Diamonds Are Forever

End of the Lazenby and Connery era, ladies and gents. After this review it’s all cocked eyebrows for the next week or so.

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

After On Her Majesty’s Secret Service didn’t do particularly well at the all-important box office, another rethink was needed. The Bond producers were apparently happy with Lazenby and offered him a seven picture deal. Lazenby’s agent, however, convinced him that Bond was a pop culture has-been and that he had no place in the go-go ’70s. On the strength of that, Lazers declined. So, it was back to square one in terms of casting Bond. They tempted Connery back with a then record amount of $1.25 million (about 7 million in 2012 money) and sweetened the deal by backing two films of Sean’s choice. With that, Connery was back in the tuxedo. Part of me (my fucking brain) wishes he hadn’t bothered.

“That’s quite a nice little nothing you’re almost wearing. I approve.”

Whilst investigating a diamond smuggling operation, James Bond (Sean Connery) finds out his arch-nemesis Blofeld (Charles Gray) is behind it all, planning to use the diamonds for some sort of deadly laser satellite thing. Bond enlists the help of smuggler Tiffany Case (Jill St.John) to help him take the face shifting bastard down. The plot isn’t too bad, although it hops on a bus destined for WTFtown about halfway through. Connery doesn’t seem like his heart’s in it anymore (as it probably wasn’t) and it’s a shame this is his final (official, you goddamn pedants) time as Bond. You Only Live Twice was a great swansong, but oh well. Can’t be helped. Charles Gray (previously seen as Henderson, Bond’s contact in Tokyo in YOLT) gives a decent performance as Blofeld. Certainly more interesting than Kojak did. Jill St. John is lovely, but Tiffany Case has to be one of the most useless Bond women to date, constantly fucking things up left, right and centre. Her introduction is interesting, changing her hair colour and sexy attire to mess with Bond’s head, but she soon turns into a dumb bikini babe tottering around from scene to scene.

I don’t mind a bit of campness in the Bond films. Some of the classics have more than a little in them and that’s part of their charm. However, this is fucking ridiculous. Diamonds Are Forever is so ludicrously camp and unforgivably shit it’s embarrassing to watch. There is visual buffoonery (an elephant playing slots, getting a jackpot and celebrating being the one that sticks in my mind and craw the most), a character who’s a walking knob gag set-up in the shape of Plenty O’Toole (no, really) and all sorts of other japery that wouldn’t be out of place in a particularly bad Carry On… film. I genuinely had to fight myself from turning it off. My guess is that after OHMSS failed to endear itself to audiences with its darker tone, the producers felt they needed to dial down the serious aspects and make Bond light and fun again. Thing is, they threw moderation out the window and span the dial all the way round to “reprehensibly wacky”.

There are a couple of really ugly things about the film too. For starters, it looks rougher than an inside-out dog. I’m not sure this was down to budget constraints (maybe Connery’s astronomical fee meant less funding for the polish department) or whether the early ’70s were an awkward transitional period film technology-wise. Either way, it ain’t pretty. The second instance of ugliness comes from the script itself. The opening scene is meant to be really badass, with Bond going around beating people up and interrogating them as to the whereabouts of Blofeld. There are some unconvincing stage punches until he meets a bikini-clad woman lounging in the sun. They share some flirtatious banter before Bond whips off her bikini top and starts strangling her with it. What the shit. There’s also the duo of killers, Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint (Putter Smith and Bruce Glover) who are portrayed as GAY and are therefore BAD. They’re weaksauce villains, but the film seems particularly spiteful towards them.

I’ve been wracking my brain to think of something I like about Diamonds Are Forever. There are a few small moments. I like the bit when Bond meets acrobatic duo Bambi & Thumper (Lola Larson and Trina Parks). The two are gymnastic bodyguards and flip and dropkick Bond all over the place. It’s fun to see Bond out of his depth, at least for a small while. There’s a bit where Bond is trapped in a coffin inside a crematorium oven which manages to be quite tense. I quite like the car chase as well, especially when Bond drives a Mustang on two wheels, but as with all the above examples, this joy is fleeting. Soon enough it’s back to “fnarr, fnarring” in my face.

“One is never too old to learn from a master, Mr. Kidd.”

If you bothered to read the paragraphs above, you will have gathered that I think Diamonds Are Forever is a terrible film. It’s hellbent on being the dumbest, campest thing out there and is so far away from good Bonding it’s almost laughable. Fucking dire(monds).

You Only Live Twice

Another day, another Bond #YOLT.

You Only Live Twice (1967)

 

You Only Live Twice was the first Bond film to be dramatically different from the source novel. The original book was all about Bond dealing with the death of his wife in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the culture shock of adapting to Japanese life. Obviously, OHMSS hadn’t been filmed yet, and previous screenwriter Richard Maibaum was unavailable, so the studio hired Roald Dahl (there aren’t too many people named “Roald”, but yes, the BFG fella) to pull several loose ideas into a single cohesive narrative. Where the novel was quite dark and brooding, the film is more frothy fun than anything else and divides opinion amongst Bond fans as to whether it’s great or a crusty old tossrag.

“As you can see, I am about to inaugurate a little war. In a matter of hours after America and Russia have annihilated each other. We shall see a new power dominating the world.”

After both Russian and American spacecraft go missing, each country does what came naturally during the Cold War: blame each other. With World War III looking extremely likely, the British government suspect foul play and send 007 (Sean Connery) to Japan to investigate. It soon becomes apparent that head of SPECTRE, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) is behind it all, conducting his nefarious scheme from inside a hollowed-out volcano. With the world on the brink of war, it’s up to Bond and an army of ninjas (fuck yes) to stop him. Frothy and light-hearted it may be, but at least it pops along at a decent pace and is actually consistently enjoyable unlike Thunderball. Dahl’s screenplay is decent enough with the “outside aggressor trying to trick countries into warring” angle used in quite a few subsequent Bond flicks. Connery is fine, having had the whole Bond thing down two films ago. Bond has two significant love interests, Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) and Kissy Suzuki (Mie Hama), both of whom are great. I was disappointed when Aki buys the farm about halfway through, but Kissy has her charms too. Donald Pleasence gives an oft-parodied performance as the disfigured Blofeld. My favourite character has to be “Tiger” Tanaka, the Japanese equivalent of M. Played by Tetsuro Tamba, the guy’s a pleasure to watch. I smile every time he calls 007 “Bond-san”.

One of my goals when starting this foolhardy Bond review-a-thon was to pinpoint what traditions began where and I’m happy to say that the whole “Bond theme playing when Bond does cool shit” thing started with this one, during the highly inventive and unusual “Little Nellie” sequence where Bond takes on enemy helicopters in an armed-to-the-teeth autogyro of his own. I think this sequence sums up the film nicely. If you can’t get on board with the idea of 007 flying round killin’ dudes in something that looks like he picked it up from the Early Learning Centre, then the film’s silly charms will be wasted on you. If you like your Bond serious, look elsewhere.  The action is a marked improvement too, with a properly epic third act where Bond and a hundred ninjas rappel into the volcano lair. It’s old school action, with people having the tendency to fall of gangwalks or to be thrown into dramatic acrobatics by grenade blasts.

Despite this Bond being lighter in tone than previous entries, that doesn’t mean that the filmmaking process was taken any less seriously. A lot of people have commented that the film belongs to production designer Ken Adam, who created some astounding sets for the film, most famous of all being Blofeld’s volcano lair which is magnificent. The guy’s a genius. The cinematography is beautiful too, especially during the wedding sequence. Coupled with John Barry’s gorgeous score, it’s truly memorable and gets you square in the feels. It’s just a shame Robbie Williams lamed it up with his song “Millennium”, the smug bellend.

The film ain’t 100% brilliant though. There are a couple of characters and events that don’t really work. For instance, I understand faking Bond’s death, but did MI6 really have to go through the rigmarole of staging it as well? Couldn’t they have just passed along an obituary to the papers? I realise this would have made the pre-credits sequence duller than a thousand Thunderballs, but whatever. Also, I don’t really understand the point of the Helga Brandt character. She’s aptly played by Karin Dor, but she seems like a pale facsimile of Fiona Volpe from the previous film. There’s also a scene where she has Bond helpless and tied to a chair. Her orders were to kill him, but instead she frees him, sleeps with him (naturally) and feigns running away with him, leaving it up to the point where they’re flying home to betray him and parachute safely out of a nosediving plane. Doesn’t make a lick of sense. Having said that, this is a film where we’re meant to buy that a 6’2 Scotsman can be disguised as an Asian using a wig, a body wax and some eye prosthetics. I suppose you can’t examine these things too closely.

“I shall look forward personally to exterminating you, Mr. Bond.”

When I owned all the Bonds on VHS, You Only Live Twice was my most watched of the Connery era. I can see why. It’s escapist fun, pure and simple. It won’t be for everyone and there are better Bonds in the series, but I feel it’s been unfairly maligned.

Thunderball

Urgh, just for a minute there, I was having fun with this whole Bond thing.

Thunderball (1965)

I’m going to level with you straight away. I’ve never liked Thunderball. After the first three ever-improving Bonds, it’s a letdown. I pride myself on being able to see other points of view. I don’t have to agree with them, but I can respect them. However, I have no Christ-punching idea why Thunderball keeps turning up on “best of Bond” lists. No clue whatsoever.  It’s bloated, uncoordinated and criminally boring in places. Maybe it just gets a free pass because Connery’s in it.

“What exactly do you do?”
“Oh, I travel… a sort of licensed troubleshooter.”

After some pre-credits nonsense with a jetpack, James Bond (Sean Connery) is sent to the Bahamas to investigate the theft of two nuclear missiles. Turns out SPECTRE plan on using the weapons to hold the UK and U.S. to ransom, threatening to reduce a non-specific city in both to radioactive rubble. Bond starts becoming suspicious of the eyepatch wearing Largo (Adolfo Celi) and enraptured by his niece/prisoner/lover Domino (Claudine Auger). The plot’s alright. It’s rather a simple story overcomplicated with needless clutter. I’m sure I don’t need to comment on Connery any more, so I’ll skip to Auger’s Domino. I kinda like Domino. She’s not very interesting and doesn’t have much to do outside of waiting from Bond to free her from Largo’s tyranny, but she’s alright. She’s nowhere near the firecracker that “Pooshy” was in Goldfinger. Largo is pretty boring too. He’s well played by Celi, I just think SPECTRE’s second-in-command should be a bit more charismatic than this. Snatching something fun from the jaws of dull is Fiona Volpe (Luciana Paluzzi), pretty much the only entertaining character in the film. Much like Red Grant in From Russia with Love, Volpe can be seen as a dark reflection of Bond, enjoying using her sexuality to get the better of her victims. Awesomely, she tends to have sex with people to pass the time until SPECTRE goons show up to take out her lover. She also manages to hit Bond right in the ego after the deed, pretty much the only woman in all 22 to do so. She’s like a black widow or praying mantis. She throws how uninteresting Domino is into sharp contrast.

I think the main problem with Thunderball is the pacing. Quite a lot of it takes place underwater, which really doesn’t help things, especially when the same dreamlike John Barry motif is used over and over again.There are a lot of scenes of characters just bouncing exposition off each other where a little character development would have gone a long way. Largo likes and owns sharks and he keeps his niece as a sexual prisoner. That’s basically all I could tell you about him and he’s the film’s main villain. The only underwater scene that actually works is the big undersea battle between armies of divers. It’s inventive and surprisingly vicious, especially with the liberal use of harpoon guns. The opening sequence where Bond fights a man in drag before jetpacking away is groan inducing. It’s just too silly, even for a Bond caper. There’s also more use of speeding up the film which reduces the potentially exciting ending sequence aboard the Disco Volante to a farcical glob of spunk. I get that there were technical limitations back in the ’60s, but I refuse to believe that this looked anything but naff even back then.

Anything good? A few things. Connery is still fun to watch as Bond. The aforementioned Volpe is great. The underwater battle is good. The big sets by Ken Adam are predictably good, with SPECTRE’s huge parlour and massive table really having the wow factor.The title sequence also screams classic Bond with its swimming silhouetted ladies and big Tom Jones song. There’s also one great bit where Bond and Domino are relaxing on the beach and are being stalked by a villain. After Domino’s warning, Bond picks up his nearby harpoon gun and spears him, pinning him to a tree. His kiss-off line?: “I think he got the point.” Cheesy, yes, but it made me chuckle. Oh- and grumpy old Q showing up in a loud Hawaiian shirt is worth a mention too.

“Try to be a little less than your frivolous self, 007.”

Thunderball isn’t great. All the elements of a good Bond adventure are here, but they never convincingly hang together. Plus, for a lot of the time, the film is really quite tedious to sit through. It’s not the worst Bond film ever as I’ve still got that to come (the prospect of having to rewatch it and say something more constructive than “it eats dicks” is daunting), but it definitely isn’t in the same league as the preceding flicks. It’s not bombastic enough to be fun like Goldfinger and it’s not a decent enough spy thriller to be like From Russia with Love. Pretty damn poor.

Goldfinger

It’s now time for not only one of the most famous Bond adventures, but probably one of the most famous films period. No pressure then…

Goldfinger (1964)

Let’s revisit the ’60s for a moment. The early 1960s to be precise. After the successful novels and two films, Bond was doing pretty well at the box office and Sean Connery was becoming well known. However, when Goldfinger came out in 1964 everything changed. The film was a gigantic hit, smashing records like a Hulk in a china shop. As a result, Bond became massive and Connery became a household name. Whilst the quality of the film was certainly a factor in terms of repeat viewings and hugely popular double-bill showings with Dr.No, there’s another possible reason. Goldfinger was the first Bond film to directly appeal to American audiences. Bond travelled to the States in this one, C.I.A. agent Felix Leiter had a bigger part and the villain’s dastardly scheme revolved around Fort Knox and crippling the American economy. The film also feels glitzier and more brazen than its two predecessors too. I think this element is key to understanding how the films took off from this point, both in terms of popularity and scale.

“Auric Goldfinger. Sounds like a French nail varnish.”

James Bond (Sean Connery) is drafted in to keep an eye on Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe, dubbed by Michael Collins). In doing so, Bond uncovers not only Goldfinger’s huge smuggling operation, but his plan concerning Fort Knox, America’s biggest gold depository. Along the way, Bond is introduced to Goldfinger’s henchman Oddjob (Harold Sakata), a mute, brick shithouse of a man with a razor brimmed hat and his personal pilot, Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman). The story’s awesome and became the cheatsheet for many Bond films after this one. Again, Connery is great, this time giving 007 more of a humourous streak than seen before and a propensity for dry witticisms (something which was taken to the nth degree by Roger Moore). Gert Frobe is the fucking bomb in this film. His performance is so good, many people still don’t know he was dubbed. Honor Blackman’s Pussy Galore is the first of Bond’s women to have a real independent character and even manages to resist Bond’s apparently irresistible charms.

Goldfinger contains so many iconic moments it’s ridiculous. There’s the fatal painting of Jill Masterson (Shirley Eaton), Oddjob cutting off a statue’s head with his hat, Bond’s Aston Martin DB5 with all its gadgets and not forgetting that laser scene. All the aforementioned moments are timeless too. Whilst not as shocking as it was, the sight of a lifeless Shirley Eaton covered head to toe in gold paint is still very striking. It’s also a fantastic way to make Bond’s beef with Goldfinger personal, rather than just professional. The laser scene is still fantastic too. I forgot how well the character of Goldfinger was written. With the laser inching its way to an increasingly worried looking Bond’s groin. His response to Bond’s “Do you expect me to talk?” is one of my favourite Bond moments ever: “No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!”. He also gets an amazing speech later about the progress of man surging forward in every area apart from crime.

Goldfinger was the film that set the formula that was to be followed for decades to come. Firstly, the title sequence actually has the title song, famously performed by Shirley “Lungs” Bassey. Whilst taking its cue from From Russia with Love‘s fun with projecting stuff on other stuff, it’s still visually interesting. Also, for the first time in the series we have Q (Desmond “Thug Life” Llewelyn) grumpily showing 007 his new toys and his fully loaded Aston Martin. The action’s more accomplished too. There’s a decent car chase where Bond gets to try out his gadgets like the in-built smokescreen and oil slick. The climactic smackdown between Bond and Oddjob is great too, if a bit tame by today’s ultra-violent standards.

Despite what the tiresome old farts in pubs tell you, Goldfinger is not a perfect film. Plot wise, the addition of Tilly Masterson (Tania Mallet) doesn’t really add anything. She’s only in the film for about ten minutes before her neck loses a fight with Oddjob’s hat anyway. Yeah, she may be included to give 007 another reason for taking down Goldfinger, but it’s superfluous. He’s already emotionally involved. There’s also a bit where Goldfinger is outlining his plan to knock over Fort Knox using very elaborate means like scale models, retractable floors and furniture that whirs into place at the flick of a switch. Thing is, Goldfinger gasses every last motherfucker in the room. I understand this scene was to explain the plan to Bond (who is hidden underneath the model Fort Knox) and therefore us as the audience, but it still makes no logical sense.

I hate to say it, but Bond comes across like a bit of a wanker in this one. First he attacks my iPod by saying that drinking improperly chilled Dom Perignon is “just as bad as listening to The Beatles without earmuffs!” Secondly, and more importantly, his treatment of women is questionable. I’m not going to make a thing of this as there are plenty of other angry corners of the ‘Net calling Bond a sexist pig. It’s quite noticeable in Goldfinger though. He dismisses Dink, a bikini wearing masseuse, when Felix comes along for reasons of “man talk” but not before slapping her arse. He also forces himself on “Pooshy” Galore. Luckily, Miss Galore is fine with it, but it’s still sexually aggressive. Also (and this is really nit-picky) but the film has a strange tendency to speed the film up. It’s especially obvious in the opening scene where Bond has a decoy seagull on his head whilst infiltrating a depot from the water. We see Bond take off the fake bird in fast-forward. It’s really odd. I can understand using it in the car sequence though. It can be forgiven for that.

“Choose your next witticism carefully Mr. Bond, it may be your last.”

Anyway, enough of the post-modern deconstruction stuff that I hate. Goldfinger is a fantastic film. There’s a very good reason why it was used as a template again and again. It gets the balance of humour, action, gadgets and all that fun spy stuff just right. Damn good.

From Russia with Love

Brace yourselves, it’s going to get all sequel-flavoured up in this bitch.

From Russia with Love (1963)

I think From Russia with Love is my favourite Connery Bond. In terms of the public consciousness,  it tends to get lost in the shuffle between the more iconic early Bonds like Dr.No and Goldfinger. I feel that the Bond films are in a slightly different league than most films when it comes to reviewing them. What I may think is a good Bond flick may not be your idea of one. However, being as objective as I can, From Russia with Love is probably the best straight-up spy thriller of the 22. Some people have argued that it’s the best of the series and while I can definitely see where they’re coming from, I can’t agree. It’s damn good, but lacking a few key elements for me to be the ultimate Bond.

“Ah, the old game: give a wolf a taste and then leave him hungry. My friend, she’s got you dangling.”

After Dr.No’s climactic boiling in the previous film, global terrorist organisation SPECTRE step up their game with a plan to end 007 (Sean Connery). SPECTRE head, the mysterious cat-stroking Blofeld (?*) orders Number Three, Colonel Rosa Klebb (Lotte Lenya) to trap Bond using the two things he’s susceptible to, a much sought-after decoding machine called the Lektor and a beautiful Russian named Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi). All the while, Bond is being stalked by SPECTRE assassin Red Grant (Robert “Quint off Jaws” Shaw). The film is pretty solid, giving more of what we were given before but bigger. Connery has settled into the role by this point and gives us a more assured, less self-satisfied 007. Daniela Bianchi is good but pretty forgettable as Romanova and as such isn’t the first name that comes to mind when discussing 007’s women. It’s a damn shame too as I think Bianchi in this film may be one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. Bond gets a loyal ally in the form of Kerim Bay (Pedro Armendariz), the head of the Turkish station. Armendariz is instantly likeable as Kerim Bay and it’s both a shame and a blessing this was his last role.

I think the film belongs to the villains though, with Lotte Lenya’s stern and psychotic Rosa Klebb and Shaw’s equally psychotic but more debonair Red Grant. In fact, Klebb gets my favourite little bit in the whole film where she’s barking orders and threats at Romanov and she pauses to put on the thickest fucking comedy glasses. Grant is an interesting one as he’s kind of a dark reflection of Bond. Often Grant will be seen mirroring Bond’s moves or stalking him like a shadow. After the great fake-out intro in which “Bond” gets garroted by Grant, it’s really cool to see their storylines slowly move towards crossing paths for realsies. The culmination of this is the oft-lauded train fight where Bond and Grant duke it out in the claustrophobic confines of a train carriage. The whole sequence from Grant’s deception to him being hoisted by his own petard (or more accurately: “garroted by his own watch”) is a joy and right up there when I list my greatest Bond moments.

From Russia with Love also adds a few more elements to the ever-growing list of Bond hallmarks. This film introduces fan-favourite gadgetmaster Q (Desmond Llewelyn) in an understated way, having him show off a standard-issue briefcase with all sorts of fancy tricks. This is the series’ first Bond gadget too, so hey, that’s something. Blofeld has his first appearance too, although we don’t see his face for a few more films yet. From Russia with Love also ushered in the famous Bond title track, sung by Matt Munro, although it scores the end credits, not the opening ones. Speaking of the titles, the film really kicks off a formula with the cast’s names being projected onto the various jiggling parts of some bellydancers. Again, the use of the Bond theme still seems a little off, now playing when 007 is being driven around. That’s not to discredit John Barry, who takes up the musical mantle for the first time with this film, lending a charm and dynamic that many other Bond films after this one would also benefit from.

“Red wine with fish. Well, that should have told me something.”

A lot of the action is quite dated (with the possible exception of the Grant/Bond scrap) but there’s still some fun to be had. There’s a big sequence where a gypsy camp is torched and attacked that’s still a fairly decent bit. It’s hard to imagine how the tame gypsy catfight that precedes the raid was considered shocking. There’s also a very well done helicopter sequence, which was no doubt heavily influenced by North By Northwest. If I had to criticise it (and I do), I’d say the pacing’s slightly off, with a lot of scenes taking a lot longer than they need to and killing the pace dead. It’s a minor quibble though. This is Bond before the silliness started to creep in and it works very well. It’s easily one of the best Bond films, despite it not being my personal favourite.

*The film actually credits Blofeld with a question mark, but he was actually played by Anthony Dawson, Dr.No‘s Professor Dent

Dr. No

Most of my urges are dark, solemn secrets between me and my internet service provider. However, I had an urge the other day that I felt safe to expose to the light of day. I’ve decided to review every Bond film in chronological order, one a day, for 22 days. Why? Well, I recently got the complete set on Blu-ray and it’s the 50th anniversary of Bond this year, which is as good as an excuse as any. Let me address two things: 1) Yes, I probably do need a girlfriend or at least a night out with people once in a while and 2) I’m not going to do the two “unofficial” Bonds, namely 1967’s Bond parody Casino Royale and Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again because, above all other things, they’re shite. Let’s start at the beginning with Dr.No, shall we?

Dr. No (1962)

It’s tough to imagine what a cultural phenomenon James Bond was back in 1962. The books were already pretty famous, but the Dr.No film introduced him to the masses. In many ways, Bond was seen as an anti-hero, what with all the drinking, gambling, fighting and such. Still, this ain’t a history lesson. It’s hard to factor in ’60s popular culture when present popular culture has put the entire decade on a pedestal. This is a film review and I’m going to review it using my 2012 eyes (I’ve pre-ordered my 2013 eyes).

“I admire your luck Mr…?”
“Bond. James Bond.”

After being sent to Jamaica to investigate the disappearance of fellow agent, Commander Strangways, James Bond (Sean Connery) discovers there’s a lot more than just a simple vanishing afoot, all of it having to do with the mysterious Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman). Along the way Bond also recruits local fisherman Quarrel (John Kitzmiller), CIA man Felix Leiter (Jack Lord) and bikini-clad diver Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress). Many would argue that Connery is the quintessential Bond and it’s difficult to argue otherwise with his portrayal in Dr.No. He’s suave, sophisticated and slick. I always thought he played Bond a bit too self-satisfied for his own good. There are moments in the film that seem like he’s gliding through scenes on a cloud of pure smug. These are fleeting though and I personally love Connery’s take. Ursula Andress manages to do well with what she’s given. She somehow injects her role with a believable toughness and vulnerability in what is basically an eye candy part. I love Joseph Wiseman as the nefarious Doctor. He’s really quite cold and creepy. Some of my favourite bits of the entire film are when No and Bond are verbally squaring off against each other, especially when it becomes apparent that No is disappointed in Bond as an adversary and calls him “just a stupid policeman.”.

As a spy film it still works well. It’s a taut ’60s thriller with double-crosses and backstabs par for the course. There are some amazing moments, including Bond waking up in his bed to find a massive tarantula crawling up his body and the super famous Honey Ryder introduction where she emerges from the ocean in a bikini and hunting knife on her hip. Apparently, her intro alone struck so much of a chord with audiences that bikini sales massively increased after the film released. There’s a surprisingly dark moment as well, where Bond is lying in wait for Professor Dent, before confronting him and shooting the guy down in cold blood.

It’s crazy to see just how many of the classic Bond hallmarks started here at square one. We have the gunbarrel intro, exotic locations, the iconic theme, a kaleidoscopic title sequence as well as M, Moneypenny and Felix Leiter. There’s also a megalomaniacal villain with some sort of gimmick (in this case, motherfucking robot hands) and a big, science-y looking lair. There’s even a Bond quip or two. No title song though, just the Bond theme playing over some charmingly lo-fi titles with colourful dots, then some multi-coloured dancing woman silhouettes before finally and surreally morphing into a Calypso version of “Three Blind Mice”. Actually talking of music, having come to expect the famous theme to appear when Bond is doing something cool and Bondian, it’s strange to see its use here, usually popping up when Bond is doing something utterly mundane, like reading a document or simply walking across a room.

“That’s a Smith & Wesson, and you’ve had your six.

So is it still good? Yeah. It’s entertaining and fun. If you can forgive the slightly hokey ’60s espionage stuff with the overdramatic judo moves and a vague understanding of science. That’s not to mention the casual racism.Quarrel is portrayed as rather simple, coming across as a superstitious native and a dogsbody, with Bond ordering Quarrel at one point to fetch his shoes. That aside, it’s a decent film with some genuine intrigue (if you haven’t seen it thousands of times on ITV over the years), action beats and a satisfying conclusion. It’s not difficult to see how this film started off one of the most popular and profitable film series ever.