Does James Bond Have Any Friends?

I don’t have any friends.” – James Bond in Quantum of Solace.

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Over five-plus decades have seen James Bond have many lovers and enemies. But where are his bros? He has more acquaintances than true friends. He’s got some at the MI6 office like Tanner or Robinson. I suppose Q qualifies, and Moneypenny is more of his office flirt. And what about Ronson?! The dead agent in the beginning of Skyfall. Is it just me or does James take his death somewhat personally?

Besides office mates, James has plenty of dead friendly acquaintances! Quarrel, Kerim Bey, that blonde British mountain climber, Luigi, Vijay, Tibbett, Chuck Lee (aka CIA Soft Shell Crab dude), Saunders, Mathias! I’m sure I’m leaving a few poor souls out. On second thought, who the hell wants to be BFF with James Bond?!

Let’s not forget all his frenimes either: Valentin Zukovsky, Alec Trevelyan, General Gogol, just to name a few.

So without counting on his office mates, and the rest that have gotten killed just knowing him, here are five “friends” James might hang out with:

  1. FELIX LEITER – James was best man at his wedding, and just like his best man, Felix had a tragic wedding day. So I suppose they can always have that bond. I think the Leiter actor who gave the most buddy-buddy performance was David Hedison, especially in Licence To Kill. I could totally see James and Felix partying it up in NYC if the Live And Let Die mission hadn’t gotten in the way. I don’t think James has a best friend, but Felix has to be the closest.
  2. TIGER TANAKA – I bet these two had a wild night with many “sexiful” ladies during their Japanese bath and rubdown! Tiger might be my favorite Bond ally. He’s a cool customer and seems to know everything going down from Tokyo nightlife, to slumming it in a fishing village.
  3. MILOS COLUMBO – He’s the kind of cool pal that James can call by his last name. What’s he into? Drinking ouzo out in the Mediterranean, eating pistachio nuts, and sharing girlfriends with James. Columbo is a Greek wannabe-Bond, so I can see James getting a kick out of that.
  4. JACK WADE – Pretty sure James doesn’t enjoy his company all that much. I think Wade would be the kind of pal James calls up to have beer with and listen to all of Wade’s problems with ex-wives and his gardening. Maybe after a few pints of Guinness, James won’t care that he keeps calling him Jimbo!
  5. SHERIFF J.W. PEPPER – Okay this is a bottom of the gunbarrel “friend” for James. Would he ever really want to hang out with J-Dub? Maybe James went back to Louisiana in the mood for some soul food and southern ladies. If so, I’m sure he would use John Wayne Pepper as his country fried wingman.

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Clearly his closest friend is Felix Leiter. They have a few things in common. But I do wonder about one thing… if James was best man at Felix’s wedding, who was best man at James’? Felix is no where to be found in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I don’t think either M or Q would be the best man. Which leads me to one serious best man suspect.

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Draco? Tracy’s father? Could he have pulled double wedding day duty and given her away and also been James Bond’s best man? He and James did become friendly during the courtship of Tracy. After her death, their friendship could have gotten even stronger. Or perhaps they drifted apart due to the painful memory of Tracy’s wedding day murder.

James Bond has told people that “his friends” call him James. I’m sure they do.

 

Movie Review: ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE

Is Die Hard a Christmas movie? Yes, of course it is.

Okay now that we have that out of the way, let’s get to a serious Xmas movie question. Is the underrated James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service a Christmas movie? It has Blofeld wishing 007 a Merry Christmas and includes the song “Do You Know How Christmas Trees Are Grown?” That’s so Christmassy I’m shocked OHMSS isn’t playing on Lifetime this month.

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Now that we have the real Christmas movie debate out of the way, let’s get into this whole “underrated” thing. It took decades, but the film has been recognized by Bond fans from around the world as one of the best in the entire film series. Great plot, very faithful to the Fleming novel. Terrific and memorable Bond girl and villain. Has James skiing. A killer soundtrack. So what’s holding it back? Why do causal fans forget about it? It’s that Bond movie that your friend might say: “Oh yeah! That one with that one guy who played him just that one time! What was his name again?

Can you imagine being a Bond fanatic in 1969, about to see the first ever 007 big screen adventure without Sean Connery? Had to have felt weird. More model than actor, George Lazenby had no business getting the coveted role… other than he wanted it more than the next guy. That’s pretty ballsy. Actually, that’s pretty Bondian.

 

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Bond’s coolest moment? Walking into the alpine room, surrounded by a plethora of gorgeous international women, while wearing a kilt. Your move Sean!

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? Pretending to be unathletic as he engages in some curling. 

Bond’s best line? “That’s quite an inducement – but, I don’t need a million pounds. And I have a bachelor’s taste for freedom.” As he turns down Draco’s generous offer to marry his daughter Tracy. 

Best acting performance? Diana Rigg is such a natural as Tracy. She plays suicidal, causal, fiery, romantic and tragic. One of the all-time great Bond ladies. 

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Bond’s #MeToo #TimesUp moment? Sleeping around with the ladies at the allergy clinic. Also, an easy way to blow his cover.

Worst line in the movie? “This never happened to the other fellow.” Breaking the fourth wall. The only time James has ever talked to the audience. I don’t hate it as much as others, but it does throw me off every time I hear it. 

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 76th time? Tracy steals James’ gun after they have sex. I always remembered James snatching the gun out of Tracy’s hand, then placing it in the drawer, and then in the morning finding the money she owed him in the same drawer. But no gun? I’m an idiot. 

Best action sequence? The raid on Blofeld’s HQ at Piz Gloria. I’m a sucker for a good guy army vs baddie army climax. Bond shooting a machine gun while sliding on his belly is a pretty sweet move. 

Who or what is the title song about? There isn’t a title song, but we do get John Barry’s kickass instrumental opening tune. However, later we do have Louis Armstrong’s touching “We Have All The Time In The World.” Which should be every couple’s wedding song. 

Best looking cinematic moment? James and Tracy skiing. Cinematography is really on point, and then that leads us into a dramatic ski chase with Blofeld and his henchmen.

How could the villain have succeeded? This one is on both James Bond and Ernst Starvo Blofeld. They’re both pretending to be other people all thanks to one of them wearing glasses, and the other one suddenly missing earlobes. They must already know each other and they both play this charade for far too long. 

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Give me a highly motivated Sean Connery. Sorry George, you did your best.  

Does Bond ever think he might die? When Irma Bunt and her men are chasing him through that Christmas village. When James sits down on the bench, he has a look on him that reads “done for.” And of course, Tracy saves the day. 

What would have made the movie better? Like I mentioned above, give me Sean Connery in this role and OHMSS doesn’t just become a highly underrated Bond flick. It gets mentioned as a classic on the same level as From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, etc. 

What’s in a name? Bond pretends to be Sir Hilary Bray, a genealogist from the London College of Arms. 

What’s in a title? On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is the title of an Ian Fleming. We also get a future Bond movie title in this film thanks to the Bond family motto: The World Is Not Enough.

Drinking game: Drink a glass of malt whiskey and branch water each time the words “genealogist” or “genealogy” are mentioned. 

“WTF?!” moment: I could go with Bond accidentally almost getting into bed with Irma Bunt, but I’m going to choose Bond checking out an issue of Playboy while waiting to break into Gumbold’s safe. It’s not really out of character, but it’s also not something I ever want to picture James doing.

Fun fact: George Lazenby could have signed a seven picture deal, but decided to quit after just making one because he didn’t think the character of James Bond would survive the early 1970s. The single worst entertainment career decision ever made.

Overall ranking: 8th out of 24. 

Review synopsis: George Lazenby gives it his best effort, but he’s the only thing dragging down this excellent Bond film. Having said this, I think he could have grown into the role and been quite successful. Director Peter Hunt (in his only Bond directing turn) gave us one of the most exhilarating and visually creative 007 films of all-time. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is also the most poignant in the series, until we got the Daniel Craig era 35+ years later.

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Movie Review: MOONRAKER

The idea of taking James Bond into outer space might sound ludicrous right now during the grounded era of Daniel Craig. In 1979, it was a totally different story. Smack dab in the middle of the campy Roger Moore era, and two years after the blockbuster success of Star Wars, Moonraker makes complete sense.

That’s not to say that after nearly 40 years the film still holds up. It’s definitely one of those Bond movie outliers. Producer Cubby Broccoli once said about Moonraker that he wanted “science-fact” rather than science-fiction. How about “science-entertainment”?

 

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Bond’s coolest moment? Pheasant hunting with Drax. Which also leads into his best line. More on that later.

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? Driving a gondola on the streets of Venice. And of course, leading to the infamous pigeon double take!

Bond’s best line? Drax: “You missed, Mr. Bond.” Bond: (after shooting one of Drax’s men) “Did I?” 

Best acting performance? This is a tough one. I’ll say it’s Roger Moore since he is in his Bond prime, coming off the success of The Spy Who Loved Me. 

Bond’s #MeToo #TimesUp moment? I’m gonna presume being sexually aggressive towards Manuela, while killing five hours in Rio. 

Worst line in the movie? Drax: “Dr. Goodhead, your desire to become America’s first woman in space will shortly be fulfilled.” As he opens the airlock. 

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 147th time? Roger Moore’s brief embarrassed look towards those weird Drax astro-girls after falling into the water (BP: Before Python).

Best action sequence? As goofy as it is, the space battle between the USA and Drax’s astro-army is always pretty cool to view. 

Who or what is the title song about? Shirley Bassey is singing about finding a man like Bond and wondering if he can ever be her true love. No clue what a Moonraker is! 

Best looking cinematic moment? Bond landing in Rio. In fact, most of what is shot in Rio is a feast for the eyes. 

How could the villain have succeeded? By cutting down on the elaborate ways to kill Bond. Death by G-force, python, burned from shuttle ignition, etc. 

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Like I mentioned earlier, this is prime Moore. I wouldn’t mind seeing an updated, serious version of this movie with Craig taking on an Elon Musk-type of space-obsessed villain. 

Does Bond ever think he might die? 100% when he’s going out of his mind in that g-force spinning machine of death. Moore does his best acting in this scene, especially after getting out of the contraption.

What would have made the movie better? Bring back the menacing character Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me. In this movie, Jaws is too goofy to be scary. And then making him an ally of Bond at the end, and giving him a cute (dorky?) girlfriend is beyond silly. Oh and give his girlfriend braces!!!

What’s in a name? Bond never uses different name, nor does his CIA love interest… Holly Goodhead. 

What’s in a title? Moonraker comes from the title of an Ian Fleming novel. 

Drinking game: Drink a dry vodka martini each time Jaws does something dumb. 

“WTF?!” moment: Drax’s vicious Dobermans chasing down, and killing, Corinne in the woods. It’s straight out of some 1970s horror flick.

Fun fact: This is the last Ian Fleming novel title to be made into a Bond movie until Casino Royale in 2006. Every other 007 movie title during that time is either original or from a Fleming short story. 

Overall ranking: 22nd out of 24.

Review synopsis: There’s no denying Moonraker is one of the most entertaining Bond movies ever made. From jumping out of an airplane without a parachute, to having sex in zero gravity, Moonraker really goes for it from the start until the very end. But is it a good movie? Unfortunately not really, as it tries to be too much. Beautiful locations and women, just for show, until Bond finally gets his space mission to blast off.

Preposterous? Yes. Slapstick? No doubt. Out of this world? Literally!

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Best Unused Bond Title Songs

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For every Paul McCartney, or Carly Simon, or Adele… there’s a Madonna, or Gladys Knight, or Sam Smith. Sometimes a James Bond song and artist are a perfect match. However, there have been several theme songs mistakenly rejected by the producers.

Here are 7 rejected James Bond theme songs that I believe are better than what was originally selected:

  1. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY by Blondie (rather than For Your Eyes Only by Sheena Easton; 1981)

 

2. SURRENDER by K.d Lang (rather than Tomorrow Never Dies by Sheryl Crow; 1997)

 

3. NO GOOD ABOUT GOODBYE by Shirley Bassey (rather than Another Way To Die by Alicia Keys and Jack White; 2008)

 

4. MR. KISS KISS BANG BANG by Dionne Warwick (rather than Thunderball by Tom Jones; 1965)

 

5. THE GOLDENEYE by Ace of Base (rather than Goldeneye by Tina Turner; 1995)

 

6. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN by Alice Cooper (rather than The Man With The Golden Gun by LuLu; 1974)

 

7. SPECTRE by Radiohead (rather than Writing’s On The Wall by Sam Smith; 2015)

 

 

Movie Review: THUNDERBALL

How do you top the success of Goldfinger? Bond filmmakers sure did try their best with the followup, Thunderball. To this day, Thunderball remains the all-time highest grossing James Bond movie at the box-office…adjusted for inflation of course.

The film has lost a bit of its luster over the past few decades, but there is definitely a lot of Bond bang for your buck. Sadly, this was also the start of many troubled Bond productions and Connery going from being in his prime to lazy efforts.

 

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Bond’s coolest moment? When he goes to the casino in the Bahamas. He does just enough trash talk to the villainous Largo, while still being smooth on the dance floor with Domino. A close runner-up is this scene with Fiona. 

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? Being strapped to that machine at the health clinic, that is pulling him like he’s a piece of taffy. Maybe that’s the moment Sean Connery knew he wanted out of this role ASAP!

Bond’s best line? After Domino says to him “What sharp little eyes you’ve got.” And James mutters: “Wait till you get to my teeth.

Best acting performance? Luciana Paluzzi as seductive henchwoman Fiona Volpe. She brings a real energy to the role, without every making it feel campy.

Bond’s #MeToo #TimesUp moment? First off, forcibly kissing the nurse at the health clinic. Then threatening her job, unless she has sex with him in the steam room.

Worst line in the movie? When Bond tells Moneypenny he’s going to put her over his knee for a presumed spanking, she replies with “On lemon juice and yogurt. I can hardly wait.” Yeah umm I don’t get it. 

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 84th time? When the faux-Francois skyjacks the NATO plane, and knocks out the rest of the crew with gas, literally just a few seconds earlier we see a crew member eating a sandwich. How did he get knocked out without a mask on?

Best action sequence? Bond escaping from Fiona and Largo’s men during the Junkanoo.  I guess the underwater battle at the end, but the pacing is a little off for me. 

Who or what is the title song about? Tom Jones is singing about how cool and suave and dangerous 007 is. But I think if Largo was listening to the lyrics, he would think it was about himself. 

Best looking cinematic moment? Bond on the beach with Domino. It looks half From Here To Eternity and half Caribbean postcard. She might be the best looking Bond girl ever. In fact, every lady in this looks top notch. 

How could the villain have succeeded? As usual with most of these villains, they love spending time just hanging out with James. I think Largo believes he and Bond are soul-bros. 

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? None. This is very much a Connery-Bond movie. He also seems a natural fit for all scuba scenes. He’s a great swimmer. 

Does Bond ever think he might die? There’s some real worry on his face being chased around during the Junkanoo. He’s been shot in the ankle, doesn’t really know where to go, and there’s something about Fiona’s ice cold demeanor that would scare any agent.

What would have made the movie better? Tighter editing. Cut some time off the underwater hijacking of the bombs, and also off the underwater climax. 

What’s in a name? Bond doesn’t use an alias in this, although he really should. He does some good detective work in this movie, but probably shouldn’t be telling everyone his name is James Bond.

What’s in a title? Thunderball comes from the novel by Ian Fleming. Although, Fleming allegedly took the title and much of the story from an annoying man named Kevin McClory.

Drinking game: Drink a glass of Rum Collins each time you see a shark on screen. 

“WTF?!” moment: Continuing with sharks; Sean Connery’s face when he comes face to face with one in the pool. Yeah, I don’t blame him for being pissed at the producers. By the way, while we are on the subject of sharks… how many sharks were killed during the production? 

Fun fact: The ending music on the DVD Blu Ray is not the same as in the original movie. Here’s the original:

Overall ranking: 14th out of 24. 

Review synopsis: Connery is at his charming Bond best, and director Terence Young knows how to make a film look beautiful and colorful. The leading ladies are a feast for the eyes, and Largo makes for a memorable villain. The plot lacks the importance of From Russia With Love, and the zaniness of Goldfinger, but Thunderball is a pretty solid 007 adventure.

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The Best Bond Video Game

No. Not Goldeneye. Goldeneye is too easy of an answer. Saying that Goldeneye is the best James Bond video game ever produced is like saying The Beatles are the best band ever. The answer might be true, but it’s such a lazy effort.

Goldeneye is a terrific first-person shooter game, but for me a Bond video game has to separate from the movie franchise. What about the From Russia With Love video game that gave us the return of the original (and by this time, very old-sounding) 007…Sean Connery? Love it, but it’s just a remake.

Then what about original ones such as Agent Under Fire? Nightfire? Bloodstone? 007 Legends? Not bad, but the best James Bond video game ever is Everything or Nothing!

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  • The title is so Bondian that the EON production company actually stands for this.
  • Not only does it have Pierce Brosnan voicing Bond, but also Judi Dench as M and John Cleese as Q! Who wouldn’t want Willem Dafoe as Bond villain, or Heidi Klum and Shannon Elizabeth as Bond girls? Keep in mind this is 2004. Did I mention the return of Jaws?
  • Locations? Tajikistan, Egypt, Peru, New Orleans, Moscow.
  • Plenty of gadgets and fast cars.
  • Even has a classic Bond title theme/intro after a signature pre-titles action sequence.  It’s sung by Mya and she even has a small role in the game. Again, keep in mind this is 2004.

 

I highly recommend watching this and pretending it’s Brosnan’s never-completed 5th movie. Even Pierce’s eye roll-worthy puns are on point! Am I saying Everything or Nothing would have been a great end to Brosnan’s Bond career? Not really. It would have been on par with Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough, and maybe slightly better than Die Another Day. All I know is between Nov 2002 and Nov 2006, we didn’t have a Bond movie to watch. So this is as good as it got. Give me everything or nothing at all!

Movie Review: THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS

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In a span of four years, the Bond franchise went from spy parodies Octopussy and A View To A Kill, to a taut spy thriller. 1987’s The Living Daylights is just that. At that time, it provided perhaps the best espionage tale since 1963’s From Russia With Love. 30+ years later, the Cold War plot of TLD seems dated, but the style ushered in by Timothy Dalton as 007 has now been the foundation for the Daniel Craig era.

Dalton’s Bond-style was promoted heavily on his dangerous side. This wasn’t the 12 year run of Roger Moore, nor was it the original choice to play 007 in TLD (Pierce Brosnan).

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Bond’s coolest moment? The entire cat and mouse, sniper vs wannabe-sniper situation in Czechoslovakia. Dalton’s at his most “Fleming’s Bond” during those first scenes after the credits. 

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? It has to be sliding down snowy woods, using a cello case. Not too embarrassing for Moore or Brosnan, but for super-serious Dalton, it’s downright humiliating.

Bond’s best line? “We have an old saying too, Georgi. And you’re full of it.” 

Best acting performance? As stated before, I think it has to be Dalton’s turn as James Bond. He’s going all in on what Ian Fleming intended the character to be. Sometimes it doesn’t work for this film, but kudos to his true commitment.

Bond’s #MeToo #TimesUp moment? Stripping off the clothes of General Pushkin’s girlfriend, and using her naked body as a distraction.

Worst line in the movie? Moneypenny: “Anytime you want to drop by and listen to my Barry Manilow collection…”

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 86th time? The parrot in this movie looks and sounds exactly like Max the parrot in For Your Eyes Only! Did the British government hire Max after the events of FYEO?!

Best action sequence? The pre-title sequence is fantastic and as realistic as a Bond movie can be. Skydiving, to rock climbing, to hanging from a jeep. Some thrilling stuff.  

Who or what is the title song about? The title song is all about Bond’s hard edge. I mean, living is in the way he dies folks!

Best looking cinematic moment? When James and Kara are riding through Afghanistan with the Mujahideen. 

How could the villain have succeeded? Koskov is too arrogant for his own good. He also has too many nefarious things going on all at once. 

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Since the original choice was Pierce Brosnan, this is an easy answer. While this movie seems tailored more towards Timothy Dalton, the script was originally written for Brosnan or a Roger Moore-ish actor. 

Does Bond ever think he might die? When he’s fighting with Necros (a very underrated henchman) in the back of the cargo plane, and especially hanging outside of it. 

What would have made the movie better? Dumb down the plot just a skosh, give James a girl who isn’t boring, and cut out any silly scenes for Dalton’s Bond. 

What’s in a name? When Bond is knocked unconscious, Koskov and Necros smuggle him onto a plane using the alias Jerzy Bondov.

What’s in a title? “The Living Daylights” comes from the title of a short story by Ian Fleming. 

Drinking game: Take a shot of vodka for each time Kamran Shah’s men inexplicably laugh at James Bond when he is trying to explain his dire situation.

“WTF?!” moment: Brad Whitaker’s whole fetish for military strongmen and dictators. In an odd way, he’d make for a good American villain now. 

Fun fact: Timothy Dalton had absolutely no time for pre-production, as he was still filming the movie Brenda Starr. 

Overall ranking: 9th out of 24. 

Review synopsis: I believe The Living Daylights becomes more of a fan favorite as time passes. And this coming from someone who isn’t a huge fan of the brief Dalton era. Bond filmmakers promised a harder edge and we got it. What Dalton lacks in humor, he makes up for with his serious commitment to the role. As far as intelligent spy plots go, The Living Daylights is close to a top tier 007 flick.

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