Hello and incandescent greetings of mirth and whimsy and zeitgeists! Once again I am taking to the ether of the interwebs to start a series that will truly test the limits of patience among most carbon-based lifeforms, several recliners, and most commemorative spoon collections that were collected after 1974. Yes, I am challenging myself to fill more bandwidth than humanly thought possible. Or possibly thought human. Or thoughts that were possible for humans. The fact that you are reading this far tells me that you certainly have enough free time. That alone may make you able to withstand the sheer onslaught of what I am proposing.
Back in the day, when Ted Turner owned everything and we were glad he did, the Turner Broadcasting System or TBS or the SuperStation broadcast something that changed my life and the life of many others: The Seven Days of 007. Here, Teddy T outdid his previous genius programming that consisted of more Atlanta Braves games than you could shake a tomahawk at, endless reruns of Full House, and of course, showing The Dirty Dozen and The Blues Brothers in a constant loop.
It turns out that Ted figured out that showing a week of James Bond movies would definitely fill up the programming schedule, freeing him up to locate more episodes of One Day At A Time that were thought to be previously and thankfully lost to entertainment science.
It worked! And back in those wonderful days of VHS, I taped every single one of those flicks. Turner aired them all over the week. Well, all of the ones he could once ABC gave up the broadcasting rights film after film. I remember the first marathon couldn’t go chronologically past Moonraker and then after ABC aired For Your Eyes Only, that film all of a sudden became part of the TBS 007 marathon the next time around. Hmmmm…coincidence? Read the book.
So being a fan of the series and having watched every Bond film since 1987 in a first run theater, I like to think of myself as somewhat knowledgeable about Bond. I have all the soundtracks and listen to them to improve my driving skills. I have posters, books, autographed pictures, more books, more posters, and of course the wonderful N64 GoldenEye game where I can make everyone have big heads and I never run out of ammo. I taped the movies. I bought the VHS tapes of the movies. I bought the DVDs of the movies. I bought the double disc Special Edition DVDs of the movies. I bought the Blu-rays that had the same contents of the double disc DVDs. I have framed Bond movie laserdiscs hanging on walls.
I have an unopened pack of Moonraker bubble gum cards.
With all this being said, I am going to try the impossible and rank every single James Bond movie from the worst to the best. I will do this every day through to Christmas for no real reason whatsoever. This will include every single 007 movie from the “official” EON productions as well as the upstart films included. Yes, this is a writing exercise to be sure, but believe you me, I shall edit and rewrite as much as I normally do with my other posts. You can stop snickering now. Thank you and as always, you are welcome.
Oh, by the way: I will not be including the 1954 telecast of Casino Royale for two reasons: 1) Life is short and you shouldn’t watch this, let alone read what I write about it and 2) It is below the worst films on this list. Even the bad ones have a good theme song or stunt at some point. This has a very good Peter Lorre against “Jimmy” Bond? Ye gods. Although it is better than The Man with the Golden Gun…
Well, let’s get started. No matter how successful a series is over the course of 50+ years, there has to be a clunker every now and then. This can be for a variety of reasons: plot, actors, music, plot, not aging well, and of course, plot. I don’t expect much from a Bond beyond excitement, stunts, and a plot that I only question after numerous viewings. The formula has worked more than it hasn’t with the Bond series, but when it hasn’t worked…you get our first entry, coming in at the bottom of the barrel, A View To A Kill.
Now there are far worse things in life than having to get through a bad Bond film. Nothing springs to mind at the moment, but I’m sure there are. First things first, let’s get something out of the way: Roger Moore. I know he isn’t everyone’s cup of tea as Bond and perhaps his Bond outings haven’t aged the best, but he did star in seven of these damn things, they all made money, and basically the only reason he didn’t star in an 8th is because Roger said, “No, old chap. I am aging faster than mozzarella left on a dashboard in Phoenix over the 4th of July weekend.”
Roger, oddly enough, was always a great cheerleader for the series, having given numerous interviews and writing three books on his Bond experiences. He even managed to make a couple of quite entertaining ones. Sadly, A View To A Kill is not one of them.
I think the film’s biggest failure is that it tries to get one more squeeze out of the udder, but the cow is almost dry, to use a horrible farm image. Roger was 57 years old at the time of filming and was beyond long in the tooth for this sort of thing. The ladies he pairs up with are at least 3 decades younger than him and it is rather frightening how pulled back his features are to remove wrinkles. He seems to constantly have a look of wide-eyed surprise, probably because he is back for yet another Bond outing.
Looking far more natural is the always welcome Patrick Macnee as Bond’s sidekick in the first part of the movie. Seeing the Saint and John Steed together in a movie would be far more interesting than A View To A Kill and is something of missed opportunity.
So many wonderful henchmen over the course of the series: Oddjob, Jaws, Irma Bunt, Gobinda, May Day. Yeah, one of these things is not like the other. So we go from Richard Kiel to…Grace Jones? Just when you thought that some giant with metal teeth seemed ludicrous, the Bond producers up that ante tenfold. Fresh off of her role in Conan the Destroyer, Ms. Jones is cast as the most unlikely Bond henchperson since the producers thought that Hervé Villechaize was a good casting idea. One rewarding thing is that she does not sing. Another point is that she dragged her then boyfriend along to the shoot and he managed to get a blink-and-you’ll miss it cameo in the film. But hey, Dolph Lundgren had to get a start somewhere.
For the most part, the role of the Bond girl has been a thankless one over the years. Sure, there are some standouts: Diana Rigg, Honor Blackman, Michelle Yeoh. But Tanya (The Beastmaster) Roberts is not one of them. Over the years I’ve been forced to believe that Denise Richards is a nuclear scientist and Britt Ekland is a British secret service field agent, but Tanya Roberts as a geologist is beyond stretching the edges of imagination. That plus the fact she was 28 years younger than Moore, had as much charisma as a Barbie Deluxe Styling Head, and screamed “James!” every time she was in trouble, didn’t really endear her to the world of the self-sufficient Bond leading ladies.
The plot is odd as well, starting as it does with a great snowboarding stunt that is ruined by a Beach Boys cover song. Apparently, our lead bad guy has developed a microchip that is impervious to the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) that comes from a nuclear explosion. It is then shown that he is stockpiling these microchips, presumably to hold them to bidders after detonating atmospheric nukes, right? Uh, no. The main plot is actually about destroying Silicon Valley. Uh, what? Then again, our main villain is revealed to be a psychotic, so something this ludicrously stupefying fits the M.O. (Fortunately, ten years later the plot device of a controlled EMP and the technology that can withstand it was used in GoldenEye to much better effect.)
If it appears that I’m being hard on this movie, you’re very perceptive. And as long as I’m wading in this pool of resentment, here are some minor points to consider:
The score, despite the rather good theme song from Duran Duran, is rather lackluster from John Barry. Then again Barry’s scores post-Connery were rather unremarkable as a whole. After listening for a while, I am practically begging to hear the “every action film score is the same” music of Michael Kamen or the disco-fueled Marvin Hamlisch.
Bonds that are based in the United States for the most part never work as well as other locations. I will probably never make it to India or the Bahamas, but I could theoretically drive to San Francisco, if I lost a bet. I just hope they never set a Bond movie in Milwaukee because I don’t think I could take that much drunken reality.
I’m supposed to believe that James Bond can bake a perfect quiche? Roger’s Bonds always had him be overly knowledgeable about certain things, I suppose as a continuing joke, but this is another reason to hate this movie. Can you imagine Sean Connery constructing a delightful egg-white omelet with shallots?
May Day switches allegiance to Bond very late in the movie, but I still don’t care. I’m also supposed to believe that she is super strong despite being about 110 pounds and 6 foot 4, but I still don’t care. Frankly, her kicking Roger’s behind at his age is nothing impressive. A firm hug could shatter him like a balsa wood model ship.
Wow. I didn’t think I could be this put off by an entry in my favorite series, but I am. I didn’t even mention the Golden Gate Bridge fight that involves a blimp or how Christopher Walken’s dyed blonde range in the movie goes from lightly psychotic to very psychotic. Or the stereotypical and laughable ex-Nazi scientist that is involved in genetics. Or the fire truck chase that tries to ape Bullitt, but as it is dark outside, it fails to excite much. Or how Tanya Roberts can’t duck or even bother to notice that huge loud blimp behind her until it is too late. But now it looks like I did mention all these, so never mind.
Is watching A View To A Kill the worst thing in the world? I suppose after watching Spielberg’s A.I., no it is not. But it is really close. However think of it this way: the Bonds only get better from here! Right? I hope? Now that’s positive!