Archives for posts with tag: James Bond

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Sir Roger Moore wasn’t the first actor to play James Bond, but the charming gentleman turned out to be the longest-tenured–and for a generation was the 007 they grew up watching.  In an era before VHS, this was the Bond you saw in the theater and heavily edited for television on ABC.  His was the voice you heard if you read the books.  And unlike Connery who publicly chafed at being typecast in the series, Moore proudly wore the tuxedo and basked in the 007 spotlight.

In the aftermath of Sir Roger’s passing, one looks at his body of work as James Bond.  He came to the role in the early 1970’s when the producers had already tried to recast 007 with an unknown, with less than desirable results (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” grossed less than the previous four films in the series).  Connery returned for “Diamonds Are Forever”, but it was clear he would never return to the role (see the 1983 film “Never Say Never Again”).  For a while in this stretch American (gasp!) actors were considered to take the role of the British super-spy…let’s just say the series could have gone in several different directions at the time.

Moore brought a fresh face (despite being three years older than Connery, Roger looked about ten years younger than Sean in 1973) and a certain style to the role.  If one compares the two, Connery was more of a between the tackles fullback type of 007 while Moore was a graceful halfback on the perimeter.  Sean provided power, while Roger fielded finesse.  One made the easy things look hard, while the other made the hard things look easy.  But both got the job done.

The new direction of the series followed the lead of its lead actor, from a grittier series laden with gadgets and the occasional witty aside to gadgets, asides, bigger sets and lighter moments with the occasional grit.  It was probably a smart move to create a different Bond that wouldn’t have to compete with Sean Connery’s shadow.  And Moore would wind up surpassing his friend in tenure and movies made (7 “official” films to Connery’s 6).

The actor who plays James Bond is often at the mercy of his material;  it’s tough to make ice cream out of garbage (although I’m sure Q has a gadget somewhere which does that).  It took a while for the series to hit its stride with Roger Moore in the role:  “Live and Let Die” and “The Man with the Golden Gun” both feel more like “thermometer films” (reflecting Blaxploitation and Kung Fu movies of the day) than “thermostat films”.  “The Spy Who Loved Me”  brought big Bond back in spades- and while “Moonraker” made more money and “For Your Eyes Only” was a better film, this is the quintessential Moore movie (his “Goldfinger”, as it were).  After trying to play off “Star Wars” with “Moonraker”, 007 came back to earth with “For Your Eyes Only”.  It’s a shame that wasn’t Sir Roger Moore’s exit from the role, because it would have been a great way to go out.

Initially that was supposed to be his final bow, but Sean Connery returning to a role he said he’d never take again in “Never Say Never Again” forced the producers to cough up an offer Sir Roger Moore couldn’t refuse for “Octopussy”.  He’d even return for “A View to a Kill”, which was a great song that deserved a much better movie.

So without further ado–ranking Roger’s 007 turns as 007…:

 

7–The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974.  These ratings are fluid, and I keep on rotating the bottom three depending on my moods of the day.  From Lulu’s up-tempo song to sheriff J.W. Pepper’s unwelcome cameo, this feels like a bad remake of “Live and Let Die”.  And there’s no big battle at the end, just Bond and the villain running around a funhouse.  Even more dated than Moore’s outfits:  the energy crisis subplot.  Raised Eyebrow:  the gun is the original “transformer”, made of a pen, lighter and cigarette case.  Rolled Eyes: Tatoo from “Fantasy Island” is a henchman.  “Da Plane!”.

6–A View to a Kill, 1985.  The series was running on fumes, and having a 58-year old play the ultimate action hero is not the way to provide pep.  Christopher Walken and Grace Jones were bright spots in an otherwise lame film.  Tanya Roberts is a less than awesome Bond Girl.  And playing the Beach Boys made casting Timothy Dalton a good idea for 15 minutes. Raised Eyebrow:  Duran Duran delivers one of the best songs of the series.  Rolled Eyes:  there was a dog-robot at the end.  Honestly.

5–Moonraker, 1979.  Ripped for being rather juvenile, but it tries to be bigger than Golden Gun and features a younger Moore which gives it the edge over the previous two films.  It’s basically “The Spy Who Loved Me”, but in outer space.  Michael Lonsdale is a decent villain, but Jaws with a girlfriend takes whatever terror he provided out of the equation.  Bonus points for the late Bernard Lee’s last turn as M.  Raised Eyebrow:  there’s a fantastic fight in a glass factory, and another one on an aerial tramway in Rio.  Rolled Eyes: there’s also a gondola chase in Venice that ends with the gondola becoming a hovercraft.

 

4–Live and Let Die, 1973.  They wrote the script not knowing who would be 007, just with the instructions of keeping things light like they did in “Diamonds Are Forever”.  The Tarot Card motif is pretty cool and there are a few car and boat chases, plus an alligator farm.  And the theme song!  The lack of Bond identity hurts this film, and J.W. Pepper as a redneck sheriff is cute if you happen to be 8 years old.  Raised Eyebrow:  007’s race across a back of alligators.  Rolled Eyes: the villain blows up like a balloon at the end.

 

3–Octopussy, 1983.  Many view this entry as one part 60’s seriousness combined with one part 70’s fluff.  There’s  a yo-yo saw to add tension, but also 007 swinging and shouting like Tarzan.  Louis Jourdan makes a solid villain, and it’s nice to actually see Roger Moore hit on a woman his own age (or at least within two decades).  A sassy pre-credits sequence gets things going and there’s another countdown to armegeddon 007 has to foil.  Lamest theme song of the series.  Raised Eyebrow:  the train ride to the US base.  Rolled Eyes:  Q joining 007 for a raid on the villain’s lair.

2–The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977.  Hold on–that year had Star Wars, Smokey and the Bandit and this movie???  Basically a riff off “You Only Live Twice”, but when you haven’t had a “traditional caper” checking all of the boxes in ten years the heart grows fond for a little formula.  Precisely the movie I wish they’d let Daniel Craig make, instead of what amount to four origin stories.  From the world in danger to a great ski chase, from a well-written villain to a big battle, Moore never did it better.  Raised Eyebrow:  the pre-credits ski chase was the best of the decade…and Carly Simon’s theme song answers the challenge.  Rolled Eyes: first appearance by Victor Tourjansky  in the series as “guy who is drinking during a 007 car/gondola/ski chase and double-checks his bottle to make sure he can believe his eyes”. 

1– For Your Eyes Only, 1981.  Probably next to “From Russia With Love” as the best Cold War tale in the entire series.  An older, wearier Bond has more than a few tough moments.  Moore has a good cast to work with, the action scenes are realistic and the gadgets don’t get in the way of a good story.  For those who wanted the perfect mix of seriousness and commercial appeal, I refer to 007 late in the film: “That’s détente, comrade:  you don’t have it…and I don’t have it.”  Raised Eyebrows:  the villain tries to kill 007 by running him over the reefs.  Rolled Eyes:  the pre-credits sequence starts strong but slides into silliness.  The 70’s weren’t over just yet.

 

 

 

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Twenty-first century college football is a quarterback’s game.  While great runningbacks will dazzle and occasionally win the Heisman Trophy, they’re a dime-a-dozen in an era where the air attack reigns supreme.  Where once having a great quarterback was the cherry on top of a team’s sundae…not having a competent one in 2016 is the equivalent of melted ice cream.  Look no further than the four area FBS schools.  Virginia and Virginia Tech started transfers at the position this fall:  Jerod Evans (64% completions and 24 touchdowns to 5 interceptions) is a major reason Justin Fuente’s first season in Blacksburg has been bountiful while Kurt Benkert’s fade against ACC foes (7 TD and 5 INT in his last five games) sealed another struggling season in Charlottesville.  Meanwhile, Maryland and Navy both had senior signalcallers go down with injury this fall…and while Will Worth was able to pick up the slack when Tago Smith tore his ACL (1259 yards passing and 1074 yards rushing with 29 total touchdowns for the former backup), the Terps backups haven’t been able to sustain Perry Hills’ early-season success.  Not Tyrrell Pigrome, not Caleb Rowe and not Max Bortenschlager-who may have a career pending as a villain’s henchman in the next James Bond film.  The success of DJ Durkin at Maryland and Bronco Mendenhall at Virginia will hinge on many factors, but one is certainly going to be finding the right quarterback for 2017.

 

FCS Update- congratulations to James Madison and Richmond…both playoff bound.  The Dukes (10-1, 8-0 CAA) earned a first-round bye and will play the winner of Lehigh and New Hampshire.  Richmond (8-3, 5-3 CAA) despite a season-ending loss to William & Mary will entertain North Carolina A & T Saturday.  Incidentally, the “Competent Quarterback Corollary ” trickles down to FCS as the Dukes’ Bryan Schor and the Spiders’ Kyle Lauletta ranked 1-2 in their conference in passing efficiency.

 

Alma Mater Update- Syracuse prepares for a winter’s hibernation after Saturday’s loss to Florida State.  One more game in Dino Babers’ inaugural campaign…and one more Saturday to be somber before one can get excited about the men’s basketball team that has a chance to be really special.

 

Maryland (5-6, 2-6 Big Ten) concluded its November Nightmare with a 28-7 loss at Nebraska.  When first glancing at the 2016 schedule one saw the distinct possibility of needing a win over Rutgers to become bowl-eligible…and while the way they’ve arrived (one thought they’d lose to Michigan State while beating Minnesota or Indiana) that’s exactly where the Terps are.

Terrapin Triumphs:  Sophomore DJ Moore caught 6 passes for 124 yards and the team’s lone touchdown.  Linebacker Shane Cockerille tallied 11 tackles and 2 sacks.  Wade Lees averaged over 40 yards per punt…and his leg hasn’t fallen off after punting 16 times the last two weeks.

Terrapin Troubles:  the offensive line allowed five sacks…and even with that yardage accounted for the running game was held to 46 yards on 20 carries.  The defense allowed three touchdowns and a missed field goal on Nebraska’s four 1st half possessions…putting the offense into a must-pass position with a freshman QB.

Next: 12 noon Saturday vs Rutgers (2-9, 0-8).

 

Virginia Tech (8-3, 5-2 ACC) rallied in the fourth quarter to win 34-31 at Notre Dame.  While not factoring in the Coastal Division race (they still need a win over Virginia or a North Carolina loss to NC State), the victory purges a little of the pain from the previous week’s stumbling loss to Georgia Tech.

Hokie Highlights:  Jerod Evans continues to be Exhibit A in the “finding the right QB to run your offense” mandate, this week throwing for two touchdowns while running for a third.  The defense held Notre Dame to 4-14 on third down…as Andrew Motuapuaka led the way with 11 tackles.  Joey Slye booted a pair of clutch field goals in the fourth quarter on the road.

Hokie Humblings:  another sluggish start had Virginia down three possessions in the first half.  The defense did allow 200 yards rushing and failed to force a turnover.  And beating Notre Dame in South Bend is no way to convince the Fighting Irish to ever joining the ACC as a football member.

Next: 12 noon Saturday vs Virginia (2-9, 1-6).

 

Virginia (2-9, 1-6 ACC) for the fourth straight week saw a lead in the first half dissolve into another defeat…this time a 31-17 loss at Georgia Tech.  Matt Johns played the role of the ghost of quarterbacks past…and the season mercifully will end Thanksgiving weekend.  To quote Tiny Tim, “God bless us, everyone!”.

Cavalier Congrats:  Taquan Mizzell, you deserved better during your stay in Charlottesville.  The senior rushed for 131 yards and caught 6 passes.  Junior Doni Dowling grabbed a career-high 9 receptions.  The defense held the Yellow Jackets to 2-10 on third down.

Cavalier Concerns:  Matt Johns threw three interceptions…including a fourth quarter dagger that was returned for a touchdown.  Backbreaking plays killed the defense, as Georgia Tech’s offensive touchdowns came on runs of 60 and 67 yards as well as a 54 yard pass. Sam Hayward missed two of three field goal attempts.

Next: 12 noon Saturday at Virginia Tech (8-3, 5-2).

 

Navy (8-2, 6-1 AAC) clinched the West Division title with a 66-31 thumping of East Carolina.  They’ll face either South Florida or Temple December 3rd for the conference title; the Owls own the tiebreaker with the Bulls.

Midshipman Medals:  Will Worth proved his again, rushing for 159 yards and 4 touchdowns.  The team tallied 480 yards on the ground.  Justin Norton led the defense with 8 tackles.

Midshipman Miscues:  the defense did allow 30+ points for the fourth time in their last six games.  There’s no chance that will come back to haunt coach Ken Niumatalolo in the conference championship game or against Army…right?

Next: 3:30 Saturday at SMU (5-6, 3-4).

I’ve never seen you look like this without a reason, another promise fallen through, another season passes by you.

When he wins, he’s a Brit. When he loses, he’s a Scot. But after his staggering-to-the-finish straight set victory over Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s Wimbledon Final 6-4, 7-5, 6-4…Andy Murray is forever a champion at the All England Club. And a nation’s 77-year yearning ends.

I never took the smile away from anybody’s face, and that’s a desperate way to look for someone who is still a child.

Think about it. Seventy-seven years. Almost “four score”…with apologies to Old Abe. Nine years shy of the Curse of the Bambino’s longevity. Twenty-three years longer than Ranger fans had to hear “1940!”. Imagine there not being an American US Open winner until the year 2080. That’s not a drought…that’s a desert. And it’s over.

In a big country dreams stay with you, like a lover’s voice fires the mountainside…stay alive.

The fact Murray even got to Sunday was an achievement in and of itself. Wednesday the 2nd seed dropped the first two sets to Fernando Verdasco before storming back to take the fifth set 7-5. Two days later he lost the first set to Jerzy Janowicz (sadly these are actual names, although they could easily come from a screenwriter’s imagination) and trailed 4-1 in the third before catching fire–taking the last five games of the set (and more importantly, match momentum). Murray then had to wait out a 20-minute delay for the fourth set as they closed the roof–before prevailing 6-4.

I thought that pain and truth were things that really mattered…but you can’t stay here with every single hope you had shattered.

For years, it was Tim Henman who held the hopes of the UK. And although he won 75% of his matches at Wimbledon–reaching the quarterfinals in eight of nine years from 1996-2004–the Englishman just wasn’t able to put seven wins together. Each June would turn into July and the wait would extend. Henman would go from upstart to elder statesman. And a window would close on the fingers of a nation that could almost touch the prize.

So take that look out of here, it doesn’t fit you. Because it’s happened doesn’t mean you’ve been discarded.

Meanwhile a busted women’s bracket left a final four the 1970’s Miami Dolphins defense would be proud of. Who were these people? Agnieska Radwanska (#4) was the only top 14 seed to get that far…and she was brushed aside by giant-killer Sabine Lisicki. The German had previously bounced Francesca Schiavone (2010 French Open Champ), Samantha Stosur (2011 US Open Champ) and top seed Serena Williams…but wound up losing in straight sets Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli in the finals. Seven years after losing in the Finals at Wimbledon to Venus Williams, the 28-year old Bartoli has her first Grand Slam title. And the favorites regroup for next month’s US Open.

Pull up your head off the floor, come up screaming…cry out for everything you ever might have wanted.

Scotland began as the land beyond Hadrian’s Wall during the days of the Roman Empire. It gave us the blueprint for one of Shakespeare’s most memorable plays. It gave the English throne an heir after Queen Elizabeth I’s death…and by extension gave Western Civilization an English-language bible. Scotland contributed the best James Bond (I know there are George Lazenby die-hards out there, but just go with me here), as well as everybody’s favorite starship engineer who somehow avoided the “red shirt equals death” axiom that defined the USS Enterprise. Scotland even gave the music world a band titled Big Country…that in a fit of originality released a song “In a Big Country”. Scotland might technically not be an independent country, but after one fantastic fortnight by its favorite son…has reason to feel pretty big right now.

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