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Maryann the Bad Feminist: Part 1 in What I'm Sure Will Be Like a 400 Part Series

5.09.2016

Today's instance of bad feminism can be classified as a guilty pleasure, which I suppose all feminists are allowed, but I still feel a little weird saying it: I love James Bond movies.

Finding a Bond film that isn't rife with sexism, racism, or homophobia is all but impossible in the Bond films--particularly those earlier than Casino Royale (2006). And not only do they not pass the Bechdel or Mako Mori tests, they smack them on their asses and call them "good girl."

But like many fans, my own shameful love affair with 007 began long before I even knew the meaning of the words 'misogyny' or 'patriarchy.' I'm not sure when or with which movie, but my dad was most likely the first person to show me a Bond film--a Connery one I'm fairly sure. Growing up I was a horrible snob about James Bond based off a) what I'd been told: Timothy Dalton was the worst, and b) what I'd observed: Roger Moore looked and dressed like my grandfather. And any knowledge of George Lazenby escaped me completely.

But my interest was re-piqued when I listened to an episode of Dead Authors Podcast (I can't recommend it enough), where comedian Matt Gourley's impersonation of James Bond creator Ian Fleming had me in stitches. I've listened to his episode more than 10 times. I can't even breathe watching this:



When I learned he had a James Bond podcast, I hoped it meant hearing more from him as Fleming, and I was not disappointed. Matt Gourley hosts James Bonding, with fellow super-fan Matt Mira.  They did one episode per movie, starting at both ends and meeting in the middle (so they went Dr. No then Skyfall then From Russia With Love then Quantum of Solace, etc.). I could only remember seeing 10 of the films: Dr. No and Goldfinger, and then all of the Brosnan and Craig installments.

So I followed along with the Matts from film to film, and enjoyed their critiques, behind-the-scenes knowledge (Sean Connery is wearing a wig in all of them! Most Bond themes had alternate versions! Pierce Brosnan was meant to be Bond after Roger Moore but couldn't get out of his Remington Steele contract!), and general love of all things Bond--no matter how awful the movies got.

I think it was good for me to experience Roger Moore films with fans who find him endlessly endearing, as I'm not sure I could have made it through all of his films without their commentary. Anyway, here is my blurb about each film, followed by some top 5 lists!

1) Dr. No (1962)

This is Sean Connery at his most stunning.

Podcast quote (Paul F. Tompkins): "Is Sylvia Trench the cleanest James Bond girl name? Or the dirtiest James Bond girl name?"

2) From Russia With Love (1963)

Robert Shaw's henchman is classic, and the projected title sequence is stunning. Also, our first time with Desmond Llewellyn as Q! This film looks gorgeous, and I find it Connery's most watchable.

3) Goldfinger (1964)

Have you heard Anthony Newley's rendition of "Goldfinger"? Because you should. Apparently he helped with the lyrics along with Leslie Briscusse (Goodbye Mr. Chips!) and composer John Barry.



Podcast quote: "When that's the...most relatable part of the film, is like getting a bucket of chicken. You're like, "Done that." Everything else you're like, "WTF, man."

(and)

"This is what incenses me about this: ...if misogyny weren't such a big deal currently, then this film wouldn't piss me off so much."

4) Thunderball (1965)

The movie is sort of slow and to quote Matt and Matt: "the rape-iest movie ever", but I never tire of watching Sean Connery's legs when he's swimming. I enjoy the theme song by Tom Jones (rumor has it he fainted at the end of the final note), but through the podcast discovered that there was an alternate song recorded by Shirley Bassey and then Dionne Warwick! It's called "Mr. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and it's super groovy but it was cut due to the lack of the word 'thunderball' in the song:



I also learned from the podcast that Johnny Cash wrote his own theme song for the film, and it's...well...very Johnny Cash, if you're into that sort of thing.

Podcast quote: "You're only 4 movies in, they haven't run out of clever ways to kill James Bond, you don't have to use a sex-stretch-death-machine."

5) You Only Live Twice (1967)

I'm super into the font used in the opening titles, and I of course recognize the song from Robbie William's sampling of it (rumor has it he's such a big fan he owns every single car James Bond drove). Other fans of the theme include Coldplay with their bland cover and...Bjork's.

This is Sean's last film in his 'officially' recognized tenure as Bond, and he goes out in spectacular sexist and racist fashion! Direct quote from the wikipedia page: "Bond is disguised as an Oriental" and direct quote from the film: "In Japan, men come first and women come second." A sentiment brought to us by screenwriter Roald Dahl!

Podcast quote: "This sounds like what a cowboy wants to hear at a massage parlor."

6) On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

George Lazenby, we hardly knew ye. Which is okay, because your one installment in the series is actually pretty great! Bond in the Alps, Bond getting married, the shocking finale, it all sticks out (except for maybe that gripping xerox scene). I remember more of this movie and it's plot than any of the other 1960s Bond films--which is saying something. Is George Lazenby an iconic Bond? Hardly. But Diana Rigg is divine and while long, the film is gorgeously shot.

7) Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

I am DOWN for this theme song, and classic Vegas is a trip. But ultimately the moment at 0:12 in this video is proof that DAF is unbelievably amazing in the worst way:



8) Live and Let Die (1973)

Roger Moore does NOT look 45 in this movie, and that's how old he was when he started being Bond. Connery was only 41 in Diamonds Are Forever!  Did you know the alligator jumping scene was with REAL ALLIGATORS? The stunt guy did and it's amazing (though I hate the idea of the alligators being tied down and forced to endure this--which would never be allowed today):



9) The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

The Queen Anne Liner as the MI6 headquarters in Hong Kong is super cool, and Christopher Lee is a treat, though the whole third nipple thing is weird and random. Mostly I love the theme song and score. Those horns are killer. The only part of the score that fails is the moment of the most perfect car stunt set to film (done in one take!):



Podcast quote: "The fight where we're supposed to believe Roger Moore can physically take Maud Adams."

10) The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The real stars of this film for me are Egypt and Italy. The acting is...rough. Barbara Bach especially is one of the most unlikable Bond girls. Though we do meet one of the more fun henchman, Richard Kiel as Jaws, and the musical marriage of Marvin Hamlisch and Carly Simon is right in my bailiwick:



Podcast quote: "They put track lighting in an ancient ruin!"

Random trivia: Stanley Kubrick did uncredited lighting work!

11) Moonraker (1979)

Yikes. The worst Bond movie ever? At least A View to A Kill has Grace Jones.

12) For Your Eyes Only (1981)

This is the Roger Moore movie that ALWAYS seemed to be on cable. I remember thinking as a teenager about how old he looked in his blue ski suit. I also might have been super grossed out by Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet's 30 YEAR AGE DIFFERENCE. Yuck. But highlights include: Topol, the cold open ski jump stunt, and all the pretty scenery.

13) Octopussy (1983)

This one didn't strike my fancy. Louis Jordan is a fun villain, but the circus and the train and clown suit...not one of my faves.

Podcast quote: "The title sequence is Nip City, population: Bond."

14) Never Say Never Again (1983)

Connery's 'back' and this un-official-ish movie was more enjoyable than I thought it would be. The podcast episode is super delightful thanks to Matt Gourley's impersonation of the film's director, Irvin Kershner. My biggest critique? This movie needed SO much more of Rowan Atkinson's Small-Fawcett.

15) A View to a Kill (1985)

If you happen to listen to the podcast and you are even a little bit of a fan of Brosnan's films, this episode is sweet retribution, where the comedians of the podcast How Did This Get Made? roast the hell out of A View to A Kill in front of a live audience, while long-time Brosnan-hater and Moore-apologist Matt Gourley helplessly stands by.

Gross trivia: Tanya Roberts MOTHER is younger than Roger Moore.

Podcast quote: the whole conversation regarding the butterfly performance.

18) The Living Daylights (1987)

Timothy Dalton! I like him. He's got a sweet, quieter charm than Connery or Moore. The Bond girl in this one--I'm not even going to look up her character's name--is a wooden bore. If only Rosika Miklos has been his partner...

19) License To Kill (1989)

Timothy Dalton's second and final Bond film. Oh Tim, we hardly knew ye.

20) GoldenEye (1995)

My Bond! Well, my Bond Mitzvah as the podcast guys say. My first Bond. Now I would argue that Craig is 'my' Bond, as I was a hair too young to really appreciate Brosnan's tenure. (I remember being excited about his movies coming out, but Craig's are awaited with bated breath). Pierce is unbelievably dreamy in this one, and it features one of the best Bond girls, Izabella Scorupco as Natalya Simonova. And I love the plot of another 00 agent turning against Bond and MI-6.

Podcast quote: "There's only one rule in all the James Bond movies: the only person who can hit a woman...is James Bond. Or another woman."

21) Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

This is--I think--the first Bond movie I saw in theaters? If not this then The World is Not Enough. Another one of the best Bond girls (thank God it's the 90s): Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin. The worst part is this outfit that some evil person put Pierce Brosnan in:






































I know it was the 90s but you DO NOT put James Bond in loose fitting shirts and slacks, much less linen. Thank God this was rectified with all of Daniel Craig's tight Tom Ford goodness.

22) The World is Not Enough (1999)

Remove Denise Richards' Christmas Jones from the film, and you've got one of the most watchable Bond films! Sophie Marceau and Robert Carlyle bring such good acting to the table that Denise Richards' performance is all the more painful. What I remember most from this film is how madly in love I was with Sophie Marceau's wardrobe.

23) Die Another Day (2002)

Yes, this movie is over-the-top. Brosnan's last Bond film definitely pulls out all the stops, even the nonsensical ones. Ice palaces, DNA replacement, invisible Aston Martins, John Cleese's Quartermaster, it's desperate to top them all.

Podcast quote: "This movie opens like most do: surfing to North Korea."

24) Casino Royale (2006)

The first Craig movie breaks the mold and reboots the franchise with Bond's origin story. It's hard-hitting, low-on-quips, stunt-heavy, and possibly the most grounded of all the films. I love that they kept the continuity of Judi Dench as M (and forwent Cleese as Q). And oh my God, don't get me started on the shower scene (a sentence that would have read as 'cause-it's-sex-ay in any Bond film previous to this one).

25) Quantum of Solace (2008)

Widely considered Craig's weakest film--which is largely due to the 2007-2008 writer's strike. It takes place almost exactly where Casino Royale ends, so it's recommended to always watch them together. I find Camille, the main Bond girl, entirely forgettable, but I do like that she's the one Bond girl who refuses to sleep with him. The real gem of the film is how it looks and its locations: Siena, Haiti, the Bregenz festival in Austria.

26) Skyfall (2012) 

We had to wait (relatively) forever for this one, but it was oh so worth it. The highest grossing Bond film ever, Skyfall goes all out, and gives Judi Dench's M a great send-off. Plus, we get a Q and a Money Penny!

27) Spectre (2015)

The OPENING SEQUENCE. I mean, what a beautiful film. I loved Monica Bellucci playing the oldest Bond girl yet, and Bond back the snow! Loved it.

And to round out the post, here are a few top 5 lists for fun!


Top 5 Favorite Bond Theme Songs I'd Never Heard Before I Started The Podcast

5) "Thunderball" by Tom Jones

4) "You Only Live Twice" by Nancy Sinatra

3) "The Man With the Golden Gun" by Lulu

2) "A View to A Kill" by Duran Duran

1) "Diamonds Are Forever" by Shirley Bassey (I could NOT stop listening to this for days.)

Top 5 Bond Theme Songs Overall

5) "Nobody Does it Better" by Carly Simon

4) "Diamonds Are Forever" by Shirley Bassey

3) "The World is Not Enough" by Garbage

2) "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCartney with Wings

1) "Goldfinger" by Shirley Bassey

Top 5 Bond Girls

5) Tatiana Romanova (Daniela Bianchi) in From Russia With Love 


4) Tracy di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg) in On Her Majesty's Secret Service


3) May Day (Grace Jones) in A View to A Kill


2) Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) in Goldeneye


1) Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) in Tomorrow Never Dies


Top 5 Bonds

5) Roger Moore

I find him endearing in a grandfatherly way. I see ZERO sexual chemistry with his co-stars, but he's a fun--the fun Bond.


4) Timothy Dalton


Say what you want about his two films, but I find him much sexier than Lazenby or Moore. I love that his Bond seems much less lech-y than the rest.


3) Pierce Brosnan


He's my Bond! He over-acts sometimes, but he clearly loves playing Bond, and his Bond girls tended to have brains and dimensions (even Denise Richards).


2) Sean Connery


Yes, he's the most misogynist of them all, but he's iconic!


1) Daniel Craig


The full package: dreamy, physical, flirty but respectful, AND he falls in love!!! Heart eyes. 



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