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'Never Say Never Again' is under review in the January Bondathon

06-Jan-2011 • Site News

To celebrate the spate of upcoming Bond film anniversaries and the pave the way to Bond 23, we thought it was high-time the forum (Keeping The British End Up) pulled together for an official review of the whole series.

A film will be presented each month for viewing, discussion and review; running in conjunction with the main site, overall ratings and a selection of the best reviews will be published at the end of the month on mi6-hq.com.

Sean Connery is back in Kershner's rogue adventure "Never Say Never Again", under review in this month's Bondathon...

Introduction

Summer 1983. The Hollywood blockbuster season had just been won hands-down by the final flick in the unforgettable Star Wars trilogy, Return Of The Jedi. Cinema’s thrills and spills were over for another year then? Not so fast. Because coming up hard on the rails was an unprecedented, nay never-to-be-repeated event, namely ‘The Battle Of The Bonds’. Yes, for one summer only, two 007 escapades would be battling it out to be top Bond at the box-office - Octopussy and Never Say Never Again.

In the event, Octopussy - 1983’s offering from the ‘official’ Eon stable - opened in the summer proper and Never Say Never Again - an upstart from a combination of long-time thorn in Eon’s side producer Kevin McClory and Hollywood muscle-and-a-half Jack Schwartzman - opened in the autumn, so a real battle never really took place. Yet, money was there to be made, and while Never Say Never Again turned a very tidy profit thank you very much, it was Octopussy that took the ticket-selling honours - Bond #13 hadn’t proved unlucky for Eon; 007’s cinematic future was assured.

However, despite all that, the great pretender of summer ’83 surely doesn’t deserve to be consigned to the British Secret Service scrapheap. And, in all fairness, in the intervening years (although admittedly overlooked now and again), it generally hasn’t been. The result of a tortured pre-production (and effectively a remake of the fourth Bond epic Thunderball), it offered up a toupée-topped Sean Connery returning to the role and - thanks to a script doctored by Brit sitcom kings Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais - saw him smoothly and very wittily saunter his way through a nicely plotted travelogue of the Caribbean, the French Riviera and North Africa.

Joining him for the ride were a smouldering Kim Basinger (on the verge of mega-stardom), Klaus Maria Brandauer and Max Von Sydow as two nicely toned-down villains and Nicaraguan sex-bomb Barbara Carrera as the totally OTT femme fatale, the cartoonishly delightful Fatima Blush (a role that, unusually for Bond, delighted the critics - she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award). Last but not least, helmer of the outstanding Star Wars middle adventure The Empire Strikes Back, Irvin Kershner took the directing reins and, while maybe not hitting his Empire heights, still ensured that, at its best, the flick was light, frothy, sexy, as well as exciting, dangerous and knowingly surprising.

So, while like its jazz-infected score by Michel Legrand, Never Say Never Again has never been to everyone’s tastes, it is - and always will be - a bona fide curate’s egg among the Bond efforts. Indeed, every one of them deserves a re-watch and so does this one - after all, to quote Conners, ‘it’s still in good shape’.

Introduction by St. George

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