Wednesday, February 07, 2007


The Second 007 of ’007

It’s the 007th of the month again, and time for the next 007 James Bond films: this time, those of Roger Moore. In the last month Richard, Millennium and I have watched the DVD Special Editions of Dr. No and From Russia With Love… I’m relieved that I still agree with myself, and they look great, but the new Bond DVD menus aren’t a patch on the old ones. However, I’ve done no cheating; don’t worry, I still know nothing about music, so my reviews of the James Bond films and their songs will be just as ill-informed as before.

To remind you, as the James Bond series has an instantly recognisable musical style, I’m reviewing the music as much as the movies, with occasional glances at Channel 4’s recent countdown of the Bond songs, James Bond’s Greatest Hits, to see how much I think they got it wrong. Having done the first seven films last month, as far as Diamonds Are Forever, this time I’m looking at the middle seven of the fourteen ‘official’ movies so far, which happen to comprise all those featuring Roger Moore. The music takes a definite swerve here; the films have often got the same sort of panache, but instead of those strident, insistent John Barry scores, some of them are by other composers. Did they work? Well…

First, a little side-step. Who is the man in these movies anyway? Is he the same one as in (most of) the previous ones? Well, the first answer is ‘obviously not – he’s Roger Moore, and he looks quite different to Sean Connery. He also plays the role with a lightness of touch, an archness, that makes his character seem noticeably different’. The second answer is ‘obviously he is – he’s called James Bond, and he does pretty much the same thing for the same people. Suspend your disbelief a bit: it’s acting, so don’t expect him to be ‘real’, and don’t worry when they change the actor’. My answer is slightly different, and it’s something that Richard convinced me of years ago. The films make more sense – not ‘sense’, mind you, but more sense – if you assume that ‘James Bond’ is an adopted call signature, just like the licence number ‘Double-Oh-Seven’, a cover story to suggest there is one immortal, indestructible top agent. And some of the films seem to go out of their way to agree with that idea, while more of them try hard to say it’s always the same man (who must be in his seventies by now). And On Her Majesty’s Secret Service can’t make its mind up. That film also causes the biggest problems if you assume he’s the same character. The other Bonds just don’t seem like they’d ever want to settle down and marry; if you assume that Connery’s Bond has ‘retired’ and a new 007 been appointed, it also makes sense of Blofeld not recognising him. With that film ending with Bond broken and grief-stricken over the death of his wife, but Diamonds Are Forever seeing Bond not distressed but merely brutal, it looks to me like the second ‘Bond’ had a breakdown so the old one was brought back to brutally terminate the guy who put a ‘Bond’ out of commission.

The first Roger Moore film is Live and Let Die, and of all of them, that’s the one that most squarely suggests its makers thought ‘This is a different man taking over the job of James Bond’ (by The Spy Who Loved Me, they’ve changed their minds and are back-pedalling furiously, putting in lots of references to the ‘old’ him and dressing Roger up in naval uniform, but they start out differently). In this film, ‘Bond’ is noticeably different to the previous ‘Bond’ in many ways other than his face. He orders different drinks; has a different dress style; different mannerisms; different gun; and it appears to show Roger Moore being promoted to ‘James Bond’ at the start. No, no, hear me out. Instead of calling him into the office as on every other occasion, M simply turns up at an agent’s door with the words, “Good morning, OO7.” “Good –” – Moore does an obvious double-take – “Good morning, sir.” Richard believes he’s startled because this is the old bastard’s way of springing promotion on the man. Well, what else could it be? He’s not startled by M’s appearance (he’s noticed him as he opens the door), but by something he says. And we can take it as read that it’s morning… A couple of minutes later, M announces “By the way, congratulations seem to be in order. The Italians were most impressed by the way you handled the Rome affair.” Obviously it’s a prelude to enquiring after the missing Italian agent, but it could also be read as the success that earns his number. Notably, the Italian agent in bed with ‘James’ at no point calls him by name, and it’s only at the end of the scene that M and Moneypenny address him as “Bond” and “James”. Unlike all her appearances with Sean, Moneypenny doesn’t flirt with him, either – she’s more of a protective ‘older sister’ that’s more confident than he is (suggesting, again, that she’s been in the job a long time and he hasn’t). If you’ve seen Casino Royale, that’s Bond’s first mission, happening ‘now’ – so he can’t be the same man – but it manages to make it more complicated still. But that’s a story for next month…

Live and Let Die

One of the best-known and most-covered Bond themes, this is the only one where the title song’s by a star big enough to bring in his own composer for the main score of the film – as opposed to the other way round. Blazing skulls make the titles more memorable than usual as Paul McCartney and Wings give us a thrilling mix of rock and reggae in a discordant swirl of strings. The score is fine, too; not by John Barry, but in many ways a similarly punchy orchestral style, my only complaint is that sometimes the film could do with more of it, with several scenes suffering from little or no music. There’s a lovely bit of music that always sticks in my head from this film, a march heard as Bond meets Solitaire (and at other points) that’s part the James Bond Theme, part Live and Let Die and part a lush swagger that’s George Martin’s own.

Channel 4’s chart position was 3, and that’s pretty fair (I’d probably say 4).

The Film: Rather a good one, from the Bondless pre-titles adventure that sets up multiple murders. Roger Moore makes a different sort of Bond, with more obvious charm but also a more manipulative, cold side, and he’s nowhere near as arch as he’ll become. It’s the first film that makes a big thing of Bond’s preposterous visibility, but rather than everyone knowing who ‘James Bond’ is in the later, fourth wall-ish way, here it’s a sinister moment and racially underscored, as everyone we see in Harlem appears to be reporting to Mr Big that there’s a white secret agent going in. It’s a huge improvement on the book, too; I recently re-read it, and though I rattled through Casino Royale in a day or so, this took me a couple of months to wade through (with many other books in between). Ian Fleming’s sexism runs through the books, but the determined racism was really unpleasant, despite Mr Big being quite an interesting character and first of the huge, compelling Bond villains familiar from the movies. The film takes an entirely different approach, embracing the Blaxploitation style of the time as well as confidently mixing in other genres; Solitaire and Baron Samedi (shootings, coffin full of snakes and all) are simply magic, straight from a horror film. The villain’s impressive and, like Bond, wears an urbane mask – there are boats, alligators, heroin and real tension. The Bond women, however, are either treacherous or shyly passive. 8/10

The Man With the Golden Gun

This song from Lulu has more unsubtle innuendo than any other (beginning with “He has a powerful weapon…”) and, though it’s trashy, I have to admit it’s fun. Like many of the best songs, it’s got a nasty edge and is about the villain, too. Ask Alice Cooper, however, and you won’t hear anything good about it; he wrote his own song for the film, and one day I’ll get round to tracking it down. In the meantime, my favourite version of the song is actually an instrumental take in the style of a Western saloon that turns up a couple of times in the film. It just tickles me. The rest of the score isn’t John Barry’s best, however, with the other memorable bit the dramatic theme that sounds unfortunately like It’s Not Unusual

Channel 4’s chart position was 14, and again that’s about right (maybe 15).

The Film: After a fresh, hard-edged debut, this is a bit of a mess for Mr Moore, and instead of a confident assimilation of genres it seems so worried by the then-fashionable Kung-Fu ‘competition’ that it simply stops in the middle to do a tie-in at a karate school (the first Bond scene to cameo in a Doctor Who book, but with little else to recommend it). There’s an opening kill reminiscent of From Russia With Love, an entertaining villain and a lovely travelogue moment as Bond’s plane glides in to his island, but as for the rest… Bond’s a git in an indescribably hideous jacket – all right, I could describe it, but I’d have to look at it again – and Mary Goodnight is perhaps the most appallingly useless Bond woman of the lot. Christopher Lee is entertaining, but his ‘evil Bond’ assassin with the extra nipple appears to have no reason for doing anything he does. Why does he build a great big laser gun? What’s it for? Other than to prompt the gleefully delivered and trailer-perfect line “This is the part I really like” (as with the villain in The Ruby in the Smoke muttering, “Have I got your attention now?” some lines are just made to be used in publicity). His little French assistant Nick-Nack constantly bringing in assassins to keep him on his toes is all too like Clouseau and Kato, too. It starts the habit of Roger Moore’s quips being more memorable than his action sequences: “She’s just coming, sir” is the one everyone’ll know from this one. You may scoff, but it’s better than the film’s advertising tag, ‘The girls are willing – the pace is killing!’ 5 and a half out of 10.

The Spy Who Loved Me

Carly Simon’s Nobody Does It Better has a knowing confidence, though it doesn’t have quite the bite of a Barry song. It’s best as it lets rip towards the end (much like the slightly anaemic recent Scissor Sisters single with a much more Bondian film to its video – credits projected onto attractive male and female thighs – than its song). It’s a memorable title sequence, too, with Bond himself finally appearing in them along with naked goosestepping Russian ‘girlies’ and lots of guns. This is the Maurice Binder look (and even more sexist than it sounds. As he always was). The film’s score is a very different direction, but often rather impressive: the best bit’s the funky disco racing along with a bit of the James Bond Theme, and there’s strident music for tanker-swallowing, though without quite the majesty of Barry. Points for the bubbly, mysterious water music, too, though some of the musical puns on other famous film scores are a bit trite.

Channel 4’s chart position was 6, but it should have been about 14.

The Film: This was the first Bond film I vaguely remember seeing clips and toys for at the time; it’s that submersible car. It’s the first of them that comes across as a ‘Greatest Hits’ assortment, with a definite feel of the Sean Connery movies – it’s virtually a remake of You Only Live Twice – but also marking out the definitive tongue-in-cheek Roger Moore style. The pre-credits adventure grabs your attention as we’re introduced to new Bond regular General Gogol, the KGB chief who brings charisma and ambiguity to the series as the Cold War comes back, but more often than not with Britain and the USSR in uneasy alliance. With a nuclear submarine stolen, he calls in his top agent – who turns out not to be the sexy sub-Bond with the hairy chest, but his lover Anya Amasova, one of the strongest of all the Bond women (at least until she needs rescuing). And there’s still sexual innuendo (“something came up”), corniness (“But James, I need you!” “So does England”), a ski chase to great music and an incredible jump off a cliff with a Union Flag parachute even before the song cuts in. It’s all done with great verve, with amazingly huge sets from mad genius Ken Adam, a villain who wants to destroy humanity for nihilism (rather than the ’60s war for money) and the first appearance of metal-toothed henchman Jaws. Much of it’s great fun, and much of it’s a bit crass, but it is indeed ‘Bond – and Beyond!’ in which Moore is “Keeping the British end up”… If not keeping the creative juices flowing as fast. 7/10


Ah well, even Shirley Bassey can’t make this pleasant but rather treacly ballad memorable, and nor can the closing disco remix. The titles have fun with women bouncing a lot, though I’m not personally convinced they’re trying very hard. I might almost say the same about John Barry’s score for once, though he makes a few interesting choices and the music as they go into space is rather impressive…

Channel 4’s chart position was 20, and sadly that’s about right – perhaps as low as 22.

The Film: The last one was bigger than ever and outrageously successful; this one made even more money by getting even bigger – with exactly the same plot, which you may remember was originally from You Only Live Twice. The previous film having swapped ‘death in space’ for ‘death in the ocean’, this cleverly changes the scene to… Space! Hmm. It’s strangely dull (and occasionally nasty, especially when they kill off Bond’s early shag, who’s also probably the most appallingly sexist part in any Bond film), but the lasers were exciting when I was 8 and not allowed to see it. Yes, this is sub-standard James Bond by numbers, with added Star Wars. There’s no room for the novel’s plot (see Die Another Day for that), but we do get Jaws again, stupendously rubbish this time even on a cable car fight, a CIA woman who’d be rather forgettable if she wasn’t called Holly Goodhead, and a villain who’s essentially a tubby French Hitler. Still, while many of the people making the film seem bored and slapdash (not the ones putting up the huge 7 Up product placement boards, though, who really earn their money), the villain is amusingly languid in the style of Fleming’s accidie and naturally has all the best lines, my favourite of which remains his wish to put Bond “out of my misery.” It’s certainly better than the famous closing innuendo by bolas-purveyor Q: “I think he’s attempting re-entry.” 4/10

For Your Eyes Only

I was disappointed that James Bond’s Greatest Hits didn’t mention the most famous factoid about Sheena Easton’s song. It involves clamps, and it’ll be along in a minute. First, though, the song itself, and the song that isn’t. It’s not bad, and it opens with a certain mysterious longing tone, but it’s a little bland and sugary next to the best Bond themes. It could have been a song with a harder edge: they first approached Blondie, who turned them down when it turned out Bill Conti only wanted Deborah Harry, not the musicians, and she wasn’t going to be allowed to write the song, just pout for him. So they did their own, on album The Hunter, and it’s much better: a punchy challenge sung from a female Bond counterpart with, in Ms Harry, the most icy-cool voice in pop. Does the rest of the score make up for losing this? No. Far, far too many early ’80s porno funk guitars (though the Bond Theme survives one arrangement here, another makes even that sound cheesily unlistenable) and piping little ‘pah pahs’ instead of proper brass. Of all of the films, the music for this one has dated horribly. Close your eyes and just listen to the score, and you imagine people dancing on ice in neon-toned legwarmers. Open them, and discover to your horror that it’s not far from the truth. All right, there are some swirling strings when Melina shoots someone with her crossbow and more nice strings with a sinister bubbling fade after the ‘Countess’ dies. But, on the whole, I’d prefer the film entirely re-scored by John Barry, and I’d love to hear what he could add to the Blondie song, too. Oh, and the clamps? For the first time, the singer appeared in the main titles, Maurice Binder having taken a fancy to Sheena Easton. But, as her lips were to be in a fifty-foot close-up on cinema screens, the famous tacky titles obsessive made one small demand. She could only do it if he could fix her entire head in giant clamps to stop her moving a millimetre. And she did! She looks terrific in the clamps, but I’m afraid I still find myself thinking “But she hasn’t got Deborah Harry’s beautiful cheekbones. Or voice. Or song.”

Channel 4’s chart position was 5, but I’d push it down to about 19. It’s still all right

The Film: I can’t help thinking that, while the music saves many of the weaker Bonds, here it may drag this one down. So does my first impression of it. This was the first Bond I was allowed to see at the cinema, and while now I appreciate the decision to pull back from the excesses of Moonraker, when I was 10 the lack of lasers was a cruel disappointment. That’s a shame, as much of it is rather good in a low-key way and Roger Moore is much better understated than flash. They don’t seem to trust the serious tone to bring in the money, though, so they push in bits of slapstick that simply don’t work with the rest of the film. With Bond’s impressively ruthless moments and the thoughtful spy thriller elements, I suspect it really wants to be From Russia With Love, but it’s hamstrung by a lack of verve and of nerve, edging away from its darker places with silly moments instead. There’s a feint between two potential villains that partially works; Topol’s exuberant character comes over rather better than the usually magnificent but necessarily underplayed Julian Glover, while the end, as Bond is met with a smile from General Gogol, is rather interesting. Along the way there are three unusual Bond women (a slightly older but well-characterised one, one too young for Bond and the independent but slightly off-key Melina), only two really memorable sequences and, in place of M, James Villiers’ sound Chief of Staff and the same irritating minister as in the last couple of movies – who appears to have defected to Mrs Thatcher’s government. Oh, dear, Mrs Thatcher. The film’s last scene features a parrot saying rude things to a Margaret Thatcher impersonator, and it’s shoddy beyond belief. Then there are those memorable sequences, but not memorable in a good way: a ludicrous ‘comedy’ car ‘security device’ that blows it up when anyone touches it, and the only pre-titles sequence that simply makes me cringe. A sober, introspective moment at Bond’s wife’s grave is thrown away in a remote-controlled helicopter stunt, at the end of which Blofeld – lost in a legal battle with Kevin McClory – offers Bond a delicatessen “in stainless steel” and is dropped down a chimney. Hilariously. No, I’m wrong! So, the biggest problem for a relatively thoughtful film remains that most of the bits that take the mickey are so crassly ill-judged they jar horribly. “Bless me, father, for I have sinned.” “That’s putting it mildly, 007,” still makes me smile, though. 6/10, grudgingly.


Rita Coolidge sings Tim Rice’s All Time High, having been let off having to work the word ‘Octopussy’ into a song (but just swapping one hostage-to-fortune title for another, I fear). It lacks the venom of a great Bond tune, but she’s got a good strong voice and the strings are rather pretty, while the title sequence has fun with laser projections of a Bond silhouette turning into 007 then an octopus, inevitably crawling across semi-clad women (plus an amusing Bond held by multiple arms and some lacklustre dancing). As for the rest of the score, though… With a competing ‘Bond film’ that year, John Barry is back to do the score, and it’s terrific. Particularly the forbidding strings for the sinister twin assassins near the Berlin Wall, the rousing mix of Bondian and exotic for the balloon-led attack near the end, and of course the bomb. There’s a lot of deep percussion here… Swirling with percussive beats, and a deep, sinister circling beat underneath, repeating in steadily higher pitches. It starts off deceptively softly, but hinting at powerful strings (which do come in) – all the more effective for saying ‘something big is in reserve’ while Bond is trying to disarm a live nuke.

Channel 4’s chart position was 22, which is roughly right; it’s not bad, but I doubt I’d put it higher than 20.

The Film: Most reviews I’ve seen slate this movie, so I’ll come straight out and say that it’s my favourite of Roger Moore’s, and you’ll not be surprised that I think that magnificent score has a fair bit to do with it. The other main argument in its favour is the villain, or rather the villains – there are three key antagonists here, each memorable and with their own agendas, though loosely allied. Octopussy herself and her circus of beautiful, martial arts-expert women (naturally – I always think of their attack at the end in a friend’s words as ‘Revenge of the Bond Girls’) are smugglers and intriguingly amoral; when she’s eventually persuaded to switch sides, it’s convincing, and down to quite a lot more than the redemptive power of a Bond shag (being left sitting on a nuclear bomb rather puts her off her allies, as it would). Deposed prince Kamal Khan, played by ultra-smooth Louis Jourdan, is more a standard urbane-but-deadly Bond villain but very nicely played, looking for money, power and the main chance and tossing out bon mots to Bond: “You have a nasty habit of surviving.” Despite their charms, the best of the leading villains is Steven Berkoff’s General Orlov, a Cold War hawk fed up at the Kremlin’s moves towards détente who devises a dastardly plan to lay the West open to invasion, all the while chewing the scenery as only a Bond film could allow. He twitches and rants his way through the film in supremely watchable fashion, and when I’m (frequently) rushing for a train that I’m just too late for, I always have General Orlov shouting in my head, “I must get to that train!” as he does before being gunned down in front of General Gogol. Our familiar KGB (or is he GRU?) man gets his finest moments here, investigating Orlov’s theft of Imperial goodies then arriving by helicopter to sneer authoritatively at his dying opponent – though Orlov’s fanatical last line still steals the scene. It’s a good movie for henchpeople, too: I’ve mentioned Octopussy’s high-kicking circus, while Khan has strong-arm man Gobinda, not perhaps the most memorable of Bond heavies but with a great moment of disbelief when told to fight Bond outside a plane in flight. My favourites, however, are introduced in a thrilling sequence just as the titles fade: it’s East Germany, and a clown – in truth, 009 – is running through the woods, only to run into knife-throwing twin assassins, to fantastic music. Mortally wounded, he staggers through the window of the British Ambassador, his outstretched hand (still with a balloon hovering above it) releasing a Fabergé Egg that rolls towards His horrified Excellency. The scene always makes the hairs rise at the back of my neck, and it’s like an Avengers episode wandering into John le Carré.

In all my gushing about the good bits, I realise I’ve not yet mentioned James Bond himself. Well, as it happens, Roger Moore’s pretty good here too – most of the time. Ironically, one of the most tense, gripping pieces of acting he ever does is dressed as a clown, as he tries to disarm the bomb at the heart of the plot. On the other hand, he has a dreadful scene smarming over new MI6 secretary Miss ‘Smallbone’ and putting down a frumpy Moneypenny; it’s not a good movie for the MI6 lot, with Robert Brown making rather a forgettable M, and that tedious but mysteriously defecting minister back again. At least Q gets to fly a ludicrously entertaining Union Flag balloon, and he’s far from the silliest thing in it, as anyone who’s seen the ‘crocodile’ will testify. I’ve not even mentioned the pre-titles adventure involving a false moustache, a big explosion and a death-defying stunt in a mini-jet in Cuba an unnamed Latin American dictatorship, which is great fun but has nothing to do with the rest of the plot. Like the circus that provides much of the backdrop, if you don’t like one act, another will be along in a minute to make you wide-eyed. London! India! Berlin! The Kremlin! Elephants! Nuclear bombs! Hideously rubbish ‘comedy’ bits! Yet it all looks and sounds so good that it all comes together through sheer verve, rather than trying for a serious tone that’s undermined by intermittent jarring slapstick (the previous movie). In the week after the first official Bond premiere in China, I’m sure I’ve read that this one did particularly well in Russia: was it because it suggested Mr Brezhnev was an authoritative figure who was firmly in command and committed to peace, rather than a plodding old dictator who’d only stopped warmongering because he was being trundled to state events in his chiller-coffin by then? 8/10, astoundingly.

‘Never Say Never Again’

To kick off this ‘unofficial’ Bond movie, the song rushes over the opening sequence, as if trying to save money by combining the mini-adventure and the titles. I don’t mind the melody for the verses, as it carries a certain urgency that seems to be building up to something, but unfortunately there’s no pay-off; the chorus just subsides into the limpest, least exciting disco you can imagine. Channel 4’s chart position was 19, but it’s just so feeble that I’d suggest 24. The film itself necessarily lacks the vital ingredient that is the James Bond Theme (used to terrific effect in the competing Octopussy), and is far too fond of using ‘comedy music’ in the score, which I never find endearing, and the whole thing is – not bad, exactly, but curiously lacklustre. Produced by Kevin McClory, temporary victor of the legal wrangles over Thunderball, this has another go at that story and still doesn’t entirely make it work. Sean Connery isn’t bad (with the side-effect of making Roj look youthful) and has some good exchanges with his MI6 chums – told he’s eating too much red meat, white bread and dry Martinis, he offers to cut down on the white bread – but Kim Basinger isn’t nearly as exciting as she’ll become later in her career, Rowan Atkinson’s comedy bumbler is distracting rather than entertaining and Max Von Sydow’s Blofeld just looks bored. On the bright side, Barbara Carrera’s outrageous Fatima Blush is like Shirley Bassey as a villain, and it gets her a year’s gig on Dallas. Apparently it made rather less money than Octopussy, and I’m not surprised; I don’t know how much it cost, but it looks much cheaper. Perhaps most of the cash went on lawyers. Poor Mr Connery – he didn’t learn his lesson on not bowing out after You Only Live Twice. With Diamonds Are Forever already resembling a TV movie, if you polled most people on the street with ‘Did Sean Connery do a James Bond TV movie in the ’80s?’ the vast majority would say ‘Oh yeah, that Never Again thing,’ rather than remembering that in fact it limped onto cinema screens. 5 and a half out of 10, if it’s lucky.

A View to a Kill

Duran Duran work with John Barry on the big hit title song, and the co-operation aids both. It’s great fun, and provides a strong melodic hook that recurs throughout the film score, even turning into rather a beautiful love theme. It’s another good score throughout, right from the opening ski chase music, with rolling strings, Bondian brass and a hint of electric guitar (though you could give the California Girls moment a miss). There’s a gorgeous sweeping theme for Zorin’s airship, too – not only are airships cool, but you can’t beat Barry for music that says ‘what a magnificent vista’. The visuals don’t entirely measure up, though; before I get onto the movie, the title sequence features hilariously bad neon makeup and lasers, while the Duran Duran video famously has the Eiffel Tower, animated cameras and hamming from the band. I have a video for it cut together from Doctor Who clips that a chap did some years ago, and it’s much more fun…

Channel 4’s chart position was 10, and that’s about right – maybe 11.

The Film: Roger Moore’s last James Bond film, and it’s one too many, I’m afraid. It’s nowhere near as strong a story or as stylish a production as the last one, and Roger Moore at last looks simply too old for the part he’s playing. Dashing up the Eiffel Tower, mainly played by a stunt man, Mr Moore is clearly out of breath after taking just a few steps and turning in close-up. Still, Grace Jones looks terrific diving off the Tower and generally doing an impressive acting job as a psychotic, though Christopher Walken’s Max Zorin is curiously subdued (at least by his standards). It’s not that they don’t try with his villainous background: he’s a ‘mad Nazi superman’ working for the Communist Bloc turned arch-yuppie free-marketeer, so they covered all their bases. His plot’s essentially a trashy Goldfinger update in Silicon Valley, though, and you have to wince at his mentor, the bumbling comedy Nazi geneticist. No, no, no. On the bright side, Bond spends much of the movie bantering with accompanying expert Tibbett, played by The Avengers’ Patrick Macnee (with his having done The Return of the Man From U.N.C.L.E. at about the same time, he’d finally managed to collect the set of the most famous spy series in the world). His death is quite affecting, which is unusual in a movie that also features a comedy Frenchman called ‘Aubergine’ and, in ‘Stacey’, arguably the wettest Bond woman in the series. Well, aside from Mary Goodnight. Then there’s a Russian agent called Pola Ivanova – which for a while in my teens seemed like what they were all called – an iceberg submarine with a Union Flag hatch, and such contrived gadgets as a terribly convenient cheque-detector and a cheeky little robot to peek at the ‘sexy’ closing scene. Not Roger Moore’s finest moment… 5/10

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On the question of whether James Bond is the same man, I've always thought yes. Maybe I'm just being lazy, but I explain away the discrepancies (e.g. changes in Bond's appearance, the fact he ought to be an old man etc.) by assuming them to be part of the way the story is told, rather than being a part of the narrative itself. I think this way round it is rather neat - but it's not as much fun as trying to find an actual yes or no answer from within the films, admittedly!

Um, not sure where this leaves Casino Royale, though...
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