Movie Review: THUNDERBALL (1965) 4th James Bond Movie

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THUNDERBALL,  MOVIE POSTERTHUNDERBALL, 1965
Movie Reviews

Directed by Terence Young
Starring: Sean Connery, Claudine Auger, Adolfo Celii, Luciana Paluzzi and Bernard Lee.
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes

SYNOPSIS:

M sends Bond to a health spa to improve his health. SPECTRE has come up with a plan to steal two nuclear warheads and hold the world as hostage. M sends Bond to the Bahamas where Bond plays cat and mouse with SPECTRE’s no. 2, Emilio Largo that climaxes in a big underwater battle.

REVIEW:

With a bigger budget and longer running time than the last films and a great theme song by Tom Jones, Thunderball tells us that it is going to be big and exciting. Filmed in the beautiful Bahamas with a lot of underwater sequences and a lot of sharks, which appear a lot in future films after Thunderball. Supposedly Connery was almost attacked by a shark on set.

Connery is great as the 60’s hero. He seems more confidant in this film. Claudine Auger as Domino is my favorite Bond girl in the series. I’m not the only one. I’ve had intense talks with friends where we agree that she is the best. She is, sweet, knowing, adventurous and proves she can fend for herself by the end. What can I say, she is just absolutely beautiful.

There is a lot a stake for Bond survival wise, but not as much emotional stakes as the previous two films. Though I like how matter of fact Bond is with Domino when he tells her that her brother is dead. He exploits her to get close to Largo to find out where Largo plans to detonate the warheads. He does what he has to do for the world. Does he have to sleep with Domino before he tells her? Probably not. But the movie suggests he does it because he likes her and wants to keep Domino close. It works and Domino tells Bond where Largo is going to be with his men before they go get the warheads Largo has hidden. Bond disguises himself and finds out that Largo is going to hit Miami. Bond gets the information to Felix Leiter, his good friend, and the Americans come in to intercept Largo and his men underwater in one of the only and very exciting underwater battles scenes. Sometimes it is hard to tell what’s going on, but it doesn’t take away from the excitement.

As the film ends, Bond and Domino strap up to a long line and send a balloon in the sky to lift the line up and a plane goes by and catches them and takes them for a ride. This is one of the James Bond stunts that is pretty ludicrous, because it takes all shred of believability out of the film and where did this plane come from. Most people I’ve watched this film with all give a “what the @#$%!! when they see that stunt. It goes to show that in an over the top action film some things still don’t make sense.

Apart from that I still love Thunderball with the great SPECTRE meeting with all the agents around the world and No. 1, soon to be know as Ernst Stavro Blofeld, with his controls to kill anyone in their chairs that screw up. The eye-patched Largo is great, and the first real beautiful femme fatale, Fiona Volpe, is seductive and dangerous, even to watch as an audience member. Largo’s pool of sharks proves an intense and exciting scene. And Bond flies a crazy jet pack.

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Movie Review: FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, 1963. 2nd James Bond Film

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FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE,  MOVIE POSTERFROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE, 1962
Movie Reviews

Directed by Terence Young
Starring Sean Connery, Pedro Armendariz, Lotte Lenya, Robert Shaw, Daniela Bianchi and Bernard Lee.
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes

SYNOPSIS:

It comes to MI6’s attention that a Russian girl has defected and offered to bring a lektor decoding device to MI6 in exchange that James Bond comes and retrieves her and the device. Bond rightfully responds that it is a trap, but who is setting the trap? Is it the Russians?

REVIEW:

Off the bat I have to say that From Russia with Love is my favorite Bond film and Bond novel. The film follows the source material relatively close, except a few minor changes, but that doesn’t matter, because the film is exciting and it flows extremely well. Unlike Dr. No we know the plan of the foes right off the bat. We have to watch Bond from a distance and he thinks he’s got everything figured out. He thinks the Russians are setting him up, but it is in fact SPECTRE. Bond doesn’t know this until over halfway into the film and you can see on Connery’s face that it is a huge blow to the ego. SPECTRE wants Bond dead for killing Dr. No and they want to steal the Lektor to sell it back to the Russians to help fund their organization. So why not kill two birds in one stone. Get MI6, who have been trying to get a lektor for ages, to send Bond to get the Lektor, SPECTRE sends an assassin to kill Bond get the Lektor into SPECTRE’s hands, all the time Russia and England will be blaming each other.

The film took place during the intense cold war and the film does a good job at portraying that, which makes SPECTRE that much more diabolical is that they are taking advantage of world issues for their own gain. The film is a perfect balance. There is not too much and not too little. We aren’t overwhelmed by an overabundance of set pieces and gadgets just yet and this is Connery’s most vulnerable film as Bond, particularly when Red Grant, the Irish psychopath working for SPECTRE proves that bond doesn’t always know what is going on, which leads into an amazing fight scene in a train car. It’s not like a Jason Bourne fight, but for 1963 I can imagine it was a very similar experience at the time.

This is the first film to introduce Q and his gadgets, which become a James Bond staple. Bond gets a suitcase full of fun toys that always conveniently help him on the way.

Although the gadgetry was never in the books, it is fun, especially for young males to imagine all the cool things Bond can play with. Later films they keep topping the previous films and the gadgets get more ridiculous, but for now they are simple and fun.

The villains in From Russia with Love are very memorable. Rosa Klebb is the nasty woman who spearheads the operation under No. 1 who’s face we do not see, but through her fear we know he is not to be toyed with. She hires Red Grant, a man who makes James Bond enjoyable prey to hunt. He is very strong and begins a long line of Bond foes that seem indestructible, raising the danger levels higher.

With all the new add ons that upped the ante for the series From Russia with love remains my favorite, because it is more believable than a lot of other Bond films, which is what makes the film more exciting. There’s a connection with from Russia with Love that the other films don’t have for me, and that is what constitutes as good story telling for this type of genre. There has to be a sense of being grounded in reality even if it is a crazy spy story and From Russia With Love achieves that the best of the early Bonds films

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Movie Review: DR NO, 1962. First James Bond Film

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dr_noDR NO, 1962
Movie Reviews

Directed by Terence Young
Starring Sean Connery, Ursula Andress, Joseph Wiseman, Jack Lord and Bernard Lee.
Review by Jesse Ryder Hughes

SYNOPSIS:

James Bond is sent to investigate the murders of an operative and his secretary, stationed in Jamaica. While there he discovers there is more going on than anyone could imagine. The locals are scared out of their minds to talk, there is a huge lack of trust between anyone, a mysterious island and everyone seems to want James Bond dead.

REVIEW:

I am a huge James Bond fan, for many reasons, like many others I love James Bond himself. A cool, ultra suave and sophisticated spy, unafraid to practically do anything dangerous. He sounds like the ultimate hero and dammit he is. The Bond films have grown with the times to suit what the audience wants (Moonraker: the Star Wars James Bond) and to even give a jolt of reality and portray Bond with real emotional feelings (On her Majesty’s Secret Service, Casino Royale). The Bond girls have grown with the times as becoming more and more strong willed dependent women that don’t need to fully rely on Bond and Bond to rely on them more. I just wanted to discuss where I am going to go as I do my reviews of these films I love. The first of the films Dr. No is one of my favorites and it is the film that introduced all the Bond standards you would expect from a James Bond movie.

The film starts with the signature shot looking through the gun barrel and a man turns and shoots, blood comes down the screen. It’s not Connery, but we get the picture that it is James Bond and he WILL KILL YOU if you have a gun pointed at him. Pretty cool and also a little scary when you think about it. He is a dangerous man. After an arousing title sequence we start with three blind men, seemingly walking a fair distance, pretending to be blind until they meet up with Strangways, the British operative stationed in Jamaica, they use their disability cunningly and WHAT!! Yeah, they kill Strangways. They kill his secretary as well and steal a file entitled Dr. No from the office. From there we meet Bond for the first time and right off the bat we know were safe with the man where he wins the first of many hands gambling ( I actually think he can see through the backs of cards). Bond gets his first girl, which becomes a controversial subject in the Bond films, the portrayal of Women by Bond.

Bond meets M who sends him to Jamaica to investigate Strangways murder. Bond goes, and the story then unfolds almost like a Raymond Chandler novel. Dr. No more than any other Bond film is more of a mystery. That is why I like Dr. No so much. You are putting the puzzle together with Bond. A small murder case turns into a plot by Dr. No to Disrupt radio transmissions in the American space program, which would cause chaos at the cape Canaveral rocket launch sites. Like Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Bond uncovers more and more of the truth from locals, enemies and evidence pointing toward an island called crab key, that none of the locals will go near. Bond meets Honey Rider (Ursula Andress) in crab key in the most famous bond girl scene in the series. I don’t blame it for being famous it is sexy and at the time probably too sexy.

So far in the film Dr. No (who belongs to a terrorist organization called SPECTRE) himself has been the ultimate mystery. For 3 quarters of the film we had only heard his voice, which was almost godlike, like a lot of future Bond villains, they appear to have complexes of all destroying the world on a global scale. Dr. No’s lair is brilliantly decorated by Ken Adam who starts a trait for Bond’s foes as having rich living conditions.

Overall Dr. No sets the standard for Bond films and opens us up to the world of Bond, his witty one liners and his smooth talking demeanor. Not only that it is a solid movie and definitely in my top 5 of the series. Sure it is a little outlandish and almost silly by todays standards, but it works so well and is a lot of fun. It also works to stay within the times by using the antagonist’s idea to disrupt the space race which was a huge and exciting ordeal at the time. Bond is the hero we need to protect us as the world moves forward around us. He is the hero that keeps the world running smoothly.

 

 

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