lyrics by Alan and Marilyn Bergman, the latter having won Best Original Song Oscars for The Windmills of Your Mind in 1968.  It is also the first time that the character of Felix Leiter was played by a black man (Bernie Casey), beating Casino Royale's Jeffrey Wright by twenty-five years.


James Bond: Roger Moore

Primary Bond Girl: Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts)

Secondary Bond Girl: May Day (MISS Grace Jones) (Dies in film)

Villain: Max Zorin (Christopher Walken)

Henchman: May Day

Theme: A View to A Kill (Duran Duran)

Extra Note: A View to A Kill marks Roger Moore's last Bond film as well as Lois Maxwell's last appearance as Miss Moneypenny, a role she created and had played since Dr. No in 1962 (a twenty-two year record).  It is also the first time an Oscar-winner appeared as a major character in a Bond film (Walken having won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Deer Hunter in 1978).  Dolph Lungren, then Grace Jones' boyfriend, has a small part as a Soviet thug.  Duran Duran's theme to A View to A Kill is the first and only time a Bond Song reached Number One on the Billboard charts as of today. 


James Bond: Timothy Dalton

Primary Bond Girl: Kara Milovy (Maryam D'Abo)

Secondary Bond Girl: None

Villain: Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker)
             General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbe)

Henchman: Necros (Andreas Wisniewski)

Theme: The Living Daylights (a-Ha)

Extra Note: The Living Daylights is the debut film of Timothy Dalton, who had been considered for the part of Bond as early as On Her Majesty's Secret Service.  At the time, it was decided he was too young for the role.  Caroline Bliss (which I always thought made a great Bond Girl name) makes her debut as the new Miss Moneypenny.  The theme song to The Living Daylights by Norwegian group a-Ha marks the first and so far only time a non-British or American performer has provided the Bond theme song. 


James Bond: Timothy Dalton

Primary Bond Girl: Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell)

Secondary Bond Girl: Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto) (SURVIVES to ending credits; third Secondary
Bond Girl to do so)

Villain: Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi)

Henchman: Dario (Benicio Del Toro)

Theme: Licence to Kill (Gladys Knight)

Extra Note: Licence to Kill was the first Bond Film not based on a title or any specific Ian Fleming story.  It also has a secondary theme song, If You Asked Me To, sung by Patti LaBelle.  Pedro  Armendariz, Jr., who plays the corrupt President, is the son of Pedro Armendariz, who played Karim Bey in From Russia With Love.  Wayne Newton, a Bond fan, asked to make a cameo and was given the part of shady televangelist Professor Joe Butcher.  It also marked Dalton's final appearance as 007.


James Bond: Pierce Brosnan

Primary Bond Girl: Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco)

Secondary Bond Girl: Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen) (Dies in film)

Villain: Janus/Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean)

Henchman: Xenia Onatopp

Theme: GoldenEye (Tina Turner)

The title GoldenEye originates from Ian Fleming's Jamaican estate, which was called GoldenEye.  GoldenEye marks the debut of Pierce Brosnan in the role of 007.  He would have played the part earlier but NBC held him to his contract for an additional season to Remington Steele.  It also marks the debut of Judi Dench as MI-6 head M, a part she has played a total of seven times if you count Skyfall, thus making her tenure longer than most actors who've played James Bond.  Samantha Bond makes her first appearance as the third Miss Moneypenny (and so far is the only actual Bond in a Bond film).  Joe Don Baker, who had played the villain in The Living Daylights, returns but in a different role: CIA agent Jack Wade.  It is also the first post-Cold War James Bond film.


James Bond: Pierce Brosnan

Primary Bond Girl: Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh)

Secondary Bond Girl: Paris Carver (Teri Hatcher) (Dies in film)

Villain: Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce)

Henchman: Stamper (Gotz Otto)

Theme: Tomorrow Never Dies (Sheryl Crow)

Extra Note: Tomorrow Never Dies is the first Bond film produced after the death of Albert "Cubby" Broccoli, with his daughter Barbara and stepson Michael Wilson taking over.  It also had the unfortunate luck of opening the same day as Titanic, making it a rare Bond film to not open in first place.


James Bond: Pierce Brosnan

Primary Bond Girl: Christmas Jones (Denise Richards)

Secondary Bond Girl: Elektra King (Sophie Marceau) (Dies in film)

Villain: Elektra King
             Renard (Robert Carlyle)

Henchman: Renard
                   Bull (Goldie)

Theme: The World Is Not Enough (Garbage)

Extra Note: The title The World Is Not Enough comes from the Bond family motto. It also marks the final appearance of Desmond Llewellyn as gadget master Q.


James Bond: Pierce Brosnan

Primary Bond Girl: Jinx (Halle Berry)

Secondary Bond Girl: Miranda Frost (Rosemund Pike) (Dies in film)

Villain: Gustav Graves (Toby Stephens)
             Miranda Frost

Henchman: Zao (Rick Yune)

Theme: Die Another Day (Madonna)

Extra Note: Die Another Day marks Brosnan's final turn as 007.  It also is the first time that the singer of a Bond Song appears in the film itself with Madonna's cameo as fencing instructor Verity.  Halle Berry won her Best Actress Oscar for Monster's Ball while making Die Another Day, thus becoming the first Bond Girl to be an Academy Award-winner. 


James Bond: Daniel Craig

Primary Bond Girl: Vesper Lynd (Eva Green) (Dies in film, the second Primary Bond Girl to do so)

Secondary Bond Girl: NONE

Villain: LeChiffre (Mads Mikkelsen)

Henchman: NONE

Theme: You Know My Name (Chris Cornell)

Extra Note: Daniel Craig at 5'10" is the shortest James Bond.  Casino Royale was the first Ian Fleming novel published but it wasn't until 1999 that EON acquired the rights to it.  A film version of Casino Royale had already been made, but that had been a spoof of the Bond films (however, the song from that version, The Look of Love, earned a Best Original Song Oscar nomination).  With a new Bond it was the perfect opportunity to basically have a reboot to the franchise.  Casino Royale is also the first Bond film based on any Ian Fleming story or title rather than an original story since The Living Daylights and the first to not feature the characters of Q or Miss Moneypenny (although the dialogue entre Bond and Lynd hints at the nameplay "money-penny"), although Judi Dench's M is still included.   Finally, You Know My Name is the first Bond Song since Octopussy's All Time High to not included the title of the film in either the song's title or lyrics.


James Bond: Daniel Craig

Primary Bond Girl: Camille Montes (Olga Kurylenko)

Secondary Bond Girl: (Strawberry) Fields (Gemma Arterton) (Dies in film)

Villain: Mr. Greene/Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric)

Henchman: Elvis (Anatole Taubman)

Theme: Another Way to Die (Jack White and Alicia Keys)

Extra Note: Quantum of Solace was one of the few Ian Fleming titles that hadn't been used for a Bond film, but the film itself is not based on the story Quantum of Solace.  It also is the first Bond film to be a direct sequel, with the film picking up straight from where Casino Royale ended.  Another Way to Die is the third Bond Song not to include the title of the film in either the title itself or in the lyrics (although the word 'solace' does appear).  It is also the first duet in Bond Song history. Curiously, the secondary Bond Girl's first name is never used in the film; it is in the credits that she is billed as "Strawberry Fields".  In the film itself, she always is referred to or refers to herself as "Miss Fields".  Finally, it is the second film where neither Miss Moneypenny or Q appear.

Now we have a new entry: Skyfall.  Not having seen it yet, I hold my judgment until after.  How will  it rank among its predecessors?  We shall see, but at least it's a comfort to know...


***Update: I have now seen Skyfall, so let's have our little notes:

James Bond: Daniel Craig

Primary Bond Girl: NONE (a first for the franchise)

Secondary Bond Girl: Sévérine (Bérénice Marlohe) (Dies in Film)

Villain: Silva (Javier Bardem)

Henchman: NONE

Theme: Skyfall (Adele)

Extra Notes: Skyfall is the first Daniel Craig-Era James Bond film to have the characters of Moneypenny and Q as well as the first Craig Bond film to have the film's title serve as the Bond Song title.  It also marks the final appearance of Judi Dench as M, concluding her seven-film stretch in the part (longer than Brosnan, Dalton, Connery or Craig--so far--have played the main character and tying Roger Moore's record).  It marks the second time an Oscar winner has played a Bond Villain (Bardem having won Best Supporting Actor for No Country For Old Men).   

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