May 12, 2003

James Bond Series at the Brattle

These space jumpsuits would be unflattering in any color,
But mustard was a very popular color in the 1970s.
Moonraker, May 12 • It is impossible to watch this film with a straight face, especially the scenes which inspired Dr. Evil and his lair, his henchmen, their costumes, his frickin' laser...
Jaws' allegiance is swayed by his Frankenstein-like love for a busty, blond-braided geek with glasses (and enormous boobs) that he meets in Rio, and somehow is allowed to bring with him to Drax's space ark. It's a truly odd subplot. Google "Moonraker Dolly" to see for yourself.
Despite all its flaws, the exotic location shooting is breathtaking, especially the mountaintop views of Rio de Janeiro. The Venice scenes are impressive too. I wonder how many bribes were paid to allow a big movie production to race motorboats down the canals?
From Russia With Love, May 19 • From worst to first: one of my favorite Bond films, including my favorite villain, Robert Shaw as "Red" Grant, and a tremendous fight scene in a sleeper cabin on a train.
2012 Update: I now own this movie on DVD. Here are some Facebook comments I made while rewatching:
  • Why does Bond always check his hotel room so carefully for the bugs? He never does any business in his room... Well, not that kind of business.
  • Belly dancing does nothing for me, but two Gypsy women in a "blood feud" over a man, rolling around and strangling each other? Hubba Hubba!
  • During the melee at the Gypsy camp, Bond's Turkish ally Kerim gets shot in the arm. The actor grabs his arm and smears bright red fake blood on his jacket sleeve. This is not how gunshot wounds work-- the bullet makes a hole in the jacket, then the shirt, then the arm, then the blood comes out of the arm, etc, etc. This is almost as fake as those Westerns where a cowboy gets shot and flies backwards through the saloon window like he's been launched from a trampoline.
Kerim's suit won't survive the night, but Bond will check
"threesome" off his bucket list before dawn.
  • I'm pretty sure Bond resolved the Gypsy blood feud with a threesome.
  • Back in Bond's hotel room, he hears a noise from the bedroom while drawing a bath. Bond leaves the water running, and discovers his Russian contact naked in his bed! He better hurry if he's going to avoid flooding the whole suite..
  • If the Soviet Lektor decoder is so valuable, why is it so portable? It's got a nifty carrying case. Couldn't they bolt it to the desk, or is it like those laptop docking stations that lock: why use a laptop if you can't take it with you?
"We'll have to make this quick.
I left the bathwater running."

  • Great fight scene with Bond and Red Grant in the train. Followed by mildly silly helicopter chase, then a improbable speedboat chase.
  • Despite some clumsy and antiquated special effects, the staging and camerawork in this movie is mostly clever and sharp. One scene where Bond meets his spy contact on the train station platform, while Red Grant trails behind him from inside the train, is simply inspired.