Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Diamonds are Forever

And so I come to the last James Bond film made by Connery Diamonds are Forever which became a hit for Shirley Bassey. And in which Charles Gray plays all three version of Blofeld who has not only had extensive plastic surgery but has two other men created in his new likeness,

Ian Fleming wrote the book his fourth in Bond series back in 1956 and was a huge success with several immediate print runs and where he investigated diamond smuggling for a non fiction work published a year later. In the oak Bond is assigned to infiltrate a Diamond smuggling  enterprise  based in Sierra Leone to Los Vegas in the USA and uses the identity of Peter Franks a country house burglar turned Diamond Smuggler.

Bond meets up with Tiffany Chase, ( Tiffany’s   being  the well known Jewellers and which reminds that I forgot to add  Breakfast at Tiffany’s Audrey Hepburn to my list. Tiffany was gang raped as a teenager and understandably is hostile to men. The investigation takes him to the USA where he encounters his friend and now former CIA man Felix Leiter working for the Pinkertons investigating horse racing rigging.

The investigation then takes him to a former Wild West Town, now converted to a tourist resort where after various adventures he escapes with Tiffany using the much used in USA films the railway push cart and with Leiter’s help they get from California to New York and then journey to London on the Queen Elizabeth. During these adventures the couple are tracked by two the Diamond smuggling gang’s killers and fixer’s called Wint and Kidd who kidnap Tiffany before intending to kill her but Bond turns the tables and kills them. Chase reveals the extent of the smuggling as a consequence of her life being saved.  Miners are paid by a dentist to smuggle Diamonds out via their mouths and then getting to them to London  Paris and on to New York. Bond closes in  and kills the man at the top of the enterprise but only after the man has terminated the rest of the diamond line although I assume this exclude Tiffany.

The film bears little relationship to the book although it does also cover a lot of ground and involves Bond with Jill St John now  as much for marriages and relationships with a well known  number of A listers and other powerful and wealthy men as well as the films Whose been Sleeping in my Bed? The Honeymoon Hotel and the Calling. At sixteen  she ran off with and married the heir to a linen fortune and at nineteen she married a racing driver who was the son of Barbara Hutton. She then married the singer Jack Jones and then the actor Robert Wagner  having been a couple for the previous eight years. Divorced she is reported to have admitted relationships were Connery, Peter Lawford, Robert Vaughn, Jack Nicholson and Frank Sinatra.

Now to the film where Bond pursing Blofeld  thinks he has killed him, but it later transpires to be a look alike. He is then posted to South Africa by M to investigate a Diamond Smuggling ring and where several known operatives have been recently killed. We the audience know that the killers are Wint and Kidd played tongue in cheek and as a comic due who use very creative methods.

Posing as a smuggler Peter Franks, a real fictional character imprisoned in England to enable Bond’s cover, he travels to Amsterdam to meet the link Tiffany Chase. Unfortunately the real Franks escapes and gets to Amsterdam and Bond has to kill him.  Bond  then take this body to be buried in the USA as his brother followed by Wint and Kidd who are continuing their inventive murderous trail. Bond uses the corpse to smuggle the diamonds.

In the USA Leiter meets Bond and they take the body to a mob run Funeral Home for cremation where the Diamonds are recovered and placed in an urn as the ashes of the deceased. His next task is to take the Diamonds to the next person in the chain who is called Shady Tree who captures Bond and Wint and Kidd place  Bond  in a coffin and into the crematoria. Fortunately the process is stopped as Shady Tree discovers the Diamonds in the urn are fakes.

Tree is a stand up Comedian performing at the Casino owned by the multi millionaire recluse Willard Whyte one of the most powerful men in the USA who had become a recluse controlling his empire from the top floor of the Hotel.  Given that the film was made in 1971 it is interesting that this was still five years before the death of  multi millionaire Howard Hughes who had retired to the Days Inn Hotel Las Vegas which he then acquired and ran his empire for the its eighth floor. Hughes was also extremely influential arising from aviation Industries productions, his Film and TV interests and involvement in a wide range of other businesses.

Bond then discovers that Shady Tree has been murdered and enjoying a night at the Casino he meets up with an adventuress called Plenty O’Toole and takes her to his room where gang members are waiting for him and they throw Plenty out of window fortunately into a swimming pool although the intention was to kill her  expecting her to be Tiffany Chase.

Because of her near death experience Tiffany decides against stealing the Diamonds for her use and they are passed to the next link in the chain who is followed to Whyte research facility in the desert where Bond discovers they are being used to create a powerful destructive laser refraction device to be sent into space and then controlled  from a base elsewhere. Bond is discovered  but escapes using a Moon landing buggy and is picked up by Tiffany waiting in a car.

Bond then makes a dramatic entry into the quarters of Whyte It is at this point Bond makes the starling discovery that Whyte has been replaced by Blofeld and a Blofeld lookalike using a voice box machine which makes him sound like Whyte and realise that Blofeld and Spectre are behind the creation of the death and destruction ray. He manages to kill one of the Blofeld’s but this is the lookalike and is rendered unconscious by gas and taken  by Wint and Kidd into the desert and placed in one the new water/sewerage pipes with one machine laying the pipes together and another piling  the earth back on top. When Bond regains consciousness he finds himself sealed into the system and a terrified mouse reveals the oncoming of a machine which he tries to out run  before working out he can squeeze on top and  stop it by fusing its electrical circuit and then making his way to the surface via one of the escape maintenance hatches.

Bond is now able to try and rescue Whyte who is locked away below an isolated desert Home guarded by two energetic martial arts fanatics, Bumper and Thumper, and he just about gets the better of them before the cavalry arrive. With he help of Whyte he identifies the likely location of Blofeld’s latest control centre where the senior scientist believes they will bring peace to the world, demonstrating the power of the Laser by eliminating war heads and other old war weaponry held by the USA, Russia and China. Blofeld has escaped from the Hotel called the Whyte House disguised as an elderly woman but is recognised by Tiffany who tries to give chase but is captured.

Blofield makes his extortion demands threatening to destroy a city while Bond makes his way and boards the sea base oil rig HQ armed with a tape which he hopes to switch for the one controlling the Satellite laser which  White’s company has placed into orbit believing they were doing so under instruction from Whyte. Bond also finds Tiffany on the rig in a swimsuit and who appears to have out in her lot in with Blofeld. When Bond manages to swish the tapes he puts the real one inside Tiffany’s Bikini but she  misunderstands what he has done and later proudly boasts she has switched the tapes again. Leiter and a force arrive in numbers and commence to attack the base while Blofeld attempts to escape in a  mini sub to be launched into the sea by a crane, but Bond takes control of the crane and uses the mini sub to smash into the control room which explodes and prevents the laser from working, Bond and Tiffany falls into the sea from which they are rescued.  The fate of Blofeld is left open.

In the film’s Coda the couple are making their way back to Europe in a cruise liner when unexpectedly they are presented by a banquet in their cabin on behalf of the captain but delivered by Wint and Kidd who have a Bombe Surprise to end the meal. Fortunately they are detected with one setting himself ablaze and the other blown up by the device he planned for the couple.

Connery had to be offered over one million to agree to play Bond again  after Lazenby  said to have made it clear he only wanted to play the role once after falling out with the film people because they controlled his performance along with the story. While Lazenby performed and participated in the creation of other film and TV productions he has not achieved the kind  of lasting work which led to his decision. He was married twice, the most recent to Pam Shriver and the couple have three children before divorcing.

Jill St John was originally cast for the brief part of  Plenty O‘Toole with Raquel Welch, Jane Fonda and Faye Dunaway considered for the role among others.

In my judgement this is the worst of the Bond films to that time as none of the characters engaged or produced any sympathy.

The new Bond was Roger Moore who developed the role into a Tongue in Cheek character exploiting all the worst but popular money making aspects of the role created by Hollywood. The contrast with the creative genius and integrity of the Harry Potter series could not be greater as I plan to soon demonstrate.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

On Her Majesty's Secret Servie

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with George Lazenby as 007, Diana Rigg as not only his Bond Woman but his legal wife by the end of the film, and Telly Savalas as Blofield, and costing less than previous films at $7 still made of $80 and all things considered was a more serious, less humorous and better film than the last two made with Connery.

Even after four decades my reaction towards Lazenby is the same. It was a noble effort but there was something missing. This was more than the obvious fact that he was not Connery and different. The issue was one of credibility and he did not communicate as the kind of man who would be content with his licence to kill however much the target were justified on behalf of the state and he certainly was not the kind of personality who was able to engage in general killing, albeit usually in self defence, of the enemy in which Bond was required to engage in the film productions and in the books. He was closer to the kind of person who could be a real spy as a man of conscience and integrity, as well as daring and courage I felt he would not survive the selection process for either role and certainly he lacked the sexual charisma to have women want to drop their knickers the moment they came into direct contact

The film begins with Bond in Portugal where he prevents a woman committing suicide on a beach that he happens to be passing noting the sports car and her attractiveness. For some unexplained reason the men supposed to be her security fight with him. Later he sees the same woman at the Casino and she gives the impression of inviting him to her room after he has paid her debts and where he provides caviar and champagne, but she is not there, only the henchmen of her father who kidnap Bond and take him to meet Marc-Angel Draco, the head of a European crime Syndicate Unione Corse. Although he does not appear have a title his daughter does Contessa di Venenzo, presumably she was previously married but why she wanted to take her own life is also not disclosed. The father admits she is a headstrong young woman independent of him but because Bond saved her life and she appears interested in him he suggests marriage with the payment of one million as a dowry. Bond expresses interest but only if he provides a lead to the whereabouts of Blofield. Back in London M does not support Bond’s obsession with Blofield who he has been trying to track down for two years so he resigns although Moneypenny changes his letter to a request for two weeks paid holiday, to save face on both sides. It has to be said that in the films the relationship between Bond and M is a prickly one but while M appears to respect and depend on the work undertaken by Bond, Bond does not appear to have any liking or respect for his boss.

Bond uses the leave to accept an invitation from Draco to attend his birthday party at which his daughter is expected to attend. She is incensed that Bond has been invited and bullies her father to revealing his information about Blofield as a test to see if Bond is really interested in her. They have a genuine romance but then part, although it was not clear to me why there was no continuity except that Bond needs to follow up the lead about Blofeld which involves an unconventional breaking of the safe of the lawyer said to know the whereabouts and created as a visual for the audience. The breakin establishes that Blofield is the head of a clinical research institute at the top of a mountain in Switzerland and is seeking via the lawyer to establish himself as the legitimate Comte Balthazar de Bleuchamp, although why he wants to do this is also not explained.

Bond arranges to replace the Sir Hilary Bray, a Scotsman, from the College of Arms and arranges to travel to the Institute to interview the would be Count, inspect the evidence he has assembled and persuade him to journey away from the fortress to the location of the family residence and burials centre for the final verification so he can kill him. At the institute Bond finds that all the patients are attractive sex starved young woman and he finds it difficult to keep up satisfying those who show particular interest. The young women are bossed by a Klebbs type villainous assistant Irma Bunt who rules the girls and keeps the guest under virtual lock and key, although this does not stop Bond getting out of his room and into the beds of some of the young women. During one such encounter Bond discovers that Blofield is using a form of hypnotic mind control to cure the psychological aspects of the allergies but also to take subconscious control for a purpose yet to be disclosed but which they will have no knowledge of, except that the young women come from all parts of the globe as have other patients in the past. Bond has one local contact who attempts to reach him but is captured and tortured before being killed and who reveals that Sir Hilary is Bond. I also have to record that while Isle Steppat is convincing as Bunt Telly Savalas is Telly Savalas and unconvincing as Blofeld.

The course of treatment ends as Christmas approaches and the girls are given a vanity case as a present but told not to touch one item of make up. That none of them or the other women previous trained attempt to do so is another credulity challenge, These item contain bacterial material by which Blofeld on behalf of Spectre intends to hold the world to ransom. Bond manages to escape after being captured but not killed, again begging the question why not and tries to avoid the search being made for him led by Bunt joining the crowds attending a large Christmas fair which includes ice skating, stock car racing and various stalls for food, drink and souvenirs. Fortunately he meets up with the Countess who had been told by her father where he is. He fails to make direct contact with London to warn of what is to happen and the couple get involved in the Stock car race, escape and then have to hold out in a barn because of a snow storm.

In the morning Blofeld and his men all super excellent skiers are making a search of the outlying premises but when they reach the Barn, Bond and the Countess are on skies making their next attempted get away. Blofield sets off an avalanche which traps the couple. Because Bond is not visible it is assumed he had been buried and killed while the Countess is visible and alive and captured, The only justification why she is not killed is that Blofield fancies her and seeks a formal alliance through marriage with her father.

Bond survives and makes his way to London where he finds that the world’s powers are prepared to pay up and M refuses Bond permission to go for Blofeld at the Institute where the tapes are kept which will trigger the women to undertake their assignment if the ransom is not paid. Bond contacts the father of the Countess and they make successful aerial assault on the fortress which they then destroy.

Blofeld escapes using a bobsled on an official run with Bond in close pursuit and Blofeld is shot out of the course and appears to be killed ensnared in a tree branch with Bond making the quip about branching out. For some unbelievable reason he does not check out that the man is dead or ensure that Irma Bunt is rounded up. He has only himself to blame for what happens next. Bond and the Countess are married in a great celebration at which M Moneypenny and Q all attend the wedding and reception provided at great cost and many flourishes by the European head criminal. although in fairness he and his men at the cost of many lives did save humanity from potential extinction.

As the couple set off on their honeymoon and stop to take off the decorations on the car, Blofeld drives past with Bunt firing at them as they pass. The Countess is killed in what is a moving last scene and which makes good much of the rubbish before.

It is as a consequence of this event that You only Live twice , the book, has meaning, explaining the state that Bond is in and why he has been demoted and the good fortune of meeting up with Blofeld and this time ensuring that he is dead by killing him by hand. I should also mention that among the Angels of Death as the young women at the Institute are known and with whom Bond has a relationship are Joanna Lumley and would appear in the New Avengers after Diana Rigg concluded her role in the original series and as did Honour Blackman (Goldfinger). Another Angel was Julie Ege, the former Miss Norway who came to England to improve her knowledge of the language, starred in Up Pompeii with Frankie Howard and a number of Hammar films, and was something of a socialite, if I remember correctly.

The book is the second of the Blofeld trilogy commencing with Thunderball and d ending with You only Live twice and not Diamonds are Forever which was the next film and the final Connery although as I have shown the studio altered the storyline in earlier Fleming books to make Smersh Spectre and have Blofeld appear without showing his face.

Whereas in the film it is Bond who searches for Blofeld in the book it is M while Bond believes Spectre has ended and Blofeld with it and he is about to resigns because M refuses to reassign him.

As in film he does save her honour at the gambling table when she cannot pay the accumulating debt. It is after this incident that she attempts to commit suicide and both are taken by her father’s men to see him against their respective wills where the marriage proposition is presented. Bond then agrees to romance the woman but only from wanting her to stop the suicides attempts and while Draco does advise Bond that Blofeld is in Switzerland it is the College of Arms which contacts to advise of the approach of Blofeld to become the Comte. The book explains that Blofeld has had plastic surgery which enable the use of a different actor in the film. Blofield plan is only directed at the UK and Ireland and against the agriculture rather than the civilian population. Apart from the introduction of the Christmas setting and the capture of the countess the rest of the book including the avalanche appears to be faithfully reproduced in the film. Fleming had stayed at a sports club in the Alps which the Nazi’s converted into a research establishment on Asiatic races.

I also learned from Wikipedia that Draco is the nickname given to Sir Francis Drake and which was also the basis for Draco Malfoy in J K Rowling’s Harry Potter series where by coincidence I am also viewing again with the first films completed and will form the subject of the next writing after Hunted and other updates on my main work project.

I also discovered in the book Bond does not attempt to present a different personality when playing the role of the representative of the college of Arms and which grates in the film as his performance as a boring upper class English noble did not work at the time, and even more so now.

I also suggest that Lazenby and Rigg do not make a likely couple although I must confess I have always found women like Rigg, Diana Doors, Honour Blackman, Margaret Lockward, Joan Collins and even Elizabeth Taylor as she matured intimidating. Now Jean Simmons, Julie Christie and Jenny Agutter are a different order of class and interest although top of the list of crushes has always been the Europeans Ingrid Bergman and of course Bardot.

Monday, 26 November 2012

You only Live Twice

It  remains puzzling the studio decided that the next film should in theory be called You only live twice the 12rth Bond and the last published book before his death although two others works were issued afterwards. The film bears little relationship to the book and there were lots of complications because it was written after Her majesty’s Secret Service and Diamonds are Forever both of which were to made after this film and both of which contain important events which related to the main content of the book. The studio and their writers were caught between  continuity issues in the film series and in the book with the most notable that in the book Bond starts off a demoralised wreck of a human being demoted and outposted to Japan on a diplomatic mission where by accident he find Blofield, the Head of Spectre and kills him. There is a rationale behind the series of evens in the book but not in the film made by Connery after the studio  upped his fee and on the understanding it would be the last film because he was bored and the work, especially promoting the film, prevented his involvement in other more serious and professionally rewarding opportunities.

It can be argued that the UK Secret Service had no business getting involved in what was escalating conflict between the USSR and the USA, albeit caused by Spectre on behalf of an unstated Asian power.  What happens in the film is that a second USA space vehicle disappears when in orbit around the earth when  tracked and then overtaken by an unknown other space craft. We the audience  know that this second craft is bigger with jaw like opening at the front which captures the USA space craft rather than destroying it and then returns to an unknown base where the astronauts are imprisoned. Why the USA space craft is not just blown up and why the  men are captured is beyond comprehension and is one of a series of ludicrous  aspects of this  appalling yet successful money making film.  One of the spacemen is killed when his lifeline is cut by the capturing craft. The USA is convinced this is a Russian effort as the  only other power with space capabilities, but the British say that their evidence is that space craft involved returned to somewhere off the Japanese mainland and propose to send their man Bond,

The film title is explained by the manufactured idea that in order to carry out his inquiries Bond should have a fake death. The cinema goers see Bond having an affair with an Asian girl who pushes a lever which raises the bed into the wall with Bond inside which machine  guns riddle with bullets. The bed is lowered to show Bond resting in a pool of blood but the upper body is intact a clue to everyone but the most stupid in the audience that he is not dead and that the burial at sea is intended for watching  enemy eyes. He is brought into a submarine where M has an office with Moneypenny where we see that he has a breathing apparatus inside the canvas covering. Bond lives again. In the book Bond is thought to have been killed when the Castle  building he has been investigating blows up before which he is has strangled Blofield to death after a fight. When he recovers he has lost his memory and lives with his girlfriend as a fisherman for  a long while with demise reported back in the UK. Pregnant she hopes he will marry her and settle down  but he continues to wonder about his origins and comes to the conclusion that he must travel to Russia and Vladivostok to find out. The main story has ended when his second life begins while in the film it is a device for his involvement in the main story.

Given that the USA was the main occupying power in Japan the only reason for the UK secret service getting involved was to recover from the shame of its main spies Burgess McClean and Blake being traitors and double agents for the Russians and understandably the American had closed their information channels to the UK as a consequence.

In the film on arrival in Japan in his new persona he is met by Aki the assistant to the young dynamic head of their intelligence service known as Tiger Kanaka. She takes him to see the local MI agent played by the actor who becomes Blofield in the next film. This agent is living  the Japanese traditional culture already abandoned by most urban Japanese and he is assassinated  before he can reveals all his thoughts and info to Bond. Bond chases and kills the assassin before being taken by Aki to the HQ of Osato chemicals revealed by the MI6 local man to be connected and where he manages to open the safe before escaping from the security guards. After this Aki appears to abandon Bond and rushes off into the underground and  along a platform then into a side area and where Bond following suddenly finds the floor opening and in a metal slide down into the secret underground office of the head of the Japanese Secret Service. This is a ludicrous device. The head of the Japanese service is called in both film and book  Tiger  because Fleming had travelled around Australia with a  journalist called Tiger (Saito) who becomes Tenaka and a Richard Hughes who becomes Dikko (Richard)  Henderson in the film, the local MI6 agent and was also the character on whom Le Carré based Old Craw in the Honourable Schoolboy.

Tenaka invites Bond to his home where he introduces Bond to being bathed naked by beautiful young women followed by a massage which is undertaken by Aki. Tenaka arranges for Bond to see the head of the chemical firm Dr Osato who knows this is Bond and orders him killed. Bond escapes from the building and in the subsequent car chase, Tenaka has a helicopter lower a large magnet clamp onto the car which is then dropped out of sight into the ocean.

Before this Bond had travelled with Tenaka in his underground  office train where the photograph of as cargo ship taken from the safe is analysed. They are able to trace the vessel to where it is docked and reloading in Japan but the location to where the photograph was taken is unknown except that the tourist who took the photo was killed. Why the photo and negative was kept and not destroyed is another ludicrous aspect.

Bond investigates the ship and is captured  after a series of fights to wake up in the cabin of  a Spectre member, another young woman who begins by torturing Bond for information but ends up his lover and accomplice flying  back to the capital on her way to betray the company for  more money.  She has second thoughts, bails out of the plane which she sets on fire leaving Bond to narrowly escape before it crashes.

It is as this point we are introduced to Blofield who is meeting with representatives of the Government who is paying for Spectre to create a war between the USA and Russia. Blofield want X millions up front and to make the point he gives a demonstration of the power  of piranha fish in a pool who strip a large joint meat to the bone in seconds. He then interviews Osato and Helga, feeding Helga to the piranha and ordering Osato to kill Bond or else.

Tenaka  finds where the photo of the island was taken but aerial recognisance reveals nothing so Q arrives with Little Nellie a small transportable gyro helicopter with lethal extras including rockets and  mini bombs and apparently unlimited fuel as it is able to fly over  to the island and engage in a prolonged aerial battle with four helicopters which are destroyed. This is a great and unnecessary blunder by Spectre because it alerts Bond and the two secret services that the island or close to it is important and requires closer examination.

Instead of sending in appropriate forces Bond  spend time training in martial arts as part of a Ninja school organised by Tenaka and prepared to land on the island with the 100 men as local fisherman and peasants with again for some unexplained reason Bond has to look like a  local as well as dress up as one. This reminds of the make up of Marlon Brando in Tea House of the August Moon( setting up a traditional  Geisha establishment).

Before he commences on this part of the mission a further attempt on his life leads to the death of Aki. It is not explained that while the Ninja  off to the island on their own Bond  needs a local wife other than to show a local marriage ceremony a collective Madam Butterfly style event  to the cinema audience. It is rubbish.

A Russian spacecraft has now been taken which inflames tensions between the two superpowers and the USA government brings forward plans for the next launching placing its forces on high alert and warning the Russians to expect retaliation if anything happens to the craft or its  men.  Bond and his new wife make  a visit to  the island exploring what appears to be a tunnel access into something underground via the sea but they have to withdraw because of gas. They then climb to the rim of volcano and witness a helicopter disappearing below the lake which they find is made of metal, The girl is sent back to warn the others while Bond waits for the opportunity to enter whatever is  underground, There girl is shot at when in the water and disappears under the sea although we are confident she will survive somehow. Bond gets his opportunity, releases the USA astronauts and attempts to replace one of the astronauts setting off to capture the  USA spacecraft. He is spotted and revealed to be Bond and typical of the series instead of immediately executing him Blofield wants him to witness his triumph, a failing of every villain in every film and which is irrational action on the part of the  baddies. It does not make sense.

The Ninja’s arrive but  find  there are machine guns in the rim of the volcano and they have to retreat or be lost. Then Bond gets the opportunity to open the roof and they commence to descend but a fierce battle emerges.  Blofield seals the unit but prepares to exist and other members of the team begin to exit by a second entrance down a flight of stairs which taken people into the tunnel and out to sea. Bond manages to break into the control centre and abort the rocket just before it captures the USA craft and starts World War 3. Before Blofield leaves  he sets of a self destruct explosion  so every leave in a panic via the tunnel which involves swimming out to the open sea before the island explodes.

Support planes then drop life craft and Bond the girl get into one and drift into the open sea on their own. Just when Bond thinks he is to consummate their relation they find that a submarine surfaces with  their raft sitting on its hull.

As I have advised all this has nothing to do with the book where the story is very very different. Bond is a broken man after the events in the previous book, drinking and smoking heavily so he is downgraded  to 7777 and  joins the diplomatic section where he is sent to Japan to negotiate an exchange of information. However his information is of no use so Tiger makes a proposition that he investigate the activities of a Dr Shatterhand and his wife where guests commit suicide at his castle and presumably donate their funds to their host before doing so. Bond is trained as part of the Tanaka team with  an attractive assistant Kissy Susuki(!!!) and becomes a mute coal miner despite learning in the film that he obtained a First in oriental languages at Oxford. Dr Shatterhand is in fact Blofield who dresses up as Samurai warrior.

The two fight and Bond strangles Blofeld in a act of personal revenge before blowing up the castle. However Bond is knocked out in the explosion and loses his memory. The girl Kissy takes him off to live as a fisherman on a small island without communications where after getting pregnant she hopes he will marry her and settle down. Bond is said to remain restless until a newspaper articled triggers an interest in going to Russia and the city of Vladivostok because it occurs that he was a former Russian agent! The book was also something fo a disaster with the critics and public

Connery was  wise to want to leave what had become a travesty of the work  of Ian Fleming for naked greed, although if the public had not bought the tickets, then the studio would have soon directed their attention elsewhere as we shall soon see, when the studio attempted to provide a more serious film, it was not a success.


The battles with Spectre continued in Thunderball, although this time the adversary air Number 2, Emilo Largo, at a meeting of the group boasts that he will increase the coffers by a couple of hundred million. This is after one of those assembled is executed because of pocketing some of the profits. All those involved at the top are men. One is missing, dead and whose funeral is attended by Bond in the opening prequel  and who then  gets to the chateau of the widow and confronts “her” knowing it is really him so after a fight Bonds kills  and leaves the villa wearing a jet pack which led to discussions in the media if this was the future of personal travel.

Bond recuperates at a health clinic where apart from  a casual sex interest(a physic played by Molly Peters) he comes across the murder of a member of NATO who was due to observe a UK plane with two nuclear weapon bombs on a training flight. A lookalike takes the place of the dead man and kills the rest of the crew with gas and the plane lands in the sea, is camouflaged in an open sea grotto below sharks with the bombs removed. NATO is asked to pay £100 million in flawless uncut Diamonds (to herald Diamond are Forever?). Failure to meet the demand will lead to the destruction of a major city in the UK or USA.

All the 00 agents attend a meeting with M and again the series appears to place the British intelligence service above those of the US and the Europeans. The agents are allocated sectors of the world to search for evidence of the location of the bombs with Bond given Canada but fortunately he recognises that he has seen the NATO man dead at the clinic and persuades M ( played in all the early films by Bernard Lee) that he should go to Nassau where he has already researched that the man’s sister is located. There he finds that she, Domino, has become the mistress of Emilio Largo who has a villa estate with two swimming pools. In one he keeps killer sharks which he subsequently tells Bond he captures for institutions. Largo also has a fast luxury yacht and his first encounter with Bond is at the Blackjack table and Bond creates an impression by winning and then dancing with Domino who is forced to leave by Largo who invites Bond to come for a meal at their home.

While Bond does not know that Largo is Spectre’s number 2 we the audience recognise him from the Prequel boast of  the  value of the latest extortion project.

On return to his hotel room Bond senses there is an intruder in his suite and silences Felix Lietner ( played by a different actor than previous with the name of Rip Van Nutter, I kid you not) the CIA agent and friend ( brought out of retirement to assist), before giving the Spectre man a beating and sending him back to Largo who feeds him to the sharks for incompetence.

In this film Q ( also played by Bernard Llewelyn in all the films) arrives with his latest gadgets which have become the trade mark for series and which the audience have come to expect. With amazing foresight Q creates devices which become life savers in the particular venture although his creations are for use by the service in general.

Bond investigates the yacht’s underside with the underwater camera supplied by Q  and notes that it has an underneath compartment in which the nuclear weapons could be stored. 

Bond has been assisted by local agent Paula who is captured by Largo’s own female assistant who specialises in using surgical knives which she threatens to use unless Paula reveals what she knows. The girl commits suicide with a cyanide capsule before Bond can rescue her. In escaping from the House (Palmyra) Bond falls into the pool fighting with a security man, which Largo covers  before releasing the sharks via a connecting tunnel. Bond uses this to escape while the sharks finish off the security man and because the pool is covered Largo does not realise what has happened.

The next action involves a Junkanoo which at the time I thought I had misheard but upon further investigation transpires to be the regional name of a street carnival/parade usually at Christmas and New Year in the Bahamas but also across the water in Florida and Key West which given Fleming’s location in the West Indies may have led  him to  calling the chief villain Largo after the Humphrey Bogart film Key Largo. The Junkaroo in the film was especially created with the help of the locals as filming occurred in a different part of the year to the actual event and it was a mark of the success of the Bond films at a time when cinema audiences were in rapid decline with the growth of coloured television and the video player that the production company was prepared to arrange for so many extras including the those on the streets and at the Kiss Kiss Club where Bond visits in an attempt to escape from the Spectre pursuers led by Largo’s assistant who is killed by one of her men because of a quick turn around by Bond.

With time running out before the ransom has to be paid Bond and Lietner successfully locate the sunken Vulcan Bomber and he brings back items worn by the brother of Domino worn by the man who had impersonated him and  who had been killed and also left in the plane when he had become greedy. although one suspects he would have been killed in any event  Bond uses the personal items to tell Domino that he brother is dead and was killed the orders of Leitner after he has encountered her swimming underwater once more and they have had undersea sex (implied).

After narrowly escaping death again Bond persuades Domino to return to the yacht with a Geiger counter disguised as a camera to establish if the bombs are on board. She is discovered by Largo and imprisoned on the boat. Bond has gone to investigate the house via sea steps, advised by Domino beforehand, and waited for Largo and his men to set off underwater to retrieve the weapons and joins them disguised as one of the men who he has killed. Bond is caught as the weapons are retrieved and imprisoned within an Atoll having swallowed a capsule homing device so that when the search helicopter arrives with Leitner he is able to use the miniature flare gun, another of Q’s devices to provide his precise location and they send down a winch to rescue. He has also needed a four minute miniature breathing device.

There is then a prolonged underwater sea battle between Largo and his men and Bond, Leitner and his men with many on both sides being killed or injured by hand harpoons. Largo escapes back to his yacht pursued by Bond and Lietner but makes a further escape after creating a smoke screen in which a smaller faster craft emerges as part of the main vessel. On it is the scientist involved with the nuclear devices who rescue Domino which Bond managing to get on board and there is the final fight between the two men as  they also wrestle to control the craft from hitting various rocks and bits of coast before Bond and the girl jump as Largo is blown up with the craft. In the Coda Bond and Domino are in a life raft from which he jettisons what appears to be a weather balloon but which is in fat a winch line so when the balloon is caught by an aircraft, they are winch together into the plan.

In this film there is the standard flirtation scene with Miss Moneypenny, M’s Secretary played by Lois Maxwell while the establish actor Roland Culver plays the foreign Secretary and  not the Defence Minister, as one might expect, on  Operation Thunderball. The film established  that the villain usually employs a senior scientist to prepare and control the weapon, sometimes  having convinced of a idealistic intention, sometimes blackmail, and sometimes greed.

Tom Jones sings Thunderball,  added after the film was completed because the original song did not include  the film title which was originally sung by Shirley Bassey, but then rerecorded and released two decades later by Dionne Warwick. The $9 million budget indicating the ability to spend on even greater productions and casts produced $150 million world wide and remains the most financially successful of the Bond films in real  terms. The visual effects won an Academy award and was even voted best film in Germany.  However I thought the film had long and boring sequences and predicable outcomes and demonstrated that the style together with exotic locations now had come to replace characters of substance and stories of depth akin to reality.

In the film we again only hear the voice of Ernst Stavros Blofeld who runs Spectre and who holds onto a white cat with a diamond collar, It was in this ninth book by Fleming that Blofield was in fact first introduced as the head of Spectre and he  goes on  to be played by different actors in You only Live twice also with Connery and  On her Majesty’s Secret Service with Lazenby which I am also reviewing in this piece. The film’s prequel is an extra to the book and Bond is sent to the clinic by M because he has been drinking and smoking excessively and his condition is classed as unfit, an issue to the fore in the latest Bond Skyfall. There are only 3 00 Licenced to kill agents mentioned in the Bond books with a a large number summoned to  see M.

However the basic story lines are similar with Domino using a hand harpoon gun to kill Largo although she saves Bond in the under water cave where he has been overpowered by  and exhausted from his fight with Largo. There other differences with Domino’s brother  stealing the  plane and the bombs,  Largo’s female assistant and the street parade are additions to the book. Lietner did not participate in the action sequences because he had already become disabled losing arm, hand and a leg in an earlier book, still to be made into a  film.

It is also fair to comment that Fleming had progressed Bond through the use of witty one liners which became  film standards and are often tongue in cheek plays on words. In the previous eight books  the Russian SMERSH was the enemy.

According to Wikipedia Fleming used the Commander Crabb death incident when he disappeared in Portsmouth Harbour going to inspect the underside of a Russian vessel for the scene where Bond does the same to Largo’s yacht. (Commander Crabbe had made his name in Gibraltar in the Second World War leading a team of underwater frogmen and features in the British film, The Silent Enemy, a DVD acquired because it featured Gibraltar. Significantly the Silent Enemy film has an under sea battle between frogmen on both sides using miniature under water craft).

What I found most interesting is that Fleming originally wrote a  script for a Bond film with another screen writer but the project was rejected nd then Fleming used  parts of the proposed film script  to write the book. This led to a civil action in which Fleming settled a time when he had a serious heart attack     leading to his subsequent death,

Friday, 23 November 2012

From Russia with Love and Goldfinger

It is with the second and third Bond films produced, From Russian with Love and Goldfinger that the genre became much as we know it to this day and a popular and commercially successful cinema form of entertainment.

From Russia with Love introduced the opening sequence immediately after the Bond front screen and the sequence was directly related to the story after which came the full credits and the second development a song embracing the title of the film with an established artist of the day (Matt Monroe), to best effect with Goldfinger with the first Bond Performance by Shirley Bassey. The opening scene in Goldfinger was unrelated to the story line a feature which some of the other Bond films followed.

The two films also established the involvement of the clever tricks department led by Q. In From Russia with Love the important extra is a case which has to be opened in a special way or a can of talcum power will explode in your face. The case also had an external knife hidden which can be released for an emergency and a high powered riffle contained within its shoulder rest plus two strips of 25 Gold Sovereigns. In Goldfinger the concept progressed several leaps forward to include a visit to the development laboratory and the famous Aston Martin car with the ejector seat, a tyre wrecker, a front machine gun, a rear bullet shield and the ability to create a smoke screen and a oil slick.

The inclusion of a gratuitously sexual relationship or two together with the demise of a friend or two, both male and female also became features but somehow always without the real horror and pain of reality.

Goldfinger also introduced the super henchman with Oddjob although the best known become Jaws. Bond is always captured and narrowly escapes death, more than once on occasions also becomes an established aspect. There is also the coda. Just when you think the film is over and Bond victorious there is a twist.

Now to the stories and main characters. From Russian to Love continues the involvement of SPECTRE and we are soon introduced to its hierarchical structure with number I 3 and 5 involved. Number 5 is an International Chess master who is called away from an international competition at a time when Russians champion dominated the chess scene versus Americans and tournaments were major events televised, reported and games analysed. He is the brains of a plan to capture a Russian decoding machine and set the Russian and British intelligence services into open conflict. The involves the head of the Russian counter intelligence service (SMERSH) led by Rosa Klebbs played by Lotte Lenya, the famous singer wife of Kurt Veil and actress. She has selected one of her best students to carry to the clandestine operation by contacting London and offering them the decoding machine because she has becomes infatuated with the picture and file information about James Bond. She is ordered to seduce him and offer to defect to London with the machine. N M and Bond are aware it is a trap but the opportunity get hold of the decoding machine is too good an opportunity to miss.

The film opens at night at the training centre for SPECTRE Operatives run by Walter Gotell as his best operative played by Robert Shaw as Red Grant. He is seen to garrotte Bond in a matter of seconds until we find that the dead man was wearing a mask and later in the film Walter explains to Klebb when introducing her to Grant that training is one thing but field experience is more important and which is why they use expendable people to practice on. Klebb is also portrayed as a predatory Lesbian although in the films this aspect is hinted at whereas in Goldfinger the book the subject is explicit. The role of Grant is to create mayhem between the two services and then when the girl, Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) leaves with Bond and the machine for England eh has to get hold of the machine the has to get hold of the machine and kill the couple. Thee machine is to be sold back to the Russians for an extortionate price.

The selected location is Istanbul where the girl works in Russian Embassy. Bond‘s contact us is Ali Kerim Bey who like Bond is a ladies’ man but unlike Bond Bey has many sons who assist him. In the world of post war Turkey the various intelligence services are open in following and keeping an eye on each other’s activities but they appear comparatively harmonious in their relationships. However Red Grant soon upsets the balance by killing one of those trailing Bond, and the local British agent, Bey, then narrowly escapes a bomb placed on the wall adjacent to his desk. Bond and Bey then escape a major shoot out when the local Russian boss launches an all out assault on the two when they attend a Gypsy camp. Grant steps in to ensure Bond is not killed before gets the girl and the machine.

At the camp Bonds present when two young woman fight over a man but when during the shoot out Bond saves the life of the Gypsy leader Francis De Wolff he is given the two young to amuse himself although the extent of the relationship during thee rest of the night is only hinted at. Sex with one is OK but with two was considered too risqué Bond then help Bey to assassinate the head of Russian intelligence.

Meanwhile Bond has moved himself from one room in the hotel which is bugged to the Bridal suit where Tatania is found in his bed and where unbeknown to them their love making is filmed. it is also during this film that the double entendre is perfected.

For some reason having secured the girl and the machine the couple arrange to travel on the Orient Express towards the border with when the train is to stop and the couple taken to an airfield for a flight although why they cannot board a commercial airline from Istanbul to London is not explained.

Again when Grant kills Bey and a Russian counterpart who has also got on the train, the plan is aborted and the couple continue to Belgrade and to the Italian border at Trieste. I am also not clear when and how Bond has arranged for another British agent to board the train who Grant kills when they stop at the station and impersonates. He drugs the girl when they are eating and drinking at the restaurant and then overpowers Bond who fails to suspect the man is a villain. However it here that the Talc Bomb in the brief case becomes useful and the knife is used to kill Grant.

Bond then overpowers the driver of a vegetable truck waiting to collect Grant and the machine and outwits and destroys a SPECTRE helicopter sent to pick up the machine/ guard the villain. Bond and the girl then use the motor launch ready for the truck driver to escape to make their way to Venice. They have a quantity of fuel on board in drums which begin to leak when the launch is approached by four others who open fire to stop the craft as the priority is the decoding machine. Bond appears to surrender and uses an emergency flare gun to ignite the petrol on both sides of the advancing enemy who become engulfed in flames and die through burning and explosion.

Because of the failure of the plan the grand chess master and SPECTRE’s number 5 is executed and Klebb is told not to fail by number 1(Henry Blofield), who at this point we do not know or are able to identify. This leads to coda event where the couple are celebrating their escape and unofficial marriage. Klebb arrives as a cleaner and takes the machine appearing to successfully order Tatania to assist but before she can shoot Bond, Tatania comes to the rescue. There is a memorable scene where Klebb, as had training master Gotrell earlier in getting rid of number 3 uses device in the shoe to strike and poison to death an adversary.

This is a rare ending in the sense that the female lead survives although it is evident that although the girl has fallen in love with Bond the relationship does not continue. The film was made for £2 and made close to £80 thus one of the great financial successes of that time in terms of ratio between cost and income.

I have not read the book but according to a Wikipedia article the emphasis in the book was for Smersh to kill Bond because of his success against them in earlier books and to discredit him by filming the sexual liaison with the expendable Russian Marta Hari to cloud his judgement. In the book the decoding machine is called the Spektor and was evidently based on the British successful computer cracking of the German coding machine Enigma. While the film closely follows the book in all other respects Bond escapes death at the hands of Grant by holding his cigarette lighter in a magazine before his heart. There is also a significant difference in the Coda as instead of Klebb finding Bond and Tatania in Venice he tracks her down to Paris and although she is killed she poisons Bond with a stroke from the device in her show and the book ends with Bond unconscious and presumably dying.

Goldfinger has a less complicated story and was even more commercially successful that From Russia with Love making £125 million at the box office from an expenditure £3 million. This I suggest is why subsequent films followed many features established in this movie.

The villain, called Goldfinger, has legitimate gold holdings and jewellery making firm but the authorities know he is up to something when he is shifting large amounts of gold but they do not know how or why and Bond is assigned to find out.

His first contact with Goldfinger is in Miami with the help of a CIA contact where at the best beachside hotel he spots Goldfinger cheating at cards with the help of an assistant based in his room who is able to read the cards of his opponent via a telescope and relay the information via a fake hearing aid, an early version of the communications earpiece which has become so familiar used by security staff at sporting events, the police and personal security officers.

Bond interrupts the assistant played by Shirley Eaton, a very attractive young woman who had featured mainly in UK films for a decade but became Internationally famous because after Bond interrupts the game an insists that Goldfinger not only loses all the money he has won by cheating but gives back more and Bond and Eaton get together. Goldfinger gets his revenge by painting Eaton with gold paint all over with the consequence that he skin is unable to breathe and she dies with Bond finding her naked body stretched out on the hotel bed and the image became an icon for the movies and the Bond Genre, to some extent eclipsing the main Bond girl in the film Honour Blackman who is another Goldfinger staff member with the glorious name of Pussy Galore.

Eaton retired shortly after the film to become a housewife and a mother to which she devoted herself saying these roles were more important than being famous although since the death of her husband she has come into the limelight a little publishing a second account of her life and interests this year.

Her death in the film fuels Bond’s determination to carry out his assignment and he arranges a face to face meeting by playing a competitive round of golf, at the club owned by the villain who he again beats by a little trickery after catching him cheating again, this time facilitated by the next memorable assistant after Klebb, Oddjob, strong as an Ox and with a metal rim brim to his hat which decapitates!

The Aston Martin previously mentioned has a tracking device which Bond has attached to the Rolls Royce driven by Oddjob and which he finds is being transport by plane to Switzerland. He also arrange to take the next transport plane, only half an hour later, so with a 150 miles radius he is able to catch up with the villain soon after arrival, stopping to overlook as the Rolls stops below him on a mountainside to partake of some fruit at a roadside stall, and unlike event, but which is the opportunity for Bond to narrowly miss being shot by a young woman who transpires to be the sister of the character played by Eaton out for revenge, although how she knew Goldfinger was the culprit and was able to be in Switzerland armed and waiting to kill him at the first opportunity is not explained and is one of several highly contrived sequences in the film which stretched credulity and which became a feature of the genre as it moved away from the story integrity of the novels.

Bond is able to stop her killing Goldfinger during her second attempt which results in her being killed by Oddjob and he being captured and just about saving his bacon by arguing that he is more valuable alive as a prisoner than dead.

Bond has established that Goldfinger uses his Rolls to transport the Gold to his factory in the country in journeys he makes several times a year and the with the help of the Chinese he has been developing an intense large laser beam which can cut through metal, including gold. Bond is tied to a solid gold or metal slab with the laser in a way which will split him in two.

For another unexplained reason Goldfinger travels separately to the USA with Oddjob leaving Bond to travel in the luxury private jet piloted by Pussy Galore coming down at a private airfield in Kentucky where she operates a flying school and a team of young women who have been on some kind of training exercise.

Bond is tracked by the CIA, he has a second homing device in the heel of a shoe, who are told to keep their distance by M and London assuming that Bond is in control and not in difficulties.

Bond manages to escape and find himself under a main room on the estate where Goldfinger is explaining to an array of mafia style gang leaders from across the USA who are portrayed in the way the UK portrayed gangsters in the forties to early seventies mainly as inarticulate and thick, who each has invested $1 million of gold and want either their money back or an indication of when they will get the substantial return promised. Goldfinger outlines to them his plan to break into and steal the Gold at Fort Knox, the depository surround by some 60000 service men and their families and which he claims will result in a tenfold return on their investment. He then gases all but one of the gang leaders to their deaths.

The one who leaves with his gold is then killed and which in turn leads to another of the memorable sequences in the film which introduced the general public to the motor vehicle crusher which reduced any car into a small chunk of metal which is returned to the estate for the gold to be extracted. Bond has slipped his tracking device into the car and although destroyed the CIA return to their vigilance on the estate where Goldfinger has entered the final phase of the build up to his plan having worked out the way he is going to kill Bond and this and the nature of his plan is then explained to the audience.

The plan is not steal the gold but to contaminate it was a dirty bomb which will render the material useless for sixty years such is his theory increasing the value of his gold ten fold. The author and film makers were not to know that that 20 years later the whole notion of the gold standard and a nations wealth and currency had to be backed by its supply of gold would be abandoned in favour of monetarism part of which is for the state bank to issue as much currency as it needs and the International financial institutions and markets will accept.

The plan which appears to be well executed is for the display flying team to spray the area with a toxic nerve gas which they believe is only sending the troops and their families to sleep but is in fact killing them, and then the laser weapon brought into to the USA is used to get into the vault where the bomb is then taken to the lower level with a five minute timer to which Bond is chained.

Before this there is a sequence in which Pussy Galore collaborates in posing as another Bond conquest for the benefit of the observing CIA which she has agreed as a Goldfinger measure to distract the watchers from realizing what is about to happen. Why Goldfinger needs to do this is not explained and proves his Achilles heel because Bond not only seduces Pussy but unknown to us persuades her to contact the USA government and military and switch the lethal gas to something which enables the troops and civilians to fake death, including vehicle accidents, to enable the military to kill or capture the villains and their forces and stop the bomb going off. Why again it is necessary to go through charade and permit the villains to enter depository so that only seconds remain before the bomb is due to detonate is again something which astute film goers will have noted.

It is also not clear why Pussy Galore does not appear to have advised Bond of the success of making contact and the counter plan. He has been fighting for his life not just from the bomb going off but with Oddjob who has become imprisoned in the vault along with the representative of the Chinese who have supported the operation with technical know how, finance and manpower in order to undermine the capitalist economy if the West. He narrowly avoids death by Oddjob and only a stroke of luck enables him kill the man by an electric shock. Bond does not know how to stop the bomb but fortunately a USA specialist has accompanied the CIA and military forces and is on hand to click the off switch. This is not the end of the story because the USA President wants to meet and thank Bond for his contribution and instead of travelling the normal way the CIA decide in the final ludicrous Coda that Pussy Galore should fly him in Goldfinger‘s luxury plane which once in the air we learn Goldfinger dressed as USA General has managed to disable the guards to the plane, who have been bound and gagged but not killed and taken over the plane. He and Bond fight with a bullet penetrating the fuselage resulting in Goldfinger being sucked out though a damaged window and the two escaping by a parachute as the plane nose dives into the sea. Bond covers themselves with the parachute to avoid immediate detection which again is another signature ending for the genre. The film was a huge success with the first major spin off in memorabilia with Corgi issuing models of the Aston Martin

According to Wikipedia Goldfinger was originally to be titled The Richest Man in the World when written in 1958, as the 7th book in the series with Goldfinger suspected of being involved with the Russian SMERSH. Goldfinger is also presented as a villain with a more complex character, hence his propensity to cheat at games despite his wealth and power.

He appears to only enjoy sex with gold painted prostitutes and has a pornography collection in yellow surrounding himself with Orientals who he refers to as yellow faced.

This was the first time that Bond was also built up as the saviour of the USA which is hugely ironic given that the UK secret service was effectively being run by the Soviets with their ring of traitors. Fleming also used the names of people he knew with Goldfinger the name of a London Architect who threatened to sue with the matter settled out of court. Bond does drive an Aston Martin but is a car without the tricks.

In the book it is an acquaintance of Bond in the USA who asks him as a favour to check out Goldfinger’s cheating habit with does lead to the affair with his assistant Masterson, and to her death, however the gold when taken from the Rolls Royce is changed into aircraft seats for his line which is then sold on the market in India for vast profit.

Bond is captured by Oddjob who tortures him and threaten to split him in two with a circular saw as a means of finding out why he is trailing his boss. The plan to steal from Fort Knox is based his New York base with help of New York mobs and the plot involves poisoning the water with help of Pussy Galore who is the lesbian leader of a gang of lesbian burglars “The cement mixers” with Tilly Masterson (hinted at being lesbian in the film) but openly gay in the book, surviving the earlier encounter and engaging with Pussy until she is killed by Oddjob as she is in film. Bond converts Pussy to his heterosexuality and bi sexuality was not openly written or portrayed at the time. Felix Leitner the CIA man is greeted by Bond as a friend in the film because he has appeared in earlier books and lost an arm and a and a leg ( in Live and Let die) and in the Goldfinger book Bong admires thee way his friend drives a car with his hook!

Finally in the book’s Coda Goldfinger has hijacked a BOAC jetliner in which in the fight Bond strangles Goldfinger and gets Goldfinger’s crew to ditch the plane off the coast of Canada where he and Pussy as rescued by a weathership.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Dr No

I am being overambitious in wanting to experience again all the 29 James Bond Films and the Harry Potter series back to back before I depart for a Christmas and New Year Break, weather permitting, although in this instance the task is not as great as Montalbano or George Smiley as I only possess two Bond Books, but which fortunately includes the first filmed, Dr No, and the sixth novel in the series.

Having recently seen and reported on the latest film Skyfall I want to begin with considering how the films have evolved if they have! While there are several changes between the book and the film, the emphasis is on the story rather than the action and the thrills in part because of the limitation of the cinema craft back in the 1962 and also studio reservations about expensive gimmicks. This is demonstrated in Dr No by a simple opening although colourful there is no explosive opening sequence before the main film commences and the technology is much flashing lights and also models and back screen projections.

At one point a tower rises from the sea in the Caribbean which contains an atomic reactor driven ray able to disrupt the path of a rocket fired by the USA and which is clearly a model. When Connery is escaping from a chasing car it is evident that scenes of him at the wheel are studio based with a moving back screen projection used for trains planes, boats and cars over several decades. There is also no presentation of toys for Bond to use with him only presented with the latest commercially produced hand gun and told to leave his familiar and trusted weapon behind. A dragon turns out to be a crude mechanical vehicle fitted with an extra large flame thrower

The film does introduce us to M and Miss Moneypenny M’s Secretary, and Bond’s skill at cards and roulette although the opening Casino scene is not in the book. The film also begins the caricature of Bond’s ability for beautiful women to offer themselves to him, a feature which if my recollection is correct Roger Moore perfected whereas in my judgement Bond is written as a character with greater depth looking for an ongoing and meaningful relationship. The films always have an end sequence with him getting the girl before the eyes of the world so to speak as officialdom seeks to retrieve him from some impossible to survive situation. Similarly this film commenced the myth of his indestructibility and ability to get out whatever form of imprisonment or close to death predicament he is placed and my memory is that all the films including the first end with a big bang or potential big bang averted as he, sometimes with support, takes on a vastly superior force of mercenaries in terms of numbers and weapons. There is no specially written number 1 hit tune performed by the leading songstress of the day.

Now to the film story and the substantial difference between book and film mainly I believe in order to create a fast moving and exciting thriller not restricted to adults but also perhaps because the book ending is flawed. I have mentioned that the films begins with Bond winning a substantial sum from woman at a Casino before being called away to see M at 3 am in the morning. He flirts with the woman and agrees to compete again in a round of golf before learning that he has to immediately travel away which handicaps his opportunity when he finds that she got into his home and is practicing carpet golf wearing one of his shirts. They have time to have sex off screen before his 10 hour flight Jamaica. She has no role in the main story or is seen again. In the sixties such scenes were considered exciting and revolutionary.

The film is story of Dr No, product of a relationship between a Chinese and Western couple who after making $10 million as part of a Chinese Triad he takes the loot which he uses to becomes a lead member of SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter Intelligence Terrorism Revenge and Extortion).

In the book he became a member of a Chinese Tong in the USA and written at the height of the Cold War Dr No he has done a deal with the Russians who help finance his lifestyle on the island purchased in 1943 from the British with his ill gotten gains. In book and film his sideline is disrupting the launch, direction and location of rockets launched by the USA although in the book the CIA and USA marines have no role as developed in the film.

In both as in the majority if not all Bond films, the chief villain is a ruthless maniac who has built at enormous cost a secret hideaway, strongly fortified with a huge number of expendable mercenaries and high tech weaponry but where his private quarters are luxurious, displaying his wealth with stolen works of art, commanding a superior chef and a cellar of the finest wines.

Whereas in the book the Russians fund and support with their technology in order to undermine the military capabilities of their enemy, the film skates over how the SPECTRE action will help their conquest of the world.

In the Film the reason why Bond has to suddenly leave the private casino is because the agent stationed in Jamaica has failed to make his daily radio call and the channel had remained open although unanswered after his secretary assistant had began the connection to the British mainland Security Communications centre. Soon after arriving in Jamaica Bond visits the residence of the agent when the Police Commissioner shows him the dried blood identified as that of the female assistant. In the book the agent and the assistant disappeared three weeks before with the residence burned to the ground and the view of the Island’s Governor is that the couple ran off together with whatever funds were to hand. In the film we know the agent was gunned down by three Chinese Jamaicans posing as blind men while the tune Three Blind Mice is played in the background after he left the club where he played cards with a small group of men including the local analyst who quickly is rightly identified as the suspect, although again he has no role in the book. In the film Bonds finds a receipt for the analysis of rocks taken from Dr No’s island which the man later denies had any value or significance and which he had thrown away. Bond on the ball had guessed correctly and arranged for a radiation detection device to be sent from London which when applied to the place on a boat where the rocks had been reveals significant continuing radiation. Having gone to island against orders to inform Dr No of the development, he is told to take a caged Tarantula back with him and later there is a great scene where Bond narrowly escapes death from the creature, although in the book we never know who directly placed the creature or delivered, allegedly from the governor a bowl of fruit where Bond spots the syringe marks which when analysed reveal lethal quantities of cyanide.

In the film the governor is alleged to have sent Bond a car whereas in the book given his anonymity as an Import and Export agent there is understandably no official link and he is met by Quarrel, a local fisherman and boat owner who he had contacted before setting off on the journey having used the man on his previous visit to the Island five years before. In the film he makes a phone call to establish the car and its chauffer are fakes and when he confronts the driver after giving the slip to a following vehicle, the man commits suicide with a cyanide filled cigarette. There is a fight when he contacts Quarrel after someone advises that the man will take visitors to the outlying islands.

Quarrel is suspicious of the stranger and Bond is prevented from seriously harming the man by the CIA contact that had needed the help of the killed agent because Jamaica was then a British Colony and Dr No’s island a former British possession over which the CIA had no jurisdiction. In the film the CIA man ferries them and a canoe to the outer waters of the Island and then arrives with USA marines at the end of the film to rescue Bond.

In both there is an attractive Chinese Jamaican who attempts to take a photo when he arrives off the plane and again when he is eating and drink with Quarrel at a restaurant bar. She is rightly identified as an agent of Dr No whose hold over her is such that she is prepared to withstand pain for him. However there is significant difference between film and book over another Chinese Jamaican. In the film she is secretary to the Governor and Bond correctly suspects she is the informant who has given away his arrival plan as well as being involved in the death of his predecessor and assistant. In the book she is secretary to the representative of the Colonial office who he notes had been examining files about the Island and its owner which had then disappeared and while she is identified as another agent of Dr No she also plays no further part in the book while in the film she invites Bond to her isolated home and first Bond is attacked by men in a car which crashes into a burning inferno, then after having sex with the woman who has been ordered to keep Bond busy for a couple of Hours, he arranged for her to be arrested and taken away while he waits for the arrival of the next assassin, who turns out be the analyst who Bond takes great delight in killing after they fight.

The film and the book are in two parts with the second concerned with the island of Dr No and what goes on there and it is with this second part that the differences become fundamental although there are several similarities which as I have previously mentioned include the luxury hideaway. In the film the original business of the island is a front for the creation of an atomic powered reactor to fuel the ray which is able to disrupt American rocket launches.

In the book the business of the island remain a crucial part of the story and while the technical disruption of the rockets is stated as a purpose this plays no further part in the story. In the film Bond’s capture coincides with a rocket launch and is why he is sent to island so quickly after the death of the former agent. Bond is able to prevent the intervention by setting the reactor to explode which it does destroying the island in a spectacular finale after Dr No dies in the reactor cooling system. My main criticism of this ending is that amazingly there appears to be no long term consequence from the radiation on Bond and his rescuers. The is a dangerously politically motivated device used by the film, no doubt on behalf of the then embryonic nuclear energy industry to suggest that it was and is possible to immediately decontaminate people from a major exposure when Bond and the female lead enter contaminated land although how the land came to be so affected is not explained and this in turn brings me to most important difference between the book and the film, the role, the personality and the back story of the female lead.

In the film she is played by Ursula Andress as a beautiful woman in face and body while in book important difference is that she has a broken nose. Another female actor is a voice over as Ursula did not speak fluent English at the time and a second actor sings a song for her. In a travesty of the plot the film makers wanted a super look Bond girl of the type glorified in Baywatch and since its creation by female announcers on Fox News. It is woman as a sexual object par excellence although the film also does attempt to portray the character as a violated virgin who lives a solitary life since the death feather bird studying father on the island sometime before.

Bond discovers the girl when he wakes first thing after arriving on the island in the cover of darkness the night before as she comes also is a canoe from the main island to collect large sculptured sea shells which sells in Miami at $50 a time. In the book she comes for a small closed coloured shell favoured by collectors which she gets for $5 and which she is saving to go to the States to get a nose job which occurred when she was raped by a worker on the plantation where her family had been one of the oldest and wealthiest on the island. She still lives in the decaying family home because the decline in the business and was cared for a servant friend since childhood when she became an orphan. Every year when the plantation was cleared the creatures who inhabited some furry and some dangerous had taken to the house cellars until the clearance ended and they could go back to their life in open. Because she had her carers had taken refuge in the cellars she had learned to lived with and become friends with the creatures and because she walked about with snakes cuddling her body she had established the reputation of having dark powers and which in turn had added to her isolation. This ability is to prove crucial to her survival in the book although is also where the book has a major flaw.

In the book she comes out of the water naked except for a swimming belt omitted in the film to enable a teenage audience to attend the film and there is a well described tender love scene as well as other moments of nakedness in the book which the film skates over or avoids. In both she does describes giving the man who raped and injured her nose a low painful death over a week through a tarantula bite. In film she fires at Bond a series of questions in the form of little known information which is explained in the book that her education consisted of working through an encyclopaedia from A through to a letter towards the end of the alphabet, but not the end. In fairness the film does manage to communicate aspects of the naive, trusting, young girl personality of the book, although this is more to do with the voice over and script and my view Andress is miscast and sets the trend of using actresses as sex object par excellent in the part of the main female lead.

In the book the main business of the island is the production of fertilizer from bird droppings although the trade has its ups and down with the development of artificial manure by the Germans after the War. However it is another bird, flamingo like, which has led to the interest of the authorities in the Island. Representatives of a society concerned with the welfare and protection of these birds with rights carried over from the sale of the island to Dr No had visited and told him of their intention to open a hotel and associated facilities including an air strip in the area of the reserve in order to bring visitors to view the colony. They had never left the island and the dragon fire giving machine was developed not just to scare off other visitors but also to destroy and frighten off these particular birds.

In the book Dr No dies under a mountain of birth droppings spilt over him from a crane controlled by Bond and not in reactor core cooling fluid.

As in the book Bond and the 20 year old girl surrender to the men driving the dragon armoured vehicle after they have survived being machine gunned from a patrol boat, and being chased by pack of hounds by staying under water using cut reeds to breathe but give up when Quarrel is burnt to death by the advancing weapon. They are first cared for by Chinese Women who operate clinic built inside the mountain rock as front should officialdom come to investigate the island, under which are the quarters of Dr No and the atomic reactor and rocket disrupting technology.

In the book Dr No explains his purpose and his background in a forty five minute chat before dinner at nine after the couple have been drugged and spend the day sleeping. During this time he had inspected the naked bodies of the girl and Bond. He then makes it clear that Bond and the girl are not to leave the island. For Bond he has devised an assault course which Bond survives and where the book describes his effort in details as well as various painful injuries he sustains.

For the girl he explains that once a year, fortunately coinciding with her arrival, there is the march of crabs from one side of the island to the other side and this phenomenon does exist in nature and hence the name Crab Island!

Because he is a sadist and a scientist he enjoys observing human pain admitting he admired the work of the Nazi doctors and experimenters claiming they made significant contributions to science and human progress. He had staked a black Jamaican girl naked in the pathway of the migrating creatures and observed how long she had survived which was short. Now he would take the opportunity of comparing her survival that of a white woman. In the film the young woman is given over to the guards for their pleasure and Bond does find her staked but in an area where will drown, a change I believe in part designed to protect the lower rating of the film to maximise the International audience.

I immediately made the connection between her experiences on the plantation and this planned death and I was not wrong for she explains to Bond that the creatures did not like meat and would only attack a human or other animal carcass if there was an open wound. She had lain there while they walked over and around her until they departed with the dawn and than she had freed herself from the stakes making her way to kill Dr No and where she had encountered Bond.

It is this aspect where the story in the book is flawed and which may explain why it was varied in the film. The man would have ensured that he had opportunity watch both trials and deaths as they happened in person and there was no need for them to occur at the same time or for his attention to be diverted by the arrival of a ship to bring supplies and take away the fertilizer and even then he could have arranged for the tests to be filmed and monitored by his guards so he could study and enjoy later. He would have added to Bond‘s horror and pain by making him watch the death of girl and in any event he would know the behaviour of the creatures and would have therefore given the girl an open wound to ensure she was attacked and eaten to death. This I suspect is the main reason for change in ending.

The book does not end with Bond having sex with the girl in the bottom of a boat which enables them to leave the island as it explodes and then releasing the tow rope attached by the rescue team of the CIA contact and American marines, Bond has to go to hospital, then needs to recuperate from his wounds and is cared for by the girl at her estate house which she fills with silverware which has been locked away unused and which again could have been sold to get her the nose job. Bond does arrange for the young woman to go to New York for the operation and for his contact and new friend from the Colonial Office and his wife to care for her when she first returns home while Bonds continues his adventures elsewhere.

In the book the Governor is portrayed as a reactionary figure, a portrait which I believe has some factual basis but while his inclination is for a complete cover up Bond persuades that by seeking anonymity himself the governor will be able to claim credit for aspects of the truth.

I enjoyed the film and the book any may obtain a few of the other books just to see if the book character has greater depth than portrayed by the original Bonds, something which the latter two Bonds have managed to achieve on screen.