Delenda Est Carthago

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Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

I plan on being the supreme dictator of the country, if not the world. Therefore, you might want to stay on my good side. Just a hint: ABBA rules!

17.1.06

Shakespeare and James Bond movies - a good comparison?

This past week American Movie Classics was showing James Bond movies. I always enjoy watching Bond movies, because they have become comfortable and films you can just turn on at any time and have fun. The pattern is the same, of course, but they're still good movies. So naturally, I began to compare them to Shakespeare.

Consider the similarities: Shakespeare wrote 38¹ plays. There have been 21 Bond movies (I'll count the new one, Casino Royale). We divide Shakespeare's plays into four categories: tragedies, comedies, histories, and romances. We can divide the Bond flicks into four categories: Connery, Moore, Dalton, and Brosnan.² There are non-canonical examples: scholars have generally accepted that Shakespeare wrote Edward III, but it's taken awhile to be added, and then there's the first Casino Royale (with Woody Allen!) and Never Say Never Again, Connery's ill-fated return to the Bond movies. Both Shakespeare and Bond have some clunkers: The Merry Wives Of Windsor, A View To A Kill, Licence To Kill. Shakespeare gave us the depths of the human condition, the invention of psychology, ribald humor, and classic characters. The Bond movies give us the same! How so, you say? When Telly Savalas (or, technically, his female sidekick) kills Diana Rigg - I challenge anyone not to choke up! Is James Bond a misogynist? You be the judge! When Sean meets Plenty O'Toole, he says, "Must have been your father's name." Bwah-ha-ha! Classic characters? Blofeld (whoever played him), Joe Don Baker (in two different eras), Oddjob, Auric Goldfinger, Milos Columbo, Scaramanga, and of course, Q, M, and Moneypenny. Too many to name!

I'm telling you, the similarities between the two canons are eerie. Anyway, I was wondering what your Top 5 James Bond movies are. If you're blasé about the Bond films and don't have a Top 5 (like my lovely wife), well, you're a Commie, but that's fine too. A list of Bond movies is here. My Top 5:

5. Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

Posted by PicasaFor the presence of Michelle Yeoh. I love Michelle Yeoh. It's a good movie, too, because it's the second with Brosnan, and he has started to fit into the role better. And it has Teri Hatcher, which is nice.

4. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Spy
The introduction of Jaws is pretty cool, and so is the opening sequence, when Bond jumps off the cliff in skis. Very cool.

3. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Eyes Only
This was just before Moore really got creepy, and it's a fantastic movie. Exciting, tense, not too ridiculous but with a nice bit of humor, a Bond girl who kills with a crossbow, Topol as the pistachio-eating Columbo - lots of good stuff.

2. On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Majesty
Damn, this was close to being my favorite. I love Lazenby as Bond - less arrogant than Connery, but still tough. And how can you go wrong with Diana Rigg as the Bond girl? Emma Peel herself! I love Diana Rigg, by the way. Telly Savalas made a cool villain, too. And it has that excellent mountain retreat. And it's probably the only Bond movie with real human emotion - when Lazenby is cradling Rigg in his arms at the end and the cop drives by and Lazenby says nothing is wrong, it's very sad. No wonder they didn't make another movie like it - people want their Bond single and happy!

1. From Russia With Love (1963)
Russia
First of all, we have Daniela Bianchi:
Daniela
Best Bond girl ever. Second, they actually had some weird lesbian undertones with her and Lotte Lenya. Pretty daring for an early 1960s mainstream movie. Third, it has Robert Shaw as the killer (Grant), who is genuinely creepy, mainly because he hardly speaks (does he speak at all?). Fourth, it takes place in Istanbul, which is a cool locale. Fifth, it was the second Bond movie, so like Brosnan, Connery is starting to be confident in the role and he's not quite the scumbag rake he becomes in later movies - he's pretty much with Tatiana the whole movie. Sixth, it features a gypsy cat fight. A. Gypsy. Cat. Fight. Awesome. In short, the best Bond ever.

There you have it. What's your Top 5?

¹ 39 if you count The Reign of King Edward the Third.
² I'm aware of the fifth (and now sixth) Bond. Work with me, people!

8 Comments:

Blogger Chris said...

Sweet Christmas, someone who agrees with me on From Russia With Love!

(This always gets me roundly derided as "that guy who liked the boring Connery movie".)

Top 5:

5. The Man With The Golden Gun
4. For Your Eyes Only
3. Live And Let Die
2. Goldeneye
1. From Russia With Love

18/1/06 12:56 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Good list. I like "Golden Gun" more because, again, it's Moore's second outing, and it's not as goofy as "Live and Let Die." "Goldeneye" is fun because of Judi Dench's M and I always like when other Double Zero agents show up.

"From Russia With Love" is a good movie because they hadn't yet decided on the formula for Bond movies, so it's more like a "real" movie than later ones. "Dr. No" is the same way, I just don't think it's as good as "Russia."

18/1/06 7:53 AM  
Blogger chosha said...

I'm imagining all the Bond girls being played by men (like in Shakespeare's day). It's not good.

18/1/06 9:53 AM  
Blogger Roger Owen Green said...

I've never seen a Bond movie in its entirety. Oh, I've buzzed through some, flicking through the channels.
Oh, and I (mildly) diss you in today's post.

18/1/06 12:42 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

1. For Your Eyes Only - Though this was the movie where Moore really started showing his age, it remains my favorite.

2. The World Is Not Enough - Despite the appearance of Denise Richards, this remains my favorite of the recent films.

3. From Russia With Love
For pretty much the reasons you mention. The best Connery film.

4. Diamonds are Forever - Good mix of adventure and humor, though I wince at some of the sterotyping in the movie when I watch it now.

5. Goldfinger - Oddjob. Need I say more?

Best Theme Songs: For Your Eyes Only, Nobody Does it Better (The Spy Who Loved Me), Live and Let Die, and Goldfinger.

18/1/06 1:03 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

All of my favorite Bond films starred Sean Connery.

19/1/06 5:59 AM  
Blogger tomthedog said...

I remember On Her Majesty's Secret Service a lot differently than you. I could swear it is indeed Savalas who kills Rigg at the end, as she and Bond are driving off to their honeymoon. And I don't recall him cradling her in his arms, I could swear it just ends with them still driving, Bond smugly content that he's foiled Blofeld once again, until he looks over and sees Rigg with a bullet hole between her eyes. Roll credits!

And hey, I liked Licence to Kill! Bond goes rogue!

This is a tough list to make. I've got three very strong candidates for #1. Let's see...

#5. The Spy Who Loved Me
Moore might be my least favorite Bond, but this might be his best, I think. (Or maybe Man with the Golden Gun.) Plus: Jaws!
#4. Dr. No
Ursula Andress rising from the ocean in that bikini is still one of the best Bond moments ever.
#3. Goldfinger
"No, Mr. Bond. I expect you to die!"
#2. Goldeneye
Great Bond, two great Bond girls (especially Famke as Xenia Onatopp!), great action, great story, great villain, and the most emotional resonance since OHMSS, mainly because it refers directly back to that film.
#1. On Her Majesty's Secret Service
I always say, if Connery had stuck around for this one, this would be EVERYBODY'S favorite Bond film. But just because it has "the other guy," it gets dismissed. But it's got incredible action, back when real people still performed stunts, it's got maybe the best Bond girl ever, it's got a fantastic villain, it's got real emotion -- for the first time, Bond seems more human than superhero, and it's got a powerhouse ending.

19/1/06 8:45 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

Sorry, Tom. It might be Savalas who actually kills her, but they've stopped the car for a moment and Lazenby gets out, glares menacingly at Savalas, then starts to talk to Diana when he realizes she's dead. Then the cop drives by and asks if everything's all right, and Lazenby says something like "She's just taking a little rest" or something equally depressing. It definitely doesn't end without a tender moment between Bond and his now-dead wife.

19/1/06 9:38 AM  

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