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BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up next year.

It's 1974. Moonraker doesn't exist yet. But Guy Hamilton doesn't let that stop his own attempt at making the worst Bond movie of all time. And he's astonishingly successful, producing a solid gold piece of turdy cackwaffle. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you The Man with the Golden Gun - The Moonraker of 1974.

The worst part of watching the film? Knowing that they had a great book to base the whole thing on. Adaptations don't have to stick to the words on the page, but when a novel is ready-made for a film treatment, why create something inferior from scratch?

Published posthumously in 1965, Ian Fleming's thriller was a proper old-school spy yarn. It saw an old, out-of-shape Bond return from his MIA status after You Only Live Twice's failed mission. Dazed, confused, and convinced he was a Japanese fisherman, Bond was swiftly taken in by the KGB, brainwashed and sent back to London to assassinate M.

Whether Fleming finished it before dying or not, it's a corker of an opening that begs to be made into a film - why Richard Maibaum and Tom Mankiewicz chose to leave it out of the script is a source of constant bafflement. His brain unscrambled, Bond is assigned to track down Francisco Paco "Pistols" Scaramanga, last seen somewhere in the Caribbean. Not because Scaramanga sent a bullet to MI6 (NONSENSE NONSENSE NONSENSE) but because M reckons he's the right-sized kind of target for 007 to get his mojo back.

What follows is 150 pages of 007 sitting around a half-finished hotel, working his way into Scaramanga's inner circle and waiting for the chance to shoot him. With this ridiculously brilliant source material in mind (perhaps my favourite of Fleming's Bond books), I was unsurprised to find this informative pamphlet addressed to Albert R. Broccoli in my DVD case...

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BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up in November next year.

Not content with cheesifying James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever, director Guy Hamilton returned once again to take the formula established by Goldfinger to unnatural extremes with one of the worst films in the entire Bond canon: The Man with the Golden Gun.

Before that, however, he made Live and Let Die. And it was quite a lot of run really. If by fun, you mean camp, silly and obviously made in the 1970s.

How can you deduce its 1973 vintage? Well, aside from the clothes, the Paul McCartney & Wings theme song and the fact that it stars Roger Moore as 007 (before his one-liners completely took over the scripts), Live and Let Die is marked out as a product of its time by the number of Afros wandering around on set.

Of course, these Afros are attached to people. And these people are, more often than not, black. It was clearly a great step up in equality for black actors to be seen playing parts that weren't just Henchman#3 or Man who Sails Boat. With its entertaining use (or perpetuation) of blaxploitation stereotypes, you could almost say Live and Let Die was the first truly politically correct film of the decade. Which is why I wasn't surprised to find this empowering pamphlet in my special edition 007 DVD box.

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BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 in November 2012.

Ah, the 1970s. The decade when Bond lost its way. Bringing back Goldfinger director Guy Hamilton and the familiar (i.e. old) face of Sean Connery, EON did a complete U-turn away from the daring notes of On Her Majesty's Secret Service.

Instead of character and gritty violence, they ramped up the jokes - but these aren't good jokes we're talking about. These are the kind that your drunk aunt tells at a wedding, which you can just about tolerate until she starts joy-riding a moon buggy across Vegas.

Yes, Diamonds are Forever is the film that sees 007 become boring, the one-liners become unbearable, and Blofeld become a woman. Then, halfway through, it turns out the film isn't about diamonds anyway; it's about a giant laser in space. (They could have at least given it a title that made sense, like Lasers Are Forever.) The glitzy garbage is almost enjoyable on a trashy level, but it's best summed up 15 minutes in, when Bond hides from an enemy by pretending to make love to himself in a dark alley. This is what Britain's top spy has come to. It almost makes you look forward to the arrival of Roger Moore. If, you know, it wasn't Roger Moore.

Naturally, this shiny pile of neon-covered bilge comes with two of the most laughable villains of the entire Bond series: Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd. Bizarrely, these two hitmen are never seen taking instructions from anyone - the closest they get to an employee seems to be providing regular business for Morton Slumber's funeral parlour, which is a front for Blofeld's diamond smuggling ring.

With this ludicrous subplot in mind, I wasn't surprised to discover this pamphlet in the box of my special edition Diamonds Are Forever DVD...

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You may have missed it, but last week saw the release of the new James Bond book. It's called Carte Blanche, it's written by Jeffery Deaver and for some reason, they've decided to make it a modern reboot of 007. Because Ian Fleming's novels have obviously been ruined by their period setting all these years.  



Fifty pages in and I've already had to deal with things like "iQPhones" (yes, really), apps and the mention of Oakley sunglasses every two paragraphs. Oh, and Bond is now a 30-year-old Afghanistan war veteran. That's not James Bond. That's Jason Bourne. If he tweets anyone using his iQPhone, I'll shove a pair of Oakley sunglasses up his Q branch.

It doesn't help that I was fixing my sister's computer at the time. Trying to make them both better, I rebooted one, while repeatedly hitting the other with a hammer. Neither helped.

It's not that reboots are necessarily a bad thing. Casino Royale did an expert job at updating Bond, but kept the character faithful to the novels - a jarring transition for Roger Moore fans, but one that re-established 007 as a sexist bastard using Fleming's own backstory. Of course, even that reboot didn't quite go to plan. We ended up with Quantum of Solace.

But why pass the writing baton on at all? Sebastian Faulks' Devil May Care was a cracking read, which echoed Fleming's style (to varying success) and preserved the author's chronology. Plus it had a man with a monkey hand playing tennis - something every good novel needs.

Of course, there's always the chance that Carte Blanche could turn out to be brilliant by the end. Until then, all I can think of is another fictional series that's clearly in need of the Jeffery Deaver treatment...



Officially endorsed by the estate of Enid Blyton, Jeffery Deaver could reboot The Famous Five instead. (For anyone wondering, The Famous Five is a lot like The Secret Seven. But there are five of them. And they drink more lashings of ginger beer.)

Titled Five Go Phone Hacking, Deaver's reboot could be a modern thriller about four children (and a dog) who uncover a dastardly corrupt plot to hack the UK's answering machines using iPhones and apps. And Oakley sunglasses. Julian would be an Afghanistan war veteran, Dick would be a crack addict, Anna would be a teenage girl with an unwanted pregnancy and George would be unemployed and on benefits. 

Timmy the Dog would be a robot. 

Deaver could even write the film version as well, starring Liam Neeson and Bradley Cooper. The only condition? It HAS to include the Famous Five theme tune:



For all those would like to see Jeffery Deaver reboot The Famous Five, you can contact him at his website, where you can also see a video of him at the launch of Carte Blanche standing next to a female stunt biker and a sports car.  

What other series would you like to see rebooted by Jeffery Deaver? The Faraway Tree, relocated to Baltimore and starring McNulty off The Wire? Noddy, about a politically correct cop who falls into a coma and wakes up in Toyland in the 1970s?




BlogalongaBond. One Bond film a month until Bond 23 turns up in November next year.

Last month, we looked at Dr. No's Guide to Being a Bond Villain, which taught all Blofeld wannabes how to take over the world without any hands. Now we look at Getting to Know James Bond.

After the success of Dr. No, director Terence Young had to follow up with the second entry in what would become a stellar franchise. The key to doing that? Developing 007's character.

At its heart, From Russia with Love is a straight-forward spy thriller, but away from the gadgets and volcano lairs, the 1963 sequel is in many ways a metaphor for the secret agent himself (if by "metaphor" you mean "flimsy excuse for a blog post").

Let's take a look at the defining characteristics of Ian Fleming's secret agent, as represented by From Russia with Love...

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