James Bond: Three Forgotten Films

James Bond can easily be divided into three Categories, The great ones most people agree on like Casino Royal, Dr.No, Golden Eye  (not that there aren’t Descenters). The Bad ones few people like, such as Moonraker, and Moonraker, even though it’s not even the worst by far. . .

*Cough* Die Another Day *Cough* A View To A Kill *Cough*

Then, there are the ones none of you remember. Now when I say “you” I mean the casual James Bond audience that only watches them on TNT  during the Holidays so you don’t have to hear your uncle talk about the return of conservative values to America . These 10 or so movies are commonly called “That one with the guy who isn’t Sean Connery” or “That one that isn’t Octopussy” also, “that one with the guy after Roger Moore, bad one”. The three films I have pointed toward are properly titled On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, For Your Eyes Only, and The Living Daylights (No joke I had to look up the title of this movie). Three films I feel comfortable saying are forgotten, but mostly by Me. I either never watched them all at once or never gave them the proper attention.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service

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So for those who don’t know what this movie is or what happens in it, let me describe it in Broad Strokes. James is tasked with helping a father with taking care of his daughter and some point is sent off to take down Blofeld in the snowcapped mountains of Europe. Hmmmm sounds Familiar for some reason . . .

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On Her Majesty’s Secret Service goes as far as introducing a new Bond theme – only once playing the classic theme in the last 30 minutes of the film. George Lazenby’s Bond is infinitely more self-aware than Connery’s Bond  and the film even opens with him walking toward the camera and stating “This never happened to the other guy”.

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The action is over cranked and visuals while not dissimilar from Previous Bonds are much flatter than the last film in the series You Only Live Twice. There are aspects of the film that make it worthwhile. Not until Casino Royale (Perhaps the best Bond Film ever)  will you ever visit the idea of James Bond actually falling in love with someone, not lust or a quick tryst, a genuine affection for the opposite sex. Lazenby’s best work comes when he’s paired with Diana Rigg as Tracy the daughter of a European smuggler and King Pin. His Bond is at his most charismatic when she shares the screen with him. Everything with both of them is worth seeing.

Telly Savalas is also really great in “Secret Service,” While I’m not the biggest Blofeld fan, his Blofeld is instantly intimidating and just as charming as Lazenby himself. While he’s no Charles Gray he still fills the role perfectly. “Secret Service ” also does have two great chase sequences toward the end of the film, but most of the movies is Bond talking to people. By the time he actually goes to Blofeld’s mountain lair you have forgotten he was even part of the plot.

“Secret Service” is a perfectly middle of the Road Bond film that also manages to be completely one of a kind. Worth a watch sure, do I intend to rewatch it anytime soon? Not likely . But when it’s on TNT next year at my Grandmothers I’ll be sure to give it 30 minutes or so.

For Your Eyes Only

This is the last great Roger Moore Bond film, and of the three here it’s the one that improved the most after a rewatch. scaled back and made with almost none of silliness  of a Moonraker. The story is one of revenge and black market dealings. No world ending satellites followed by a ransoming of the said world . Just a young woman named Melina getting revenge on the men who killed her parents assisted by Bond who is himself trying to retrieve a radio decoding device from an accidentally downed British Spy ship. The two of them make a hell of a team, and Bond barely talks down to her or treats as an inferior. There’s an instant respect few Bonds have shown women in this series. Melina does everything to earn it, her introduction to Bond is her murdering one of the assassins who killed her father right in front of him. She has all the skill and ability that Bond has 15 years before Michelle Yeoh in Tommorrow Never Dies. She’s gorgeous on top of being a really good actress playing a super compelling character.

The action in For Your Eyes Only is well directed, well edited and visceral for a blockbuster from 1981. Roger Moore despite being terrible at hand to hand combat is more convincing than he’s been in all seven other Bond Films. A version of Bond who only four years later gives the least convincing performance in Bond history really brings it in this movie while being just a glib and pithy as he usually is. Moore is great, Carole Bouquet as Melina is brilliant and the supporting cast of villains and henchmen are perfect. Julian Glover most famous for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and his role as the Grand Maester in Game of Thrones is an excellent villain, perfectly money hungry and without a moral compass played by an actor who never chews the scenery but keeps your attention on him the whole time he’s on screen.

Perfectly well paced and not overly long as many Bond films tend to be, For Your Eyes Only has all the things you need in a good Bond movie while being utterly unique for the era it was made in. A fine Bond movie, you should watch the first chance you get and perhaps even purchase if you can.

The Living Day Lights

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So I tried to give this one the chance I gave the other two, I still wasn’t able to give this movie time of day. The Living Daylights feels like an attempt to take Bond back to the beginning and tell a more grounded spy story. Where The Living Daylights fails is in crafting a realistic scenario that’s worthy of your attention.  A confusing double cross kicks off a plot that filled with action and chase scenes that are not the least bit entertaining. The Bond girl played by Maryam d’Abo while gorgeous is blander than plain yogurt (not even Greek Yogurt) when it comes acting ability.

The villains are like sketch characters and supporting cast feels woefully miscast.  The only thing in this movie that works is Timothy Dalton, but not that he’s doing a good job of being Bond, it’s that he’s a really great actor. Even if his Bond has no charisma he is intimidating enough to be a secret agent. The problem is many times he’s played as speechless or dumbfounded by simple questions. The problem being that even Daniel Craig is Unflappable, It’s a defining feature of Bond. While Dalton, in my mind, nails Bond in License to Kill he has no handle on the character in this film.

I would not suggest Dalton’s first film as Bond. Watch License To Kill and look up clips of Dalton fighting alongside the Mujahideen (Predecessors to Al Queda & ISIS) against Russian Soldiers.

Fin

I hope convinced fans of Bond casually to add For Your Eyes Only to any viewing party or marathon. I know It has climbed into a different level for me and I’ll watch it many times in the future.

But what do you think?

Was I too harsh or too nice to one of these forgotten Bonds?

Leave your thoughts down below?

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