Tag Archives: a view to a kill

James Bond and The Golden Globes

1970 George Lazenby nominated Most Promising Male Newcomer for On Her Majesty`s Secret Service

1978 The Spy Who Loved Me nominated for Best Original Score
Marvin Hamlisch Nominated for Best Original Song “Nobody Does It Better”.

1985/86 Duran Duran and John Barry nominated for Best Original Song: “A View To A Kill”

1998 Sheryl Crow nominated for Best Song in “Tomorrow Never Dies”

James Bond and MTV… Entertainment Weekly… and more

Blockbuster Awards 1996 Pierce Brosnan nominated for Best Action Hero in “GoldenEye”

MTV Movie Awards 1995/96 Goldeneye nominated for Best Fight Sequence (Steam Room Scene) Nominated for BEST ACTION SEQUENCE : Motorcycle/helicopter chase, “Tomorrow Never Dies” (1998) Nominated for BEST FIGHT : Michelle Yeoh/bad guys, “Tomorrow Never Dies”(1998)

Entertainment Weekly Named Goldeneye as the Best Marketed film of 1995, saying the marketing dept. “made Bond seem like new”. Named Tomorrow Never Dies as one of the 5 Best Marketed Films of 1997.

The Razzies 1985/86 Tanya Roberts Nominated Worst Actress for her role as Stacy Sutton in “A View To A Kill” (she may have picked up a Golden Turkey award for the role as well)

Saturn Awards 1997/98 Pierce Brosnan wins Best Actor Award for James Bond in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Licensing Industry Merchandisers Association (LIMA) 1996 Winner for Goldeneye 1998 Winner for Tomorrow Never Dies

BAFTA In 1989 The British Academy of Film and Theater Arts awarded Cubby Broccoli the Lifetime Achievement Award for his contribution to the Bond series. The award was presented to Cubby by Timothy Dalton.

Fall Brings New Bond Playthings

Now that the days are getting shorter, the nights longer and the temperatures cooler, Bond fans need new playthings to keep them occupied. October finds Johnny Lightning releasing Wave 2 of their signature James Bond series of racing cars while MGM gives us the final wave of Special Edition James Bond DVDs.

The new series of Johnny Lightning cars include the Corvette from A VIEW TO A KILL, the 1957 Chevy Convertible from DR.NO, the Aston-Martin from GOLDFINGER, the Ford-Mustang from THUNDERBALL and both BMWs from GOLDENEYE and THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH. www.fullgrid.com is just one on-line outlet that is selling the JL cars.

Meanwhile…the Special Edition DVD of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS answers one lingering question: Who was the third solid contender for the role of James Bond in 1986? Michael Wilson mentioned in several interviews at the time that they had narrowed down the list to three: Brosnan and Dalton would seem obvious, so who was the other pick? Wilson refused to elaborate any further, but names thrown around included Finlay Light and Antony Hamilton. Now the documentary that goes into the making of THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS reveals Sam Neill`s test footage. It would seem that Sam Neill was the third contender for the role that Wilson had refused to name. Additionally, Mr. Neill probably gave permission for this test footage to be used, since generally the studios do not own it, but the actual star does.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER has five deleted, or “lost” scenes. Included is the infamous “Sammy Davis, Jr. scene” (see THE EYE THAT NEVER SLEEPS for more details on all “lost scenes”), Bond having dinner with Plenty, Plenty returning to Bond`s room after being dumped in the pool (she reads Tiffany`s drivers license to see where she lives, thus answering the age old question of why Plenty ended up in Tiffany`s pool), the correct version of the Mustang on two wheels and an alternate ending of Wint and Kidd killing the dentist with the scorpion. Incidentally, Bruce Glover still owns the scorpion used in that scene. By the way, as it was mentioned among fans at the Bond Collectors Weekend…does anyone wonder if Wint and Kidd ever knew who they were working for? They never crossed paths with Blofeld or anyone associated with him.

Nintendo64 has pushed up the release date on THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH to October 17th, possibly to coincide with the release of the 3rd wave of DVDs. The Gameboy, Playstation and Playstation2 versions of THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH are all slated to debut in retail and on-line stores throughout November.

–Craig Chenery and Ad2Music assisted with this article.

Collecting with A View To A Kill on James Bond

“A long time ago and far away,” Bond author Raymond Benson created a text adventure for the personal computer that allowed Bond fans to enter the world of A View To A Kill. Recently I asked Mr. Benson about this historic piece of Bond memorabilia, not commonly seen today… see below the interview our extensive listing detailing the many other “View” collectibles sought after today…

Matt Sherman: “Do you have any insight for us on the “A View To A Kill” text adventure you authored? Could you give us a brief rundown of the creative process involved? Were there interesting tie-in considerations to the MGM film that added to the creative process? Was it ever re-issued in a format that modern MAC and IBM users could play on today?”

Raymond Benson: “Wow, that was a long time ago. I had been hired by a software firm in White Plains, New York, called Angelsoft, which had been contracted by Mindscape to develop a series of text adventure “interactive fiction” games along the lines of the Infocom games (Zork I, Zork II and III, etc.). I remember that all we had to work with was the shooting script for “A View to a Kill”. (I also did the “Goldfinger” game, and a game based on Stephen King`s short story “The Mist”.)

My job was “designer and writer” and so I came up with the plot, locales, characters, dialogue, descriptions…everything one reads in the game as text, as well as how the game was played, what the player had to do, etc. We were limited in size and scope in those days, and the game probably seems pretty crude by today`s standards. It originally was published in the fall of 1985, for the IBM, Mac, and Apple IIc platforms. I`m not sure, but if you could get your hands on an IBM format, it might work on today`s PC. I only have Apple IIc copies, myself, and of course they`re dinosaurs.

I didn`t have any communication with EON on the game…perhaps Angelsoft did. I`m pretty sure EON had approval over our final game design, but I don`t remember having any problems. As I recall, the game is pretty faithful to the final film. (We also got to see a “rough cut” in New York…the film without the score or sound effects…which was very weird!)

There was a producer working with me and a lead programmer. There were probably one or two other programmers working under the lead person, but I`m not sure now. I do remember that no one was credited at all! I think that was the standard back then unless you were Richard Garriott or one of the early superstar game designers. (Oh yeah…the president of Angelsoft was a guy named Mercer Mayer, a famous children`s book writer who created “Grandpa and Me”, “Grandma and Me”, etc. I think the company folded two or three years later and he went back to doing what he does best…writing children`s books.)

That`s about all I can remember! –Raymond Benson”

More AVTAK Collectibles Besides the rare AVTAK text game by Raymond Benson, whose different boxes await your discovery in hobby shops and in garage sales in several different, now extremely difficult to find versions, there are lovely AVTAK collectibles available, if in sparse amounts and diversity compared to say, “Goldfinger” or “GoldenEye” goodies. Look for the following while you await forthcoming Grace Jones action figures and limited edition rock salt guns from…?

AVTAK Posters It is worth noting that “View” was the last Bond film to use hand drawn, “painted” poster artwork. All following films (in fact, Hollywood films in general) switched to photo stills and computer graphic montage designs in the late `80s.

I have included an 800 x 600 graphic with some of the different designs used in the AVTAK campaign. Click on the image on this page to see a blowup rendering of the graphic to download to your desktop, featuring some of the distinctive AVTAK campaigns.

More unusual poster campaigns highlighted AVTAK tie-ins to Renault cars and Michelin tires. Michelin was the brand Bond “sucks” from while underwater beneath Zorin and May Day. Shots of The Michelin Man are also strategically placed in the scene where Sir Godfrey Tibbett (Patrick Macnee) gets his Rolls washed–again. French car maker Renault gave away a new Renault 11 Turbo along with 100 AVTAK soundtrack cassettes for runners up in their big contest.

AVTAK Books “From A View To A Kill” was one of several of author Ian Fleming`s short stories featuring James Bond. “FAVTAK” (should that be pronounced “PHAV-TACK?”) first appeared in the compendium of Bond shorts entitled, “For Your Eyes Only”. This title, first printed as a complete set of five stories in 1960, was the sole Jonathan Cape book to utilize a glossy dustjacket for Bond. (Artist Richard Chopping once explained that he was fussed at incessantly by Ian Fleming. over many “re-paintings”, until he made the color of Bond`s eye visible through the peephole on the dustjacket that just-so shade of blue and gray that Fleming imagined Bond`s eyes to be.)

Completists collecting For Your Eyes Only for its AVTAK association need to grab everything from its large print edition for libraries to the two variant paperback covers by Signet, and not less than four completely different Pan covers from the UK, including the “stamp cover” and a young Melina with bow and arrow at the ready, plus British-run children`s editions with text edited down for young readers and more salacious comments lifted or changed, and countless variant covers by Jove, Berkley, Triad Granada and Coronet, and then foreign editions in at least eight languages other than English. The dustjacket artwork by Cuthill on the British Book Club is noteworthy, as is the pretty Michael J. Fein hardback edition rendered by Christoph Blumrich. (See accompanying photo collage of many of the covers on this page.)

Getting two full-length movies from one short story set including FAVTAK and FYEO is not bad, as good as even Stephen King has managed, and perhaps someday we fans can thrill to “Risico,” “The Hildebrand Rarity,” and “Quantum of Solace” on screen, lifted from the For Your Eyes Only collection. I can hear the script in my head now…”I`m going top kill you, Mr. Bond, to help ensure my quantum of solace for the afternoon.” “Not quite yet, Maximillian Risico. I was always better concerning the Hildebrand rarity.”

AVTAK Magazines and Comics Comics fans and completists can grab the two-part serial of the FYEO movie or the countless magazine tie-ins to AVTAK from the Bond fan clubs and popular media. Sharper Image catalogs of the `80s featuring Melina`s crossbow from the FYEO film and AVTAK related items are especially noteworthy.

In comic form went original artwork and fun for the four-part “Find Your Fate” AVTAK series of children`s books. You only need any one of the four movie tie-in books to fantasize and role play as Bond to help him destroy Zorin`s master plans. A very rare French version went to print of these books using a different color palate on the cover, making it look as though Roger Moore has had way too much carrot juice to drink on the set!

AVTAK Toys and Vehicles Corgi issued no Bond goodies between the release of their “Octopussy” and “GoldenEye” lines twelve years apart, but Matchbox fans can still find both the Renault taxi that Bond sliced and then diced and also the Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II he used for “deep cover” with “Sir Godfrey Tibbett” assisting. Matchbox also created prototypes of a full vehicle set, an “Action Pack” with a Russian helicopter and San Francisco police car thrown in, which went unreleased.

Lone Star Toys produced a gun and holster set , sold in Europe, to tie in to the new movie. The set featured a cap shooting Walther PPK, with AVTAK shoulder holster and strap.

AVTAK Locations The Chateau Chantilly in the French countryside may be visited today by the fans desperately seeking Zorin, and no trip to Paris is complete without a spin up to the top of the Eiffel Tower where May Day caused a sensation (or should we say cause celebre instead?). Marvelous atmosphere shots and exteriors were lensed all over the San Francisco area as well. (Bond Weekend 2001, anyone? Iceland, which doubled for “Siberia” in the pre-credits sequence, is out for sure.)

AVTAK Props I don`t know how I would feel about owning a rock salt gun redo in my house or Q`s snooper pet, although a trick jockey`s whip could come in handy around the office (for keeping the British end up? Loud groan!) but “Bedlum” has some astounding AVTAK props in his catalog this month online at The Williams Collection.

Other Collectibles Chevron gasoline got into the Bond XIV act also. When Bond “protests” Zorin`s oil pumping station, in deleted scenes, (see photo and related story elsewhere at 007Forever) guess which brand of hat he wears? And when Stacey accidentally swings the fire engine ladder, with Bond on top, into a gas station, guess which corporate franchise is demolished in spectacular fashion, sign crashing down onscreen?

AVTAK scored in a box as “role playing on Her Majesty`s Secret Service module/game from Victory Games.” The artwork is fun, though I am not sure if it is a horse or the Tour Eiffel which is meant to be exploding!

A fun 45 record was run of the popular title song, which opened to reveal bullet holes inside.

The summer of ’85, of course, had Duran Duran claiming the pinnacle spot of BILLBOARD`S Top 100 Singles. The song lasted three weeks at the #1 spot, the first time a Bond tune had reached #1 in the United States (though other songs including Goldfinger came close on the charts). Duran Duran fever hit an all time high–and James Bond in our zeitgeist was all the better for it.

Some of the more unusual AVTAK LP`s and tapes are sought after, especially foreign versions. AVTAK artwork has also graced countless CD, VHS, Beta, Criterion LaserDisc and DVD versions to date with more in the works.

**In an article entitled “Hot Resurgence” by Tom Conroy and Rob Sheffield for the August 20, 1998 issue of Rolling Stone magazine, AVTAK was credited with the resurgence of snowboarding worldwide. Chris Ernst, founder of California’s Lord of the Boards series, concurred:

“The troubles started around 1985, when the James Bond film A View to a Kill featured a Grecian Formula-slickened Roger Moore busting down the slopes on a single plank. Ever since, snowboarding has been jammed down our collective throat and has brought with it such scourges as tongue studs, tattoos, baggy parkas and any number of bad bands. Though no one asked, they’ve begun to rap.”

Even musical artists have gotten in on the AVTAK action. “Shadz” of “Lingo” released the 1994 album “A View To A Kill”, while the punk/new wave band “Gob” did a thoroughly forgettable remake of Bond XIV’s title song, released in 1997.

For Your Eyes Also: John Glen’s Autobiography

I thoroughly enjoyed John Glen’s new autobiography. Glen jumps into the action as fast any Bond thriller on the big screen. His work on eight of the EON Bond flicks takes up the bulk of this fascinating new book.

Within the first few paragraphs the reader is plunged onto the icy mountains of Baffin Island where Glen is preparing second unit duties on his second Bond, 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. The incredible teaser stunt, which most Bond fans are familiar with and which is by many considered the best Bond stunt ever, is explored in depth. Bedding down in the icy cold, John Glen writes of Willy Bogner’s legitimate fear at the deadly stunt but bravery in going when needed in one thrilling take from thousands of feet above icy rocks. I learned plenty here, including Glen’s being at risk of freezing himself into a popsicle on location, more than once! You may never view the opener of TSWLM the same way again.

Things were different in the movie industry in recent years, especially in the area of safety for principal personnel, and Glen explains how he risked physical danger or death quite a number of times on his Bonds, between the late 1960’s and late ‘80s. Even Roger Moore assured his safety on one Octopussy shoot working under a moving train by insisting that Glen accompany him on the tracks beneath the moving behemoth-his way of ensuring Glen himself felt the stunt was truly a safe one!

The chapter describing second unit work for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service is impressive and a treat for OHMSS fans overall, including yet one more perspective on how George Lazenby must have felt trying to fill Scotland’s largest shoes. Glen apparently was as much a hero of the film as lead director Peter Hunt, and his was much of the creative genius behind the bobsled fight and ski sequences. DVD fans may seem some of the same extra material covered again in Glen’s book, especially the information on License To Kill, but For My Eyes Only is overall a gritty triumph about a hardworking man who waited 30 years to break into lead directing with For Your Eyes Only.

A sad footnote is that Glen’s LTK tested higher than any previous Bond film with test audiences, but was demolished between Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade and Batman, to name just two 1989 summer blockbusters. Underscored throughout the book is the essential nature of the director to any Bond film, from Terence Young and Dr. No to Michael Apted and The World Is Not Enough, the director gets huge leeway regarding casting, script development, exotic locations and stunt choices, to name a few.

Glen’s view from the top explores in some detail how Cubby and Barbara Broccoli, Michael Wilson and the screenwriters thought, plotted and risked hunches and millions on the casting and scripting of the greatest film series in history. Lacking is any moving in-depth background on Glen himself, however. Two marriages are treated almost as footnotes in the book. Glen eventually brought his wife on location with him, but apparently spent nearly five decades “late at the office”.

The book and jacket design lean heavily on the James Bond image and EON 007 logo. I found it bizarre that the designer did not clean up the famous image cropped in close up of George Lazenby in front of “Big Ben,” for example, but left “overhangs” atop of the heads of both Lazenby and Dalton on the front cover. My copy also had ink dropped out on certain pages, lightening some of the photo captions almost beyond recognition. The jacket and book design are still pleasing to the eye, however. This book was certainly aimed at the interested 007 fan. Many pleasant stills are included of action, cast and crew. Some never-before seen photos are included among them. Further insights are also given into Cubby Broccoli’s generosity and a humorous foreword is included by Roger Moore, CBE.

–For My Eyes Only is published in hardback and is available now from various sources including Dave Worral’s Collectors’ Club.

TWINE and AVTAK: An Appreciation

James Bond must stop a villain who plots to destroy a strategic area of the globe, which will then allow said villain to control the supply of a needed commodity. Also involved is a lovely lady with oil in the family’s veins.

Sound familiar? These are plot points from the 1999 James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough a blockbuster heralded by fans and the general public. These plot points are also present in the 1985 James Bond film A View To A Kill, widely considered among the Bond cognoscenti as a tired and lackluster 007 flick.

Apropos of the 15th anniversary of the release of A View To A Kill, 007 Forever reevaluates Roger Moore’s last Bond film with the goal of rehabilitating its standing in the James Bond film series. Particularly interesting is to compare A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough. Now that the hype and excitement has leveled off, we can take a cold-eyed view of the 19th 007 film and in comparison to A View To A Kill, see if it comes up short.

The Caper
The similarities of the villain’s caper in The World Is Not Enough and A View To A Kill serves as a jumping off point for our comparison. In A View To A Kill, computer industrialist Max Zorin plots to destroy California’s Silicon Valley to corner the world microchip market. In The World Is Not Enough, oil industrialist Elektra King plots to destroy Istanbul in order to control the flow of oil out of the Caspian Sea.

Neither one of these plots is particularly original, In fact, the plot of A View To A Kill has been criticized as an update of Goldfinger which also involved a villain out to make an economic killing as a result of a disaster. Also present in the A View To A Kill plot is a healthy dose of the plot of Superman which involved Lex Luthor’s destruction of California via an earthquake.

The sub-plot of oil is what draws The World Is Not Enough closer to A View To A Kill than it does to Goldfinger or even Superman. Both A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough involve a leading lady whose family has been cheated out of their oil legacy. Stacey Sutton has to work as a state geologist to earn money to fight Max Zorin in the courts. Zorin had cheated Stacey out of her oil in a rigged proxy fight.

Elektra King also believes that her family has been cheated out of its oil. Elektra states that her father stole her mother’s rightful claim to the oil in the Caspian Sea. Fair enough, but it seems odd that this subplot should be used again in a Bond film.

The World Is Not Enough also adds the wrinkle of a female villain and the world’s greatest terrorist falling in love. All sorts of Freudian motivation of a father-daughter conflict are present (Elektra from Greek mythology – get it?) But the basic plot strands are the same.

For my money though, then execution of the villain’s caper is handled much better in A View To A Kill. The World Is Not Enough follows the recent tradition of murky Bond villain exposition. Elektra’s plot is explained in a few lines of dialogue when Bond realizes what the nuclear submarine is going to be used for. Then again, both plots from both films are explained as James Bond and the leading lady study a map. The “double earthquake” that will sink Silicon Valley seems more palpable than the whole business of irradiating the Bosphorous. Aren’t there any other ports in Turkey where the oil can be loaded onto the tankers? It seems a stretch that they are all located in Istanbul.

Femme Fatale
The comparison of the leading ladies in both A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough is also illuminating. I am not going to compare Tanya Roberts with Sophie Marceau because a blind person can see that Marceau is clearly the better actress. Then again, Sophie Marceau is really the villain in The World Is Not Enough.

This argument though is not so easily decided when you compare Tanya Roberts to Denise Richards. Both these American women are lovely to behold yet they both come up short in the acting world. Tanya Roberts is rightly knocked for her ditzy line readings of “James!” and for failing to see that blimp behind her.

Denise Richards as Dr. Christmas Jones is no improvement though. The nadir of Denise’s performance comes when she’s sopping wet in the submarine and says that “we could write off the whole city”, a cringe-inducing moment if there ever was one.

The biggest mistake with Richards’ casting is her age. Its just not believable that someone in her mid-20s has a PhD in nuclear physics. Period. Stacey Sutton on the other hand, is a State of California employee, a vocation that many Californians feel does not require a lot of brains. Therefore Tanya Roberts is more believable in her role and less of a distraction to her film.

Oscar Bond
When it comes to villains, A View To A Kill trumps The World Is Not Enough any day of the week. Why? Two words – Christopher Walken. Oscar-winner Christopher Walken has made a career out of playing psychopathic villains and anti-heroes. It’s a great thing to have an actor of Walken’s stature hamming it up as a Bond villain. Walken may not be the greatest Bond villain but dammit, its fantastic to have an actor this prolific associated with the Bond series.

Christopher Walken is as active now as he was in 1985, if not more so. Gert Frobe may be the greatest Bond villain of all time, but you could count all of Frobe’s other memorable roles on one hand. Not so with Christopher Walken. This man has added edge and darkness to scores of films from Annie Hall to The Deer Hunter to True Romance to Sleepy Hollow.

The double villains of The World Is Not Enough cannot touch the wattage of Christopher Walken. Sophie Marceau is not revealed as the true villain until well into the film. Robert Carlyle as Renard is woefully underused in the film. When he is present, Renard is saddled with “drama” scenes that are passable but really have no place in a James Bond film. Point to A View To A Kill.

Elementary…
What can be said of the locations in A View To A Kill as opposed to The World Is Not Enough? First and foremost is the fact that most of the locations in A View To A Kill are real. Many of the locations in The World Is Not Enough are faked. Following the trend of Goldeneye and Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough resorts to non-descript locations that double for Baku, the Caspian Sea and Istanbul. The viewer never feels that Bond is truly in these far-flung locations as they did with Japan in You Only Live Twice or Egypt in The Spy Who Loved Me to name some examples.

In A View To A Kill, Paris, Chantilly and San Francisco are all marvelously put to good use. Taking a bead from Alfred Hitchcock, famous landmarks are used in action setpieces. The Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco feature prominently in memorable action sequences. The World Is Not Enough’s boring climax in a submarine under the Bosphorous seems waterlogged in comparison.

Secondary characters are also more interesting in A View To A Kill. Goldie’s Bull is an interesting sub-villain but is nowhere near as memorable as Grace Jones’ May Day. Gabor does not even rate. Robbie Coltrane’s Valentin Zukovsky is a fantastic foil for Pierce Brosnan’s James Bond. Coltrane is no Patrick Macnee though.

Patrick Macnee brings more of The Avengers cache to the James Bond series, following in the footsteps of Honor Blackman and Diana Rigg. How cool is that? The Roger Moore-Patrick Macnee scenes have a warm familiarity to them which serves A View To A Kill well. The accumulated James Bond-Simon Templar-John Steed charm of these two actors is wonderful. How wonderful that these two real-life friends were allowed to share some of their personal charisma with us in a James Bond film.

One element that puts A View To A Kill in a class above The World Is Not Enough is music. John Barry provides his penultimate score to the Bond series with A View To A Kill. The results are electric. Eschewing the murky atmospherics of Octopussy, Barry provides action music in A View To A Kill that is among his best. Barry’s electric guitar influenced ski-chase music is awesome. The music from the last third of A View To A Kill covering the execution of Zorin’s plot is also excellent. This music echoes Barry’s excellent music from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

David Arnold’s music for The World Is Not Enough is functional but cannot touch John Barry. Compare the ski-chase music John Barry composed for A View To A Kill to the ski-chase music in The World Is Not Enough. Convinced yet? Arnold’s finest moment in The World Is Not Enough is the dance oriented boat chase music, an inheritor of the rock motifs Barry used in A View To A Kill and The Living Daylights.

The theme song of The World Is Not Enough has a superior pedigree to the song from A View To A Kill. David Arnold and Don Black created a fantastic song for The World Is Not Enough which was excellently brought to life by Garbage. The problem with this song though was that it died an ignominous death. I never heard it on the radio once, and I live in that small community with a shortage of radio stations called Los Angeles.

Say what you will about Duran Duran’s A View To A Kill, but that song rocked its way to the top of the charts in America. This was the last time that that has happened for a James Bond song. That’s no mean feat. I still hear A View To A Kill on the radio today. How cool is it to have a 007 song be a part of the retro-trendy 1980`s music revival?

Another element that sets A View To A Kill apart is the adrenaline of its action scenes. Need I remind you dear reader that action is what we go to a Bond movie for? You can stuff all the “dramatic” material. The World Is Not Enough had one too many scenes of Renard and Elektra emoting. Max Zorin and May Day did not sit around contemplating the vagaries of the heart. They just got on with the business of megalomania thank you very much.

Back to the action though. You have a ski-chase both in A View To A Kill and The World Is Not Enough. Which one is more memorable? The snowboarding chase in Siberia from A View To A Kill still gets the juices flowing. You need to light a match under my foot to get any response to the ski chase in The World Is Not Enough. The boat chase is the only thing that rocks in The World Is Not Enough. All of the other action sequences have a bloated, self-reverential air that ultimately undoes them.

The choreographed goofiness of the Seine car chase in A View To A Kill has more panache and style than the caviar factory sequence in The World Is Not Enough. These are the kind of things that makes us love Bond movies, not bad CGI effects of helicopter blades. We can forgive all the tacked on drama in the new Bond films but don’t mess with the action.

Summing Up
Let’s face it, A View To A Kill is a superior James Bond film to The World Is Not Enough. Sure it has its faults; an aging Roger Moore, some dubious acting, a slow moving second act, but the film is more than the sum of its parts. On the debit side though, A View To A Kill sets out to be an old fashioned James Bond caper involving a supervillain out to cause havoc for gain. The film makes no pretensions to being “dramatic”, we can watch American Beauty for those kind of thrills, give us a Bond movie please.

I am glad that the Bond series is still around and can be a box-office world beater. On the other hand though, I am saddened that a new Bond film cannot deliver the same type of thrills that films of the past could. Maybe I am growing up, but I know that the next time that A View To A Kill is fired up on video, a frisson of anticipation will shoot down my spine when the John Barry music kicks in on the frozen wasteland of Siberia.

Here’s to you, A View To A Kill. Happy 15th Anniversary!

–Greg Bechtloff is the American representative of The James Bond International Fan Club and Archive.

The Name Is Cranky, Mr. Cranky

(4 bombs) This is the last of the James Bond films to feature the apoplectic Roger Moore as the famed 007. If anything good can be said about the film,it`s that at age 57, Moore`s physical limitations had finally caught up with his acting limitations. There really is a truly spooky synchronicity happening in this film in which Moore manages to both move and emote as little as possible.

The film opens with a skiing sequence in which snowboarding is accompanied by the Beach Boys song “California Girls,” obviously the decision of a music director skunked out on laced weed. After Bond escapes in a styrofoam boat, we get to witness a good hour involving horses, horse racing, and microchips that make them run faster – an entire section of the movie that easily could have been excised given that Max Zorin`s (Christopher Walken) goal is to cause an earthquake and wipe out Silicon Valley. His henchman is played by Grace Jones. One has little idea if James Bond and the rest of the world`s secret agents were scared stiff by her, but certainly the world`s fashion designers must have been running for the hills.

“A View to a Kill” has the ugliest Bond girl in Jones and also the worst actress in Tanya Roberts, who plays a geologist and whose main function is to scream “James” about every five minutes. The rest of her lines are exhaled like an asthma sufferer in the middle of an attack.

Ignoring the non-existant direction, horrible dialogue, and mind-numbing acting, this Bond entry seems most notable for its unbelievable idiotic gadgets. Q`s (Desmond Lleewelyn) favorite toy is the robot from “Short Circuit” whose only role in the film is to catch Moore and Roberts in the shower together. In addition to that, there`s a poison butterfly on a fishing pole – who knows how Grace makes it hit anybody, something that looks like an old credit card swiper that shows James what was written on a check, and an electronic credit card that somehow manages to flip the hinge on an old window. Obviously, Q must have been on vacation prior to this mission.

However, my favorite moments in “A View to a Kill” are when Roberts is running down a hill at the end and Bond yells: “Stacy, behind you!” Next thing you know, Zorin reaches out of the window of his zeppelin and whisks her away. Also, Bond makes Stacy a quiche. Frankly, this Bond is so lame I`m surprised the producers didn`t have him suffer from some sort of erectile dysfunction.

For more of Mr.Cranky`s world famous reviews, visit www.mrcranky.com

The Looking Rough Guide To A View To A Kill

Ian Fleming described the hero of his best-sellers as being in his forties, but fit as a fiddle. Roger Moore possibly fit this description in 1973, but mother nature can have her wicked way with anyone in twelve years and by the time he stepped onto the Bond stage for the last time, it was obvious that the only gadget he wanted was a Ronco Stair Lift.

Things don’t look too promising from the opening seconds, as our hero looks knackered just spinning round in the gun barrel sequence-perhaps the arthritis was already getting to his knees? However, this doesn’t seem to be too much of a problem as he goes on to systematically take on the entire Russian polar force, armed only with a pair of skis and many years of hard won experience. There is a down side to being around this long: everybody starts to recognize you. Even the Russian soldier he pulls off a snow bike shouts: “Aaargh! Roger Moore” as he disappears over a cliff.

Having escaped that little close shave, James retreats to his lavishly appointed submarine/bachelor pad and settles in for a long ride. How the Soviet airforce manages to miss something that looks like a hearse that’s been tarred and feathered we never discover. But at least Rog looks happy to be sitting down at last. For some reason, the British Secret Service have deemed it appropriate for him to be accompanied by a blonde nymphet in a Wilma Deering jumpsuit, and she steers him away from danger. All the controls are at the front, with the exception of a single lever that does nothing other than conveniently shake the sub around a bit. Was this installed at James’ own request? It’s all very well for him to get his nuts in the Arctic Circle, but the rest of us have to sit through the title sequence and marvel at the graphics so crap that Maurice Binder might have nicked them from the bin outside the TRON production office.

By this point in the series, the film proper always starts with a briefing scene in M’s office. Having circumvented the maiden aunt that is Moneypenny-presumably by promising to meet her later on at the bingo-James dares to question the integrity of Maximillian Zorin.

“Zorin?” barks the minister. “Impossible-he’s a leading French industrialist”. Rog is far too much of a gentleman to point out that this should obviously make him the number one suspect in any case-even if he had no connection to it whatsoever-and that’s exactly what he, and half the audience, are thinking. Plainly, he’s having none of it and has already decided he’s got his man. As soon as you see Christopher Walken, you know he’s right. Bleach blond, grinning insanely, accompanied by the muscular figure of Grace Jones in a massive red hat that she only abandons when she has to stare down a rearing horse-this is clearly a man who craves the anonymity required to be a genius megalomaniac. Walken is already chewing scenery and he’s yet to say anything. Rog even manages to uncannily predict the winner. Is this ESP? Gambling skill? Or has he just read more than his own pages for a change?

As it happens, the French take a bit of a kicking in this movie, as James follows a lead to Paris and meets up with the local contact, a detective names Aubergine. Vegetable by name soon becomes vegetable by nature when James is lulled into a coma by the quite spectacularly dull butterfly act and poor Monsieur Aubergine gets a fishhook in his neck. Taking off after the assassin, Rog once again doesn’t look too happy about this running lark and when his quarry starts to ascend the Eiffel Tower, he decides to take the lift instead. Hijacking a car from an outrageously French taxi driver (he’s drinking wine and eating a baguette, for God’s sake! Why not just give him a stripy shirt, beret and string of onions and be done with it?) He proceeds to deal out the sort of punishment to it only previously employed by Edward I to deal with William Wallace. As if this wasn’t enough, jumping out of his quarter car, Bond crashes in on a wedding cake and has to give up the chase as it becomes second priority to dealing with some cleaver-wielding chefs who evidently don’t care how far past its sell-by-date their food (or indeed the joke, for that matter) is. Lucky for him, the whole affair is simply covered by virtue of a massive bribe to the Parisian authorities. I wonder if this film did well in France?

Now, I don’t wish to suggest that Bond’s tactics are predictable, but you’ve got to wonder how many times he can get away with heading straight for the villain, letting him know he’s on to him, and then shagging his bird before someone realizes that all they have to do is kill him when he first arrives. For all his advanced years, Roger still can’t seem to keep it in his trousers, and engages in a little badinage with the lovely Jenny Flex:

“I expect you spend a lot of time in the saddle?”

“Yes, I love an early morning ride.”

“Oh, I’m an early riser myself.”

Initially, it looks like he may have gotten away with his, but a little exhalation from Alison Doody lets you know that hell would freeze over before she grabs granddad.

Still, the old guy packs a lot into a day; a fight with Big Ron Tarr is followed by vigorous sex with Grace Jones, from which he gamely manages to avoid being eaten alive, which is in turn followed by a confrontation with Zorin. Max Zorin is obviously an astute businessman who invests in nothing but the best equipment, as we can see from his state of the art ZX81 which picks Bond out of the KGB files in no time at all. Despite looking more like David Bowie by the second, it soon becomes clear that Zorin’s plan involves rather more than a giant glass spider and a pale blue suit; instead he plans to destroy Silicon Valley and cash in on the world shortage of computer chips by opening sweatshops in Scottish new towns. Well, that last bit was made up, but it’d explain a lot, wouldn’t it?

Offering a deal to the world’s leading computer businessmen, Zorin conveniently outlines his own plans to the audience. Quite apart from the cash to be made, everybody knows that you never turn down a Bond villain-he’ll always throw you out of an aeroplane, or crush you in a car, or feed you to the piranhas.

Whilst all this is going on, Rog is in San Francisco and seems to have no idea whatsoever that this is the AIDS capital of the world, getting it on with dodgily -accented Russian agents that get aroused to the banging sounds of Tchaikovsky (remember that when you send your daughter to ballet classes) and meeting up with the Chinese Detective of the CIA, who in a classic case of missing a golden opportunity, isn’t called Ferix Reiter…

With all this on his plate, why he should want to team up with Stacy Sutton is a mystery that will never be solved. The woman is so wet she should be wearing a sign around her neck that says: ‘No ducking, no diving, no petting and no pushing’. A lot’s been said about Bond cooking quiche in the film, but to me it’s obvious that it’s all part of a clever plan and he’s taking the opportunity to ply her with red wine; unfortunately she keeps her knickers on and he has to keep her alive, despite her frequently achieving vocal tones that only dogs can hear. It’s notable as well that she’s never actually seen eating the thing, only commenting on how wonderful it is. Not surprising as she probably burns the lettuce on a regular basis.

As if that’s not bad enough, when David Yip becomes nothing more than Sherbet Dip, Stacey Sutton graduates to the position of main ally and we have to endure scene after scene of her screaming ineffectually at James to rescue her while he goes off to do something far more important. Every time your hopes are raised, he goes back to get her-he must have misplaced his glasses…

Give her credit, the skank seems indestructible, as she is pulled out of a collapsing, blazing building without her white dress being even slightly singed or blackened, and is immediately plunged into a high speed chase which similarly fails to kill her. Sadly it now seems that James’ mental faculties must also now be brought into question-would you hand the wheel of a speeding fire engine pursued by police cars to someone who quite plainly doesn’t have the necessary HGV license? He doesn’t even switch over the tachometer! He’s a danger to himself…

Having followed Zorin to his secret mine facility, James provides us with another insight into his accelerated decrepitude: Why walk when you can ride? And he misses a tour de force of classic villainy whilst he searches for his bus pass. Zorin cackles maniacally whilst indiscriminately gunning down his own men, before escaping in a massive airship with his name on the side in eight foot high red letters. As if this wasn’t enough, he then decides it would be a good idea to kidnap rather than kill the main witness to his antics. By this point the audience is wondering why Bond hasn’t killed Stacy: this is pushing it just too far.

You’d have thought an airship, no matter how ostentatious-would provide ample opportunity to scamper to safety, but only if you remember not to leave any convenient ropes hanging about. D’oh! Even so, surely no one could hold on over a few miles and several obstacles, unless he was a top secret agent? D’oh! Never mind you can just smash him off the Golden Gate Bridge, no one could survive that, surely? D’oh!

Personally, I’m still pondering over whether or not a slipknot would really hold an airship, but Bond wastes no time in trying to get his bird bad. To Zorin’s credit though: small airship-big balls, as he climbs out onto the bridge and goes after Bond personally with an axe. He may finally have snapped.

This really can’t be much of a surprise-just look at his father figure. Not long after his beloved Max takes the long drop cackling maniacally the older codger magics some TNT out of the fridge and starts waving it about. I am compelled to ask: was this standard behaviour about the house? Did the young Max come back from school to find his dad hiding in a trench he’d dug at the bottom of the garden, occasionally blasting away at passersby? Ten percent genetic, ninety percent environmental. That’s what they say.

As usual with Bond films, the final scenes are played out over a background of cheese factor ten: for a start, the audience had long since forgotten about the robot dog that Q bothered them with at the start of the film. But, having spent more on this that the title sequences and Christopher Walken’s wig combined, Cubby wants his money’s worth.

However, it must have been plain even then that this was to be Rog’s final scene, and no entendres are spared in seeing him off. Moore always had an effortless knack of making the crap line into an art form, transcending the material written by mere mortals to achieve a level of godlike cool that Pierce Brosnan can only dream of. Most actors flounder when they come up against a poor script-Rog simply takes what he’s been given, adds himself to it and immediately makes it entertaining. I couldn’t name too many others that share the ability, not without mentioning the Evil Dead trilogy anyway.

It’s very quiet, but turn up the volume during the final moments and the following exchange becomes audible:

“Where’s the soap?”

“There it is.”

“Oh, I’ve dropped the soap.”

“I’ll get it.”

“That is not the soap.”

This all culminates with a final little chuckle from Rog, leading into the end credits, and that’s your lot. Our hero toddles off to a green leather armchair somewhere, Tanya Roberts limps her way into The Beastmaster and Christopher Walken continues his distinguished film career apace. Life’s like that sometimes.

A VIEW TO A KILL is desperately overlong. It has too many girls, too many sacrificial lambs, too many locations and crucially too many years since its lead was born. It’s the height of Bondian excess, in desperate need of an overhaul and streamlining, and thankfully this was just around the corner. Still, the old warhorse has its moments and I do still have a small soft spot for it somewhere in my heart. Somedays, when life’s just gotten too much for me, all it takes to cheer me up is to remember perhaps the most fantastically delivered line in Bond history. Take it away Chris.

“More. More power!”

And all I can say is more, more power to your elbow Chris. You’re a star.

The Cultural and Commercial Impact of A View To A Kill

Roger Moore`s last Bond film received the usual blitzkreig of merchandise and movie tie-ins around the world. Some of the sponsorship was obvious, some of it beneath the radar. The film`s longest lasting contribution to modern society may have been its impact on the resurgence of snow boarding.

In an article entitled HOT RESURGENCE, by Tom Conroy and Rob Sheffield for the August 20th, 1998 issue of ROLLING STONE, A VIEW TO A KILL is credited with the resurgence of snowboarding. Chris Ernst, founder of California`s Lord of the Boards series, concurred:

The troubles started around 1985, when the James Bond film A View to a Kill featured a Grecian Formula-slickened Roger Moore busting down the slopes on a single plank. Ever since, snowboarding has been jammed down our collective throat and has brought with it such scourges as tongue studs, tattoos, baggy parkas and any number of bad bands. Though no one asked, they`ve begun to rap.

Even musical artists have gotten in on the action. SHADZ of Lingo released the 1994 album A VIEW TO A KILL, while the punk/new wave band “Gob” did a thorougly forgetable 1997 remake of the title song.

The summer of 1985 had Duran Duran claiming the top spot of BILLBOARD`S Top 100 Singles. The song lasted three weeks at the #1 spot, and was the first time a James Bond song had reached #1 in the United States (though other songs came close). Duran Duran fever hit an all time high and James Bond was all the better for it.

Michelin Tires had their products tied into James Bond. Carefully note the brand of tire Bond sucks air from while underwater. Shots of The Michelin Man are also strategically placed in the scene where Tibbett gets the car washed. French car company Renault was giving away a Renault 11 Turbo along with 100 soundtrack cassettes for runners up.

Matchbox Cars released miniature versions of the Roll`s Royce Silver Cloud II as well as the Renault taxi. There was also an Action Pack put together that included a San Francisco Police Car and a Russian helicopter. The Action Pack was never released.

Lone Star Toys produced a gun and holster set to go along with the new movie. The set featured a cap shooting Walther PPK, and shoulder holster and strap. This set was never sold in America.

Chevron got in the act as well. When Bond “protests” Zorin`s oil pumping station, guess which kind of hat he wears? A Chevron Company hat. And when Stacey accidentally swings the fire engine ladder, with Bond on top, into a gas station, guess which gas station got demolished? Chevron.

A View To A Kill was also turned into a videogame for Angelsoft. It originally was published in the fall of 1985, for the IBM, Mac, and Apple IIc platforms and was developed by Bond novelist Raymond Benson.

By today`s standards of Bond cross promotion, A VIEW TO A KILL`s looks anemic. But it had its moment to shine and somewhere

Reviews To A Kill

In today’s Internet era, where everyone who has an opinion about something has a forum in which to share it, opinions on James Bond are a dime a dozen. But in 1985, we the little people, the regular movie going audience, had little choice but to read and accept the opinion of ego deficient cretins (otherwise known as professional film critics). They were the only game in town, they had a stranglehold on print and television media, and boy did they ever use it to throttle the latest James Bond epic: A VIEW TO A KILL! Condemnation of this film was nearly unanimous.

The most bizarre and out-of-left-field critique of the film came from Bond and Beyond: The Political Career of a Popular Hero , written by Tony Bennett and Janet Woolacott. Here, Ms. Woolacott’s strident feminist tendencies and anti-Bond sympathies come to light with this remark: May Day’s death, to put it bluntly, expresses the pious hope that both the women’s and black liberation movements might take themselves off somewhere into the California desert and blow themselves up.”

David Edelstein of The Village Voice took a less abrasive, but no less critical, view of the film: “After the virtuoso opening of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom-which featured Harrison Ford in a tuxedo, and which out-Bonded Bond-how can audiences accept these artless crack-ups and flaccid fisticuffs? Long, long ago, James Bond films had an edge. They were adventure stories told in elegant shorthand-all sleek, ironic, amoral thrills. When Roger Moore lumbered aboard in 1973, they went from the snazziest thrill machines to the flabbiest; they lost their silkiness, their irony and their zip. They went for cheap yucks suddenly-not just bad puns, but slapstick chases and Smokey and the Bandit stuff with sputtering sheriffs….A VIEW TO A KILL is pure tedium.”

Janet Maslin in The New York Times called the film “entirely forgettable” and “less than dynamic”. Janet even managed to get in a few cutting remarks about Roger Moore’s age: “The effort involved in keeping Roger Moore’s 007 impervious to age, changing times or sheer deja-vu seems overwhelming.”

Jack Kroll of Newsweek, May 27 1985. p. 74, said: In his seventh film as James Bond, Roger Moore seems tired out. A VIEW TO A KILL succumbs to all the cliches and conventions associated with its forerunners but lacks the spirit to compete. Hollywood Bond productions have come to sacrifice urbanity for exotic stunts and fast action. With the exception of an ingenious plot idea and the unconventional beauty Grace Jones as the Amazonian May Day, the film comes off as an insipid foil for a couple of brilliant stunt sequences. ….There are shots in A View to a Kill that make your heart go out to Roger Moore. In his seventh movie as James Bond, Rog is looking less like a chap with a license to kill than a gent with an application to retire. Moore is an extremely engaging fellow and an admirable professional, but when he turns on that famous quizzical smile, his facial muscles look as if they’re lifting weights.”

Jet Magazine, June 24 1985. p. 56-8 chose to focus much of its attention on the interracial aspect of the film: “Grace Jones, described as “bizarre, beautiful, masculine, and feminine,” steals the show in her second film, the latest James Bond feature, A VIEW TO A KILL. A former fashion model and disco artist, Jones plays Christopher Walken`s accomplice, May Day. The two plan to destroy Silicon Valley to gain control of the hightech industry. Bond`s mission is to stop them. May Day is a woman who commits murder and makes love with the same degree of passion. The stunning Jones, who designed many of her own costumes for the film, had the chance to display her skills as a kick boxer, as well as her skills as a seductress. Despite the film industry`s traditional caution in dealing with interracial intimacy, Jones transcends race in her passionate scenes with two white men.”

Ralph Novak of People Weekly, June 17 1985. p. 16 said: “James Bond just isn`t what he used to be. Roger Moore, who portrays 007 once again in this film, is fifty-seven. His face shows a few wrinkles and some of the bounce has vanished from his step. The movie`s script appears about as tired as Moore does. A lackluster opening sequence is borrowed almost wholesale from The Spy Who Loved Me, and the film`s main action scene doesn`t measure up to those from other Bond films. Singer Grace Jones turns in a good performance as a villain, but the movie`s other actors don`t help the film any. Tanya Roberts plays Bond`s love interest with a thick New York accent and struggles with any line over three words long. Christopher Walken is a tad too laid-back in his role as the main villain. Maybe it`s time for producer Albert Broccoli to find a young 007, Jr.”

Time, June 10 1985. p. 83 said: “A VIEW TO A KILL is the fourteenth James Bond film, the seventh starring Roger Moore. Written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson and directed by John Glen, the story begins with a familiar ski chase. From there, the plot moves on to pit Bond against villain Christopher Walken who wants to blow up the San Andreas Fault, so Silicon Valley will be swallowed up and he can control the microchip market. Grace Jones plays Bond`s bizarre femme fatale in this stale film.”

Perhaps the most damaging criticism came from none other than Sean Connery himself: “Bond should be played by an actor 35, 33 years old. I’m too old. Roger’s too old, too!”

But audiences had the last laugh. Box office was solid if not spectacular and the grosses were hefty enough that Roger was still a contender for the role when pre-production began on THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS in late 1985. Had he wanted the role, he probably could have held on to it for an inconceivable 8th time, but wisely he chose to resign himself from the running in a letter to Cubby Broccoli in December, 1985.

On The Set: 24 Hours On A View To A Kill

Set on the southern anchorage of the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco`s Vista Point is a perennial tourist spot, but Ned Kopp is not a tourist, and he was not enjoying the view. Kopp, whose company handled the San Francisco logistics for A View to a Kill, was alarmed; the equipment hadn`t arrived at the location. “Well, we`re on a tight schedule,” a considerably calmer Kopp explained later, “a little bit because of weather, and a little bit because of the number of people involved. We had all kinds of maps, schedules, plans – all colour coded, and the people we probably paid the least attention to were the US guys – particularly the locals, San Franciscans, because everybody knows where the Golden Gate Bridge is – I can`t imagine anyone who wouldn`t. “Now the Golden Gate has a south end and a north end, which probably most people know. By the dumbest accident, the equipment ended up on the wrong end. So here`s the whole crew – all the UK guys, everybody who should not know where to be – all in exactly the right place, and more than a small group was at the other parking lot on the north side.” Fortunately, the Golden Gate can be crossed in a matter of minutes, so after a brief scramble, the trucks were directed to the proper site.

In that time, Kopp wasn`t the only one having anxiety attacks: “During that short period of time, the fog was coming in, and the UK people were getting very, very concerned that they were in the wrong place.” Learning fast, he made the incident and object lesson: “That happened to us on the first day, and after that, everybody got maps – even if they said they lived on the Golden Gate Bridge.” For Kopp and Nancy Giebink, who together form the core of Ned Kopp & Co., that was the beginning of a punishing, 21-day, $5 million dollar shooting schedule that saw them working around the clock for the entire shoot. The schedule – including five days of shooting 24 hours a day, with as many as four units filming at the same time – provided ample proof of Murphy`s Law. In addition to signing checks, Kopp and company`s responsibilities lie in the area generally referred to as “below the line” (i.e., variable with time). These assignments include below the line producing and packaging (i.e. the gathering of production personnel, including technicians, location scouts and managers, unit coordinators, etc), plus production management – all invisible to the viewer, but indispensable to the producer and director.

Although A View to a Kill was their first Bond picture, Kopp and Giebink brought formidable credits with them, having recently worked on Shoot the Moon, The Right Stuff, and just having wrapped Birdy, on which Kopp was the associate producer. Speculating on his involvement, he felt the two Alan Parker films (Shoot the Moon and Birdy) may have tipped the scales in his favour since both Parker and Eon Productions (the Bond Production Company) are based at Pinewood Studios outside London. In the fall of 1983, a full year before the San Francisco shooting, Kopp and Giebink held their first meetings with the Bond company. Heavily involved in preparing Birdy – then only two months from the start of production – their schedules didn`t permit a great deal of contact with the UK visitors, leaving much of the location scouting to associates Rory Enke, and Steph Benseman. After a week of scouting, and additional meetings, the Bond team left the Bay Area without having made a firm decision, in part because, at that time, a finished script didn`t even exist. While some general story ideas had been agreed upon, the final screenplay would be tailored to the specific locations selected; as a result, the location scouting took on far greater importance than in most other productions. Many months later, it would have a tremendous effect on Kopp`s work.

Birdy kept them busy well into August, when they moved over to A View to a Kill. Meanwhile, location scouting for the Bond movie continued at various sites around the world, the script remaining changeable. Six months later, a major accident had a huge impact on the San Franciscans` efforts. On June 27 a disastrous fire swept through the Bond sound stage at Pinewood, fed by exploding gas cylinders that had been used to fuel some campfires on a large forest set for Ridley Scott`s Legend, the blaze leveled the structure. Even though the Bond company had not actually planned to use the stage, the repercussions for A View to a Kill were enormous. Because the labor force at Pinewood is a permanent fixture that isn`t normally expanded with freelancers, the workers who otherwise would have been available to the Bond movie were withheld for the completion of Legend. Along with the shortage of labor, the designers now found themselves also confronted with a shortage of stage space of the planning and building of sets, putting a further crimp into the schedule of a picture that still did not have a locked down script.

Just over a month later, with Birdy wrapped, Kopp flew to London for a week of meetings on the Bond picture. Based on the scripts he had been sent and conversations with the principals involved, he had a general idea of the schedule that would be required. “Originally, they were going to shoot in the US and London at the same time,” he said. “They would shoot their first unit in London and they would have a second unit shooting plates, establishing shots, and things here. That second unit would then shoot dialog here with Roger Moore, Tanya Roberts and a few other people, then the principals would go back and the second unit would complete the chase. “So they`d send one foreign crew here, we would then hire another crew – or two, as necessary – and that group would then do everything. “At that time, we were planning on normal days. Normal being maybe 12-hour shoot days with an hour to get there, and an hour to get away – roughly 14 hours. That would be a week or so of first unit and a couple of weeks of second unit – chase stuff. It was about 15 days, and then probably a week or so of plates, backgrounds, pass-bys, and establishing shots – nothing with people, just all pretty pictures of the Bay Area. “That would all start around the end of September and go for three to five weeks. As it turned out, we went three weeks, because we went around the clock.”

Arriving in London in the first week of August, Kopp visited the production in progress. “They were already shooting first unit on the stage at Pinewood, so they`d been building sets for that for about a month or so. They were also shooting in Paris and they were either finishing up or still shooting in Iceland. “As I understand it, they`d started shooting in Iceland before they even had a finished script, but they had to do it, because that was the time of year when the glacier was going to do this, and the snow was going to do that… a lot of things were going to happen that they had to get going on.” Although some script changes were still being made by this time, the story was – more or less – settled, but unlike most projects, Kopp found more information in the storyboards, since they contained the action sequences that would not be changed.

Reading the script and looking at drawings, he realized that his work would play a major part in shaping the picture itself. “When I first read the script it said “a cable car chase,”” he remembered. “Well, the only time you could clear a cable car run – that is, shooting on the tracks – would be once the cable cars closed down. “You wouldn`t have a prayer of going to Muni (S.F. public transit) and saying, “Hi, we want to shoot on a Saturday afternoon, at the height of the tourist season, and we`ll just shut down your cable cars, and we`re going to control them for two or three days.” “But you do have a chance if you go to them and say, “We would like to do a cable car chase. It feels like it`s prestigious for San Francisco, and it`s going to show the cable cars in their best light. It`s going to show San Francisco in a very positive way, and we shoot it after you close down at night, from 12:30-1am to 4:30-5am, in the timespan of four or five hours, and instead of shooting it all in a day or two, we shoot it over three or four nights, do you see any problems with that?” Well, then the resistance is far less than even suggesting shooting it during the day.” Because of the logistics involved, Kopp made it clear that the stunt work – the bulk of the San Francisco shooting – would have to be filmed at night. This then had a “trickle down” effect that limited where the shooting could take place. “At one time – I wasn`t involved in it – Remy Julienne, the French stunt coordinator; Arthur Wooster, the second unit director; and Peter Lamont, the designer, came to San Francisco – on their own – and scouted, and they found places that they really loved for doing the chase. They found Broadway Hill, Divisadero, Filbert – all in Pacific Heights, where the Bullitt chase happened.” In addition to being one of the hilliest areas in San Francisco, Pacific Heights is one of the wealthiest and most established, with wide avenues and stately mansions. “When I went to Paris, and Remy showed me the photos of where they talked about a chase, I said, “well, you won`t have a prayer. We couldn`t possibly use that area. I think we could get you some pass-bys. I think you could get the fire engine coming down some of the hills and some police cars following it, but we`re not going to be able to block that off and tie up the area crashing cars.” “Then they asked when and what we could do, and I said, “we can control this at night, and do that at night…” which immediately ruled out Pacific Heights, because you can`t control it during the day, plus it`s residential, and you can`t be there after ten at night. If you got a waiver of any kind, then you could maybe be there to 10:30 or 11 o`clock – but then you`re dead. The police department stays pretty tight to that curfew – you can`t be in those neighbourhoods before seven in the morning. So as we saw what they said they wanted to do, we then tried to direct them toward the times of day and areas we felt we could clear.”

As scripted, the fire engine-led car chase began near city hall, further supporting the argument for night shooting. “You can never close Market Street (the main thoroughfare through downtown San Francisco),” Kopp explained. “City policy is you can never block streets. But if you go there at 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 o`clock in the morning, the buses are no longer running like they were – there`s one every half-hour or 45 minutes; the taxi-cabs are not busy. There`s much less traffic. “Downtown San Francisco is not a residential area, so if you stay away from the hotels then you can pretty well smash and crash and bang cars all night long and never interfere with the police or the fire department or whatever,” Kopp says. By the middle of September, matters had become so impacted that 24-hour shooting was the only solution. Still feeling the consequences of the fire, the production was forced into shuttling between the stages in London and various international locations just to keep shooting. “They went from Paris to Chantilly,” Kopp explained. “They then went back to London for two weeks, and then they came to the us. While they were in London, they had to shoot those particular sets – and finish with them, so that they could take them down. Then, during the San Francisco shooting, they`d build more sets.”

What made the marathon approach acceptable was that it had little impact on the budget. “These were always separate units,” Kopp said. “Now whether the separate units were in a line, or whether they all happened to be at the same time, 24 hours, didn`t really affect the numbers an awful lot. The day crews shooting the plates were going to cost so much, and the fact that we had a day crew shooting dialog at the same time we had a day crew shooting plates, at the same time we had a night crew shooting chase… all of those were budgeted by themselves, so it really didn`t change the cost.” What it did change, though, was the entire preparation for the movie. “What we did that first week is in effect, three different movies. It would be like you were prepping for three separate, complete, totally different operations. Three different crews, three different packages of equipment, three different cameras – each unit had two or three cameras in their unit, so we had nine to twelve cameras with VistaVision and separate odd pieces of equipment.” But while the budget may not have been affected, the production office, which had been set up in whirlwind fashion in early August, was. (In fact, the Bond office went up in less than two days. Kopp returned from London on a Saturday, joined Giebink and their staff in closing Birdy`s San Jose office on Sunday, and Monday morning they were already answering the Bond phone calls in San Francisco.)

Shooting around the clock meant the production office had to follow suit, as Giebink explained: “To keep the office open 24 hours a day, there were three production coordinators, and one of them would come in at 6 am, and work say, 6-6; the next one would come in around noon – it varied, 10 to noon, and then work `til 10 PM or midnight; and then the night shift would come in around 6 PM and go `til 6 am so that provided office coverage with the most people there during the late day, which is when most of the activity was going on.” Having begun compiling the shooting schedule from the multi-colored screenplay and the storyboards, an even more complete picture began to emerge after they received an early schedule from Waye. This too presented new challenges, for not only was it in a format neither Kopp or Giebink had ever worked with before it also covered the whole movie. “We spent quite a bit of time going through their schedule just trying to pull out of it what pieces were going to be shot over here, because it was for the entire picture,” Giebink related. “So that was a little confused, but eventually we took all the information and started stripping it out, and the way we boarded it was to take the three basic units and keep them on separate schedules.”

Although the Bond movies are noted for their gadgetry, the making of the San Francisco schedule was accomplished in the same manner that has been the backbone of production scheduling for decades: carefully transferring the information – by hand – to thin, colored strips of cardboard and then arranging them on large production boards. But even with the London schedule and the script in hand, Giebink found the storyboards far more useful. “Although we all read the script diligently,” she said, “in the end, all the shooting was based on the `boards. The first unit stuff was based on the script, because very little of that was `boarded out. But the second unit, the aerial unit, and the Golden Gate Bridge unit were all based on the storyboards, and so instead of numbering to the script, like we`d normally do, we numbered everything to the `boards. “Most heads of departments had sets of storyboards, and in a lot of ways it`s really very easy, because you make copies of them and do one frame per page, and you cross them off as you do them, instead of marking the script and keeping track of it that way. It`s almost like shooting a commercial. “Now for the second unit – and the third, aerial and plates – the directors of both of those had very specific shot lists as well. So first the “boards, and that`s how we did all the breakdown and the scheduling, and then the shot lists, which were even more detailed than the storyboards.” No matter how careful the preparation, though, reality has a way of ruining even the very best planning, and given the first unit`s dramatically shortened availability, complications increased. Having a rough idea of the shooting schedule since spring, Kopp now began the laborious task of finalizing dates and locations. “So it`s now the first week or two in September,” he related, “and you go to City Hall, and you start trying to make your arrangements. They are as accommodating as possible, but as careful as possible. And they say, “Okay, you can use City Hall,” then they go and look at their calender, and you find out that the ninth, which is Tuesday, they have a reception in the rotunda for six or eight hundred people, and you`ve got it scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. “”You cannot use City Hall on Tuesday, the ninth.” “”But Mr Moore is only going to be in California for eight days…” “Not only that, the crew is only going to be here for a certain amount of time, and you`ve got that schedule pretty absolute on that Monday and Tuesday, and they say you can`t shoot there on Tuesday. So now you have to move things around. We ended up shooting there on Monday and Wednesday. “Now it also got involved because another location said that we could only shoot there on Sunday – that was the mine over in Marin. Another location said we could only shoot there on Saturday – that was the interior of City Hall. So that took care of those days. Then the only day we could shoot at Japantown was on a Friday, so we really didn`t have a lot of choices as to how we could flop things around on the schedule.”

Even while Kopp stood waiting for the equipment at the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge things were still changing. “The jetty in Richmond was supposed to be later,” Giebink remembered, “but a ship was due to come in, so we had to flop the whole schedule. I think we flopped it the night before we were going to shoot it. That was supposed to be on Wednesday, but we couldn`t have it Wednesday, so we brought it up to Monday, and then moved everything else. It just sort of dominoed back from there.” Shooting with a firm schedule – without room for contingencies – is the cinematic equivalent of working without a net, and it was the cause for more than a small amount of stress. “We could only be at certain places on certain days,” Kopp said. “Had we missed on some of those, had we had a camera malfunction, or an actor`s problem, or something, some of those locations we could not go back to until maybe a week later – which Roger Moore and the first unit couldn`t do. For instance, if we hadn`t finished at the mine on that Sunday, we couldn`t have been back on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday; we`d have had to wait another whole week. “Now that would mean we`d have had to keep all those people here with nothing for them to do for a week, so we had to hire enough crew to make sure we finished. This caused tremendous pressure on John Glen, the director.”

A reflection of how frantic the pace became after shooting began was reflected in the UK crew`s timetable. Arriving from London on a Saturday, their second unit was shooting on Sunday. After a day`s rest, the first unit also began shooting, and Kopp and Giebink now found themselves not only dividing their time between the production office and the locations, but among the crews as well. In general, Kopp stayed with the first unit, while Giebink remained with the third unit (aerials), which was shooting at the same time. With the start of night stuntwork on the third day, the schedule became a full, twenty-four hour circus. After monitoring all the daylight filming, Kopp and Giebink would then make their way out to the second unit, shooting the chase that night. Giebink described their work schedule: “There would sometimes be a period of time from 2 to 4 in the morning when neither Ned nor I were in the office, because maybe one of us was taking a nap, and the other was on the set. Ideally, both of us would be around, because different problems come up, and one set of problems needs him and another set of problems needs me. So there was a period when we were only getting two or three hours of sleep in twenty-four.” Keeping to the frantic schedule, the first unit and cast left San Francisco on a Tuesday afternoon and began shooting on the Pinewood stages the following Monday. Meanwhile, the second unit, which was shooting all the chase footage, was still in the US, facing 12 more nights of San Francisco filming. Still to be shot were the remainder of the City Hall fire, Bond (now a stunt double) hanging from a fire engine ladder and swinging through traffic, the engine being chased among the cable cars, and Bond`s escape by jumping the engine across a drawbridge. “We couldn`t go onto California Street with the cable cars until 1 am,” Giebink explained. “So on those nights, we had to shoot other things, and then do the move. We tried hard to get onto California lots earlier than 1 am but in the end, the schedules couldn`t be changed.

“We had a scheme,” she laughed, “where we were going to hire motorized cable cars and have them run Sacramento Street for the general public, and we could have California street, but the authorities didn`t think that was such a good idea. “That was probably the biggest scheduling restriction: how to get to and from California Street, because you didn`t want to be on the far side of two the night you had to make that move. So we shot around China Basin (about a mile and a half away), and then moved to the cable cars. We did that four nights. It`s a tough move, because you lose – you really lose – a couple of hours.” In other situations, those few hours might not have mattered, but once again; the production was racing the clock. “We could only shoot the cable cars from one in the morning to five in the morning – four hours,” Kopp said. “So that meant we had to find something to shoot at the beginning of the night, for four hours, make our move, somewhere in between there eat, shoot for four hours, and then get off the street before morning traffic started. So we shot other places in town the first part of the night. For instance, we shot up on Potero Hill a little bit – just some pass-bys, and some vistas of the bridge in the background and the fire truck going by, but those are residentials, and you can only be in those areas until ten o`clock at night. So we`d shoot those the first part of the night, then we`d shoot the cable cars. “The choice ended up being: did I want one crew to work an awful lot of overtime, or did I want a couple of crews to work pretty much straight time, and we ended up somewhere in the middle of that split. I had a crew coming in early and going home early, and a crew coming in later and going home late. We had to do that for four nights. The crew saved us; they were fantastic. “Now, not only does that involve personnel, but we had to find additional equipment: lighting, cranes, and cherry pickers. All the same cameras worked and some of the same lights; the same generators worked, because you just unplug them, drag them to the next place and plug them in again. But the lights are way up there on cranes and on roofs. People let us leave lights out on balconies, on fire escapes, and on rooftops, without much concern.”

While all the shooting was being done at night, Kopp and Giebink`s work hours were not significantly reduced. “Even when it was just down to the second unit, shooting nights, we wound up doing the same thing in hours, because a lot of the problems will happen at night, but all their solutions happen in the daytime, during business hours.” Giebink said. “It`s tough to do all your business at 2 o`clock in the morning, so you`ve got to be up during the daytime. “But I don`t think physically you could do that schedule for more than the time we did it. Three or four weeks… it`s pretty tough on you physically.” Kopp agreed, and said that the keys to surviving the ordeal were keeping the wrap date in sight, and having the right people. “I think it`s fairly easy if you can see the end, if it`s going to stop in a week,” he said. “I think it`d be tougher if you think you might have to do that for three or four months, then I`m sure there would be a stress point, or give-up point, or a point where you couldn`t muddle through a plan. “When you have a group of people, you have to be able to yell at those people and have them yell back. And if they – or you – get too nervous because someone`s yelling, you`ve got the wrong group of people. Your success or failure is with each other.” After shooting 21 days and spending $5 million dollars, the production wrapped. While openly admitting that luck played a factor in his company`s success, Kopp was justifiably proud of the job his group had done, and he summed everything up in seven magic words: “We finished on time, and on budget.” Russell Ito is a free lance writer based in San Mateo, California. His other skills include production stills photography.

24Hours On A View To A Kill was reproduced with the expressed written permission of American Cinematographer Magazine. Any further reproduction, transmission or duplication without the consent of American Cinematographer is strictly prohibited. For more information on American Cinematographer, visit their website at: www.cinematographer.com.

In Defense of A View To A Kill (Part 3 of 3)

There`s too much extraneous dialogue in the film`s second half telling us what we don`t need to know, already know, or can see with our own eyes. Does Bond need to tell Pola Ivanova, “Let`s get out of here”? Did Zorin and May Day have to say “out” and “back” to their helpers after stranding Bond and Sutton in the elevator? What would have been lost had it been omitted? The Golden Gate set-piece though brilliant, is probably the worst example, and gets a paragraph to itself later on.

The elevator sequence is hazy and Sutton`s screams are annoying. (I half expected Bond to tell her to shut up.) Yet, Bond climbing down the ladder is a crowd-pleasing moment and possibly the film`s first hint of any real tension precisely because it`s deliberate and drawn-out. John Barry`s music bears just the right mixture of tension and pride. The onlookers clapping are an unusually American touch.

Outside City Hall, the cop asks, “We found this gun. This yours?” “Yes, thanks.” Bond reaches for it, but the Captain pulls it away. Bond is surprised – he looks up – and the Captain says, “Turn around.” Moore is sincere; he doesn`t play it for laughs and actually appears concerned, especially after learning that Chuck Lee is dead. The timing of Bond reaching for the gun and being turned around is perfect, which is why it`s funny; I laughed watching it again to just write this article. The “Wait a minute. This is James Stock of the London Financial Times” “Well actually, Captain, I`m with the British Secret Service. The name is Bond, James Bond.” “Is he?” “Are you?” “Yes,” with just the right pause on Moore`s part is perfect, “And I`m Dick Tracy and you`re still under arrest.” “Is it true what he said back there, about the British Secret Service?” “Yes. I`m afraid it is.” A satirical jab at the British Secret Service. Mocking humour and easy to miss.

The fire truck chase is brilliant, operatic – one of the great Bond set-pieces – all those swirling, intoxicating reds, blues and whites, the light bouncing off everything and that beautiful shot of the smashed Chevron sign and all those loving close-ups. Though I`ve criticized some of John Barry`s cues in the film, the moment the music is introduced at the right moment and it`s exhilarating watching and hearing everything come together – quite literally. The swirling action theme perfectly matches the sequence, which wouldn`t have been as good without it. (The filmmakers were right not to use any at first – it gives the sequence room to develop.)

Like all the great Bond set pieces it keeps developing; the two-cop cars slam into each other, their fenders now locked, and when separated, one of them slams into the fire truck, knocking Bond and the ladder free. Knocking the top off the trailer, revealing the two lovebirds adds to our giddiness, since sex and the action sequences have the same exhilarating, tingling sense of discovery. The sequence gives us the giddy high we expect from Bond films. Bond climbing about on the ladder is fluid, though it`s a world apart from Sean Connery`s Bond, and I can partially see why some have qualms about the sequence without really understanding why they don`t like it. (Bond moaning as the ladder swings around is Bond by way of Woody Allen.)

Comic relief is an important part of any Bond film, and the release of tension as the cars comes skidding down the bridge is clever; notice how the bridge watchman closes his eyes as though the cop car is about to come down on top of him.

The last half-hour of the film is a problem. The film has already gone on too long and feels bloated. The underground mine scenes are haggard, although they play well enough on their own (they`re no worse than the crummy The World Is Not Enough, though that film does have Pierce Brosnan). I`m not sure why, but Moore is especially creaky in the mine scenes – perhaps because it`s a dark, tight enclosure? He doesn`t move particularly well or comfortably – we need a languid Bond, which Moore isn`t. He looks awkward in the mine clothes and Stacey`s footwear is awful (couldn`t she have found sneakers?); so are the designer clothes May Day`s assistants wear DOWN IN THE MINES. Sloppiness of this sort encouraged people to hate the film. Camp has its limits. May Day sees Jenny`s floating dead body and cries out to her; it doesn`t ring true. It`s also sometimes best to trust your actors and not write lines like “Get on, damn it!” It`s over emotive. Simply having her scream “Get on!” is good enough. May Day`s “Booby-trapped” line is badly delivered, and plays like a parody of blacks in old movies.

There are virtues. There`s a beautiful shot of the bomb, like an egg against the sacks, after the clock has ticked down to 1194 (though of course Glen clips it). When May Day lowers Bond into the pit to get the ticking bomb, there`s a beautiful raging, muted fire in the background, like something out of Dante`s Inferno, so enticing. It`s easy to overlook, but positioned just right. When Conley protests, “But May Day and my men!” Zorin replies, “Yeah, a convenient coincidence” – Walken`s line reading and his mannerisms are perfect. Notice also how Scarpine lowers his head as he walks into the shot and hovers around them, ready to knock Conley out, his head down, pretending not to notice. After Zorin turns the bomb switch, his head shakes, anticipating the blast. Zorin machine-guns his own men, impassive at first, then in close-up he`s laughing, and it`s cross-cut with the mine office collapsing, his men being shot in close-up, their jackets bearing red bullet holes, and it`s effective. Scarpine firing the last bullets is like the gag in movies that has the henchman echoing his master`s threats for greater emphasis. In a marvel of timing, Zorin pauses, walks about, looks at his watch, nods his head and says “Good, right on schedule,” and doesn`t give the mass carnage another thought. The way Zorin says “exactly” and embraces Mortner in the dirigible is another small moment that gets lost in the film.

A shot of water rushing through the mines towards the viewer then cut to Bond and May Day, no longer fighting. The shaking tumbles them down into the water. Freeze-frame the shot, if you can, on Bond and May Day`s astonished faces, her mouth open. The shot should have been great but Glen (and his editors) clip it too fast and it`s badly framed. When Bond yells at Stacey in the mines, “Keep going!” May Day`s hateful look would have been better had Glen done a tight close up on her face. Too often Glen`s framing is haggard and imprecise; he primarily used short focal-length lenses and they lack the crispness and immediacy that telephoto lenses offer. (At City Hall, Bond says, “Why don`t you enlighten me… Zorin.” If you look closely Moore`s eye open wide, he`s being sarcastic, but it`s clipped, and it should have been a tight close-up.)

Criticisms that May Day shouldn`t have joined Bond`s side don`t stand up either. Whatever the acting or writing in this scene (“I thought that creep loved me” thuds badly), the decision is logical and inevitable. Oddjob had no reason to switch sides and so therefore didn`t – I`m not even sure he would have even been capable of thinking about it. This is what good writing is about. (Though I`m wary about using that trendy catch phrase.) How would people act under such circumstances? She`s been betrayed, so it`s inevitable that she`d change sides. (I`m not so sure about blowing herself up.) Having gone to bed with Bond lays the groundwork, no pun intended. She`s slept with him – been “intimate” with him, though I`m not sure that`s the right word. These points would register better in a tighter, less overloaded film. Seeing her mourn Jenny explains her motive. Audiences aren`t stupid, well, maybe James Bond audiences are, but for general purposes, most intelligent people will get the point, understand her sudden change without sledge hammering it home. (In a similar vein, compare Bond`s monotonous one-note retaliation in Licence To Kill with Connery`s subdued, matter-of-fact approach in the Diamonds Are Forever pre-credit sequence, which is more believable and artistically superior.) Her final moments are tense, John Barry`s music is appropriate, and her energetic wave, “Get Zorin for is just right.

Her impassive enigmatic expression when she looks up at Zorin in his dirigible just before she blows up is another shot worth freeze-framing. What is her character thinking?

Much has been said against the film and Stacey Sutton that she couldn`t hear or realize that there was a dirigible behind her when she ran across the field to Bond. Apart from how beautifully poetic the scene is – let`s not mince words – fools often use this to prove how bad A View To A Kill is. Given the earth-shattering explosion that just occurred, she`d be hard-pressed to hear her own voice. Any explosion strong enough to knock her off her feet is loud enough to impair her hearing. An ear doctor I spoke to confirmed that under those circumstances her ears would be ringing the Bells of St Mary`s -, which is one up for me. Even if she could hear the dirigible, she`s doing what you`d expect: she`s running away from it. Moreover Stacey DID SEE THE BLIMP. Back your tape up; it occurs in between crosscutting to May Day pulling Bond up from the mineshaft with the ticking bomb.

Play the entire sequence with the volume off and soak in the glorious detail and editing, the horrified facial expressions, the care and sensitivity to detail, which is what cinema should be and what the Bond films are at their best. The entire sequence is great cinema and has the same power and ingenuity as the early 1920`s German expressionist silent films and should be taught in film schools as an example of great mise en scene and editing. Even Walken`s laughs, which are unnecessary and sledgehammer the point home, play well with the volume off (further proving that the sequence was conceived like silent cinema).

The tight shot of her raptured face, cut to her running to Bond, and Barry`s bittersweet music, is a moving human moment. Walken quickly unstrapping himself, staring at Stacey, his mind on one thing only – his eyes don`t blink and notice the hatred in them. Bond`s eyes open wide in panic, he`s running harder, faster, and he`s more tense and life-like than Connery`s Bond. It develops a painful urgency like an unfolding tragedy involving real people. Bond chasing after the blimp, John Barry`s music pushing forward to something momentous, possibly even tragic. It`s intensely operatic, and it`s in these moments that the film develops great weight and power. It`s a treat to watch Moore`s facial expressions in slow motion or even on freeze-frame. In fact, Moore is excellent at showing compassion, fear and anger; Connery would and could look bored, and had little in way of facial expressions.

Part of this sequence`s brilliance is the surfeit of clever directorial touches. Bond grabs onto the mooring rope, but it`s not until the shot of the dirigible coming over the trees like an ominous figure (will it make it over?) that we see Bond hanging on.

The beautiful, establishing shot of Golden Gate bridge is fairly quiet except for background city sounds. It`s a fine example of when not to use music and it`s great preparation for what follows. Zorin laughing, Scarpine concerned, the traffic below, the cap falling off, the cop`s head down, all of this is excellent. The filmmakers are clearly in charge of their material.

The shot of the police officer`s car getting rear-ended, his cap falling off, while Bond flies through the skies is a great human touch. It`s like a symphony in which an earlier, humorous flourish is brought back in support of the finale while contrasting it. It`s the film`s way of saying these are real people: they have lives, they`ll still exist even after the movie has finished, and you never know who you`ll run into – the Bond films should do this more often, though there`s a danger of overdoing unless it`s done subtly.

Much of this sequence should be studied in freeze-frame or slow motion. Study Walken`s excellent facial expressions looking down at Bond dangling onto the mooring rope, as they approach the bridge. “This will hurt him more than me” is great, though his laugh is unnecessary. The lighthearted comment is sufficient. Zorin`s hand flourish just before Bond bangs into the bridge is a great touch; Walken “plays it against the grain”.

The sequence builds inexorably to its powerful climax and has the same intensity that slow motion sequences do in Brian de Palma`s films. The filmmakers are completely in charge of their material, sitting back and toying with us (unlike what`s gone before). They`ve settled down and realize they`re onto something solemn and momentous.

The quiet after the dirigible gets entangled in the bridge is an effective calm before the storm. And like the fight in Stacey`s house, the intro to John Barry`s action theme is exhilarating – the tight close-up on Mortner trying to get out of his seatthen struggling with his seatbelt is excellent – but the main theme is inappropriate and overdone. Imagine how much more powerful the scene would have been without music (it also added a tick-tock regularity to the cargo bay fight, in the next Bond film The Living Daylights, making that sequence tedious). However, the sight of Bond carried through the skies on the mooring rope is one of the moments when John Barry`s score has great feeling and becomes suitably momentous.

There are flaws. Roberts` “James, Jameses” are bad. When she sees Bond across the plain, understandably her character is glad to see him, and it`s realistic enough – but they should have been cut. Zorin doesn`t need to say, “Only seconds away” in the dirigible. WE KNOW! Zorin doesn`t have to say “May Day” when she comes out on the cart with the bomb. We can see it with our own eyes. Bond`s instructions toStacey are also the only real fault in the Golden Gate Bridge set piece: e.g. “Get a foothold”, “Don`t move”, “Are you alright?”. She`s not going anywhere, doesn`t need to be told anything, and her final “James!” with Mortner on the warpath, is dreadful. I assume these lines actually appeared in the script, and were meant to flesh out the scene, but they only mar what could have been perfection. Little things like this do make a difference. Bond`s first line should have been “Stacey! Jump!” and his second, the quip about not finding a cab when you really need one.

However, I sat there on opening night, my back pressed tight in my seat horrified by the height. (Those who talk about the lousy rear-projection conveniently gloss over the even worse rear-projection in the OHMSS ski chase.) There`s much beautiful editing: Stacey leaps, cut to a shot of Bond and Stacey tumbling, cut to her going over the ledge, cut to Bond holding her hand. This resembles editing experiments in early silent and Russian films; it`s what film editing is supposed to be; Eisenstein would have been proud. There are also wonderful human touches. When Walken begins slipping on the pole, trying to get a better grip, barely hanging on, you feel yourself in his position, your own hands slipping against the metal. He smiles, like it`s alright and everything will be okay if he can just get a better grip, but then the sudden realization that it`s not okay and won`t be. Roberts` nervous laughter after Bond`s quip rings true. It`s the surprise people show after something traumatic – they have to laugh because they`re wired.

So why isn`t the film appreciated? (To which I can hear the less bright say, “Because it`s no good?”)

It`s too much of a good thing. The film has enough ideas and action for at least two films. There`s too much ingenuity and it`s exhausting – less can sometimes be more. It`s enthusiastic to a fault. The film has many brilliant sequences – broken up into twenty minute sequences it`s wonderful. It`s more a film to admire than actually enjoy, and it`s easier to take in short twenty-minute segments.

The night I typedthis, TBS ran Octopussy and the differences are instructive. Octopussy is calmer, more relaxed and orderly which explains why it was more popular. AVTAK is strident and overpowering. It has the feel of a film where the people who worked on it enjoyed themselves so much that it communicated itself onto the film.

Time will tell whether AVTAK gets the respect it deserves.

It`s an uphill battle. One obnoxious person said, “It seems to me I have every right to say to whomever, (and I would say it to their face), that if someone prefers “A View to A Kill” as a James Bond movie over “From Russia With Love”, then they know NOTHING of the world of James Bond.” (I`d argue that anybody who thinks Tom Mankiewicz directed Bond films knows nothing about the world of James Bond.)

I remember somebody who smoked ersatz American cigars telling me that when he finally got to smoke the real thing – Cuban cigars – he was disappointed. He had gotten so used to the imitation that the real thing did nothing for him. Something similar is at work here. The brand of seriousness Timothy Dalton`s Bond represents is the ham-fisted variety that the one-dimensional can digest. True seriousness, a Saul Bellow or a Patrick White novel (which in fact are quite light and not at all “serious”) are beyond them. They misguidedly believe that serious means quality, and that lightness or flippancy means a lack thereof. This is a middlebrow conceit. Perhaps because Bond is fluff, they overcompensate in the opposite direction and try to be overly-serious (one pretentious 007 website has cornered the market on people quoting Shakespeare – pretending that we don`t realize that of course they had to look it up – or invoking his name to sound more intelligent.) This must be avoided. Notice the smugness about those who prefer Timothy Dalton as Bond – and yes, they are smug – because he`s serious, which somehow means they`re more serious. Well, no. It doesn`t work that way. Then consider those who pat themselves on the back for preferring Timothy Dalton, would have us believe that Raymond Benson writes well or that Robert Ludlum is a serious writer. Water rises to its own level.

Whether people enjoy a film, or a book, depends on the work being cohesive, on all the pieces fitting together. If the pieces don`t fit together because viewers can`t see or appreciate them, or the pieces are too subtle, or even because the film is flawed or too rich, then it won`t work for them. This isn`t a problem with simple flat films like Dr No, From Russia With Love or The Living Daylights, which admittedly do have the hard edge that AVTAK lacks. I think something similar is a factor with the dreadful TWINE, which is sloppy and crude, and partly explains the acquaintance who turned back to ersatz American cigars.

As for AVTAK, only time will tell.

In Defense of A View To A Kill (Part 2 of 3)

The French estate scenes, especially the chateau-garden reception, are wonderful and the film suddenly becomes an intelligently satirical French comedy, which admittedly amplifies the film`s light-hearted, non-suspenseful feel. Much of the film`s first half has a delightful, light, sparkling, bubbly quality – which was bound to annoy Bond groupies and did. I can see why this wouldn`t necessarily be popular, since Bond types aren`t exactly known for attending Francois Truffaut film festivals. Bond meets Enchanted April. I criticize the film`s pell-mell pacing and editing, but here it`s perfect and measured.

The chateau-gardens reception is a delightful set-piece – among the series` best non-action sequences – it flows beautifully and is near perfect, marred only by a You Only Live Twice gadget pulled out of nowhere that increasingly reminds me of Leslie Nielsen`s film spoofs. Though seemingly light, the upper class lifestyle`s decadence is readily apparent. Moore often delivered stiff line-readings, but here he`s fluid and you sense he enjoyed himself; the dialogue is casual and life-like. Bond talks about his dotty old aunt, and it could very well have been improvised. The beautiful shot of Bond and Stacey on the bridge, with rowboats in the distance, is beautifully framed and it could have inspired any number of 19th century French painters; I suspect such points go unnoticed when “fans”, a term I use reluctantly, dismiss the even greater Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies as wall-to-wall action for the MTV set with no character scenes or depth – an absolute lie – or praise the crummy, graceless The World Is Not Enough which was badly photographed though I seem to have been the only person who noticed.

The exposition between Bond and Conley is perfectly handled and written. Plot details, such as the cheque and “Main Strike all set?” are nicely set up. There are other nice details: Walken`s seemingly jokey persona as he accompanies Stacey, while Bond and Tibbett watch from their balcony (John Barry`s music cue is nice, but it`s never heard again and doesn`t appear on the soundtrack). Moore`s hesitant, ingratiating smile after Mortner catches him coming out of the building. Bond snapping pictures has an edge to it and is subtle. Conley yelling, “Hi ya doc!” and Mortner`s cautious, formal reaction tells us exactly what the two think about each other without it being spelled out. And Mortner tripping over Bond`s cover name is just right for it to ring true.

When Mortner explains, “My principles apply equally to human beings” this isn`t a performance, it`s a real person, quietly proud. Walken deadpans about the “16th century duke who thought he`d be reincarnated as a horse” and it rolls off his tongue like he`s delivered that same speech before. The camera pans with Stacey, which is skilful direction, though when it cuts back to Moore, he`s looking too far over. Only his eyes should have flicked back. We`d have gotten the point. (You half-wonder why Zorin doesn`t look over his own shoulder to see what distracted Bond).

However Christopher Walken`s performance is uneven, and he`s too subdued. He`s not right for the film, which needed a boisterous actor. (Imagine if Jeroen Krabbe from The Living Daylights had played Zorin.) It`s been said that Walken`s performance would have worked better had Timothy Dalton played Bond in this film – a fair and valid argument: Dalton overacting, Walken underacting. Those who`ve seen Walken in the great film The Dogs Of War from Frederick Forsyth`s novel realize Walken`s talent is very much introspective, which isn`t completely at home in a Bond film. He has some great moments but they get lost in the melee – he needed a quieter film for his performance to completely work. When they can`t find Bond in his bedroom, he tells May Day “We must find him,” and he sounds like Peter Lorre. In a marvel of timing, after he machine-guns his men, he pauses, walks about, looks at his watch, and says “Good, right on schedule.”

He also has a wonderfully sleazy quality. He eyes Bond and runs his tongue around his lower teeth, while Bond goes on about “his dotty old aunt.” Zorin is like the kid from the Bronx made good who still eats with his mouth open. He tells Bond, “I`m neglecting my other guests, enjoy yourself, you`ll find the young ladies stimulating company”, and it`s a wonderful brush-off.

Walken is at his worst when he tries getting into the comic-book spirit of things. After the fixed horse race, he smugly brays, “You amuse me, Mr. Bond,” and it`s ungainly. His scene with General Gogol is awkward and almost embarrassing as though he doesn`t want to be in the film. His performance becomes unsteady, and he plays the scene broadly. His tendency to laugh is a mistake – when all he has to do is smile. During the Golden Gate Bridge lead-up he says, “This will hurt him more than me.” A nice touch, but the laugh is unnecessary. We get the point. His wonderfully wide insincere grin, when he says, “I`m happiest in the saddle” is great, but it`s marred by the laugh.

I discuss Tanya Roberts` performance in detail elsewhere, but occasionally when she seems weak, the fault lay elsewhere. The chateau-bridge scene is especially awkward, not because of Moore or Roberts, but because they seem to be performing in step with the Vivaldi music (Sutton`s archness works when you filter it through that prancing Vivaldi tune). John Barry`s music is incongruous and sledgehammers the point home – except for the cutaway to Walken and Jones, where the music has real feeling. Walken turns wonderfully sleazy, and it`s possibly his strongest moment. Zorin sees Bond chatting Stacey up on the chateau bridge; he takes May Day aside, by the arm, out of earshot, with Scarpine looking on: “Get her away from him.” The venom drips from each word – it`s from the heart. The rejection is real, which is probably why it`s such a strong moment and has always affected me. It`s a human moment. (At its best, despite it`s outre trappings, AVTAK has many human touches.)

AVTAK is often compared unfavourably to The Living Daylights. Vivaldi`s Four Seasons – which I don`t really care for – is sparkling and crisp. That deadweight The Living Daylights features the first movement from Mozart`s 40th Symphony (g minor), one of the great symphonic movements, and it dies on the screen. (It`s the orchestra scene immediately after the credits, before Koskov`s defection. Somehow I suspect most people won`t know this unless I mention it.)

Sharp satirical gags appear throughout: Bond, pointing to what he thinks are the stables, says to Scarpine: “Is that it?” “No, those are the servant`s quarters.” Moore`s rapid-fire delivery is excellent acting: “Oh there you are Tibbett, I wish you wouldn`t keep wandering off, there`s a good chap.” “I`m sorry, sir.” Scarpine: “Your driver may stay the night in the servant`s quarters.” “I`m sure that will be more than adequate for him. (turning) What do you say Tibbett?” Look closely at Moore`s throwaway gesture with his hand, his backwards glance at Scarpine, and his raised eyebrows. Moore`s handling of this material dispels a) that he was a bad actor, and b) that Timothy Dalton was better. Dalton would have killed the scene, unable to mimic Moore`s perfect rapid-fire delivery. (Imagine the scene being rehearsed and pretend you`re Moore given the scene to read and deciding how to play it.) Moore, in fact, gives one of his best performances; notice his sidelong grin when he says, “When you`re ready, Tibbett.” His eyes are perfect. Zorin`s computer says Bond is “EXTREMELY DANGEROUS”, an interesting perspective of Bond from the villain`s point of view, especially given Bond`s peculiar grin in the computer photo. (Earlier during M`s briefing scene, Q complains “If you ever bothered to read any memos” shaking his head as though answering for Bond. M`s straight-faced remark “You have exactly 35 minutes to get properly dressed,” and Bond`s reaction, like many other comic moments throughout the film, is played straight.)

The film`s comic timing is also frequently brilliant. Zorin asks Bond how he slept, and Bond quips, “A little restless, but I got off eventually”, Walken`s lack of a response is perfect (he simply nods, not caring about an answer, and motions for Bond to sit). After their laboratory sojourn, Bond tells Tibbett, “We better get back. The tape ran out five minutes ago. Good night.” (These kinds of lines Timothy Dalton killed dead. Moore, unlike Dalton, has the ability to deliver a funny line with the utmost seriousness and sincerity, which makes it funnier.) Or, when Tibbett brings Bond`s baggage into his room, Bond says, “Here, let me help you.” Bond takes the umbrella and Tibbett replies, “Oh thank you sir.” The point is later recapitulated when Bond asks Stacey to give him a hand with the Zorin truck driver he`s just knocked out and she takes the man`s hardhat.

Moore is vibrant and bubbly (perhaps too much so – his smile is occasionally bizarre), and in fine spirits. He`s extremely comfortable and his performance at times is surprisingly fluid (especially compared to Timothy Dalton`s). Except for some weak lines, he gives one of his best performances as Bond and fits the role like a glove. He seems to be having fun (though he hated the film). Compare how tired and haggard he was in For Your Eyes Only. Yet he becomes suitably serious after the film moves to San Francisco – appropriate given that Tibbett has been killed and what should have been an easy mission nearly cost him his life. His constant overworked smile is gone (until the journalist scene). If Moore`s performance can be faulted in one respect, it`s that at times he appears to be playing a well-paid actor enjoying himself on a film set. Occasionally he shows his age, and unfortunately, it`s these moments we remember.

The film is also overloaded and presumably the filmmakers didn`t want it running past 130 minutes. Bond`s fight with Zorin`s guards in the storehouse is unnecessary; it`s not even good and should have been cut so that we aren`t hit over the head with one action sequence after another. The horse race is good enough, despite weak rear-projection, but it feels soggy, less than it should be because of how it`s situated in the film. The dialogue between Bond and Zorin immediately afterwards is forced. There are still great touches: after Bond learns the horse`s name, he practically pivots his eyes on Zorin and he doesn`t even blink. And Bond smooching the tire is ingenious.

There are also moments that aren`t quite what they could have been: During the karate lesson, May Day`s hand comes into shot, then her face. She tells him to keep his guard up higher, and he gets up and bows, and it`s clipped. It`s a character-driven moment, but it barely registers. During their brief tussle May Day struggles like a wild animal; in a different film, where things developed calmly this could have been a fascinating sub-plot, but little is done with it. May Day becomes anxious while Zorin debates whether or not to answer the ringing telephone. He pulls away, her animal longings evident (hence the ease with which Bond gets her into bed). It`s symptomatic of the film`s problem: it`s too rushed. Glen seems to be his own worst enemy and clips shots and scenes too fast. He doesn`t know how to wait. In a nice shot, we see her reflection in mirror and then she walks in front of the camera, Zorin`s eyes tagging along with her, but the film is too impacted for such joys to be appreciated. (It`s like the gag about seeing an art gallery on roller-skates.)

May Day`s reaction when she finds Bond in her bed is a kind of a “Let me think about it” gliding glance and it`s nice; she`ll do it despite her better judgement. (How does Bond know where her room is? He saw May Day go in into it when Jenny Flex showed him to his suite.) At the Chateau reception, Bond follows Stacey and Zorin and almost walks into May Day. She glares at him, then points for him to turn around. She can`t take her eyes off him even while turning away slowly – she`s on the verge of remembering where she saw him before. Zorin kisses her hand, but she doesn`t respond, instead, she just stares at the sunken Rolls Royce with Bond trapped inside. It`s a nice touch, but like too much in the film it`s clipped too fast. (Her last shot is enigmatic and I discuss it in further detail in the mine/Golden Gate section.) During the chateau reception, May Day intervenes just as Bond is about to snap Stacey`s picture. Like much of what`s right in the film, it`s subtle.

As much as I admire John Barry`s music – his soundtracks are among the closet things we have to classical music being written today, and the soundtrack works quite well as a symphonic suite – it doesn`t always work in the film. Too often he lays it on thick. The score is bombastic and certain cues sledgehammer points home the scenes themselves have already made. The briefing scene in M`s office, Bond and Stacey on the bridge at the chateau reception, the fight in Stacey`s house, and possibly the ticking clock in the mine finale; all would have been better without Barry`s music, and I suspect it makes the film feel even more bloated than it already is. Tibbett`s death is suspenseful, but would have been better without music – especially on repeat viewings. The score screams out at us, This is a climatic moment, you`re supposed to feel tension. (It`s like a child who can`t eat anything without ketchup on it.) It only fits when it cuts to Bond and Zorin on the track, and that`s because Moore plays it light (“A little spirited, what`s his name?”). Imagine how bizarre it would have been without music, only background traffic noise, a la Hitchcock anticipating Tibbett`s death amidst tranquillity. Silence is golden.

AVTAK is oftencompared to Goldfinger, though I don`t understand how anybody can claim it`s a remake. (There are more similarities to Octopussy.) The boardroom scene on the dirigible is the closet link and it`s a good scene, but once again John Barry`s music is unnecessary since it sledgehammers the point home until Zorin and May Day look out at the Golden Gate Bridge.

The Taiwanese businessman who “drops out” is one of several spirited performers: “I want no part of it, thank you,” he says calmly. His head jerks up when Zorin says “confidential” and his eyes dart to and fro when Zorin asks him if he would wait outside. The look of good-faith in his eyes, and the business-like “Thank you,” brushing past the man clearing his throat are small pleasures that would have been more noticeable in a calmer, less jam-packed film. Zorin tells the dissenting businessman, “If you wish. Hmmm,” turning his head like he can`t understand why anybody would pass up the chance of a lifetime. May Day puts on glasses and it`s like the sun is about to appear. The descending staircase is imaginative, and in another small pleasure, Walken winks when May Day reenters the boardroom. “So does anybody else want to drop out?”

The transition from France to San Francisco is awkward; it doesn`t flow, nor is it causal. The horse-racing subplot doesn`t relate to the rest of the film, and the Russian subplot is poorly integrated, as though it was included at the last minute only because it worked so well in Octopussy. (Likewise, the film`s ending, where General Gogol, inexplicably, awards Bond a Russian medal, is indefensible.) Walken`s scene with General Gogol is weak. He`s diffident, where quiet tension would have worked. He can`t find the centre of his performance. It`s a bad scene. Scarpine, grinning, holding the gun, is the only nice detail. It`s the only time we see the character genuinely happy.

The film`s third quarter is awkwardly plotted and reminds me of Moonraker`s third quarter, but without that film`s connect-the-dots plotting. The oil rig set piece could have just as easily occurred after Bond follows Stacey home (in fact, I couldn`t for the life of me remember exactly which sequence it followed and had to double-check). It feels shoehorned, and the story progression is compressed. It introduces new characters, reminds us of the unnecessary Russian sub-plot, and the oilrig never reappears – the entire sequence could have been dropped (if I remember correctly, Judy Alexander`s children`s storybook based on the film omitted it.) Apparently, in a scene that was cut, Bond interviewed a fisherman on a boat. I suspect had it been kept, this part of the film would have played better and eased away the set-piece feel. Because the film is so compacted, viewers might not even realize until after multiple viewings that Gogol`s car follows Bond and Pola from the oil rig. There`s a nice visual touch: the Russian is sacrificed and the pump pressure falters as the valve chops him up.

Yet Stacey and the cheque plot-point is well set-up and developed. Her motives for not cashing it – which prevents Bond from finding her – ring true and are ingenious. The plot information overheard at the chateau reception is a marvel of exposition. And the chateau scenes themselves flow nicely.

Stacey Sutton is often criticized, despite being one of the best-written women in the series. Her background and current plight is excellent writing.

The fight scene in Stacey`s house is excellent, unfortunately John Barry`s bombastic music during the actual fighting section doesn`t fit. The intro is exciting and exhilarating and the portions in 3/4 time which work well should have been a clue how rhythmical the scene was to begin with. Watch it with the volume off. There are great touches, some easily overlooked: Bond`s buoyant somersault along the upper hall, accompanied by John Barry`s exciting music, and seconds later he jumps over the railing. Elsewhere, Stacey opens her upper window, and Bond hesitates, watching from offside, and it`s an effective throwaway moment. The tension increases after she`s threatens to call the police: Bond threatens to tell them about the five million-dollar payoff.

Except for the bad “stooge” line, Tanya Roberts does well in these scenes. Her performance received much bad press, and though her acting is uneven, she has some good moments. Her performance is a bit stiff, but Bond films don`t feature great female performances. She moves well, her facial expressions are good, she`s attractive to look at, and her calmer line readings are accomplished so she does well enough, though she and Roger Moore make an awkward couple, given Moore`s age and her little-girl voice, which is also a bit scratchy and hampers her line-readings. We don`t really believe that she`s a geologist and unfortunately the script saddles her with too much exposition. The part needed an actress who could communicate a kind of manic delight telling people about palaeotological rocks or for whom delivering dry information was a turn-on. Her “James, Jameses” are cringeworthy – especially in the elevator shaft and during the finale, though Diana Rigg`s in OHMSS were just as bad (Rigg`s strident English accent didn`t help). They could and should have been cut in post-production; little things do sometimes make a difference and this is probably her biggest flaw in the film.

Nonetheless, during the mine finale, she deciphers the San Andreas Fault map for Bond; her eyes don`t blink once and she`s intense. On the chateau-bridge, her defensive smile and the downcast eyes indicate that Bond should take the glass back from her. She turns the fire truck`s siren on, and her relaxed, off-kilter shrug is congenial; evens her “Jameses” during the chase are tolerable and work.

John Glen makes interesting directorial choices Occasionally he`s trying to be American. Benzali yells at Roberts from behind closed doors; she runs out, the door opens, Bond says, “What happened?” having been reading a newspaper – another subtle touch. The black secretary looking out at them closes the door. This could have been done in close-ups but Glen was clever. A nice human touch: she drops her papers, and Bond helps her pick them up, telling her to calm down. He doesn`t believe the sincerity in his own voice, but it`s all he can do, like a parent reassuring a child. “Maybe, just maybe, he`ll come up with a few answers.” The elevator door opens, he says “Here” and ushers her in, just as apprehensive. It`s life-like. I`m sure most of us have been in similar crises situations where a person did exactly what Moore does here. We feel worse for Bond because he shoulders the brunt of it.

Daniel Benzali plays Commissioner Howe and his performance is a small pleasure (he also appeared in the television series <i>Murder One</i>). His first scene is well written (both his scenes are) – it`s excellent exposition, and rings true: Benzali`s buffoonish grin and Moore`s wide-eyed smile perfectly capture how artificial journalism is. They both know they`re going through the motions, but go along anyway. (I suspect it`s too rich and satirical for Bond groupies.) Benzali`s scene with Tanya Roberts is worth studying for his impatience, Stacey being a drain on his time, his left hand extended, his “what is it now?” demeanor. After Bond tells him that he`s being used, his brown eyes flit back and forth unsure what`s really going on. His final line to Zorin: “But that means… I would have to be…”, then he`s shot – his close-eyed smile after he`s shot is typical of the details the film offers. Zorin`s line, “Intuitive improvisation is the secret of genius”, is great writing. Think the line through! This kind of line deserves to be quoted and remembered, and would be, in a calmer, sturdier film. I`m surprised self-help business seminars haven`t swiped it yet. Bond`s comment “Herr Doctor Mortner would be proud of his creation,” catches Zorin off guard. He nods, mulls it over and it`s a nice touch and fine acting. The line, “Don`t bother, Stacey, he`s a psychopath,” is childish. Moore does his best with it. His voice dies out at the end of the word, like it`s not even worth completing. Stacey`s line about “You can take your offer-” is bad. Was Zorin supposed to feel ashamed?

To be continued….

PREVIEW: In this series third installment, Nick Kincaid has harsh words for pseudo-intellectual Bond “fans” who would so easily dismiss A View To A Kill as pulp film-making.

In Defense of A View To A Kill (Part 1 of 3)

A View To A Kill is underrated. There`s no other way to put it. The time is right for a reappraisal. So why has it taken this long?

Reappraisals aren`t unheard of inthe Bond series. On Her Majesty`s Secret Service is probably the most famous instance, and it`s now regarded as one of the best Bond films. So why not A View To A Kill?

I admit it`s flawed. It`s overloaded and at times careless. The filmmakers seem to have been in a rush to pack as much into the film as possible, and then some. It`s an incredibly busy film, which is both a virtue and a flaw. It`s ambitious and unusually complicated in more ways than just the story. The filmmakers were trying something new so anything less than a sequence-by-sequence analysis does the film less than full justice.

The film opens on the Russian helicopter zig-zagging like a bumblebee. A great human touch follows – probably overlooked – backed up by John Barry`s sensitive, pain-ridden flute music: Bond opens a heart-shaped pendant and sees a photo of the dead man`s wife – girlfriend? – and baby. A throwaway moment, but crucial in Bond films. Bond flips the picture over and you can still see the woman and child`s image from behind, a subtle reminder that though 003 is dead, they live on, their grief is real. (Such touches prove that the Bond filmmakers are incredibly intelligent.) The microchip holds them down, a clever reminder of what took 003 from them. (It`s nice that the filmmakers had Bond bring the pendant back on board the submersible, but its dramatic weight is lost on Bond.) This is what people should look for in Bond films. Not whether he has his back to a window in Tomorrow Never Dies, an asinine, pointless observation.

The opening ski chase is great – perhaps the best in the series? New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael complained that the stunts were too crowded and didn`t give us the time to get that giddy tingle Bond stunts normally give us, and I felt that way about the ski-chase, but perhaps this is a clue to its superiority. Being so compressed, it stands the test of time like any great, complex work. It throws so much up at us that repeat viewings are required.

The great action theme by John Barry is very reminiscent of his OHMSS title song. If not as innovative, this version is more stylish, as befitting an older composer. The beautiful photography, those enticing colours, the intoxicating reds, blues, and whites are gorgeous and special. The Beach Boys music is just right – Bond is meant to be humorous; I`ve never understood why the 60`s Bond cultists get so uptight about broad humour in the series. There are other great touches: Bond`s unintentional somersault after he skis down a steep cliff; he hops on the skidoo, kicking off his one remaining ski; he steps off the makeshift surfboard and has to keep running; and after the fun and games, there`s that beautiful, menacing shot of the helicopter, this time gliding steadily through the air after Bond, with its single-minded purpose – cat and mouse – supported by John Barry`s driving music. The helicopter swirls through the air, spewing pinkish smoke, and, after it`s crashed, the shot of the raging black-tinged fire against the seemingly dirty snow and alps is intoxicating.

Maurice Binder`s credits feature wonderful neon images, and it`s one of his best. Alan Hume and Binder get beautiful accompanying images during their credits: that beautiful shot of people skiing down the mountain, the man flipping head over heals, the woman turning delicately, and the couple doing a slow motion synchronized twirl (unfortunately the return to regular motion is jerky). It`s beautiful, especially since it occurs during a heartfelt part of the song. I`m surprised that at least two books (Kiss-Kiss-Bang-Bang and The Bond Files) hated it. They`re wrong, of course. 🙂

Richard Maibaum and Michael Wilson`s script is both deft and annoying. Parts don`t connect. Bond is supposed to find out how Zorin`s anti-pulse computer chip wound up in Siberia, yet he investigates Zorin`s horses. (A link suggesting the two were somehow related would have helped. “003 had been investigating Zorin`s horses and the trail took him to Siberia.”) The plot twist – a double catalyst, quite common in the Maibaum/Wilson collaborations – is shoe-horned and doesn`t flow. The horse sub-plot doesn`t add up, but it`s an appropriate homage to Fleming`s novels (by way of John Gardner`s Licence Renewed). Like Fleming`s villains, Zorin cheats without any real motive, except his love of winning (how much money could a multi-millionaire make winning races?). When Zorin races Bond, there`s no real advantage; he intends to capture and kill Bond anyway. He cheats just for the sake of cheating.

The Ascot horse scene is visually delightful and the timing is razor-sharp, though perhaps it`s too precise and wears the audience down (Pauline Kael said something similar about the single-shot opening in Brian de Palma`s film The Bonfire Of The Vanities – another underrated film). The film is visually inventive: Moneypenny shouts at the horses: “Move your a–” then turning, asking about one of the horses, the camera pans to Bond and M who are faced the wrong way. Fast on the heels is another ingenious detail that most people probably overlook. Look behind M when he tells Bond that Zorin “speaks at least five languages”. The woman behind them looks around, wondering what they`re going on about, concerned she`s missing something, then deciding it`s nothing, turns back – the timing is perfect, the placement delicate, as though the director John Glen is saying, “Look, if you catch this, good for you, but if you don`t, no big loss.” The dialogue here, and in the following chateau scene, is perfect and casual enough to have an air of being improvised: “Who`s there with him under the hat, in the red dress?”

Elsewhere I discuss the insect motif tying the various strands together in the visually inventive Eiffel Tower sequence, but there are other gems. Aubergine: “I`m pleased you approve since you`re paying the bill.” He looks up and around as the waiter walks around him. Flighty as ever, Aubergine nods his head at the dancing butterflies, his head back, emphasizing his double-chin, struggling to focus on anything that close. “Perhaps we should add this butterfly to our collection, non?” Bond`s reaction, his polite smile, is skilled acting. Bond and Moore`s intelligence shine. May Day knocks the other black-sheathed person out. The butterfly girl, in the middle of her routine, looks over – her posture the epitome of professional confusion – half her mind is still on her routine (you`ll have to freeze-frame on her to fully appreciate this) – while Aubergine blathers on oblivious to his impending doom. (I can`t imagine anything that complicated or busy in The Living Daylights.) The photography inside the restaurant, and the chateau scenes are sumptuous and the last touch of real Bondian elegance until Pierce Brosnan and Tomorrow Never Dies. Peter Lamont isn`t my favourite Bond production designer – what is it with all those sculpted heads? – but his work here is perfect and it`s one of the best designed Bond films. (Trivia note: the music heard during the Eiffel Tower establishing shot comes from John Barry`s score for his 1984 film Until September.)

Pauline Kael complained that the stunts were too crowded, but that`s partially why the brilliant car chase works so well. Each shot has a new piece of information; compare it to the slightly limp pre-credit chase in The Living Daylights, which consists of the same shot over and over, back and forth. The gliding, graceful, practically slow-motion shot of the car driving onto the ramp, flying onto the bus, then off onto the ground, contrasts perfectly with that brutal smash cut as the pole shears the car`s top off. Though easily overlooked, that shot of Moore, grimacing and ducking in his seat tops it off. It`s obvious when the stuntman doubles for Moore – it verges on parody – especially immediately before and after the car is shorn in half (Moore`s eyes open in shock anticipating it, then he closes them and braces himself – this is excellent and without which, the stunt would have been impersonal) but the film is photographed in sharp clear colours. After Octopussy, shot in oily, washed-out colours, AVTAK is one of the best looking in the series. The gorgeous ski-chase, the Paris cafe and estate scenes, San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge fight are especially appealing; the film has some of the best location sense of the entire series. Only towards the end, down in the mine, does the film look hazy. I criticize John Barry`s action cues elsewhere, but here the Bond theme and the dixieland version of the theme song have just the right playful touch.

A View To . . . A View To A Kill’s Premiere

They started gathering at the dome of San Francisco’s famed Palace of Fine Arts early in the afternoon on May 22, 1985. By six o’clock–the planned beginning to the end of then Mayor Diane Feinstein’s officially proclaimed “James Bond Day”–hundreds were pressed against police barricades, many even spilling onto the access ramp of the Golden Gate Bridge. While they came in every size and shape, all had come to witness an event major even by California standards: The opening of A View to a Kill, the first 007 film in history to break with tradition by premiering outside London.

Scheduled to start at seven, the film was preceded by a ninety-minute champagne reception benefitting the Mayor’s Youth Fund. Champagne–offered from sterling trays by white-jacketed waiters– was not alone on the menu, naturally; no less than four open bars were equally spaced about the reception hall while mylar “hills” crowned by silver, helium-filled stars erupted from the floor, each covered in exotic cheeses, sliced fruit, imported crackers, or shrimp cocktail. The largest and center-most of these hills bore an ‘80s City favorite: Gourmet popcorn. Guests preferring something more substantial could take their pick from the buffets adjacent to each bar or from the hibachi staffed by kimono-clad chefs just off room-center. Grouped throughout the room were café tables draped in red (matching the hall itself), surrounded by white, slat-seat folding chairs.

Sharply contrasting the decor were free-standing posters and stills randomly distributed around the room as well as scatterings of Sharper Image catalogs and Whopper and Skittles candy dispensers, these three featuring …View…-based tie-ins or contests. Also on display–near the massive (and all too warm for May, even in San Francisco) stonework fireplace: A mountain of Bollinger, ranging from simple splits at the base to a massive Nebuchadnezzar at the top.

Dispersed throughout, of course, were the guests themselves. Clad primarily in classic black-tie or nostalgic prom gowns (neither worn exclusively by either sex; this was, after all, San Francisco), the crowd was surprisingly young, spurred, no doubt, by the presence of Duran Duran members John Taylor and–no relation–Andy Taylor

While the Fab Five performers were the evening’s biggest hit–their slightest action eliciting near-hysterical screams–they were not the only celebrities present, of course. Because he was easily recognized, newspapers the following day would report that former Avengers star Patrick MacNee was the first to arrive. Bond aficionados knew, however, that producer Albert R. Broccoli, step-son Michael G. Wilson, and screenwriter Richard Maibaum had been in attendance for some time. They were followed in quick succession by mammoth Walter Gotel–minus General Gogol’s Russian accent–director John Glen–looking extremely anxious–and an agitated Tanya Roberts.

With the exception of Ms. Roberts, all moved through the nearly one-thousand celebrants largely unhindered, though responded graciously to autograph seekers, MacNee being the most casually conversational of the lot. Former Charlie’s Angel star Roberts would later explain her brusque behavior as a reaction to the overwhelming crush of media and fan attention for which she was bewilderingly unprepared.

At one corner of the hall, a seriously overgrown ghetto-blaster continuously issued 007 title tracks until finally blaring the James Bond theme itself, thus heralding a belated start to the actual screening. With room lights strobing to the staccato beat, film-goers made for the adjoining theatre.

With the wide, shallow auditorium almost full, Mayor Feinstein appeared on stage to demonstrate her lack of either fashion sense (Feinstein’s dowdy, Queen Elizabeth-like wardrobe make the entire affair seem all that more authentic) or crowd control. Several minutes after the Taylors, Gotell, Roberts, and Glen as well as MacNee, diva-turned-actress Grace Jones, and the ever-eerie Christopher Walken had joined her en masse, Feinstein finally established some degree of order. Even then, however, the Mayor’s introduction of the players and their roles was repeatedly interrupted by squealing, prepubescent Double D fans. (Jones only abetted them by silently mocking Senator Feinstein’s schoolmarm admonishment of the audience.) Following the amenities, Roger Moore–absent thus far–appeared just long enough to say “Let’s roll the film” and made for his place alongside Broccoli, et al, who earlier took bows from their seats.

The movie itself was met by raucous applause and laughter, particularly those sequences highlighted by the afore-mentioned bridge and City Hall.

Audience members who slipped-out as the credits rolled stripped the reception hall of souvenirs: balloons, stand-up cutouts, and stacks of free posters. Those less fortunate were immediately set-upon by droves of television reporters–present from the start–asking that inevitable question, “So, is this the best James Bond movie ever?”

By now it was nearly eleven o’clock and time for the festivities to begin in earnest. While film stars and City luminaries alike headed for a cast party at Hard Rock Café*, others opted for the less exclusive–though still by invitation–birthday observation for Grace Jones (age undisclosed) at the members-only disco, Trocadero, long home to Jones the singer/performance artist.

Both parties were well-attended–some nine-hundred danced away the night at Trocadero–though neither drew the crowds of onlookers present for the premier. Jones appeared at both functions, making her Trocadero entrance around two a.m. on the arm of then boy-toy Dolph Lundgren, with whom she shared screen-time in …View… and “much more” on the pages of Playboy’s July ‘85 issue.

At dawn, time had come to crawl home, hang the Berns-Martin holster alongside the tuxedo, and resume the routine–the end of a day-long 007 celebration but, as we all know, James Bond would return …

*Curiously, neither of the day’s two major cast parties–Her Honor hosted a lunch at the prestigious Maxwell’s Plum on Fisherman’s Wharf–took place at locales original to San Francisco.

06/15/85 Review in “Magill`s Survey of Cinema” – a view to little irony

One of the least ironic in the James Bond series, A VIEW TO A KILL takes 007 (Roger Moore) from Ascot, Paris, and Chantilly to San Francisco as he pursues Max Zorin (Christopher Walken), a villainous international microchip industrialist, and his fierce bodyguard, May Day (Grace Jones). Having survived several near-fatal encounters with Zorin`s henchmen, Bond succeeds in obstructing the industrialist`s plan to dynamite the San Andreas fault and flood Silicon Valley so that he can gain control over the world`s microchip production. In a suspenseful finale which takes place at the Golden Gate Bridge, Bond blasts Zorin in his zeppelin.

Summary: The pleasure which viewers take in familiar forms is the very basis of a genre film`s survival, yet the most interesting among them– Westerns and musicals, for example–are also characterized by their capacity to reflect cultural shifts and social changes. In comparison, the James Bond films are defined by a carefully synthesized and carefully protected formula; nothing about them changes. Deciding who best embodies the mythic essence of Fleming`s hero, Sean Connery, George Lazenby, or Roger Moore, has been only one of two major sources of variation that the Bond films have offered since the series began with DR. NO (1962). The other variation has been a shift in tone: from straight and serious to parodic and absurd. The tone in A VIEW TO A KILL, however, is serious. In keeping with this mode, the prologue finds 007 (Roger Moore), in a display of bravado, skiing on an Alaskan snowfield, a squadron of Soviet soldiers to snatch an innocent-looking locket from the neck of an unknown corpse. Reminiscent of the opening sequence of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977), the last-second rescue comes from an ice floe that pops open to reveal a Union Jack flying submarine, navigated by a captain in white mink overalls. No matter how predictable, even this opening sequence rewards the audience immediately with its impeccable editing (the film`s director, John Glen, has edited several earlier Bonds) and with its striking use of color against a white background (a common visual heritage from the pop-graphic style of the 1960`s).

Following the prologue, viewers find themselves in the London headquarters of Secret Service, where M (Robert Brown) and his staff fill one another in on a new superchip that was found in the locket of that corpse, which as it turns out was the body of a Russian. Everything indicates that this new technological miracle comes from the hands of a mysterious industrialist of international origins, one Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Much to the regret of Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell), only James Bond can find Zorin`s chips.

The search begins at the Ascot horse races, where the abnormally blond Zorin is sighted along with his right-hand woman, the stunning and ferocious May Day (Grace Jones), a black martial arts and logistics expert who sports leather-hooded outfits and six-inch heels. Then in Paris, while Bond is having dinner with the unpleasant Inspector Aubergine (Jean Rougerie), in an elegant restaurant in the Eiffel Tower, May Day attacks. Dressed in wasp-patterned yellow and black leotards, she uses a fishing rod of sorts, impaling on its fly Bond` s dinner partner, who is lecherously watching a woman perform a butterfly dance onstage. Like a spider, May Day then vanishes down the tower and escapes with the help of a parachute glider, which crashes onto a wedding party aboard a bateau-mouche in the middle of the Seine. It is in sequences such as these that the Bond films are at their most engaging: The insect motif (the fly casting, wasp, butterfly, and so on), insignificant as it may be for the film`s overall structure, tightens up the little episode; the gags are exotic in an inventive way, built more on wit than violence (pace Inspector Aubergine), and the stunts, carried out in the middle of Paris, make one admire not only their performers but also the film`s producer, Albert Broccoli, who managed to arrange all of this. Later on, the San Francisco City Hall and the Golden Gate Bridge, notoriously off-limits for commercial filming, are similarly granted this “location-as-star” treatment, lending almost the old-fashioned authenticity of a travelogue to this high-tech fairy tale.

The search for Zorin`s chips leads from Paris to an exquisite Chantilly chateau, where the villain is auctioning off some of his supernormal race horses. Here, Bond, succeeds in penetrating Zorin`s secret stable- laboratory and discovers that the superchip, with its ability to enhance the performances of living organisms to the capacity of a robot, is part of a worldwide biotechnological conspiracy. In the process of his search, Bond arouses Zorin`s suspicion, and even Bond`s strategically motivated seduction of May Day does not prevent a subsequent manhunt on horseback, at the end of which he is almost killed. As is customary for the Bond megavillain, Zorin`s monstrously perfect features make it clear that he is essentially nonhuman, a creature representing not simply an opposing political system but a threat to mankind. A child produced by Nazi genetic engineering experiments during World War II and bred to perfection in the U.S.S.R., Zorin has broken loose from his ideological commitments to his KGB supervisors and is now preparing to attack and monopolize the world`s microchip industry. Traveling in a zeppelin, Zorin, May Day, and their evil crew move on to San Francisco. Bond catches up with them, first competing with, and later helped by, the beautiful geologist and heiress Stacy Sutton (Tanya Roberts).

Surviving a suction pipe accident under a Zorin oil rig in the San Francisco Bay and then a spectacular city hall fire, Bond and Stacy uncover, just in time, Zorin`s demonic plan to reactivate the San Andreas fault through a series of enormous explosions. This, in turn, would devastate and flood the Silicon Valley industries and guarantee Zorin, Inc., complete control of the world`s microchip output. The mandatory large-scale showdown follows, taking place in a labyrinthine old silver mine located below the San Andreas lake, which is also Stacy`s beloved ancestral home. The sequence carries allusions to Fritz Lang`s subterranean masterpiece METROPOLIS (1927) and to the wild mine rides in Steven Spielberg`s INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984). When May Day finally realizes the magnitude of Zorin`s diabolical plot, as well as his completely cynical attitude toward her, she shifts allegiance and throws her considerable body power behind Bond and Stacy`s efforts to prevent the catastrophe, sacrificing her life in the process. Zorin and his skeleton crew flee again in the blimp, taking Stacy as hostage, but Bond hangs on to one of the mooring ropes (metaphorically keeping taut the suspenseful plot line). The aircraft becomes trapped in the structure of the Golden Gate Bridge, and Bond not only saves Stacy but also rids the world of yet another megalomaniac when, cleverly relying on some basic laws of physics, he brings about the explosion of the high-tech wizard and his zeppelin.

Per the film`s formula, Bond proceeds to shun delightfully his civic responsibilities by hiding out in Stacy`s shower, avoiding not only M`s phone congratulations but also the KGB`s (which is grateful to Bond for having preserved Silicon Valley intact for yet another generation of Soviet industrial espionage). The main attraction of A VIEW TO A KILL is undoubtedly the irresistible Grace Jones. Graceful, fast, resourceful, and a little perverse, May Day finally seems to be the female alter ego Bond has been looking for since the death of his wife in ON HER MAJESTY`S SECRET SERVICE (1969); like her, she, too, must die so as to allow 007 to proceed unhindered to further adventures. It is typical that Bond`s love interest here has a degree in a hard science, but she remains as incompetent and witless as she is cute. A VIEW TO A KILL signals where the next major hurdle for 007 will emerge. The technology in which villains such as Zorin deal to achieve world control is so utterly impersonal that Bond`s old-fashioned craftiness and general education (even when amplified by Q`s special gadgets) may soon become obsolete. As long as he can count on encountering his enemies in falling elevators or burning ships, Bond is all right. In a world of data banks, video screens, and artificial intelligence, Bond will either have to “upgrade” to a full-time science-fiction hero or else withdraw to the sidelines, watching it all, amused, over a dry martini.

Review in 06/10/85 “Macleans”: A view to a kill!

MACLEANS June 10th, 1985
A VIEW TO A KILL
Directed by John Glen

Of all the modern formulas in the movie industry, the James Bond series is among the most pleasurable and durable. Lavish with their budgets, the producers also bring a great deal of craft, wit and a sense of fun to the films. Agent 007 is like an old friend whom an audience meets for drinks every two years or so; he regales them with tall tales, winking all the time. The 15th and newest Bond epic, A View to a Kill, is an especially satisfying encounter.

As Bond, Roger Moore takes on a brilliant but psychotic Russian named Zorin (Christopher Walken) and his lethal assistant, May Day, played by the astonishingly muscular and sleek Grace Jones. The villain`s plan, as in most Bond films, is nothing less ambitious than the takeover of the world, which he plans to do by controlling the international microchip market. Because 80 percent of the world`s microchip production comes from California`s silicon valley, Zorin simply has to close up the San Andreas fault with an explosion and bury the valley under a massive flood. Opening with a breathtaking ski chase in Siberia.

A View to a Kill is the fastest Bond picture yet. Its pace has the precision of a Swiss watch and the momentum of a greyhound on the track. There is a spectacular chase up and down the Eiffel Tower and through Paris streets, which Bond finishes in a severed car on just two wheels. But none of the action prepares the viewer for the heart-stopping climax with Zorin`s dirigible tangled in the cables on top of San Francisco`s Golden Gate Bridge. For all its similarities to earlier episode – deadly villains and gorgeous women – A View to a Kill is a little different.

It is less gadget-ridden, and Bond relies more on old-fashioned know-how: trapped underwater in a car, he escapes and breathes through the tire valve while waiting for his would-be assassins to leave. The world`s technological advances have caught up with Bond, but they never render him obsolete. The Bond movies operate on a level much deeper than their dazzling surfaces: they represent assurance in a world laden with global anxiety. And not only does goodness win out, it does so with style and humour. The movies are fantasies of idealism in which even the hero`s sins are turned into delicious double entendres. “Did you sleep well?” asks Zorin. “A little restlessly,” replies Bond after a night in May Day`s arms. “But I finally got off.”

Their comic-book characters, the good ones that is, are especially alluring – dashing, talented and impervious to danger. Most of all, Bond is a gentleman – a chivalrous knight who has time-travelled. When he saves the “good girl” of A View to a Kill and holds her in his arms on top of the Golden Gate, it is a sublime romantic gesture. It is true that Roger Moore is showing his age (57) in the role, but there are plenty of tunes left in his violin. James Bond is still a virtuoso, with a licence to thrill. -LAWRENCE O`TOOLE

AVTAK Review: 06/03/85 Review in “New Yorker”

NEW YORKER June 3, 1985 Pauline Kael THE James Bond series has had its bummers, but nothing before in the class of “A View to a Kill.”

You go to a Bond picture expecting some style or, at least, some flash, some lift; you don`t expect the dumb police-car crashes you get here. You do see some ingenious daredevil feats, but they`re crowded together and, the way they`re set up, they don`t give you the irresponsible, giddy tingle you`re hoping for. The movie is set mostly in Chantilly, Paris, and San Francisco, and it`s full of bodies and vehicles diving, exploding, going up in flames.

Christopher Walken is the chief villain; the ultra-blond psychopathic product of a Nazi doctor`s experiments, he mows people down casually, his expression jaded. And the director, John Glen, stages the slaughter scenes so apathetically that the picture itself seems dissociated. (I don`t think I`ve ever seen another movie in which race horses were mistreated and the director failed to work up any indignation. If Glen has any emotions about what he puts on the screen, he keeps them to himself.) All that keeps “A View to a Kill” going is that it needs to reach a certain heft to fit into the series.

As the villainess, Grace Jones, of the flat-top haircut and the stylized look of African sculpture, is indifferently good-humoured the way Jane Russell used to be, and much too flaccid, and as the Bond heroine Tanya Roberts (who has a disconcerting resemblance to Isabelle Adjani) is totally lacking in intensity – she goes from one life-threatening situation to another looking vaguely put out.

About the most that can be said for Roger Moore, in his seventh go-round as Bond, is that he keeps his nose to the grindstone, permitting himself no expression except a faint bemusement. It used to be that we could count on Bond to deliver a few zingers, but this time the script (by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson) barely manages a little facetiousness.

The film does come up with one visual zinger: in the small role of Jenny Flex, a stunning young model named Alison Doody comes up with a curvy walk that`s like sex on wheels.

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.