Movie Review: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN

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When I was in the middle of writing my James Bond film reviews, I discovered a dilemma. What to do with 1983’s unofficial Bond flick Never Say Never Again? It’s not a part of the EON films, yet it does have Sean Connery playing 007.

What makes a James Bond movie…well…a James Bond movie? Never Say Never Again doesn’t have the classic opening gunbarrel, followed by the usual pre-title sequence, and of course the credit titles song which is full of guns and naked silhouette girls. Nor does it even contain the James Bond theme. So what does it have to make it feel like a 007 adventure? It has an older Sean Connery playing the role with more conviction than he did the last time we saw him in Diamonds Are Forever.

NSNA is just a remake of Thunderball. Due to a long and complicated legal history, it was the only official Bond story that could be remade. Sean Connery, holding a longstanding grudge against producer Cubby Broccoli, decided to return to the role he said “never again” to. More on that later. NSNA was supposed to go head-to-head with official 007 movie Octopussy, starring Roger Moore. Due to some production delays, the flick came out a four months after Octopussy.

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Bond’s coolest moment? When he party-crashes Largo’s charity event, and makes life hell for the doorman. As seen above.

Bond’s most embarrassing moment? James Bond in an arcade. He should never have to play video games, especially a game as silly as “Domination”.

Bond’s best line? Fatima: Oh, how reckless of me. I made you all wet. James: Yes, but my martini is still dry. 

Best acting performance? It’s a tossup between Barbara Carrera’s Fatima Blush and Klaus Maria Brandauer’s Maximillian Largo. They are a wonderful one-two punch of bonkers villainy. They make Max Zorin and Raoul Silva seem like “stable geniuses.”  

Bond’s #MeToo #TimesUp moment? Pretending to be a masseur at a health spa mostly catering to beautiful young women. He gives Domino (Kim Basinger) a “hard” massage, until he leaves before getting caught. Only James could get away with that.

Worst line in the movie? Fatima: “You know that making love to Fatima was the greatest pleasure of your life.” Although, it does lead to a great reply by James talking about some girl he had sex with in Philadelphia. I want to know what that mission was!

What I noticed for the first time after watching this for the 27th time? The actor who plays General Miller in this, is the same actor who plays Bob Conley in A View To A Kill two years later. 

Best action sequence? I think the shark attack scene is done extremely well. It was almost like putting James Bond into a Jaws sequel. 

Who or what is the title song about? “Never Say Never Again” is sung by Lani Hall and it’s the usual type of Bond title theme song that is about a woman being pretty sure she can turn James into a one-woman kind of man. 

Best looking cinematic moment? Anytime you can shoot in the South of France, you have a good opportunity to film some breathtaking scenes. 

How could the villain have succeeded? As usual the villain leaves Bond tied up and decides to tell him just enough of his diabolical plan. 

Which other Bond actor could have starred in this movie? Since this is a pure Connery grudge-fest, no one else. But how about Daniel Craig in about five years, remakes this? Barbara Broccoli and he are too loyal to one another to ever do this.

Does Bond ever think he might die? When it appears his pen-gun fails him, he does have a look on his face that shows fear as Fatima is about to shoot him. 

What would have made the movie better? Having all the elements that make a James Bond movie legit. 

What’s in a name? James doesn’t use an alias in this, but he does pretend to be a masseur and later a tourist riding a bicycle.

What’s in a title? “Never Say Never Again” is a title that comes from Sean Connery’s wife Micheline. It’s a joke on Connery’s “never again” line. 

Drinking game: Drink a “Bloody Mary with plenty of Worcestershire sauce” every time Largo starts to say something, then stops, and then makes a mischievous face.

“WTF?!” moment: It’s a tie for me. The exploding Fatima (which is so clearly a mannequin) and the real horse that probably jumped to its death off the castle and into the ocean. 

Fun fact: Producer Kevin McClory and Sean Connery had plans in the mid-70s to remake Thunderball as a movie called Warhead

Review synopsis: It’s difficult to compare Never Say Never Again to any of the other official James Bond movies, besides Thunderball of course. I would say it is more entertaining than Thunderball, but it’s not a better film than the original. I enjoyed the idea of not shying away from Sean’s older age, which is oddly funny considering Roger Moore was three years older than him! The bottom line is that it takes a lot more than just having Sean Connery as James Bond to be a real 007 film. I will say kudos for breaking the fourth wall in a cool way at the very end.

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How Did They Become James Bond?

“It’s a small group of men who’ve made this role. More men have walked on the moon than have played James Bond.” – Pierce Brosnan

So how did these six lucky men end up playing the oxymoronic title that is “the world’s most famous secret agent”?

 

SEAN CONNERY

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  • Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman famously said they liked the way the young Scotsman moved. They thought we walked like a panther. Whatever the hell that means! The film that really sold them on taking a chance on this unknown actor, was his supporting role in Darby O’Gill and the Little People (1952).

 

GEORGE LAZENBY

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  • He may have only played 007 once, but this Australian’s story is the most fascinating of them all. Not really an actor, but he acted like he could. This former car salesman and model, really pushed his way into the auditions to replace Sean Connery. The only bit of acting he had was starring in a commercial for a chocolate company.

 

ROGER MOORE

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  • This charming Brit was always on the producers’ minds when it came to casting Bond in the 1960s. Unfortunately, his schedule never opened up thanks to his hit TV show “The Saint”. Think of Moore’s role in the show as 007 training.

 

TIMOTHY DALTON

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  • This Welsh Shakespearean thespian actually turned down the role in 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, citing his youth and inexperience. His role in films like Mary Queen of Scots, Cromwell, and specifically The Lion in Winter, kept him on the mind of Albert R. Broccoli. He finally got his shot at Bond when he was hired in 1986.

 

PIERCE BROSNAN

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  • Take everything I mentioned about Roger Moore in The Saint in the 1960s, and swap it with Pierce Brosnan in Remington Steele in the 1980s. This Irishman missed out on playing James Bond in 1987’s The Living Daylights due to his contract for Remington Steele. His hard work finally paid off in 1995’s Goldeneye.

 

DANIEL CRAIG

 

  • There weren’t many people who believed in Daniel Craig when he was announced as the 6th James Bond actor. Barbara Broccoli never backed down from her belief that he was the right man for the gig. She was 100% correct, and I, and most of the world were so very wrong. What did it for her? She saw his starring role in a British gangster flicked titled “Layer Cake”.

 

 

Dumbest Plans By Villains

Every now and then you get a Bond villain who has an original idea, but more often than not it all comes down to world domination. That same old dream. Of course, that pesky James Bond fellow is always around to ruin things for the main baddie, but it is usually the villain’s own stupidity that does them in. And I’m not even talking about the countless times they leave the room, while James deals with another obscure way to die. Here are just some of the plans by Bond villains that will make you say… that’s just dumb!

 

Auric Goldfinger

You are going to break into Fort Knox. Really?! Have you truly thought this through Goldie? His plot of making the gold radioactive until 2022ish is pretty clever. However, Operation Grand Slam already had its issues from the start. Getting funded by American gangsters is one part. He kills a whole lot of them and he doesn’t think one day soon there won’t be retaliation? How about the one gangster who decided to leave without getting involved in this caper? He is murdered by Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob. Death by car crusher! All so Auric could get the removal of the gold he gave him. So greedy! Oh and by the way, doesn’t the NY Fed have more gold than Fort Knox? Just saying.

 

Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Forgetting the fact that he and Bond try to the play the “I’ve never met you before in my life” game, his diabolical plan is just plain dumb. Blofeld wants to destroy the whole world’s economy by making all plant and livestock infertile. Pretty neat. How was he planning on getting this done? By using a dozen stunning young women from around the globe, who are undergoing unorthodox psychological and immunological treatments for food allergies and phobias. He was brainwashing them to distribute bacteriological warfare agents throughout their parts of the world. Considering James slept with at least 1/3 of the ladies in a couple nights, I’m not sure Blofeld should have put all his faith in his hypnotized “angels of death.”

 

Karl Stromberg and Hugo Drax

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These two are not villains in the same movie, but their ideas sure are. Let me make this abundantly clear for Mr. Stromberg: IT IS GOING TO BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE REST OF THE HUMAN RACE TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE UNDERWATER! Oh and for Mr. Drax: IT IS GOING TO BE NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE FOR THE REST OF THE HUMAN RACE TO LIVE A NORMAL LIFE IN SPACE! I really don’t think you two have thought this entirely through.

 

Max Zorin

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What can I say that Roger Ebert didn’t already say about Zorin’s moronic plan in 1985? Max is supposed to be this genetic genius. He wants to control the entire production and distribution of the world’s microchips. Max decides that the only obstacle in his way is Silicon Valley. So his plan is to wipe it out by engineering a massive earthquake that will level all of Silicon Valley. How brilliant can you be when you want to destroy the entire region that would actually buy your microchips?! Killing his own customers, rather than the competition.

 

Elliot Carver

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Some madmen dream of world domination. Carver just wants higher ratings. Seriously, even Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes would roll their eyes at his villainous scheme. He wants to start WWIII between the U.K. and China. But why? In the hopes that the existing Chinese leadership in Beijing get wiped out and replaced with political leaders who would allow the Carver Media Group Network to secure exclusive broadcasting rights in China for the next century. Gentlemen and ladies, hold the presses. This just in: THIS WON’T WORK! And let me just say I never want WWIII, but wouldn’t trying to get the USA and Russia to start WWIII create even bigger ratings?

 

Elektra King

Film 'The World is Not Enough' By Michael Apted

Some want to rule the world. Some ask for the world. Some believe the world is theirs for the taking. Elektra King is all of these people! This insane daughter of an oil magnate, wanted to cause a nuclear meltdown in the waters of Istanbul. She’s already one of the richest women in the world, but yes we know, the world is not enough for her too. Forgetting the fact that she thinks she can kill millions and make it look like an accident; wouldn’t a gigantic nuclear explosion cause more chaos with the oil rich nations of the Middle East?

 

Raoul Silva

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Let me go on record and say I love Silva as a Bond villain. He’s probably my all-time favorite. However, if his one and only goal in life was to kill M… he certainly takes his sweet time. Could have killed her in the MI6 explosion. Bleep. Could have killed her in the courtroom. Poof. He even couldn’t do it in the church when he has a gun to her head. Blop. Mommie was very bad, but Silva just couldn’t do it. He wasted his time and ours. But it sure was fun watching.

 

Franz Oberhauser…oops excuse me… Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Franz Oberhauser is responsible for everything bad that happened to James Bond in Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Spectre. This still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Every villain was under his orders. Every woman close to James, who was murdered, was because of Franz. He’s been the “author of all his pain” throughout James’ spy career. What if James had grown up to be a teacher? Or financial planner? Or janitor? There are inspired revenge plans, and then there is retroactively exacting vengeance. I guess my issue is less with Oberhauser/Blofeld and more with Spectre’s screenwriters and producers.

Hef and JFK and Bond

Yesterday was my birthday, which I proudly share with the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. Which got me thinking. While it’s obvious Ian Fleming, Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman are the three of the main reasons why Bond fans continue to enjoy the six decades of films… JFK is someone who deserves a lot of credit for the overall legacy of James Bond.

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In an interview in 1961, a reporter asked President Kennedy what type of books he liked read. Kennedy was known to be a big fan of Fleming’s 007 novels and listed From Russia With Love as one of his top ten favorite books of all-time. Once the public found out about what this extremely popular President enjoyed reading, the Fleming-Bond books became best-sellers.

The two men did get a chance to meet. Fleming was invited to a party in Washington D.C. held by President Kennedy, very early in his first term. They had a quite an intriguing conversation about the crisis with Cuba. Fleming told the President a very peculiar way to get rid of the Communist leader of Cuba, Fidel Castro. Sounding like something straight out of Bond story, Fleming said that Castro’s beard was the key. Without his trademark beard, Castro would be normalized. Fleming said that the U.S. should announce that they found that beards attract radioactivity and any man with a beard could become radioactive and sterile. If Castro fell for it, he would immediately shave it all off and the Cuban people would see him as just an ordinary man. It’s reported that JFK had a good laugh about this bizarre suggestion. This tale makes me want to view the pre-title sequences of Goldfinger and Octopussy again in a different mindset.

I think JFK fancied himself as an American Bond. It’s comforting to know that one of the last films he ever saw was the adaption of his favorite 007 adventure, From Russia With Love in November 1963.

But it wasn’t just cool Kennedy who helped make Bond, James Bond iconic. Let’s not forget about the ultimate bachelor in his robe and pjs; smoking a pipe.

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Hugh Hefner ties into James Bond and the 1960s perfectly. Hef lived the life that most men wanted to live. It was his decadent magazine (Playboy) that first published Ian Fleming’s James Bond short story, “The Hildebrand Rarity”. Following that publication  came five other 007 stories. A three-part version of “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, “The Property of a Lady”, a serialized “You Only Live Twice”, and then Fleming’s final 007 work “The Man with The Golden Gun”.

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And then we have the connection between Bond and Playboy in the film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. While waiting to crack a safe in Bern law office, James grabs a copy of the February 1969 issue of Playboy. Bond (played by George Lazenby) takes a good look at the monthly centerfold, and has a smile on his face like a horny teen boy. I guess that could be James Bond’s inner child.

In Diamonds Are Forever (the very next Bond flick), the character Tiffany Case finds Bond’s wallet (which James put inside the jacket of the deceased Peter Franks). And of course, she takes out his Playboy Club membership card. Can’t you just imagine James hanging out with the bunnies in the grotto?

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Actors/Actresses Used in Multiple Roles

“Hey, where have I seen that face before?” If you are watching any James Bond movie, you might see many familiar faces throughout the storied franchise. The casting directors have never been afraid to take on the continuity police.

Here are some actors and actresses that you have seen a couple of times as different characters.

 

MAUD ADAMS

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Maud Adams is probably the most famous one of these multi-used performers. First as Scaramanga’s mistress in TMWTGG and then as the title character in Octopussy. She and Roger Moore had terrific chemistry. You can add a 3rd movie to her Bond resume. She is an extra somewhere in A View To A Kill, when James is first seen in San Francisco.

 

CHARLES GRAY

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When we first see Gray in 1967’s You Only Live Twice, he’s a Bond ally named Henderson, who doesn’t last too long with a knife stuck into his back. In some strange casting four years later, he portrays the iconic villain Blofeld.

 

WALTER GOTELL

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Sure we love him as the pseudo-friendly head of the KGB in a bunch of the films, but we can’t forget that he first played a commander of Spectre in 1963’s From Russia With Love.

 

SHANE RIMMER

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He went from working for NASA, to working for Willard Whyte, to being a submarine commander! That’s an impressive Bond film resume.

 

JOE DON BAKER

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This big southern boy started out in the Bond universe as arms dealer Brad Whitaker in The Living Daylights, and then less than 10 years later popped back up as Felix Leiter-wannabe Jack Wade in a couple of Brosnan ones.

 

GEORGE BAKER

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You aren’t going to get more British than his performance as genealogist Sir Hilary Bray in OHMSS; and Baker then followed it up as a Royal Navy captain in TSWLM.

 

JEREMY BULLOCH

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Thats right. Boba Fett himself. Bulloch played one of the submarine crewmen in the opening of TSWLM, and then later played Q assistant Smithers.

 

NADIM SAWALHA

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We all know him as Jaws food AKA Aziz Fekkesh in The Spy Who Loved Me, but we can’t overlook his looking for James Bond in Tangiers in TLD.

 

BURT KWOUK

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I always remember him more as the Spectre P.A. announcer in YOLT, rather than as Mr. Ling in Goldfinger.

 

MARTINE BESWICK

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And yes, it’s Martine and NOT Martin! She first entered the world of 007 as one of the two gypsy fighting girls in FRWL. She had more of a part when she came back two years later as agent named Paula in Thunderball.

 

MARC LAWRENCE

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Okay, this one is a little controversial to me. I have my doubts that he played two different gangsters in Diamonds Are Forever and The Man With The Golden Gun.

 

NADIA REGIN

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Even with her limited screen time as Kerim Bey’s unsatisfied mistress in FRWL, and as the girl who makes Sean Connery say “positively shocking” in the classic Goldfinger pre-titles sequence, Nadia will always be remembered as an iconic early Bond girl.

 

TSAI CHIN

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She went from giving James her “very best duck” in 1967, to playing poker with him in 2006. She will flip you in YOLT and she will bluff you in Casino Royale.

 

ALBERT MOSES

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Albert makes Bond a martini in The Spy Who Loved Me. Six years later in Octopussy, he is a true ally of James as Saruddin.

 

MARY STAVIN

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Mary was one of Octopussy’s acrobatic circus girls; and then in the very next movie she gives Bond a helping hand in AVTAK. She and James take a very awkward five day trip from Siberia to Alaska.

007 Most Iconic Moments

Daniel Craig is currently in Jamaica filming his fifth (and final?) Bond movie. Now is about the time the word “legacy” pops up. Each actor has those truly Bondian moments that last a cinematic lifetime. Here are seven classic 007 moments from each actor. The kind of moments that define the character of James Bond – 007.

Of course, it’s easier for the actors who played James at least four times to build a legacy. Sadly, George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton only were in a total of three films. But I believe they each had their own 007 moment.

For George Lazenby, it’s got to be wearing the kilt. It takes balls.

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For Timothy Dalton, his moment is also a very Fleming moment. It’s intense, dark, and oddly humorous. Don’t be a problem solver. Be a problem eliminator.

 

SEAN CONNERY

001. “Bond, James Bond”

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002. The Laser scene.

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003. “Shocking. Positively shocking.”

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004. The train fight.

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005. “I think he got the point.”

 

006. Taking a bath, Japanese style.

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007. Plenty of Vegas style.

 

 

ROGER MOORE

001. The ski jump.

 

002. “My name is Bond… James Bond.”

 

003. Kicking the car over the cliff.

 

004. “What a helpful chap.”

 

005. Just clowning around.

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006. The lucky dice.

 

007. The head nod.

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PIERCE BROSNAN

001. “The name’s Bond… James Bond.”

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002. The dam bungee jump.

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003. The motorcycle chase vs the helicopter.

 

004. Parking garage mayhem.

 

005. Fight with Xenia.

 

006. The boat chase.

 

007. A sword fight at the gentlemen’s club.

 

 

DANIEL CRAIG

001. Getting his 00 status.

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002. “The name’s Bond, James Bond.”

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003. A perfect shot.

 

004. Fixing cufflinks.

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005. Winning the Aston Martin DB5.

 

006. On the train with Vesper.

 

007. Hobby? Resurrection.

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The Gunbarrels: The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly

Ever since I was a little kid, the OPENING gunbarrel for 007 has thrilled me. The moving target, the walk, the music, the pose, the running blood, etc. Every actor has his different style, and every composer puts their own spin on one of the most famous themes in film music history.

Here’s how I rate all 24ish (I mean some aren’t true gunbarrels) from the franchise.

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THE GOOD 

 

 

THE BAD 

 

 

THE UGLY