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This is a comments thread about Blog Post: 007's Gilbert and Hamilton: an exercise in greyness by Stephen Woolston
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 4:57 PM   
 By:   Zoragoth   (Member)

DP

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 5:04 PM   
 By:   quiller007   (Member)

The issue here was that American audiences were less accepting of the new direction the series went with Dalton, and that was a huge factor in MGM pressuring to have him out.

I don't know where you got that tidbit of misinformation from, but it's wrong.
Dalton left the role of his own accord. EON were ready to sign him for what
would become GOLDENEYE. As the legal battles over the series continued,
for 6 years, Dalton became disenchanted with how long it was taking to get
his 3rd installment kick-started. He may have felt he aged too much for the
role by the time they finally got around to start work on the film.

Den

 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 6:20 PM   
 By:   Zoragoth   (Member)

The issue here was that American audiences were less accepting of the new direction the series went with Dalton, and that was a huge factor in MGM pressuring to have him out.

I don't know where you got that tidbit of misinformation from, but it's wrong.
Dalton left the role of his own accord. EON were ready to sign him for what
would become GOLDENEYE. As the legal battles over the series continued,
for 6 years, Dalton became disenchanted with how long it was taking to get
his 3rd installment kick-started. He may have felt he aged too much for the
role by the time they finally got around to start work on the film.

Den


Not wrong at all, Den. You are certainly correct about the legal battles, and Dalton's frustrations about the delays, but sadly MGM pressured the Broccolis to drop him as a condition of financing the next installment. I've read this many times, including an article in PREMIERE magazine around the time GOLDENEYE came out. And by that time, Dalton likely was ready to be done with the whole mess as well.

Ah, to imagine GOLDENEYE with Dalton, though -that would have been something, especially if he teamed with John Glen and they nixed that stupid tank chase!

 
 Posted:   Feb 7, 2013 - 11:53 PM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

I have no problem at all with Pierce Brosnan as an actor and I actually thought him quite good in Goldeneye. The problem I have is that the action was getting too much like watching a video game. And as for invisible cars and tsunami glide surfing: it all went just way too over-the-top for me.

The Craig films have pulled back from the silliness of invisible cars, but the action still feels too much like watching a video game.

I generally prefer the old school Bond films.

That said, the whole point of my blog post is that merit is not one-dimensional and that there is fault and virtue available to be found everywhere.

There are faults and virtues nameable in every Bond actor, every Bond director, every Bond film and even every Bond composers.

The real question is which virtues resonate with you, which faults you can overlook and which faults become deal breakers, if any.

Cheers

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2013 - 1:03 AM   
 By:   MusicMad   (Member)

There's no denying that all the JB007 films (restricting this thread to that topic alone) have their wonderful moments ... and their I wish they hadn't done that moments. These feed into our overall view of each and every film and, as Stephen states, may become deal breakers (or, indeed, makers).

For many, RM's The Spy Who Loved Me was his best ... for some the best of the series ... yet, to me, it was the low point of the franchise ... until Die Another Day took that crown. But there's still much to enjoy in both those films.

Each film is hyped and as it becomes more difficult to come up with something fresh so the hype seems to get greater. I recall that Quantum of Solace was sold to the paying public as being the direct follow-up to the enormously successful Casino Royale and was essential viewing. But there were ominous soundings around long before its release and I, for one, wasn't surprised when the film didn't hit the mark. Just how much off the mark was a surprise!

What makes Skyfall so different, for me, is that I failed to to pick up on any negative views early on, other than the explosive conclusion not being that good. Until the official trailer, that is, when the dour tone of the film became apparent. But as much as I was disappointed with the film there is still much to enjoy (as I recall) and I'd still prefer to watch this than most other action~adventure films.

In the early films the style changed film to film and there may have been viewers who thought From Russia With Love with its cold-war spying plot was a backwards step from the sci-fi/fantasy elements of its predecessor. And certainly Goldfinger was a complete change in direction.

And that's what I like so much about the franchise: the films have to change otherwise we're left with the Bourne / Die Hard / Lethal Weapon et al. scenarios - all great fun for two or three films but highly repetitive.

Messrs. Gilbert and Hamilton brought that change to JB007 in those early films and for that I'm grateful, much as I think they were responsible for some of the weaker films in the series. If I live long enough I may look back upon Skyfall as this generation's The Spy Who Loved Me ... a change in direction which, of itself, was not particularly good, but it helped usher in a more enjoyable series of films.

I just hope that Bond24 isn't Skyfall in disguise.

Mitch

 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2013 - 4:32 PM   
 By:   Zoragoth   (Member)



The Craig films have pulled back from the silliness of invisible cars, but the action still feels too much like watching a video game.

I generally prefer the old school Bond films.

There are faults and virtues nameable in every Bond actor, every Bond director, every Bond film and even every Bond composers.

Cheers


I prefer the older ones too, and really, all action films before CGI came along. In LTK, when that plane flies under the plummeting truck, you know you are really seeing a plane flying under a truck. Plus, the action these days just goes on and on until it becomes meaningless (see DIE ANOTHER DAY) and forgettable, not to mention unbelievable.

As to the last point, yes: LD has the now-uncomfortable Afghanistan setting, which plays well in the film itself but is tinged by subsequent historic developments, LTK has Talisa Soto's weak character, and OHMSS has the rather goofy girls who are pawns in Blofeld's scheme.

Love all these films just the same!

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 8, 2013 - 6:31 PM   
 By:   quiller007   (Member)

Not wrong at all, Den. You are certainly correct about the legal battles, and Dalton's frustrations about the delays, but sadly MGM pressured the Broccolis to drop him as a condition of financing the next installment. I've read this many times, including an article in PREMIERE magazine around the time GOLDENEYE came out. And by that time, Dalton likely was ready to be done with the whole mess as well.


I've never read this in ANY publication, and I have quite a few books
on the Bond films and several that cover the transition from Dalton to Brosnan.
Since you posted this info, I've looked up those precise chapters and
still have not found any mention of MGM pressuring EON to dump
Dalton. How odd. However, since some of these books are endorsed
by Albert Broccoli, the writers might have felt obliged to conveniently
leave out that bit of information. What a bunch o'chickens! big grin

Den

 
 Posted:   Feb 9, 2013 - 8:59 PM   
 By:   Zoragoth   (Member)




I've never read this in ANY publication, and I have quite a few books
on the Bond films and several that cover the transition from Dalton to Brosnan.
Since you posted this info, I've looked up those precise chapters and
still have not found any mention of MGM pressuring EON to dump
Dalton. How odd. However, since some of these books are endorsed
by Albert Broccoli, the writers might have felt obliged to conveniently
leave out that bit of information. What a bunch o'chickens! big grin

Den


Yes, indeed, I doubt any Broccoli-endorsed publication would want to lay out the story that they were forced to dump the leading man they were quite happy with, and who is still close to the family. But that it happened is not too surprising, really. Given the fact so many at the time were iffy about Dalton's bolder and darker interpretation (which is only coming into its own now that we have Craig's bolder and darker, albeit thuggish, portrayal), and LTK was perceived a failure (and was made on a reduced budget as it was), and the perception was that perhaps Bond's time had passed even *before* the six year lapse, it would be surprising if EON *wasn't* pressured to abandon Dalton for the more popular Brosnan because the financial risk would seem greatly reduced, as it turned out it was, given the hit GOLDENEYE turned out to be. Much as I greatly prefer Dalton in the role, I doubt GOLDENEYE would have been such a smash if he had starred, even given the superior ad campaign that film enjoyed over LTK....

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 9, 2013 - 11:14 PM   
 By:   quiller007   (Member)

Yes, indeed, I doubt any Broccoli-endorsed publication would want to lay out the story that they were forced to dump the leading man they were quite happy with, and who is still close to the family. But that it happened is not too surprising, really. Given the fact so many at the time were iffy about Dalton's bolder and darker interpretation (which is only coming into its own now that we have Craig's bolder and darker, albeit thuggish, portrayal), and LTK was perceived a failure (and was made on a reduced budget as it was), and the perception was that perhaps Bond's time had passed even *before* the six year lapse, it would be surprising if EON *wasn't* pressured to abandon Dalton for the more popular Brosnan because the financial risk would seem greatly reduced, as it turned out it was, given the hit GOLDENEYE turned out to be. Much as I greatly prefer Dalton in the role, I doubt GOLDENEYE would have been such a smash if he had starred, even given the superior ad campaign that film enjoyed over LTK....


Too bad the six-year lapse happened at all. It would have been nice
to see Dalton in a couple more films - in 1991 and '93. Odd, that the
two best actors to portray Bond, following Connery, got the shaft.
Lazenby (due to his own naivety), and Dalton (due to circumstances
beyond his control). Both guys should have lasted longer. Though
perhaps, and ironically, their short tenures make their Bond films
that more special.

Den

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2013 - 4:05 AM   
 By:   John Smith   (Member)

Stephen Woolston,

An interesting post that invites a few questions, especially your opening remarks.

Since we all know from your extensive posts that you possess a profound understanding of the mechanisms and principles of criticism, I can’t help wondering why you would write something that reads like the musings of a doe-eyed sailor on the Pinta: “Per favore, Signor Colombo, but what if the world’s not really flat…?"

Initially, I saw these comments as an exercise in condescension – a standard literary device whereby the author criticises himself in order to pass judgement on others. However, after reading the entire post, I realised they were merely a bit of rhetorical flourish to emphasize the need for more a balanced discourse on the Moore years. Nonetheless, these remarks come across as jejune and not befitting a writer of your calibre.

As for the rest of your post, I beg to differ with your assessment of the Roger Moore Bonds. It’s telling that you talk about “finding the words to express the dynamic and varied attributes of a work”, yet your dismissal of Hamilton and Gilbert's contributions to the Bond franchise (“they ushered in everything that was wrong with the 1970s bond films.”) is not only entirely one-dimensional, but also, in my humble opinion, entirely wrong.

Like quiller007, I'm extremely pleased with the direction the Moore Bonds took. In fact, I consider them to be pluperfect exemplars of the spy/superhero genre, if – and this is an important proviso – we are prepared to accept that the Fleming novels are not inviolable sacred cows. While we're on the subject, let’s not forget that Ian Fleming wanted David Niven or Cary Grant to play James Bond on screen; this gives considerable weight to Lewis Gilbert’s stated belief that the Bond character was never supposed to be treated by filmmakers with deadpan seriousness. Sean Connery was cognizant of this and his irreverent portrayal in NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is a wonderful companion piece to Roger Moore’s playful incarnation of Bond. John Barry’s scores clearly embrace a similar point-of-view.

I'm more than happy to go along with the 70s innovations, which ideally match Moore’s self-deprecating personality. The tongue-in-cheek approach adopted by Hamilton and Gilbert provided a perfect counterpoint to the ponderous solemnity of much of 70s cinema and I for one keenly felt its absence in the Dalton movies.

There again, I'm a barely literate Pole, whose opinion is not worth a hoot...

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 10, 2013 - 11:53 AM   
 By:   quiller007   (Member)

Like quiller007, I'm extremely pleased with the direction the Moore Bonds took. In fact, I consider them to be pluperfect exemplars of the spy/superhero genre, if – and this is an important proviso – we are prepared to accept that the Fleming novels are not inviolable sacred cows. I'm more than happy to go along with the 70s innovations, which ideally match Moore’s self-deprecating personality. The tongue-in-cheek approach adopted by Hamilton and Gilbert provided a perfect counterpoint to the ponderous solemnity of much of 70s cinema and I for one keenly felt its absence in the Dalton movies.


Well, as I stated above, I also like the Dalton films. They
still contained SOME humor, and most importantly, also displayed
a modicum of FUN even though they leaned more towards the serious.
I always felt that Dalton's interpretation of Bond was closer to Lazenby's,
and his two outings were closer in spirit to OHMSS.

As for Roger's tenure...yes, I love those as well. The ONLY aspect
of his films that I don't like - starting with THE SPY WHO LOVED ME
thru A VIEW TO A KILL - are the "sight gags" (animals doing double-takes
during a car or boat chase, and the Tarzan call during the jungle chase
in OCTOPUSSY); and the "musical gags" (the Beach Boys song used
for the snowboard chase in AVTAK, and The Magnificent Seven theme
used in MOONRAKER). However, Roger Moore is not to blame for these
little bits of overt silliness. The responsibility lays soley on the shoulders
of the film editors, the director and ultimately on the producer.
Cubby Broccoli could have stepped in at any time and and said:
"C'mon guys! Cut this nonsense out, pronto!". But he didn't.
I guess he thought that stuff was hilarious. I don't think Roger Moore
liked it. Roger's Bond films were already humorous enough, without
those (minor) blemishes. Aside from that stuff, I love everything else
about Moore's films.

Den

 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2013 - 8:04 PM   
 By:   Zoragoth   (Member)



Well, as I stated above, I also like the Dalton films. They
still contained SOME humor, and most importantly, also displayed
a modicum of FUN even though they leaned more towards the serious.
I always felt that Dalton's interpretation of Bond was closer to Lazenby's,
and his two outings were closer in spirit to OHMSS.

As for Roger's tenure...yes, I love those as well. The ONLY aspect
of his films that I don't like - starting with THE SPY WHO LOVED ME
thru A VIEW TO A KILL - are the "sight gags" (animals doing double-takes
during a car or boat chase, and the Tarzan call during the jungle chase
in OCTOPUSSY); and the "musical gags" (the Beach Boys song used
for the snowboard chase in AVTAK, and The Magnificent Seven theme
used in MOONRAKER). However, Roger Moore is not to blame for these
little bits of overt silliness. The responsibility lays soley on the shoulders
of the film editors, the director and ultimately on the producer.
Cubby Broccoli could have stepped in at any time and and said:
"C'mon guys! Cut this nonsense out, pronto!". But he didn't.
I guess he thought that stuff was hilarious. I don't think Roger Moore
liked it. Roger's Bond films were already humorous enough, without
those (minor) blemishes. Aside from that stuff, I love everything else
about Moore's films.

Den


The Moore films had their goofy excesses, to be sure, but I get tired of the 'conventional wisdom' decreeing he was a terrible Bond. His films are mostly very entertaining, and he had a sly smooth light way about him that was perfect for the times and holds up well today. I am just wrapping up his memoir, MY WORD IS MY BOND, and have found it quite entertaining. Moore has some hilarious stories about Hollywood's great stars and directors. Seems like he knew just about everybody who was anybody.

 
 Posted:   Feb 11, 2013 - 10:13 PM   
 By:   mildcigar   (Member)

Stephen - I have a deadly serious question for you, which is -

Is there ANY sign of the remaining unexpanded BOND scores being released in 2013?

Just a simple yes or no will suffice.

Cheers old boy.

 
 Posted:   Feb 12, 2013 - 12:20 AM   
 By:   Stephen Woolston   (Member)

I LOVE Roger Moore and I am also very entertained by his films. I see faults in them, yes, and I think the series as a whole went a bit limp because they went so 'jokey' and 'for laughs'. A degree of that works, yes, but I would have like just a bit less 'for laughs' and just a bit more grit and jeapordy. But I did love Roger.

Signs of further expanded scores? Well, I have no inside information about that one. *I* certainly don't see any sign of anything, but I have access to only the same signs that you do.

Cheers

 
 
 Posted:   Feb 14, 2013 - 5:50 AM   
 By:   John Smith   (Member)

I’m extremely partial to the Roger Moore Bond films, unlike legions of 007 devotees who can’t fathom how Hamilton, Gilbert and Glen (and their respective screenwriters) managed to get it so wrong. They criticize the films as purveyors of overt British jingoism and high school humour – a distorted image of these highly underrated contributions to the Bond franchise.

To understand and appreciate the true merit of these films, you have to contextualize them within their historic moment. Of course, it's a truism to say that movies are products of their time, place and culture, but when it comes to the Moore Bonds, it’s particularly germane to any discussion: few people would deny that the ethos of Britain in the 1970s was instrumental in determining the direction the Bond franchise would take. For those not familiar with it, here's a quick overview of the period in question.

Simply put, Britain in the mid-seventies was a shambles - a dour, strike-ridden island, riddled with IRA terrorism. As John Patterson said in a Guardian article some years ago, “No one who lived through the 1970s in Britain is ever likely to forget the experience or wish to revisit it”.

As 1977 rolled on, the abject disappointment of the Montreal Olympics (for the British team, at least) was still fresh in people’s minds and an air of gloom and despondency had settled over the country. British patriotism was at an all-time low, with the remaining vestiges of international respect for Britain all but eradicated. Britannia and its social and political institutions were searingly mocked by an ever more disillusioned nation.

The Silver Jubilee celebrations catalyzed a widespread change in this mind-set – an attitude that found its ultimate voice in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. Roger Moore, in this third outing as 007, turned a sorry excuse of a country into Cool Britannia – decades before Tony Blair popularized the phrase. Once again, the British flag could be greeted to rave applause instead of being trampled on or worse. It’s no surprise that the 70s Bond directors, weaned on the gung-ho mentality of Boy’s Own adventure stories, imbued the Bond films with similar spirit. These childhood stories – or at least the British pride and humour they exuded – became the narrative and psychological touchstone of the next decade of Bond capers.

Moore, the son of a English bobby, was only too happy to play along with this British derring-do, but was highly skeptical of the secret agent/spy angle: “My whole reaction was always—he is not a real spy”, says Moore in his new book, “Bond On Bond”. “You can’t be a real spy and have everybody in the world know who you are and what your drink is. That’s just hysterically funny…I always felt you should let the audience share the joke.”

A cursory thumb-through of “Bond On Bond” confirms that far from being unhappy with the level of humour in his 007 films, Moore was actually responsible for weaving more of it into the scripts! Have you ever wondered where the fish comes from in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME? I’m talking of course about the fish that Bond drops from window of the car-cum-submarine after it emerges out of the sea. According to the book, it came from the fertile imagination of Roger Moore – along with many other on-screen gags. It’s he who bears the brunt of the blame for the films being excessively 'jokey' and 'for laughs', not Broccoli or the directors.

Actually, “blame” is not the right word here. I believe, as Moore does, that the humour and in-joke knowingness plays a crucial role in the Bond films by sending up the absurdity of a given situation or piece of Bond gadgetry and thus protecting the credibility of the film as a whole.

A case in point is MOONRAKER, one of my favourite Moore Bond films. Far from being a turkey, it’s a text-book example of how to use humour not only to enliven the narrative, but also to defuse a potentially alienating moment. Take, for example, the canal chase scene that culminates in Bond’s gondola converting into a hovercraft and gliding across the piazza. How do you shoot and then score a scene that’s as delightfully absurd as anything by Bunuel? Is unflinching seriousness really the best possible approach? Well, delete all the reaction shots and the polka soundtrack and synch up the sequence to the James Bond theme. The smiles and cheers of the audience are instantly replaced with a disbelieving grimace. I know this for a fact because I’ve tried it. Lewis Gilbert was well aware that such a scene, which is already asking us to suspend disbelief to a considerable degree, would end up straining our credulity beyond breaking point if played straight. It’s a pity that Lee Tamahori wasn't aware of this basic principle.

Of course, you could always have Bond elude his pursuers by jumping out of the Gondola and into a waiting taxi – an eminently believable scenario. But who would want to pay good money for that sort of pay-off?

Finally, I’d like to comment on Mr Woolston’s comparison of the Moore Bond films to the Carry On series. It’s undeniable that the two franchises share a penchant for sexual innuendo, but that’s where the similarity ends. Although Bond humour is far from sophisticated, the lavatorial puns and crass holiday postcard mentality of the Carry On farces are sedulously avoided by Moore and his directors, as is the constant mugging for the camera – a stock-in-trade of the Carry On films. In fact, you only have to watch CARRY ON SPYING to see how far removed Broccoli’s 007 is from the infantile high-jinks of Peter Rogers’ Carry On universe.

 
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