“You must give me the name of your oculist…”

Monday evening, as I indicated in an earlier post, I went to the illustrious Bloor Cinema to watch a couple 35mm prints of Bond films. The two films being screened Monday evening were Dr. No and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I was a little nervous going alone, but in the end it turned out to be a really fun evening. The only thing that would have improved the evening was watching with J1.

I left my apartment and headed to the subway, enduring the extreme heat and humidity. The thought of basking in the air conditioned glory of a darkened theater kept me moving steadily and with purpose. The subway came, I got on and grabbed a seat2. We pulled into Yonge Station and the subway filled with people. A pregnant woman got on and began searching for a seat. Being the gentleman that I am (*cough*), I decided to offer her mine. My only reservation was the tiny problem of my complete inability to determine if she was actually with child or just…with chili-cheese-fries…ifyouknowattamean… eek. I felt bad grilling her about her massive pot belly, so I erred on the side of “less assholish3” and give up my seat. She sat down and thanked me.

As I rode, standing next to her, I began contemplating the various scenarios that would lead this woman to be in this position; obviously getting knocked up is high on the list, but I began to get the distinct impression that her pregnancy was due to an increased input of potato skins and a decreased output of any exercise whatsoever.

The conclusive proof I was looking for arrived at Spadina Station: another woman who was up the duff. Woman #2 gets on and looks around for a seat. Lo and behold, my pregnant/fat woman gets up and offers her a seat. Eureka!

Conclusion: Some woman aren’t pregnant, they’re just fat…and you shouldn’t give your seats to them since there are REAL pregnant woman in REAL hot countries who don’t have the benefit of seats and/or air conditioning.

So it goes…

I arrived at the theatre and was immediately dismayed to note that whatever archaic air conditioning they HAD at the Bloor was no longer in service. Bummer. It wasn’t too hot in the theatre, truth be told.

The first film (and the first Bond film), Dr. No, was great fun. The 1962 print was in relatively good condition, although the skipping and popping in certain spots caused some edits to be unintentionally amusing. I was shocked that most people there were younger than me and in a couple groups of four or more. Strange.

I also found it odd that after the movie finished, many of the young audience members didn’t understand the plot. I think it was a combination of not paying attention and some rather anachronistic macguffins. Here’s the plot in a sentence, “James Bond travels to the Caribbean island of Crab Key to investigate and thwart a plot by SPECTRE member Doctor No to throw American ballistic missiles off course.” Seriously – that’s it. When the lights came up and the audience was clapping (that’s always nice, IMO), I heard the following conversation:

Girl #1 – “So…what actually happened? What was Doctor No doing? What was he going to do with that nuclear reactor?”

Girl #2 – “I dunno…something evil.”

So it goes…

I was unsure of whether or not I’d stay for the second screening, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, for the following reasons:

1) It started at 9:15

2) Its running time of 140 minutes

3) I was tired

4) I’d already seen this print of OHMSS last spring

Then I remembered one thing – On Her Majesty’s Secret Service kicks so much ass and it does it so completely, I just couldn’t pass up another opportunity to watch it. It’s been my favourite Bond movie since my early teens when I was able to finally wrap my head around everything that’s going on in it. I was a little worried that a lot of the younger people would be put off by it because, let’s face it, this isn’t your father’s James Bond. Connery’s first replacement, George Lazenby, is given the task of embodying James Bond this time around. In the first 10 minutes of the movie, Bond is nearly run off the road by a woman who he then saves from a half-assed suicide attempt, only to be attacked by three thugs. He ably fights them off, but instead of a thank you, the girl steals his car to get back to hers, parked atop a hill. Bond is left holding her shoes on the beach. He sighs and looks at the camera, dryly giving the first, unusually sharp-witted one-liner of the film:

“This never happened to the other feller…”

The brilliant (and as yet only) breaking of the fourth wall is the only reference to Lazenby replacing Connery. The rest of the film is cleverly layered with many references to previous missions, letting the audience know that this is the same character – the actor is inconsequential to a degree. Interestingly, this is the fundamental problem with OHMSS in a lot of people’s minds. Many old-school audience members are unwilling to accept anyone else as James Bond, having grown up with Connery for (at that time) 5 films. If people could let go of the whole “Connery is untouchable” thing, they’d enjoy OHMSS (and the rest of the Bond movies that followed) a helluva lot more. I think every actor to play the role has brought something unique and I like them all (yep, every last one of ’em) for differing reasons. Once you let go of Connery and watch OHMSS – it is undeniably the dramatic zenith of the series. It sets up the character that follows in the subsequent films. As much as people don’t want to think of Bond as a three dimensional character, he is and you can’t just throw that away. I find it interesting that looking back, OHMSS gets a lot (still not all) the credit it deserves. And the reboot of the franchise, Casino Royale, captures a lot of that same feel. CR also sets up Bond as a VERY three dimensional character, which is something I’m really looking forward to exploring in the upcoming Quantum of Solace.

Anyway, anyway, anyway…I love On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. From the score (Barry’s best, IMHO), the direction (Peter Hunt, famous for his crash editing style, took over as director), the performances (Diana Rigg and Telly Savalas are absolutely electric, especially in their one or two scenes together and Lazenby, considering he had relatively no acting experience, does a commendable job, especially in the stunt category, where you can clearly see he did 99% of the fights) to the story (I still think OHMSS, in translating Fleming’s original work faithfully to the big screen, has the best plot of any Bond movie). Truly OHMSS proves that you can stick to the formulaic elements and add something new – something that wasn’t done again until For Your Eyes Only, then in License to Kill and finally again in CR.

OHMSS also has some of the cleverest dialogue of any Bond film, from the opening line mentioned earlier, to many glorious tidbits like the following:

[Tracy has broken into Bond’s room and is now brandishing his pistol]

Bond – “You’re full of surprises, Contessa Teresa.”

Tracy – “So are you, Mr. Bond. Tell me, do you always arm yourself for a rendez-vous?”

Bond – “Occasionally. I seem to be accident prone. [he gestures towards the gun] I’ll take that.”

Tracy – “You’re very sure of yourself, aren’t you? Suppose I were to kill you…for a thrill.”

Bond – “I can think of something more sociable to do…”

[Bond has arrived in Murin and is met by Irma Bunt, Blofeld’s pudgy, old assistant]

Bond [posing as Sir Hillary Bray] – “Tell me, Fräulein, are you from a Naval family?”

Irma Bunt – “Naval?”

Bond – “Your name – Bunt. It’s an old English word meaning the baggy or swollen parts of a sail…”

[At Piz Gloria in the Alps, Bond as Sir Hillary Bray is eating dinner with Blofeld’s girls, one of which, Ruby Bartlett, is scrawling something on his kilted leg with red lipstick under the table]

Irma Bunt – “Is something the matter, Sir Hillary?”

Bond – “No, just a slight stiffness coming on. Due to the altitude no doubt.”

The ending of OHMSS (which I will discuss liberally without any spoiler warning) is also one of the most brilliant turns in any Bond film. Bond and Tracy have just married and are driving away from the ceremony amid cheers and thousands of flowers being showered over them. As Bond stops the car to remove some of the garlands, a very much alive Blofeld (in a neck brace) and his henchwoman, Irma Bunt, drive past. Bunt unloads several salvos from a machine gun and the car disappears down the road. Bond jumps back in the car, exclaiming, “It’s Blofeld!” He turns to his left and notices his wife, Tracy, shot in the head as her lifeless body flops into his lap. It’s a shock the first time you see it (provided you didn’t know what was going to happen going into the film) and it shakes the audience. Instead of the usual banter with whatever leading lady Bond happens to be on the verge if plowing as soon as the credits roll, we get Bond, utterly destroyed, clutching the lifeless corpse of his beautiful bride. A motorcycle policemen drives up and stops, looking into the vehicle. Bond turns to the officer, holding his bride’s hand, stroking her ring finger…

“It’s alright. She’s just having a rest. It’s quite alright really. We have all the time in the world.”4

As OO7 begins to sob, the Bond theme begins blaring at the audience, jarring them. It’s an amazing use of drama and music that leaves the audience completely unnerved.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the kind of thing a 1969 audience was interested in seeing so Connery was rehired to return to the role in the next film, Diamonds Are Forever. Tracy’s death in DAF is dealt with so lazily, cheapily and haphazardly that it might as well never have happened. It’s truly unfortunate that they didn’t follow through with this storyline of revenge (as Fleming did: Blofeld was introduced in Thunderball, killed Tracy in OHMSS and was himself killed by Bond in You Only Live Twice). In fact, her death is not mentioned again until The Spy Who Loved Me (nearly ten years later). Incidentally, this is the Bond film that I saw last night at the Bloor (I skipped the 7pm showing of Goldfinger because I’ve seen it before at the Bloor and their print of it sucks ASS).

Anya Amasova – “James Bond – recruited to the British Secret Service from the Royal Navy, licensed to kill and has done so on numerous occasions, many lady friends but married only once to a…”

Bond – “Alright, you’ve made your point.”
Anya – “You’re sensitive, Mr. Bond.”
Bond – “About some things, yes.”

The print of TSWLM was pretty good. It’s so interesting how a lot of bluescreening looks quite good when projected on a big screen from a slightly roughed up 35mm print.

Anyhoo…that was my Bond marathon at the Bloor Cinema. They’re playing Dr. No again this weekend. I’m going to see if I can get my buddy Tyler to come to it with me. Fingers crossed. 😉

1 – today is the 4 week marker…less than a month to go. *sigh*
2 – which is rare for me – I generally prefer to stand
3 – as opposed to “more assholish,” which is my usual bent
4 – We Have All The Time In The World is the love theme of the film, sung by Louis Armstrong. Tracy’s wedding ring is made up of cast gold in the shape of the phrase…


~ by seangstm on July 9, 2008.

5 Responses to ““You must give me the name of your oculist…””

  1. I’ve never seen OHMSS. Now I guess I don’t have to. Just kidding. We’re thinking of going to the Sat showing of Dr No. Maybe we’ll see you guyseses there.

  2. Ah, c’mon…everybody who’s into James Bond at all knows his wife was murdered. Weirdly, people who have only a marginal knowledge of OHMSS often (more often than not), assume it’s the FIRST Bond movie. Very strange. I think it’s Lazenby and the storyline that do it.

    You gotta let me show you OHMSS sometime. It’s so good. Best Moneypenny/Bond/M scene in ANY Bond film – hands down.

    [M has just gruffly relieved OO7 from Operation Bedlam (assassinating Blofeld for his nefarious deeds in Dr. No, FRWL, Thunderball and YOLT). Bond returns to the reception area]

    Moneypenny [applying lipstick] – “That was a quick conference…how do you expect a girl to keep herself alluring…”
    Bond – “Moneypenny, take a memo.”
    Moneypenny – “Yes, James.”
    Bond – “I request that you accept my resignation forthwith…”
    Moneypenny – “Resignation from what?”
    Bond – “Her Majesty’s Secret Service…and kindly present it to that monument in there…”

    [Bond leaves and heads to his office at MI6 (the only time it’s ever seen, I believe) and begins rifling through old items from previous missions. Moneypenny buzzes him on the intercom.]

    Moneypenny – “He wants you, James.”

    [Cut to Bond entering M’s office. He approaches the desk as M hands him Moneypenny’s memo.]

    M – “Request granted.”

    [Hiding his shock, Bond leaves to the reception area]

    Bond – “Request granted. And not even with regret.”
    Moneypenny – “What did you expect, a knighthood? Why don’t you read it?”
    Bond – [Reading] “…two weeks leave…?”
    Moneypenny – “Well, you didn’t really want to resign, did you?”
    Bond – “Moneypenny, what would I do without you?”
    Moneypenny – “My problem is that you never do anything WITH me.”
    Bond – “When I get back.”

    [Bond exits. Moneypenny’s intercom buzzes and she clicks it on.]

    M (over intercom) – “What would I do without you, Miss Moneypenny? Thank you.”

    I’ll speak to my bud about Sunday. It could happen. 🙂

  3. hey… we just saw Dr No at the Bloor Cinema this aft. Was pretty cool, even with the skips in the film… Of course DR and I clapped loudly at the exploding car scene after it goes off the road down the hill… I always love an exploding car.

    I’m also a fan of OHMSS, I remember seeing on TV as a kid and totally being surprised by the end.

    Although not very popular, my favourite Bond was Timothy Dalton, my least being Pierce Brosnan, never liked him as Bond… Daniel Craig is now my favourite…

  4. Nice. I love Timothy Dalton. He was VERY lucky, he got two of the best Bond scripts to ever come down the pike…there’s usually never two really good ones in a row. lol

    I think Dalton’s Bond was the most violent, for sure. He was really intense, but that really worked in those two storylines.

    Glad you guys got to see it. The exploding car is the best, as is his line afterwards. 🙂

    One of my favourite characters is the camera girl…the way she licks that flashbulb in the airport…using it later to scratch Quarrel. Sweet.

  5. That scratch was odd. No blood from a flashbulb heel being dragged across your face? Huh?

    And Austin Powers needs to give Ian Flemming $1 for every laugh anyone ever utters at the plastic suit gag in his movie.

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