MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: GOLDFINGER (1964)

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goldfinger poster

Welcome back to MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, that column where we look at fun quotes from the movies.

Today we look at GOLDFINGER (1964), the third Sean Connery James Bond movie, and one of my all-time favorites.  When looking at memorable quotes in the movies, you really can’t go wrong with a James Bond flick.  GOLDFINGER is one of the best.  Let’s have a listen to some of these quotes from GOLDFINGER, screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn.

As with so many of the James Bond movies, GOLDFINGER is loaded with double entendres, like this one in the exciting pre-credit sequence, where after a violent fight, Bond knocks his foe into a bathtub and then electrocutes the man by tossing in an electric fan after him.

After the man has died, Bond (Sean Connery)  says:

BOND:  Shocking! Positively shocking!

 

Later, after Goldfinger has disposed of the body of a dead foe by placing him inside a car and then having the car crushed at a junkyard, he gestures to the car and comments, setting up this Bond line:

GOLDFINGER:  Forgive me, Mr. Bond, but, uh… I must arrange to separate my gold from the late Mr. Solo.

JAMES BOND:  As you said, he had a pressing engagement.

 

And towards the end of the movie, after Bond kills Oddjob by electrocuting him:

FELIX LEITER:  You okay, James? Where’s your butler friend?

JAMES BOND:  He blew a fuse.

 

GOLDFINGER contains one of Sean Connery’s most playful performances as James Bond.  It’s the first of the Bonds that really rises above the straightforward spy thriller, following the more serious and restrained DR. NO (1962) and FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963).  The third time is the charm for Connery, as his Bond here is more confident, more relaxed, and he exudes far more sex appeal this time around than in the first two movies.

As such, he enjoys many fine little moments in this movie, like in this scene early on, when he’s seeking out Goldfinger’s hotel room.  He charms a maid into letting him use the key to open the door.  Horrified, she says:

MAID:  But that’s Mr. Goldfinger’s room!

To which Bond smiles at her and says warmly:

JAMES BOND:  I know.

 

GOLDFINGER also contains one of the earlier scenes in the series where Bond interacts with Q (Desmond Llewelyn) and discusses the various weapons and gadgets Q has prepared for him.  In GOLDFINGER, they discuss perhaps the most famous car in the Bond series, the Aston Martin DB5, specifically, the ejector seat.  Let’s listen:

Q:  Now this one I’m particularly keen about. You see the gear lever here? Now, if you take the top off, you will find a little red button. Whatever you do, don’t touch it.

JAMES BOND:  Yeah, why not?

Q:  Because you’ll release this section of the roof, and engage and then fire the passenger ejector seat. Whish!

JAMES BOND:  Ejector seat? You’re joking!

Q:  I never joke about my work, 007.

 

And of course, GOLDFINGER includes one of the most famous female characters in the series, famous mostly because of her name:  Pussy Galore.  It still amazes me today that the movie was able to pull this off and get away with having this name in the film.  But they did.

Bond’s reaction to first learning Ms. Galore’s (Honor Blackman) name is classic.  He had been drugged, and when he awakes from his stupor, he finds himself looking at a beautiful woman.

JAMES BOND:  Who are you?

PUSSY GALORE:  My name is Pussy Galore.

JAMES BOND:  I must be dreaming.

goldfinger - pussy galore

Pussy Galore (Honor Blackman) introduces herself to James Bond (Sean Connery).

 

With apologies to Blofeld, Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe) is arguably the most memorable villain ever to appear in the Sean Connery Bonds.  In this classic conversation, Bond and Goldfinger discuss the villain’s supposed plan to rob Fort Knox of its gold, a plan Bond thinks is ridiculous until he learns the truth behind Goldfinger’s plot:

BOND:  You’ll kill 60,000 people uselessly.

GOLDFINGER:  Hah. American motorists kill that many every two years.

BOND:  Yes, well, I’ve worked out a few statistics of my own. 15 billion dollars in gold bullion weighs 10,500 tons. Sixty men would take twelve days to load it onto 200 trucks. Now, at the most, you’re going to have two hours before the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines move in and make you put it back.

GOLDFINGER:  Who mentioned anything about removing it?  (Pauses to let this revelation sink into Bond’s mind.)  The julep tart enough for you?

BOND:  You plan to break into the world’s largest bank, but not to steal anything. Why?

GOLDFINGER:  Go on, Mr. Bond.

BOND:  Mr. Ling, the Red Chinese at the factory, he’s a specialist in nuclear fission… but of course! His government’s given you a bomb.

GOLDFINGER:  I prefer to call it an “atomic device.” It’s small, but particularly dirty.

BOND:  A dirty bomb? Cobalt and iodine?

GOLDFINGER:  Precisely.

BOND:  Well, if you explode it in Fort Knox, the… the entire gold supply of the United States would be radioactive for… fifty-seven years.

GOLDFINGER:  Fifty-eight, to be exact.

BOND:  I apologize, Goldfinger. It’s an inspired deal! They get what they want, economic chaos in the West. And the value of your gold increases many times.

GOLDFINGER:  I conservatively estimate, ten times.

BOND:  Brilliant.

goldfinger - connery

James Bond (Sean Connery) mulls over Goldfinger’s plot.

James Bond’s favorite CIA Agent Felix Leiter (Cec Linder) also appears in GOLDFINGER, and he and Bond share this humorous exchange near the end of the film:

BOND:  Special plane, lunch at the White House… how come?

FELIX:  The President wants to thank you personally.

BOND:  Oh, it was nothing, really.

FELIX:  I know that, but he doesn’t.

BOND:  I suppose I’ll be able to get a drink there.

FELIX:  I told the stewardess liquor for three.

BOND:  Who are the other two?

FELIX:  Oh, there are no other two.

 

And of course Goldfinger gets the most famous line in the movie, and perhaps the most famous line in the entire series.  It certainly belongs in the conversation.  Bond is strapped to a table, and a deadly laser beam is aimed at his body, sparking this question and Goldfinger’s infamous answer:

BOND:  Do you expect me to talk?

GOLDFINGER:  No, Mr. Bond.  I expect you to die!

goldfinger-laser

“No, Mr. Bond.  I expect you to die!”

And there you have it.  Some memorable quotes from the classic James Bond movie GOLDFINGER.  Hope you enjoyed them.

Join me again next time when we’ll look at more quotes from another cool movie.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

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CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: SPECTRE (2015)

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This CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT review appeared this weekend at cinemaknifefight.com.  Guest reviewer Nick Cato and myself take on the new James Bond film SPECTRE (2015), as my usual CKF buddy L.L. Soares was off on another assignment.

 

CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT: SPECTRE (2015)Spectre poster

Review by Michael Arruda & Nick Cato

(THE SCENE: An enormous room, ominously lit, with a long table in the center.  Around the table sit various assorted villainous types.  They are all engaged in small talk on such topics as world domination, espionage, and fantasy football.  The balcony above this scene is filled with onlookers. MICHAEL ARRUDA moves amongst them.  He speaks into the miniature microphone clandestinely planted near his mouth.

MICHAEL ARRUDA: Nick, you there?

(The balcony on the other side of the room is also filled with onlookers. NICK CATO moves amongst this group.  He speaks into his microphone.)

NICK CATO: Yes, I’m here.

MA: Any sign of him yet?

NC: That would be a “negative.”

MA: Well, he should be arriving any minute.  While we’re waiting, we can review today’s movie, but we’ll have to do it on the sly, since we don’t want to blow our covers.

NC: Sounds good to me.

MA: Welcome everyone to today’s CINEMA KNIFE FIGHT column. Today Nick Cato and I are reviewing the latest James Bond movie, SPECTRE (2015), which stars Daniel Craig as James Bond.  To do the review, we’ve chosen this location, the secret hideaway of that nefarious league of villains, S.P.E.C.T.R.E., which is why we have to remain incognito.  This group doesn’t take too kindly to uninvited guests.  And the big news tonight is the shadowy head of S.P.E.C.T.R.E is making an appearance, and so we’ll learn for the first time the truth behind his secret identity.

Nick Cato has joined me tonight because all this cool spy espionage stuff does nothing for L.L. SOARES, and he is off on another assignment.  So, thanks for filling in, Nick!

NC: Happy to be here. I’ll do my best to keep my voice down.

MA: Okay, let’s get started. SPECTRE is the latest movie in the James Bond series, a series that started way back in 1962 with DR. NO.  This is Daniel Craig’s fourth time playing Bond, and the thing I’ve enjoyed about the Craig films is they’ve all been connected.  They’ve featured a story arc which continues here with SPECTRE.  The original Sean Connery James Bond films sort of had an arc, as they were connected by the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. storylines which featured Blofeld as the main villain pulling the strings in multiple movies, but once Roger Moore took over the role the films largely became stand-alone movies with little or no connection to each other.  I’ve enjoyed that the Daniel Craig films have gone back to the notion of being linked to each other.

The events in SPECTRE follow the events in the previous installment SKYFALL (2012) directly.  Acting on a message which M (Judi Dench) left him before she died in SKYFALL,  Bond (Daniel Craig) once again goes rogue— he seems to do that a lot these days—- disobeying the orders of the new M (Ralph Fiennes) and taking matters into his own hands to learn what it is the previous M wanted him to learn. What he discovers is the secret organization SPECTRE.  How the deceased M knew about SPECTRE when she was absolutely clueless about them in the previous films is beyond me.

NC: At first this bothered me to no end, but in a way it gives Dench’s M more mystery, which is kind of cool. Perhaps she did know about them but has only revealed them now that she was gone for her own safety? Or am I grasping at straws here?

(A Scarecrow stuffed with straw brushes by NC.)

After Bond watched the video she had made for him before she died in SKYFALL, he says to Moneypenny, “She wasn’t going to let death get in the way of doing her job.” Ha! Gotta love that line.

MA: In the previous Craig films, one of the more intriguing plot points was the underground organization that seemed to be behind every crime Bond was trying to thwart. They were all powerful and nearly invisible, and the prior films in the Craig series did an excellent job creating this group, giving us bits and pieces of their existence and activities, but never allowing Bond to discover who it was he was up against.

That changes in SPECTRE, as Bond learns that this group has a name, and its name is SPECTRE.  He also discovers the man running SPECTRE, Oberhauser (Christoph Waltz), who, like everything else in the Daniel Craig series, has a personal connection to James Bond, which of course, makes Bond’s mission in this one more personal, as if saving the world wasn’t enough.  It only remains for Bond to learn what Oberhauser is up to and then of course to stop him.

I liked SPECTRE well enough, but there were also an awful lot of things about this one I didn’t like.  To me, the best thing SPECTRE has going for it is its cast.  All the players here do an excellent job.  But the direction here by Sam Mendes, who also directed SKYFALL, is nothing to write home about.  There are some decent action sequences, but none that I would call overly memorable.

NC: I will say I thought the opening sequence in New Mexico was very well done, and one of the better Bond openings. Not only do we get a nifty assassination that ends with a building nearly crushing 007 to death, but a wicked brawl aboard a whirling helicopter above a crowded plaza. It was almost like a 2 for 1 action blast that led into what I thought was a great looking opening credit sequence, although I could’ve done without Sam Smith’s dull song.

MA: Oh my gosh! Talk about lackluster songs!  It was about as exciting as a lullaby!

But you’re right about the opening sequence. It was well done.

But the weakest part of SPECTRE is the script.  Now, this movie is written by four screenwriters:  John Logan, Neal Purvis, Robert Wade, and Jez Butterworth.  All these guys have strong resumes, including having written several other Bond movies.  A movie written by these four guys has no business being as tepid as this one is.

NC: No argument there. The plot is thin considering how many people worked on it.

MA: Let’s start with the basic revelation regarding SPECTRE. Seriously, is that really much of a surprise?  I mean, am I the only viewer who when watching the previous Craig films thought that the sinister organization operating in those films sounded an awful lot like SPECTRE?  I certainly expected that to be the case.  Likewise, seriously, the revelation about Oberhauser’s true identity, is that that much of a shock?  No.

NC: For crying out loud Michael Meyers made fun of the sibling thing in his third spy spoof GOLDMEMBER (2002). They could’ve at least made Oberhauser his third cousin or something.

(Mini-Me emerges from the crowd and starts humping MA’s leg.)

MA: What are you—?  Get off me!

(DR. EVIL appears.)

DR. EVIL: Mini-Me, stop humping the movie critic’s leg. It’s friggin embarrassing! (Pulls Mini-Me off MA).   How am I expected to take over the friggin world when I have to keep chasing you around all day?  No.  I don’t want to hear it.  Zip it!  Zip!

NC: Hey, Mike?  Everything okay over there!

MA: I’m fine.  Just a “little” inconvenience, that’s all.

(Mini-Me flips MA the bird.)

MA: Anyway, the problem with SPECTRE is in terms of surprises, that’s pretty much it.  I kept waiting to learn what it was that Oberhauser and SPECTRE were up to.  What was their grand scheme?  And every time they came close to uttering it, the plot would switch back to James Bond.

NC: Yep. An attempt to make Spectre more mysterious, but they’re mysterious enough.

MA: The scene in the room with all the SPECTRE villains is a nice microcosm of the entire movie. We wait for Oberhauser to finally show up, to shed some light on his intentions, and just as it seems he’s going to, he looks up at James Bond and pretty much says “gotcha!  We know you’re here!”  Bond responds by hightailing it out of there.  I’m glad he knows Bond is there, but I wanted to know what he was doing there!  This film never gives him or SPECTRE anything worthwhile to do.

The plot point of controlling information did little for me and reminded me somewhat of the plot in the Pierce Brosnan Bond film TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997) in which

Jonathan Pryce played a villainous media mogul who was all about— controlling information.

NC: Exactly. And as much as I like Christoph Waltz, I thought Pryce filled that type of threat better.

MA: Agreed. I’ve always thought Pryce was one of the more underrated and underappreciated Bond villains.  Part of that, I’m sure, is TOMORROW NEVER DIES isn’t the best Bond movie.

SPECTRE also is all over the place in terms of tone.  It starts off being very playful, and a lot of the early scenes and dialogue in the movie were reminiscent of the Roger Moore Bond films, which is completely unlike the dark tone of the previous Craig films.

I did like that it opened once more with the signature gun barrel sequence. This is the first time this was used in the Craig films.

By the time the film reverts to its darker side later in the movie, it unfortunately has to contend with the lame SPECTRE storyline. The previous films did a phenomenal job with this all-powerful organization which operated from the shadows, generating a feeling of chaos that ironically is completely absent from SPECTRE.  Furthermore, we finally meet the leader of this group, Oberhauser, and he’s about as effective a villain as Dr. Evil.  Strangely, I was disappointed with all the SPECTRE stuff in this movie.

NC: Weird. My favorite thing about SPECTRE was how the title organization was portrayed. They came off as all-knowing as super sinister.

MA: Really?  I didn’t find them that sinister at all.  I remember in the previous Craig films Judi Dench’s M running around like a chicken with its head cut off, lamenting that she had no idea who these people were, and she was shaken because this organization had people inside MI6, people she thought she trusted.  I didn’t get that sense of inflicted chaos here in SPECTRE.

NC: I did. I’m starting to think YOU are part of Spectre.

And while I wish Christoph Waltz had more screen time, I thought he made a nice throwback-type villain and head of Spectre. Sure, he reminded me, too, of Dr. Evil with his typical Bond villain outfit and eventual facial scar, but the sequence of him happily torturing Bond with that robotic contraption made him seem free of conscience and totally evil. Okay, maybe he was a lot like Dr. Evil, but not as funny.

MA: I just wanted him to do more.

Like I said, I wasn’t all that impressed with the direction by Sam Mendes. There were some memorable scenes, but not a whole lot.  There’s a vicious fight sequence on a passenger train between Bond and a huge assassin Hinx (Dave Bautista) which is clearly an homage to the similar train fight sequences in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (1963) between Sean Connery and Robert Shaw, and in THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) between Roger Moore and Richard Kiel’s Jaws character.  In fact, the character of Hinx here reminded me of Jaws, as he was Bond’s main adversary for most of the movie and like Jaws, would walk away from obvious death situations.

NC: I liked Hinx a lot. Actor Dave Bautista has an awesome, intimidating physical presence and I too immediately thought of Jaws from THE SPY WHO LOVED ME. I was actually waiting for 007 to use a lamp or other electrical device to shock him off the train, but how Hinx ends up being dispatched was well done (and ironically reminded me of JAWS (1975), although I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Mendes’ intention).

MA: That’s pretty funny. I hadn’t thought of that.  Hey, you never know.  That might have been a little in-joke.  And who starred in JAWS?  Robert Shaw, who fought Sean Connery in the FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE train fight!

(Captain Quint from JAWS stands from the table.)

QUINT: Here’s to swimmin’ with bow-legged women!   (Sits back down.)

NC: I just hope Kevin Bacon doesn’t show up.

MA: SPECTRE is full of the signature Bond chases and action scenes, but for the most part, they seemed to simply be going through the motions.  There was a lot of “been there, done that” going through my head as I watched this movie.

NC: While I agree, that is what I liked about SPECTRE. During SKYFALL I think Mendes tried too hard to make things a bit different, and I found myself incredibly bored. This time, it felt good to get back to Bond basics, and I especially liked the car chase between 007 and Hinx. I thought it was fun to have Bond’s car a prototype and not fully functional, making him rely more on his driving skills than the gadgets, something that hasn’t been explored in the franchise since 1981’s FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

I also like how we’ve seen gadgets and props from past Bond films in these four Craig outings, and I think fans of the series will get a real kick out of the toy 007 gets at the end of SPECTRE.

MA: The bulk of this film takes place in London, which was similar to SKYFALL, and I found this a disappointment since most Bond films take place all over the world, and while there are other locations in SPECTRE, the bulk of the action takes place, as it did in SKYFALL, around the MI6 building in London.

NC: I wasn’t bothered by that. There was plenty of travel and action around the globe.

MA: This is Daniel Craig’s fourth turn as James Bond. I’ve been a big fan of Craig in this role, but I have to say, with each successive film I’ve liked him less.  I loved the way he portrayed the character early on.  There was an edge he gave to Bond I hadn’t seen since the Sean Connery days.  Each time he has played the role he seems to have given the character less and less of this edge.  It’s almost as if he’s not as interested in the role, which according to media reports, is true.

NC: It’s beyond obvious Craig isn’t interested in playing Bond anymore, and after his recent appearance on the Stephen Colbert show I’m sure of it. I think the problem is CASINO ROYALE (2006) was such a dark, gritty entry to the 007 world it has been too hard to capture that same spirit. That said, I did enjoy SPECTRE more than Craig’s middle two turns as Bond.

MA: I thought QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2008) kept that same dark spirit alive.

Even more disappointing was Christoph Waltz as Oberhauser. Truth be told, it’s not so much Waltz’s fault as the writers’, who gave this character so little to do.  He’s also just not as menacing as I expected him to be, and Bond seems to gain the upper hand a little too easily.  Of course, the big news here, and I’m not sure if this qualifies as a spoiler, is Oberhauser’s true identity.  Again, this is a no brainer and really shouldn’t be a spoiler or come as any surprise.  I mean, the head of SPECTRE in the Sean Connery films was Blofeld.  Why would it be any different today?

The rest of the cast, however, is very good. I really enjoyed Ralph Fiennes as M, Naomi Harris as Moneypenny, Ben Whishaw as Q, and Rory Kinnear as Tanner, all of these folks reprising these roles from SKYFALL.  The scenes featuring these characters were among my favorite in the movie.

NC: Ralph Fiennes is not only perfect as M, he truly reminded me of an actor from the Connery era films. Major kudos to the producers.

MA: Yeah, I really like Fiennes in this role.

Andrew Scott, who played Moriarty on the TV show SHERLOCK (2010-2014) is memorable as C, a British official who wants to shut down MI6 because he thinks it’s an outdated agency.  Likewise, Dave Bautista makes for a memorable assassin Hinx, and his scenes are among the film’s best as well.  Bautista, of course, played Drax in Marvel’s GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY (2014).

Lea Seydoux is beautiful as the latest Bond girl, Madeleine Swann, but the plot point involving her character and James Bond I didn’t buy at all. We’re supposed to believe that they have real feelings for each other, but I didn’t sense anything special about their relationship, and when the story makes it clear that their relationship is more than just physical, I was left scratching my head.  Craig’s Bond shared much better chemistry with Eva Green’s Vesper Lynd in CASINO ROYALE (2006).

NC: I didn’t buy their romance either. I did like Madeleine Swann’s bad ass character, especially the scene on the train where Bond realizes he doesn’t have to teach her anything. But their falling in love seemed to happen too quickly, and while I don’t want to ruin the ending, I just find it hard to believe Bond would do what he did due to a woman.

MA: I agree.

NC: I know that sounds sexist, but it’s just not in his character. I did like Monica Belluci as Lucia. She looked as beautiful as ever (she was 50 when they filmed SPECTRE) and like Waltz, is given just way too little screen time, although it does fit the need for the part.

MA: Overall, SPECTRE isn’t bad, but I just found the writing to be glaringly subpar in this one.  The story didn’t wow me, and the dialogue I found flat, especially Bond’s dialogue and Oberhauser’s.  I enjoyed the plot of SKYFALL better, and I thought that Javier Bardems’ Silva was a more interesting villain than Christoph Waltz’ Oberhauser.  I did enjoy the ending to SPECTRE better than the ending in SKYFALL, but that’s not saying much.

Strangely, my favorite of the Craig films might be the one that most people tend to like the least, the second one, QUANTUM OF SOLACE.  That was a tight, compact hard-hitting thriller.

I have to say, while I liked it, SPECTRE is probably my least favorite of the Daniel Craig James Bond movies.

I give it two and a half knives.

What did you think, Nick?

NC: It’s easily my second favorite of Craig’s 007 films. I doubt anyone will top CASINO ROYALE, which I truly believe is one of the best in the franchise and one of the best reboots of any series there is.

MA: It is an amazing reboot, that’s for sure.

NC: I agree SKYFALL had a better plot than SPECTRE, but it bored me and I found it lifeless. With everything SPECTRE has going against it, I found myself constantly entertained, which enabled me to forgive many of the quirks we mentioned.

MA: Yes, there were certainly parts of SKYFALL that bored me, and it’s a very uneven Bond film, but the parts that worked I liked a lot, better than most of SPECTRE.

NC: I would like to see if the next 007 caper involves Spectre, as I’d like to see if they’d be in the forefront or once again completely in the shadows.

MA: I wouldn’t mind seeing another plot involving SPECTRE.

NC: And as far as Daniel Craig, I love him as 007, but if the ending of SPECTRE is any indication, this may very well be his last turn at bat. I remember Pierce Brosnan would say how tired he was getting of playing Bond, too, during the end of his tenure, and Craig seems to have the same aura lately.

SPECTRE is full of holes, but it’s just so much fun I give it three knives. Here’s hoping Bond’s 25th film keeps the party going.

(The conversation in the room ceases, and a man enters the room and sits at the head of the table. The lighting is such that we cannot see his face, but it is clear by the reaction of everyone in the room that he is the head of the organization.)

NC: It looks like the moment we’ve been waiting for has arrived.

MA: Yep, he’s here.  Hopefully we’ll learn his true identity.

MAN AT HEAD OF TABLE: I am here to teach you all about chaos and horror.

MA: Here goes.

(The light shifts and gradually illuminates the man at the head of the table to reveal— L.L. SOARES smoking a cigar.)

MA: No!  It can’t be!

LS: Who did you expect?  Some guy holding a white pussycat?  Okay, minions, the beer is on the house!

(Everyone cheers.)

-END-

© Copyright 2015 Michael Arruda and Nick Cato

 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT: THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974)

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THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN posterHere’s my latest IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column, published in the July 2015 edition of THE HORROR WRITERS ASSOCIATION NEWSLETTER.  It’s a special column this month, in memory of Christopher Lee, who passed away on June 7, 2015, and it’s on the James Bond movie THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974), in which Christopher Lee played the villain, Scaramanga.

Enjoy!

—Michael

 

 

IN THE SPOOKLIGHT

BY

MICHAEL ARRUDA

Christopher Lee passed away on June 7, 2015 at the age of 93.

It should come as no surprise then that today’s IN THE SPOOKLIGHT column will be on a Christopher Lee movie.

But which one?

Most of the films I would have chosen to write about— HORROR OF DRACULA (1958), THE WICKER MAN (1973), THE CURSE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1957), and DRACULA HAS RISEN FROM THE GRAVE (1968) to name just a few— I had already penned columns for.

So, I decided to choose a movie that I knew I hadn’t written about, which is why today In The Spooklight it’s THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974), the James Bond movie where Christopher Lee played the villain, the million dollar hit man, Scaramanga.  This decision is not without precedent since I have written about non-horror movies within these pages before.

There’s something apropos about choosing a non-genre film featuring Christopher Lee, since for a large part of his career he tried to become more established in mainstream movies.  Lee is quite good in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.  In fact, many Lee fans cite his performance as Scaramanga as one of their favorite Christopher Lee roles.  I know it’s one of mine.

And you can’t get much closer to James Bond Meets Dracula than with THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.  At times, that’s exactly how this film plays out, which makes it all the more fun.

Although this isn’t the only time Bond tangled with “Dracula.”  In OCTOPUSSY (1983) the villain was played by Louis Jordan, who, as mentioned in my previous SPOOKLIGHT column, played Count Dracula in the outstanding BBC production of COUNT DRACULA (1977).  So, Roger Moore, who played Bond in both these films, got to clash with “Dracula” twice as 007.

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN opens with a cool pre-credit sequence where a hit man seemingly has been hired to kill Scaramanga (Christopher Lee).  But it’s all a trap, an exercise for Scaramanga to test his skills, as the hit man finds himself in an elaborate maze, where he is eventually shot dead by Scaramanga.

Later, James Bond (Roger Moore) learns that he’s the next target for the elusive Scaramanga, the man with the golden gun, infamous for commanding a million dollars a hit.  Bond decides to seek out Scaramanga first and take the battle to him.  Bond’s investigation leads him to the discovery that Scaramanga is part of an elaborate scheme to harness solar energy for the purposes of a new super weapon.  It’s all very silly, but Christopher Lee as Scaramanga is not.

As photographed by director Guy Hamilton, Lee comes off as powerfully dark and handsome, and like his portrayals of Dracula, he exudes a sensuality which is even stronger in this movie since he’s not wielding fangs and red bloodshot eyes.   There’s one scene with Scaramanga and his lover Andrea (Maud Adams) that is so reminiscent of similar scenes where Dracula enters his victims’ bedrooms that you can’t help but think that what you’re watching is indeed “James Bond meets Dracula.”

Christopher Lee as Scaramanga

Christopher Lee as Scaramanga

And speaking of the Dracula connection, Maud Adams who played Andrea in this scene and enjoyed considerable screen time with Christopher Lee in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, also just happened to play Octopussy in OCTOPUSSY, where she co-starred with the other Dracula, Louis Jordan.

There is yet another Dracula connection to this movie. The filmmaker’s original choice to play Scaramanga was Jack Palance, but Palance had to turn the role down because he was committed to another project.  The project?  Dan Curtis’ TV production of DRACULA (1974) where Palance was playing Dracula.  So, producers Albert Broccoli and Harry Saltzman turned to the more famous Dracula to play their villain, Christopher Lee.

One of my favorite scenes in THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is when Bond and Scaramanga finally meet at a sporting event, and their verbal exchange is one of the more memorable scenes in the film.  It’s one of Lee’s better moments in the movie, especially when he tells the tale of how he first shot a man, after the man had shot a circus elephant in the eye.

Lee is also involved in the famous scene where the car he’s driving flips upside down as it jumps across a river, impressive because in those days they actually performed the stunts rather than rely on CGI effects.

The actual golden gun Scaramanga uses in the film is also pretty cool.  It’s put together from ordinary items, a pen, a cigarette lighter, etc., so Scaramanga can enter a room without a weapon and assemble it without anyone noticing.

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is also graced by the beautiful Britt Ekland as Goodnight, one of my all-time favorite Bond girls.   Speaking of Ekland, she also co-starred with Lee in one of his best movies, THE WICKER MAN (1973).

One part of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN that I’ve never been a fan of is its ending.  I’ve always thought the climactic gun battle between Bond and Scaramanga was a letdown.  You wait the entire movie for their confrontation, as it’s been building for the whole film, and it never really materializes.  Their “battle” is not much more than Bond sneaking through Scaramanga’s maze.  I mean, this scene works fine, but it’s after this scene that’s a letdown.  You expect them to meet and have either a major shootout or a physical fight, but they don’t.

Scaramanga and James Bond are armed and ready for their confrontation.

Scaramanga and James Bond are armed and ready for their final confrontation.

Still, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN is one of my favorite James Bond movies, and a major reason for this is Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Scaramanga.  In fact, I knew a guy once who did not like James Bond movies at all, except for one.  He loved THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.  I asked him why, and he told me it was because he liked its cool villain, Scaramanga.

That being said, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN was one of the least profitable James Bond movies.  In fact, it performed so poorly at the box office that it nearly killed the series.  Of course, back in 1974, hardcore Bond fans were still pining for the return of Sean Connery.  It really wasn’t until the next film in the series, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977), before audiences finally welcomed Roger Moore as Bond.

Like most James Bond movies, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN has many memorable lines of dialogue.  In fact, the screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz contains one of my favorite Bond lines of all time.  Bond aims a rifle at the man he’s interrogating, and he says, “I am now aiming precisely at your groin.  So speak or forever hold your piece.”

There’s also this neat exchange between Bond and Scaramanga, where Scaramanga speaks of their epic gun duel, of his golden gun vs. Bond’s Walter PPK, to which Bond asks, “One bullet against my six?”  And Scaramanga answers, “I only need one, Mr. Bond.”

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN features one of Christopher Lee’s best film performances, and he does it on the grand stage, in one of the cinema’s biggest franchises, the James Bond series.  For an actor who played villains, it doesn’t get much better than playing a villain in a Bond flick, and Scaramanga as played by Christopher Lee is one of the more memorable baddies in the entire series.

Want to remember Christopher Lee this summer?  Then check out THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. 

 

For the horror fan, it truly is James Bond vs. Dracula.

 

—“You see, Mr. Bond, I always thought I loved animals.  Then I discovered that I enjoyed killing people even more.”  —Christopher Lee as Scaramanga.

—END—

MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: THUNDERBALL (1965)

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Thunderball posterMEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES: THUNDERBALL (1965)
By
Michael Arruda

Welcome to another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES, that column where we look at great quotes from some really great movies. Some of the best lines in the movies come from the James Bond films, especially the early ones with Sean Connery and Roger Moore.

One of the best Bond films in terms of memorable lines is THUNDERBALL (1965), Sean Connery’s fourth outing as 007. This film came at the height of James Bond mania, following the insane success of the third film in the series, GOLDFINGER (1964), and really, you could call this film the high point of the Sean Connery era, as the series trended downward a bit after this film.

Anyway, let’s have a look at some of those memorable lines of dialogue from THUNDERBALL, screenplay by Jack Whittingham, John Hopkins, and Richard Maibaum.

 

This is the only James Bond movie where we see all the 00 agents together in one room in one shot. It comes early on in the movie, when an emergency meeting is held to discuss an impending crisis. Bond is the last to arrive, something that is not unnoticed by M (Bernard Lee) who says, stopping Bond in his tracks momentarily:

M: Now that we’re all here.

 

One of my favorite lines in the movie comes when Bond (Sean Connery) first meets the beautiful Domino (Claudine Auger) and calls her by her name, something that he wasn’t supposed to know.

BOND: My dear, uncooperative Domino.

DOMINO: How do you know that? How do you know my friends call me Domino?

BOND: It’s on the bracelet on your ankle.

DOMINO: So, what sharp little eyes you’ve got.

BOND: Wait till you get to my teeth.

 

The villain in THUNDERBALL is Largo (Adolfo Celi) and he enjoys some memorable lines as well, like in this scene where he talks about his favorite henchman, Vargas.

LARGO: Of course. Vargas does not drink— does not smoke— does not make love. What do you do, Vargas?

Of course, we know what Vargas does: he kills.

 

As you would expect, some of the better exchanges in the movie are between Bond and Largo, like in this scene where the two men are getting to know each other, each pretending to be someone they aren’t, each trying to learn something of value about the other.

Here, they discuss guns:

BOND: That gun, it looks more fitting for a woman.

LARGO: You know much about guns, Mr. Bond?

BOND: No, but I know a little about women.

 

And as Largo leads Bond in a sharp shooting contest.

BOND: It looks very difficult.

(Shooting from the hip, Bond shatters his clay pigeon.)

BOND: Why no, it isn’t, is it?

 

Some of my favorite lines of dialogue in THUNDERBALL are between James Bond and the beautiful assassin Fiona (Luciana Paluzzi) who works for Largo and has made it her mission to kill James Bond.

After the two ride together in a car, with Fiona driving at incredibly high speeds, she screeches the car to a halt, and Bond appears visibly shaken.

FIONA: Some men just don’t like to be driven.

BOND: No, some men don’t like to be taken for a ride.

 

At one point, Bond walks in on Fiona while she’s taking a bath in the bathroom of her hotel room.

FIONA: Since you’re here, would you mind giving me something to put on?

(Bond casually hands Fiona her shoes.)

 

And their time together ends at a festival, where Fiona finally attempts to kill Bond, but since this is a James Bond movie, it’s Fiona who dies, not 007. She’s cut down on the dance floor, in Bond’s arms. He guides her limp lifeless body to an empty chair and says:

BOND: Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She’s just dead.

 

And we finish with a classic James Bond line, one that fits in with the fine tradition of double entendres uttered by Bond when he finishes off his adversaries.

In this scene, Bond is on the beach with Domino, when she spies Vargas creeping up on them, and she tells Bond this. He casually shoots Vargas with a spear gun, then turns to Domino and says,

BOND: I think he got the point.

 

That’s it for now. I hope you enjoyed these quotes from the classic James Bond movie, THUNDERBALL.

Thanks for joining me today, and I look forward to seeing you next time on another edition of MEMORABLE MOVIE QUOTES.

Thanks for reading!

—Michael

 

 

 

 

SKYFALL – Is It the Best?

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Daniel Craig as James Bond in SKYFALL

Daniel Craig as James Bond in SKYFALL

Blu-Ray Review:  SKYFALL (2012)

by

Michael Arruda

I reviewed SKYFALL (2012) when it opened in theaters this past November.  Back then, there was so much hype about this movie— it’s the Best Bond ever!— Daniel Craig is the best James Bond!— Javier Bardem is the best Bond villain ever!— “Skyfall” by Adele is the best Bond song ever!— you get the idea.

As a huge fan of the James Bond franchise, I was really looking forward to SKYFALL, especially since I liked the previous two Daniel Craig Bond films very much.  In fact, they were among my favorite films of the series.

But the hype—the unbelievable hype—really got in the way of this one when I first saw it, and suddenly SKYFALL was competing with unbeatable ideals.  And while I certainly liked it, liked it a lot actually, I found myself downplaying it because I was comparing it to these ideals, stating that it wasn’t the best Bond, that it didn’t have the best Bond theme song, and it all sounded more critical than it actually was.

I was eager to see it again, to gage my feelings, to see if they had changed, to see if perhaps the hype had clouded my judgment.

I’ll say immediately that upon re-watching SKYFALL, I found it pretty much the same as when I saw it in theaters:  a very, very good James Bond thriller, but not the best, not by a long shot.

I’ll add that the picture quality of the Blu-ray copy I watched was phenomenal.  Crystal clear, it may have looked better than when I saw it at the theater.  That’s pretty amazing.

SKYFALL tells a solid story, but at the end of the day, it’s not very Bond-like.  I really don’t want to hold this against the movie, because I’ve enjoyed the direction the Daniel Craig films have taken.  They’ve done a nice job reinventing the franchise.  I’ve enjoyed the darker more realistic Bond stories, but in this case, there may have been a little too much background.  I didn’t really need to know Bond’s background story of how he became an orphan.  Besides, it was a little too close to the Bruce Wayne/Batman story for my liking.

For the most part, I liked the plot, a tale of a former operative of M’s seeking vengeance against her.  On the other hand, it would have been so much easier for him had he simply shot M as opposed to creating the elaborate plan which serves as the plot for this movie.

I do like Javier Bardem as Silva, the baddie in this one.  I liked him the first time I saw the film too, even if his character is reminiscent of the Joker in THE DARK KNIGHT (2008).  I also liked that M (Judi Dench) had more to do in this movie.  The supporting cast is also very good.

And Daniel Craig is an excellent James Bond.  He seemed to fall comfortably into the role immediately, in his first scenes of CASINO ROYALE (2006).  To nitpick, I actually enjoyed him a bit less here.  I didn’t really enjoy scenes of him fighting to get back his edge.  It seems as if he had just become a 00 agent, licensed to kill, and suddenly here in SKYFALL he’s already over the hill?  It was too soon for this.

SKYFALL is an adequate Bond thriller, with a solid beginning and an intriguing middle.  It really takes off once Bond finally meets Silva.  From their first encounter on Silva’s island, to Silva’s imprisonment, to his escape through the subways of London, to the audacious attempt to assassinate M in broad daylight, for these thirty minutes of film, the movie soars and does rank among the best of the Bonds.  If the entire film had this intensity level, then I would agree that it was the best Bond ever.

But after this sequence, Bond and M flee to Bond’s childhood home, called Skyfall, where they hunker down to await Silva’s inevitable attack.  This ending kills the pacing of the film, and is reminiscent not of any previous Bond movies but of HOME ALONE (1990) as Bond and M booby trap the house to defend against their heavily armed attackers.

In terms of pacing, SKYFALL reminded me somewhat of the Sean Connery Bond film, THUNDERBALL (1965).  THUNDERBALL is one of my favorite Bond movies, yet the first third of that film, where Bond is at a health spa, is terribly slow.  The one advantage THUNDERBALL has over SKYFALL is that its slow parts come at the beginning, not at the end.

So where does SKYFALL rank?  Honestly, I’m still not sure. Even in terms of the Craig Bond films I’m not sure.  I loved both CASINO ROYALE and QUANTUM OF SOLACE (2009), finding them both efficient hard hitting Bond films.  In those terms, SKYFALL is less efficient, but it’s also far more ambitious.  Is it a cop-out to say I like all three Daniel Craig Bond films equally as well?  Because that’s where I am right now.

In terms of how it ranks among all the Bond films, SKYFALL is a very good James Bond movie.  All the Daniel Craig movies have been very good.  I’d even go so far to say they’re excellent.  I would place all three of the Daniel Craig films in my Top 10 list of favorite Bond films, but I wouldn’t place any of them as #1.  Does this really matter, though?  Top 10 is still pretty darned good!

I will say that the “Skyfall” theme song has grown on me since the film was first released.  But, alas, it’s not my #1 James Bond theme either.

So the message of today’s column? It’s simple, really.  SKYFALL is a very good James Bond movie, and the fact that it’s not the best James Bond movie shouldn’t be a knock against it.

The competition is a little fierce.

—-Michael