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A View To A Review: 05/24/85 Review in “Washington Post”

At the finale of “A View to a Kill,” James Bond (Roger Moore) dangles from a blimp, an almost painfully appropriate metaphor for the adventure series that is now bloated, slow moving and at the end of its rope. It`s not double-oh-seven anymore, but double-oh-seventy, the best argument yet for the mandatory retirement age. Bond`s adversary here is Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), a renegade KGB agent turned billionaire industrialist, who, in league with his lover/bodyguard May Day (Grace Jones), is plotting to corner the microchip market by destroying Silicon Valley.

Why is Zorin so evil, you ask? It turns out that he was “created” in the Nazi concentration camps by a Mengele figure experimenting with steroids on pregnant women. Most of the children died; those who didn`t survived with extraordinary intelligence and more than a touch of psychopathy. Bond first grows suspicious when one of Zorin`s horses, despite its inferior bloodlines, wins a major race at Ascot. Masquerading as James St. John Smythe, he attends a horse auction at Zorin`s Versailles-like estate, where he meets Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts), an heiress fallen victim to Zorin`s aggressive mergers and acquisitions practices.

“A View to a Kill” is nothing if not thorough – it rolls nazism, communism and merger mania into one. In between, the movie follows the usual Bond formula, except the gadgets are a cut less ingenious, the women a notch below stunning, the puns and double-entendres something besides clever. “I`m happiest in the saddle,” says Zorin. “A fellow sportsman,” says Bond. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink. There is some magnificent stunt work, which only underscores how inadequate Moore has become.

Moore isn`t just long in the tooth – he`s got tusks, and what looks like an eye job has given him the pie-eyed blankness of a zombie. He`s not believable anymore in the action sequences, even less so in the romantic scenes – it`s like watching women fall all over Gabby Hayes. And unlike “Never Say Never Again,” which made a theme out of Sean Connery`s over-the-hilleries, “A View to a Kill” never acknowledges Moore`s age.

We`re just supposed to take him at face value, and once again, the pound has declined. Jones looks terrific – with her powerful spindly limbs and hard polished skull, she`s a large, splendid driver ant – but the minute she opens her mouth, all the air goes out of her performance. She`s an icon, not an actress. And Roberts is an absolute howl as Stacey. When Bond fills her in on Zorin`s plans, she brays, “dat`s incredibewee dangerous!” and flounces off in a pink nightie. She is, by the way, an expert geologist. Walken wears a blond wig, a formidable contraption that lifts from his baldness in a simian sweep – he looks like Dr Zaius and talks like Joey Bishop. He`s trying to send up the material, but at this late date, Bond has moved beyond camp into irrelevance.

AVTAK 05/22/85 Review in “Variety”

May 22nd VARIETY A VIEW TO A KILL (BRITISH-COLOR) Lackluster 007 epic should earn okay b.o. Hollywood, May 21.

There is hardly a red-blooded American boy whose pulse isn`t quicker by the familiar strains of the James Bond theme and the first sight of the hero cocking a gun at any enemy coming his way. Unfortunately, A View to a Kill,” the 16th outing for the Ian Fleming characters, doesn`t keep the adrenaline pumping, exposing the inherent weaknesses of the genre.

Trading on the Bond name, outlook is good for initial business, but momentum is likely to falter, just as the production does. The potential for cinematic thrills and chills, what with glamourous locations, beautiful women and exotic locations, is still there, but in “A View to a Kill” it`s the execution that`s lacking. A traditionally big Bond opening, this time a daring chase through the Alps, gets the film off to a promising start but proves one of the film`s few highlights as it slowly slips into tedium. Basic problem is on the script level with the intricate plot never offering the mindless menace necessary to propel the plot.

First third of the pic is devoted to introduction of characters in a horse-fixing subplot that has no real bearing on the main action. Bond`s adversary this time is the international industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his love-hate interest, May Day (Grace Jones). Bond tangles with them at their regal horse sale and uncovers a profitable scheme in which microchips are surgically implanted in the horse to assure an easy victory. Horse business is moderately entertaining, particularly when Patrick Macnee is on screen as Bond`s chauffeur accomplice.

Action, however, jumps abruptly to San Francisco to reveal Zorin`s true motives. He`s hatching some master plan to pump water from the sea into the San Andreas fault causing a major earthquake, destroying the Silicon Valley and leaving him with the world`s microchip monopoly. Film sags badly in the San Francisco section when it should be soaring, partially due to Bond`s joining forces with American geologist Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts). Try as you might to believe it, Roberts has little credibility as a woman of science.

Her delivery of lines like “I`d sell everything and live in a tent before I`d give,” makes the obvious laughable. While Bond pics have always traded heavily on the camp value of its characters, “A View to a Kill” almost attacks the humor, practically winking at the audience with every move. Director John Glen, who previously directed “For Your Eyes Only,” has not found the right balance between action and humor to make the production dangerous fun. Walken, too, the product of a mad Nazi scientist`s genetic experiments, is a bit wimpy by Bond villain standards. With hair colored an unnaturally yellow he seems more effete than deadly.

As his assistant, Grace Jones is a successful updating of the Jaws-type villain. Jones just oozes `80s style and gets to parade in a number of sensation outfits (designed by Emma Porteous) giving a hard but alluring edge to her character. As for Roger Moore, making his seventh appearance as Bond, he is right about half the time, he still has the suave and cool for the part, but on occasion he looks a bit old for the part and his coy womanizing seems dated when he does. Other instances when the film strives to stake its claim to the rock video audience backfire and miscalculate the appeal of the material.

Opening credit sequence in MTV style is downright bizarre and title song by Duran Duran will certainly not go down as one of the classic Bond tunes. [Hmmm…Editors.] With all of its limitations, production still remains a sumptuous feast to look at. Shot in Panavision by Alan Hume, exotic locations such as the Eiffel Tower, San Francisco Bay and Zorin`s French chateau are rendered beautifully. Climax hanging over the Golden Gate Bridge is chillingly real thanks to the miniature artists and effects people (supervised by John Richardson). Production design by Peter Lamont is first rate.

For Your Eyes Only: From A book to a film

One of the finest Bond movies of the 1980`s was created from three separate short stories and a novel. Fleming work used to create the screenplay? For Your Eyes Only, Risico and Live and Let Die.

For Your Eyes Only
To start off, there are simply no major characters who were removed from the story to the movie except “M” and von Hammerstein. The character of “M” was “away” and replaced by Chief of Staff Frederick Gray. This was due to the death of Bernard Lee, who had played “M” since the first film in 1962. Screenwriter Richard Maibaum replaced Von Hammerstein from the book with Kristatos for the film.

Dialogue that was used for the film, from the book, included: “The Chinese have a saying, before going out on revenge, dig two graves” and “You go to hell. It was my parents who were killed, not yours.” Maibaum tweaked the dialogue from the story but the essence was the same.

Major changes were A) Location and B) a few characters, names and backgrounds. Col. Havelock had a higher ranking and was an official knight. His wife`s first name was never mentioned in the movie. Also, both of the parents were British in the story, whereas in the movie, Mrs. Havelock is Greek. The other change was to his daughter, Judy became Melina in the movie. It was changed because the name is more ethnic than “Judy”.

The locations were changed as well. Jamaica was the scene of the Havelock`s assasination in the book. In the film, it was replaced by Greece. Vermont was the scene of Von Hammerstein`s assasinatin by Judy in the book, but was replaced by Southern Spain. Cortina, Italy was not featured in the book.

Risico
First off, the few major characters Kristatos, Colombo and Lisl Baum are all included in the translation from page to screen. The only thing that did change, much like For Your Eyes Only, was the location, this time from Rome and Milan to Greece.

One of the most interesting things is that the dining scene was faithfully re-created, including the scene where Colombo has a tape recorder planted inside the candle holder at Bond and Kristatos` table. This scene is also where Kristatos gives Bond Colombo`s nickname (rumored in the movie) of `The Dove.`

Another scene that was taken directly, nearly word for word from the story was Bond`s cover to Lisl: that he was doing a story on smugglers. Here is Fleming`s passage: “My name is Bond, James Bond. I`m a writer, doing a story on smugglers, drug smugglers. I`m having trouble with the trade. Would you happen to know any stories?”

“Oh, so that is why you were having dinner with Kristatos. He has a bad reputation. As for the stories, I know none. I know what everyone else knows.”

Also, the scene where Bond fights three of Colombo`s thugs was included, but the death of Lisl Baum doesn`t happen there, or at all. In the book, she never gets killed; she only disappears for a while.

One interesting bit taken from the story and put in the film was that one of the two smugglers had received the King`s Medal for resistance fighting. However, in the book, Colombo received it; in the movie Kristatos was the hero.

Miscellaneous References
For Your Eyes Only (the movie) also picks up a scene from the novel Live and Let Die. In that book, Solitaire and Bond are bound together, tied to the end of Mr. Big`s yacht, and keel hauled across a harbor full of coral. In For Your Eyes Only, the writers substitute Melina for Solitaire. In the book, Mr. Big`s yacht blows up due to a timed mine placed underneath the hull by 007. In the movie, James and Melina escape by cutting their ropes on the coral and swimming to safety.

From A View To A Kill

From A View To A Kill is a short story in the For Your Eyes Only collection. A weak entry in Fleming`s canon to begin with, it`s virtually useless as a springboard for creating a film. Only Bond and M in the short story make it into the film.

The location of Paris, France also makes it into the film. Other than that, there is no resemblance whatsoever between book and film.

A View To A Kill: Tom Selleck

Tom Selleck was one star name casually thrown about for the “new 007”. How serious he was looked at is unknown. He was originally approached for the role of Indiana Jones in RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK but could not take the role because of his commitment to MAGNUM P.I.

People who would discount Selleck as a legitimate contender because he is American need to remember that James Brolin was screen tested opposite Maud Adams for Octopussy before Roger Moore finally settled his contract dispute and played the role for the sixth time.

Sting, David Bowie, Bond

Bowie was the strongest contender at the time to play the villain Max Zorin in A VIEW TO A KILL. He reportedly declined the role on the basis that he didn`t care for the script. Bowie told Rolling Stone Magazine: “I think for an actor, it`s probably an interesting thing to do, but for somebody from rock, it`s more of a clown performance. And I didn`t want to spend five months watching my double fall off mountains.” And yet he inexplicably went on to torture Jennifer Connolly and audiences as the villain in the 1986 fantasy flick LABRYINTH.

World rocker “Sting” was another shock-blonde rock star/actor who was in contention for the role of Zorin. He was one of the few people to emerge from the 1984 fiasco called DUNE relatively unscathed. It may have been upon the basis of that performance that he was approached to play Zorin, but whatever the reasons that led up to it were, he flatly turned it down. He did, however, make amends to his fans as well as Bond fans who would have loved to seem him play Zorin by playing another villain of sorts in BULLETS AREN`T CHEAP. In this 1991 Saturday Night Live spoof/sketch, which is still fondly recalled by Bond fans to this day, Sting played the villainous “Goldsting”, who dresses like Blofeld and has a pet rabitt that he dotes on. In the sketch, Bond is played by Steve Martin and is shown to be quite thrifty when it`s his own money at stake. Bond shows up at Goldsting`s casino because the “beer and pretzels are complimentary.”

Priscilla Presley: Opposite Roger Moore?

When it comes down to casting, it`s often a matter of who is available that makes the difference in getting a job. For Priscilla Presley, it made all the difference. In 1984 she was starring on the hit CBS-Television show DALLAS as Jenna Wade, but she also had an avid interest in moving her career to the big screen. Then, reportedly, EON came calling.

They were looking to cast the role of Stacy Sutton and were looking at several actresses. Presley may have had the inside track, but according to one New York based journalist who spoke to 007Forever, Presley was not interested in playing the role and the search to fill the role continued elsewhere.

Lewis Collins – Run With Bond

From the Thursday, August 26th, 1982 edition of The Daily Star (reprinted with permission): Tough guy Lewis Collins is a wanted man – film fans are clamouring for him to play secret agent James Bond on the big screen. But Lewis fears he will never land the plum 007 role. He reckons the man behind the money-spinning Bond movies -Albert “Cubby” Broccoli – doesn`t like him. And that means his chances are extremely remote “unless we get together and smoke a pipe of peace.”

Lewis, who stars as an undercover SAS officer in the blockbuster movie `Who Dares Wins`, believes he fits the Bond bill. And he isn`t the only one! He was voted tops to take over as Bond in a newspaper poll, but he says: “No one from the Bond stable has approached me so they obviously don`t want me.”

Lewis certainly has the right pedigree for the job. The man who made his name as THE television toughie – Bodie of The Professionals – has already signed for a 25 million pound programme of three films with top action producer Euan Lloyd. It has been suggested that these films, which include Wild Geese 2 and Battle of the South Atlantic – based on the Falklands campaign – could net Collins a cool million pounds. But it is Bond that really captures his imagination. “It would be nice to get back to the original Bond, not the character created by Sean Connery – but the one from the books,” he says. “He is not over-handsome, overtall. He is about my age (Collins is 36) and has got my attitudes.”

The trouble with Lewis`s ideas is that big wheel Cubby doesn`t like them. Lewis revealed that he went to see Cubby two years ago. “I was in his office for five minutes, but it was really over for me in seconds. I have heard since that he doesn`t like me. That is unfair. He is expecting another Connery to walk through the door and there are few of them around. I think he has really shut the door on me. He found me too aggressive. I knew it all – that kind of attitude. Two or three years ago that would be the case, purely because I was nervous and defensive. I felt they were playing the producer bit with fat cigars. When someone walks into their office for the most popular film job in the worlds, a little actor is bound to put on a few airs. If Cubby couldn`t see I was being self-protective I don`t have faith in his judgement. Euan saw through that. You have three minutes to sell yourself but if you go on that line you fail. You have to be yourself – and you have a better chance if you are the right person.” “I didn`t have that confidence then. I am just acquiring it now. The number of people who have suggested me as a candidate amazes me – and Cubby hasn`t given me another shot. I would even screen test and all that.”

Debra Sue Sutton?

9/29/1982 Photo Op with Miss America Debra Sue Maffett in oval office

One name you probably haven`t heard too much of in connection to the auditions for the role of Stacy Sutton is Debra Sue Maffett. Her name is one of the more obscure ones in the history of Bond casting. Her website lists her credits as: Host of The Nashville Network`s Country News The syndicated news/magazine show Hot, Hip, & Country, A singer with a CD called Die Trying. A producer of a pilot show titled Real Life Angel Stories.

She was a former Miss Beaumont University, Miss California and reigned as Miss America 1983. After her reign, Maffett continued to reside in California where she embarked on a successful television career that included an Emmy nominated stint as hostess for PM Magazine in Los Angeles and television appearances on Matlock, The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, David Letterman, Good Morning America, Bob Hope`s Specials and Hollywood Squares. In between all of this she found time to audition for the role of Stacy Sutton.

How seriously was she taken? Hard to tell. But to hear her tell it, the choice had come down to herself and Tanya Roberts. She told Cathy Dunphy, in her column for STARWEEK (the Toronto Star tv guide) “The only reason they chose Tanya over me is because Tanya has acted before and they couldn`t wait to see Prisoners.” PRISONERS OF THE SEA was a film she had just finished or was about to wrap up, but it couldn`t wrap up soon enough for Cubby Broccoli. Anxious to get the project moving along, he cast Roberts. Cathy Dunphy`s article appeared in the August 11th to August 18th, 1984 issue.

Review: A View to a Kill (1985)

l_90264_279f42c1A look back during this 30th anniversary of AVTAK, with a winsome review by Robert Baum.
**
    Roger Moore renews his license to kill in his seventh and last–it is about time he did so–mission for British Intelligence. A View to a Kill is the latest cinematic adventure of Ian Fleming’s agent 007, better known as Bond, James Bond. Moore certainly has no need to consider a return to the role as he is simply too old to be believable engaging in antics so outrageous here they virtually dwarf the hyperbolic opus Moonraker (1979). However, Moore’s fourth outing was far more fun than this disappointment directed by John Glen.
      Bond goes up against a mysterious tycoon named Max Zorin (Christopher Walken, the first time an Oscar winner has played a Bond adversary), an equine enthusiast who plans to monopolize the microchip market. Does anyone think this sounds a bit familiar? It is a virtual repackaging of Goldfinger if you ask just about any Bond aficionado. Zorin’s mistress is an Amazon named May Day (the very flamboyant pop music diva Grace Jones).
      Of course, Bond finds a lady in the form of a pretty bland–sorry, blonde–geologist named Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts, formerly the last member of “Charlie’s Angels”). Sutton has had a long feud with Zorin and has refused the megalomaniac’s multimillion-dollar offer to shut her mouth. However, she does fall for the charm of a certain British agent. It is not John Steed, though that might not be bad guess as Patrick Macnee of “The Avengers” plays one of Bond’s allies who meets a premature demise. Macnee is amusing for his brief time onscreen. He joins fellow “Avengers” alumni Diana Rigg (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) and Honor Blackman (Goldfinger) who have appeared in Bond films.
      With regard to Bond’s female co-star, Roberts is nice to look at but she is not a great beauty nor does she make for a believable geologist. She is rather dull and all she seems to do is wait for Bond to come to her rescue, And this Bond looks like could do with some rescuing himself as it obviously takes a bit longer for Moore to escape peril this time. No doubt the producers were enchanted by the sight of Roberts clad in but an animal pelt in last summer’s Sheena: Queen of the Jungle, which apparently reused her costume from 1982s The Beastmaster.
      As Zorin’s mistress and assassin, Jones is too outrageous and seems to be doing little more than a reprise of her role as Arnold Schwarzenegger’s she-warrior ally in last summer’s Conan the Destroyer. While certainly not lacking in presence, Jones is a bit masculine–even more so than Moore frighteningly. Jones is so aggressive she makes Lucianna Paluzzi in Thunderball (1965) look like a schoolgirl.
      As for Bond’s adversary, Walken’s portrayal is underplayed at times and appears campy in others. Walken is a good actor but he is so often upstaged by Moore which isn’t exactly a chore for the Englishman. On the plus side, Walken does make for an adequate adversary.
The casting of Walken, Jones, and Roberts is a stunt that crashes and burns (though not like the villain’s airship) but not so impressive as the par for the course action sequences devised by stuntmeisters Remy Julienne, Martin Grace, and the death-defying daredevils.
      British synth pop quintet Duran Duran’s title tune is rather silly. No doubt producer Albert Broccoli and first-time producer, co-writer (and stepson) Michael Wilson, were hoping to have a song to reach out to the younger folk. As the likes of Shirley Bassey, Matt Munro, and Nancy Sinatra would be the sort of artists most adolescents would regard as too fuddy-duddy for them to take seriously. However, it is the cheesiest song since Lulu’s title tune for Moore’s second mission The Man with The Golden Gun (1974). The title sequence is a bit tired, like the film’s leading man, and Maurice Binder’s work here almost would be more fit to serve as a music video for elevator music
      While the long-running franchise–though Bond looks winded here–might possess some of the most amazing stunts, spectacular locales, and gorgeous women, one would probably never know it in seeing this film. A View to a Kill lacks the magic and fun found in just about any previous Bond film; even the disappointing The Man with the Golden Gun and the out-of-this-world excessive extravaganza Moonraker.