Monday, May 29, 2017

it's not a question of money

I never really wrote about the original The Magnificent Seven in this blog. (One of a few times that exhaustion at the end of a long day kept me from really putting in an effort here.)

Also, it only just occurred to me, as the men from the Mexican town have come to Chris (Yul Brynner) for help, that aside from one detail--Flik being an outcast from his village rather than a stranger--A Bug's Life is basically this film, or rather Seven Samurai.And, I'm wondering how I never got that before. It's so obvious. Now,, I'm wondering what else I have missed in the movies I've seen, what references went over my head because of particular timing or a lack of familiarity? I have seen Seven Samurai but maybe only once all the way through.

It's also the plot of many a D&D module. It's such a simple plot hook--a village is in trouble, and a bunch of men (usually men) have the skills to save it from its attackers. Bring your gunslinging, your knife-throwing, your bow and arrow, your magic, your lightsaber, your axe, your audacity. The fellowship of the ring, the seven samurai, those bugs from P.T. Flea's, the heroes of many a tale from a long time ago, in a galaxy far far away... (The original Star Wars, of course, stole it's plot from a different Kurosawa film, The Hidden Fortress.) Episodes of various Star Trek series, at least one of Firefly, Battlestart Galactica, plus a whole series in the 90s based on The Magnificent Seven. In Sixguns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western, Will Wright doesn't use The Magnificent Seven as one of his examples.

And I just noticed, looking at his introduction that he chose the top grossing westerns of their years. The Magnificent Seven may feel like a classic now, but it wasn't necessarily received as a great film. (Also, for some reason, Wright has no films at all from 1960 on his list of westerns involved in his study.) Howard Thompsonc of the New York Times, called it "a pallid, pretentious and overlong reflection of the Japanese original" with none of the "ice-cold suspense, the superb juxtaposition of revealing human vignettes and especially the pile-driver tempo" of Seven Samurai. Personally, I find some of Brynner's interactions with the others as he recruited them to be rather revealing about human nature, about what men will do for money, what they will do even when the money isn't good, what they will do to prove themselves as men... Wright puts western films in stages. The Magnificent Seven comes at the start of the westerns he defines with the "professional plot"--

Among other details, the professional plot means the heroes "are now professional fighters, men willing to defended society only as a job they accept for pay or for love of fighting, not from commitment to ideas of law and justice" (p. 85). One major difference between the "classical" plot and the "professional" is that the "symbolic emphasis is no longer on the relationship of the hero to society but on the relationships of the heroes among themselves" and the structure of the film is "more concerned with characterizing the heroes than describing standard plot developments" (p. 87). The plot here is so simple that the film doesn't have to worry much about it or its structure. Instead, yeah, the film can spend its time on character and character interaction. And, with The Magnificent Seven, specifically, the professional plot is hardly about money. Emma Cullen or the three Mexicans may offer all they have but they have very little. The pay is not the point.

Despite my talk of capitalism yesterday.

Or rather, as encapsulated in my talk of capitalism yesterday.

Wright puts the "professional" plot as being about men doing what they do for pay or for the love of fighting, as opposed to doing it for what is right. The Magnificent Seven, with the bandits (original) and robber baron with his professional army (remake) on the side of taking food and wealth from the poor, is actually a great blend of these two of Wright's plot structures. These seven men do what they do because they like shooting and killing, sure, but also because at a certain point, you either have to stand up for what is right or lie down and die. Many a western, regardless of which "plot" might fit it, involves men who are good at killing. The step from there to killing for good is a very simple one.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

they fought for the ones who couldn't fight for themselves

How The Magnificent Sevenis quintessentially American (even when it shares so much with stories from around the world and deliberately apes Japan's Seven Samurai) is kind of simple. Think politically, socially, and consider these words from Bogue (Peter Sarsgaard) in the church at the beginning of the film:

This is what you love, what you'd die for. And what your children and your children's children will work on, suffer for, be consumed by. ... Now, I come here for gold. Gold. This country has long equated democracy with capitalism, capitalism with God. So, you're standing not only in the way of progress and capital. You're standing in the way of God! And for what? ... Land. This is no longer land. The moment I put a pin in the map, the day I descended into this godforsaken valley and cast my gaze upon it, it ceased to be land and became... Dust. ... This is your God?

And, he pours the dirt onto the floor.

First, some history. While Bogue is not entirely wrong--we did, of course, give the right to vote initially to just property-owning males--the specificity of tying "capitalism" to "democracy" is not totally accurate. Hell, the explicit link between God (specifically, Protestantism) and capitalism was argued by Max Weber in his 1930 The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. The Magnificent Seven is set in 1879. While economics was a big driving force leading into the Civil War (which put Chisolm here in the Union Army, Robicheaux into the Confederate), the phrasing, "democracy with capitalism" feels anachronistic.

But, more important than that anachronism, it's interesting that this remake--and the timing of its production is relevant here--puts the capitalist so far into the territory of being, well, evil. The side of good is a bunch of outlaws and misfits, including a Mexican, a Comanche, an African and an Asian. Considering the timing, the non-Caucasian members of the titular seven are worth a far lengthier conversation than would fit here. America fought a war against the Mexicans and took their territory (and Vasquez is a wanted man). Fought a war over the enslavement of the African. America was currently warring against natives like the Comanche. And the Chinese Exclusion Act (though Billy is played by a Korean, the film does not specify his national origin) would be just a few years ahead. These are the dregs of society. Even Emma Cullen, who hires them, is now a young widow left to fend for herself. Outcasts, disenfranchised folks. Versus professionals. Over who has the money and the power. And, this film came out in 2016, an election year. I don't know what specific motivation Fuqua may have had for taking on this film, but separate from personal intent, there is the intent of time. The original came out in 1960, and involved bandits raiding a Mexican village, not a robber baron strong arming a town out of its land for his profit. This change matters. Coming out of the 1950s, putting the villain on the side of capitalism wouldn't have made as much sense as it might in 2016. Post Citizens United. With Bernie Sanders running for president (though he was out of the running by the time the film was actually in theaters).

This is an American story because it is about the common man rising up, lifting himself up by his bootstraps as it were. Capitalism be damned, on the smaller level, with these townsfolk and farmers. It's just about hard work. Bogue hires his guns. Technically, Cullen hires hers as well, but not really; there's no real money in it for them, the ones who survive anyway. And, they train the townsfolk, use them to make the fight bigger. This is a movie about the people rising up agains the moneyed elites who hold them down. In 2016, what was more American than that?






Except for, given the results of our election last year, siding instead with Bogue because the townsfolk of Rose Creek don't know what's good for them.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

what a merry band we are

I wrote a bit about The Magnificent Seven a few days ago. Talking about character classes (a la Dungeons & Dragons) and archetypes, how each character needs to have a different personality trait or skill that makes them distinct from the other characters. What The Encylopedia of Fantasy refers to as the "seven samurai" and TV Tropes calls "the magnificent seven samurai". A reminder:

I'm watching the latest incarnation of The Magnificent Seven tonight, so the seven are:

  • Denzel Washington as Sam Chisolm, the leader, a warrant officer
  • Chris Pratt as Josh Faraday, a gambler
  • Ethan Hawke as Goodnight Robicheaux, the veteran sharpshooter
  • Vincent D'Onofrio as Jack Horne, the mountain man, who is also religious
  • Byung-hun Lee as Billy Rocks, the knife thrower (and "a mysterious man of the Orient")
  • Manuel Garcia-Rulfo as Vasquez, an outlaw
  • Martin Sensmeier as Red Harvest, a Comanche warrior

Plus Haley Bennett as Emma Cullen, the woman who gets them involved in the first place.

Maybe I'll offer up more detail as I watch this movie again today. Or maybe I will just muse on these delineations and distinctions of character, or the tropes of plot...

For example, TV Tropes also breaks down the plot to very simple steps:

"1. The Hero will receive the Call to Adventure." This is Washington's Chisolm, a mysterious stranger who arrives after the opening sequence establishes for us the current status quo in the town of Rose Creek. This is like the opening parts of Wright's (1975) "classical plot" of the western: "1. The hero enters a social group." "2. The hero is unknown to the society." "3. The hero is revealed to have an exceptional ability." This is always a thing; I mean, who else do we want to watch a story about but the guy who is a better shooter and better talker than everybody else? It is here that Pratt's Faraday already gets involved, even though the next bit of TV Tropes' plot breakdown hasn't happened yet, nor really has the Call to Adventure. "4. The society recognizes a difference between themselves and the hero; the hero is given a special status." TV Tropes continues: "He will then assemble a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits."
  • "The Lancer (if not immediately present, The Hero always knows exactly where to find one)" Given Faraday's immediate introduction, and then his own scene, he's our "Lancer." TV Tropes defines the Lancer as a foil for the hero "of the closely allied variety." Think Han Solo to Luke Skywalker.
  • "The Big Guy" which TV Tropes specifically refers to as the "powerhouse of the Five-Man Band". That's D'Onofrio's Horne, of course.
  • "The Smart Guy" and this is where this particular incarnation of this kind of plot gets interesting because...
  • "The Old Guy (sometimes a Shell-Shocked Veteran)" is also the "Smart Guy". Then again, since Billy Rocks is so quiet, Robicheaux doing double duty is both logical for the presentation as is and a little bit of white privilege.
  • "The Young Guy" which here could be either of the locals who have hired this band: Luke Grimes' Teddy Q. or Bennett's Emma Cullen. Since, she's obviously the "woman" of the group (not one of TV Tropes' breakdown, but an obvious character type here, I'd say this is Teddy Q. In fact, as I type this part, Faraday just gave him a lesson so he is definitely the inexperienced one of the group (though he is not one of the titular seven).
  • "The Funny Guy" - because this is 2017 and screenwriters have to spread the humor around to get a wider audience, there is no "Funny Guy" here. Faraday has the most jokes, and could fit here, but then Robicheaux might have to do triple duty and also be the "Lancer".

The rest of the plot, as broken down by TV Tropes goes like this:

"2. The team finds that the people they are trying to protect at largely unwilling or unable to fight for themselves." Otherwise, why would they need the team? Duh.

"3. The team successfully stands off the first attack."

"4. The people realize that they can defend themselves, and the team undertakes Training the Peaceful Villagers"

"3. The team is forced to leave, whether due to the skepticism or wariness of the villagers or threats from the villains."

"4. The team decides to return."

"5. There is another attack; the people join in both enthusiastically and competently. Several of the team are injured or killed; the attackers are defeated soundly, but not always completely."

"6. The people indicate that they now can and will defend themselves when and if the attackers return. What remains of the team departs."

Now, Wright doesn't use The Magnificent Seven as one of his examples, which I find strange. The film apparently made double its budget at the box office. I'm not sure how great a performance that would have made it in 1960. That 1960 "original", like this remake, is closer to Wright's "vengeance" plot, except there the hero is singular as well. So, then I bother to flip forward in Wright's book--I don't think I've picked up the book since my month of Westerns two years ago next month, so forgive the slip of my memory--and find the "professional plot".

Here, Wright's function #6 specifies: "The heroes all have special abilities and a special status." That right there--that's what you've got here, what you've got in King Arthur, what you've got in Robin Hood, what you've got in The Avengers.

(For the record, Wright's examples for this plot are Rio Bravo, The Professionals, True Grit, The Wild Bunch, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.)

In terms of westerns (and beyond those examples in the parenthetical), you could also look to the Young Guns films. But, one example where the character types might not be so obvious is Silverado, if I remember rightly (and I've seen that one a few times as we had that one on video when I was younger, recorded on the same tape as Return of the Jedi I believe); rather, it is more the personalities of the four gunmen than specific sorts of special abilities that make them stand out. Though, to be fair, Jake was definitely the hotheaded one.






This practice isn't new. It's not like cynical Hollywood has only just started shorthanding characters for the audience by giving them different weapons and attitudes. Compare, say, the Argonauts, heroes of their own stories come together for a bigger quest, to the MCU version of The Avengers. That's deliberate, of course, but it's also the way it's done. Look at old stories about Arthur and his Knights. Look at the Bible. (I remember using the occupations of the twelve disciples several years back to create my own version of them for a fantasy novel I was working on.)

And, right now, the night before the final battle--actually, not quite, but it works basically the same way and maybe should have been edited that way--there's a trope that also comes up a lot. Les Miserables and Hamilton get some damn fine songs out of this last night revelry. Our heroes know they might all be dead tomorrow so they come together one last time to talk and to drink. A long night (here divided over two nights). The calm before the storm is spent in boisterous carousing. And, it works every time.

Wright, W. (1975). Six Guns and Society: A Structural Study of the Western. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.

Friday, May 26, 2017

i may have dozed off

Case in point: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales.

I will keep this short--unlike the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, or any of its action sequences, that just kind of drone on well beyond reasonability. Seriously, each movie is basically the same--Jack, some varied background pirates (I think there are only 2 left from the original bunch), Barbossa, a young man and a young woman, quest for some magical MacGuffin, some supernaturally empowered villains tries to stop them, folks backstab and betray and turn on each other than back to each other, and, oh yeah, gotta throw in some British soldiers chasing after everyone, too. Make. Each action scene about twice as long as it needs to be, throw in some overwrought romance, some one-note characterizations and there's your Pirates of the Caribbean film in a nutshell.

Overstuffed and overdone, and mostly just tedious.

Maybe one genuinely funny moment. Jack offers Will--I mean, Henry--advice on courting a brunette. He tells him don't get together with her sister, and if you can't resist the sister's charms, kill the brother. "Savvy?" Henry pauses for a moment, looks a little shocked when he turns to Jack and says, "No, I don't savvy." And, something in Depp's delivery--less trying for the joke that so much of the rest of his Jack Sparrow performance--on the next line absolutely worked for me. He just looks at Henry and asks, "Who hurt you?" It's silly, but it's silly in so much more of an effortless way than the rest of the film.

Honestly, I don't walk out of movies. I've only ever turned off, well, probably fewer than I can count on one hand, because they were just so awful. I considered leaving because this movie was just such a scene for scene rip off of its predecessors, and boring at that.

That is all.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

to the edge of within

"What a wondrous vision "Excalibur is! And what a mess." So begins Roger Ebert's review of Excalibur, and as usual, Roger says it pretty well. "This wildly ambitious retellings of the legend of King Arthur is a haunting and violent version of the Dark Ages and the heroic figures who (we dream) populated them," he continues. "But it's rough going for anyone determined to be sure what is happening from scene to scene." The problem with Excalibur, though, is not that it's particularly confusing. It is just so damn full of, well, pieces of every story about King Arthur that any of its audience are likely to know. There's a reason that The Sword in the Stone offers up next to nothing (though, admittedly, I might be remembering the better part of the film if not the larger part of it) about Arthur as an adult and spent time with that training. There's a reason that the recent King Arthur: Legend of the Sword was born out of a plan to make "a [Guy] Ritchie-led retellings of Arthurian legend spread across six whole films", according to A.V. Club, 27 January 2014. There's a reason why Arthurian legend fills book after book after book (and folks keep trying to make films of it). Arthurian legend is huge.

Camelot had the sense to focus on the romance. I barely remember if any of the Knights other than Lancelot even had names in that version of the story. King Arthur attempted to embed a sort of slice of the story, that might have inspired larger legends, into historical context. Legend of the Sword tries to offer up the origin story, a lead up the the crowning of the king, but with some more modern tropes thrown in (like Jax Teller was reincarnated in the past when he puts his arms out on that motorcycle, and his spirit got sent back in time to... Well, I guess it was the Dark Ages but Legend of the Sword makes less effort to put its film into a historical context, and I'm pretty sure it made no mention at all of Britons.

Excalibur, though--it just tried to put everything in. You've got Merlin, you've got Lancelot and Guenevere, you've got Arthur and Morgana, you've got Mordred. And, that's already everybody of import from Camelot. Throw in Perceval and Kay and Gawain and Uther and Leondegrance and Lot and Ector. And, numerous background Knights. You've got the sword in the stone bit, you've got Lancelot and Guenevere getting together, you've got the quest for the Holy Grail, plus Morgana raising Mordred to take on Arthur. To fit all of this in, you've got Gawain randomly accusing Lancelot and Guenevere of being together well before they have actually done anything but demure glances back and forth, because how else do you introduce a plot but have a third party accuse it of already happening? You've got the "waste land" phase of Camelot, or generally "the land", with Arthur himself in the role of Fisher King. Or, as Roger puts it, "Arthur is courageous in his youth, but then presides over the disintegration of the Round Table, for no apparent reason." Just one example, of what he calls, characters being "doomed to their behavior." This is a problem in any film, of course, but maybe moreso with fantasy films, because characters have their archetypes and must fit them regardless of how events should realistically transpire.

Similarly, modern fantasy like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has some problems simply because so many films must be tied together, different directors with different scripts must produce films that still feel pretty close to one another. I've wanted to spend time with the Marvel movies in this blog, but a) those films are not readily available on any of the platforms I've got access to (at least not without extra rental fees) and b) there is way too much room to get bogged down in serious nerditry beyond just film there and that path could be dangerous. But, consider the alternative in episodic television; The X-Files comes to mind. Take an episode like "X-Cops" and compare it to say "Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose" or "War of the Coprophages compared to "Duane Barry". You can get very different tones, different styles, but you can still feel that it is the same universe, the same show, and the same characters fit. There is room for far more variety in the MCU, and if Warner Brothers actually produced a 6-film series of King Arthur films, there is room for that much story, and room for different directors offering different takes on the pieces. Ritchie could do his slightly modern crime story, but then another director could come in to really do some of the romance of Lancelot and Guenevere justice, and another could deal with the Holy Grail and another Morgana and Mordred. Make the parts feel more separate while keeping them linked. But, don't be afraid to do really different stuff. And, even if the only thing that ties them all together is a strange green glow somewhere in every scene (like in Excalibur), at least we know they tried.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

and all for this lunacy

Still 1981, but no James Bond today. Instead, we return to King Arthur. Excalibur. Now, I saw For Your Eyes Only in the theater, I'm fairly sure, and many times after on video. I do not actually remember the first time I watched Excalibur. I imagine it was on some Sunday afternoon on television, maybe a few years later. By the time I saw, it already knew about Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Sometime in the mid to late eighties (I think I lost my old collection of theater programs in one move or another, so I cannot check the exact date) I also saw the musical Camelot on stage several times. I'd read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court and, presumably, other books about Arthur. I'd seen The Sword in the Stone on video (or would soon). So much of my knowledge about Arthuriana comes from vague memories that blend together over a few decades.

Movies are like that, too. I forget what some movies are sometimes, or imagine movies that never existed. (And, no, I don't mean Shazam.) There was this one movie, for example, that I saw the end of one time on television when I was young that I was sure was Friday the 13th. I had not seen any of those films yet. Wouldn't really see them until Jason Takes Manhattan was in theaters. Then, I would make up for lost time by watching the entire series many times. But, I had this vague notion of Jason Voorhees who, like Michael Myers with whom I was familiar, killed people and kept returning from the dead. I remember being both confused and amused by the idea that there was A Final Chapter and A New Beginning, as if someone really thought the series was ending, and then someone else just came along and laughed. Or maybe I invented that memory, just another of many, many visits to the Wherehouse blurred together, twisted up with memories of movies you've never heard of. The 1980s, the heyday of home video, when too many production companies were making too many films and my mother would rent just about anything, and she'd let me watch just about any of it. Saw a good chunk of Summer Lovers long before I had any clue what was going on in that film. Learned the sex didn't have to be missionary from Scream for Help a couple years later. Saw more horror films than I can count or remember. (I still think there are numerous films that haven't made it onto my seen it list on IMDb just because I can't remember the titles, or the memory of one film blends into another, or one moment stands out but the plot is lost to me. Like the "Nerak" bit in The Watcher in the Woods--couldn't tell you anything of the plot of that one, except that for some reason someone named Karen had her name reversed and someone got married; I remember "Going to the Chapel" playing... Or maybe that was some other film.

But, I was talking about films I think I've invented. Or spent years without the internet trying to find. Like A Zed & Two Noughts. I wandered into a screening of that one when I was at USC. I missed the beginning and never got the title. Twin zoologists film time-lapse decay of animals over and over, and have an odd relationship with some woman recovering from a car accident. And, in the end... No, I won't SPOIL it. But, trust me, I remembered especially certain visuals of that film and for years I had no idea what it was. When I got new editions of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide, and later also Videohound's Golden Movie Retriever, I would pore over each page, read description after description, highlight each movie that I had seen-- Yes I was that obsessive that long ago. This kind of cinematically-obsessed madness does not just happen overnight. And, I guess I just missed the description for A Zed & Two Noughts or thought I had conflated it with Dead Ringers or some other twin movie. Then, one day, in the age of the internet, I threw some search terms into Dogpile (Google didn't exist yet), and found the film, and it was both as if a weight had been lifted and entirely anticlimactic. One of the holy grails of my cinematic history had been found. But an older one still remained (and new ones would rear their heads).

The Friday the 13th one--I always imagined what I watched was the end of the first Friday the 13th because, for some reason, though I had not seen the films of that franchise yet, I knew that Jason was only the killer after the first one. And, I saw a guy walk up out of a lake, and maybe he had a mask on, or maybe I've invented a mask by re-remembering the scene time and time again. He was definitely a killer. He was definitely dead but supernaturally arisen. And, he walked up out of a lake and credits rolled and it would be years before I knew that was not the end of Friday the 13th.






This is when I both neglected to say anything about Excalibur and got distracted enough by it to forget my rant about movies and memory. I guess the green glow of Arthur's sword works on me, too.

(And, I'll have to watch this movie more than once.)

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

farewell mr. bond, but not goodbye

Roger Moore died today. Last night, a bunch of people died in Manchester. I'd rather think about the former than the latter. So, I'm watching For Your Eyes Only. I grew up on this movie. Roger Moore was my James Bond. This one, Octopussy, A View to a Kill--I've seen these movies far too many times considering I never made a deliberate effort to watch them repeatedly (as I obviously have with other films). For Your Eyes Only, especially. It was on one of those first VHS tapes my family had. It was one of the movies we watched regularly.

It has been a while since I last watched it, though. This very 80s (or really, 70s) music as Bond goes after Blofeld (who I never really had much context for when I was a kid and we'd watch this; he was just some bald guy who randomly tried to kill Bond and then Bond murdered him, and that alone is also so very 80s. Then the music video opening credits with vaguely naked women dancing in silhouette. (Visuals that meant very different things as I got older, of course.) Of course, Bond has always been of his time, depending on when the particular film was made, when the particular actor was cast. 1980s Bond was over-the-top, deliberately and explicitly. His Bond gadgets were insane; a miniature jet plane hidden behind a fake horse's ass, for Cold War's sake. Rambo might've had his explosive arrowheads (a few year's after this particular film) but Bond has a car that explodes rather than be broken into and... actually, I'm not remembering too many weird devices in this one.

And, he's a womanizer, he drives like a crazy person, and risks his life at every turn. Plus one liners. He's quintessential 1980s. And, the plot is almost immediately complicated.

And, I'm just going to watch for a bit.






The sound effects stand out, just cliched gunshots and ricochets, and that divebombing plane sound... It's basically what no action movie should ever be. But in 1981, and I first see this thing when I'm five, oh how this movie works.

Plotwise, like any Bond film, it is all over the place. But, that is what Bond films do. And as a kid, sitting down for more than an hour and a half, that's kind of what you need. Star Wars works because it jumps from location to location, setpiece to setpiece, introduces characters, kills them, introduces more. Throw in a session or two of offscreen sex with different partners, some complex Cold War politics and spy machinations, and you've got a Bond film. The only reason, I'm pretty sure, that I can remember which sequences (like the skiing) are in which film is because I've seen these few Bond films so many times. Specific sequences were in the Dalton Bond films or the Brosnan Bond films, and I'm not so knowledgable. Didn't have those on regular repeat. (Same goes for Connery Bond films, because I saw those out of their context.)






Bond is such the ideal of cinematic masculinity for the time. Better at everything than anyone. One of the greatest biathletes goes after him and misses his shots and falls on a jump. Bond inadvertently gets into the elevator for the ski jump and of course he can make the jump just fine. He speaks all the local languages. And, all he has to do is be near Bibi and she connives her way into his hotel room to sleep with him.

(Odd plotting sidenote: Bond initially went to Greece because Melina's parents were killed for going after the ATAC device in the sunken ship, but he didn't even bother to look for the device before just heading back to England then to Italy. Somewhere along the way, the film forgot to be clear about him assuming that the exchange of money at the pool was for the device and not for murdering the Havelocks. Seriously, I loved this Cortina action as a kid, and it's still pretty good (though entirely unbelievable), but this sequences bears basically no connection to the earlier part of the film. If the Havelocks' murder meant someone already had the device, Bond didn't really need to go to Greece in the first place.

But, hey, random farmer with cow as Bond jumps over a small house, and chickens inside of course as Erich Kriegler crashes through it. So, who cares if the plot makes sense (or if anyone ever bothered to make sure that it made sense)?

Really, though, now Bond wants Melina's father's notes? So, the device has not been found (I remember the underwater sequence later, of course, but I'm trying to be here in this viewing), and the sequence in Cortina served no purpose. Gotta love Bond films. Like someone in the production had an idea for a skiing sequence, so they just throw it into whatever Bond film is in the works.)

He gambles and wins. He knows local cuisine and wines. Sharks ignore him to eat other people.






And, he kicks a car down a cliff. Rambo never kicked a car down a cliff. John Matrix never kicked a car down a cliff. John McClane never kicked a car down a cliff.

Best moment watching now--upon entering the sunken St. Georges, Bond, who is the best at everything and even knows about oxygen helium mixes for diving, bumps his head. No dialogue to go with it, of course. I don't think it was scripted. Just whoever was actually in the suit for that shot misjudged how high his helmet was. But, it's nice to see Bond do at least one thing badly.






I never really knew Roger Moore for much else than his Bond films. I'm not sure he was even that great an actor. But, his Bond films were a fixture of my childhood, and my early experience with film.