Although, come to think of it, that one happens daily.
It’s the better part of telly entertainment now.
True. I’ve always thought the scene was more about shocking the audience than making any real sense.
Indeed. The hope was obviously that the original audience would sit there and think “oh my, they just killed James Bond!”
It’s hard now to see it the way they did; not knowing if there’d be any more movies about James Bond - maybe that’s it for that character and now 008 takes over!
I’m sure that if they did that at the start of Bond 25 the audience would indeed be momentarily taken aback and wonder if that’s how Craig exits. But with FRWL more so, since the audience were seeing only the first sequel. After 24 movies we all assume the franchise won’t take that turn.
Suppose that bluff is a fringe benefit of never having James Bond in the title. They tried a bait and switch the only time it might’ve work, the attempt should be commended.
As FRWL debuted in this world shortly before I did, I don’t know: was Bond already a huge international sensation after DN on the scale it was after GF? I’ve heard it took a while.
I just wonder if in '63 Bond was already such a big deal that everyone watching that cold open would know the victim was James Bond, and thus be shocked when he’s “killed”? Especially since he’s not mentioned by name?
Anyway it did work in terms of looking cool and setting the mood, however illogical. And it’s interesting that Nick Meyer re-worked the schtick for the opening scene of “Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan”, where it’s just as shocking and on reflection (even more) cuckoo. (His original plan had been to ape “Dressed to Kill” by killing off Spock without warning only 20 minutes into the film, but that fell apart when word leaked out to an incensed fandom.)
With FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE the series was still at the start and already had had to deal with some troubles, having to drop Thunderball in favour of Dr No just one of them. At one point, Len Deighton had been working on a script for Eon and the task was somewhat tricky since Bond only enters after the first third. The series hadn’t yet found its balance; they knew what they wanted, but not yet how to get there.
The idea was to translate a somewhat stuffy character with little humour onto the screen - actually transform him to what Fleming later called “stage Bond” - with sex appeal and luxury and all the exotic detail the ordinary joe dreams of when thinking about the lush life of the rich.
But they also wanted to keep that bizarre element of the books, the fantastic things that make us shiver, glad to be just watching instead of taking part. And all that in a handy package they can get past the censors and allows a huge audience to have a thrilling ride.
The pre-titles were inspired by Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad, where a similar park (actually Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich) is important for the dreamlike surreal atmosphere of that film. The idea to let a killer train on a Bond double is strange - why would the double wear that mask at all? and what if he had killed Grant, would they then have sent him? - and I think I’ve read somewhere it was indeed questioned whether that wouldn’t put off the audience or if they’d understand that part at all. If memory serves the decision was even to show the double under the mask with a moustache to make it clear this wasn’t the real James Bond who has just arrived at the end of his usefulness.
Personally, I would perhaps have wanted to set the final battle between Grant and Bond once more in that park because of that beautiful atmosphere. But the train fight is evidently a classic in its own right and an early highlight that wasn’t surpassed for some time.
In regards to the Bond mask, i’ve always thought, in regards to the in film logic, the use of known enemy operatives was part of Spectre’s indoctrination of their soldiers.
Try 56 years and counting.
That makes some sense. At this stage, Grant still hasn’t been confirmed as THE guy for the job, so maybe all SPECTRE assassins train this way, to reinforce the mental conditioning: “If you ever see this face, kill, kill, KILL!”
However, if they’re this good at making Bond masks, why not just film that incriminating sex scene with Tania using an imposter? Then they could make it as kinky and incriminating as possible.
Ah, but don’t you risk the ACTUAL Bond being somewhere else with witnesses, at which point they’ve given away, to one of their main opponents, one of their assets that could’ve been more useful in the future, like, Thunderball, where they took to the logical extreme of replacing someone for their own ends…
But, yes, that was convoluted to get to.
For me, it’s the confined space that makes it interesting - more a battle of wits and improvisation, rather than brute force and martial arts training.
Indeed questions that Eon would prefer we didn’t ask. They sacrificed logic for that bait and switch moment.
Exactly. The entire moonlight maze assassination scene is superfluous, the film would work perfectly without it. But on another level it perfectly captures what the film, what the world of Bond is all about: suspense in various forms and guises. And the scene even ends with - almost - breaking the fourth wall. The lights go on and the director appears to give his verdict. Eon’s winking there at us, showing us their equipment and the Pinewood main building. Let’s pretend it’s the SPECTRE villa! Let’s play murder!
Even that part in itself defies logic: if they observe the entire training drill killing, as the lights imply, then they should surely be on all the time, no? But inside the Bond world Eon creates it makes perfect sense, the lights, the mask, the silent killer. Because it’s a hell of a good tale this way.
It operates almost entirely on a conceptual level in the a similar way to the main title sequences. It sets up tone and brand.
Equally why on earth would a secret agent have a huge Union Jack on his parachute, advertising his allegiance. But that gag that ends TSWLM pts is saying just the same thing: this is a Bond movie, folks.
Yes, but two very different kinds of Bond movies. That chute in TSWLM signals that we’ve just literally gone “over the top” and that’s the gear we’re going to stay in for the next two hours.
Patriotism was always there (for example, Bond’s portrait of the Queen in OHMSS), but the parachute gag brought it to another level. It worked for Moore. It presented Bond both as an individual and a loyal servant.
Well, and let’s face it, if the object was to keep a low profile, he wouldn’t have climbed into that bright yellow ski suit.
Absolutely… the whole bit about Zambora, being captured and turning into a gorilla at Circus Circus in Diamonds Are Forever… Even back then in 1971 this should have been considered too controversial and never should have been put in the script. I find it much more offensive and cringeworty than the bit in Dr. No where Bond asks Quarrel to fetch his shoes…
I saw the Zambora show at an Exhibition sideshow once, some time in the late 70s. The girl they presented while the barker drew the crowd was white (he didn’t say anything about her being captured near Nairobi, South Africa, though).
Inside the tent (no lab set), the hippie in charge opened the caged box enough for you to see the rippling 2D slide of a similar-looking girl inside, then he started lip syncing to an over-loud recording of a deep voice bringing Zambora out her transcendental state (“ZANBORA bora bora…! HEAR ME ear me ear me…!”)
When the guy in the gorilla suit burst out of the cage, another hippie urged everyone to flee while the dude with the dummy mike tried valiantly to hold the ape off with his bare hands.
That performance was offensive, to anyone with an IQ higher than that of a very stable genius. I wished I’d had a starter pistol with me, so I could have fired a few blanks at the guy in the gorilla suit - it would have been amusing to see him jump into the arms of his ‘handler’.
At least the version in DAF was well-staged.
Isn’t this scene supposed to be cringeworthy? I always thought it underlined the garish and tasteless which a town like Las Vegas is known for.