No Time to Die

No Time to Die — Bond 25 Title Reactions

No Time to Die — Bond 25 Title (and Font) Reactions

On August 20, 2019, the title of the 25th James Bond movie was revealed to be No Time to Die.

Personally, I could take it or leave it.

We’ve had three titles over the years with “Die” in it (Live and Let Die, Tomorrow Never Dies, Die Another Day) — so on that level, it feels a bit like retreading. 

That said, it also feels like a classic Bondian thriller. The type of thing that Fleming or Gardner or Benson would write (like the 1999 Bond novel, High Time to Kill).

In the end, the only thing that really matters is the movie itself. If No Time to Die is an awesome Bond film, then the title will be a classic. If the movie is a dud, then the title will go down in infamy alongside A View to a Kill.

Here’s the title reveal video, posted on 007.com on August 20, 2019.


A Classic Bond Connection

Some of the best titles come directly from Ian Fleming’s novels. While that well has been mostly dried up, the title of Bond 25 (No Time to Die) does have a classic 007 connection.

In 1958, long-time Bond producer Albert R. Broccoli made a movie called No Time to Die.

It was directed by none-other than Terence Young (the legendary Bond director of Dr. No, From Russia With Love, and Thunderball). The movie also starred Luciana Paluzzi (Fiona Volpe in Thunderball).

Here’s a movie description from Wikipedia:

In North Africa during the Second World War, a squadron of British tanks is destroyed in battle by panzers of their German adversaries. The three survivors are quickly captured and transported to an Italian-run POW camp. One of the men has a secret and tries to escape at every turn.

No Time to Die Movie Poster


No Time to Die — Title Reactions

As is the case with anything 007-related, everyone has an opinion … and many took to Facebook and YouTube to share theirs.

Here are a few reactions from the day No Time to Die was revealed:

  • About bloody time! Seriously, it’s a bloody relief it’s half decent and a tribute to one of Cubby Broccoli’s early films. I love it.
  • Absolutely love it! Very classic Bond. Glad to move away from the one or two word titles
  • I DESPISE the direction EON is taking with this franchise… I’m just not as hyped. 😑
  • It’s definitely better than Genome of Woman and Eclipse [both rumored titles of Bond 25].
  • Title is boring. Too much like Tomorrow never dies 
  • OK with the title, but I would rather they moved away from usually having “Kill” or “Die” in the title. 
  • This is NO TIME TO DIE because tomorrow never dies, unless you die another day. So 007, just live and let die. (Athena Stamos)
  • I’m ok with it. Not amazing, but not out of character.
  • I preferred Shatterhand [a rumored Bond 25 title]. 
  • Reminds me of ‘Another Way To Die‘ which is one of my favorite Bond songs in lyrics and one of my least favorites in execution.
  • It’s like marketing shrugged it’s shoulders and said, “… well, it’s catchy.”
  • LOVE THIS TITLE! Such a great, Bondian title! Very excited!
  • Finally, a return to the good old titles. I feel that this movie will be in the spirit of Connery’s movies. Well done Mr. Fukunaga.
  • This title has given me some quantum of solace.
  • The title is pure 70s 80s Bond style. Expecting same level of awesomeness in the movie.
  • It really reminds me of that title Troy McClure mentioned from The Simpsons — Today We Kill, Tomorrow We Die.

No Time to Die - Bond 25 Title and Logo


No Time to Die — Title Font Controversy

When I first saw the font, I thought it was an odd choice. The words “No Time to Die” are tough to read at a glance, and it looks like something more befitting the 1980s.

Apparently, that feeling has been echoed around the Web, as evidenced by these Facebook comments:

  • It took months for experts to come up with the font?
  • Oddly enough, I though the type face would suit a novel more.
  • I do like the logo font! Reminds me of the Anthony Burgess paperbacks from the late-1980s.
  • You know you’re stoked for the movie when you’re impressed by the font of the title
  • The font in the actual title reminds me of the Minnesota Vikings.
  • The font somehow reminded me of Living Daylights – hopefully it will be a bit old school Bond.

In case you’re wondering, the font is called “Futura Bold.” Here’s a brief history.

Futura is a geometric sans-serif typeface designed by Paul Renner and released in 1927. It was designed as a contribution on the New Frankfurt-project. It is based on geometric shapes, especially the circle, similar in spirit to the Bauhaus design style of the period.¹


The Love Boat Connection

Naturally, when the logo for No Time to Die was released, Bond fans quickly found other famous places that used Futura as their font.

The most obvious – and comical – connection was The Love Boat, which used Futura as its title font back in 1977.

The Love Boat


Universal Exports is the world’s oldest James Bond fansite.

Established in 1996, it features thousands of pages about the cinematic and literary adventures of Agent 007.

Since it’s inception, UnivEx has been a site for the fans.

That’s why you’re encouraged to submit articles, artwork, or anything else you want to share about James Bond.

Reach out for more info.


Follow UnivEx on Facebook

 

You only live twice, Mr. Bond.


Latest Intel

Experience the classic UnivEx

a hand-coded 007 art project

Visit the classic Universal Exports

Search the 00-Archives


Tula the Transexual James Bond Girl in For Your Eyes Only

Tula: The Transsexual Bond Girl

Tula the Transexual James Bond Girl in For Your Eyes Only

The Urban Legend of Tula: the transexual Bond girl

For decades, 007 fans debated the existence of a Bond girl that was actually a man. We didn’t have the Internet; so, the urban legend continued to grow and distort.

Now, Universal Exports is proud to tell the true story of Caroline Cossey – the brave Bond Girl who was, indeed, born a man.

. . . . . . .

For His Eyes Only

Tula's scene in For Your Eyes OnlyThe year was 1981 and Roger Moore was donning 007’s white tuxedo in For Your Eyes Only.

While tracking Emile Leopold Locque – the film’s henchman – Bond finds himself near a pool filled with beautiful women. Normally, these extras would have gone unnoticed, uncredited and unmentioned: except that one of them was played by Caroline “Tula” Cossey.

Stunningly beautiful and one of the era’s most prominent supermodels, Tula had a secret that was about to go public in a tabloid article titled, “James Bond Girl Was a Boy.”

The Bond Girls of For Your Eyes Only
The Bond Girls of For Your Eyes Only

From Barry to Caroline

Barry Kenneth Cossey was raised as a boy in the village of Brooke in Norfolk county, England.

From a young age, Barry’s features appeared more feminine than masculine: due to a condition known as Klinefelter’s Syndrome.

Barry Kenneth Cossey

Klinefelter syndrome is a condition related to the X and Y chromosomes (the sex chromosomes). People typically have two sex chromosomes in each cell: females have two X chromosomes (XX), and males have one X and one Y chromosome (XY).

Most often, Klinefelter syndrome results from the presence of one extra copy of the X chromosome in each cell (XXY).

Barry’s case was a bit rarer, as he had two extra X chromosomes in each cell (XXXY).¹ This made his feminine appearance even more pronounced.

Needless to say, Barry never got along with boys growing up. His closest companion was his sister, Pam, with whom he would play dress up in their mother’s clothes.


Becoming a Woman

At the age of 17, Barry Kenneth Cossey started hormone therapy and began living as a woman full time.

A young Caroline "Tula" Cossey

Soon after beginning transition, he began a career as a showgirl; and, after breast augmentation surgery, a topless dancer working in nightclubs in London, Paris and Rome.

Although they were initially shocked, Cossey’s parents were highly supportive.

Finally, after years of hormonal and psychological treatment – as well as legally changing her name to Caroline – Cossey had sex reassignment surgery on December 31, 1974 at Charing Cross Hospital in London.


Introducing Tula

After her operation, Caroline’s career took off. No longer a topless burlesque dancer, she became a highly sought-after glamour model and commercials actress.

Caroline Cossey on the cover of PlayboyIn the 1970s, her lanky and other-worldly looks were the height of fashion. Cossey worked as a model under the name “Tula” – appearing in high-profile magazines such as the Australian Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.

Caroline even posed in Playboy Magazine in 1981.

However, all of this attention would pale in comparison to when she was cast as an extra in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only: finally fulfilling her childhood dream of being a Bond girl.

Sadly, Tula’s life would never be the same again…


A Double-0 Scandal

In 1978, Tula won a part on the British game show 3-2-1.

Unfortunately, that’s also when a tabloid journalist contacted her: revealing he had discovered she was transsexual and planned to write about it.

Other journalists also began researching her past: attempting to interview her family members. As such, Cossey dropped out of the show and convinced the producers to release her from her contract.

After this incident, Tula maintained a lower profile, accepting only smaller assignments… until For Your Eyes Only.

The News of the World article that outed TulaIn 1982, shortly after the film’s release, the tabloid News of the World published an article titled “James Bond Girl Was a Boy.” The article was a huge shock for Bond fans – but an even bigger blow for Caroline’s psyche.

In the months that followed, her emotional roller coaster led her to contemplate suicide and to completely withdraw from the public eye. However, she was able to put that all behind her by publishing I Am a Woman – an autobiography that told her story in her own words.

If anything, the press coverage intensified; but, it was now largely sympathetic. Eventually, Tula was able to return to modeling. But a career on a bigger stage was now irretrievably gone.

Cossey admits that she even contemplated suicide — but decided to write the book continue modeling instead. We’re so glad she did!


Tula’s Life, Love and Legal Battles

Eventually, Tula was able to pick up the threads of her life.

She began a romance with Count Glauco Lasinio, an Italian advertising executive, who was the first man to know her whole story before they dated.

They fell in love and he proposed. However, British law regarded gender reassignment as merely a cosmetic procedure. That meant that she was legally still a man and could not marry another man: even though her passport said she was a woman.

She could not use a woman’s lavatory; and, if convicted of a crime, she would go to a men’s jail. Although their engagement ended, the experience encouraged Caroline to petition for changes to the British Law.


Battling for the Rights of British Transsexuals

In 1983, Caroline Cossey began legal proceedings against the British government to get the legal status of transsexuals changed.

Tula the trans underwear modelThe process dragged on for seven years – and through successively higher levels of the judiciary – until it reached the European High Courts in Strasbourg in 1989. During this period, she campaigned tirelessly for transsexuals’ rights: appearing countless times in the media.

In 1985, she met Elias Fattal: a Jewish businessman. Their professional relationship soon became personal; and, on May 21, 1989, Caroline and Elias married at a synagogue in St. John’s Wood, London.

The ceremony took place just weeks after the European Court of Human Rights decided legally to recognize Tula as a woman. Naturally, the government immediately lodged an appeal: scheduled for the subsequent year.


Love Ruined by the Tabloids

On their return from a blissful honeymoon in the Caribbean, Caroline once again found her happiness destroyed by the News of the World.

While Fattal knew all about Caroline’s past, his orthodox Jewish family did not. Upon learning the truth in the tabloid article, they immediately demanded that he end the marriage.

In addition to losing her husband, Caroline now received death threats. Her car was sabotaged and all seemed lost. At the lowest ebb of her life, she again attempted to cope by writing: publishing her second book, My Story, in 1990.

As if that wasn’t enough, Caroline found herself in the public eye again when the British government’s appeal against the Strasbourg ruling came to court. This time, the court found in the government’s favor. In the eyes of the British Government, Caroline was no longer a woman.


Tula’s Life in the Years Since

Caroline has since returned to – and once again left – modeling; all while continuing her fight against the system and society that has treated her and those like her so shabbily.

Tula and David FinchIn 1991, Caroline once again appeared in Playboy – featured in a pictorial titled “The Transformation Of Tula.” This marked the first time the magazine openly featured a transsexual model in its pages.

A year later, Caroline married David Finch: a Canadian. The couple is still married and living in Kennesaw, Georgia, just outside Atlanta, in the USA.

Today, Caroline has once again found herself in the spotlight after Caitlyn Jenner’s brave and public coming out.

She recently told Cosmopolitan Magazine, “Times have changed so much that it’s amazing. I knew over the years when I’d see shows with gay characters that one day there would be more visibility for trans people.”²


A Legal Win For All Transsexual and Transgender People

In 2004, the Gender Recognition Act was passed; giving transgender and transsexual people in the United Kingdom means to change their legal sex.

This means that these brave individuals are now afforded full recognition of their acquired sex in law for all purposes: including marriage. 

Furthermore, a Birth Certificate drawn from the Gender Recognition Register is indistinguishable from any other birth certificate; and will indicate the new legal sex and name.

It can be used wherever a birth certificate is used: such as for issue of a passport.

The birth certificate showing the previous legal gender continues to exist; and will carry no indication that there is an associated Gender Recognition Certificate or alternative birth certificate.

This was a huge victory for Caroline – and everyone else in the UK who had been dreaming of equality.

While there is still a long road towards global acceptance, the future is looking bright for anyone looking to embrace their true self.


Tula at-a-glance

Birth Name: Barry Kenneth Cossey
Name: Caroline “Tula” Cossey
Born: August 31, 1954 in Brooke, Norfolk, England
Height: 6’0″
Eyes: Green
T* Type: Post-op TS


Sources & Tula Links


Purchase Caroline’s books


Filming GoldenEye at Leavesden Studios

Leavesden Studios and the Ingratitude to James Bond

Filming GoldenEye at Leavesden Studios

Leavesden Studios and the Ingratitude to James Bond

A Brief History of Leavesden Studios

The official web page of the Leavesden Studios, known since 2010 as the Warner Bros. Leavesden Studios, details the story of the complex since the 1940s, when the land belonged to the Ministry of Defence and served as an aerodrome for the Mosquito and Halifax combat aircraft during World War II. Then, the official history continues narrating that after the war Rolls Royce bought the site to continue building aircrafts and engines until its closure in 1992.

Out of thin air, in 1994 “the gates reopened and Leavesden began its new life as a film studio. As its reputation grew, the following years saw it hosting a number of high-profile productions, including James Bond: GoldenEye” and “after the turn of the millennium it became home to the most successful film series of all time, with all eight Harry Potter films being shot at the studio.”

To the man on the street, this is fact. Or history. To the James Bond fan – and, most importantly, to the James Bond crew that worked in GoldenEye – this is a serious send-off to oblivion, so cheeky that it feels like an offense.

Filming GoldenEye at Leavesden Studios

First, there was GoldenEye at Leavesden Studio

Pre-production of GoldenEye in 1994 was exactly what led to the sole existence of Leavesden Studio, and the other “high profile productions” like Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Star Wars – Episode One: The Phantom Menace wouldn’t have been shot there if it wasn’t thanks to a James Bond movie.

Pinewood Studios and its 007 Stage was already booked by First Knight, starring Sean Connery and Richard Gere, which led to production designer Peter Lamont to scout for a different studio with the capacity to hold a production with the magnitude of a James Bond film. Ultimately, he found Leavesden who, as the official history page points out, it was a Rolls Royce until 1992 and abandoned ever since.

If the place was an abandoned factory, it is very unlikely that it was on working conditions. And it wasn’t. Documentaries like Building A Better Bond and GoldenEye: The Secret Files, which can be found on the film’s Ultimate Edition DVD and BluRay releases (and even on YouTube) evidence the remarkable task carried away by Lamont and his collaborators.

Lamont is seen walking on an empty hangar, with no objects around him: “Where we are now will eventually be two big stages,” he explains in the footage, seconds before Tim Piggot Smith’s narration introduces us to the fact that Lamont ” found himself with an unusual problem: how to turn 1.5 million square feet of interior space into one of Europe’s newest film facilities.”

In Building A Better Bond, a worker is also interviewed while showing the interior of the place: the abandoned loos, which would end up serving for the film itself when 007 infiltrates into a nerve gas facility by surprising a Russian guard in the toilet; a long and wide corridor that will eventually become the Art Department offices where the professionals will draw and expose their sketches, and Pierce Brosnan’s dressing room with a lounge area, a treatment surely given to most of the principal actors.

The featurette omits other details to talk about the movie itself, but common sense indicates that administrative offices, phone lines and, probably, internet connection also had to be set up after two years of inactivity in Leavesden.

Also, as it happens in the movie business, each particular interior representing a scene of the movie has to be added to the cost of time and money that turning an old factory into a film studio has taken. In the case of GoldenEye, the Arkhangel Chemical Weapons Facility, the casino interior, the Severnaya Space Weapon Control Centre and the MI6 offices, among others, had to be recreated in one of the newly created stages inside Leavesden.

The evidence is everywhere and Warner Bros. has been contacted by the man addressing you now on June 14, 2019. They were sent the YouTube link of both documentaries and respectfully asked to take this evidence into consideration, but it seems that to Warner Bros. it is a matter of shame or the admittance of weakness to clarify that, had GoldenEye or whatever Bond 17 had been not be made, Leavesden would still be an abandoned factory or anything else outside a film studio – the film studio they are now so proud to introduce as “built for filmmakers by filmmakers”.

Hopefully, the truth will never die and future generations will know those filmmakers were the makers of a James Bond movie.

Photos by Stephen Persch and Moon City Garbage (http://www.moon-city-garbage.agency/goldeneye/index.htm)

… about the author …

Nicolás Suszczyk is a long-time James Bond fan and the author of The World of GoldenEye, which examines the cultural and historical impact of the 17th James Bond movie. 


Universal Exports is the world’s oldest James Bond fansite.

Established in 1996, it features thousands of pages about the cinematic and literary adventures of Agent 007.

Since it’s inception, UnivEx has been a site for the fans.

That’s why you’re encouraged to submit articles, artwork, or anything else you want to share about James Bond.

Reach out for more info.


Follow UnivEx on Facebook

 

Now pay attention, 007.


Latest Intel

Experience the classic UnivEx

a hand-coded 007 art project

Visit the classic Universal Exports

Search the 00-Archives


Connery vs Moore - the Battle of the Bonds

Who Won the Battle of the Bonds? - (Octopussy vs Never Say Never Again)

Connery vs Moore - the Battle of the Bonds

Who Won the Battle of the Bonds? – (Octopussy vs Never Say Never Again)

For James Bond fans, 1983 is known as the “Battle of the Bonds”.

Octopussy – Staring Roger Moore as 007

Never Say Never Again – Staring Sean Connery as 007

It was the year when veteran Bond actor Sean Connery dared to go up against Bond Producer Albert “Cubby” Broccoli with a rival Bond film. Who would win the much-anticipated Battle of the Bonds and how did it all begin?

Sean Connery Never Say Never Again movie posterAfter For Your Eyes Only, Roger Moore announced that he was stepping down from role of Bond. The person favored to replace Moore in the upcoming Bond film, Octopussy, was American actor James Brolin. But before Brolin could strap on Bond’s Walther PPK, it was announced in the summer of 1982 that former Bond actor Sean Connery would return to the role in a rival Bond film that was going to be released on the same weekend as Octopussy.

Because Connery was still very popular among Bond fans, Broccoli feared that Connery’s Bond film would upstage his own. Broccoli figured that an established Bond actor would do better against Connery so he approached Roger Moore to convince him to reprise the role one more time. Although initially reluctant, Moore ultimately agreed so Broccoli rescinded his offer to Brolin.

Filming for Octopussy began in August 1982 in the former West Berlin and later moved to Udaipur, India (though Q’s laboratory was located in Pinewood Studios). Afterward, the crew returned to London to film the last few scenes. The film was released on June 10, 1983. While in India, Moore was shocked to see the grinding poverty that many locals, particularly children, lived under which prompted him to get involved with UNICEF years later.

By contrast, the filming of Never Say Never Again was beset by numerous problems. Filming began in September 1982, in the French Riviera and then moved to the Bahamas two months later. But soon the production ran out of money which put the film months behind schedule.

Octopussy (1983)In addition, producer Jack Schwartzman’s relations with Connery were extremely acrimonious with the two barely speaking to each other. Filming was finally completed in the spring of 1983 but a few scenes had to be shot that summer which made it impossible to release the film in time for the summer blockbuster season. It was finally released on October 7, 1983, four months after the release of Octopussy.

The Battle that Wasn’t

By box office numbers, Octopussy clearly won the Battle of the Bonds. It grossed $67 million in the US market and $187.5 million worldwide and its production costs totaled $27.5 million. By comparison, Never Say Never Again grossed $55 million in the US market and $160 million internationally (through its production costs exceeded $36 million).

But this is an unfair comparison because Octopussy was released in the summer when cinemas show matinees every day so it had greater exposure, which put Never Say Never Again at a disadvantage. Thus, in reality, there was no Battle of the Bonds — but Bond fans still benefitted by two Bond films in one year.


About the Author: Nick Constantinou

I was born in Greece in 1965 and was raised in the United States. I have been a huge James Bond fan ever since I saw my first Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. I have seen all the films and have collected the DVDs from Dr. No. to Quantum of Solace. I currently live in Greece where I work as a translator and English teacher. 


A Beginner's Guide to SPECTRE

A guide to (better) enjoy SPECTRE … and any other 007 movie

An editorial by Paulo Jorge Lopes

Imagine you are trying to explain SPECTRE (the 24th James Bond movie) to someone who has never seen a Bond film. That’s what Paulo does in this new editorial. Take it away ….

SPECTRE Teaser PosterFirst, it would be a lot better if you watched the previous 3 movies (the Reboot era: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall), but not necessary. James Bond films are typically NOT movies to make you find “the meaning of life” … they’re just for entertainment…

A bad guy wants world domination (through money, media, terrorist, secret services…), and the good guy saves the world… It’s been like this since 1962, until the “Reboot”. However, for someone who never watched a 007 movie, SPECTRE is a pretty good choice to start off.

James Bond is a spy for the British Secret Service: specifically, MI6.

James Bond lost his parents as a kid, he’s “rough,” but educated. He goes rouge every once in a while but always focused on his mission. “00” status means he has a License to Kill.

“SPECTRE” stands for Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion.

It was the criminal organization behind everything and every villain in the 007 movies in the 60’s and early 70’s. Their leader was BLOFELD, a bald man with a big scar on his face and eye, and had a white furry cat (keep this in your mind).

In most of the movies, you don’t see his face (just the hands and the cat), but he first appears in 1967 You Only Live Twice.

The SPECTRE logo is an octopus, and each tentacle represents a different “business area” (terrorism, extortion, and so on…). When they announced that the next movie was called “SPECTRE”, trust me, it was an “OMG OMG OMG” moment to every fan … it had been 40 years since SPECTRE last appeared in the movies.

The Reboot Era of James Bond Movies

Casino Royale is the first 007 adventure, where he gets his “00” status. He’s young and reckless, stone cold killer… He’s not ok about killing people, but it’s the life he chose, and ultimately, he’s saving the world somehow, so he learns how to deal with it.

Quantum of Solace just gives closure to Casino Royale.

Skyfall shows 007 as a more mature agent … more charming and sensitive … but also broken and somehow “played out.” But you can finally see that James Bond has feelings for some people. He bleeds and gets hurt (physically and emotionally). He’s human after all.

Classic James Bond Characters

In SPECTRE, you’ll get a lot of references to previous movies, as well as some classical elements the fans were missing … “M” is the boss in the “00” division, “Q” is the quartermaster (aka, the gadget man), “C” (new character) is the Central Intelligence chief, and of course Miss Moneypenny …

Bond and Moneypenny have this funny relationship. They care about each other and flirt all the time (in the old movies), but it’s all in a very platonic way.

You’ll see pictures of all the villains from Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace and Skyfall.

You’ll also see photos of two women. The young beautiful one is Vesper: Bond’s 1st love who was killed in Casino Royale. The older lady is the previous “M, killed in Skyfall.

This is a minor spoiler, but you’ll see that each one of these characters is somehow connected to a SPECTRE “tentacle”.

LeChiffre, Mr. White, Dominic Green, Silva - James Bond Villains
Previous villains: (the 2nd, “Mr. White”, reappears in SPECTRE; all the others were killed)

 

Cars, Action, and Feelings

The Aston Martin DB5 is the classic Bond car, from the 60’s. It has been seen in seven Bond movies in total. While it was destroyed in Skyfall, Bond got a new one at the end of SPECTRE. (Something to keep in mind – Bond is famous for destroying every vehicle he drives)

This Reboot era brought many different things to 007 movies… Skyfall and Spectre are actually not just action movies, because they definitely added some intellectual and emotional elements to the stories.

The 007 Gunbarrel Sequence

Another minor spoiler, but not important to the story… The Gunbarrel intro. This was a must in every Bond movie, until the reboot.

Traditionally, it was the first thing you see in the movie… The James Bond theme, the moving circle on James Bond, and Bond shoots right into it.

There was no gunbarrel intro at the beginning of the reboot movies, but SPECTRE brought it back. So when the gunbarrel appeared at the beginning, it was another “OMG OMG OMG” moment

Why would someone be a 007 fan?

He’s a spy, which means he’s not exactly a good guy, since secret services are all about lying, deceiving, playing both sides, kill loved ones, if necessary…”.

The answer is: it’s about saving the world, and finding goodness among all the crap… And, of course, the gadgets, the cars, the suits, the glamour, the women… Everything is very glamorous, so I guess that’s why.

About the Author: Paulo Jorge Lopes

I’m a 43 y.o. Bond fan, who simply loves music and movies. I work at a Media Agency in Portugal, as a Researcher. Music and Movies are a must in my life; I try to watch/ listen/ read about several artists, even if I’m not a fan.

I try to “stay tuned” and keep up with the movie industry news, but I usually don’t go after “spoilers”, or try to know the plots in advance, since I like the trill of being surprised by a movie or a song. However, I watch movies, with “Google” or “IMDB” open, since I’m constantly searching about the actors, directors, songs, and so on.


The early days of Ian Fleming

The Early Days of Ian Fleming

The Early Days of Ian Fleming » a 007 Editorial

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond (a fictional MI-6 agent), managed to spawn an entire universe of masterfully crafted spy stories, replacing the bleak reality of the Cold War-era into a world of super-villains, charming spooks and even more charming femme fatales.

However, could the author really breathe life into his most famous character, without his own history in British intelligence?

The answer would be “No”, as some of 007’s exploits were indeed inspired by real-life people and events that, in some form or the other, actually took place during WWII.  

The influence of Ian Fleming’s father: Valentine Fleming

Fleming first got involved in intelligence by using his father’s contacts. Ian’s father, Valentine was an esteemed Parliament member and a close friend of Winston Churchill. He died in France in 1917, serving as a major in the British Army, when Ian was just 9 years old.

Growing up in his father’s image, Ian was destined for Her Majesty’s service. After a troublesome period at Eton, he was sent to Switzerland in 1927, to attend a prestigious private school, known for its developed relations with the British Foreign Office.  During his youth, Fleming was known nurtured an image of a womanizer ― which was a character trait that deeply influenced his alter-ego, codenamed 007.  

Ian Fleming: the journalist

As for his own spy career, Fleming first came under the mentorship of Ernan Forbes Dennis, a retired MI-6 operative and the headmaster of the Tennerhof diplomatic school in Kitzbuhel. Dennis’ closely followed the development of his pupils, selecting them for further training in the service of the Crown.

It was there that Fleming discovered his passion for learning languages, attending lessons on French and German. After his formal education, however, Fleming failed to land a job the Foreign Office due to poor results on his entrance exams.

Following this mishap, he moved to Munich where he started learning Russian. Upon his return to England, the future novelist got a job at the Reuters office, and would soon become the only English journalist present at the Moscow trials of British employees who were accused of espionage by the Soviet Union in 1933.  

While in Moscow on an assignment, he caught the attention of the Soviet secret police, as he was a rare breed at the time ― an Englishman who spoke Russian. In addition to this, he was following a highly controversial case, which was threatening to worsen the already disrupted relations between Great Britain and USSR.

On this occasion, he almost landed an interview with Joseph Stalin himself, but it was canceled in the last minute. Some might find odd that Stalin sent Fleming a note, personally apologizing for not being able to provide him with the interview he promised.

Soon after this adventure in Soviet Russia, Fleming resigned from Reuters and tried his luck on the stock market.

World War II

Ian Lancaster Fleming - creator of James Bond, 007As the threat of yet another world war was closing in, the British Government was interested in refreshing its intelligence cadre, especially with people who mastered different languages. Fleming appeared as the ideal candidate ― he was young, intelligent, well-traveled, and well-versed in Russian, German and French.

In 1939 he joined the Naval Intelligence Service as an assistant to Rear Admiral John Godfrey. Godfrey held the Director of Naval Intelligence (D.N.I.) position throughout WWII, and was a respectable figure in the clandestine world of British secret service. As Godfrey’s protégé, Ian Fleming was in the position to build his own influence in the intelligence circles.

He was codenamed 17F and worked at the Admiralty. His employer, Godfrey ― a well-known lover of intrigue  ―  had a reputation of making enemies with other service branches. He used eloquent young Fleming as a liaison between the government’s wartime administration with sections like the Secret Intelligence Service, the Political Warfare Executive, the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the Joint Intelligence Committee and the Prime Minister’s staff.

He was also suspected by historians to be the true author of the 1939 Trout Memo, which introduced a new doctrine into British intelligence. The doctrine suggested treating the espionage warfare against the Germans as fly fishing ― using baits to lure out the enemy and then attack him on their turns.

The Memorandum is officially attributed to Godfry, however, according to historian Brian Mcintyre, it  “bore all the hallmarks of … Lieutenant Commander Ian Fleming”.

Ian Fleming and the 30 Au

In September 1942, Ian Fleming founded the 30 Assault Unit (30 Au, abbreviated), tasked with operating behind enemy lines with in order to collect intel about the German nuclear program. They operated with a great amount of independence from other departments as their mission was seen as a matter of utmost importance.

Besides from its primary mission, the 30 Au was also tasked with retrieving all documents found on the frontline. Fleming was a known admirer of Otto Skorzeny who revolutionized the asymmetric warfare in his use of intelligence and guerilla tactics, combining them with criminal practices, like blackmail, kidnapping, and extortion. The infamous German officer would later serve as inspiration for the character of Hugo Drax, the supervillain from Moonraker. 

On the other hand, this admiration led to some copycat tactics with Fleming’s commando unit under often utilizing false flag operations, disinformation and behind-enemy-lines covert missions.

Although he made a name for himself as a rigid strategic planner in the Admiralty, the unit disliked Fleming, who often referred to the unit as “His Red Indians”, downplaying the risk and stress through which the men had to go through. Regardless, Fleming was very proud of his unit as he knew how their effort affected the turnout of the war.

The Unit served in North Africa, Corsica, Norway, Greece, Normandy and later Germany, collecting information about German scientists who were working on classified secret weapons programs. Many of these scientists defected to the Allied side with the help of Ian Fleming and his “Red Indians”.  The 30 Au was also involved in the Dieppe Raid in 1942 in France, where their role was to seize the infamous Enigma machine, making a turning point for the wartime intelligence effort.

Operation GoldenEye

Ian Lancaster Fleming - creator of James Bond, 007Among other things, Fleming was put in charge of Operation GoldenEye ― a backup plan of organizing a spy network in Spain in case Hitler decided to occupy the then-neutral country.

Later on it became known that he was involved in Operation Mincemeat. Mincemeat was a pivotal false flag operation which consisted of planting a dead body with documents implying a non-existent  Allied plan on the invasion of Crete in 1943. The operation was conducted to the Germans on a false trail, while  the invasion of Sicily was being planned in secrecy.

It is believed that the disinformation campaign greatly contributed to the success of the invasion and the small death toll of Allied soldiers who embarked on Italian soil.  

In  December 1944, following a string of successful operations in Europe, Fleming was sent to the Far East as a Naval Liaison Officer.

His actual role was preparing the grounds for the arrival of the 30 Au group to the Pacific Theatre. They were to take part in operations against the Japanese in South-East Asia, however, the war ended before they were able to perform any missions.

However, while the war was soon over, Fleming’s intelligence career was at its peak.

Tracking Nazi Gold

Immediately after the ceasefire took hold, the British master of espionage was tasked with tracking the Nazi gold back in Europe.

In January 1945, all of Her Majesty’s secret services were very keen on getting hold of Nazi finances.

Little is known about the operation to this day, however, it was revealed that Fleming had a key role in tracing the enormous stashes of gold looted by the Nazis during their reign and conquest that were safely placed in disclosed accounts in Switzerland.

Ian Fleming smokingOperation JB

This operation was also the first time that Fleming has used the name that will become synonymous with his work in the future. It was titled Operation JB, short for James Bond.

Ian Fleming had actually borrowed the name from an existing writer and ornithologist, James Bond, who was an author of the book “A Field Guide to the Birds of the West Indies”.

A bird spotter himself, Fleming read the book and decided to use the author’s name during this operation and afterward for the name of his famous protagonist. 

In his own words, he thought “that this brief, unromantic, Anglo-Saxon and yet very masculine name was just what I (Fleming) needed, and so a second James Bond was born.”

Although he was never part of the MI-6 ― the British foreign intelligence service ― Fleming came across these men a lot during his service for Queen and Country. He was also well aware of how the intelligence works and with a bit of imagination was able to create one of the most vivid spy characters in film and literature. He was demobilized in May 1945, and soon after had a house built in Jamaica.

He called the estate The Goldeneye ― as both a reference to the operation he was a part of and the Carson McCullers’ 1941 novel Reflections in a Golden Eye, which described the use of British naval bases in the Caribbean by the American navy.

The house became his final retreat and a small creative oasis in which he was able to write all 17 of his James Bond novels.

Ian Fleming at GoldenEye

… about the author …

Nikola Budanovic is a freelance journalist who has worked for various media outlets such as Vice, War History Online, The Vintage News, Taste of Cinema, etc. He mostly deals with subjects such as military history and history in general, literature and film.


GoldenEye Movie Poster

The World of GoldenEye

GoldenEye - the 17th James Bond movie

… about this editorial …

For nearly a quarter-century, the old UniversalExports.net invited Bond fans from around the world to share their opinions on 007. The result is a huge archive of articles, which you can browse here.

Today, in celebration of the new UnivEx:007 Editorials section, I’m proud to introduce this article by Nicolás Suszczyk: a long-time Universal Exports reader and huge GoldenEye fan. His new book, The World of GoldenEye, examines the cultural and historical impact of the 17th James Bond movie. 

Enjoy!

~ Greg Goodman (aka, greg007)

. . . . . . .

Half of Everything is Luck…

Following the tradition of authors like Charles Helfenstein and Cary Edwards, who wrote books only focused in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service or the Timothy Dalton era, I decided to write my first book and dedicate it to GoldenEye.

You ask why? “Hilarious question”, as Alec Trevelyan would have put it. It was the first James Bond movie I ever saw, not on the big screen but on TV (and I found it spectacular enough to hook me to Bond) and, I’m also the man behind The GoldenEye Dossier, a website I created in 2011 to homage not only the 1995 film but the many video games based on the story. The site also took the blueprint of other sites by Bond fans that were exclusively dedicated to their favorite films, like Alan Gilbert’s Thunderball Obsessional or Drummond Grieve’s Blofeld’s Cat, focused on On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which are now extinct but were very popular in the early 2000s.

The World of GoldenEye - by Nicolas Suszczyk

As I was planning the updates on The GoldenEye Dossier for 2020, where the 25th anniversary of GoldenEye will be honored with eye-popping visuals and a new layout, I started to consider the idea of making a tribute of the 17th James Bond film. Before me, it was Garth Pearce with The Making of GoldenEye, which as you know is a typical old-school official “making-of” book with loads of pictures, interviews and details of the shooting.

Yet, that publication focused only on the filmmaking aspect and ignored many other aspects, like the historical background and a literary analysis of the story, not forgetting the influence of the video games which came between 1997 and 2011, after that book was published.

I was unsure at first, but Jack, a very good friend of mine who is also a proud Pierce Brosnan admirer, thought I should go for it. Also, I’ve been unemployed for a while, so I thought that it would be great if my GoldenEye knowledge could give me some bucks in the meantime. This is how The World of GoldenEye started on the first days of April 2019.

. . . . . . .

A GoldenEye of Inspiration

After a couple of rewatches of the film, and another read of John Gardner’s novelization, I decided to split the book in sections where I would expand many topics taken into account by GoldenEye: the Cold War, the 1990s generation and betrayal, as well as sections dedicated to the women of the film, the official and unofficial video games inspired by it and a retrospective look at the filmmaking process, where I note that a few things of the Daniel Craig movies have its origins in GoldenEye.

I was happy to see the expectation was high when I announced my project and I resorted to a certain Bond experts to give me a hand on their areas, like Matt Spaiser from The Suits of James Bond, Reuben Wakeman from Toys of Bond, and Yannick Zenhäusern and Ben Colclough, who are both working on the upcoming GoldenEye 25 unofficial PC game coming in 2022. Every Bond web site owes something to Kimberly Last’s legendary 007 site from 1994, so of course she has also contributed to the book in a way. And I didn’t forget Derek Lyons, a regular Bond actor, who has appeared as a casino guest in the movie and kindly shared some anecdotes with me.

I know many people were surprised that I have completed the whole book in about a month, wondering if there are just words of praise for more than 100 pages. Of course not, the analysis is in-depth and very rational, plus some of the subjects (like the Cossack betrayal at Lienz) have been investigated by me in 2014 when I started to write my first article for MI6 Confidential magazine, that was published on August 2015. This time, I expanded on that subject and went to look up some other facts, namely the 1991 coup against Mikhail Gorbachov, where General Ourumov took part according to his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it dossier.

Nicolas Suszczyk and his collection of GoldenEye 007 merchandise
Nicolas Suszczyk and his collection of GoldenEye 007 merchandise

The World of GoldenEye will be out on June 8, 2019, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Pierce Brosnan’s announcement as James Bond.

Paperback and digital editions will be available, the latter can be pre-ordered now on Amazon. Please take into account that the book is printed and shipped exclusively by Amazon, it’s an “on demand” publishing service they have. Much to my chagrin, the book will have no film stills to avoid paying royalties or copyright claims, but hopefully you’ll be able to enjoy the evocative cover artwork I myself designed. As Spanish is my main language, I’m already working on a translation which will be out later this year. I know how collectors are because I’m a collector myself, so there is a different cover artwork for the Spanish language version. Hopefully, it can be translated in other languages in the future, as well as making a second edition one day.

Either way, I hope you will enjoy reading my thoughts of this fantastic and timeless James Bond adventure that changed my life for good and, perhaps see the story in a more intellectual way. This is also a tribute to all the Bond fans that grew up in the 1990s like me, so the book goes especially for them. Even though about to fall into the abyss of 30, we’ll never stop being kids whenever we exchange Klobb and Golden Gun shots on a GoldenEye 007 match.

As I write these lines, I’m on the phase where half of everything is luck. We’ll see what fate has to do with it in the following months.

~ Nicolás Suszczyk


every-james-bond-title-sequence

Watch Every James Bond Movie's Title Sequence

every-james-bond-title-sequence

James Bond Movie Title Sequences

Every James Bond movie features a beautiful title sequence that relates to the film, shows the credits, and has the theme song playing alongside it.

Some of these scenes are iconic (especially Goldfinger and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) – and most were ahead of their time when it came to design and implementation.

That said, some of them are downright terrible (I’m looking at you, The World is Not Enough).

The one thing you can’t deny is that they are a staple of the Bond series and that everyone has an opinion. After you watch some of the videos on this page, be sure to share yours in the comments.

Happy Watching.




























What do you think?

Which title sequence is your favorite?


Ian Fleming's From Russia With Love Book Review

From Russia With Love » a 007 Book Review

ian fleming from russia with love

From Russia With Love Book Jacket Summary:


“Every major foreign government organization has a file on British secret agent James Bond. Now, Russia’s lethal SMERSH organization has targeted him for elimination. SMERSH has the perfect bait in the irresistible Tatiana Romanova, who lures 007 to Istanbul promising the top-secret Spektor cipher machine. But when Bond walks willingly into the trap, a game of cross and double-cross ensues, with Bond both the stakes and the prize.”

-From the 2002 Penguin Edition


UnivEx Review:


Fleming’s original From Russia With Love is almost exactly the same as the Connery movie. Bond travels to Russia to obtain a SPECTOR decoding device and is unwittingly used in a part of a SMERSH plan to embarrass the British Secret Service. Unlike the movie, there is no SPECTRE in this novel, but it doesn’t need there to be.

From Russia With Love is stunning. Fleming writes in unusually excellent prose for a thriller writer, combining the threads of the complex plot to excellent and often harrowing effect. The characterization is the best feature of this tour de force. Every character is fully and artistically developed – Red Grant, the psychotic killer, 

is the ultimate Bond enemy and he still packs a punch fifty years on. Rosa Klebb is written vividly, in all her detestable glory. Romanovna is not the average Bond girl – she is well introduced, as well as being a most luscious Bond girl, and plenty of background to her life is given, something often lacking in Fleming’s other efforts.

Bond himself is also developed marvelously, and quite aside from the cardboard cutout characters we often get in a Bond book, none of these characters are lacking in depth and dimension. If the plot is good – SMERSH plotting to kill MI6’s best agent and also to create a worldwide sex scandal with far-reaching implications for the credibility of British intelligence into the bargain – then the execution is better. Every page is a masterpiece in itself, and the whole plot molds perfectly and seamlessly, from London, Istanbul, the Orient Express and France, with perfection.

james bond ian fleming from russia with love

From Russia With Love:
at-a-glance

Author:
Ian Fleming

First Published:
April 8, 1957

Villain:
Rosa Klebb; Red Grant

Organization:
SMERSH

Bond Girl:
Tatiana Romanova

Allies:
Darko Kerim; Vavra; Rene Mathis

Alternate Title:
You Asked For It

 

From Russia With Love Book Covers


spectre movie poster logo teaser

SPECTRE. a movie review

spectre movie header

SPECTRE.   the 24th James Bond Movie

 

For Bond fans, it’s always difficult to separate our excitement for the latest movie from the quality of the film itself. In the case of SPECTRE, the title alone succeeds in creating an instant state of nostalgia. Iconic villains are assumed, secret lairs are expected and everyone wonders if they will see a certain fluffy white kitty. But, is the movie any good?

On first viewing, SPECTRE succeeds as a classic Bondian thriller. It’s chock-full of exciting action, beautiful women, exotic locations, tongue-in-cheek humor, references to previous movies and a memorable villain.

SPECTRE is also an uneven movie with many flaws. The villain’s character is tragically underused, and his personal connection to 007 ruins his credibility. Bond’s romantic relationships feel forced, extraneous subplots run wild and the film’s action sequences rarely succeed in building tension.

Still, for those who grew up with 007, SPECTRE is sure to evoke a sense of childhood wonder and glee … even if it doesn’t feel like one of Bond’s best missions.

 

005 stars
out of a possible 007

 


 

… SPOILERS BELOW …

 

SPECTRE Teaser PosterSPECTRE marks the first Craig-era adventure to utilize the classic Bond movie formula. While many critics have lambasted this as a step backwards, it’s exactly what Bond fans have been hoping for.

After an action-packed pre-title sequence and an average theme song, Bond meets with the classic MI6 staff — M, Moneypenny and Q — before setting off for his next exotic destination.

From Mexico to London, Rome, Austria and Morocco, Bond is constantly on the move. At every stop, he’s punching, driving, flying, running, snooping, shooting, kissing and fornicating his way into the next clue.

007 seduces valuable information out of a beautiful woman, declares himself Bond, James Bond, follows a new lead and finds his main love interest of the film … who first claims immunity to his charms, before inevitably falling for him later.

He promptly orders a martini “shaken not stirred,” blows a bunch of stuff up, hops on board a train, kills a physically-superior henchman, discovers the villain’s plot, finds himself facing death, gets away, stops the villain, saves the girl and heads off into the sunset.

What more could you want from a Bond film? A cohesive plot, perhaps.

 

In the 1960s, it was easy to be SPECTRE

The Original SPECTRE LogoThe Cuban Missile Crisis was causing fear across the Western world; all Blofeld had to do was hijack some nuclear weapons and hold them for ransom. His scheme was simple … and universally terrifying.

Today, the West is more worried about unconstitutional governmental surveillance than global annihilation. Always one to evolve with the times, SPECTRE’s latest scheme is to secretly partner with nine world governments and take over their new massive global surveillance network. The end goal is to, presumably, do bad things with the data? Become Big Brother? It’s not entirely clear, but the fate of the free world seems to be at stake.

Despite clocking in as the longest Bond movie yet, SPECTRE never leaves the audience checking their watch. Christoph Waltz does a fantastic job portraying Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Although physical strength is not his forte, the head of SPECTRE comes across as creepy, menacing, evil, sadistic, cruel, calculating and brilliant. When he taunts Bond in the control room of his secret lair, it really feels as if 007 has met his match.

 

Christoph Waltz SPECTRE character posterBond v. Blofeld

With so much going right, one is left to wonder why the movie rushes through the showdown in Morocco? The entire third act of the film should have taken place inside the SPECTRE compound. After all, this is the matchup fans have been waiting four decades for: Bond vs Blofeld.

However, instead of building tension and developing their relationship, the movie quickly introduces convoluted new plot points, puts Bond in a laughably escapable situation and quickly moves the finale to London … presumably to give the MI6 staff more screen time.

Also confusing is why Blofeld had to be a face from Bond’s past. SPECTRE’s role in Bond’s recent heartbreaks is more than enough reason for 007 to hate Blofeld. Conversely, all the trouble Bond caused over the past decade is sufficient motivation for Blofeld to be vindictive towards 007.

Yet, instead of that plausible relationship, we are expected to believe that the world’s mightiest criminal organization has spent the past ten years trying to piss off James Bond just because their leader has daddy issues. It just doesn’t make sense, and cheapens the stories of Casino RoyaleQuantum of Solace and Skyfall.

Still, despite these shortcomings, SPECTRE is a great Bond movie. It succeeds on more levels than it fails, and hopefully sets the stage for another showdown with Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

 

 


WHAT WORKED

 

The Mexican Pre-Title Sequence

Filming in Mexico CityAfter opening the film with a classic gunbarrel sequence, the first four minutes glide by in one continuous take: without a single apparent cut in the filming.

This unique and beautiful style of directorial mastery has never been attempted in a Bond film, and its perfect execution adds a sense of intrigue to the scene and makes the audience feel like they are right there with 007. However, it’s worth noting that the effect was achieved by combining several meticulously choreographed long takes, edited together with shrewdly placed wipes and a small amount of CGI. 1

The rest of the pre-title sequence was equally as beautiful; as the producers recreated an entire Day of the Dead festival in Mexico City … complete with a thrilling helicopter battle above the main square. Truly one of the best of the series.

 

Theme Song and Titles

While Sam Smith’s oft-lambasted theme song lacks the punch of most other themes, the shortened version used in the movie works well alongside the beautiful visuals.

Daniel Kleinman did an outstanding job designing his seventh Bond title sequence. The dancing girls feature more prominently than they did in Skyfall, and Daniel Craig got a chance to show off his abs. Featuring scenes from the other Craig-era films was another great touch. And yes, even the strange oily octopus was cool.

 

Meeting SPECTRE

the SPECTRE boardroomThe SPECTRE board meeting provides one of the most tense, fun and retro scenes in the movie. For the first time since 1965’s Thunderball, we see all agents of this shadowy organization in one place at one time. All that was missing was a sliding door hidden in a Parisian NGO.

 

The Pale King

Another highlight of SPECTRE was Bond’s “chess match” with Mr. White. Sure, the metaphor was obvious and a bit of a cliché, but seeing Mr. White slide the octopus ring across the chess board next to the rook, followed by Bond passing his Walther PPK across the board… it’s enough to give you chills.

 

Franz Oberhauser   Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Ernst Stavro BlofeldBy naming Bond 24 SPECTRE, the movie instantly teased one of the series’ most beloved and iconic villainous organizations — one that could seemingly be led by only one man. That alone was enough to induce a Pavlovian response from the Bond faithful.

Although Christoph Waltz publicly claimed that his character was not Blofeld, most Bond fans expected that to change at some point during SPECTRE. And change it did.

When Bond saw the white Persian cat and heard Oberhauser introduce himself as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, a wave of glee came over me. For an extended moment, I was as giddy as a little kid, thrusting my hands into the air and squeeing audibly in the theater.

The squees returned later in the film, when Blofeld reappears with his trademark scar and utters a variation of his classic line from You Only Live Twice. Waltz may have said, “Goodbye, James Bond,” but all I heard was Donald Pleasence’s voice shouting, “Goodbye, Meeester Bond.”

 

The MI6 Staff

Miss Moneypenny Character Poster - SPECTREOne of SPECTRE’s highlights is the extended use of the MI6 support staff: M, Q and Moneypenny. While M is busy trying to keep MI6 afloat, Q and Moneypenny are neck-deep in covertly helping 007 on his mission … at the potential expense of their own careers.

Although Ralph Fiennes spends too much of SPECTRE in angry/stressed mode, it’s great to see Judi Dench in a short cameo, leading Bond on his latest mission from beyond the grave. One can only hope that future movies develop the relationship with this new M in the same way.

The scene in Q-Lab is an instant classic, as Ben Whishaw channels his inner Desmond Llewelyn while making the role his own. The relationship between Q and Bond is playful, familiar, mutually respectful and yet slightly irritated: especially when Q finds 007 in Austria. It’s the best use of the character since Llewelyn joined Timothy Dalton in the field in 1989’s License to Kill.

Meanwhile, SPECTRE marks the first time we see a bit of Moneypenny’s personal life. Not only does she have a “friend” staying overnight, but she also has a fully-stocked fridge.

 

The Humor is Back

A side effect of the Craig-era Bond films’ grittiness was a lack of humor. In SPECTRE, the laughs return. A few highlights include:

  • Bond landing on a couch during the pre-title sequence
  • Bond’s reaction to receiving a green health drink instead of his vodka martini
  • The gadgets failing in his Aston Martin
  • Bond’s face when Q denies him a new car

 

A few others things to love about SPECTRE

  • The love scene with Monica Bellucci is a classic example of, “I’ll seduce the bad guy’s girlfriend to get a critical clue.” Except, for once, the woman lives.
  • Bond and his luggageBlofeld’s lair seemed like a mix between Dr. No’s hideout and Blofeld’s hollowed out volcano in You Only Live Twice.
  • The train scene was very reminiscent of the Orient Express in From Russia With Love.
  • Except for Omega and Heineken, most of the product placement was subtle. But boy, they sure did show Bond’s watch a lot.
  • For the first time, we actually see Bond carry luggage. And no, his briefcases and gadgets don’t count. It’s great to know that he has to pack for a mission, just like the rest of us. (see photo to the right)
  • The MI6 safe house is called “Hildebrand Rarity & Treasures,” which is a reference to a short story called the Hildebrand Rarity in Ian Fleming’s For Your Eyes Only.

 


WHAT DIDN’T WORK

For all that SPECTRE did right, there were quite a few things that didn’t quite work.

 

Madeline Swann

Madeline SwannWhen George Lazenby drove off with Tracy Bond at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, their love was obvious, pure and beautiful. When Daniel Craig mourned the death of Vesper Lynd across two movies, we felt Bond’s sorrow and mourned alongside him. However, when Madeline Swann confesses her love for 007, it seems unrealistic and forced.

One can assume that their relationship developed off-screen, as they had plenty of travel time to get to know each other and develop a sense of intimacy. But the audience isn’t along for the ride. We simply see a brief game of cold, then hot, then drunk, then cold, then love. Bond’s interest in Swann doesn’t appear to be much more than a casual fling … yet there he is, driving off to start a new life with her in his DB5.

 

Sam Mendes

Sam Mendes directs SPECTRESkyfall was the most beautifully directed movie in the Bond series, especially the Macau casino floating candle scene and the blue silhouette fight atop a Shanghai skyscraper.

In SPECTRE, Sam Mendes seems to be lacking that flare. Other than the magnificent pre-title sequence and his brilliant use of empty space in Morocco, the film seemed a bit flat. Perhaps this is because Roger Deakins, his cinematographer for Skyfall, was absent from SPECTRE.

 

A Few Niggles

  • How was Silva a part of SPECTRE? He seemed like a throw in, just to tie all the Craig-era Bond films together. In reality, Skyfall was a stand alone piece … just like Goldfinger.
  • The car chase was amazing, but what was the purpose? Bautista never tried to overtake or smash Bond. He just chased him.
  • My opening night SPECTRE ticketsHow did the bad guys on the gondola in Austria know who Q was, and why were they chasing him?
  • Speaking of Austria, where did Bond find the plane he stole?
  • When the bad guys kidnapped Bond during the finale, was their plan simply to leave him in that lobby? If so, they were basically killed for successfully completing their mission.
  • So Blofeld is Bond’s foster brother? Sounds suspiciously like the plot to Austin Powers: Goldmember. While it doesn’t bother me, the connection does make the movie a bit of a joke in some circles.
  • How did the SPECTRE ring have the DNA of so many people on it? What are the odds that LeChiffre, Dominic Green, Silva and Blofeld all touched some mid-level SPECTRE agent’s ring?
  • SPECTRE IMAX movie posterMax Dengbhi, aka ‘C’, has too much screen time for someone who shares a mere minute with 007. Sure, Andrew Scott gives a devilishly delightful performance in the roll, but it seems that the character mostly exists to give M someone to battle, thereby taking the focus off Bond.
  • SPECTRE’s meaning is never revealed. Yes, previous adventures tell us it stands for SPecial Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion. But, they never say anything about that in the movie.
  • Hinx is underused. Though, for a character with no dialogue except one final expletive, they do a decent job of developing his character.
  • SPECTRE is in such a rush to get to the next destination, that no one place is ever explored in any detail. This feels like a missed opportunity
  • For most of the movie, Bond doesn’t even realize what he’s involved in. He’s just stumbling along and happens to find a guy in the middle of doing a bad thing.