JAMES BOND 007 (1981 – 1989)

THREE GUYS AND… 007

series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson

“JAMES BOND 007 (1981 – 1989)”

written by Dominick Cappello

12. For Your Eyes Only (1981)“For Your Eyes Only” (1981)
Directed by John Glen & Starring Roger Moore.
James Bond comes back down to Earth in the first 007 adventure directed by John Glen, who would helm every installment of the franchise in the 1980s. The pre-title sequence pays homage to “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” (1969) with the alleged demise of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and the main plot concentrates on James Bond’s efforts to stop underhanded Greek smugglers from selling a top secret naval tracking device on the black market. This film is not on par with say “From Russia With Love” (1963), but it is still a breath of fresh air as the 1970s was a mixed bag for the franchise. The humor is not over the top and the action sequences are credible, especially in the third act. John Barry didn’t provide the score, but Bill Conti of “Rocky” (1976) fame fills in nicely and the title song by Sheena Easton was nominated for an Academy Award. This is the only 007 film to not feature the character M out of respect for the late Bernard Lee. Instead, James Bond reported to the MI6 Chief of Staff. The leading Bond Girl was played by a French fashion model, Carole Bouquet. A supporting Bond Girl was the late Cassandra Harris, wife of Pierce Brosnan. Pierce Brosnan visited her on set and he caught the eye of producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli. History in the making. John Glen’s five James Bond films have been accused of having a made for television feel, but I enjoyed the continuity. You would always see the same character actors representing the KGB and even some of the same extras in Q’s workshop from movie to movie. I only realized recently that Jeremy Bulloch was working in Q’s workshop! Boba Fett! “For Your Eyes Only” itself is a middle of the road film. I rank it as Roger Moore’s fourth best of his seven outings.

13. Octopussy (1983)“Octopussy” (1983)
Directed by John Glen & Starring Roger Moore.
Let’s all be adults and not snicker at the title. Okay? The thirteenth official James Bond film made by Eon Productions had the dark cloud of the rival Sean Connery film, “Never Say Never Again,” hanging over it. Roger Moore was also contemplating relinquishing his Walther PBK and James Brolin was warming up in the bullpen as his successor. The screenplay was set primarily in India with 007 meeting a bevy of comely jewel smugglers, who are in league with an exiled prince and a warmongering general. Roger Moore eventually decided to return for a sixth outing. Maud Adams, who had co-starred in “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974), returns to the franchise as the title character and her sidekick, Miss Magda (Kristina Wayborn), gives her some stiff competition as a memorable Bond Girl. Kristina Wayborn is in the running for my favorite Bond Girl of the 1980s. Besides a bevy of beauties, this film features an array of credible villains. Kamal Khan (Louis Jordan), Gobinda (Kabir Bedi), and General Orlov (Steven Berkoff). Louis Jordan was the villain is “Swamp Thing” (1982) and Steven Berkoff would go on to play the villain in both “Beverly Hills Cop” (1984) and “Rambo: First Blood, Part II” (1985). These were your “go to” bad guys in the early 1980s. Robert Brown, who had a small part as a naval officer in “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977), takes over as the new M. The exotic locales and amazing stunt work, which was apparently stepped up to answer the challenge of Stephen Spielberg’s “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), contributed to an epic 007 adventure. Q (Desmond Llewelyn) even got to see some action in this movie. There is one cringe inducing moment and that’s the Tarzan yell as James Bond escapes from Kamal Khan’s hunting party. In spite of that, I rank “Octopussy” right behind “Live and Let Die” (1973) and “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) in the top three of the Roger Moore era.

13.5. Never Say Never Again (1983)“Never Say Never Again” (1983)
Directed by Irving Kershner & Starring Sean Connery.
There is no gunbarrell opening nor elaborate title sequence and I’ve learned to make peace with it. Sean Connery makes a second triumphant return as 007 in a second adaptation of the Thunderball novel, directed by Irving Kershner of “The Empire Strikes Back” (1980) fame. The first half of this film is better paced than the original “Thunderball” (1965), but I find the climax to be sluggish and dull. Barbara Carrera as Fatima Blush is also in the running for my favorite Bond Girl of the 1980s and how epic is it to see James Bond share screentime with Mr. Bean / Johnny English himself, Rowan Atkinson? Released only a few months after “Octopussy” starring Roger Moore, this film grossed less at the box office, which I am sure came as a shock to many, who probably assumed that Sean Connery would best Roger Moore in the “Battle of the Bonds.” Though this film is not considered canon (not being produced by Eon), if you are ever enjoying a 007 marathon, perhaps in anticipation of the next installment in the franchise, you can view “Never Say Never Again” in between “Moonraker” (1979) and “For Your Eyes Only” (1981) and the plot somewhat ties together. The original M (Bernard Lee) passed away following “Moonraker” and was not officially replaced until “Octopussy,” so that explains the new M (Edward Fox) as a temporary replacement for his “illustrious predecessor.” Also, if these events occur before “For Your Eyes Only,” this would be the final stand for Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Max von Sydow) and SPECTRE as Blofeld (allegedly) meets his demise in the latter film’s pre-title sequence. A different Q (Alec McCowen) and Miss Moneypenny (Pamela Salem) is best regarded as a stage play with unknown understudies going on in place of the regular starring cast. Perhaps George Lazenby should have been given another crack at 007 in this rogue installment? I will not dare say “Goodbye, Mr. Connery” a third time because you never say never again.

14. A View to a Kill (1985)“A View to a Kill” (1985)
Directed by John Glen & Starring Roger Moore.
Yes, I will freely admit that Roger Moore stuck around for one film too many. He should have resigned after “Octopussy.” He looked good for 57. I hope to age as well as he did, but there was no reason to hang around for this flick. “A View to a Kill” reminds me a little of “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974) because it has a great antagonist in a mediocre film. This time it’s Christopher Walken as crazed industrialist, Max Zorin, who has ties to the KGB and is stockpiling microchips. Flamboyant model Grace Jones played his lover / henchwoman, May Day. A sort of female version of Odd-Job or Jaws. “Charlie’s Angel” Tanya Roberts was the lead Bond Girl. The title song was performed by Duran Duran, so this movie is totes 1980s. You can even keep your eyes peeled for a Dolph Lundgren cameo!!! Others have pointed out that this screenplay is an update of “Goldfinger” (1964) with microchips replacing gold bullion. I’m not sure how I missed that initially, but it rings true. As uninspired as this film is, I do find the climax with the blimp on top of the Golden Gate Bridge quite entertaining, though the film as a whole still doesn’t hold the same guilty pleasure status as “Octopussy.” Along with Roger Moore, this was the swan song for the original Miss Moneypenny, Lois Maxwell. She traded flirtatious repartee with Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore over the course of fourteen films. Honestly, her age started to show in the late 1970s and it was time for her to resign as well, but she still established the part and will be fondly remembered by all the loyal 007 fans. “A View to a Kill” was yet another box office success for Roger Moore, but he later regretted his final appearance, labeling the film as too violent. Goodbye, Mr. Moore. Farewell, Miss Maxwell. You both served us well.

15. The Living Daylights (1987)“The Living Daylights” (1987)
Directed by John Glen & Starring Timothy Dalton.
Timothy Dalton is introduced as James Bond with a pretty cool pre-title sequence which, is one of the rare instances where you get to see other Double-Os in action (albeit briefly). Timothy Dalton was a bitter and at times humorous 007. A last minute replacement for Pierce Brosnan, who was enslaved to NBC. Some found it a nice change of pace after the Roger Moore films while others felt it was forced. “Gritty realism” is the term often used to describe the two Timothy Dalton films. I think that all of the action sequences in “The Living Daylights” are well done, even if the plot gets a tad confusing when 007 arrives in Afghanistan. He is escorting the cellist girlfriend of duplicitous Soviet defector, who is actually in cahoots with an arms dealer. Maryan d’Abo as Kara seemed too vanilla to be a Bond Girl. Caroline Bliss was the new Miss Moneypenny. It’s always nice to see John Rhys-Davies, who was the new head of the KGB. Joe Don Baker plays one of the film’s three villains before he went on to play a CIA liaison in both “GoldenEye” (1997) and “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1997). He was like the reverse Charles Gray. Art Malik plays the head of the Afghan resistance apposing the Soviets. This actor would go on to play the villain in “True Lies” (1994) opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger. What a different seven years can make, both in the cinemas and on the real world stage. Like “For Your Eyes Only,” this cold war era film may not stand the test of time for some viewers. Timothy Dalton isn’t my favorite 007, but I won’t slander him. Everyone has their preference. I should make note that “The Living Daylights” was the final James Bond film for celebrated composer John Barry, who scored eleven films in the series. John Barry is man who defined the sound of not only James Bond, but of the entire spy genre. Oh, and should I be ashamed to admit that I kind of like the title song by pop group a-ha? In a tubular 1980s nostalgia kind of way?

16. Licence to Kill (1989)“Licence to Kill” (1989)
Directed by John Glen & Starring Timothy Dalton.
One of the more polarizing films in the series. “Licence to Kill” truly summed up Timothy Dalton’s hard-edged take on the character. James Bond 007 isn’t out to save the world from a mad scientist or thwart the Soviets… He’s out for revenge after Latin American drug lord Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) maims his friend, Felix Leiter (“Live and Let Die” (1973) alumnus David Hedison). Felix survives, but his bride is murdered on their wedding day just like Tracy (Diana Rigg) in “On Her Majesty‘s Secret Service” (1969). Since SPECTRE #1 – Ernst Stavro Blofeld kept returning to the series before (apparently) being vanquished in the “For Your Eyes Only” teaser, James Bond never satisfyingly avenged Tracy’s death. Now he can symbolically gain a quantum of solace by avenging the tragedy that befell Mr. & Mrs. Leiter. 007 defies MI6 orders to do so and officially becomes a rogue agent. Unfortunately, this film wants to have its cake and eat it too. I always hear the phrase “gritty realism” to describe the two Timothy Dalton films, but is infiltrating a yacht while disguised as a giant manta ray all that realistic? Or that different than Roger Moore as a crocodile in “Octopussy?” The legendary Q (Desmond Llewelyn) joins the mission and supplies 007 with all his usual gadgets. It seems like the filmmakers were afraid to follow through on their promise to give us a reality based adventure. I must also take umbrage with how the story resolves itself. James Bond chats with Felix Leiter on phone and is informed that he has been forgiven for all misconduct. This film should have ended with a big court-martial scene like “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” (1987). Felix doesn’t even thank James for the sacrifices he’s made. Felix seems so darn chipper that he’s either on a lot of morphine or no one’s had the heart to tell him that his wife is dead. Talisa Soto was easy on the eyes, but I still can’t choose my favorite Bond Girl on the 1980s. It’s like a three way tie. Many compare this film to the TV series “Miami Vice” in the same way “Moonraker” (1979) is to “Star Wars” (1977) and “Quantum of Solace” (2008) is to the “Jason Bourne” films. James Bond should set the trends, not follow them. Michael Kamen’s score is very reminiscent of his signature films, “Lethal Weapon” (1987) and “Die Hard” (1988), but I’m not sure if his style lent itself well to 007. “Licence to Kill” was a box office disappointment in the United States and was essentially the end of an era. This is the last we’ll see of Timothy Dalton as 007, director John Glen, Robert Brown as M, screenwriter Richard Maibaum, and title designer Maurice Binder. The world would also have to wait six years for James Bond to return to the cinemas due to legal hogwash. All the more reason for the film to have ended with a court-martial to explain the long absence of 007. Oh, and Benicio Del Toro plays one of the villain’s henchman long before he was an Academy Award winner. Just thought I’d throw in that bit of trivia. Goodbye, Mr. Dalton. At least you lasted longer than George Lazenby.

– Dr. Rochester

Author: Dominick

Share This Post On

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *