the sean connery bond movies (and one lazenby)

dr. no

a deeply racist, misogynistic, and homophobic dude wrote some extremely imperialist books that i hear aren’t very good and they got turned into movies that are fun trash but definitely retain the author’s racism, misogyny, homophobia, and imperialism. all but the last one gradually faded over the films’ run, but were still present embarrassingly late in the day in many cases.

i highly doubt i’m breaking this news to you, but we might as well start there.

i jokingly called this “james bond: the motion picture” because of all the super slow, relatiely-realistic-maybe? spy procedural stuff in it. bond goes to jamaica to be a white person and do a lot of interesting things with a lot of black people serving as background and/or props. at one point he literally sends the black guy with the most lines of dialogue to fetch his shoes. it’s not treated as unusual at all. i threw up a little in my mouth.

i used to hate the connery bond movies because the racism/misogyny was a lot more overt which is kind of like hating trump and not other u.s. presidents for believing & doing the exact same things but like… louder. the way i consume movies has changed a lot since then, though. at the time i was still a liberal who believed that “we” had “come really far since then.” now i’m going to point out ruling class ideology in movies when i come across it, but it’s not gonna like… disqualify the movie from being one i enjoy. i’ll figure that out on a case-by-case basis (this is my approach, it does not need to be your approach.)

connery’s bond is still very much not my favorite, but i find that i have a much less hard time seeing him as bond than i used to. i don’t consider him as synonymous with the character like a lot of people seem to, but he’s fine. he might still be my least favorite bond, but he’s fine.

there’s a lot of artifacts of the time this was made, of course. some of the rear projection in the driving scenes is just ADORABLE. of course, i became acquainted with rear projection through things like airplane & snl skits before actually seeing it used in movies so i’m kinda predisposed to find it funny. oh and the iconic sexy bikini honey ryder wears in this actually covers up her entire ass and it just feels so quaint.

like. at a base level i feel like all i’m looking for in a james bond movie is for it to not be boring and like… this one was getting there a few times but despite my star trek: the motion picture comparison it never truly got there, so i had fun with it.

(c-rank)

from russia with love

most of this movie’s racism is actually shoved into one scene where a slur for romani people is thrown around a bunch. so that’s handy. the same can’t be said for its misogyny, homophobia (the queer-coded straw-communist can absolutely step on me tho), or imperialism, of course.

other than that it’s… fine, i guess? like… SUPER overrated, to the extent that overrated is A Thing? i gather that this is a lot of people’s favorite bond, and i just… don’t see it. it has one pretty good fight scene on a train and that’s about it. i don’t see it as a massive step up from dr. no or massively better than the next few connery films, but it’s fine. it was entertaining & pulpy enough. it’s a bond movie.

(c-rank)

goldfinger

(cw: sexual assault)

in the book bond explicitly rapes a lesbian in a barn and his magic cock explicitly turns her straight. in the film it’s a lot less direct but like… it hints at it as much as it possibly can. ironically, one of the series’ most homophobic moments (which is saying something) was likely softened by the fact that the film censors were too homophobic to let someone be explicitly portrayed as a lesbian.

other than that… yeah, it’s a bond movie. it’s pulpy and dumb and terminally incapable of being taken seriously. (which is fortunate because if taken seriously it would be horrifying.) i hate it and i enjoyed it.

(c-rank)

thunderball

(cw: sexual assault)

this has by far the most explicit rape scene of any of the connery bonds, so be aware of that. yes, the barn scene in goldfinger was pretty damn explicit, but in this one bond coerces a girl into sex by threatening to get her fired if she doesn’t, and the whole thing is allowed to play out right in front of us. because unlike the more forceful sexual assault in goldfinger, this one didn’t have to be toned down to get past the censors because at the time no one considered that kind of coercion rape. (and today it’s still not uncontroversial which is just… cool. really cool. just… cool cool cool all around.)

SO MUCH of this is glacial/dialogueless underwater footage??? the parts where everyone is shooting each other with spear guns do kinda own largely due to unintentional comedy, but everything else that happens underwater is just… soooooo slow and repetitive?

the best part of the movie is definitely everything that happens between bond and fiona, especially her directly calling him out on his bullshit while holding him at gunpoint (“james bond, who only has to make love to a woman and she starts to hear heavenly choirs singing, she immediately repents and returns to the side of right and virtue”), and the deadly game of cat-and-mouse they play soon after that she nearly wins.

oh yeah and there is a villain with a literal shark tank, and there’s some pretty choice bondage/kidnapping/etc. so like… it’s not all bad, just… a lot of it is boring underwater stuff. and there’s plenty of the usual racism, misogyny, and imperialism. (nato is the good guys, we swear!!) oh, and the opening scene has bond beating up someone who’s in drag, so that’s… great, y’know. just… great. thanks for that, eon.

(c-rank)

you only live twice

possibly the most racist bond movie (bond is in yellowface for a good chunk of it), an argument to be had only between it and live and let die. but also the first time he comes face to face with blofeld AND blofeld has a hecking volcano base, so…

also the fact that the u.s. was ready to nuke the soviet union for something that wasn’t their fault is kind of super surprising for this series for obvious reasons? but the idea that the hecking uk would be the voice of reason in that situation is… far-fetched, we’ll say.

there are definitely parts where this film drags and those parts often coincide with the most gratingly racist parts soooooo yeah not great? but the a lot of it, including the B-A-N-A-N-A-S final action scene, kinda rules, so… a mixed bag to be sure, but a wildly entertaining one.

(c-rank)

on her majesty’s secret service

(cw: homophobia, violence against women)

“this never happened to the other fellow”

i think this is the only bond movie that’s ever made me cry? so it’s the best one, probably?

bond pretending to be gay to pick up girls is a galaxy brain move. but i can’t say it’s entirely unfair? i pretty much only sleep with guys who are gay (or bi) who have questioned their gender identities at least once. #sorrynotsorry.

that being said YEAH this part probably existed for homophobic reasons. i wasn’t able to corroborate this educated guess of mine from some light research on google, but i did come across several articles that quoted lazenby as saying he had to “prove” to the producers that he wasn’t gay??? which feels about right considering the homophobia of the series as a whole.

lazenby isn’t my favorite bond but he’s close, and he’s a drastic improvement over connery imho. diana rigg is amazing, one of the best “bond girl”s ever.

for the record, subject to change:

1. vesper (casino royale)
2. pam (licence to kill)
3. elektra (the world is not enough)
4. tracy (on her majesty’s secret service)
5. wai lin (tomorrow never dies)
6. xenia onatopp (goldeneye)
7. may day (a view to a kill; would be much higher but she was largely squandered)

the fight scenes in this kinda rule!! they feel a lot more well-choreographed/shot/edited than anything we get in any of the previous bond outings. and while there is still some noticeable rear projection in some of the skiing/driving scenes it feels like the balance is way more skewed to actually getting those shots on location this time around, which just makes the whole movie look drastically better.

the main plot concerns the release of a plague that threatens to bring the global economy to its knees, which… oh, crap. and bond’s romance with tracy really doesn’t suck despite the fact that it started with tracy’s father literally offering bond a million british pounds to marry her.

there’s a very… not great sequence where tracy says she has to go back and help james, and her father LITERALLY punches her out and drags her unconscious body onto the helicopter??? yikes. the movie treats this as totally normal and moves on from it without it ever coming up again. between that and tracy being shot and killed at the end of the movie to give bond (and the audience) feels… yeah this movie kind of has a violence against women problem, huh? (i know, i know: what a shocking thing to encounter in a bond movie.)

anyway remember to tie your prisoners up, or at least lock them up somewhere that doesn’t LITERALLY HAVE AN EXTERIOR EXIT W-T-HECK BLOFELD.

(a-rank)

diamonds are forever

the superman 3 of bond movies. it feels like a really low effort parody that for some reason stars the actual star of the franchise.

this movie has two modes: paint drying and nails on chalkboard. connery looks tired and bored. the car chases and action scenes look way worse than the previous movie which you just can’t have with this kind of franchise.

it’s also hella explicitly homophobic. mr. kidd and mr. wint are just… ugh. i’m sure bambi and thumper are there to satisfy male gaze which is its own kind of homophobic but i kinda can’t hate them??? i wish they had drowned bond.

and then after everything bond’s final “showdown” with blofeld is just the dumbest, most anticlimactic thing ever??? like i don’t see how blofeld can consistently make lists of most iconic villains after this nonsense. and it’s pretty endemic of the overall lack of effort on display here that he just… doesn’t look like blofeld??? at all??? they didn’t even bother making him bald??? which is just the EASIEST thing EVER???

this is so, so bad.

(d-rank)


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