A Week In Film #500: BANG ON

Dr No
An ill-fated attempt to watch all the Bonds in order began easily enough with Terence Young’s stuttering start – we have the moderately outlandish villain, Connery is wigged up and ready to go, there’s exotic locales (Jamaica), and SPECTRE, M, Felix Leiter, Moneypenny and Q (though with Peter Burton playing him as Major Boothroyd) are all introduced. Bit boring, to be honest.

From Russia With Love title screen
From Russia With Love
Young gets a second bite of the cherry, and it’s a much more satisfying affair – a convoluted plot of double cross and stitch-up, with international bad guy organisation SPECTRE out for revenge for Bond’s killing of Julius No. Robert Shaw is awesome as proto-Terminator assassin Red Grant, there’s sadistic Rosa Klebb, Daniela Bianchi as patsy Russian cipher clerk Tatiana Romanova, and Pedro Armendáriz as jovial Istanbul ally Ali Kerim Bey. Desmond Llewelyn gets to be Q for the first time.

Goldfinger title screen
The reins are handed over to Guy Hamilton, the knockaboutness levels are increased, the villain (Auric Goldfinger) is more outrageous, the big crime (a plot to rig international gold markets with a nuclear bomb) more ridiculous, and gadgets more numerous. And hello Aston Martin DB5, hello big pre-credit sequence.

Live And Let Die title screen
Live And Let Die
Here it went tits up, thanks to a dodgy copy of Thunderball fucking up the whole in-order thing, so it was fast forward to Roger Moore’s first outing. It was back to Guy Hamilton (his third of four), and all the tropes were in play; extra to the mix here is a distinctly of-its-time blaxploitation flavour, with a black-led cast of villains, and Yaphet Kotto as boss bad guy Mr Big. The Wings soundtrack is part of the charm, though there’s some awkward racial insensitivity which I guess we chalk up to it being ‘of its time’. First appearance of Sheriff JW Pepper.

The Commuter title screen
The Commuter
Decent late Neeson, with His Liamness as an ex-cop turned insurance salesman caught between a rock and a hard place, when to of the blue an unbelievable offer is made. A sort of mash-up of The Girl On The Train and Red Eye from director Jaume Collet-Serra, taking up with Neeson for the fourth time.

Two-Way Stretch title screen
Two-Way Stretch
Fun British comedy about a trio of old lags (Peter Sellers, Bernard Cribbins and David Lodge) who break out of prison ahead of their release date in order to have the perfect alibi for a heist once they break back in before their disappearance is noted. Lionel Jefferies is a suspicious screw, Wilfrid Hyde-White an amiable cohort, Maurice Denham as the oblivious prison governor, and decent parts for Irene Handl, Liz Fraser and Beryl Reid.

The Cassandra Crossing title screen
The Cassandra Crossing
Rather dull Euro pudding disaster movie, somewhat offset by a strong performance by Richard Harris as an esteemed neurologist trapped on a train which is placed under moving quarantine when a fugitive terrorist hitches a ride. Directed by journeyman George P Cosmatos.

In Which We Serve
Classic, classy, punchy, pitch-perfect wartime propaganda from Noel Coward, David Lean, Dickie Attenborough, John Mills et al. Definitely one of the more memorable boat-based war movies.


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