Tom Mankiewicz

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The Man With The Golden Gun Review


Very Good
Christopher Lee always makes for an exceptional video. It's just too bad that it had to be in The Man with the Golden Gun, which ranks as one of James Bond's more absurd outings, involving a maniacal genius (Lee) who's assassinating folks and has Bond next on his list. Bond thus goes after this Scaramanga and uncovers the usual mega-weapon plot, this time featuring... wait for it... solar power. The theme song by Lulu (sample lyrics: "Love is required/Whenever he's hired/He comes just before the kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill") is original and a great example of high camp, much like the rest of the film. It's all gaudily good, right down to Hervé Villechaize(!), bikini-clad Britt Ekland, and the inimitable Clifton James as the vacationing Sheriff J.W. Pepper (introduced in Live and Let Die), who tags along for a bit.

Continue reading: The Man With The Golden Gun Review

Diamonds Are Forever Review


OK
While it's fun to wax nostalgic over Sean Connery's final appearance as James Bond (drawn out of retirement from the series for a presumably fat paycheck), it's still unfortunate that the film he appeared in is more than a little bit embarassing. Jill St. John is one of the least effective Bond girls: She's beautiful, but shrill and helpless (her scream of "Eeeeee!" during a fistfight in the film's final scene is one of Bond's noteworthy lowlights). The story is borderline moronic: Blofeld (now played by Charles Gray in his third incarnation) steals a load of diamonds in order to arm a laser-shooting satellite, to achieve, of course, world domination. How's that all work? No idea, and when we actually see his creation in orbit, it's laughable.

On the other hand, Connery is fine, as are some of the film's villains (hippie bodyguards named Bambi and Thumper), and the inimitable Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint, who, while entertaining, certainly didn't do much for Hollywood's respectful treatment of homosexuals. The Las Vegas setting (for much of the film) is unfortunately and unintentionally cheesy, as well. It's fun at times but overall one of the most hopelessly dated 007 flicks ever.

Continue reading: Diamonds Are Forever Review

Live And Let Die Review


Very Good
A true guilty pleasure among Bond films. Who can forget a young Jane Seymour as Solitaire, a psychic held captive? Or Clifton James as Louisiana Sheriff Pepper, the most colorful character the Bond series has produced? Or Tee Hee and his mechanical arm? Or Geoffrey Holder (the voice of 7-UP) as the evil Baron Samedi? Or the best theme song ever (by Paul McCartney and Wings)? Certainly not me, though I had to be reminded that this was a Bond-gets-drug-smugglers story. But the early-'70s pop culture exudes throughout this flick. It's certainly a unique entry into the Bond oeuvre (not to mention the first appearance of Roger Moore.)

Continue reading: Live And Let Die Review

The Man With The Golden Gun Review


Very Good
Christopher Lee always makes for an exceptional video. It's just too bad that it had to be in The Man with the Golden Gun, which ranks as one of James Bond's more absurd outings, involving a maniacal genius (Lee) who's assassinating folks and has Bond next on his list. Bond thus goes after this Scaramanga and uncovers the usual mega-weapon plot, this time featuring... wait for it... solar power. The theme song by Lulu (sample lyrics: "Love is required/Whenever he's hired/He comes just before the kiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiill") is original and a great example of high camp, much like the rest of the film. It's all gaudily good, right down to Hervé Villechaize(!), bikini-clad Britt Ekland, and the inimitable Clifton James as the vacationing Sheriff J.W. Pepper, who tags along for a bit.

Live And Let Die Review


Very Good
A true guilty pleasure among Bond films. Who can forget a young Jane Seymour as Solitaire, a psychic held captive? Or Clifton James as Louisiana Sheriff Pepper, the most colorful character the Bond series has produced? Or Tee Hee and his mechanical arm? Or Geoffrey Holder (the voice of 7-UP) as the evil Baron Samedi? Or the best theme song ever (by Paul McCartney and Wings)? Certainly not me, though I had to be reminded that this was a Bond-gets-drug-smugglers story. But the early-'70s pop culture exudes throughout this flick. It's certainly a unique entry into the Bond oeuvre.

Ladyhawke Review


Very Good
Setting aside the hamfisted Alan Parsons score and Rutger Hauer's equally hammy performance, Ladyhawke is a fine little fantasy based on a timeless tale. A curse has caused Hauer and his lover (Michelle Pfeiffer) to never cross paths -- he turns into a wolf at night, she turns into a hawk by day. Matthew Broderick -- who redeems the film completely for any of its datedness -- plays the thief who aids the pair in exacting revenge on an evil bishop (John Wood, reunited with Broderick from WarGames). Moody and quite dark, this is a great movie for a sleepy Sunday afternoon.
Tom Mankiewicz

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