On leaving the cinema after GoldenEye, I was very ready to see another Bronson Bond and so too were the studio and undoubtedly Brosnan himself, having waited so long to land the role. Tomorrow Never Dies ended up suffering from the rush, as the script had to be ditched and then rewritten as the film was going into production. The result however is a solid Bond and, for me, the best Brosnan.
When GoldenEye came out six years after License to Kill, it felt as if the Bond franchise needed fresh blood. There was the U2 penned Bond song, sung by Tina Turner, a new director in Martin Campbell who had previously made his name with the BBC TV drama Edge of Darkness, and a new Bond. Going to the cinema in 1995, I had almost forgotten about Bond. I was certainly no longer in the childish stage of enjoyment. I was 23 years old; almost done at university with my first degree and not yet ready for the sweet but sickly intoxication of nostalgia.
One of the happier results of this Bond Blog is that I've had the opportunity to totally reassess the Timothy Dalton Bonds. I saw the two films at the cinema probably at a time that I was already falling out of love with the franchise, putting away childish things etc. But now watching them in the context of the slide in quality from Diamonds Are Forever on, they come as a refreshing brace of films. Films that are actually films, unlike most of the Moore entries. And License to Kill has the audacity to try and escape the Bond formula.
At this stage of the franchise, a reinvention was needed. Roger Moore had taken 007 into a tried and tested template of comedy action film. Fluff entertainment with incredible stunts and equally incredible storylines. For a new Bond, an arduous search had come to several dead ends, Pierce Brosnan and Sam Neill were both close to getting the part, but finally it landed at the reluctant feet of stage actor Timothy Dalton.
Has James Bond finally met his match? asked the poster to Roger Moore's seventh and final outing as the British secret service agent. The year is 1985; Roger is an old 57; Duran Duran is topping the charts and the world seems a different place from Live and Let Die, let alone Dr. No. So I guess the answer was probably an immediate YES!
How can I put this? Octopussy is shit. There's really very little to redeem it. It's boring, poorly plotted, badly acted and features an aging Moore who is beginning to sleepwalk his already somnambulant acting style towards Bullseye. But let's see if we can find anything worth talking about.
For Your Eyes Only was the first James Bond movie I saw at the cinema. I was probably nine. It was the Astra Cinema in Barrow-in-Furness, and I was there with friends rather than with my family. Perhaps, my brother's friends and my brother, who is two years older than me. We got to the start of the movie, with the helicopter and the projector broke down. I had been so excited and here we were waiting for the manager to put the film back on again and hoping they didn't cancel the screening. I was terrified. It affected me for a long time. I didn't trust things to work. It was such a shocking disappointment. But then the lights went down and the film came on again. Apparently some workmen had cut the power when they were doing some roadworks outside the cinema, but with the film on I didn't care.
Moonraker came out just as the 70s were coming to an end. Using the same team as brought about the success of The Spy Who Loved Me: Lewis Gilbert directing, Roger Moore (obviously) starring, Christopher Wood writing and even Richard Kiel returning as the henchman Jaws, the film had a notably higher budget - almost double - and exaggerated the comedy aspects while still retaining the evergreen Thunderball plot.
The Spy Who Loved Me is a great title, but a terrible book. Ian Fleming's ninth Bond novel is little more than novella. But even this slim piece of silliness was too embarrassing. The book is narrated by a Canadian girl and if you think the author of Chitty-Chitty Bang Bang and 007 can't write from a female perspective prepare yourself for a shock. He can't.
I feel I've been a bit harsh with the first Roger Moore entry into the Bond franchise and I doubt I'm going to make any friends by stating that The Man with the Golden Gun, the 9th film in the franchise and the final entry to be directed by Guy Hamilton, is actually fairly good. Or not that bad. Or ... well, you get the picture.