Starring Richard Todd and Michael Redgrave (1954).
A film with a memorable theme tune (as well-known as the Great Escape theme) and also a film much loved by British people.
It is the story of Dr. Barnes N. Wallis (played by Michael Redgrave), a weapons developer, playing with the idea that he can develop a bouncing bomb, to destroy the Ruhr Dams in Germany and bring down much of Germany's power sources and manufacturing bases. The idea is that the bomb could be dropped from a plane, bounce on the top of the damn, eventually hitting the damn wall and exploding.The wall would then collapse, spilling millions of tons of water onto the countryside, towns and villages, crippling some areas.
The first half of the film concentrates on the development of the bomb. Persuading the right people that it could work was the first step. The film paints Barnes as a brilliant, neurotic, hard-working but ultimately, caring man. Many long hours were spent in testing tanks, testing model bombs to find the right distance and height for the bombs to be dropped. The tension builds as the failures multiply. Can it be done? Is it too risky? Who will fly the planes that will drop the bombs?
The second half of the film is about the raid on the damns. The men have been chosen, the mission a secret until the last minute, the hundreds of hours of practice will be put to the ultimate test, then chocks away! As you watch the film you cannot begin to believe how brave these men were. Real heroes! To fly to Germany a few hundred feet off the ground, to drop the bomb and then return to England was always going to be a risky, if not suicidal plan.
Some things that do date the film are the explosive effects on the damn. However, the photography of the flying is still breathtaking.
It is gripping film from beginning to end and one that anyone who is interested in World War II and classic British films must see.
Dr. No (1962)
"If you carry a double-0 number, it means you're licensed to kill, not get killed... You'll carry the Walther".
M instructs Bond in Dr.No.
As the film opens you are greeted with the fantastic opening titles of colourful dancers and geometric patterns together with some funky music by composer Monty Norman (who also composed the classic 'Underneath the Mango Tree'), which sets off the style of the film as a film for the electronic age but also slightly tongue-in-cheek and the first outing for James Bond 007.
Set in Jamaica, before the advent of mass-tourism and crowded beaches, the film captures the spirit of Jamaica in the 1960s, made all the more realistic by being filmed on location. It also features giant sets by Ken Adam created and filmed at Pinewood Studios in London. These include the room at Dr. No's lair with the grid skylight.
It is also Sean Connery's first attempt at playing Bond and he pulls it off with all the urbane confidence that is needed for this role. He is SO believable as Bond and so natural that it is difficult to imagine he was relatively unknown at this point. The Bond girl is, of course, Ursula Andress, who is as hot as the sun-drenched beach she walks onto as she appears from the water in one of the most famous scenes in cinematic history.
The villain is Dr.No (played by Joseph Whiteman), an evil-looking man who never blinks and has metal hands and wears a Chairman Mao style jacket. He works for SPECTRE, an evil organisation whose aim is to upset and destroy American Missile launches from Dr. No's base known as Crab Key.
The film still feels modern, even to this day and Terence Young's direction, coupled with the stunning scenery of Jamaica make it one of the best Bond films.
Review of The Living Daylights (1986)
Timothy Dalton's first Bond outing is an inconsistent, sometimes tedious but overall entertaining film. In a move away from A View to a Kill, Dalton throws himself into the action and the first hour, it has to be said, has its fair share of action-packed stunts, car chases, sniper firing and police road-blocking. The 80s Aston Martin looks stunning and has all the Bond gadgets built-in as per usual, with bullet-proof glass and lasers coming from the hub caps are just two highlights.
As well as the slightly confusing plot, the middle part of the film set in Afghanistan (?!) is dissapointing. Probably influenced by Indiana Jones at this point but not really living up to it, it fails to grab you, which every Bond film should do.
Review of Thunderball (1965)
In my opinion, one of the best Bond films. The 1960s was the age of the spy film, helped by the slick production, mysterious baddies, great battles, beautiful women, fast cars and a super-cool hero, which altogether made Thunderball. Sean Connery at his best, full of charm, wisdom and dry humour.
Watching the film today, it still impresses, as it is epic in scale. Massive sets, amazing gadgets (like the jetpack early on in the film) and exotic locations (like Nassau) still look stunning. The plot is easy to follow and the film flows seamlessly beacause of the skillful editing.
There are tons of gripping scenes, with battles underwater, lots of viscious sharks and plenty of good old-fashioned gun fighting. Some critics felt that the underwater scenes are too long and unnecessary but I think they add to the beauty of the film.
Q is ever-present and there is the obligatory gadget explaining scene, where, as always, Bond's boyish lack of concentration doesn't impress Q.
It is difficult to find faults in this Bond outing and it really does tick all the boxes for a Bond film, so the best thing to do is just sit back, watch and enjoy.
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