Film Crit Hulk Smash: HULK SMASHES THE PUNY PARADIGMS OF FILM CRITICISM WITH HULK-SIZED SEMIOTICAL ESSAYS ON STORYTELLING, CINEMATIC PRINCIPLES, AND MEDIA THEORY! HULK EVEN MAKE PRACTICAL HOW-TO GUIDES! See More...

HULK VS. JAMES BOND - DAY 2

Day 2 of a four-day, Hulk-sized examination into every single James Bond film. 

HULK VS. JAMES BOND - DAY 2

READ DAY 1 HERE.

HULK VS. JAMES BOND: STARING INTO THE ID OF A BONER INCARNATE - DAY 2

WE'RE BACK FOR ANOTHER BONDING SESSION! JAMES BOND? BONDING!? GET IT???

(HULK IS SO SORRY)

MOVING ON TO WHAT WE CAN ONLY CALL THE AWKWARD GROWTH YEARS!

6. ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969)

IF ANY OF YOU WERE CURIOUS ABOUT THE STATEMENT AT THE END OF THE LAST ENTRY, YES, HULK THINKS THIS IS THE BEST JAMES BOND FILM OF ALL TIME.

TO ALL THOSE WHO ARE KIND OF FREAKING OUT ABOUT THIS STATEMENT, PLEASE DON'T. IT IS ONLY AN OPINION. NOTHING MORE. NOTHING LESS. AND NOT ONLY IS IT COOL TO HAVE ONE, BUT YOU KNOW WHAT'S NEAT? YOU CAN HAVE ONE, TOO! AND THEN WE CAN TALK ABOUT IT! DITCHING SARCASM, THE REAL INTENT OF HULK SAYING THIS IS TO LET YOU KNOW THAT, WHATEVER HULK'S ESTIMATIONS OF THESE MOVIES ARE, HULK JUST WANTS TO SHOW YOU HULK'S THOUGHT PROCESS ON WHY. AND HOPEFULLY, THAT GETS YOU TO REFLECT ON YOUR OWN THOUGHT PROCESS ON WHY. AND HOPEFULLY THIS WILL BE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING WE CAN DO FOR A MOVIE SERIES THAT TENDS TO BREED A LOT OF NON-CEREBRAL "INTRINSIC" OPINIONS. SO IN THAT SPIRIT, YES, HULK TRULY THINKS ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE IS THE BEST BOND MOVIE. BUT HULK ADMITS IT IS ALSO ONE OF THE WEIRDEST BOND FILMS IN EXISTENCE, WITH COUNTLESS ATTRIBUTES THAT WOULD SEEM TO WORK AGAINST ITS GOOD QUALITIES. BUT HULK ARGUES THE FILM SUCCEEDS DUE TO TWO SIMPLE FACTS:v 1. IT HAS THE BEST CENTRAL RELATIONSHIP.

2. AND IT HAS THE BEST BOND "GIRL."

NO, THE OTHER ONE.

PLEASE UNDERSTAND THAT HULK READILY AGREES THAT OHMSS IS DEFINITELY NOT THE PUREST BOND MOVIE, EITHER, IF THAT DISTINCTION MAKES SENSE. FOR IT CERTAINLY LACKS THE CONFIDENT IN-WORLD SWAGGER OF YOUNG'S EFFORTS. AND THE FILM EVEN SUBVERTS A LOT OF THE DEFINING BOND CHARACTERISTICS AND ACTUALLY HAS A MOMENT WHERE IT BREAKS THE FOURTH WALL. HECK, COMPARED TO THE SINGULAR CONNERY PERFORMANCE, THE FILM'S APPROACH TO THE BOND CHARACTER ALMOST FEELS RANDOM AT BEST. STILL, HULK ACTUALLY THINKS GEORGE LAZENBY GIVES A GREAT PERFORMANCE HERE BECAUSE WHAT HE INSTEAD IS DOING IS GIVING EVERY SCENE AND MOMENT EXACTLY WHAT IT NEEDS TO FUNCTION EMOTIONALLY. SO YEAH, HE REALLY DOESN'T MAKE A GREAT BOND IN THE CLASSIC, UNFAZED CONNERY SENSE, BUT THAT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE UNLIKE THE YOUNG EFFORTS, IT'S NOT CONSTRUCTING A STORY AROUND HIS PERSONA. INSTEAD, OHMSS SUCCEEDS BECAUSE IT IS TELLING A WEIRD, SUBTLE STORY ABOUT ACTUAL PEOPLE, ALBEIT IN A VERY NONTRADITIONAL WAY.

AND IT DOES SO KIND OF BEAUTIFULLY.

ALL OF WHICH ENDS UP BEING RATHER COMMENDABLE BECAUSE OHMSS HAD A VERY TOUGH JOB ON ITS HANDS: IT HAD TO CONVINCE PEOPLE THAT SOMEONE ELSE TAKING OVER FOR CONNERY WAS AN ACCEPTABLE FILM-GOING MANEUVER. AND UNFORTUNATELY FOR EVERYONE INVOLVED, IT WAS AN EFFORT THAT WAS ULTIMATELY DOOMED FROM THE VERY START. REALLY. HULK HATES TO BE SO SINGULAR, BUT PEOPLE JUST DIDN'T ACCEPT IT. THEY HATED LAZENBY BEFORE THEY EVEN SAW HIM. THEY ALSO ENDING UP HATING THE MOVIE ITSELF (THOUGH THE ENDING HAS A LOT TO DO WITH THIS OPINION, BUT WE'LL GET TO THAT). REALLY, THEY REJECTED ALL OF IT.

WHICH, GIVEN A CERTAIN CRITERIA, PROBABLY MAKES SENSE. WHILE OUR MODERN BRAINS ARE ABLE TO SEE ALL THIS WITH HINDSIGHT, AT THE TIME, MAYBE IT REALLY DID SEEM TO BE THE END OF THE WORLD. THE WAY WE WOULD REACT NOW IF THEY TRIED TO RECAST INDIANA JONES OR TONY STARK OR [INSERT LOVABLE CHARACTER WE ACTUALLY LIKE]. MAYBE ALL THIS CHANGE REALLY WAS TOO MUCH FOR A POPULAR AUDIENCE.

BUT EVEN IF IT'S UNDERSTANDABLE, IT ALSO SUCKS, BECAUSE HULK THOUGHT LAZENBY WAS PRECISELY THE KIND OF ACTOR WHO COULD HAVE BROUGHT BOND KICKING AND SCREAMING INTO THE MORE MODERN AND NUANCED 70'S ERA. SURE, HIS MOST BOND-LIKE ATTRIBUTE IS THAT HE COULD THROW A MEAN PUNCH. AND YES, HE SPENDS A LOT OF TIME BEING COMPLETELY INEFFECTUAL ("This never happened to the other fellow"), BUT HULK WOULD ARGUE THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT THE CHARACTER NEEDED. BOND IS SUCH A FIGURE OF IMMENSE POSTURE AND TOUGHNESS, BUT THE ONLY WAY FOR HIM TO BE MORE ROUNDED AND DRAMATIC IS TO PUT HIM IN SITUATIONS WHERE HE FAILS. THIS IS WHY HULK ARGUES THAT INDIANA JONES IS THE GREATEST AND MOST COMPELLING ACTION HERO EVER, BECAUSE HE SPENDS MOST OF THE TIME FUCKING UP AND BARELY GETTING OUT OF IT. BUT IT'S MORE THAN FALLIBILITY, FOR LAZENBY'S BOND RAN THE ENTIRE GAMUT OF HUMAN EXPRESSION. SOMETIMES HIS BOND IS A HAPPIER BOND, EVEN DOWNRIGHT JOVIAL, WHICH ONLY HELPS MAKE THE OTHER TIMES REGISTER WHEN HE IS IMMENSELY SAD. IT'S ALMOST AS IF HE, LIKE, YOU KNOW, BRINGS GENUINE EMOTIONS TO EVERYTHING HAPPENING ON SCREEN. WHICH, DOES WHAT? IT MAKES HIM A BAD "BOND" BECAUSE HE'S NOT COOL? BECAUSE HE'S NOT SOME PERFECTLY SUAVE CUSTOMER?

OK, THIS MAKES HIM LOOK LIKE HE'S POOPING, THO.

BUT ISN'T THIS WHOLE "ACTING" THING PRECISELY WHAT MAKES DANIEL CRAIG SO COMPELLING TO US NOW?

HULK SWEARS TO YOU, THE AUDIENCE'S RESERVATIONS WITH LAZENBY'S BOND GET RIGHT TO THE HEART OF WHY THESE MOVIES CAN BE SO WEIRDLY DIVISIVE. HULK BELIEVES IT IS AN IRREFUTABLE THING TO SAY "CHARACTERS BRINGING EMOTIONS TO THE EVENTS IN THE STORY IS THE VERY THING THAT HELPS YOUR STORIES HAVE WEIGHT AND IMPACT" (IN STANDARD NARRATIVES AT LEAST), SO WHY WOULD THIS NOT WORK IN THE BOND SERIES?

BECAUSE ACTING LIKE A REAL PERSON MAKES BOND A WORSE VEHICLE FOR INDULGENCE AND WANNA-BE-COOL FANTASY. A HUMAN BEING WHO SOMETIMES GETS SAD AND STUFF? WHO WANTS TO PRETEND TO BE THAT!?! AGAIN, THIS IS THE KEY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN INDULGENCE AND ESCAPISM. YOU CAN WATCH INDIANA JONES FALL AND FAIL AND BARELY CLIMB HIS WAY OUT OF DANGER AND DISASTER, AND YET YOU HAVE STILL ESCAPED FOR TWO HOURS INTO A LIFE FILLED WITH ADVENTURE AND EXCITEMENT. BUT WITH JAMES BOND? IT SEEMS THAT A LARGE AMOUNT OF VIEWERS ARE PUTTING THEMSELVES DIRECTLY IN BOND'S PLACE, AND THUS FOR TWO HOURS THEY GET TO BE KINGS OF THE MUTHAFUCKIN UNIVERSE AND GET ALL THE CHICKS OR WHATEVER. AND THUS TO CRITICIZE LAZENBY FOR FAILING TO CATER TO THE MOST INDULGENT QUALITIES OF BOND REALLY ILLUSTRATES WHAT IT IS WE WANT FROM THE CHARACTER AND THESE MOVIES AT LARGE.

PERHAPS IT SHOULD BE MADE CLEAR THAT IT IS COMMONLY BELIEVED THAT LAZENBY DIDN'T RETURN TO THE ROLE BECAUSE OF THE NEGATIVE PUBLIC REACTION, OR BECAUSE THE PRODUCERS DIDN'T WANT HIM BACK. BUT THE TRUTH IS THAT HE ACTUALLY DIDN'T WANT TO COME BACK, KNOWING THIS EVEN AS EARLY AS THE FILMING PERIOD. HE SAID THE ATTENTION GARNERED BY JUST ACCEPTING THE ROLE WAS FAR MORE SCRUTINY THEN HE WOULD EVER NEED. SO HE ACTUALLY NEVER PLANNED TO COME BACK, WHICH IS OBVIOUSLY GOOD BECAUSE AUDIENCES CLAMORED FOR THE RETURN OF CONNERY IMMEDIATELY (A CLAMORING THAT RESULTED IN THEIR GETTING THEIR JUST DESSERTS). BUT SADLY, ALSO CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRES WAS THE FILM'S DIRECTOR PETER R. HUNT, WHO HULK THOUGHT DID A TRULY AMAZING JOB WITH THIS FILM, ESPECIALLY WITH ALL THE FUNCTIONAL ACTION (HE WAS ACTUALLY THE EDITOR OF THE FIRST FIVE FILMS AND SO THE BROCCOLIS, EVER LOOKING TO HIRE GREAT TALENT FROM WITHIN THE FAMILY, CALLED HIM UP TO THE BIG LEAGUES). BUT HUNT DOES SO MUCH SO WELL IN THIS FILM. IT'S ONE OF THE MOST PROPULSIVE, ENDLESSLY WATCHABLE BITS OF CINEMA THE SERIES HAS TO OFFER. ALL TRUE MISE-EN-SCÉNE KIND OF STUFF, TOO. WHICH MAKES IT AN UTTER SHAME THAT HIS IMAGE NEVER REALLY RECOUPED BECAUSE OF PEOPLE'S BAD ASSOCIATIONS WITH THE PROPERTY. AND IT DOUBLE-SUCKS BECAUSE HE HAD A REAL SENSE OF HOW TO MAKE JAMES BOND SO MUCH MORE THAN WHAT IT IS AT ITS SURFACE.

BUT BEYOND THE PUSH-PULL OF WHAT PEOPLE WANT FROM BOND, THERE IS STILL SOMETHING THAT ELEVATES THIS MOVIE NO MATTER WHAT...

AND HER NAME IS DIANA RIGG:

OKAY, HERE'S THE DEAL: IF ANY OF YOU HAVE A BAD THING TO SAY ABOUT DIANA RIGG HULK WILL HUNT YOU DOWN, THROW YOU IN HULK'S TRUNK, TAKE YOU TO A REMOTE CABIN IN THE WOODS AND... WELL... MAKE YOU WATCH ALL HER MOVIES AND BRAINWASH YOU INTO LOVING HER AS MUCH AS HULK DOES, ALL BEFORE RETURNING YOU SAFE AND SOUND BECAUSE HULK DOESN'T ACTUALLY WANT TO SMASH SOMEONE OVER SOMETHING AS SILLY AS A DISSENTING OPINION.

THE BIGGER POINT IS THAT DIANA RIGG IS AMAZING. SHE'S FUNNY, CHARMING, BEAUTIFUL AND A TOTAL STAND-UP-FOR-HERSELF BADASS. AND SHE TAKES ALL THAT AND PLACES IT INTO HER CHARACTER IN A WAY THAT NEVER SEEMS LIKE A PUT-ON. SHE'S NOT THE DOE-EYED INNOCENT GIRL. SHE'S NOT AN INNOCUOUS ACTION GIRL, EITHER. SO PLEASE CONSIDER THIS THE FIRST IN A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT KIND OF ARCHETYPE FOR THIS SERIES: GENUINE WOMAN. AND BOY DOES SHE BASICALLY EARN IT BY HERSELF. HER ROLE IS ACTUALLY UNDER-WRITTEN FOR THESE KINDS OF STRONG FEMINIST INCLINATIONS, BUT SHE CRAFTS SOMETHING SO DIFFERENT AND MEANINGFUL IN IT (AND THE FOLLOWING IS A GREAT ARGUMENT FOR THE POWER OF ACTORS). YOU SEE, RIGG'S CHARACTER IS SUPPOSED TO READ AS THIS TROUBLESOME DAUGHTER OF A CRIME HEAD WHO GALLIVANTS AROUND AND THROWS TEMPER TANTRUMS, THIS INSUFFERABLE YOUNG GIRL WHO DRIVES HER FATHER NUTS. HER FATHER EVEN SAYS ALL OF THIS OUTRIGHT. BUT YOU SEE, SHE'S NOT ACTUALLY BEHAVING LIKE THAT IN THE FILM. AT ALL. IN FACT, WHEN YOU MEET HER, RIGG PLAYS IT IN A WAY THAT SHE'S CLEARLY BORED AND KNOWING AND OPINIONATED. SURE, SHE'S HAVING TO PLAY THESE GAMES, BUT RIGG KEEPS BEHAVING LIKE AN INDEPENDENT, FREE-THINKING PERSON WHO IS ABOVE ALL THIS NONSENSE. SO NOW WHEN YOU LOOK AT THE FACT THAT HER CRIMINAL FATHER WANTS TO MARRY HER OFF TO GET HER TO SETTLE DOWN AND STOP BEING SUCH A "CRAZY PERSON," IT CHANGES THE TEXT COMPLETELY. READ: HE'S DOING ALL OF THIS, AND VIEWS HER THIS WAY, BECAUSE SHE'S ACTUALLY AN INDEPENDENTLY-MINDED FEMINIST. IT'S A BRILLIANT INVERSION, BROUGHT TO LIFE THROUGH SUBTLETY OF PERFORMANCE. AND THEN WHEN HER FATHER SAYS HE'LL HELP BOND TRACK BLOFELD IF HE MARRIES SAID TROUBLESOME DAUGHTER, THIS WHOLE MARRIAGE PLOT SEEMS LIKE IT IS GOING TO BE THE MOST SEXIST BUSINESS EVER (CUE EUGENIDES DISCUSSION), BUT THEN WE SEE THAT SHE SEES BOND'S MACHISMO BULLSHIT FOR WHAT IT IS. AND SHE THEN GOES TOE-TO-TOE WITH HIM IN A WAY THAT CLEARLY IMPLIES SHE REJECTS ALL OF THIS. AND THEN NOTICE THE WAY BOND REACTS TO THIS WITH EQUALLY SEXIST CHARACTERIZATIONS.

BUT WHAT REVOLUTIONIZES ALL OF THIS IS WHEN SHE MEETS BOND LATER IN THE MOVIE AND SUDDENLY THEY'RE ON EQUAL FOOTING. THERE'S NO MORE MALE-DOMINATING PATRIARCHY FROM HER FATHER. SHE FIRST HELPS HIM GET AWAY FROM THE BAD GUYS (IT'S A TOTALLY CONTRIVED MEETING, BUT WHATEVER. YOU DON'T NEED A REAL REASON FOR DIANA RIGG TO RE-APPEAR IN YOUR MOVIE), AND WE/BOND GET TO SEE THIS ADVENTURE-CRAVING SIDE TO HER. THIS SO-CALLED "TROUBLESOME" GIRL IS ACTUALLY PERFECTLY CAPABLE AND INDEPENDENT. THE LAST THING SHE NEEDS IS SOME HUSBAND. AND IN THE PROCESS OF BEING ON THE RUN TOGETHER (AGAIN, ON EQUAL FOOTING), THEY BOTH GET SWEPT UP IN THE ROMANCE OF THE SWISS COUNTRYSIDE AND FALL FOR EACH OTHER. AND IT'S A REAL JOY TO WATCH BECAUSE THEY TAKE THEIR TIME WITH IT. NOTHING FEELS OBLIGATORY FOR ONCE. AND THEN BOND, FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THIS ENTIRE FILM SERIES, DOES THE RATHER UN-INDULGENT, NON-EGOTISTICAL THING AND ADMITS THAT HE LOVES HER. AND THEN, AFTER SOME ADMITTEDLY OBLIGATORY LAST ACT RESCUING, THEY REALLY DO GET MARRIED FOR WHAT TRULY SEEMS TO BE THEIR OWN INDEPENDENT REASONS. IT IS BOTH A REMARKABLE TEXT AND A RE-EVALUATIVE ARC TO JAMES BOND.

UNTIL IT ALL ENDS IN A SUDDEN, LAST-SECOND TRAGEDY. ONE THAT FEELS, AND TOTALLY IS ON A PURELY NARRATIVE LEVEL, COMPLETELY UNFAIR. AND THUS IT ENRAGED VIEWERS AND SENT THEM OUT OF THE THEATER FURIOUS THAT A BOND FILM WOULD END ON A TRAGIC, SAD NOTE (ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO VIEW THESE FILMS INDULGENTLY). AND IN REALITY, THIS DECISION WAS A TRUE DOUBLE EDGE SWORD. BECAUSE ON ONE HAND, IT REALLY SEEMS TO UNDERMINE ALL THEY WERE TRYING TO ACCOMPLISH IN HAVING AN AUDIENCE FALL IN LOVE WITH (AND ACCEPT) A NO-BULLSHIT QUASI-FEMINIST EQUAL TO BOND (THOUGH YOU COULD ARGUE THEIR VERY ANGER SHOWCASES THAT IT GOT THEM INVESTED IN HER AND THUS IT WORKED). BUT ON THE OTHER HAND, IT IS MAKING A REALLY INTERESTING, SOMEWHAT BRILLIANT STATEMENT THAT A "MRS. BOND" CAN'T EXIST IN THIS WORLD. AS MUCH AS JAMES BOND CAN CHANGE WITHIN A SINGLE NARRATIVE, THE SERIES WILL ALWAYS NEED HIM TO BE THE DISAFFECTED HUNTER OF SUPER-VILLAINS. IT WILL ALWAYS NEED HIM TO BE THE WOMANIZING DINOSAUR. AS A CHARACTER, THERE IS NO OTHER CHOICE FOR BOND. THIS IS THE LIFE AND THE FILM TREATS THAT FACT AS SADLY AS IT SHOULD BE TREATED. AND IN THE LARGER SENSE, IT'S A PROGNOSTICATION OF HOW BOND AUDIENCES WILL NOT ACCEPT A REVISED, FORWARD-THINKING JAMES BOND EITHER. WHICH MEANS TRAGEDY IS THE ONLY ENDGAME FOR SOMEONE WHO MUST CONSTANTLY REVERT TO THE INHUMAN PERSON WHO IS REQUIRED TO BE SO BY BOTH THE NATURE OF THE NARRATIVE'S WORLD, AND BY THE AUDIENCE OUTSIDE OF IT. BUT BEYOND THIS BRILLIANT META-COMMENT, HULK CAN HOPE WE AT LEAST ALL HAVE THE POWER TO SEE THIS "CHEAP TRAGEDY" FOR STILL BEING WHAT IS EASILY THE MOST EMOTIONALLY AFFECTING THING THAT ANY OF THESE MOVIES WILL EVER OFFER, OR PERHAPS BY VIRTUE OF THE NEED FOR COMMON BOND TROPES, COULD EVER OFFER.

"... ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD" INDEED.

THERE IS SOMETHING ABOUT ALL OF THIS IN GENERAL, AND DIANA RIGG'S PERFORMANCE IN PARTICULAR, THAT FINALLY ALLOWED HULK TO LOCK INTO A CERTAIN IDEA THAT REALLY HELPS EXPLAIN THE SERIES ON THE WHOLE. PUT IT LIKE THIS: SCIENCE IS ABOUT EXPERIMENTATION, RIGHT? AND IN EXPERIMENTS YOU HAVE CONTROLS (THE THINGS THAT STAY THE SAME) AND THE VARIABLES (THE THINGS THAT CHANGE). AND IT IS THROUGH THE MEASURING OF THE VARIABLES YOU GET TO SEE WHAT IS REALLY HAPPENING AND WHAT IS EFFECTING CHANGE, RIGHT? SO IF YOU TAKE THIS RIGOROUS SCIENTIFIC METHOD AND APPLY IT IN A BROADER METAPHORICAL SENSE AND SEE EACH OF THESE FILMS AS EXPERIMENTS, YOU GET TO SEE SOMETHING IMPORTANT ABOUT THE NATURE OF THE CHANGE: FOR AS MUCH VARIATION AS THERE IS IN THE BOND ACTORS, THE DETAILS OF THE PLOTS, THE VILLAINS, THE GADGETS, THE LINES - THE MECHANISMS AND INTENTIONS ARE ALWAYS PRETTY MUCH THE SAME, RIGHT? THEY'RE ALL OUR RELATIVE CONSTANTS. SO WHAT IS ACTUALLY THE BIGGEST VARIABLE IN ALL OF THESE MOVIES?

THE BOND GIRLS.

NOT JUST IN TERMS OF THEIR SPECIFIC ROLE WITHIN IN THE FILM, BUT THEIR ENTIRE EFFECT. THE WAY THEY ARE REGARDED BY THE CHARACTERS, BY THE MOVIE, BY CULTURE ITSELF - WHICH MEANS THEY ARE ALSO THE MOST IMPORTANT KEY TO UNDERSTANDING THE RELATIVE GOALS OF CONSTRUCTION IN THESE FILMS.  WHICH IS EXACTLY WHY HULK HAS BEEN PAYING SO MUCH ATTENTION TO THEM SO FAR, AND ALSO WHY HULK WILL BE PAYING EVEN MORE ATTENTION GOING FORWARD.

FOR BOND IS OUR CONSTANT, BUT THE BOND GIRLS ARE OUR VARIABLE.

* * *

HULK COULD LEAVE IT ALL AT THAT, BUT THERE ARE STILL SO MANY OTHER THINGS THAT MAKE OHMSS SUCH AN INTERESTING ENTRY IN THIS SERIES - LIKE HOW THE PLOT IS ALSO SO DAMN UNCOMMON FOR A BOND MOVIE.

FOR INSTANCE, THE OPENING SCENE INVOLVES A COMPLETELY RANDOM SCENARIO WHERE BOND SAVES A WOMAN WHO IS TRYING TO DROWN HERSELF, BUT HE THEN GETS ATTACKED AND BEATEN UP FOR NO DISCERNIBLE REASON (AT FIRST), WHICH THEN CAUSES HIM TO BREAK THE FOURTH WALL AND ADDRESS THE AUDIENCE DIRECTLY... WHICH WOULD BE WEIRD ON ITS OWN, BUT IT'S AN ESPECIALLY WEIRD CHOICE FOR A FILM THAT THEN GOES TO ALL THESE EXTRA LENGTHS TO ESTABLISH CONTINUITY BY SHOWING THAT BOND HOLDS KEEPSAKES FROM HIS OTHER GIRLFRIENDS IN THE OTHER MOVIES, LIKE HONEY RYDER (EACH WITH THEIR MUSICAL THEME ACCOMPANIMENT!). AND THEN A CRIME LORD (?!) PROPOSES THAT BOND'S MAGIC COCK SHOULD TAME HIS CRAZY (FEMINIST) DAUGHTER TRACY. THEN BOND GOES OFF TO TRACK BLOFELD TO SOME SWISS INSTITUTE AND SPENDS THE NEXT 45 MINUTES OF THE MOVIE IN DISGUISE, PRETENDING TO BE "SIR HILARY BRAY" A.K.A. AN INEFFECTUAL INTELLECTUAL TYPE WHO IS RATHER NON-BOND IN ALL MANNER OF THINGS. AFTER THE YOUNG EFFORTS, IT'S DOWNRIGHT BIZARRE, REALLY. AND THE ENTIRE COVER STORY IS THAT HE IS THERE TO CONFIRM BLOFELD'S ATTEMPT TO CLAIM A TITLE OF COUNT VON WHATEVERTHELL.

CONTINUING THIS SEEMING RIDICULOUSNESS IS THE FACT THAT AT THIS INSTITUTE HE MEETS "THE ANGELS OF DEATH" WHO ARE BASICALLY JUST 10 HOT WOMEN WITH ALLERGIES BEING CURED OR SOMETHING AND HULK SWEARS TO GOD THAT IT TURNS INTO A FOX-IN-THE-HEN-HOUSE SEX ROMP FOR LIKE 30 MINUTES WHERE BOND IS SNEAKING AROUND AT NIGHT TO HAVE SEX WITH THESE LADIES WITHOUT THE MATRONLY DEAN (IRMA BUNT) CATCHING HIM.

SERIOUSLY. THIS HAPPENS.

BUT THEN HE FINALLY "MEETS / RE-MEETS" BLOFELD, WHICH IS SUPER CONFUSING BECAUSE THE FILM HAS GONE THROUGH GREAT LENGTHS TO ESTABLISH CONTINUITY WITH THE OTHER FILMS, BUT THEN BEHAVES IN A WAY THAT MAKES IT SEEM LIKE IT IS FORGETTING THAT THESE TWO CHARACTERS HAVE ACTUALLY MET!?!? HULK GENUINELY HAS NO IDEA WHAT'S GOING ON WITH THIS CHOICE - MAYBE IT'S BECAUSE THEY'RE DIFFERENT ACTORS!!??!?

OOOH! OH YEAH, EVERYONE! TELLY SAVALAS GETS A TURN AS BLOFELD! HIS PORTAYAL IS INTERESTING IN THE SENSE THAT YOU GET TO SEE THE WAY THE CHARACTER MANIFESTS WHEN IT IS NOT BEYOND SILLY, BUT HULK'S SORRY, IT STILL CAN'T HELP BUT BE SILLY. AND HULK ACTUALLY REALLY DIGS SAVALAS A BUNCH. THE GUY HAD SORT OF A CRAZY CAREER, LARGELY DEFINED BY KOJAK, BUT HE WAS A TRULY GREAT CHARACTER ACTOR (HULK'S FAVORITE APPEARANCE OF HIS IS EASILY PRETTY MAIDS ALL IN A ROW). BUT IN THE END HIS BLOFELD JUST CAN'T HOLD A CANDLE TO WHAT PLEASENCE CREATED WITH THE CHARACTER. AND MAYBE NO ONE'S CAN, FOR IT WILL ALWAYS COME OFF AS HELPLESS IMITATION. BUT AT LEAST SAVALAS STILL GETS THE HONOR OF BEING THE SECOND BEST BLOFELD IN THE SERIES.

WAIT... WHAT WAS HULK TALKING ABOUT? OH YEAH, THE FACT THAT THESE TWO CHARACTERS DON'T REMEMBER EACH OTHER, BUT THEY TOTALLY MET IN THE LAST MOVIE. YOU KNOW HULK'S NOT A BIG CONTINUITY GUY OR ANYTHING, BUT THIS LITERALLY MAKES NO SENSE.

ANYWAY, THEN BOND GETS CAUGHT AND FINDS OUT THAT ALL THESE WOMEN ARE BEING BRAINWASHED TO DISPERSE GERM WARFARE FROM EACH OF THEIR RESPECTIVE AREAS OF NATIONALITY. SO BOND ESCAPES IN ONE SERIOUSLY BADASS SKI SEQUENCE. HE RANDOMLY MEETS TRACY ONCE AGAIN IN THE GREATEST MOMENT OF CIRCUMSTANCE EVER. THEY HAVE A SWELL TIME. TRACY IS ENCHANTING. THEY TOTALLY DO IT. THEY TOTALLY FALL IN LOVE. THEY TOTALLY GET ATTACKED AGAIN AND BLOFELD CAPTURES TRACY. SO THEN BOND RESCUES HER IN A HUGE ATTACK ON THE STATION. BLOFELD ESCAPES ON A FUCKING BOBSLED. BOND CHASES. BLOFELD SNAPS HIS NECK ON THE TREE, KILLING HIM INSTANTLY. BOND AND TRACY GET MARRIED. HAPPILY EVER AFTER!

WAIT - SCRATCH THAT. AS THEY ARE ON THEIR HONEYMOON DRIVE, IRMA BUNT AND A SOMEHOW-STILL-ALIVE-BLOFELD-IN-A-NECKBRACE SHOW UP OUT OF NOWHERE AND, WITH A DRIVE-BY SHOOTING, KILL TRACY. BOND IS DEVASTATED. CREDITS GO UP WITH SAD MUSIC.

NOW...

THE REASON HULK WENT INTO SUCH DETAIL HERE IS THAT IT SOUNDS LIKE ONE OF THE MOST BATSHIT INSANE THINGS EVER, RIGHT? IT'S ILLOGICAL. COUNTERINTUITIVE. IT BREAKS SO MANY COMMON SCREENPLAY RULES. IT LACKS CONTINUITY. IT HAS PLOT-HOLES AND CONVENIENCES GALORE... BUT WHERE THE SAME COMPLAINTS PRACTICALLY KILL YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, IT SOMEHOW ALL WORKS BEAUTIFULLY BECAUSE IT'S AN EMOTIONALLY GROUNDED FILM THAT GOES FOR ACTUAL DRAMA INSTEAD OF INDULGENCE (EXCEPT FOR THE SEX DORM SEQUENCE WITH THE ANGELS OF DEATH, WHICH IS AS INDULGENT AS IT GETS, BUT ARGUABLY IN A FUN, ON-THE-NOSE, OBVIOUS WAY? YOU KNOW, LIKE THE FUCKING MACHINE?). AND BECAUSE THEY DON'T GIVE US TOO-COOL-FOR-SCHOOL BOND ALL THE TIME AND INSTEAD GIVE US AN ACTUAL PERSON WE CAN LATCH ONTO, THEN ALL THE NEEDED CHARACTER MOMENTS AND EMOTIONAL EFFECTS TURN THE THING INTO A REAL FREAKING MOVIE, AS SILLY AS THE PLOT OF THAT MOVIE MAY BE.

HULK'S ENTIRE POINT IS THIS: EMOTIONALLY CONNECTING WITH A CHARACTER, WHETHER IT BE REAL SADNESS OR REAL JOY, AND NOT HAVING THAT CHARACTER BE AN UNSTOPPABLE, INFALLIBLE BADASS WHO'S JUST A PURE VEHICLE FOR INDULGENCE, OBLIGATORY SEXY-TIMES AND AUDIENCE PANDERING, CAN INDEED BE THE SOLE THING THAT MAKES YOUR MOVIE GREAT. AND IT ALSO HELPS CONFIRM ANOTHER ONE OF HULK'S ONGOING PET THEORIES...

HULK'S SAID IT BEFORE, AND HULK WILL SAY IT AGAIN: THE BEST BOND FILMS ARE ROMANCES. AND THERE IS NO BOND FILM MORE ROMANTIC AND MORE VULNERABLE THAN THIS ONE. AND WHILE THE FILM IS ULTIMATELY ABOUT TRAGEDY, WHAT IS MORE ROMANTIC THAN TRAGIC LOVE? IT'S ALL PART AND PARCEL OF THE BIG SWOONING MESS OF CINEMA, AS ESSENTIAL TO OUR LOVE STORIES AS "HAPPILY EVER AFTER." AND AS A GREAT, RECENT SONG BY FIONA APPLE PUT IT: "There's nothing wrong when a song ends in a minor key." AND THIS IS THE ONE BOND FILM THAT ACTUALLY DARES TO END IN A MINOR KEY, LET ALONE HAVE ONE. IT'S THE ONE FILM THAT DARES TO BECOME A REAL, HEARTFELT MOVIE, FULL OF GRAND BOMBAST AND JARRING INTERSECTION - ALL OF WHICH IS BEST EXEMPLIFIED BY WHAT HAS TO BE JOHN BARRY'S MOST INCREDIBLE BOND SCORE EVER. SERIOUSLY, GIVE A LISTEN:

IT FEELS LIKE EVERYTHING BOND SHOULD BE. SWOONING. PROPULSIVE. GRAND. ROMANTIC. INTENSE. VIBRANT. AND BEST YET, IT WHOLLY ANCHORS THE ENTIRE EMOTIONAL ARC OF EVERYTHING GOING ON IN THIS FILM.

SO HOW DOES SOMETHING THIS GRAND AND ROMANTIC BE RECEIVED SO POORLY? HOW DID IT MISS SO BADLY? HOW COULD SO MANY BOND FANS BE DISAPPOINTED?

BECAUSE THAT'S MOVIE-MAKIN', BABY. PERHAPS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING TO UNDERSTAND IS THAT ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE WAS RELEASED (AND STILL EXISTS) IN A PERFECT STORM OF CONFLATING NEEDS. IT WAS COMING OFF CONNERY, CHANGING THE FORMULA, ENDING ON A DOWNER, FUNDAMENTALLY ALTERING 'WHAT IT GIVES YOU," HAS CRAZY LOGIC HOLES, HAS WEIRD STRUCTURE - AND YET DID SO MANY OF THE CRITICAL "INTANGIBLE THINGS" WELL THAT MAKE FOR GOOD STORIES, BUT BAD INDULGENCE. SO OF COURSE THE REACTIONS WERE ALL OVER THE MAP. HOW COULD IT NOT BE? BUT TO THIS HULK? AND TO MANY MORE OUT THERE WHO FEEL THE SAME WAY? YEAH, THIS FILM ISN'T A TRADITIONAL BOND... IT'S SO MUCH MORE THAN THAT.

IT'S THE BEST OF WHAT THE SERIES CAN BE.

ALSO, THIS IS THE FILM THAT CONFIRMS THAT, YES, EVERYONE, DON'T WORRY, JAMES BOND HAS A GIANT COCK.

... YOU KNOW, IN CASE THERE WAS EVER ANY DOUBT.

7. DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (1971)

SO HULK HAS THIS THEORY ABOUT HOW MOVIES WORK (ONE OF MANY), AND WHILE YOU COULD PROBABLY COME UP WITH A THOUSAND COUNTER-EXAMPLES TO THIS PARTICULAR THEORY, HULK STILL FEELS LIKE IT IS REALLY HELPFUL. SO HERE GOES...

WHEN A STORYTELLER IS TASKED WITH BUILDING CHARACTERS, THERE ARE A LOT OF APPROACHES ONE CAN TAKE, BUT THE GOAL IS ALWAYS THE SAME: MAKE THE CHARACTER SEEM LIKE A FULLY-REALIZED PERSON. IT DOESN'T MATTER IF IT'S A LITTLE INDIE DRAMA OR A BIG SCI-FI EPIC, PEOPLE HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT THE CHARACTERS IN FRONT OF THEM REALLY EXIST IN THEIR RESPECTIVE ON-SCREEN WORLD. AT FIRST, A LOT OF YOUNG STORYTELLERS TRY TO ACCOMPLISH THIS BY COMING AT IT WITH ALL SURFACE-Y THINGS, LIKE MODELING THE CHARACTER AFTER PEOPLE THEY KNOW IN REAL LIFE, OR TRYING TO MAKE THEM HAVE REALISTIC-SOUNDING CONVERSATIONS. BUT THE BEST WAY TO CREATE A FULLY-REALIZED CHARACTER IS TO BUILD ONE WITH AN UNDERSTANDABLE PSYCHE, BECAUSE IF YOUR CHARACTER HAS CLEAR WANTS, GOALS, FEARS AND ALL OF THAT STUFF, THEN WE CAN FOLLOW THEM INTO CONFLICTS. AND YEAH, TO BUILD A PSYCHE YOU HAVE TO START WITH THOSE SURFACE DETAILS LIKE THEIR LOOKS AND PERSONAL HISTORIES, BUT THEN YOU NEED TO START ASKING QUESTIONS ABOUT WHO THEY REALLY ARE AND WHERE THEY ARE GOING. CENTRAL TO ANSWERING THESE QUESTIONS ARE THE QUALITIES OF "WANT" AND "NEED," AS IN: WHAT DOES THIS CHARACTER WANT FROM LIFE? AND WHAT DOES THIS CHARACTER ACTUALLY NEED TO MAKE THEM HAPPY? TO PUT THE DIFFERENCE IN CONTEXT, HULK WANTS A BILLION DOLLARS. HULK WANTS TO SLEEP ALL DAY. HULK WANTS TO HAVE SEX WITH EVERY ATTRACTIVE PERSON ON THE PLANET. BUT WHAT ABOUT WHAT HULK NEEDS? WHAT ABOUT THE THINGS THAT WILL ACTUALLY MAKE SOMEONE LIKE HULK HAPPY? FOR THAT, HULK NEEDS COMPANIONSHIP. HULK NEEDS TO APPRECIATE THE THINGS HULK ALREADY HAS. HULK NEEDS SUPPORT AND KINDNESS AND LOVE. AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT BUT HOW WE DEAL WITH THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT WE WANT AND NEED (ALONG WITH OUR ABILITY TO RECOGNIZE THAT DIFFERENCE) IS ACTUALLY WHAT GIVES US EACH OUR OWN PSYCHOLOGY. WHICH JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE THE THING THAT MAKES US A FULLY-REALIZED PERSON, WHICH JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE THE SAME THING THAT MAKES SOMEONE A FULLY-REALIZED CHARACTER ON THE SCREEN / PAGE / WHATHAVEYOU.

THE OTHER REASON THESE TWO QUALITIES OF WANT & NEED ARE SO IMPORTANT TO STORYTELLING IS THAT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THEM JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE WHERE MOST GREAT STORY CONFLICT COMES FROM. NO, IT'S NOT INVADING ALIENS OR MENACING TOUGHS, IT'S OFTEN JUST OUR INTERNAL CONFLICTS, WHEREIN WE LARGELY CREATE PROBLEMS FOR OURSELVES AND HAVE THE CAPACITY TO RECTIFY THEM. IT'S NO ACCIDENT THAT THE RECTIFICATION OF THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WHAT WE WANT AND NEED OFTEN SHOWCASES HOW WE REACT TO EXTERNAL CONFLICT, TOO. AND WHERE THIS BIT OF INSIGHT GETS REALLY COOL IS WHEN YOU NOTICE THAT THOSE BIG SWEEPING THINGS WE CALL "CHARACTER ARCS" ARE REALLY NOTHING BUT AN EXAMPLE OF HOW A CHARACTER GOES FROM CHASING WHAT THEY WANT, TO STRIVING FOR WHAT THEY NEED. ISN'T THAT REMARKABLE? THAT THE THING THAT MAKES FOR GREAT, PURPOSEFUL CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT IS THE SAME THING THAT GIVES RISE TO REAL-LIFE MATURITY? HULK LOVES THE IDEA THAT WHAT SATISFIES US IN LIFE IS THE SAME THING THAT SATISFIES US IN WATCHING A CHARACTER'S DRAMATIC, STORY-BOUND LIFE TOO.

WELL, SORT OF. BECAUSE THE TRICKY (OR PERHAPS WONDERFUL) THING ABOUT THIS METHODOLOGY FOR MEANINGFUL STORYTELLING IS THAT IT COMPLETELY SERVES AS A REFLECTION OF WHAT WE WANT FROM STORIES, TOO.

THINK OF IT LIKE THIS: IF A MOVIE GIVES US WHAT WE WANT AND INDULGENCES US, IT FEELS REALLY GOOD IN THE MOMENT, RIGHT? OF COURSE IT DOES. BUT IF A MOVIE GIVES US AN EXPERIENCE THAT WE SECRETLY NEED? WELL, THAT MIGHT MAKE US FEEL GOOD, TOO, BUT THAT MOVIE DOES NOT ONLY PLACATE US IN THE MOMENT. INSTEAD, IT WILL BECOME THE KIND OF POWERFUL EXPERIENCE THAT STICKS WITH US FOR A LONG TIME. THAT MAY SOUND A LITTLE GRANDIOSE, BUT HULK ASSURES YOU THAT AUDIENCE MEMBERS EXPERIENCE THESE TWO DIFFERENT STORY REACTIONS ALL THE TIME. FOR INSTANCE, YOU KNOW THAT FEELING WHEN YOU COME OUT OF A MOVIE AND YOU LIKED IT, BUT A FEW DAYS LATER YOU CAN'T REMEMBER ANYTHING ABOUT IT? CHANCES ARE THAT IS A MOVIE THAT GAVE YOU WHAT YOU WANTED, BUT NOTHING YOU ACTUALLY NEEDED. AND YOU KNOW THAT SENSATION YOU GET WHEN YOU SEE A MOVIE AND YOU SORT OF HAVE A WEIRD FEELING COMING OUT OF IT AND MAYBE EVEN DISLIKED IT - OR MAYBE IT SHOCKED YOU AND ROCKED YOU TO YOUR CORE? BUT DAYS OR EVEN WEEKS LATER YOU FIND YOU ARE STILL THINKING ABOUT? STILL REALIZING THE WAYS IT'S MAKING YOU THINK DIFFERENTLY ABOUT LIFE? CHANCES ARE THAT IS A MOVIE THAT HAS GIVEN YOU SOMETHING YOU DIDN'T REALIZE YOU NEEDED, AND HAS PROVIDED SOMETHING THAT HAS HELPED FEED YOUR SOUL IN SOME SMALL WAY. AND WHILE HULK COULD GO ON WITH SPECIFIC EXAMPLES (LIKE HOW HULK CAN FORGET A DISPOSAL REALITY SHOW RATHER QUICKLY, BUT COMPLETELY REMEMBERS ALMOST EVERY EPISODE OF BREAKING BAD), HULK WOULD INSTEAD LIKE TO CUT IT OFF HERE AND GET TO THE DAMN POINT OF THIS LONG TANGENT:

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER IS THE MOVIE THAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU GET EVERYTHING YOU WANT OUT OF BOND AND NOTHING YOU NEED.

WHICH NOT-SO-COINCIDENTALLY MAKES IT THE FIRST FLAT-OUT DISASTER IN THE BOND SERIES (IN TERMS OF PUBLIC OPINION; IN BUSINESS TERMS IT DID FINE). AND LIKE EVERYTHING IN THIS UNIVERSE, IT HAS ITS FANS, BUT HULK IS GOING TO MAKE SOME PRETTY STRAIGHTFORWARD ARGUMENTS FOR WHY HULK REALLY, REALLY, REALLY DOESN'T LIKE IT. PART OF WHICH IS HULK GOING BACK TO THAT THEORY WHERE HULK ARGUED EVERY BOND FILM IS LARGELY AN OVERREACTION TO THE LAST ONE, AND THIS ONE ABSOLUTELY CONFIRMS THAT SUSPICION TO THE WORST DEGREE. AFTER THE RATHER PUBLIC "FAILURE" OF ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE, THIS FILM COULD NOT BE MORE DESPERATE TO, WELL, DO JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING DIFFERENT. BUT RATHER THAN GO ON AND ON IN A STANDARD ESSAY ABOUT IT, LET'S TRY TO HAVE A LITTLE FUN WITH THE APPROACH ON THIS ONE, SHALL WE?

HERE ARE THE 8 WORST DECISIONS IN DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, IN ORDER OF WORSTNESS.

ONE (THE WORST) - CONNERY COMING BACK

HE SHOULD HAVE LEFT IT ALONE. HE SHOULD HAVE LIVED ON WITH A TERRIFIC LEGACY AND INSTEAD HE CAVED BECAUSE, WELL, THEY OFFERED HIM MORE MONEY THAN AN ACTOR HAD EVER RECEIVED BEFORE, SO THAT'S A DECENT REASON, HULK SUPPOSES. BUT ALL THESE YEARS LATER, HULK BETS CONNERY WISHES HE DIDN'T DO IT. BECAUSE IN THE END, AUDIENCES WISHED THE SAME THING, TOO. THEY WANTED HIM BACK BECAUSE THEY MISSED WHAT HE REPRESENTED AND HOW THOSE MOVIES CAME TO LIFE. BUT THEN THEY SAW HIM IN THIS TERRIBLE, UNSWAGGERING LIGHT, WHERE HE'S TOO FAR AGED FOR THE ROLE AND JUST TRULY NOT GIVING A FUCK. AND THEN THEY WERE ALL LIKE "AWWW SHIT HE'S REALLY OLD NOW AND THIS IS KIND OF WEIRD, ISN'T IT? [INSERT SAD FACE]." IT'S JUST SO REPRESENTATIVE OF SO MANY OF OUR POOR DECISIONS REGARDING NOSTALGIA BECAUSE WE DO THIS KIND OF THING ALL THE TIME. WE DO IT WITH REUNION SHOWS, SPIN-OFFS, UNNEEDED SEQUELS, ETC. WE TRY TO CHASE THE HIGH. AND SURE A LOT OF BUSINESS DRIVES IT, BUT AS AUDIENCES WE CAN'T HELP BUT RETURN TO THE THINGS WE LOVE IN SOME VAGUE EFFORT TO RECAPTURE THE MAGIC, BUT IT'S ALMOST ALWAYS DISAPPOINTING. WE CAN NEVER LET SLEEPING DOGS LIE. AND THUS IT WAS THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN FOR CONNERY AND THE ROLE OF BOND... WELL, SORT OF (BUT WE'LL GET TO THAT LATER).

TWO - GUY HAMILTON COMING BACK

HE SHOULD HAVE LEFT IT ALONE, TOO. IF HE HAD ONLY DIRECTED GOLDFINGER, HE COULD HAVE GONE DOWN AS A DIRECTOR WITH ONE OF THE BEST BOND ENTRIES TO HIS RESUME. BUT INSTEAD, WE GET THIS MOVIE. AND THIS IS AS GOOD A PLACE AS ANY TO MENTION IT: HULK REALLY DOES NOT LIKE THIS MOVIE. AND FROM HERE ON IN, HULK IS GOING TO BE CRITICIZING GUY HAMILTON PRETTY HARSHLY, BUT HULK STILL ADMITS THAT HE IS SOMEONE WHO MADE A GOOD BOND MOVIE, AND THAT'S SOMETHING THAT IS INEVITABLY VALID. JUST AS HULK SAYS TO NEVER HATE A MOVIE, THE SAME EXTENDS TO NEVER HATING A DIRECTOR. SO REALLY IT'S JUST PRUDENT TO ACKNOWLEDGE THROUGH ALL OF THIS THAT, EVEN THOUGH HE IS GOING TO BRING A LOT OF UGLINESS INTO THIS SERIES, HE HAS STILL BROUGHT SOME GOOD INTO IT, TOO. HE WAS ALSO A TAX CHEAT, BUT WHATEVER. THE POINT IS PERSONALITY SHOULDN'T PLAY INTO ONE'S ABILITY TO CONSTRUCT A MOVIE (ONLY ONE'S CAREER), AND THUS IT IS CONSTRUCTION WHERE HULK WILL LAY BLAME, BECAUSE HAMILTON WAS APPARENTLY THE DUDE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE CHOICES WITH...

THREE - MR. KIDD AND MR. WINT

QUICK, YOU KNOW WHAT'S FUNNY? A COUPLE OF MINCING GAY STEREOTYPES POSING AS KILLERS WHO EMPLOY DOWNRIGHT INSANE METHODS OF ASSASSINATION! SO WHAT IF THE DECISION TO GO THIS WAY WITH THE CHARACTERS WAS TAKEN FROM A LINE FROM FELIX IN THE BOOK WHERE HE SAID THAT THIS TEAM OF KILLERS WAS PROBABLY HOMOSEXUAL (AND REMEMBER THAT IAN FLEMING HATED HOMOSEXUALS). SO HAMILTON DID THE ONLY NON-REASONABLE THING AND TURNED THEIR DASTARDLY KILLING WAYS INTO AN OVER-THE-TOP-CARTOONY-OFFENSIVE-BIT-OF-AWFULNESS. LOOK, SOMEWHERE OUT THERE HULK IS SURE THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO ENJOY THESE TWO HORRIBLE "CHARACTERS," BUT THOSE PEOPLE ARE WEIRDOS. AND YEAH, THERE ARE PROBABLY SOME OF YOU WHO PREFER THIS BRAND OF "HONEST" RIDICULOUSNESS TO SOMETHING MORE INSIDIOUS. BUT AGAIN, HULK'S PROBLEM WITH THIS KIND OF STUFF IS THE WHOLE POPULAR MOVIE-GOING, INDULGENT ANGLE OF THIS SERIES. THE TONE OF THIS FILM IS OBVIOUS, DIRECT AND MEAN-SPIRITED. THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY THE TARGETS OF THE JOKE. AND AGAIN, THIS ISN'T JUST AN ANACHRONISTIC PRESENTATION OF OLD MOVIE VALUES. EVEN AT THAT TIME, IT DIDN'T GET CRAPPIER THAN HAVING TO SUFFER THROUGH THESE TWO.

FOUR - THE DECISION TO EMBRACE "FUN" A.K.A. "ALL SILLY ALL THE TIME"

YES, THE BOND FILMS THAT CAME BEFORE THIS ONE ALWAYS HAD A SENSE OF HUMOR AND SOME SILLY MOMENTS, BUT THEY WERE STILL WHAT WE COULD EFFECTIVELY CALL "SPY DRAMAS." OKAY, THEY WEREN'T REALLY SPY DRAMAS, BUT THEY AT LEAST HAD THE GOOD DECENCY TO PRETEND THEY WERE AND TRY AND SUCK US INTO THAT ILLUSION. BUT THEY WERE NEVER DOWNRIGHT SILLY THE ENTIRE TIME. THEY WERE SIMPLY PUNCTUATING QUIPS OR MOMENTS OF LEVITY WITHIN A BIGGER CONTEXT. BUT DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER IS JUST A STRAIGHT-UP COMEDY. THERE ARE ONLY QUIPS. THERE IS ONLY THE RIDICULOUS. TO HAMILTON, THIS IS THE ONLY LANGUAGE OF BOND, BUT HE'S MISSING THE OTHER CRUCIAL COMPONENTS TO IT. PERHAPS HAMILTON AND THE PRODUCERS WERE JUST FEELING EMBOLDENED BY THE SO-CALLED FAILURE OF OHMSS' TRAGIC ENDING, SO THEY WANTED TO REALLY EMBRACE THE "FUN" SIDE, AS A KIND OF REASSURANCE TO THE AUDIENCE. BUT AS A RESULT THIS IS THE FIRST JAMES BOND FILM TO GO FULL-CAMP. SO WHATEVER BITS OF FLAIR THAT HAMILTON BROUGHT TO GOLDFINGER,WHICH HELPED TURN IT INTO THE FIRST SELF-AWARE BOND MOVIE, INSTEAD NOW OVERWHELM THIS FILM TO THE POINT THAT IT FLOUNDERS. BECAUSE ADVENTURE AND ROMANCE DON'T WORK WHEN THERE'S NOTHING FOR AN AUDIENCE TO HANG THEIR HAT ON IN TERMS OF A COMPELLING MOVIE-GOING EXPERIENCE.

FIVE - WHATEVER HAPPENED WITH MAIBAUM

SO YOU'LL REMEMBER RICHARD MAIBAUM AS THE MAIN WRITER ON SINGLE EVERY BOND FILM WE'VE DISCUSSED SO FAR. AND WHILE OTHER WRITERS POPPED UP ALONG THE WAY, THIS WAS THE FIRST ENTRY OF HAMILTON'S RIGHT-HAND MAN TOM MANKIEWICZ. NOW, ASIDE FROM A FEW LINGERING STORIES, VERY LITTLE IS ACTUALLY KNOWN ABOUT WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR WHAT OR HOW MUCH THEY WORKED TOGETHER ON THIS PARTICULAR PROJECT (HULK WILL GET TO HULK'S SUSPICIONS LATER, BASED ON WHAT HAPPENED WITH ANOTHER COLLABORATION), BUT IT SEEMS THIS WAS ONE OF THOSE SCRIPTS WHERE ONE PERSON CAME IN AND WROTE "AGAINST" THE OTHER. THIS IS ONLY SUSPICION (HULK'S BEEN TRYING TO TRACK DOWN EACH DRAFT THROUGH BACK CHANNELS AND IT'S PROVED FRUITLESS), SO REALLY WE JUST HAVE TO ACCEPT THAT SOMEWHERE IN THE PROCESS THE SCRIPT GOT "HAMILTONIFIED." AND WHAT ISN'T HELPING MATTERS IS THAT THIS WAS THE FIRST BOND FILM TO GO REALLY, REALLY, REALLY FAR OFF THE BOOK IT WAS BASED ON (FOR ALL OF FLEMING'S MALE-CENTERED UGLINESS, HE WAS STILL KIND OF GROUNDED IN STORY, ATMOSPHERE AND MOOD), AND IT RESULTS IN A FAR MORE INSANE FILM THAN ANY OF THE PREDECESSORS. AT LEAST THE INSANITY IN YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE FELT VAGUELY BOND-LIKE. THIS FILM FILLS BOND'S WORLD WITH THE KINDS OF THINGS WE'VE NEVER SEEN BEFORE... LIKE BAMBI AND THUMPER...

BUT IT GETS A LOT WORSE THAN THIS...

SIX - EVERYTHING ABOUT TIFFANY CASE

SO THIS IS ACTUALLY THE FIRST TIME WE HAVE A MAIN BOND GIRL ARCHETYPE WHO TIPS THE SCALES AND EXISTS AS NOTHING BUT A SHRILL EMBARRASSMENT TO ALL OF WOMANKIND! SADLY, IT WON'T BE THE LAST, BUT TIFFANY CASE REPRESENTS EVERYTHING THAT COULD BE MOST HORRIBLE ABOUT THESE FILMS. LET'S PUT IT LIKE THIS: THE PRIOR EXAMPLES OF OUR MAIN BOND GIRLS HAVE RUN THE GAMUT OF REASONABLY EFFECTIVE TO VACUOUS, TO WELL-MEANING, TO COMPLETELY BENIGN. AND SURE THEY ARE VERY MUCH PART OF THE TRADITION OF MALE-AUTHORED "DREAM WOMEN," THE KIND OF DEMURE AND ATTRACTIVE DAMSELS WHO ARE RESPECTFUL OF THE HERO (EVEN IF THEY FIND HIM INCORRIGIBLE) AND ONLY EXIST SO THEY CAN EVENTUALLY BE RESCUED. BUT HOW DOES IT GET WORSE THAN THAT? HULK FINDS THE WHOLE IDEA THAT WOMEN ARE SHRILL HARPIES WHO EXIST ONLY TO BE LAUGHED AT MUCH, MUCH WORSE.

FOR STARTERS, TIFFANY CASE (JILL ST. JOHN) SPENDS THE ENTIRE RUNNING TIME BEING AN OBSTACLE. SHE'S NOTHING BUT A CARTOONY, MONEY-HUNGRY DITZ WHO JUST FLOATS BETWEEN RICH MEN, ONLY TAKING THE TIME TO SUNBATHE AND / OR BE GENUINELY HORRIBLE TO PEOPLE. PLEASE NOTE THAT THIS IS THE KIND OF HEROINE THAT HAMILTON FAVORS (AND WILL CONTINUE TO FAVOR THROUGHOUT HIS ENTRIES). WHAT MAKES THIS CHARACTERIZATION EVEN DARKER IS THE WAY IT IS "ADAPTED" FROM FLEMING'S NOVEL, WHEREIN TIFFANY CASE IS A HARDENED MAN-HATER BECAUSE, YOU KNOW,  SHE WAS GANG-RAPED AS A CHILD. DON'T WORRY THOUGH! THAT MAN-HATING BUSINESS ENDS THE MOMENT SHE MEETS JAMES BOND AND HIS MAGIC COCK! ... SO THIS IS AS GOOD A PLACE AS ANY TO REINFORCE THAT FLEMING'S BOOKS ARE SUPER FUCKED UP AND IT'S AMAZING HOW MANY PEOPLE DON'T KNOW OR MENTION IT WHEN THEY TALK ABOUT HIM (WHEREAS WE WILL DEFINITELY TALK MORE ABOUT IT LATER). BUT HULK WANTS YOU TO SEE HOW THIS PARTICULAR CHARACTER WAS "TRANSLATED" TO SCREEN; SINCE THAT LITTLE BIT OF CHARACTER HISTORY WAS NOT APPROPRIATE FOR MOVIES AT THE TIME, THEY DID THE NEXT WORST THING AND JUST TURNED HER INTO THE AFOREMENTIONED CARTOON DITZ. THAT'S EASIER, RIGHT? SHE EVEN SPENDS THE ENTIRE CLIMACTIC FINALE JUST GETTING IN THE DAMN WAY AND HURTING BOND MORE THAN SHE HELPS. AND WHAT HULK WANTS TO ARTICULATE ABOUT BOTH THESE CHARACTERIZATIONS (HAMILTON'S AND FLEMING'S) IS THAT THEY ARE BOTH INDICATIVE OF GENUINE HATRED FOR WOMEN. THE EARLIER FILMS, WHILE STILL DEEPLY PROBLEMATIC AND REDUCTIVE AS TO WOMEN'S CAPABILITIES AND ALSO CHOCK-FULL OF ALL SORTS OF PSYCHO-SEXUAL HANGUPS, AT LEAST STILL SEEM TO EXHIBIT THE MOST BASE OF BASELINE RESPECT FOR A WOMAN'S VERY RIGHT TO EXIST. OR PERHAPS THEY ENJOY THE IDEA OF BEING ATTRACTED TO WOMEN. BUT THIS STUFF? THIS IS GENUINELY DISMISSIVE OF WOMEN'S ENTIRE EXISTENCE, AND ALSO FILLED WITH A DEEP RESENTMENT FOR MEN'S VERY ATTRACTION TO THEM (WHICH HASN'T BEEN A TROUBLING VIEWPOINT IN THE NEWS OR ANYTHING). THEY ARE ONLY PUNCHLINES, SO INSULTING THAT BOND ONLY FUCKS THEM BEGRUDGINGLY, LAUGHING IT ALL OFF AS A JOKE. AND THE DIFFERENCE IN ALL THIS MATTERS BECAUSE IT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GUY WHO IS UNAWARE OF HIS SEXIST, LIMITING BEHAVIOR AND THE GUY WHO IS LEADING A MEN'S RIGHTS ACTIVIST FORUM, FULL-CHARGE.

AND PERHAPS THE WORST PART ABOUT IT IS THAT JILL ST. JOHN IS ACTUALLY A GOOD ACTRESS. SHE'S GOT REAL TIMING (EVIDENT FROM HER SINATRA / LEWIS DAYS) AND CAN COMPLETELY FILL A ROOM WITH ENERGY (HULK REALLY LIKES HER IN TENDER IS THE NIGHT). SHE'S GOT THE CHOPS, BUT INSTEAD OF BEING ALLOWED TO GO TOE-TO-TOE WITH BOND IN THE WAY SHE REALLY COULD, SHE'S RENDERED INTO A ONE-NOTE CARTOON WHO FEELS LIKE A JOKE ON HALF THE PLANET'S POPULATION. AND IT SUCKS BECAUSE SHE'S FOREVER REMEMBERED BY THESE IMMORTAL MOVIES IN A REALLY NEGATIVE WAY. THE WHOLE THING DRIVES HULK NUTS... JILL DESERVED SO MUCH BETTER.

SEVEN - IT'S ALSO A WASTE OF LANA WOOD AS PLENTY O'TOOLE

SIGH... THIS JUST HAMMERS THE WHOLE POINT HOME. AND IT'S NOT LIKE HULK IS GOING TO ARGUE THAT WOOD HAS THE SAME KIND OF CHOPS AS ST. JOHN, BUT SHE STILL HAS... UM... PRESENCE. OKAY, FINE. HULK WILL JUST COP TO THE FACT THAT HULK HAS HAD AN ONGOING CRUSH ON THE WOOD SISTERS SINCE JUST ABOUT FOREVER, BUT WHATEVER. THE POINT IS WE HAVE YET ANOTHER CHARACTER THAT IS BEING USED FOR THE MOST BASE AND DISPARAGING REASONS BEFORE SHE'S IS UNCEREMONIOUSLY (AND LITERALLY) DUMPED OVERBOARD FROM THE NARRATIVE. AND HULK GETS THE WHOLE IDEA OF "BOND GIRLS" IN THAT THERE IS A PURE ENTERTAINMENT FACTOR OF TAKING BEAUTIFUL WOMEN WITH KNEE-WEAKENING FIGURES AND PUTTING THEM IN THESE RIDICULOUS MOVIES FOR THE PURPOSE OF MAKING DOUBLE ENTENDRES, BUT GETTING BACK TO THE ONGOING THEME OF THESE ESSAYS: IT'S ABOUT MAKING US FEEL LIKE THEY ARE SOMEHOW DOING MORE THAN THAT, SWEEPING US UP IN THE ROMANTIC LIE OF MOVIES AND MAKING THIS NAKED GRATIFICATION FEEL A BIT MORE PALATABLE AND KIND. BUT THE KIND OF TREATMENT THEY GET IN THIS MOVIE? IT ALL JUST FEELS SO GROSS AND HOLLOW. HULK KNOWS MOST OF LANA'S SCENES GOT DELETED, BUT IF YOU WATCH THOSE SCENES THEY JUST RENDER HER A JEALOUS LOVER WHO TRACKS THEM DOWN AND EVENTUALLY DIES FOR NO REASON TOO. SO IT'S LIKE, YEAH, THERE'S A GOOD BONER LINE AND SHE'S GOT BIG BOOBS, BUT THE KEY TO ALL THESE BOND GIRL ROLES IS MAKING IT AT LEAST FEEL LIKE THERE IS MORE THAN THAT. AND TO DO ANYTHING LESS IS WASTEFUL AND EVIDENT OF BIGGER PROBLEMS WITH THE FILM ITSELF.

... GOOD GAWD DOES HULK LOVE THE WOOD SISTERS.

PS - NATALIE MIGHT BE ONE OF THE MOST UNDERRATED POPULAR ACTRESSES EVER AND SOMEDAY HULK WILL WRITE ABOUT IT. ANWYHO, LAST PROBLEM:

EIGHT - BRINGING BACK BLOFELD LIKE... WELL, LIKE THIS.

SO THIS FILM IS THE POINT WHERE THE LEGACY OF "BLOFELD BEING A GOOD VILLAIN" OFFICIALLY DIES. SURE, SAVALAS' ENTRY DIDN'T DO MUCH TO HELP, BUT THIS IS THE DEAL-BREAKER. AND THERE'S A NEW ACTOR YET AGAIN, AND WHILE HE'S EMBODIED BY THE TYPICALLY COMPETENT BRITISH CHARACTER ACTOR CHARLES GRAY (WHO WAS HENDERSON IN YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE. DUPLICITOUS CASTING, Y'ALL!), IT STILL DOESN'T WORK. BUT MAYBE THERE ARE A LOT OF REASONS FOR THAT. THIS WHOLE "MULTIPLE BLOFELDS" THING WAS ALREADY SO WEIRD AND COMPLICATED THAT DIAMONDS DECIDED TO TRY AND ANSWER THIS COMPLETELY NONSENSICAL PLOT-LINE BY MAKING IT ALL ABOUT BLOFELD MAKING DOUBLES. THE PROBLEM IS THAT THE EXPLANATION MAKES NO SENSE AND JUST ENDS UP BEING MORE CONFUSING. NOT JUST LOGICALLY EITHER - THE WHOLE THING SERVES NO REAL STORY PURPOSE AND IS OBSCURED IN SO MUCH MISDIRECTION AND CONFUSION THAT IT HAS NO POSITIVE DRAMATIC OR CINEMATIC EFFECT. SO ONCE AGAIN WE HAVE A GOOD ACTOR SADDLED WITH A RIDICULOUS PLOT THAT DOESN'T FUNCTION WITHIN THE LARGER CONTEXT. AND THE RESULT IS THE SECOND-WORST INCARNATION OF BLOFELD WE HAVE (DON'T BELIEVE IT CAN GET WORSE? YOU'LL SEE).

BUT LIKE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS MOVIE, IT ALL GOES BACK TO HAMILTON AND THE FACT THAT HE DOESN'T MIND RIDICULOUSNESS. IN FACT, HE PILES ON TOP OF IT. AND HULK WILL KEEP SAYING IT: YES, THESE MOVIES ARE RIDICULOUS, BUT IT'S ALL ABOUT KEEPING THE ABSURDITY IN CHECK IN A VERY SPECIFIC, PLAYING IT STRAIGHT KIND OF WAY. THESE FILMS REQUIRE A DEFT HAND AND HAMILTON'S TAKE IS NOT ONLY ANYTHING BUT DEFT, BUT THE DEALBREAKER IS HOW THEY ARE ALSO FULL OF ALL SORTS OF GROSS MISOGYNY AND INSULTING PSYCHOLOGY.

SO THERE YOU HAVE IT. THE EIGHT TERRIBLE DECISIONS WHICH HELPED RENDER THIS FILM PRETTY DREADFUL.

OKAY FINE. THERE ARE SOME GOOD THINGS IN THIS MOVIE. LIKE, UM, OOOOH - THERE ARE SOME NIFTY CAR STUNTS IN THE VEGAS CHASE!

AND THERE'S UM... UH...

OKAY, HONESTLY THIS IS ALL HULK'S GOT:

...HULK'S SO SORRY.

BUT NOT AS SORRY AS FOR WHAT IS TO FOLLOW. BECAUSE EVEN THOUGH THIS MAY SEEM LIKE THE LOW POINT, WE'RE ABOUT TO HIT ROCK BOTTOM FOR THE SERIES...

8. LIVE AND LET DIE (1973)

SO, THIS IS HULK'S LEAST FAVORITE BOND MOVIE.

THERE. HULK SAID IT. AND THAT ISN'T TO SAY IT'S THE MOST OBJECTIVELY HORRIBLE, OR THAT IT DOESN'T DISPLAY SOME LEVEL OF SOLID CRAFT, JUST THAT IT IS ABSOLUTELY HULK'S LEAST FAVORITE BECAUSE IT IS ALSO THE MOST MORALLY OFFENSIVE. NOW, HULK REALIZES THAT MAY SOUND A LITTLE PEARL-CLUTCHY TO SOME OF YOU, AS A LOT OF FOLKS SEEM TO GET MILEAGE OUT OF THE LAUGHABLE KITSCH VALUE OF SOMETHING THIS INSANE. SOME OF YOU EVEN FIND THIS KIND OF PERVERSENESS TO BE FASCINATING (HULK EVEN JOKED ON TWITTER THAT IT'S THE MOST SAM-STRANGEABLE MOVIE OF ALL-TIME). BUT WHILE HULK LIKES WEIRD MOVIES TOO, HULK HONESTLY FEELS LIKE BOND MOVIES CARRY A CERTAIN (REALLY TINY) WEIGHT OF SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY BECAUSE OF THEIR MASSIVE POPULARITY, INDULGENT NATURE AND GENERAL LIKABILITY. MEANING NO, THIS ISN'T SOME OBSCURE MOVIE FREE TO EXPLORE THESE KINDS OF KITSCH REVERSALS. THIS IS A BOND MOVIE. AND WHILE LIVE AND LET DIE IS FAR BETTER IN A NARRATIVE SENSE THAN DIAMONDS, AND EVEN FEELS LIKE A COMPELLING DRAMATIC EFFORT IN CERTAIN SEQUENCES.

LET US PLEASE NOT FORGET THAT THIS IS A DEEPLY UNSETTLING, DEEPLY RACIST MOVIE IN EVERY FIBER OF ITS BEING.

COOL? COOL.

OH, WAIT, NOT COOL? YOU DON'T GET WHAT THE BIG DEAL IS?

FINE. LET'S DO THIS.

HERE'S THE HONEST-TO-ODIN CENTRAL CONCEIT OF LIVE AND LET DIE: LET'S TAKE THE WORLD OF JAMES BOND, WITH ALL HIS TROPES AND ICONOGRAPHY YOU ARE ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH, AND JUST SET IT IN A BLAXPLOITATION FILM.

REALLY, THAT'S IT. IT'S NOT A BLAXPLOITATION VERSION OF A JAMES BOND FILM, NOR A JAMES BOND MOVIE WITH A BLACK LEAD (WHICH HULK COULDN'T FIND, BUT HULK HOPES IT EXISTS). AND IT'S NOT EVEN A FILM ABOUT EMPOWERING AFRICAN-AMERICAN CULTURE. INSTEAD, IT IS SIMPLY JAMES BOND RANDOMLY PLACED IN A BLAXPLOITATION FILM. SO HE'S STILL WHITE-ASS ENGLISH JAMES BOND (MADE ALL THE WHITER AND DAINTIER BY THE FACT THAT ROGER MOORE IS NOW PLAYING HIM), AND HE'S MAKING FUN OF / BATTLING A BUNCH OF NEFARIOUS BLACK PEOPLE, ALL OF WHOM SEEM TO BE ORGANIZED AS A HORRIBLE UNITED FRONT OUT TO GET THE GOOD WHITE FOLK OF AMERICA (AND THE U.K. FOR SOME REASON). OH, AND THERE ARE SOME NOTABLE CHANGES TO THE STANDARD BOND FORMULA, TOO. LIKE ALL THAT GRAND MOVIE LANGUAGE ABOUT BOND VILLAINS TAKING OVER THE WORLD AND KIDNAPPING NUKES OR WHATEVER? NOW, IT'S BLACK PEOPLE PRESENTED AS THE BAD GUYS, SO THE WHOLE PLOT IS JUST ABOUT HEROIN. AND VOODOO. AND BEING PIMPS. AND WHATEVER OTHER STEREOTYPE YOU WANT BECAUSE THEY'RE ALL THERE. IT'S LIKE A BLACK STEREOTYPE BUFFET. BUT THE POINT OF THIS BUFFET IS NOT TO EAT A LOT OF FOOD, BUT INSTEAD TO SURMISE THAT ALL BLACK PEOPLE ARE BAD. EXCEPT FOR A COUPLE GOOD ONES. BUT THEY'RE STILL KIND OF BAD... AND DEFINITELY EXPENDABLE.

SO WHERE DID THIS COME FROM, YOU ASK?

WELL, FLEMING'S NOVEL, OF COURSE. ONLY INSTEAD OF IT BEING SILLY (OH, YEAH THE FILM DESCRIBED ABOVE IS REALLY SILLY), FLEMING'S NOVEL IS MORE A STRAIGHT-UP HORROR TELLING OF BOOGEY BOOGEY BLACK PEOPLE! REALLY. HULK CANNOT IMPRESS UPON YOU THE BLUNTNESS OF THE RACIAL OPINIONS IN FLEMING'S BOOKS. FOR INSTANCE, LET'S GO TO AN EARLIER BOOK AND SEE FLEMING'S TAKE ON KOREAN PEOPLE:

"Bond intended to stay alive on his own terms. Those terms included putting Odd-Job or any other Korean firmly in place, which in Bond’s estimation was lower than apes in the mammalian hierarchy."

EVEN STILL. SOME PEOPLE STILL INSIST THAT FLEMING WASN'T RACIST AND WAS JUST "COLORING THE EDGES" (SERIOUSLY, HULK HEARD SOMEONE USE THAT PHRASE). AND SOME PEOPLE REFUSE TO THINK THAT THIS PARTICULAR BOOK IS RACIST AND INSTEAD JUST SO HAPPENS TO BE A GRITTY STORY IN A WORLD WHERE THE ENEMIES JUST SO HAPPEN TO BE BLACK.

OKAY, HERE ARE TWO QUOTES FROM FLEMING'S LIVE OR LET DIE NOVEL:

'One can try,' said Leiter. 'But I know what you mean - better the frying-pan you know than the fire you don't. It isn't a bad life when it consists of sitting in a comfortable bar drinking good whiskey. How do you like this corner of the jungle?' He leaned forward. 'Just listen to the couple behind you. From what I've heard they're straight out of Nigger Heaven.'

AND LATER IN THE BOOK... WHEN BOND HAS RESCUED SOLITAIRE FROM MR. BIG, HER COMMENT IS...

"She smiled. 'I thought I'd get my chance one day.' She gestured toward the windows. 'You've given me a new life. I've been shut up with him and his nigger gangsters for nearly a year. This is heaven."

BY THE WAY, THESE ARE THE GOOD GUYS. AND THEY AREN'T GOOD GUY ANTI-HEROES TO FIND COMPELLING. THEY ARE THE GOOD GUYS IN THE MOST INDULGENT AND PORNOGRAPHIC BOOK/MOVIE SERIES EVER, AND THUS THIS SENTIMENT IS MEANT IN THE EXACT WAY THE AUTHOR EXPLAINS. WE ARE VERY LITERALLY SUPPOSED TO SMILE AND THINK "TAKE THAT PROGRESSIVE AMERICA! HE'S RIGHT ON THE MONEY!"... DOES HULK NEED TO TALK MORE ABOUT THIS? THAT SAYS EVERYTHING, RIGHT? CAN WE ACCEPT THIS RACISM EXACTLY FOR WHAT IT IS? CAN WE JUST LEAVE THIS AND MOVE ON NOW? ARE WE GOOD?

AND IF SO, HERE'S A PERTINENT QUESTION: IF IT'S OBVIOUSLY SO RACIST, WHY EVEN USE THIS AS SOURCE MATERIAL? ESPECIALLY GIVEN THAT THE BOOK HAD BEEN CONSIDERED UN-FILMABLE FOR ALL THESE SAME NEFARIOUS REASONS EVEN A DECADE PRIOR? WELL, SINCE EVERY BOND FILM HAS TO BE A REACTION TO THE LAST, THEY NEEDED TO CHANGE. FOR EVEN THOUGH DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER MADE A LOT OF MONEY, THEY KNEW THE CAMPY THING DIDN'T TAKE TOO WELL. THEY KNEW THAT BOND FELT TOO OLD. AND SO FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE RUSSIA, THEY WANTED TO MAKE THE NEW ONE GRITTIER. AND IT WAS A CHANGING WORLD AND THUS THEY WANTED TO MAKE THE FILM CURRENT AND REFLECTIVE OF THAT CHANGING SOCIAL WORLD. THEY WANTED IT TO BE ADULT. THEY WANTED THE NEW BOND TO BE LIVING IN THE MODERN WORLD AND FACING COMPLEX RACIAL ISSUES AND MODERNITY.

SO THEY LOOKED TO THE MASSIVE POPULARITY OF BLAXPLOITATION AND SAID "HEY, LET'S USE THIS!" ONLY INSTEAD OF COMMENTING ON BLAXPLOITATION IN SOME WAY, THEY JUST USURPED THE LANGUAGE AND ICONOGRAPHY OF IT, THEN EVISCERATED THE CULTURAL VALUE AND MEANINGFUL SUBTEXT OF IT, AND USED THOSE THINGS TO MAKE WHITE PEOPLE TOTALLY FEARFUL OF IT. BUT HEY! THE INTENT WAS JUST TO MAKE A MODERN MOVIE SET IN A MODERN, GRITTY WORLD, RIGHT? AND THEY TOTALLY INTENDED TO TONE DOWN THE OVERT RACISM OF THE BOOK (WHILE KEEPING THE PLOT LINES AND THUS THE THEMATIC IMPLICATIONS MORE OR LESS THE SAME, OF COURSE). SO OTHER THAN THAT, HOW COULD IT ALL GO SO WRONG? WELL, LET HULK ASK YOU A QUESTION: WHAT WOULD BE THE RIGHT DIRECTING STYLE TO GO ALONG WITH THE MODERN GRATIFICATION OF THIS KIND OF STORY?

THEORETICALLY, YOU WOULD WANT SOMEONE WHO WAS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF GUY HAMILTON, RIGHT? A.K.A. THE GUY WHOSE CAMPY SENSIBILITY NEARLY LAMPOONED YOUR LAST EFFORT AND THE WHOLE REASON YOU WANTED TO CHANGE THINGS UP IN THE FIRST PLACE?

OF COURSE YOU WOULD WANT THE OPPOSITE. SO THAT'S WHY THEY WENT WITH...

... GUY HAMILTON.

AND YOU KNOW WHAT HAMILTON REALLY THOUGHT THIS KIND OF FILM NEEDS? DID YOU SAY AN ABSURDLY RACIST SHERIFF WHO WAS MEANT TO BE NOTHING BUT COMIC RELIEF? THE KIND OF CHARACTER WE'RE SUPPOSED TO BOTH FIND INEPT AND HILARIOUS, BUT ALSO FIND HIS QUIPS AGAINST THE BLACK BAD GUYS EVEN MORE HILARIOUS?

WELL, IF YOU SAID YES, YOU'RE IN LUCK!

THE WORST PART IS HIS SCENES GO ON FOR-FUCKING-EVER. SERIOUSLY, HULK DIDN'T EVEN LINK TO THE LONG VIDEO OF THE WHOLE THING.

THE SHERIFF'S INCLUSION SPEAKS FOR EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG WITH THIS MOVIE. FROM MOORE'S CLUMSY INTRODUCTION AS BOND, TO THE WORLD OF UNITED EVIL BLACK PEOPLE, TO MORE OF THE DISPOSABLE, CARTOONY BOND GIRLS, TO ALL THE RIDICULOUS WAYS IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE GRITTY, TO ALL THE GRATING WAYS IT IS SUPPOSED TO BE FUNNY. EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS FILM IS WRONG. IT'S NOTHING BUT TONE-DEAF UGLINESS. AND HEY, AT LEAST DIAMONDS WAS SORT OF HONEST TO ITS STUPID, SILLY IDENTITY (SHITTY AS IT WAS). BUT THIS FILM EVEN SUBVERTS ITS OWN INTENTIONS CONSTANTLY. HECK, THIS MOVIE HAS YAPHET KOTTO IN IT AND THEY ALMOST (ALMOST) RUIN HIM. DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH THAT SUCKS!?!?!?!? YAPHET KOTTO IS ONE OF OUR BEST HUMANS!!!!!

UGH. SORRY. HULK WILL CALM DOWN. WE'RE GETTING TOO SMASHY.

BUT REALLY, IS HULK SUPPOSED TO ROLL WITH ALL THIS BECAUSE, HEY, SOME PEOPLE CAN LOOK AT IT WITH A SENSE OF DISTANCE AND FIND IT FUNNY? IS HULK SUPPOSED TO PUT EVERYTHING HORRIBLE ABOUT THIS FILM AND WHAT IT SAYS ON A THEMATIC LEVEL OUT OF SIGHT AND OUT OF MIND? IF HULK DOES THAT, THEN YEAH, HULK GUESSES IT DOES HAVE SOME WEIRD, KINDA NEAT AND INVENTIVE STUFF. LIKE AT TIMES IT'S EVEN A LITTLE SCARY AND HEAPS ALL SORTS OF TENSION ON THE MYSTERIES OF THE OCCULT. AND IT DEFINITELY HAS SOME ADVENTUROUS STORYTELLING AND SHOWS MOMENTS OF BEING WILLING TO PUSH THE BOND ENVELOPE. AND YEAH YEAH, THE PAUL AND LINDA MCCARTNEY SONG IS FUCKING BEYOND GREAT.

BUT THERE'S STILL TOO MUCH AWFUL. THE PURPOSE IS WRONG. THE FILM IS ROTTEN IN ITS CORE. AND UNLIKE THE LACK OF TACT IN YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, THIS ROTTENNESS REALLY PUSHES THE ENTIRE FILM INTO AN AREA WHERE IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO SEPARATE THE GOOD FROM ITS OFFENSIVE AUDACITY. THIS ISN'T A CASE OF PEOPLE WHO DIDN'T KNOW BETTER, THIS IS PURPOSEFULLY MEAN. FOR THERE ARE ENOUGH KING KONG ALLUSIONS, SHITTY PORTRAYALS AND RACIAL SLIGHTS FOR HULK TO GET NO OTHER POSSIBLE VALUE FROM IT. AND HULK KEEPS TELLING YOU, IT'S NOT EVEN THAT IT'S "DATED," IT JUST COMES DOWN ON THE SHITTY SIDE OF EVERYTHING AND USURPS A CRITICAL CINEMATIC MOVEMENT AS A JOKE.

NO WONDER BLAXPLOITATION AUDIENCES LOATHED IT.

AGAIN, HULK UNDERSTANDS WHY SOME PEOPLE MIGHT FIND A CRAZY BOND FILM LIKE THIS FASCINATING. DEVIN ONCE WROTE AN INTERESTING PIECE ON HOW TO LOOK AT INCREDIBLY RACIST FILMS LIKE ADDIO ZIO TOM AS LENSES BOTH TO THE EXTREME FRINGES OF ART AND AN EXAMINATION OF THE ABSURD PSYCHOLOGY OF THE PEOPLE WHO MAKE THEM. THE PROBLEM IS THOSE FILMS ARE NOT EXACTLY STEALTH WITH THEIR ISSUES. PEOPLE CAN WATCH ADDIO ZIO TOM AND SEE THE SICKNESS FOR WHAT IT IS. MEANING FOR HULK TO FIND SOMETHING FUCKED-UP TO BE FASCINATING, IT HAS TO BE ABSOLUTELY FUCKED UP IN THE STANDARD FILMMAKING WAYS TOO. SO THE REAL PROBLEM WITH LIVE AND LET DIE IS IT'S SO SLICK AND POPULAR AND COMMERCIAL THAT MOST PEOPLE CAN GLOSS RIGHT OVER THE FUCKED-UP ATTITUDES OF IT AND NOT EVEN NOTICE (HELL, HULK NEVER NOTICED AS A KID AND HULK WORSHIPPED THESE MOVIES). AND YET THERE ARE STILL TONS OF PEOPLE WHO LIKE THIS FILM UNIRONICALLY. AND WHEN YOU COME AT THEM WITH THE MOST BASIC EXPLANATIONS FOR WHY THIS FILM CLEARLY DOESN'T THINK MUCH OF BLACK PEOPLE, THEY TEND TO IGNORE IT OR GET PRETTY DEFENSIVE (WARNING, GO NOWHERE NEAR THE RACISM DISCUSSION BOARD ON IMDB FOR THIS FUCKER. NOWHERE NEAR IT. HULK'S NOT EVEN GONNA LINK). FOR HEAVEN'S SAKE, EVEN ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY CALLED IT THE THIRD BEST BOND FILM EVER JUST A FEW YEARS AGO...

SO FUCK IT! THAT'S THE REALITY OF THIS FILM. IT'S A MEAN, GROSS THING RIGHT IN ITS VERY BONES. AND HULK REALIZES THAT CHASTISING A FILM FOR ITS MORALITY IS A PRECARIOUS THING TO DO, BUT THAT'S ACTUALLY A POPULAR MISUNDERSTANDING. THE MORALITY OF MOVIES IS CRITICAL TO THEIR FUNCTION. AND YOU'RE COMPLETELY FREE TO DISAGREE, BUT HULK HAS MADE HULK'S CASE. AND HULK IS HAPPY TO LISTEN TO ANYONE ELSE'S CASE FOR IT, BUT IT IS ONE THAT REALLY, PASSIONATELY HAS TO ALTER THIS TEXT IN A WAY THAT HULK JUST ISN'T SEEING. BECAUSE AS IT EXISTS NOW IN ITS VILE FORM? IT IS UN-SHRUG-OFF-ABLE.

BUT FOR THE PURPOSES OF THIS COLUMN, HULK'S DONE TALKING ABOUT THE RACISM BECAUSE THERE IS SO MUCH OTHER BAD STUFF TO TACKLE... LIKE IT'S WEIRD TAKE ON FEMININITY!

#WORLDSTINIESTHOORAY

SO FIRST UP WE HAVE YOUNG JANE SEYMOUR AS SOLITAIRE. IT'S ONE WORD. LIKE MADONNA. THE ONLY DIFFERENCE IS THAT MADONNA ACTUALLY HAS A PROACTIVE AND SELF-REALIZED PERSONALITY. BECAUSE IN THIS FILM, THE ONLY THING SOLITAIRE CAN DO IS BE A VACANT VESSEL FOR MEN'S PSYCHIC WANTS. REALLY. THAT'S NOT A METAPHOR OR LOOSE DESCRIPTION. THAT'S LITERALLY WHAT SHE IS. BETTER YET, SHE IS NOT ACTUALLY ALLOWED TO BONE ANYONE OR ELSE SHE'LL LOSE HER MAGIC PSYCHIC VIRGINAL POWERS (WHICH ARE ALL SAVED FOR JAMES BOND'S MAGIC WEINER AT THE END OF THE FILM, OF COURSE). SO YEAH, WE'VE FLIRTED WITH THIS KIND OF VACUOUS ARCHETYPE BEFORE, BUT THIS IS TAKING THE GAME TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL. SHE HAS NO WILLPOWER OR PERSONALITY WHATSOEVER AND IS TRULY REPRESENTED AS NOTHING MORE THAN THE LILY WHITE VIRGIN WHO IS SUPPOSED TO BE LUSTED AFTER AS THE PINNACLE OF FEMININITY. IT'S JUST THE WORST.

IN FACT, THE ONLY POSITIVE THING TO SAY ABOUT ANY OF THIS IS THAT IF YOU DON'T KNOW, THIS IS WHAT YOUNG JANE SEYMOUR LOOKS LIKE:

*GULP*

OKAY, NEXT UP WE HAVE GLORIA HENDRY AS CIA AGENT ROSIE CARVER, A CHARACTER WHO IS CONSIDERED TO BE SOME SORT OF SIGN OF PROGRESS OR SOMETHING, JUST BECAUSE SHE'S THE FIRST BLACK PERSON WE SEE BOND HAVE SEX WITH??? THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THAT ROSIE CARVER'S CHARACTER DOESN'T HAVE A HINT OF TOUGHNESS AND INSTEAD IS RENDERED INTO A HYSTERICAL PERSON WHO IS PRETTY TERRIBLE AT HER JOB. AGAIN, THIS IS HULK'S ENTIRE PROBLEM WITH HAMILTON'S DIRECTION. ON PAPER WE HAVE A BLACK, FEMALE CIA AGENT AND ALLY TO THE MAIN CHARACTER AND THAT SHOULD BE AWESOME, BUT HAMILTON CAN'T HELP BUT TRY TO TURN HER INTO THE BIGGEST JOKE POSSIBLE. AND WHO KNOWS, HENDRY COULD HAVE BEEN WONDERFUL, BUT HER ROLE IS WASTED AND DRAMATICALLY CUT SHORT. WORSE, THE WAY THE STORY EVOLVES, ROSIE CARVER JUST EXISTS SO THAT BOND CAN GET A TASTE OF BLACK SEX (AS IS HIS NATURAL RIGHT?) BEFORE HE CAN MOVE ON TO THE VIRGINAL WHITE WOMAN WHO IS THE REAL PRIZE AT THE END OF THE SEXIST / RACIST RAINBOW. HULK GENUINELY CAN'T TELL IF THAT'S MORE SEXIST OR MORE RACIST. WE ALL LOSE EITHER WAY.

THIS IMAGE PRETTY MUCH SUMS UP THE WHOLE MOVIE.

AND LASTLY THERE IS MADELINE SMITH, WHOSE ENTIRE PLOTLINE BASICALLY INVOLVES EXISTING SO THAT BOND CAN TAKE OFF HER CLOTHES WITH A MAGNET WATCH.

SHE'S NOT COOL WITH IT, BY THE WAY. THANKS RAPEY-NESS!

OF COURSE THERE'S ONE MORE IMPORTANT SUBJECT TO TACKLE IN ALL THIS: HULK IS OF COURSE TALKING ABOUT ROGER MOORE AND HIS DEBUT AS JAMES BOND.

IT'S FUNNY, BUT HIS ENTIRE PRESENCE IS ALMOST OBSCURED BY THE HORRIBLE MOVIE AROUND HIM. IT MAKES IT HARD TO EVEN THINK ABOUT HIS PERFORMANCE, LET ALONE TALK COHERENTLY ABOUT IT. WHICH IS FINE, PERHAPS? BUT IT'S FUNNY. ROGER MOORE IS HULK'S CHOICE (ALONG WITH MANY OTHERS) FOR "WORST BOND," AND YET HULK REALLY DOESN'T THINK HE'S BAD IN THE ROLE AT ALL. WHICH JUST REVEALS A BIGGER TRUTH OF THIS COLUMN, IN CASE YOU WERE EXPECTING SOME KIND OF BIG ARGUMENT ABOUT WHO THE BEST JAMES BOND IS. YEAH, THAT'S NOT GOING TO HAPPEN, AND HULK PRETTY MUCH LIKES EVERYONE WHO HAS PLAYED THE ROLE IN DIFFERENT WAYS. WE HAVEN'T HAD A BAD JAMES BOND YET (JUST BAD MOVIES). AND ROGER MOORE, EVEN THOUGH HE'S A BOND WHOSE MAIN PROBLEM IS THAT HE SEEMS LIKE HE REALLY DOESN'T WANT TO GET HIS HANDS DIRTY (WHICH IS LARGELY A FUNCTION OF THE KINDS OF SILLIER FILMS THAT WERE CENTERED AROUND HIM), STILL KNEW HOW TO BE JAMES BOND, AND THAT MEANS KNOWING HOW TO: HOLD A MARTINI, SHOOT A PP7, BE FUNNY AND KISS A GAL, ALL OF WHICH HE DOES RATHER ADMIRABLY. YOU COULD JUST ARGUE HE DOESN'T DO IT AS WELL AS SOME OF THOSE OTHER GUYS.

WHICH MAKES THE LONGEVITY OF HIS TENURE AS BOND ALL THE MORE INTERESTING. HE SURPASSES CONNERY FOR THE LONGEST RUN OF ANY BOND TO DATE WITH SEVEN ENTRIES (THOUGH THIS GETS INTO THE WEIRD NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN ARGUMENT, WHICH HULK DOESN'T WANT TO DO YET) AND TO BE HONEST, HULK ISN'T EXACTLY SURE WHY HE HAD SUCH A LONG RUN. WELL, HULK ISN'T ARTISTICALLY SURE WHY THAT IS, BECAUSE THE SIMPLE TRUTH IS THAT ALL HIS FILMS DID WELL AT THE BOX OFFICE UNTIL HIS LAST ONE (SOMETIMES HOLLYWOOD ISN'T THAT COMPLICATED, FOLKS). BUT MOORE'S LEGACY IS LARGELY INFORMED BY THE NATURE OF HIS EFFECT AND NOT BY BOX OFFICE. AND IT'S JUST THAT ROGER MOORE'S EFFECT WAS A LITTLE LACKING IN THE INTENSITY AND ACTUAL SPY GAME DEPARTMENT. SURE, THAT WAS PROBABLY MORE A FUNCTION OF THE MOVIES AROUND HIM, BUT IT REALLY IS SOMETHING THAT SET HIM APART FROM THE OTHER BONDS. THE BOND FILMS WERE JUST LIGHTER IN HIS HANDS, WHICH WASN'T SO BAD SOMETIMES, BUT IT STILL TOOK THE ENTIRE BOND TEAM A FEW MORE TRIES TO FIND A BALANCE OF TONE AND THE FORM OF STORY THAT REALLY BEST SUITED HIS PARTICULAR BOND.

AND WITH THAT, LET'S SEE HOW HE DID NEXT TIME...

9. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974)

... OKAY, HE'S DIDN'T DO MUCH BETTER.

WHILE THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN IS CERTAINLY AN IMPROVEMENT IN SOME WAYS (ITS RACISM DOESN'T COAT EVERY FRAME OF THE PICTURE, FOR INSTANCE), IT IS STILL YET ANOTHER BOND FILM WHOSE MAIN PROBLEMS COME FROM THE FACT THAT IT OVERREACTS TO THE PERCEIVED FAILURES OF THE ONE BEFORE. YOU SEE, THIS TIME THEY TRIED TO ABSCOND FROM THE ATTEMPTS OF GRITTY REALITY AND MODERNISM (READ: THE PREVIOUS FILM'S NONSENSICAL USE OF BLAXPLOITATION, FOR WHICH IT RIGHTFULLY CAUGHT SOME HEAT) AND INSTEAD OPTED FOR SOMETHING... ELSE. AND THAT SOMETHING ELSE HULK WILL CALL THE BATSHIT FEVER DREAM OF WHAT HAS TO BE ONE OF GUY HAMILTON'S ACID TRIPS. YES, FOLKS.

THIS IS THE TRIPPY BOND MOVIE!!!!

THAT FACT BECOMES EVEN MORE INTERESTING WHEN YOU CONSIDER THAT THIS FILM IS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING LIKE THE BOOK IT'S SUPPOSEDLY BASED ON. AND WHILE AT THIS POINT YOU'VE LIKELY GATHERED THAT HULK'S NOT A FLEMING FAN, THIS BOOK IS ACTUALLY HULK'S FAVORITE OF HIS. MEANING IT'S ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MORE STRIPPED-DOWN BOND STORIES ABOUT AN OLDER BOND HEADING OFF INTO THE WIND AND TANGOING WITH A RUTHLESS, ELUSIVE ASSASSIN. ADMITTEDLY, IT'S ONLY A HALF-SCRAWLED PORTION OF A BOOK THAT FLEMING JUST MANAGED TO EKE OUT BEFORE HIS PASSING (HIS BYZANTIUM IF YOU WILL). BUT TO HULK, IT IS NOT ONLY ONE OF THE BETTER FLEMING EFFORTS, IT IS ALSO ONE OF THE RARE TIMES WHERE FLEMING SEEMED TO DROP HIS AXE TO GRIND WITH MODERNITY AND EVEN REFLECT ON WHAT ALL THAT ANGER WAS ABOUT. HE ZEROES IN, HAVING SOMETHING FOCUSED TO SAY ABOUT AGING MASCULINITY (ESPECIALLY IN REGARD TO HOW IT MANIFESTS AGAINST OTHER MASCULINITY) AND BOND COMING TO GRIPS WITH HIS MORTALITY, LEGACY AND ALL OF WHAT ACTUALLY MATTERS IN LIFE. HULK WOULD EVEN GO SO FAR AS TO SAY THAT THE BOOK IS AN HONEST ATTEMPT OF FLEMING'S TO WRESTLE WITH THE CONCEPT OF DEATH AT LARGE. AND STRANGELY ENOUGH, IT COULD HAVE BEEN MADE INTO A REALLY GOOD MOVIE THAT ACTUALLY CAPTURED SOME INTERESTING ASPECTS OF BOND HIMSELF.

INSTEAD, GUY HAMILTON TURNED IT INTO A MOVIE WITH AN ASSASSIN KILLING PEOPLE WITH AN ELABORATE FUN-HOUSE AND AN ETHNIC MIDGET MANSERVANT WHO ONLY SERVES TO BE LAUGHED AT.

WE SHOULD HAVE DONE BETTER BY YOU.

WHILE THE FAULT OF THIS STUFF OBVIOUSLY LIES WITH GUY HAMILTON, PERHAPS IT'S TIME WE TALK ABOUT THE EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE SCRIPTS TOO.

HULK TALKS ABOUT THIS ALL THE TIME, BUT ATTRIBUTING "FAULT" IN FILMMAKING, PARTICULARLY SCREENWRITING, IS A TRICKY THING TO ASSESS. THAT'S BECAUSE WE ONLY SEE THE FINAL RESULTS. WE DON'T GET TO SEE THE INS AND OUTS OF THE PRODUCTION WHICH REVEAL ALL THE SAUSAGE GRINDING HYSTERICS AND CREATIVE ONEUPMANSHIP THAT PLAGUE A LOT OF PRODUCTIONS. AND WE NEVER SEE THE SCREENPLAY AT ALL. WE JUST SEE WHAT IS ON SCREEN. AND THAT IS OUR LIMITATION. HECK, EVEN WITH THE SEMI-RECENT DELUGE OF PROMETHEUS SLANDER (WITH WHICH EVEN HULK WENT A BIT OVERBOARD AND FEELS PRETTY CRAPPY ABOUT IN TERMS OF HULK'S POINTEDNESS), IT WAS ONE OF THE FEW TIMES WE ACTUALLY SAW THE WRITERS RELEASE THEIR OWN VERSIONS OF THE SCRIPT IN AN ATTEMPT TO DEFEND THEMSELVES FROM FALSE PUBLIC ASSESSMENT. THIS IS BEYOND RARE, AND THE POINT IS THAT ATTRIBUTING FAULT IN SCREENWRITING IS A PRECARIOUS THING TO DO EVEN THEN, AS DECISIONS ON THE PAGE COULD BE THE RESULT OF STUDIO DEMANDS OR WHO KNOWS WHAT ELSE. AND WITH ALL THAT IN MIND, HULK THROWS OUT THE FOLLOWING THEORY OF CREATIVE RESPONSIBILITY (THOUGH HULK DOES SO RATHER LIGHTLY):

HULK ARGUED EARLIER THAT THE BOND MOVIES ARE SO DIRECTORIAL DEPENDENT BECAUSE RICHARD MAIBAUM WROTE ALMOST EVERY SINGLE SCREENPLAY SO FAR (AND LATER WOULD UP THROUGH LICENSE TO KILL). AND YES, A GOOD DEAL OF OTHER WRITERS CAME ON AND OFF THE BOAT WITH HIM, BUT THE MAN WAS STILL THE GREAT CONSTANT OF THESE SCRIPTS, AND THE BROCCOLI FAMILY APPARENTLY REALLY TRUSTED HIM WITH MAINTAINING BOND'S VOICE AND ADAPTING THE MATERIAL QUITE WELL. HE WAS ALWAYS THE FIRST PASS. MEANWHILE, ONE OF THE CO-WRITERS ON THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN WAS ACTUALLY ONE OF HAMILTON'S GUYS, THE AFOREMENTIONED TIM MANKIEWICZ. AND IT IS HULK'S TEPID UNDERSTANDING THAT HE WAS THERE TO "PUNCH UP" MAIBAUM'S SCRIPTS WITH WHAT HAMILTON SAW AS THE RIGHT KIND OF COMEDY. HE FIRST SHOWED UP TO WORK ON DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (WHICH HULK MADE CLEAR HULK DID NOT LIKE) AND APPARENTLY, SO DISTRAUGHT WITH THE PROCESS OF BOND'S BEING TURNED SILLY, MAIBAUM OPTED NOT TO RETURN... THE RESULT WAS MANKIEWICZ WRITING LIVE AND LET DIE FOR HAMILTON ONCE AGAIN, THIS TIME ALL ON HIS OWN (AND HULK'S MADE HULK'S FEELINGS CLEAR ABOUT THAT RACIST, SEXIST, AWFUL FILM, TOO). NOW THE PRODUCERS, STILL ON MAIBAUM'S SIDE AFTER THE LONG RELATIONSHIP AND SOCIAL ISSUES OF THE LAST EFFORT, BROUGHT HIM BACK TO DO THE FIRST DRAFT OF THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, WHICH WAS APPARENTLY A LOT CLOSER TO THE BOOK'S "COOL ASSASSINS ON AN ISLAND" TONE. BUT AFTER THAT DRAFT, HAMILTON APPARENTLY BROUGHT IN HIS GUY MANKIEWICZ TO POLISH IT ONCE AGAIN, AND THEY ENDED UP TURNING IT INTO THE TRIPPY, SILLY, STUPID-FEST WE HAVE HERE. AND APPARENTLY MAIBAUM WAS LIVID (IN ALL INTERVIEWS YOU SEE HIM TRYING TO BE NICE AND TALK AROUND IT BUT IT'S PLAIN AS DAY).

AGAIN, THIS IS ALL PRODUCTION LORE AND THUS DIFFICULT TO SAY WITH ANY CERTAINTY. BUT THE POINT OF HULK'S MENTIONING ALL THIS IS TO REALLY TRY AND SHOW THAT SINCE MAIBAUM WAS A CONSTANT DEFENDER OF BOND'S FOUNDATIONAL VOICE THROUGHOUT MOST OF THE SERIES' RUN, THE DIFFERENCES IN THE BOND MOVIES ARE SOMETHING MOLDED THROUGH THE OVERALL DIRECTORIAL CHOICES (AND TO BE FAIR TO MANKIEWICZ AS WELL, HE WOULD LATER GO ON TO SHOW THAT HIS STYLE COULD BE SEMI-EFFECTIVE AS TO ITS OWN PURPOSE WITH STUFF LIKE MOTHER, JUGGS AND SPEED. YES, HULK JUST USED THAT FILM AS A POSITIVE EXAMPLE. KIND OF). AND YES, FILMMAKING IS THE MOST COLLABORATIVE ART FORM ON THE PLANET, BUT IN THIS PARTICULAR CASE IT COMES DOWN TO THE MATTER OF BEING ABLE TO UNDERSTAND AND DIAGNOSE THE RESPONSIBILITY BASED ON AN ONGOING TREND OF EVIDENCE. AND SINCE THE DIRECTOR IS THE ONE WHO OFTEN GETS THE CREDIT, THE AUTEUR SHOULD ALSO BE WILLING TO SHOULDER THE BLAME.

WHICH BRINGS US BACK TO GUY FREAKING HAMILTON.

LOOKING OVER ALL HIS FILMS, THERE'S JUST SO MUCH THAT HE DOES WRONG WITH BOND. BUT THANKFULLY, WITH THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN WE REACH THE END OF HIS TENURE AND ALL THE SEAMS REALLY START TO SHOW. HAMILTON ALWAYS FOUND BOND TO BE UTTERLY ABSURD AND WANTED HIS MOVIES TO HONESTLY REFLECT THAT ABSURDITY. IT'S NOT A HORRIBLE INCLINATION BECAUSE, OF COURSE, THE BOND UNIVERSE IS SILLY, SO THAT MAKES LOGICAL SENSE. BUT WHAT HE DOESN'T REALIZE IS THAT HE'S ESSENTIALLY UNDERMINING ANY AND ALL DRAMATIC UNDERPINNINGS AS WELL. BOND CAN HAVE INSANE MOMENTS AND SILLY JOKES, BUT THE INSANE MOMENTS CAN'T BE A JOKE, IF THAT MAKES SENSE. WHEN HULK TALKS ABOUT THE BEST BOND FILMS BEING ROMANTIC, HULK MEANS THAT THEY TEND TO SWOON WITH BOND'S ABSURDITY AND PLAY IT FOR ALL ITS WORTH. IT'S ALL PART OF THE GRANDEUR OF CINEMA'S GREAT LIE. BUT HAMILTON JUST GIGGLED AT IT AND THREW THE BABY OUT WITH THE BATHWATER, MAKING THE LOGICAL AND FUN INSANITY OF GADGET CARS WITH EJECTOR SEATS INTO THE VERY SAME KIND OF LURID INSANITY THAT WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR WEIRDO HOMOSEXUAL HENCHMEN, MIDGET MAN-SERVANTS, HEROIN-DEALING PIMPS AND UTTERLY NO FEAR OF OFFENDING EVERYONE ACROSS THE BOARD. IN THE END, HE WASN'T SHOWING OFF BOND FOR WHAT IT WAS, HE WAS DOING SOMETHING MUCH WORSE THAN WHAT IT WAS. AND WHEN YOU LOOK AT HIS OEUVRE, YOU REALIZE THAT HIS ENTRIES INTO THE SERIES REALLY AREN'T THAT FAR-OFF FROM THE AUSTIN POWERS MOVIES. BUT THOSE MOVIES AT LEAST KNEW THEY WERE POINTING THE JOKE AT THEMSELVES. HAMILTON WAS JUST POINTING IT BACK AT YOU.

WHICH GIVES WAY TO THE GRANDDADDY REALIZATION OF THEM ALL: GOLDFINGER WASN'T HAMILTON'S MASTERPIECE THAT PROVED HIS WORTH BEFORE HE LET IT ALL GET AWAY FROM HIM - GOLDFINGER WAS THE OUTLIER. IT WAS WHERE HE FAILED TO MAKE HIS KIND OF FILM.

NOOOOOOOO!

TO BE FAIR, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN ACTUALLY HAS SOME GOOD STUFF IN IT. LIKE... UM... CHRISTOPHER LEE IS HAVING FUN AT LEAST? THERE ARE SOME GOOD FIGHTS? ROGER MOORE SEEMS MORE COMFORTABLE IN THE ROLE THIS TIME?

OKAY THERE'S NOT A LOT OF GOOD. IN FACT, HULK DOESN'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE DETAILS OF THIS MOVIE REALLY MUCH AT ALL. HULK KNOWS THAT DESCRIBING ALL THE TRIPPYNESS COULD MAKE FOR ANOTHER FUN SUMMARY, BUT HULK'S PRETTY SURE YOU ALREADY GET THE DEAL WITH BOTH THE FUNNY SUMMARIES AND THIS PARTICULAR FILM. REALLY, IT'S JUST NOT WORTH IT, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THAT THERE ARE MORE INTERESTING CONVERSATIONS TO BE HAD.

LIKE RETURNING TO GUY HAMILTON'S BIGGEST PROBLEM OF ALL: HIS BLATANT SEXISM.

THE PROBLEM WITH TURNING THE ENTIRE BOND UNIVERSE INTO A JOKE IS THAT IN DOING SO HE ALREADY TAKES THE FLIMSY, OVERTLY SEXIST WAY THAT THE BOND WORLD DEALS WITH WOMEN AND, BECAUSE THE WORLD ITSELF IS ALREADY FLIGHTY AND NONSENSICALLY DUMB, HE THEREFORE TURNS ALL THE BOND GIRLS INTO FLIGHTY, NONSENSICALLY DUMB BIMBOS, TOO. HULK WOULD TAKE YOU THROUGH EACH ONE IN THIS FILM, BUT AGAIN IT'S JUST NOT WORTH IT. THIS IS AN ACROSS-THE-BOARD OFFENSE OF HIS. AND WHAT ANDREA ANDERS HAS IN VAPIDITY, MARY GOODNIGHT MAKES UP FOR IN BEING RENDERED A COMPLETE AND TOTAL AIRHEAD WHO SPENDS THE ENTIRE TIME ALMOST RUINING EVERYTHING AND BEING DUMB. OH, DID HULK MENTION SHE'S AN MI6 AGENT AND BOND'S ASSISTANT? AND THAT SHE LITERALLY CANNOT DO ONE SINGLE THING RIGHT AND ACTIVELY HURTS BOND'S CHANCES AT ALL TIMES? AND THAT SHE IS JUST ANOTHER OBSTACLE IN THE ENTIRE CLIMAX? AND THAT BOND REALLY SPENDS THE ENTIRE MOVIE ROLLING HIS EYES AT HER?

BUT HEY, AS HAMILTON SAYS, IT'S ALL A JOKE, RIGHT?

"Let's have her run around wearing this and be the Jar Jar Binks of the series!" - SAID GUY  HAMILTON... SOMEHOW PREDICTING WHAT WOULD HAPPEN TO THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE SOME 25 YEARS LATER... AND ALSO PREDICTING THE STAR WARS UNIVERSE.

ANYCRAP, THE PROBLEM IS THE SAME AS BEFORE: BRITT EKLAND DOESN'T ACTUALLY SUCK AND YET THESE MOVIES MAKE YOU THINK SHE DOES. SHE WAS ACTUALLY COMING OFF SOME STRONG APPEARANCES IN GREAT MOVIES LIKE GET CARTER AND THE WICKER MAN (ONCE AGAIN, ANOTHER REASON HULK HATES WHEN PEOPLE SAY BOND ACTRESSES ARE "BAD" SINCE THEY'RE USUALLY GIVEN, LIKE, NOTHING TO DO BESIDES STAND THERE AND KISS JAMES BOND).

SO HULK REALLY WANTS YOU TO LOOK AT THE BEFORE AND AFTER DYNAMIC DURING HAMILTON'S RUN. MOST OF THE WOMEN IN THE PRE-HAMILTON FILMS WERE, COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING, MORE SASSY, SOCIAL, SEXY AND CONFIDENT. SURE, THEY HAD SOME OBVIOUS HANGUPS, BUT A LOT OF THEM EVEN SEEMED LIKE ACTUAL ADULT WOMEN (THIS IS NOT TO DENY HOW MUCH SEXIST STUFF WENT ON, WHAT WITH NEEDING TO BE TAMED BY BOND'S MAGIC WEINER AND SUCH). BUT UNDER HAMILTON'S WATCH WE TURNED ALMOST EVERY SINGLE BOND GIRL INTO VEHICLES FOR NOTHING BUT VAPID BIMBO JOKES, WHO STILL GET THE SAME TREATMENT OF NEEDING TO BE TAMED BY BOND'S WEINER. AND HULK DOESN'T KNOW ABOUT YOU, BUT WHEN IT COMES TO THE ILLUSION OF GOOD PORTRAYAL VS. BAD PORTRAYAL, HULK CERTAINLY KNOWS WHICH ONE IS MORE GRATING TO HAVE TO "GO ALONG WITH" IN A POPULAR MOVIE-GOING SCENARIO. SURE, THE OTHER BOND FILMS HAVE LADY ISSUES. BUT HAMILTON'S FILMS REALLY SEEM TO ACTIVELY DISLIKE WOMEN ACROSS THE BOARD AND EVEN RESENT BEING ATTRACTED TO THEM.

BUT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THE FILM CONTAINED ONE MORE EGREGIOUS DECISION...

AT ANY POINT IN YOUR OWN VIEWING OF THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN DID YOU THINK TO YOURSELF: "You know that this film needs? That same fucking racist sheriff character from the last one that absolutely no one liked. He should appear in this one for, like, no reason!"

IF YOU DID, YOU'RE IN LUCK!

HAMILTON LOVED THE IDEA OF HAVING THIS RACIST ASSHOLE SHOW UP TO MAKE FUN OF ASIANS TOO MUCH, SO HE BROUGHT HIM BACK FULL-STOP. MANKIEWICZ OBLIGED AND WROTE HIM IN. AND THUS WE GOT THIS HORROR RETURNED ON US. AND THE SEQUENCE... OKAY. HULK IS NOT REALLY A BIG "CARDINAL SIN" KIND OF HULK, NOR DOES HULK ASCRIBE TO THE THEORY THAT WITH ONE GESTURE HULK CAN FIND YOU IRREDEEMABLE, BUT LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, FOR THE MOST BADASS STUNT (NOT JUST CAR STUNT, BUT STUNT) EVER PERFORMED, ONE THAT HAD NEVER BEEN PERFORMED FOR A FILM PRIOR AND ONE THAT HAS YET TO BE DUPLICATED AFTERWARD, GUY HAMILTON THOUGHT IT WOULD BE GREAT TO CONSTRUCT THE ACTION BEAT LIKE THIS... BEHOLD:

..........

................

................................. HULK JUST CAN'T EVEN.

THE WHOLE THING... THE SET UP.... THE SHERIFF BEING THERE... THE SLIDE WHISTLE OVER THE SINGLE MOST BADASS AND AWE-INSPIRING STUNT EVER PERFORMED... IT TRULY SUMS UP GUY HAMILTON AND WHAT HE DID TO THE BOND SERIES. HE JUST COMPLETELY UNDERMINED IT.

BUT DON'T WORRY, EVERYONE! GUY HAMILTON GOES AWAY FOREVER NOW.

AND IT'S NO SURPRISE THAT THINGS IMMEDIATELY GET BETTER.

10. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977)

FINALLY! BASIC FUNCTIONALITY!

SO HULK THINKS THE SPY WHO LOVED ME IS THE BEST ROGER MOORE ENTRY, MAYBE EVEN BY FAR. AND IT'S NOT BECAUSE IT'S AN OVERWHELMINGLY GREAT MOVIE OR ANYTHING. IF HULK IS BEING HONEST, MAYBE IT'S JUST RELIEF THAT IT FINALLY GETS AWAY FROM THE PROBLEMS OF HAMILTON'S "EVERYTHING IS A JOKE" ENTRIES AND BRINGS THE SERIES BACK TO SOMETHING WAY MORE TRADITIONAL... WHICH ISN'T TO SAY THERE AREN'T A LOT OF JOKES IN THIS MOVIE. ACTUALLY, COMPARED TO THE TERENCE YOUNG ERA THERE'S KIND OF A LOT OF THEM. IT'S JUST THAT THE FILM GETS BACK TO THAT OH-SO-CRITICAL APPROACH OF "YEAH, THIS IS CLEARLY RIDICULOUS, BUT WE'RE GONNA PLAY IT KINDA STRAIGHT!" WHICH WOULD ALSO MAKE SENSE BECAUSE OUR OLD FRIEND LEWIS GILBERT IS NOW BACK IN THE DIRECTOR CHAIR!

SUP!

MAN, HIS FIRST ENTRY OF YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE SEEMS LIKE FOREVER AGO, DOESN'T IT? AND IT'S EASY TO SEE THAT FILM IN A DIFFERENT LIGHT AFTER THE GARISH ENTRY OF LIVE AND LET DIE. BUT THAT'S SORT OF HOW THE BOND SERIES WORKS. LOOKING AT IT ALL WE HAVE THE BENEFIT OF SEEING THE WHOLE PICTURE. BUT AT THE TIME IT FELT BOTH LIKE AN EXPLOSION AND ALSO A SMALL LETDOWN. WHY, WHEN HULK THINKS OF DONALD PLEASENCE'S GLEEFULLY CREEPY BLOFELD AND THE HUGE GRANDEUR OF HIS EVIL LAIR, IT SUDDENLY MAKES A LOT OF SENSE TO BRING GILBERT BACK. SUCH IS THE STATE OF THINGS AFTER THE HAMILTON ENTRIES. ALSO, WE CAN GIVE BIG KUDOS TO THE RETURN OF RICHARD MAIBAUM, TOO! (ALONG WITH ANOTHER WRITER NAMED CHRISTOPHER WOOD, WHO SEEMS TO BE A MUCH MORE FUNCTIONAL COMPLEMENT).

BEYOND THE FEEL-GOODS OF KEY PLAYERS RETURNING TO THE FOLD, THE REAL SUCCESS OF THE SPY WHO LOVED ME IS JUST THE FACT THAT IT IS BUILT ON PURE, FUNCTIONAL STORYTELLING.

MEANING THE STORY HAS A GOOD, CLASSIC CONCEIT: BOND AND A RIVAL RUSSIAN AGENT WHO (BIG CHANGE! THE RUSSIANS ARE NOW OUR FRIENDS IN A DUAL-COOPERATION MISSION! MODERN POLITICS, YO!!!) HAVE TO WORK TOGETHER. AND WOULDN'T YOU KNOW IT, BUT THIS RIVAL AGENT JUST HAPPENS TO BE A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN? SEXUAL ATTRACTION ASIDE, THIS DYNAMIC DOES THE RATHER SIMPLE THING OF GIVING THEIR RELATIONSHIP ACTUAL MEANING AND THE SLIGHTEST BIT OF HEFT. SHE'S NOT JUST SOME RANDO. THE TWO OF THEM EVEN GET A MEANINGFUL LITTLE BACKSTORY AND CONFLICT TOO! (AS IN BOND MAY OR MAY NOT BE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE DEATH OF HER SPY-BOYFRIEND IN THE FILM'S OPENING). HECK, THE FILM EVEN HAD THE FORETHOUGHT TO IGNORE A LOT OF THE DETAILS THAT WERE RATHER SEXIST IN FLEMING'S NOVEL. AND AFTER THE WAY HAMILTON TREATS WOMEN IN THE FILMS THAT CAME BEFORE, THIS IS ALL IT TAKES TO BRING THE RELATIVE GOODS, FOLKS. JUST A LITTLE BIT OF RESPECT AND A HALF-ASSED NARRATIVE ARC. AND YEAH, IT'S STILL INDULGENT STUFF, BUT IT'S ALSO LACKING THE HORRIFIC AND MEAN-SPIRITED SHRILLNESS. THIS REALLY MATTERS. NO MATTER HOW INSANE THE MAIN VILLAIN'S PLOT IS, NO MATTER THE CRAZINESS OF THE GADGETS NOR HOW CARTOONY A FEW OF THE PARTICULAR CHOICES MAY FEEL, THE FILM STILL HAS A REAL CHANCE OF CONNECTING EMOTIONALLY. BUT YEAH, IT'S ACTUALLY PRETTY NICE TO SEE THE AESTHETICS CHANGE IN THIS FILM SO THAT IT'S SHOT IN A SOMEWHAT MORE GROUNDED WAY. BUT AGAIN, FAR MORE IMPORTANT IS THE FACT THAT IT GROUNDED THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE TWO LEADS, WHO REALLY DO SEEM TO FALL FOR EACH OTHER IN A FLUFFY-YET-NOTICEABLY-CONFLICTED FASHION.

AND WHAT DOES HULK KEEP TELLING YOU? THE BEST BOND FILMS ARE ROMANCES.

IT'S AMAZING WHAT CAN HAPPEN TO YOUR NARRATIVE WHEN YOU ACTUALLY GIVE AN ACTRESS SOMETHING TO DO. SURE, BARBARA BACH CAN'T DO A CONVINCING RUSSIAN ACCENT, BUT IT DOESN'T MATTER (IT MAY EVEN BE PART OF THE FUN). WHAT MATTERS IS THAT SHE IS TAKING THE MOMENT SERIOUSLY. AND SHE ACTUALLY HAS A SENSE OF HOW TO DO A TÊTE-À-TÊTE WITH ROGER MOORE. THEY'RE NOT CARY GRANT AND ROSALIND RUSSELL OR ANYTHING, BUT THEY OFFER A STRONG DYNAMIC, AND WE NEED THAT. WE JUST NEED BASIC FUNCTIONALITY. AND THEY DELIVER IT.

PICTURED: DELIVERY.

ADMITTEDLY, THERE'S A LOT OF DEEP TISSUE ANALYSIS TO THEIR STORY THAT GETS INTO SOME SHITTY FEMINIST DYNAMICS (THEY'RE IMPOSSIBLE TO AVOID IN THIS SERIES), BUT UNLIKE THE HAMILTON EFFORTS, THE UNIVERSE AROUND HER AT LEAST RESPECTS BOTH THE CHARACTER AND HER ABILITIES. MEANING THE OTHER CHARACTERS RESPECT HER ABILITIES TOO. AND UNLIKE THE FILMS THAT CAME BEFORE (LIKE, SAY, THE ORIGINAL CHARACTER WHO PLAYED BOND'S RIVAL-AGENT-WHO-FALLS-IN-LOVE, TATIANA ROMANOVA FROM FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE), THE MOVIE ACTUALLY FOLLOWS THROUGH AND SHOWS HER ABILITIES. SHE'S NOT A WEAK-WILLED FUCK UP. SHE'S TOUGH. SHE'S FAIR. SHE HAS A SENSE OF HUMOR. YEAH, SHE'S PRETTY, BUT SHE'S ALSO A LOT OF THINGS. AND EVEN IF THOSE THINGS ARE SOMEWHAT BROAD AND INDULGENT-AS-ALL-HELL, HULK WOULD OF COURSE RATHER THEY BE ALL BE SOMEWHAT POSITIVE THINGS. AGAIN, IT'S ABOUT THE SLIDING SCALE IN THESE FILMS. AND IN COMPARISON TO ALL THE OTHER LADIES OF THE BOND UNIVERSE, SO FAR SHE ACTUALLY KIND OF SEEMS LIKE A REAL WOMAN WHO WANT THINGS AND HAS HER OWN SENSE OF AGENCY.

PICTURED: AGENCY

BUT THE ABSOLUTE BEST THING ABOUT THIS WHOLE SITUATION IS THAT BACH BRINGS OUT THE BEST IN MOORE BECAUSE HE, LIKE LAZENBY, DOESN'T PLAY IT AS GETTING ALL CO-EMOTIONAL WITH A LADY. CONNERY NEVER WOULD HAVE GIVEN A TRUE FUCK, BUT BACH AND MOORE ARE REAL EQUALS IN THE FILM, AND THE ACTORS TREAT IT AS SUCH. AND BEFORE SOME OF YOU OVERREACT AND SAY THAT HULK IS JUST ESTIMATING THIS MOVIE TOO HIGHLY AS PART OF SOME FEMINIST AGENDA OR SOMETHING, HULK WOULD FIRST LIKE TO SAY THAT'S A RIDICULOUS THING TO THINK. AND SECOND, HULK WOULD LIKE TO POINT OUT THE BASIC TRUTH OF STORYTELLING THAT HAVING ROUNDED CHARACTERS, WITH ACTUAL CONFLICT, THAT YOUR WRITER AND DIRECTOR RESPECT, ENDS UP DOING THIS FUNNY THING WHERE SUDDENLY THE MOVIE AROUND THOSE CHARACTERS BECOMES MORE COMPELLING, MORE DRAMATIC AND MORE ENJOYABLE. IT'S NOT AN AGENDA. IT'S STRENGTH OF STORYTELLING. AND BELIEVE IT OR NOT, OUR WILLINGNESS TO BE ENTERTAINED AND COMPELLED BY DRAMA IS AN EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYER!

BETTER YET, THERE'S A WHOLE BUNCH ABOUT THE SPY WHO LOVED ME THAT JUST WORKS GREAT. AWAY FROM THE SHACKLES OF RACIST B.S., HULK FINALLY FEELS LIKE WE CAN ENJOY THE GLOBETROTTING LOCALES AGAIN! THE MEDITERRANEAN AND MIDDLE EASTERN SETTINGS FEEL GORGEOUS IN THIS FILM (ESPECIALLY ON THAT CLASSIC LATE SEVENTIES FILM STOCK THAT YOU CAN IDENTIFY RIGHT OFF THE BAT). PLUS, THERE'S A REALLY NICELY FILMED CHASE SCENE IN THIS ONE WITH SOME GREAT ANGLES AND ONE OF THE BEST CAR GADGET TRICKS SINCE GOLDFINGER. THE FILM IS LITTERED WITH ALL THESE COOL LITTLE BITS LIKE CAROLINE MUNRO, THE CLASSIC FILM B-MOVIE STAR FROM THE HARRYHAUSEN ERA, WHO SHOWS UP AS AN EVIL HENCHWOMAN. THE FILM EVEN FEATURES THE INCREDIBLE SONG "NOBODY DOES IT BETTER" (ONE OF THE FEW BOND THEMES THAT IS NOT THE TITLE OF THE MOVIE. TRIVIA: CAN YOU NAME THE OTHERS BELOW???)

AND WHILE WE ARE ON THE SUBJECT OF MUSIC, HOWEVER, HULK DEEPLY REGRETS TO INFORM YOU THAT THE ACTUAL BOND SERIES IS NOW OFFICIALLY ENTERING THE PERIOD WHEN THE SCORES START GETTING SYNTHY AND PROTO-80'S-ISH. IT'S A BAD THING, FOLKS. BUT LUCKILY IT PROVIDES AN IMPORTANT NOTE TO ALL FILMMAKERS OUT THERE: ONE OF THE BEST REASONS TO CLASSICALLY SCORE YOUR FILMS, INSTEAD OF ADOPTING MODERN SOUND SENSIBILITIES, IS THAT IN FORTY YEARS PEOPLE MAY STILL BE AMAZED BY YOUR INCREDIBLE FILM INSTEAD OF LAUGHING AT YOUR SCORE.

BUT LET'S TURN THAT FROWN UPSIDE DOWN BY REMINDING YOU THAT THE SPY WHO LOVED ME IS ALSO THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF JAWS!!!

NO, THE OTHER ONE!

YEAH, THAT ONE!

OKAY, SO WE HAVE OUR NEW GIMMICK-BASED HENCHMAN, WHO HAS RAZOR SHARP TEETH AND IS BASICALLY SUPER TALL AND STRONG AND NEARLY INDESTRUCTIBLE. BUT THE THING THAT HULK LIKES ABOUT JAWS IS THAT HE'S ACTUALLY GOT SOME CHARACTER DEXTERITY. RICHARD KIEL JUST HAS THIS WONDERFULLY AWKWARD EXPRESSIVENESS. SOMETIMES HE'S GENUINELY MALEVOLENT. SOMETIMES HE'S WEIRD. AND SOMETIMES HE'S DOWNRIGHT SILLY. EITHER WAY, HULK LOVES THE MANNER OF HOW HE JUST LUMBERS AROUND AFTER OUR HEROES. AND HE'S A PERFECT PHYSICAL FOIL FOR ROGER MOORE'S BOND. ALSO THE WIKIPEDIA ENTRY FOR JAWS HAS ONE OF THE FUNNIEST SECTIONS YOU EVER WILL FIND ON WIKIPEDIA FOR THE BOND SERIES:

Jaws also has an uncanny ability to survive any misfortune seemingly unscathed and come back to challenge Bond again. In The Spy Who Loved Me, Jaws survives an Egyptian structure's collapse on top of him, being hit by a van, being thrown from a rapidly-moving train, sitting in the passenger seat of a car which veers off a cliff in Sardinia and lands in a hut below, to the owner's dismay, a battle underwater with a shark, and the destruction of Stromberg's lair. In Moonraker, he survives falling several thousand feet after accidentally disabling his own parachute (he falls through a circus tent and lands in the trapeze net), a crash through a building inside a runaway cable car, and going over Iguazu Falls. After each of these incidents, he always picks himself up, dusts off his jacket, straightens his tie and nonchalantly walks away.

THE MOST RIDICULOUS, NON-REALISTIC THING EVER? OF COURSE. BUT THE KEY IS THEY DON'T TREAT IT LIKE THE MOST RIDICULOUS THING EVER. THEY PLAY IT STRAIGHT. AND AGAIN, THAT MIGHT BE THE ENTIRE KEY TO MAKING BOND MOVIES WORK. SO CONGRATS TO THE SPY WHO LOVED ME FOR BRINGING US BACK INTO THAT TRADITION!

MOVING ON!

11. MOONRAKER (1979)

SO HERE'S AN OPINION THAT MAY SURPRISE YOU: HULK REALLY, REALLY KINDA, SORTA, MAYBE TOTALLY LIKES MOONRAKER...

HULK KNOWS, HULK KNOWS.

TO SOME OF YOU IT MUST SEEM LIKE AN INSANE OPINION, ESPECIALLY GIVEN THAT HULK HAS PREVIOUSLY LAMPOONED THE FILMS THAT SEEMED TO TURN BOND INTO A CARTOON. BUT AGAIN, IT'S ALL A MATTER OF PORTRAYAL OF THOSE DETAILS, NOT THE SEEMING VALIDITY OF THE DETAILS THEMSELVES. AND DAMMIT IF HULK DOESN'T THINK THAT THE SPECIAL FORM OF BONKERSNESS ON DISPLAY IN MOONRAKER IS THE KIND OF BONKERS THAT (BARELY) WORKS. MAYBE IT'S THAT IT WORKS WAY, WAY, WAY BETTER THAN HAMILTON'S EFFORTS, BUT HULK SWEARS THAT THERE IS A CAREFUL TACT TO THE GOOFINESS HERE. AND IT ALSO KNOWS HOW TO GET BACK TO SOME OF THE GOOD ROMANTIC STUFF TOO. SO CHALK UP ANOTHER POINT FOR LEWIS GILBERT AND HIS IN-PROGRESS RESCUING OF THE BOND SERIES! BECAUSE WITH THESE LAST TWO ENTRIES HE SHOWS THAT HE HAS THE PASSION TO MAKE THE ABSURD ALLURING.

NOW, HULK KEEPS SAYING THAT EACH BOND MOVIE IS AN OVERREACTION TO THE LAST ONE, AND IN A BOND-CENTRIC WAY THAT'S TRUE. BUT THIS PARTICULAR FILM IS LARGELY AN OVERREACTION TO SOMETHING ELSE ALL TOGETHER...

A LITTLE THING CALLED STAR WARS.

YOU CAN UNDERSTAND WHY IT WAS SO INFLUENTIAL.

AFTER ALL, STAR WARS PRETTY MUCH CHANGED EVERYTHING ABOUT MOVIES (MOSTLY BECAUSE IT MADE UNGODLY AMOUNTS OF MONEY). SO EVEN THOUGH THE FLEMING BOOK HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH SPACE STATIONS AND INSTEAD DEADLY ROCKETS (OR SOMETHING, HULK SKIMMED THAT ONE), THEY SAW THE BOOK'S BASIC TOPIC OF "SPACE" AND JUST WENT BALLS DEEP IN THAT DIRECTION. AND HULK'S CERTAINLY GLAD THEY DID... WE GOT THAT AWESOME POSTER FOR ONE THING.

AND YOU KNOW, THE FIRST TWO-THIRDS OF THE ENTIRE BOND SERIES ONLY HAD A HANDFUL OF DIRECTORS WORKING ON THEM, AND HULK'S SPENT A LOT OF TIME TALKING ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TERENCE YOUNG'S DEFT TOUCH AND GUY HAMILTON'S DEAF TOUCH. AND SO HULK'S BEEN GOING OVER THESE LAST FEW ENTRIES TRYING TO THINK ABOUT WHAT GILBERT DOES BEST. AND HULK HAS CONCLUDED THAT THE ANSWER HAS GOT TO BE "SCALE AND WONDER." WHILE HE HAD A LOT OF BATSHIT DECISIONS IN THERE, LIKE THE SILLIER MOMENTS IN THESE LAST TWO OR THE PROBLEMATIC RACISM OF YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, HULK CANNOT HELP BUT THINK OF THE REVEAL OF THE MASSIVE VOLCANO LAIR. THAT SET IS CERTAINLY SOMETHING SPECIAL, AS ARE THE VARIOUS SPACE-JACKING SET-PIECES. AND THEN IN THE SPY WHO LOVED ME THERE'S ALL THE MASSIVE UNDERWATER SETS AND GREAT STUFF IN THE EGYPTIAN RUINS . AND NOW IN MOONRAKER, HULK THINKS HE ACTUALLY MANAGES TO ACHIEVE HIS BEST CINEMATIC MOMENT WITH THE JAW-DROPPING REVEAL OF THE SPACE STATION. SCALE AND WONDER, FOLKS. HE JUST DID THEM REALLY WELL, AND HULK THINKS THAT'S SOMETHING TO BE PROUD OF.

BUT TO BE FAIR, MOONRAKER ALSO HAS A BUNCH OF PROBLEMS THAT PREVENT IT FROM BEING A FULLY FUNCTIONAL MOVIE LIKE THE FILM THAT CAME JUST BEFORE. FOR ONE, IT HAS A TURD OF A BAD GUY. SERIOUSLY, HE'S LIKE ANTI-CINEMA. BUT THE WEIRD THING IS THAT IS ALSO THE VERY REASON THAT HULK LIKES MICHAEL LONSDALE'S PORTRAYAL OF HUGO DRAX. HE JUST SITS THERE AND SEEMS SO DISINTERESTED IN BEING THE BAD GUY, SO LACKING IN MALICE OR EVEN GENERAL INTEREST IN MUCH OF ANYTHING. HE'S EVEN NONCHALANT ABOUT HIS WHOLE PLAN TO RE-START THE RACE OF MEN ONLY WITH A SUPER HOT ETHNICALLY DIVERSE CROWD! (NOW THAT'S A BAD GUY MOTIVE HULK CAN IDENTIFY WITH). BUT HULK READILY ADMITS THE THINGS THAT AMUSE HULK ABOUT HIM DO MAKE FOR A RATHER POOR DRAMATIC MOVIE.

... HE SORT OF REMINDS HULK OF DROOPY DOG:

"You know what? I'd like a master race too!"

(FYI TO YOU CHILDREN: "You know what" WAS SOMETHING DROOPY DOG USED TO SAY)

BUT A BIGGER PROBLEM THAN DRAX IS THAT LOIS CHILES JUST KINDA SUCKS IN THIS MOVIE. UGH, THAT SOUNDS MEAN. HULK DOESN'T MEAN FOR IT TO SOUND MEAN, BUT THERE'S JUST NO MORE HONEST WAY OF PUTTING THIS ONE. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE HOLLY GOODHEAD REALLY ISN'T THAT BAD OF A CHARACTER ON THE PAGE, BUT CHILES JUST SEEMS TO BRING NOTHING TO IT. SHE HAS THIS BORED, RASPY VOICE AND GLASSY-EYED, 1000-YARD STARE THAT MAKE HER SEEM LIKE SHE'S SOMEWHERE ELSE ALL OF THE TIME, OR IN THE VERY LEAST, VERY-VERY HIGH. HONESTLY, HULK HAS NO IDEA WHY THEY CAST HER IN THIS. AND THAT ISN'T TO SAY THAT TO MAKE IT AS A BOND GIRL, YOU REALLY HAVE TO BRING YOUR MERYL STREEP A-GAME TO THE ACTING DEPARTMENT (LET'S FACE IT, THE BAR IS SET RATHER LOW), BUT THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT TRANSLATES. THERE HAS TO BE SOMETHING THAT FUNCTIONS IN THE CONTEXT OF THESE MOVIES. AND WHATEVER HOLLY GOODHEAD IS INTENDED TO BE, IT DOESN'T COME ACROSS AT ALL.

SERIOUSLY, LOOK AT THESE STILLS...

WHAT DID HULK SAY? SUPER-HIGH, GLASSY-EYED, 1000-YARD STARE.

... ACTUALLY THIS WAS 1979, SO SHE PROBABLY WAS HIGH.

ANYCRAP, HULK CAN'T HELP BUT KEEP COMING BACK TO THE SPECTACLE OF THE FILM AS THE MAIN BOON. THERE'S THE KILLER OPENING WITH THE NO-CHUTE SKYDIVING SEQUENCE. THEN THERE'S THE WEIRDLY SCARY JAWS SEQUENCE WHERE HE WEARS THE CREEPY OUTFIT AT RIO DURING CARNIVAL. THEN THERE'S MOORE'S BEST FIGHT OF HIS ENTIRE RUN IN THE VENETIAN GLASS HUT. THEN THERE'S EVEN A SHOCKINGLY GOOD BOAT CHASE, WHICH IS AWESOME CONSIDERING HOW HARD IT IS TO MAKE A GOOD CINEMATIC BOAT CHASE (TECHNICALLY THERE'S TWO OF EM IN THIS FILM, IF YOU COUNT THE SILLY GONDOLA ONE). AND BEST OF ALL, THERE'S THE DEATH-DEFYING TRAM FIGHT (WHICH HAS A TON OF GREAT STUNTMAN STORIES). IN TERMS OF THE PURE SPECTACLE THAT WE ASSOCIATE WITH THE SERIES, THEY REALLY OFFERED SOME TOP-NOTCH ACTION FARE WITH THIS ONE.

AND ON A SAD NOTE, THE FILM ALSO HAS BERNARD LEE'S LAST PERFORMANCE AS M, AND HULK CERTAINLY WISHES HULK HAD MORE TO SAY ON THE MATTER, BUT SOMETIMES THERE IS A TRUE JOY IN REALIZING THERE'S JUST NOT MUCH TO SAY. THE MAN WAS AN EVER-DEPENDABLE MAINSTAY OF THE SERIES AND ABSOLUTELY IMBUED ALL THE NOTIONS OF SERIOUSNESS AND FORMALITY THAT WERE REQUIRED TO BE BOND'S SUPERIOR. AND IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE THAT RELATIONSHIP, THEN YOU CAN'T TAKE BOND SERIOUSLY (BECAUSE SOMEONE HAS TO). THAT'S HOW IT IS MOST OF THE TIME IN THIS SERIES. LITTLE CONSTANTS THAT ARE SO GOOD THEY ARE PRACTICALLY INVISIBLE, BUT THEIR ABSENCE CAN OFTEN PROVE THEM CRITICAL. FOR THAT, HE WILL BE DEEPLY MISSED GOING FORWARD.

OOOH, AND NOT TO CHANGE GEARS SO RAPIDLY, BUT IT'S ALSO WORTH NOTING THAT THIS FILM HAS WHAT IS EASILY Q'S BEST QUIP! ("I think he's attempting re-entry, sir.")

DOUBLE-OOOH, ON TOP OF THAT, MOONRAKER EASILY HAS ONE OF THE BEST BOND SCORES. OR AT LEAST THE BEST SCORE SINCE ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE.

SO WHETHER IT'S ALL THE GREAT STUNT WORK, OR THE SCALE AND GRANDEUR, HULK HAS TO ADMIT THAT THE SILLINESS IN THIS FILM DOESN'T NECESSARILY "WORK" PER SAY, BUT IT MAKES IT EASY FOR HULK TO LET IT ROLL RIGHT OFF HULK'S BACK. YES, HULK DOESN'T EVEN MIND DOLLY, JAWS' TINY BRAIDED GIRLFRIEND WHO SHOWS UP FOR, LIKE, NO REASON AND THE TWO OF THEM JUST FALL IN LOVE IMMEDIATELY. NOW, HERE'S THE THING ABOUT THAT: AT FIRST IT SEEMS LIKE A TOTAL INDULGENT BIT OF SILLINESS, BUT IN THE END IT GETS TO BE THE EMOTIONAL CRUX OF THE MOVIE. SERIOUSLY! DRAX CAN'T HAVE TWO IMPERFECT SPECIMENS IN HIS FUTURE WORLD AND IT ENDS UP MAKING THIS LITTLE NICE STATEMENT THAT TURNS THE TIDE WHEN JAWS BECOMES A GOOD GUY TO HELP BOND SAVE THE DAY. THAT'S RIGHT, THE ONE-NOTE GIMMICK HENCHMAN ENDS UP GETTING A DAMN CHARACTER ARC! (NOTE: THE WORD ARC IS BEING USED LOOSELY).

SAVIORS!

AND WITH THAT, MOONRAKER ENDS UP BEING A MORE INTERESTING FILM THAN A LOT OF PEOPLE REALIZE. IT HAS A FEW TERRIBLE PERFORMANCES AND A MACGUFFIN-HOPPING PLOT, BUT IT'S GOT SOME OF THE BEST STUNT PIECES AND BITS OF GRAND SCOPE AND CINEMATIC ZEAL. EVEN ITS SILLIEST PARTS END UP PAYING OFF IN SOME FORM.

MAKING IT THE VERY DEFINITION OF "A MIXED BAG."

AND THUS IT TAPS RIGHT INTO ONE OF HULK'S ONGOING DISCUSSIONS ABOUT WHAT "MIXED BAG" MOVIES EVEN ARE, AND THE MERITS OF THOSE KINDS OF FILMS. FOR HULK WILL ALWAYS HAVE A SPECIAL PLACE IN HULK'S HEART FOR THE MIXED BAGS THAT HAVE SOME GOOD STUFF IN THEM VS. TECHNICALLY "FLAWLESS" MOVIES THAT DON'T EVER REACH THE SAME HEIGHTS. THIS ENTIRE DISCUSSION WILL COME UP LATER IN THE MORE MODERN BOND ERA, AND SO HULK JUST WANTS YOU TO KEEP THE DYNAMIC IN MIND. REALLY, IT'S SUCH AN INTERESTING SUBJECT THAT CHALLENGES OUR NOTION OF "WHAT MAKES A GOOD MOVIE?"

AND HULK JUST SO HAPPENS TO THINK THAT THE ONE-TWO PUNCH GILBERT DELIVERED IN THE MIDDLE OF MOORE'S RUN REALLY GETS TO THE HEART OF THAT DISCUSSION. WHILE THE SPY WHO LOVED ME IS EASILY MOORE'S BEST OFFERING WITH A GENUINE STORY AT THE HEART OF IT, IT IS THE CRAZY-WEIRD MOONRAKER OFFERING THAT MIGHT STILL BE HULK'S PERSONAL FAVORITE. AND HULK THINKS THE ENTIRE REASON IT CAN GET WEIRD AND STILL WORK IS THAT THEY KNEW HOW TO BALANCE IT WITH THE ROMANTIC ALLURE OF THE REST OF THE FILM. LISTEN TO THE MUSIC AGAIN AND PICTURE THAT SILLINESS. WHAT YOU THEN REALIZE IS THAT SILLINESS, WHETHER INTENTIONAL OR NOT, CAN STILL BE EARNEST (IT'S THE VERY REASON THE MIAMI CONNECTION IS SUCH A JOY TO WATCH). HAMILTON WAS ROLLING HIS EYES AT THE FILMS HE WAS MAKING. BUT GILBERT'S EFFORTS WERE EARNEST DALLIANCES. AND WITH HIS LAST FILM IN THE SERIES HE TRULY GAVE US THE MOST BONKERS OF THE BOND ROMANCES IMAGINABLE.

HULK GOOGLED "MOONRAKER FLOATING SEX" AND THAT'S WHAT CAME UP.

GREAT DAY, FOLKS.

TOMORROW, WE ENTER THE 80'S!

(STAY TUNED FOR HULK VS. JAMES BOND DAYS 3 & 4).

Film Crit Hulk's photo About the Author: FILM CRIT HULK WAS CREATED IN A CHAOTIC LAB EXPERIMENT INVOLVING GAMMA RADIATION, TELEPODS, AND THE GHOST OF PAULINE KAEL. NOW HULK HAVE DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE CINEMA.
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