Tuesday, November 27, 2012

007 James Bond Marathon Post-Mortem Part 2

The 10 Essential James Bond Performances:

1. Sean Connery-Goldfinger

2. Sean Connery-From Russia with Love

3. Daniel Craig-Casino Royale

4. Timothy Dalton-Licence to Kill

5. Daniel Craig-Skyfall

6. Sean Connery-Dr. No

7. Roger Moore-The Spy Who Loved Me

8. Pierce Brosnan-GoldenEye

9. Timothy Dalton-The Living Daylights

10. Sean Connery-You Only Live Twice

Sean Connery’s performance in Goldfinger is the definitive example of what James Bond is and what he should be. A complete professional who can charm the ladies, be a badass, and find a way to escape certain near-death moments. Connery’s other performances in From Russia with Love, Dr. No, and You Only Live Twice are great examples of the model he would create for other actors to follow in the role of James Bond. Daniel Craig and Timothy Dalton both display an air of grit and realism to their performances as well as a bit of humor. What differentiates them in their performances is that Craig is willing to show more emotion in his role while Dalton is a bit more restrained in his approach to Bond.

Notably in Casino Royale where Craig would create new standards for Bond who is willing to bleed a bit more but also rely more on action. Dalton’s performance in Licence to Kill is quite cold because it’s Bond seeking vengeance but Dalton also provides a determination in the way he seeks out his goals. Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan each provide a more light-hearted approach to the Bond character. In The Spy Who Loves Me, Moore would finally find his footing as Bond where he not only makes Bond the professional secret agent who kicks ass and does his duty but also more of a lover that can woo the ladies. Brosnan provides a different balance in his approach where in GoldenEye, he would provide subtle moments of humor in his mannerisms and in his scenes with Q but also be very cunning in the way he deals with his enemies.

The Worst Bond Performance: Barry Nelson-Casino Royale (Climax! TV Episode)

For the record, George Lazenby wasn’t the worst James Bond. Nor were Peter Sellers, David Niven, or anyone else who played Bond in the 1967 parody version of Casino Royale. Barry Nelson’s performance is clearly the one performance that is definitely not what James Bond is supposed to be. Nelson doesn’t carry any of the traits that makes Bond great as well as the fact that Nelson makes the character look and feel awkward. It’s OK for someone who is Irish or Australian to play Bond but an American Bond? Yeah right.

The 10 Essential Bond Girls:

1. Vesper Lynd (Eva Green)-Casino Royale

2. Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman)-Goldfinger

3. Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi)-From Russia with Love

4. Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach)-The Spy Who Loved Me

5. Teresa di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg)-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

6. Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet)-For Your Eyes Only

7. Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress)-Dr. No

8. Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh)-Tomorrow Never Dies

9. Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell)-Licence to Kill

10. Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco)-GoldenEye

Eva Green’s performance as Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale is truly a standard that every Bond Girl should follow in the years to come. Not only did she display the beauty and charisma of past Bond girls but also made Lynd an unforgettable character in terms of the way she would shape Bond. Early iconic Bond girls like Pussy Galore, Tatiana Romanova, and Honey Ryder are women who not only had a beauty that was truly intoxicating but also created templates for what they should be. Particularly as they would deviate from the damsel-in-distress role in which they would help Bond succeed in his mission. Diana Rigg’s performance as Terese di Vicenzo in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is definitely iconic for the fact that she bags James Bond to marry her while being a very capable driver. Yet, her fate would also be one of the most memorable.

Anya Amasova and Melina Havelock are two Bond Girls of the Roger Moore era who are both quite capable of handling themselves. Amasova is a KGB agent who can kick some ass but also charm her way to match Bond while Havelock is a lovely beauty who is smart and is very deadly with a crossfire bow. From Licence to Kill, Pam Bouvier is a very different Bond Girl who can carry a shot gun and kick some ass while displaying a very unconventional beauty that would prove to be very helpful. From the Pierce Brosnan era, Natalya Simonova, from GoldenEye, is a Bond Girl who is very good with technology in aiding Bond while displaying a beauty that hadn’t been seen in some time. Wai Lin is another rare Bond Girl who is not just beautiful but can kick some ass that even gives Bond a run for his money.

Worst Bond Girl: Christmas Jones (Denise Richards)-The World is Not Enough

There’s been some bad and useless Bond Girls like Mary Goodnight from The Man with the Golden Gun, Strawberry Fields from Quantum of Solace, Plenty O’Toole of Diamonds are Forever, Stacy Sutton of A View to a Kill, and Bibi Dahl of For Your Eyes Only. Yet, none of them could be as bad as Denise Richards as Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough. It’s the one role that not only baffles someone into the idea of a nuclear physicist wearing a tank top and short-shorts but always seem to put Bond in a lot of danger.

The 10 Essential Bond Villains

1. Raoul Silva (Javier Bardem)-Skyfall

2. Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee)-The Man with the Golden Gun

3. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasance)-You Only Live Twice

4. Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe)-Goldfinger

5. Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens)-The Spy Who Loved Me

6. Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean)-GoldenEye

7. Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi)-Licence to Kill

8. Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman)-Dr. No

9. Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen)-Casino Royale

10. Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Telly Savalas)-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

Villains are key to what makes the Bond films so much fun to watch. Yet, a new standard has been raised by Javier Bardem’s performance as Raoul Silva in Skyfall. Silva is definitely a new kind of villain who is both a charmer but also a psychopath who really knows how to make an entrance and is willing to kill at any means necessary. Other classic villains such as Blofeld show what kind of man he is who is willing to do anything to get lots of money as both Donald Pleasance and Telly Savalas each create different impressions of the character. Christopher Lee’s performance as Francisco Scaramanga is definitely one of the great villains as he’s an assassin who exudes charm but also is very deadly as he is almost an equal to Bond.

Auric Goldfinger and Le Chiffre may not be physically-threatening villains but they’re both quite deadly. Goldfinger always have deadly plans to get his way such as the way he killed Jill Masterson while Le Chiffre has other people doing dirty work while torturing Bond in a gruesome way. Karl Stromberg is a megalomaniac who wants to create a world of his own as he is a formidable villain for Bond as is Alec Trevelyan who is a former 00 agent and an equal to Bond. Franz Sanchez is a ruthless drug lord who proves to be a great match for Bond in terms of connection and getting what he wants. Dr. No may not be one of the stronger villains but he certainly has an amazing presence as he’s a man of great intelligence and determination that allows Bond to realize that he’s just part of a bigger picture.

The Worst Bond Villain: Gustav Graves/Colonel Moon (Toby Stevens/Will Yun Lee)-Die Another Day

Many of the villains in the Bond films had always been memorable as there’s very few that don’t really standout such as Kamal Khan of Octopussy and Dominic Greene of Quantum of Solace. Yet, it’s Gustav Graves/Colonel Moon that really stands out as the worst villain. There’s nothing about him that is intimidating as he has to rely on gadgets and machines to get rid of his enemies. The bigger twist about Graves is that he’s really a rogue North Korean colonel who had supposedly died and transformed himself to be a billionaire. Lame!

Top 10 Q Gadgets

1. Aston Martin DB5-Goldfinger/Skyfall

2. Lotus Esprit-The Spy Who Loved Me

3. Little Nellie-You Only Live Twice

4. Bell Rocket Belt-Thunderball

5. The briefcase-From Russia with Love

6. Wrist dart gun-Moonraker 

7. Electro-Magnetic RPM Controller-Diamonds are Forever

8. Identigraph-For Your Eyes Only

9. Exploding pen-GoldenEye

10. Philips Keychain-The Living Daylights

If there’s someone Bond needs to make sure that he gets the job done, it’s Q. Next to James Bond, Q is the best character of the Bond series as he creates gadgets that can help Bond out in any way. The Aston Martin DB5 is easily the coolest car/gadget of them all for the fact that it has all sorts of weapons like machine guns and ejector seats. So cool that it allowed fans to mark out when it reappeared in Skyfall. The Lotus Espirit is another cool car that has cool gadgets but it’s also a submarine that can fire rockets into the sky. The Little Nellie mini-helicopter is another cool machine that also can fire rockets and get Bond out of a bad situation. Smaller weapons like the exploding pen and the Phillips keychain were also effective to get Bond out in situations.

The briefcase in From Russia with Love is a truly cool invention that has all sorts of things Bond needs as a traveling man while the wrist dart gun is quite deadly in getting Bond out of other dire situations. The Identigraph is another effective machine that can help Bond identify an enemy he’s looking for as it’s really an early take in the computers. And then there’s the little Electro-Magnetic RPM Controller that Q uses to win at slot machines.

Worst Invention: Aston Martin Vanquish-Die Another Day

If there’s one invention that never should’ve been made, it’s the Aston Martin Vanquish aka the invisible car. It’s just pretty damn stupid. All it is simply is bad CGI cloaking a car that does all sorts of things where it doesn’t really work some of the time when it gets shot and it requires to suspense too much belief.

The Top 10 Bond Theme Songs (That Isn’t the James Bond Theme by Monty Norman)

1. Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon (Marvin Hamlisch & Carole Bayer Sager)-The Spy Who Loved Me

2. You Only Live Twice by Nancy Sinatra (Leslie Bricusse & John Barry)-You Only Live Twice

3. A View to a Kill by Duran Duran (Duran Duran & John Barry)-A View to a Kill

4. For Your Eyes Only by Sheena Easton (Bill Conti & Michael Leeson)-For Your Eyes Only

5. We Have All the Time in the World by Louis Armstrong (John Barry & Hal David)-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

6. Live and Let Die by Paul McCartney & Wings (Paul and Linda McCartney)-Live and Let Die

7. Goldfinger by Shirley Bassey (Leslie Bricusse, Anthony Newley, & John Barry)-Goldfinger

8. The Man with the Golden Gun by Lulu (John Barry & Don Black)-The Man with the Golden Gun

9. Skyfall by Adele (Adele & Paul Epworth)-Skyfall

10. Thunderball by Tom Jones (John Barry & Don Black)-Thunderball

One of the key elements that is needed in the Bond movies is a good song to kick things off. Aside from the theme that everyone knows and love, it’s the song that has to be there to establish what audiences are in for. Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better is a prime example as it’s a truly gorgeous love ballad that exemplifies Bond as a lover and sometimes, a fighter. You Only Live Twice and We Have All The Time in the World are definitive Bond songs for the lushness that is carried in the string arrangements courtesy of regular Bond score composer John Barry. Duran Duran’s A View to a Kill is definitely the best example of how to fuse Barry’s bombastic orchestra with a new wave sensibility where it has something for young audiences to enjoy as well as an older audience. Sheena Easton’s For Your Eyes Only is another example of a modern take in Bond love ballad with its sumptuous electronic arrangements and classical piano arrangements.

One of the difficulties in creating a Bond theme song is to always keep up with the times but Adele’s Skyfall is an example of going back to the basics without trying to employ any ideas that are considered trendy. Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun are great examples of how to fuse rock with orchestral bombast as they’re both very exciting songs. Finally, Goldfinger and Thunderball are among the definitive blueprints of what a Bond theme song should be as it have amazing orchestral arrangements, memorable hooks, and singers that can actually belt it out.

Worst Bond Song: Die Another Day by Madonna (Madonna & Mirwais Ahmadzai)-Die Another Day

Not every Bond song is a hit as there’s a few misses like the Alicia Keys/Jack White collaboration Another Way to Die from Quantum of Solace. Still, nothing tops the horror that is Madonna’s Die Another Day which sounds like machines farting out awful noises while Madonna tries to sound like a robot. To spare the listeners from damaging their eardrums, there will not be a clip of this horrendous garbage.

The Top 5 Lists

Top 5 Henchman/Henchwomen

1. Jaws (Richard Kiel)-The Spy Who Loved Me/Moonraker

2. Donald “Red” Grant (Robert Shaw)-From Russia with Love

3. Oddjob (Harold Sakata)-Goldfinger

4. Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen)-GoldenEye

5. Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi)-Thunderball

Every villain needs someone to back them up. Whether it’s Jaws with his metallic teeth or Oddjob throwing his hat to cut people’s heads off. Then there’s Red Grant who is a physical presence who is very smart and deadly and is almost an equal to Bond. Then there’s the henchwomen who are very beautiful but not the kind of women to bring home to your mother. Xenia Onatopp does love to squeeze men but it comes with a price while Fiona Volpe can kill with her motorcycle filled with rocket launchers.

Top 5 Bond Allies (non-regular)

1. Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba)-You Only Live Twice

2. Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti)-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

3. Milos Columbo (Chaim Topol)-For Your Eyes Only

4. Ali Kerim Bey (Pedro Armendariz)-From Russia with Love

5. Kincade (Albert Finney)-Skyfall

Whenever Bond is in different locations, he needs someone who can have his back. Tiger Tanaka is a great example of someone who can show Bond the ropes of what to do in Japan while being there to fight off SPECTRE. Marc-Ange Draco and Miles Columbo are men who are rich and powerful while providing Bond with some kind of backup to help him fight off foes. Kerim Bey is another unique individual who would help Bond show him what is happening in Turkey while is also an excellent shooter. Finally, there’s Kincade from Skyfall who is an old gamekeeper that is very good with guns and is willing to show that when all else fails, go back to basics.

Top 5 Semi-regular Bond Allies

1. General Anatal Alexis Gogol (Walter Gottel) The Spy Who Loved Me-The Living Daylights

2. Sir Fredrick Gray (Geoffrey Keen)-The Spy Who Loved Me-The Living Daylights

3. Bill Tanner (Rory Kinnear)-Quantum of Solace/Skyfall

4. Charles Robinson (Colin Salmon)-Tomorrow Never Dies-Die Another Day

5. Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky-GoldenEye/The World is Not Enough

Bond needs people who he can always count on not matter how bad the situations are. Even if they’re people that aren’t really fond of him like Valentin Dmitrovich Zukovsky yet is willing to help Bond any way he can. General Gogol maybe an opponent of Bond as far as the Cold War is concerned yet is willing to aid Bond and the MI6 if both sides are threatened. Sir Fredrick Gray and Charles Robinson are members of the MI6 who definitely provide some information for Bond as well as being a key ally. The Bill Tanner character has been played by numerous actors over the years but Rory Kinnear has so made Tanner a very memorable character no matter how small the role is.

Top 5 M Moments

1. M’s final words-Skyfall

2. M backing Bond up and ensuring he doesn’t mess up again-Moonraker

3. M telling Bond that he‘s a misogynistic dinosaur-GoldenEye

4. M’s briefing with Bond after Vesper’s death-Casino Royale

5. M briefing Bond for his mess-up in Miami-Goldfinger

There’s been three actors who played M in its official series yet two of them stand out in creating their own stamp on the character. Judi Dench is definitely the most memorable as she brought a new take on the character starting with 1995’s Goldfinger where she despises Bond while bringing a sense of maternal warmth to Bond in Casino Royale despite her issues with him. And then there’s Skyfall where Dench gives her greatest performance of the character as her parting words is among one of the most heartbreaking moments of the series. Bernard Lee’s portrayal of Bond from Dr. No to Moonraker are memorable as he plays a leader who is stern but also fair and always know when to back Bond up if he is aware something isn’t right. With Ralph Fiennes now set to play the role, let’s hope he can provide something that his predecessor can be proud of.

Top 5 Q Moments (Desmond Llewelyn Tribute list)

1. Q arriving at Isthmus City to help Bond-Licence to Kill

2. Q showing Bond how to work the Aston Martin DB5-Goldfinger

3. Q briefing Bond on the BMW 750i as Bond plays around with it-Tomorrow Never Dies

4. Q responding to Bond’s line about the destruction of inventions by saying “frequently”-The Spy Who Loved Me

5. Q’s farewell-The World is Not Enough

Honorable Mention: Q introduces himself to Bond-Skyfall

Q is a character that is beloved by Bond fans as he’s a man that brings a lot of humor to the series and moments that are unforgettable. Desmond Llewelyn’s performance as the character provides a lot of the attributes the Bond film needs such as Bond’s lack of attention towards Q’s machines or the fact that Bond always does something bad to Q’s inventions, unintentionally. Yet, Q is always the guy that Bond can always count on to save him from anything. Now that Ben Whishaw is playing the role and creates his own take on the character, let’s hope he can bring that same rapport with Bond that fans know and love.

Top 5 Miss Moneypenny Moments

1. Moneypenny telling Bond the code-You Only Live Twice

2. Moneypenny asking for a gift in diamonds-Diamonds are Forever

3. Moneypenny catching Bond’s hat-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

4. Moneypenny using the recreational simulator to create her Bond fantasy-Die Another Day

5. Moneypenny officially introducing herself to Bond-Skyfall

Miss Moneypenny is the woman who always seem to flirt with Bond but never really gets the chance to bag him. Still, she always maintain some kind of professionalism that is needed as Lois Maxwell always provide something that is a standard of what Moneypenny should be. Samantha Bond adds a new energy to the character in the Pierce Brosnan era as she is the closest to finally nab Bond. Now there’s a new Moneypenny in Naomie Harris who is a different Moneypenny who can drive and shoot but also maintain a sense of professionalism in her relationship with Bond.

Top 5 Felix Leiter moments

1. Leiter helping Bond out with providing him the money to beat Le Chiffre-Casino Royale

2. Leiter being tortured and telling Sanchez that he’ll see him in hell-Licence to Kill

3. Leiter showing Bond Largo’s boat via telescope-Never Say Never Again

4. Leiter telling Bond that Goldfinger is in Miami-Goldfinger

5. Leiter providing Bond information about Dominic Greene’s whereabouts-Quantum of Solace

If the U.S. is involved and they need someone to help Bond, they call on Felix Leiter. There’s been many actors who played the character yet so far, Jeffrey Wright provides the most memorable portrayal of the character in both Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace as he adds a sense of cool to the character. David Hedison played Leiter twice in both Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill where he has a very memorable moment in the latter where he is kidnapped and being fed to the sharks where he manages to survive. Cee Linder’s performance in Goldfinger is memorable for the fact that he displays what kind of friendship he and Bond have. Bernie Casey is another highlight of the character where he not only helps Bond defeat Largo but also chill out with him in Never Say Never Again.

Top 5 Bond Action Sequences

1. The parkour chase in Africa-Casino Royale

2. Bond diving off a snowy cliff and parachute-The Spy Who Loved Me

3. Bond on a truck chase against Sanchez-Licence to Kill

4. Bond driving a tank through Moscow-GoldenEye

5. Bond and Tracy driving through the snow and a stock car race-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

With James Bond, the films always have to something to keep fans excited. Scenes such as Bond chasing someone through buildings in Africa where it involves a lot of parkour movements or Bond diving off a cliff in skis and then unveil a Union Jack parachute. Bond going after a villain in a truck where he has to evade missiles and other things. Bond driving a tank through Moscow and adjust his tie or Bond in a stock car race with a girl and embarrass his enemies.

Top 5 Deaths/Kills

1. Bond stabbing Raoul Silva with a knife in the back-Skyfall

2. Tatiana Romanova shooting Rosa Klebb in the chest-From Russia with Love

3. Bond dropping Alec Trevelyan from the top of dish as it later falls on Trevelyan-GoldenEye

4. Bond dropping Dario into the cocaine grinder-Licence to Kill

5. Bond dropping Blofeld into an industrial chimney-For Your Eyes Only

One of the moments that is expected in a Bond film is that someone has to die. Yet, it’s the villains that everyone wants to make sure are put in their place. Silva’s death in Skyfall is an example that if all else fails, throw a knife in the back to bring him in down. Rosa Klebb’s death is definitely memorable for the fact that she almost kills Bond only to be shot by Romanova in the heat of the moment. Trevelyan’s death is definitely the most elaborate as is Blofeld’s death in For Your Eyes Only as he begs for his life. The most gruesome is the henchman Dario as he falls into a cocaine grinder.

Top 5 Bond Locations

1. Shanghai-Skyfall

2. Miami-Goldfinger

3. Venice-From Russia with Love

4. Japan-You Only Live Twice

5. Nassau-Casino Royale

Another aspect of the Bond film that always keeps the audience are the locations. Whether it’s those posh hotels such as the Fountainbleu Hotel in Miami or the beaches in Nassau. There’s Venice where Bond is on the gondola with Romanova or in Japan where Bond is entranced by the world and learns how to be Japanese. And of course, the array of bright colored lights that surrounds Bond in his fight with Patrice in Skyfall.

Well, that is it for the marathon. 23 official films. 3 documentaries. Two unofficial films and one TV episode. It’s been a wild ride exploring the evolution of James Bond. Yet, it’s one of the reasons why the franchise has been so enduring. It always finds a way to be fresh for the times as it always deflates the question about its relevancy in the world. As long as there’s bad guys around, James Bond will be there to fight for the good of the world. After all, it’s time to say goodbye for now as we’ll return to the world of Bond when Bond 24 will come out. Until then…

Part 1

© thevoid99 2012


peeueep said...

Thanks for your AMAZING blog !!!

Chris said...

Epic post man. Bardem as the best Bond villain, I hadn't really thought about it until seeing your list, a bold choice. He sure is a good baddie(No Country for old men is more proof) and he's an excellent actor!
C. Lee I always thought was really sinister and a perfect Bond villain.

David said...

Love those lists,Man! Lists that can only be made by die-hard Bond fan like you!

thevoid99 said...

@peeueep-You're welcome.

@Chris-It was hard trying to make it into something that could've been big or small. It wasn't an easy post-mortem. I'm just glad it's over.

@David-You're welcome. Now let's see how the next Bond film will fare.