From Russia With Love (1963 Britain)

You don’t review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them according to how well they meet expectations. Today, the Bond franchise is second only to Star Wars in value, and second only to Godzilla in number of films. It’s MGM’s mainstay, and its title role is among the most coveted in the British film industry. But at the beginning, it was far from clear that it would be this way. Dr. No, while hardly a flop, was also less than a resounding success. It did decent box office, but reviews were mixed, and Ian Fleming himself was reported to be somewhat unhappy with the result. If the second Bond wasn’t an improvement, the series might not have continued much longer. But From Russia with Love was better, in practically every way, an interesting fact considering that it had the same director and leading man. [Read more…]

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You Only Live Twice (1967 US/UK)

As I watched “You Only Live Twice,” I developed a nostalgia for many scenes that made the older Bond films work so well. One of the great things about “You Only Live Twice” is that it has the confidence to be quiet. Take Bond’s conversation with Henderson (Charles Gray). Bond walks into Henderson’s home, he asks his contact a few questions, an interesting conversation between the men ensues and then Henderson freezes. Someone threw a knife into his back. “North by Northwest,” also has a man unable to reveal a crucial piece of info because he is suddenly killed. And you know what? Between you, me and the gate post, these scenes never get tired/worn. They are what separates the old world of film from the new. [Read more…]

The First Great Train Robbery (1979 UK)

first-great-train-robbery-6 During the 1950s, censors in most countries either forbade or strongly discouraged films which glamourized crime, but the relaxation of censorship in the 1960s lead to the emergence of a new genre – the “heist” movie. These were films which told the story of a robbery from the viewpoint of the criminals, and were generally light-hearted in tone. “The Thomas Crown Affair” & “The Italian Job”, both from the late 60s are good examples of this immoral form of story telling. “The First Great Train Robbery” fits into this category, although it was unusual in having a period setting and in being based, albeit loosely, on a real-life event. [Read more…]

The Man Who Would Be King (1975 UK)

man The greatest “buddy film” of all time. What makes this so? Firstly, casting two real life friends, Sean Connery and Michael Caine. Second, other “buddy films” are comedies. And while the Man Who Would Be King has some laughs in it, Connery and Caine bounce off of each other almost as good as Pete n Dud. The story itself is a drama. And what a drama it is! [Read more…]

Diamonds Are Forever (1971 United States)

diamondsmustang5rg7.303What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, probably. After seeing this, oh so many moons ago, I have to admit to being severely stirred but never shaken. Almost every line hits you with naughty double meanings. Then just when you think you are in a smutty comedy it turns very sinister, not to mention surreal. This uses camp to pad out the lack of action. [Read more…]

DR NO (Britain 1962)

qiiZK2WbtupSSq9TaM57ZtnYH4nIn the beginning was the word and the word was Bond. Here is the genesis of cinematic style over substance. “Dr. No” is incredibly dated but it has a unique, naive quality. There’s no tongue-in-cheek self-awareness here, this is the first glimpse that audiences had of all the different themes that would develop in the series. [Read more…]

MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS (1974 Britain)

murder-on-the-orient-express-trailer-titleRecently I have been so kind in these reviews that I have been bending over backwards (!). Why am I being so nice about them? I’d like to think that I am a man/woman of the world but where is my inner bitch?! I need to let hymn/her off the leash…The pace of the story was so slow that I continually ‘nodded off’, much to the horror of my wife, who had to keep pausing the dvd and skipping back to earlier scenes so that I could keep up. She couldn’t believe it. [Read more…]

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