MI6 Editors caught up with several members of
the social organization Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E to reflect
on James Bond and his adventures...
Opinion - S.P.E.C.T.R.E. James Bond Top Twenty
One Countdown (3)
16th September 2006
MI6 Editors caught up with several members of
the social organization Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E.* at their annual meeting
and retreat in the US and we posed a series of research challenges
to the society’s leadership for inclusion in MI6’s
continuing education series over the next several months to coincide
with the release of Casino Royale.
MI6 will be printing their responses from a series of questions
over the next few months.
S.P.E.C.T.R.E. James Bond Top Twent One Countdown (Part 1)
S.P.E.C.T.R.E. James Bond Top Twent One Countdown (Part 2)
The first of these questions was as follows:
”In keeping with the mounting interest
in Bond 21 Casino Royale, what
would you list as the 21 most memorable Bond moments and least
favorable from the film series?”
The Club humorously acknowledged that fans are
free to agree or disagree, but to keep in mind that anyone who
seriously challenges these conclusions may well get a dip in Largo’s
shark pool, or more inhumanely, be forced to watch the 1967 Eurotrash
spy film Operation Kid Brother.
The 21 responses will be published in no significant
order or ranking over the coming months.
14) The Fort Knox Battle in Goldfinger
This sequence symbolizes the moment when the Bond formula for
fantasy and realism reached the perfect blend. Bond is strapped
to a ticking atomic bomb while the mute Korean muscleman Oddjob
menaces him with a razor-sharp hat. As preposterous as it sounds,
director Guy Hamilton succeeds
in conveying edge-of-the-seat tension. Production designer Ken
Adam was denied access to the real Fort Knox but he succeeded
in giving producers Cubby
Broccoli and Harry
Saltzman the “cathedral of gold” they had requested.
Adam’s vision of Fort Knox if probably far more captivating
than the real thing.
15) Train Fight
in From Russia With Love
Back when Bond films
generated genuine suspense, fight scenes appeared sparingly
and with great impact.
This was amply illustrated with the fight
aboard the Orient Express between Bond and the psychotic
Soviet muscleman assassin Red
Grant, superbly played with silent menace by noted actor
and playwright Robert Shaw.
The two-minute sequence is a textbook example
of how an action sequence should be directed and choreographed.
Special kudos to editor Peter Hunt for a brilliant achievement.
Above : Sean Connery, Daniela Bianchi
and Robert Shaw on the set of the Orient Express.
16) The Death of Tracy in OHMSS
With the introduction of George
Lazenby as Bond in On Her Majesty’s
Secret Service, director Peter
Hunt used the opportunity to humanize Bond and revitalize
the series, which had become overly dependent upon fantastic plots
and gadgets. Sticking closely to Ian Fleming’s source novel,
Hunt dared to keep the book’s downbeat ending wherein Bond’s
new bride Tracy is murdered at the hands of SPECTRE
chieftain Blofeld. The film remains an anomaly in the series but
remains arguably the best 007 movie ever made.
Above: Donald Pleasence as Blofeld.
17) The Introduction
of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice
Until the release of this fifth Bond epic in 1967, the S.P.E.C.T.R.E
chieftain had remained a mysterious, opaque presence seen
only in the shadows or in cryptic visions stroking his pet
white Siamese cat. Here, Bond is memorably introduced face-to-face
with his nemesis, played by Donald
Pleasence. As with Dr.
No, he suffers from a disfigurement (a scarred eye vs.
No’s metallic hands), but remains remarkably amiable
and witty even as he plans worldwide destruction. The introduction
of Blofeld (who would ultimately be left out of the series
due to legal complications concerning the origin of the
character) remains the epitome of Bond villainy- and has
been immortalized via Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers films.
This sequence also introduces the most spectacular Bond
set ever- production designer Ken Adam’s magnificent
18) Bond Resigns from MI6
The gravitas that Timothy Dalton
brought to the Bond role in the wake of the Roger
Moore era alienated many fans who had been weaned on Moore’s
often overtly humorous interpretation of the role. Purists, however,
seemed gratified that Dalton brought a sense of purpose and dedication
to the character that had been missing from many of the films
of the Moore era. In Dalton’s second and last Bond outing,
Licence to Kill we see a raw
side of Bond’s emotions exposed for the first time when
he discovers his colleague Felix
Leiter mutilated and his new bride murdered by a drug kingpin.
M reminds Bond that his kneejerk
plan to exact revenge is not in keeping with MI6 policies. For
once, Bond ignores warnings about allowing personal feelings to
interfere with his mission- in this case a self-appointed crusade
to avenge the Leiter's. In a tense meeting at the Hemingway House
in the Florida Keys M issues Bond not only ignores M’s instructions,
but makes a daring escape under gunfire, thus becoming a rogue
agent. While it may be unrealistic to think that MI6 agents would
actually fire at Bond for being insubordinate, the sequence works
very well on a dramatic level. More importantly, it finally elevated
Robert Brown’s M from being a lightweight character to a
figure of genuine authority.
19) Bond Kicks Locque’s Car Off
Cliff in For Your Eyes Only
The Roger Moore Bond films were
traditionally characterized by an emphasis on lighthearted comedy-
a reflection of Moore’s own opinion that neither the character
or the series should be taken overly seriously. However, fan criticism
of the overt slapstick of Moonraker
led producer Cubby Broccoli to bring Bond “down to earth”
in For Your Eyes Only via a
logical screenplay and realistic characters. The hard edge to
Moore/Bond was demonstrated when he kicked the villain Locque’s
car off a cliff, sending the man to his death. Ironically, Moore
opposed the scene as being overly harsh but fan response was favorable
and the new, grittier Moore/Bond salvaged the series from turning
into a comedic tour de force.
20) “It's a BALLOON!”
Perhaps the most undignified death suffered by a Bond villain
takes place in Live and Let Die
when Bond forces a compressed air bullet into Kananga’s
mouth, causing the poor bloke’s waistline to expand as rapidly
as a Weight Watchers member in a Dunkin’ Donuts shop. As
Kananga literally explodes like a giant balloon, one can only
think that the only fate less dignified would have been to have
old Kananga entered as the official S.P.E.C.T.R.E balloon in the
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.
21) James Bond-
the Not-So-Secret-Secret Agent
It doesn’t stress credulity that Bond is well known
among megalomaniacs. After all, he’s probably destroyed
enough real estate and hardware to equal the gross national
product of Switzerland during his on-going battles with
the men who would be king. However, one would assume that
his legend would not extend into the general public or petty
criminal. Yet, in Diamonds
Are Forever when Bond switches identities with smuggler
Peter Franks, whom he has just terminated, Tiffany
Case cries out “You’ve just killed James
Bond!” In A View To
A Kill, Bond identifies himself to a San Francisco police
officer who also expresses incredulity that this could really
be the James Bond. At some point the screenwriters must
have thought they were penning the next Superman adventure,
given the general public’s in-depth knowledge of Bond’s
activities and reputation.
Right: Roger Moore
and Tanya Roberts hang onto the Golden Gate Bridge set on
the Pinewood backlot.
Discuss the Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E opinions at MI6
* Like most private societies, Club S.P.E.C.T.R.E.
membership is by invitation only and is dedicated to fellowship
and a "Flemingesque" pursuit of the James Bond lifestyle- fine
wines and liquors, cigars, exotic travel and beautiful women.
The members represent a diverse and international social group
consisting of James Bond authors, scholars and enthusiasts who
share their common interest through outings and meetings geared
toward celebrating all things relating to 007. The group's name
ironically does not originate from the evil crime organization
found in the James Bond novels and films. Rather, the name relates
to the groups founding on Italian actor Adolfo Celi's birthday.
(Celi portrayed the S.P.E.C.T.R.E villain Emilio Largo in Thunderball.)
Thus, the organization was formed and a definition was assigned
to its title: Society to Promote and Celebrate Celi's Triumphant
and Remarkable Endeavors. Absurd? Naturally, but a hell of a lot
of fun for its members.
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