Friday, 16 May 2014

Faded Glories, The Motion Picture.

I didn't watch Eurovision so I just caught up with Conchita Wurst's performance and all I could think was "Hmm, that sounds a lot like a Bond theme to me." Then I started wondering if a trans Bond Girl would be a step forward, a step sideways or simply a tragic example of assimilation and sexualization. Which made me realize that I need to finish up these reviews and get this franchise out of my head once and for all. Seriously. It stopped being fun a long time ago.

Having said that, they really should get Wurst to do the next Bond theme.

So on with A View To A Kill, a film which caused a faint bleached sadness to consume me. At this point, the producers were desperate to try to make Bond feel up to date and relevant (without spending any more money) while realizing that nostalgia was the main reason people still watched them. The result is a plastic eighties gloss that has dated very badly. Blacklight and Spandau Ballet were both lucky to get fifteen minutes of fame before everyone realized that both were serious migraine triggers. Why did the mysterious forces of pop-culture insist that a women needed to be at least 20% hair to be an acceptable heroine? It was a strange time and the worst is that we're moving into an era that I dimly remember but can't quite believe I actually experienced. Because real people never actually look like the ones on film, the eighties is one of the few periods in which reality actually looked better. Still I can't see the bubble perm making a comeback.

Remembering that recruiting cast members from The Avengers had worked well for them before, they got Patrick Macnee in a supporting role, presumably to find someone who looked even more past it than their star. This may have backfired a little as he contributes to the feeling of better days past they were trying to avoid and he seems enthusiastic. Which is a lot more than could be said for Roger Moore who apparently hated the film, hated being older than his leading lady's mother and is visibly scared of Grace Jones during their sex scene together. Grace Jones is pretty much the film's sole virtue. Her line readings are terrible but so is the dialogue and she's always enjoyable to watch. She and Christopher Walken are superhuman but sociopathic products of a Nazi breeding experiment to create uber-babies by injecting pregnant mothers with vast amounts of steroids (no, this would not work). He has a plan involving a microchip that's been hardened against the Russians setting off an EMP pulse (pay attention, this plot point will recur in later films) and flooding Silicon Valley to get a monopoly on said microchips. This feels like a bit of a comedown, what happened to the crazed villains who wanted to destroy the world?

Almost everyone in the film looks tired, grumpy and like they just wanted to get it over with (as indeed do I). I shall cheer myself up by looking at photos of the spectacular hotness of young Christopher Walken before moving on.
Grace Jones kicks Christopher Walken's stunt double in the face.
Grace Jones' career as an aerobics instructor reaches it's inevitable conclusion.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Tears of a clown.

No matter how hard they try, camp always leaks back into the Bond films. In this case, by naming the film Octopussy and making the title character a beautiful jewel thief and head of a cult of amazon circus performers, camp doesn't so much leak as gush back into the series. Also Roger Moore defuses a nuclear bomb while dressed as a sad clown (literally).

This is one of the Bond's where the theme song doesn't try to incorporate the film's title, although it is pretty bad. Octopussy herself starts out as a villain but has a thing for Bond because he let her father kill himself. There seemed to be nothing that Bond could do that the screenwriters wouldn't see as a reason for women to fall in love with him. Despite her apparent strength, she suffers badly from love interest incompetence. She seems to be doing quite well until Bond is nearby, at which point she becomes helpless and needs saving. I thought I'd seen her somewhere before and I had, Maud Adams was also in The Man With The Golden Gun as the girlfriend Christopher Lee murders. Fun fact: Octopussy was originally supposed to be Indian but the British film industry couldn't actually pull up more than two Indian actresses at the time.

The finale sees the Octopus Cult (non-religious) storm the baddies palace using a mixture of belly dancing, circus skills and the best in early 80s ladies kickboxing. It's not as much fun as it sounds though. By this point, the creative team were aware of the film's destiny; to be watched by bored families on Saturday afternoons when there was nothing else on. There's a strong feeling of pre-nostalgia that's oddly heightened by having Bond bring Q into the field for no better reason than to give the people more Desmond Llewelyn face time. Despite being in direct competition with the unofficial Bond, Never Say Never Again, it still managed to make a bunch of money but not as much For Your Eyes Only. It was clear that it wasn't just the creative returns that were diminishing.
Bond (dressed as a sad clown with an axe) is restrained by several air force men who don't believe there's a nuclear bomb nearby.
Nobody loves an axe wielding clown.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

The eyes are fine but what about my ears?

The 1980s were not kind to Bond. For over a decade the Bond films were the biggest thing going but now Hollywood was doing the same thing but bigger. As delightful as I find Moonraker's miniature shots, they did look static and old-fashioned next to Star Wars. Indiana Jones was directly inspired by Lucas and Spielberg wanting to do Bond but more fun and they pretty much succeeded. For better or worse, the modern effects blockbuster had been born and next to them the Bond films looked kind of shabby, more like an upscale episode of Dempsey & Makepeace than the kind of spectacle America was producing. It would take a decade to catch up, a decade of terrible soft-rock theme songs.

For Your Eyes Only is notable for two things. It's the first time the Russians are actually the bad guys. Despite the series reputation as a Cold War artefact the Russians are almost never the bad guys, it had always been SPECTRE in the early films and a series of billionaire mad scientist after them. You could actually make a case for Bond as anti-capitalist as evil billionaires are the most common type of Bond villain, right up to the Daniel Craig years.

More importantly, it's the only Bond film where the titles actually feature the person singing. Shirley Bassey didn't get honoured that way. Tina Turner didn't get honoured that way. Yet Sheena Easton singing the most hideous piece of treacly 80's sentimentality this side of Whitney Houston gets immortalized amidst the bubbling water, spinning guns and silhouetted nudity that was already a much parodied cliché by this point. Come back Lulu, all is forgiven (actually no don't, it isn't).

Having realized they'd gone as camp as they could get away with last time, the producers softly reboot here and try to make Bond a serious secret-agent here but they decided not to recast, which makes it a fairly hollow attempt as Roger Moore is inherently camp. The idea that all young woman want an sophisticated father figure to treat them like a little girl and introduce them to boning was still a cultural meme at the time and the incredible creepiness of this viewed today makes me realize how long ago the 80s really were. I can't quite believe I lived through this era but apparently I did. Otherwise the film is a boring attempt to recapture the early days so you can almost believe your watching From Russia With Love, Thunderball or On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Mostly though, the emphasis on "exotic" locations makes it look like the kind of holiday programme that has thankfully died out in the modern era. But it made a ton of money so the series chundered on as must I. Courage friends, not much longer.
The helicopters real, the front of the warehouse is a forced perspective model. Now you know.
Sadly, this is as Thunderbirds as it gets.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Miniature perfection.

Moonraker is clearly my favourite Bond film by a long way because it knows what it's main draw is. Long, lingering close-ups of stunningly beautiful models, lit and filmed with obsessive love to produce the most ravishing images possible.
A space shuttle dips it's wings below the glowing curve of the Earth.
What kind of model were you expecting?
If you've a weakness for old-school effects work, Moonraker is an almost indecently enjoyable film.
A space shuttle on the back of a plane, flying through murky clouds.
THUNDERBIRDS
Space shuttle above the glowing curve of the Earth, facing the moon.
ARE
A fleet of tiny looking shuttles approaching a faintly spidery space station, crouched above the curve of the Earth, the sun between it's legs.
FUCKING
The space station, shuttles and tiny little astronauts and THEY'RE HAVING A LASER BATTLE! I need a lie down now.
GO!!! Oh god yes!
If you're a fan of original storylines however, the film is a dismal failure. The bad guy is a rich megalomaniac who wants to wipe out humanity and repopulate the world with his carefully chosen minions and WHERE HAVE WE HEARD THAT STORY BEFORE? Could it have been the film immediately before this one? Yes, yes it could. As the novel had nothing to do with space travel and Star Wars had been a big hit, they just recycled the plot of The Spy Who Loved Me but in space instead of underwater. This is also where the series collapses into puns so bad that they're not even puns anymore: "Look after Mr Bond, see that some harm comes to him." THAT'S NOT A PUN.

At least this villain remembers that he'll need breeding pairs to produce a new master race of genetically perfect humans. The film has a romantic montage were we see these couples flying into space, smiling tenderly at each other. I remind you that all of these people are OK with genocide on a scale the Nazis never even tried for.

I realize I forgot to discuss ableism in the series with regards to Jaws, the giant henchman who gives fatal hickeys with his alarmingly blunt looking metal teeth, continuing the series correlation of physical difference and evil. His Wile E Coyote impression had been so popular in The Spy Who Loved Me that they brought him back for this one and had him converted to good by the love of a bespectacled Alpine maid.

Worried that I might be frightened by him when I first saw this film, my mother hastened to reassure me that he was "a gentle giant in real life". As a child I believed that anything alliterative was true and anything said by my mum was true. So this was like double true. As result, I grew up thinking that anyone over six and a half feet tall must be kindly and sweet-natured. Apparently I wasn't the only one. When Richard Kiel did in-person appearances in the 80's he often had trouble moving due to the number of small children who attached themselves to his legs.

We also have an evil Japanese henchman who tries to kill Bond with his evil Kendo, in a morally neutral glassblowing museum because what else would happen in such a place.

Feminism was just on the cusp of it's influence before the backlash so we get an only slightly wooden Lois Childs as one of Bond's most capable heroines. She's Bond's CIA counterpart and their hooking up seems to be mutually regarded as the spy equivalent of a fling at a business conference. Her skills are just as vital to the mission as his and she actually looks old enough to have them. She's Bond's equal in more ways than one.
Our heroine winds up for a punch so telegraphed the Victorians see it coming.
I can fight as stiffly and awkwardly as any man.
As this is a Bond film she's still stuck being called Holly Goodhead but you can't have everything. Titles are full of dry ice and trampolining women and the song is mostly memorable for being a tender ballad sung by Shirley Bassey. It's like hearing a gong try to croon.

This marks the end of the Thunderbirds Are Go period of Bond. The series would never be this enjoyably camp again (camp yes, but not enjoyably). Shit. This is only the halfway point. I've still got another 11 of these fuckers to write and I haven't even watched Skyfall yet. Why did I think this was a good idea? I feel very cold.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Transgender Day Of Remembrance.

It's a bitterly cold night out which seems appropriate. Another long list of people who are dead now and shouldn't be, killed mostly by ignorant bigots who don't know how much they're letting their dysfunction show and reported by media with a startling lack of anything resembling decency. IS the list shorter this year? It can never be short enough and it's always incomplete. It doesn't include all the people who are harried into the grave, who kill themselves in despair or die from neglect and poverty. We will never know how many have really died. I don't believe in blessings or prayers but I say them anyway because.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Love was a euphemism in the seventies.

It's disquieting that this blog has spent the year preoccupied with something as crap as Bond films, it was never meant to take this long. But it's too late to go back my darlings, that way lies only madness, the abyss and toupees. We must go on.

On to The Spy Who Loved Me or to give it's full title, The Spy Who Loved Me Five Times In One Night If You Know What I Mean And I Think You Do. This is where the series penchant for innuendo comes to a gushingly wet climax. I thought the theme song had a double meaning but listening to it properly it really just has a single meaning. It's just short of three minutes of Carly Simon swooning over Bond's magic sex powers which have ruined her forever for all other lovers, contriving to sound as if he only just got finished. The titles accompany this with "tastefully" naked woman cavorting in soft focus with big, hard guns that could go off at any minute.

Feminism was becoming a force in pop culture at this time and the Bond films responded with a mix of self-determined woman and soothing sexism. It doesn't matter that Major Anya Amasova has her own back story, motivations and character arc. She's still codenamed Agent Triple X, she still doesn't really get any action of her own if you don't count occasional druggings and she's still going to have to fall in love with Bond, even though he killed the man she loved literally a couple of days before they meet and spends most of their time together patronizing her rigid. At the films climax she is forced to don a skimpy cocktail dress and tied to a chair till it's all over. Barbara Bach is convincing when annoyed and less convincing when required to be in love. She would later describe Bond as "a chauvinist pig who uses girls to shield him from bullets".

This is the consolatory fantasy Bond offers the nervous male ego. Yes, there will be woman who are intimidatingly intelligent, capable and maybe even full on asskicking but even if you must kowtow to them in real life, your fantasy alter-ego can still be incredibly condescending to them and still get them to fall for him and forget this silly nonsense about being independent because really, they're lost without you. Woman are not just strong but also soft and disposable, like high quality toilet paper.

The condescending thing is interesting as Bond ends up sounding extremely catty. In fact, this film represents heterosexual camp at it's most flaming culminating in the comedy version of the theme song that plays over the credits, making it sound like he took some time after exhausting Carly Simon to pleasure the cast of It Ain't Half Hot Mum. Racism levels remain moderately high with almost the entire population of Egypt played by white people.

Fortunately the film contains all the things I like most in a Bond film. Terrible puns, fabulous old school effects that don't quite seamlessly integrate models and live action,
A futuristic (in a retro sort of way) seabase that is clearly a model, rises from the split screen effect that integrates a plate of the real ocean.
THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!

and a mad scientist trying to destroy the world so he can establish his perfect underwater society which wouldn't last long as he doesn't seem to have any woman on staff.

TSWLM also has lots of my favourite thing of all: Roger Moore trying to fight. Watching him do this is a joy that will never stale for me. His physicality is that of a man too embarrassed to tell his much younger wife that he's no longer up to doubles tennis with the Barrington-Smythes. It's not really an age thing, I doubt Roger Moore could ever have been accused of being rugged. Those early knitwear adverts took their toll.
Bond and Agent XXX are in the back of a van. He is saying something patronizing and she is looking annoyed.
Actually, I'm vain because the song really is about me.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

I've achieved a thing.

I've now done more posts today than I did in the whole of last year. Admittedly this one is kind of cheating but still.

Isn't gold too soft a metal for effective ballistic use?

The Man With The Golden Gun is where I started to relax into the sheer stupidity of the Moore-era Bonds. The bad puns, the ridiculous plots, the model shots, the incredibly stiff fight scenes, it's all a soothing balm to my nerves. They continue to be problematic to put it mildly but I'm now having fun with it. The most notable thing about this film is it's theme song, the worst so far and a strong contender for worst ever. This was an era in which Lulu was considered acceptable in a way that she never would be again.

As for the rest, we've got Christopher Lee and his third nipple, an unwelcome reappearance by Sheriff JW Pepper and a return to Asia as You Only Live Twice was really popular. The difference between Japan and Hong Kong is one the filmmakers are a bit hazy about. The important thing is, it's exotic. My attention was drifting at this point and I mostly viewed the film through a haze. The thing I remember most clearly was trying to work out who the hot bad guy at the evil martial arts school reminded me of. Eventually I realized it was Josie Long which is strange as she's not male, Asian or a skilled martial artist and assassin. At least as far as I know.

There's actually quite a few cute guys in the background, that and a couple of karate expert nieces and some lovely model shots was enough to make the film sort of fun for me.
A plane on a beach in a secluded cove is shot by a laser weapon and explodes. It's a pretty sweet miniature.
THUNDERBIRDS ARE GO!
I realize that I've not talked about one of the key elements of Bond films, mainly chronic ableism. The general attitude of Bond films to the disabled is that although it's sad, the best thing is to humanely destroy them before they can become the henchman to a supervillain. Here it's the 3'11" Hervé Villechaize as Nick Nack who is given all the dignity the name implies.
Nick Nack wearing only shiny black shorts and wielding a trident, stands over a prone Bond. A sumo wrestler looks on.
Which member of the cabinet pays a small fortune to recreate this scene in a brothel on Chelsea Road?

White man's burden.

I think my resentment of Connery's Bond is that he's a local boy so I've both known and disliked a lot of guys who were like him if he hadn't become rich and famous. It's a little embarrassing that we've made a national hero out of someone whose gone on record with his belief that slapping women around is just fine and dandy.

Which may be why I prefer Roger Moore. Sure, he's a disgusting old Tory but he's also a perfect gentleman. You sense that he's never even punched anyone and attempts at making his Bond a cold-blooded killer never quite convince. Underneath the debonair façade there's an undercurrent of both faint embarrassment at his lack of physical conviction and gratitude that he hasn't had to resort to seducing old society ladies to make a living.

Onto the film which is the most racist thing still being regularly shown on Saturday afternoons. The film thinks a group of black people just standing around is worthy of an ominous musical sting and that we'll be stunned with surprise when a black man turns out to be a CIA agent and not evil after all. He will help Bond save his poor, weak-willed peers from themselves. There's a bitter irony about depicting seventies-era CIA agents trying to prevent drugs from flooding the inner cities.

At the end the villain is punished for both his evil and sleeping with white women by being inflated and popped like a balloon (Bond has already made off with his girlfriend). This effect was the first done on the series by Derek Meddings who was at the time best known for his work on Thunderbirds. He would go on to do the fabulous miniatures in the rest of the seventies-era Bonds as well as Superman, Krull and Batman. What I'm saying is that this isn't his finest hour. Or anyone else's.
Dr Kananga, caught mid-inflation, rises from the water.
Actually this was originally filmed for a public information film on the dangers of circular breathing.

Boys Beware.

No amount of weed would make me happy about having another Connery Bond to get through but never mind. Diamonds Are Forever is the first semi-reboot of the series and they pulled out all the stops to try and get back to what people wanted from Bond films so in addition to Connery we get a theme song sung by Shirley Bassey, a title sequence that could appear on Indifferent Cats in Amateur Porn and not one but two  evil homosexual assassin duos. An increasingly frowsty Connery slouches through the film with a slightly annoyed expression like an ageing primate who knows that someday soon a younger wannabe alpha will challenge him for his harem. Although not really younger but we'll get to that.

The film starts with Bond, annoyed at the murder of his wife hunting down Blofeld again. I think Bond films gave an entire generation an unrealistic view of plastic surgery. By this point, Blofeld's had his face done so often he should look somewhere between Jocelyn Wildenstein and late period Michael Jackson but instead he looks like Charles Gray who doesn't seem to enjoy the role as much as Donald Pleasance and Telly Savalas did. Blofeld has a plot to use a bunch of diamonds to build a solar powered death ray in space and the ropey old school effects still bring joy to my shrivelled little heart.
A slightly unconvincing model satellite shoots a pinkish red laser beam while hovering above the curve of the earth.
Turned out I'm not the first one to make the crazy diamond joke.

This is one of the more misogynistic Bond films. There's less rape but every women in it is devious, untrustworthy and self-serving which might at least suggest they had some agency if they weren't also dimwitted bimbos. Even Bambi and Thumper the faintly lesbian coded assassins who have a strange scene where they beat the shit out of Bond but he then easily defeats them. This is one of the earliest examples of women doing a bunch of needless acrobatics during a fight scene, I made a note for my unwritten paper Fight Choreography for Female Action Characters in Western Cinema.

The film suffers particularly badly from the series main problem, people demand a gritty, serious Bond film but actually mostly like a silly, campy Bond film. DAF tries to be both by switchbacking between the two modes so fast the audience gets whiplash. It's not very successful (artistically, the film made plenty money).

But I have yet to discuss our main evil homosexuals, the genuinely creepy Mr Wint and Mr Kidd. They are pretty much every homophobic stereotype at once, the film doesn't have time to show them preying on young boys but the audience is pretty sure that's the sort of thing they get up to offscreen. Fortunately for Bond, while they're great at sneaky violence, being sissies they're hopeless in a fight (unlike lesbian gymnasts) and can be humiliatingly and painfully despatched at the end. The heterosexuals win and Connery sees out his time as Bond with maximum smugness. Actually he did the unofficial Bond Never Say Never Again a few years later but I couldn't be arsed watching that. Frankly that's one toupee again I never want to see again.
Mr Wint makes an exaggerated face of surprise and discomfort while Connery gurns behind him.
At least I have the dignity of  a warrior's death.

There's something about chickens.

I greeted On Her Majesty's Secret Service with relief, knowing that Sean Connery wouldn't be in it. Sadly, he's back in the next one but for now we've got a new Bond, George Lazenby in his one and only outing. Revisionist types sometimes try to make an argument that he was really quite good although this is a tricky argument as he's terrible. So terrible he's actually quite endearing.

The Lazenby Bond actually reminds me of some sporty, upper middle to upper class boys I used to know. Rugby captain at school, rowing at uni and now a regional judo champ. Basically sweet-natured but totally oblivious to his own privilege and the needs of others so will eternally vote Conservative. Best talked to kindly but firmly. With his plentiful chin and smart-casual wardrobe there's more than a faint hint of Alan Partridge as well. The films absurd plot involves the villain using innocent débutantes as bioweapons under the pretext of curing their allergies. Bond, of course, sleeps with as many of them as possible to prove what a stud he is. Unconvincing bedroom farce ensues.

Happily after scoring a success by casting Honor Blackman in Goldfinger, the producers decided to cast the next former Avengers cast member that became available so we get Diana Rigg who brings needless amounts of complexity to her portrayal of the poor little rich girl who steals Bond's heart. She even gets her own fight scene, mostly because she's Diana Rigg. This is the most convincing action scene in the movie as, unlike the others, it hasn't been sped up by undercranking the camera, a technique that audiences of the time were familiar with from The Benny Hill Show.

There's also Irma Bunt, an older female character whose essentially Klebb-lite, she's just a battleaxe and not a bitterly sadistic old lesbian. She does get to be the one who fridges Diana Rigg at the end though and she doesn't get tracked down and killed by Bond in the next film for doing it although that was because Ilse Steppat who played her, died four days after OHMSS was released.

Rounding out the film's meagre pleasures are Telly Savalas having a very good time playing Blofeld and more beautiful alpine scenery than you can shake a stick at. Also chickens feature heavily in the villains evil plan, I can't quite remember why.
Diana Rigg wields a broken bottle against an orange suited henchman. A rather nice view of the alps is visible through a window behind her, it's probably just a backdrop though..
Ms Rigg displays the contract negotiation skills she learnt on The Avengers

A piranha tank is a useful conversation piece in any home.

Finally a Bond film I actually enjoyed. It's not that I want to live in a world of heavy sexism and offhand racism but I do want to live in a hollowed out volcano complete with piranha tank. Not really of course, I disapprove of having minions on political grounds and a hollowed out volcano is an unreasonably large living space for one person. As for having your enemies skeletonized by vicious carnivorous fish in a nightmare agony of flesh-ripping horror, I can't help feeling that it's in rather questionable taste. It's just fun to pretend. It's the more Garth Marenghi part of Bond that I like, as you could probably tell. I like it when it's silly and the bad guy is some incredibly rich nut job that wants to take over or destroy the world.

The title sequence is very keen on letting you know that the film will take place in Japan. The theme song is pretty decent, Nancy Sinatra was a good choice. There's also some wonderfully dinky model shots and back projection, hinting at the "Thunderbirds Are Go" joys of the 70s Bonds.
A large space capsule whose nosecone has split open to engulf a smaller space capsule.
What would Freud make of this I wonder?

The rest of the film gave me a chance to ponder how attitudes change over time. When it was made, this would have counted as surprisingly liberal for a mainstream film. Bond has interracial relationships and Japan is portrayed as an admirable culture with a bunch of clever chaps who we could learn a thing or two from. Unfortunately the film thinks Japan is admirable because it thinks Japan is a misogynists wet dream of a country where "men come first and women come second" (even I know that's not how heterosexuality works). Although some of these women may be badass it's always and only in service to the men in their lives. At one point Bond's fake wife is killed which causes him some momentary annoyance before she is replaced with another one with more or less identical characteristics, including servile devotion to the man she's assigned to love.

Also putting Sean Connery in yellowface and sending him to ninja school is a tactic that has not aged well in acceptability. Whether it causes rage or hysterical laughter may depend upon your temperament.
A soapy Bond is massaged by bikini clad attendants while the head of the Japanese secret service sits shirtless in the background as was customary at the time.
I see your women are as exotically beautiful as they are utterly interchangeable.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Underwater love.

Am I the only one who thinks Thunderball sounds like either a horrifying parasitic disease or an uncomfortable sex act performed by Hell's Angels? It gets off to an irritating start with the series first evil transvestite who promptly gets strangled by Bond with a fire poker. Remember, anyone in a dress who doesn't have a vagina is automatically evil and deserves death. Then we have Tom Jones singing about Bond's unpleasant alpha male qualities and how he apparently "strikes like Thunderball" which suggests the parasitic disease theory may be the correct one. The title sequence has a lot of scuba divers and this is something the film returns to at tiresome length. Underwater cinematography was new and exciting so we get a lot of diving scenes where if you're not paying attention it's easy to lose track of whose in what wetsuit.

I wasn't paying attention. After an early scene where Bond is nearly killed by bad guys who show up at the spa he's staying at (apparently by complete coincidence), he then blackmails the (actually blameless) nurse at the spa he's staying at into sleeping with him. For Bond compliance is every bit as good as consent and neither is terribly necessary. He does finally pull a move though and gives her a massage with a mink glove. Which made me wonder, is Bond a proto-furry? Would a mink glove massage actually be relaxing? What other kinds of massage would be relaxing and what men would I like to perform them? As I was thinking of these matters I kind of drifted away from the film and every time I drifted back it was just scuba diving.

I remember that this is the first film where Bond's magic penis fails to turn a woman to the side of virtue. This is implied to be because her red hair makes her so extra evil. Goldfinger was a redhead too. Bond films are anti-redhead. Bastards. Anyway, I rather liked her. That's all I can remember, except this film seemed to go on forever. This is the one that had the unofficial remake Never Say Never Again which I stopped thinking I'd watch after I'd seen this one on the grounds that life is finite. I ended up sticking to the Eon Bond films only.
Connery as Bond, swimming through underwater darkness in a cloud of bubbles.
This probably wasn't 93% of the film.

Whimsical musical stings and other horrors.

So on with Goldfinger. Or as Shirley Bassey likes to say it, GOOOHHHLD THING GRRR. Am I the only one who thinks the trombone bit after that sounds like the grown-ups from the Peanuts cartoons? Maybe they're the backing vocalists, they're only slightly less brassy then the dame herself. If you've ever wondered what "belting out a song" means, here's your answer. I give it an unsubtle 7 for the song and a 6 for the title sequence which is a lot like the last one but the girls are painted gold and playing dead. Not very imaginative.

 We have another evil lesbian in this one, unfortunately she's played by Honor Blackman in her prime and therefore she is reformed via Bond's magic penis. Yes, this is the Queen Mother's beloved classic, the Bond film that's supposed to be everybody's favourite and it has corrective rape as a plot device, presumably making this the Queen Mother's favourite rape scene. Had you noticed there's something terribly wrong with the world?

As the scene plays out, Bond comes onto her, she says she's not interested, he grabs her and they judo flip each other accompanied by the orchestra doing the kind of noises you associate with competing fairy godmothers doing something silly in a Disney film. Bear in mind that this is a woman trying to fight off a sexual assault. He eventually pins her, she struggles, the orchestra changes to a love theme and she decides that she really likes it. She likes it so much that this hardened mercenary who was quite comfortable devastating the world economy a moment ago suddenly decides to turn herself in.

So that's the horrifying example of rape culture taken care of, how are we for racism? We're doing pretty well thank you, the character of Oddjob is a classic example of the "exotic" type of stock minor villain, complete with constipated facial expressions and hat of death.

I know it was a different time but why are we still showing this stuff every Saturday afternoon? Couldn't we show kids something with less dubious messages, like À l'intérieur?

Anyway I didn't find the rest of the film that memorable, it's mostly Bond as aspirational entertainment. This was when the films really started to diverge from the dour tone of the books, in terms of camp value it's uphill from here.
Sean Connery as James Bond tied to a table, about to be cut in half by a laser beam.
Sadly they turn it off.