The Avignon Bonds

Hi, I’m The Jerk. You might remember me from that recurring dream you keep having about gym class.

Time to climb the rope, laddie.

You need some help. Just sayin’.

But I’d really like the world to remember me for my movie reviews. Or maybe my humanitarian work of gently correcting people in com boxes.  Or perhaps my ability to consume large quantities of alcohol while driving.

In any event, Simcha doesn’t seem to care much about secure passwords (manh8ter) so it’s time for me to do my thing.

With pants on.

But wait, there’s more!

That’s right. There’s two of them!

In 1983, the world was thrown into chaos. Every year, juvenile misogynists looked forward to the latest installment in the James Bond series. The naked lady credits alone were worth the price of admission. But in ’83, we got two of them, both starring legitimate Bonds. Or as legitimate as Roger Moore could ever get. The center would not hold.

In June, we got Octopussy, quite possibly the worst James Bond movie made, aside from Thunderball. In October, Never Say Never Again, a remake of Thunderball, comes out, and it might be the best Bond movie yet. Sorry Lazenby.

Like to know what's under the kilt?

I’d hate to.

Like every great story this one starts with protracted litigation. See, back when Ian Fleming was just a guy trying to work out his hatred of women through fiction, he was approached by some chumpy chump named Kevin McClory Chumpikins III interested in making a big screen version of Bond.

I think McClory either ran a projector at a theater once, or he gave classes in Catholic screen writing, anyway, the two of them wrote a screenplay called, Thunderball. It sucked, and the project never went anywhere. So Fleming, being a gentleman, steals the screenplay and turns it into a Bond novel.

Savor that one for a bit. You steal Thunderball. This is like wrongfully taking credit for the velvet Elvis.

Hunk-a hunk-a burnin' crud.

As T.S. Eliot said, “Good writers borrow, great writers steal, and Ian Fleming eats poo.”

So of course this McClory chump sues when they try to make the Thunderball movie in 1965. And he wins. He got a credit on the screenplay, the novel, and the rights to make his own version 10 years after Thunderball gets released.

Think about that. You fight to claim credit for Thunderball. And you win. Oh glorious day.

That’s how we get to 1983. The year of Two Bonds.

Let’s start with the worst. Octopussy.

You're forgetting "Moonraker," and "The Man With The Golden Gun," and "For Your Eyes Only," and ... crap. All of it! OK? Are you happy?

Granted, Ole Rog’ made many a stinker as James Bond, but Octopussy really stands out as some sort of fever dream of awful. Starting with, Octopussy? Are you effing kidding me? That’s the name of your movie?

It seemed like a good idea at the time, you bastard!

See what I mean. Clown makeup. That’s not even the tip of this crapberg. There is some sort of indecipherable plot involving a stolen nuke, a mad Russian general, Faberge eggs, and Louis Jourdan as a villain.

I too have a mortgage.

Of course, we’re forgetting the exotic Octopussy, a strange, foreign woman of mystery and deadly beauty. On paper. In the movie, they just got Maud Adams.

You mean I have to do a love scene? With Moore?

This movie features Moore at his flabby, loathsome worst. (Floathsome?) Lame action, stupid gadgets, and scantily clad women. So, you know, a James Bond movie.

It ends with some sort of commando operation in which half naked women descend upon Louis Jordan’s castle. (Thank Heaven for Naked Girls?) What does it all mean? I have no idea.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST7jKqrtci0]

Now for the good one, Never Say Never Again.

Of course, by good, I am still talking about a James Bond movie, so caveat emptor, sucker.

I see you forgot your pants.

This one finds a sorta real life James Bond, a little past his prime, getting shelved by MI6 as obsolete in the modern world.

You know what's not obsolete? My wa ...

OK! That’s enough out of you about that.

I was talking about my pen ...

Yes. Thank you.

Look, this movie actually works, in part, because it is one big middle finger to the whole Bond franchise. They age Bond, and he still comes off tougher than some unnamed, flabby boy.

I don't have time for push ups!

The plot is one of those Bondian stolen nuke specials, but, c’mon! Klaus Maria Brandauer might be the creepiest villain to date.

I totally can kick Jourdan's ass.

Indeed, Klaus. Indeed.

Keep in mind, it is a James Bond movie, so it is silly. There’s a life and death video game match, shooting pens, a pretty good motorcycle chase, and some pretty explicit sex scenes for a PG movie, even a 1983 James Bond movie.

I love short shorts.

Oh, yeah. Kim Basinger is in it. She’s, umm, nice? Seriously, never understood her appeal, but she does give the movie makers a chance to stage a dramatic tango. Keep Dancing!

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbZkVAJD6aQ]

Like I said, this movie works. I think, aside from the whole grudge match energy it has going for it, this Bond outing greatly benefits from one Irvin Kershner, the director responsible for the only decent Star Wars movie.

Yoda my idea was.

So there you have it. I got through not one, but two movie reviews without writing “penis.” Happy?

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