Because, Sex: Watching James Bond For The First Time – Part 1
As an enthusiastic purveyor of action, schlock and schlocky action, I’ve been harboring a dark secret. No, it’s not that I’ve never watched Star Trek or enjoyed an Indiana Jones movie, I will outright flaunt those facts. Truth be told, after all of these years of laughing at explosions and people running around on fire, I never once watched a James Bond movie.
I realize that I’m not the only one, but most of those people in my demographic don’t get their kicks from watching cars fall off of cliffs. I’ve been told time and time again that these movies were custom engineered for my pleasure. Over the years, I’ve developed this short list of cop-out arguments:
1) Growing up, my sister ultimately had control of the remote and I didn’t care enough about Bond marathons on TNT to convince her otherwise. I was saving most of my television bargaining power for sports. She told me last night that this argument is total BS and she would’ve totally watched some Bond movies with me.
2) They’re not rated R. This is something that prevented me from watching them from day one. Having a long series of PG/PG-13 action movies seems cheap. We’re talking about a guy that does nothing but drink, smoke, kill and screw. HOW IN THE HELL is that gonna be rated PG? It’s a total vice tease! He only sips on drinks, he doesn’t inhale, there’s no blood and he pulls out. Sounds like bullshit to me. When I want to see action, I want to see the whole friggin thing! Although I know now that the light ratings were a necessary device to boost box office revenues. A movie without heavily expressed vice can still be exhilarating and me thinking otherwise only cheapens my taste as an art consumer.
3) There’s like 2,956 installments in the series. It’d take forever to catch up. I realize that most of the movies are self-contained, but the “having lack of time” argument has been an easy free pass to further my self-fulfilling prophecy. But then the baseball season ended and I ended up having too much time on my hands.
Now that I have all the time in the world, I’ve decided to watch a good portion of the Bond movies, in ascending order. For the next four installments, you will watch my brain unravel as I sit through countless hours of gadgets, driving flute scores and cleverly-placed towels. Lord, help me. Or serve me a martini. Wait, I hate martinis. Any drink will do. Sure, Fresca and Mohawk. Perfect.
Dr No – 1962
I expected Agent 007’s first filmed international intrigue ballyhoo to be tame, but not THAT tame. The film starts with 3 blind guys walking down the street. And then they shoot some guy that we know nothing about. That’s all you get! Then James is called to get his ass to Jamaica, interrupting him in bagging some foxy broad on the golf course. He meets this boat dude, boat dude tries to kill him, but then becomes his partner 10 seconds later. Some yadda yadda yadda about a mystery island that’s also radioactive. The eccentric owner is using a radioactive laser beam to disrupt a space launch. There’s also a foxy blonde on the island. And a dragon. A friggin dragon. Bondness ensues. The End.
– I was surprised to discover that this one takes place in Jamaica. I would think that that’d be the locale for the 5th movie, when they’re running out of ideas. Jamaica is mysterious, cultural and untamed. I expected it to take place in boring ass London. In reality, Jamaica ended up being a terrible option. A bunch of sand, uninspired landscape and even more uninspired calypso music. The story doesn’t have much to work with here.
– I’m slightly confused about this island. For starters, the place is heavily guarded [men on boats will shoot full rounds of ammunition at nothing, just because they see a footprint]. It’s also faraway. And radioactive. And people disappear on it. And yet, some Rando Buxom Fox Babe will ride her boat up to it, bringing no gear except for a bikini and a rusty knife, to search for sea shells. She’s risking death and cancer for $40 sea shells. Also, her own father disappeared on the island. And she wants sea shells.
– There’s also the case of the “dragon”. Blonde Fox and Boatman both claim that there is a real ass dragon on the island. I was at the edge of my seat waiting to see what low-budget 60’s SFX would do to bring this dragon to life and instead, this is what we get:
That is NOT A DRAGON! That is clearly a John Deere tractor with sheet metal and a flamethrower. These people did not grow up in a remote village. Boatman is from a civilized part of Jamaica and Blonde Fox is from Miami[?]. Why would they EVER mistake that to be a dragon? Why would they think that dragons are real? Does the island’s radioactivity also promote hallucinations? Or is everyone just that dumb?
– There’s one sequence where Bond checks into a hotel room. He takes a piece of hair, licks it, then sticks it over two cabinet doors. He then leaves for [I think] 2 days and comes back to find that the hair is gone. And he does. not. care. Somebody came in and opened the cabinet. Cool. What’s next? Someone also touched his briefcase. There’s smudges in the baby powder he planted on it. Does he investigate who those fingerprints belong to? Nope. He’s satisfied enough.
– If you were to tell me that this one movie spawned countless sequels and is still the only thing keeping what was once a major movie studio afloat, I would assume that the movies get way better.
They get way better, right?
From Russia With Love – 1963
We return to find our hero making out with a girl in some tall grass. Likely place from him to be on his day off, I guess. But then he’s immediately whisked away to Istanbul, while simultaneously, the Russians hire a Foxy Spy to seduce him. Normal fare ensues: he gets followed a lot, meets a fellow intelligence agent that has 2,956 sons, seduces the spy/reveals too much information/makes her work for him, gets followed by more people on a train, escapes, some nonsense about poison shoes, the end. There’s nothing strikingly unique about this installment, but with the pacing and constant plot twists, it is rather enjoyable and engaging. Yes, it’s kind of a good film.
– The second iteration of Connery’s Bond is much different from the first. He’s a lot more cocky and careless. Realistically, this should detriment him, but it actually makes him more unstoppable. He laughs nonchalantly in the face of danger, confident that he will survive for many sequels to come. He constantly entrusts in the wrong people, knowingly, and is hardly surprised when they turn on him. Take the Foxy Spy for example. Regardless of the fact that she never turns on him, he goes into the whole thing knowing that she was sent to distract/end him and does not care whatsoever. Or when an alleged “ally”/obvious enemy slips something in Foxy Spy’s drink, he lets it happen. It’s only after she passes out that he whips out his gun and is all like “sup”.
– I wanna see a separate movie about Kerim Bay and his 2,956 sons. It’d be interesting to see how exactly he manages to have countless kids from countless women at the same time, herding them all in with full custody, raising them and ultimately training them to work for his spy syndicate. It kind of boggles the mind.
– The movie could’ve been over after he escapes the train/steals a truck/blows up a helicopter using no weapons/steals a boat. Instead, they injected yet another 5 minute plot line involving the development of a poison shoe spike. If the object/story ideas would have had more time to develop, it could’ve been cool. Instead, it’s forehead-slappingly dumb.
Goldfinger – 1964
Thinking about the plot makes my head spin. The film starts off with Bond blowing up a drug operation and it’s never mentioned again for the rest of the movie. In fact, nobody speaks of it at all, period. Then he’s told to follow Goldfinger, a local jewelry maker. So he sees him playing Gin Rummy poolside [which sounds amazing right now]. Suspicious, he finds a Foxy Blonde in the window with binoculars and a microphone, reciting the opponents hand to Goldfinger’s earpiece. Bond immediately sabotages the operation, takes the mic, tells him that he’s James Bond and he is sabotaging his shit and then takes away the Foxy Blonde and makes sex to her. Because, sex. He wakes to find the girl dead/covered in gold and Bondness ensues. There’s Oddjob, who does nothing but make utterances and kill people with hats. Pussy Galore is Goldfinger’s personal pilot, who also coaches a ragtag team of Foxy Pilots, all blonde. And the plot spirals out of control as Goldfinger attempts to blow up Fort Knox, or something. It’s like the bad part of Die Hard With A Vengeance. It lost me 5 million times.
– You know that feeling when you’ve seen something parodied a million times, then you go to watch the original and it doesn’t live up at all? I felt that countless times throughout Goldfinger. Like the infamous laser scene. Everybody knows that Bond almost got his nuts burned in half by a giant laser beam, but how does he actually get out of it? Does he flip a coin to divert the beams? Does he somehow wiggle out of the shackles? Nope, he simply convinces Goldfinger to turn it off.
– Aside from the “failed” laser beam attack, Goldfinger doesn’t really do much to stop Bond. In fact, he kind of carries him along throughout his plot to destroy Fort Knox. Every step along the way, he lets James trail him, for reasons that I didn’t catch, nor did I care enough to go back and figure out.
– I was also disappointed with Oddjob. This guy is infamous in Bond villain lore, and yet, he only kills like 3 people with a hat. I was hoping for a body count from 10-20. Patooey. Also, the final fight scene between him and 007 is awkward as hell. Mainly because there’s no score whatsoever. I later realized that the “Silent Fight” is a Bond trope, but to have a dramatic fight scene scored by mildly labored breathing just feels wrong. These movies are known for having over-the-top compositions and when it matters the most, they’re nowhere to be found.
– Pussy Galore poses the biggest threat to Bond. Not only is she against him, but she is also allegedly a lesbian. How in the hell does he seduce such a specimen?!? Well, he does anyway, almost effortlessly. And then she turns on Goldfinger. And her team of Blonde Fox Pilots could care no less. Whatever.
Thunderball – 1965
After long hours of international intrigue, James is worn out. So he goes to a health clinic spa camp whatever, where people try to kill him and he finds dead people. The dead guy is somehow connected to a plane that disappeared holding 2 atomic bombs. So, as we all would assume, James goes after the bombs, has sex with women, gambles a lil bit, shoots the shit out of a harpoon gun, saves the day, et cetera. If there’s anything we can learn from this movie, it’s that:
a. More of the same is still a good thing
b. Villains love seeing Bond pretend to be somebody else to fail to get information from them. It’s mutually entertaining.
c. Explosives work more efficiently underwater.
-This one starts out with a funeral, because after all the people Bond has killed, the government probably mandated that the filmmakers portray the true consequence of his actions. He meets up with the widow after the ceremony and offers her the parting gift of a knuckle sando?!? He beats her ass 10 days from Tuesday and THEN it’s revealed that it’s actually a bad dude. The bad dude that he just attended the funeral for. Other bad dudes come and he runs away to the roof, where he then foils them with his JETPACK?!? First off, where in the hell did the jetpack come from? It couldn’t have been hiding under his tight suit. Did he really leave it on the roof, expecting to be chased to that exact point and then strapped on/started up the thing in a split second?!? Your suspension of disbelief has to be strong for this one.
– At the physical therapy camp, Bond tries to lay some tonsil hockey down on his doctor. In a moment that will forever change film history, she resisted.
Wait, hold up. A foxy woman resisted Bond’s advances?!? Is this franchise becoming more progressive?!? [SPOILER: No.] So after chiding him, she straps him to some missionary oriented sybian machine. There are mechanisms and springs to simulate him gently making love to a woman. The doctor leaves him alone for 15 minutes and some mysterious dude cranks up the dial, so now he’s humping air like an absolute boss. Foxy Doctor comes to the rescue and then they of course have sex. Just 15 minutes ago she was repulsed by him. Was a brief period of airhump overdrive the key to her heart? Was she the one that cranked up the speed? Is she some sort of deranged nympho? We will never know. But what i do know is that after he gives her the sex, he says the best line ever, “See you later, irrigator”. The next time I seduce an ear doctor, I’m using that line. BOOM!
– At one point, Bond is attacked by some dude in the window and he smacks him in the head with a phone. Not knowing what to do with the phone itself, he casually wraps the cord around his neck, not to strangle him, but to not have to drop it on the floor.
– James gets chased by a person in a black car. Just one time, I’d like to see him get chased by a green car. Or a ’91 Sunbird. Then, a motorcycle comes and blows up the black car. James is still unimpressed. We then see the motorcycle get dumped into the ocean. James yawns.
– If there’s any skill that the Thunderball version of Bond possesses, he’s probably a shark whisperer. He must’ve foiled at least 25 sharks in this one, while everyone else gets their business all eaten up instantly.
– This one also has underwater sex, because all underwater everything. After the bubbly romp, Bond then decides it’s a good time to tell the girl that he found her brother’s corpse and it’s up to her to tell him where the bomb might be so he can save the world. After underwater sex. Uh-huh.
– Second best line: [after shooting a goon with a harpoon] “Well, I think he got the point”
You Only Live Twice 
In anti-climatic fashion, James gets shot to death by an alleged pimp duo or goons or something. So, he’s dead. But then he isn’t. Arch nemesis, Blofeld [played brilliantly-ish by Donald Pleasance] is trying to jump start the cold war. He captures a Russian spacecraft and blames it on the Americans, and/or vice versa. Stuff gets real and the whole thing ends with 2,956 ninjas fighting an army of scientists…on a goddamned volcano! I am not upplaying this. The ending is epic. And that’s all there is to say.
– I love how M moved the entire set of his office into a submarine. It’s totally unnecessary and it just boggles my mind to think the expense MI6 must’ve went through to make that happen. Actually, most of the set pieces in this movie is daunting as hell.
– As soon as Bond is born again, his first instinct is to go to a sumo match. While it was fun to see a sumo match, why in the hell would that be his first choice of activity?!?
– This movie features Tanaka, the head of the Japanese secret service. He’s basically the Japanese version of Bond and everything he does his awesome. Besides having his own militia of ninjas, he also has his own subway line. I repeat: HE HAS HIS OWN SUBWAY LINE! AND HIS TRAIN CAR IS DECKED OUT TO THE NINES! THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ME!
– There’s a casual car chase down busy urban streets. Then, a helicopter is casually called in to casually drop a giant magnet to pick up the bad dudes and the drop them off a cliff. Why Bond is not phased by it, I have no idea.
– Despite the fact that there were 2,956 ninjas, they didn’t really do much ninja shit. They just shot guns inaccurately and threw grenades wildly. Which is still cool, but come on, where’s the ninja-ery?
– You could tell that this movie marked the end of a Bond era. Despite the fact that he gets murdered in the very beginning, he also gets chided numerous times for smoking. You can tell that these lines were fed in to force a character change. Although I’m sure that Roger More cheefed down on some cigs in his movies, the sexiness of it is probably long gone. To further exemplify that smoking kills, he actually uses a cigarette gun. Yes, it’s a cigarette that he takes a few pulls from and then shoots a goddamned bullet out of it!
With all of the [good] Connery movies out of the way, I feel amped up about continuing this marathon. But then I remember that it’s about to get much, much worse. If I thought things were silly then, I should just wait for the batshit insanity that awaits me. Join me next time, when I break down Roger Moore, a man that allegedly hates guns and doesn’t know how to lay a punch. I hope he knows how to kick…save me now…