Nice thing about the five-hour movie being spread across two discs is it’s an easy way to break it up across two evenings. The down side is my brain played the title U2 song on a loop for the 22 hours between discs. This began Wenders’ U2 era – they also did songs for Faraway, So Close and Beyond the Clouds and The End of Violence, and Bono wrote and produced the awful Million Dollar Hotel, beginning a drought during which WW couldn’t make a decent fiction film until (here’s hoping) 2023.

Sam Neill is our narrator writing a book about what happened after Claire left him. I thought there’d be some play between the real versions of events and the way he writes them, but no, he’s just following the story as we are and typing it up neatly so we don’t get lost. Claire is Solveig Dommartin, star of the two angel movies and Claire Denis’s No Fear, No Die. She takes an abandoned road to avoid a traffic jam and crashes into a couple of thieves with bags full of money, beginning the road movie tradition of accumulating a cast of friendly characters. Next she’ll add tech fugitive William Hurt and original road man Rudiger Vogler as a bounty hunter. In various configurations they travel to Lisbon, Berlin, China, Japan, USA. Across the shabby chaotic cities of nuclear crisis 1999, WW nailed how annoying computer voices and graphics would be in our future.

It’s all very plotty, not a loose hangout piece like the earlier films with Vogler. That’s not a problem, just a different sort of thing, but when they settle down in Australia for part two, it becomes a problem. Hurt (“Trevor”) and Claire gerry their way through the desert clutching the airplane door she’s been handcuffed to, soundtracked by Peter Gabriel. I imagine Rabbit Proof Fence was a reference to this – also imagine that their character names are a shout-out to Stagecoach star Claire Trevor. When they arrive at Hurt’s family tech lab, the brisk travel plot abruptly stops and we get bogged down in the plot of transmitting brainwave images to Hurt’s blind mom Jeanne Moreau. Dad Max von Sydow (my second 1980s von Sydow this month) changes the focus of his project to dream capture, alienating the locals and the viewers. Neill keeps writing as Hurt and Claire lose their sense of waking reality and the movie turns to drug addiction metaphors (she goes through withdrawal when her dream-viewer runs out of battery). The gang starts to fall away and it all peters out, ending with a postscript of Claire taking a zoom call in space. Spotted in the credits: Michael Almereyda, Paulo Branco, Chen Kaige.

The Australia half is almost redeemed by this band:

Chico can dig it:

From the extras: Almereyda tried to write a draft. Wenders very interested in creating and distorting the HD images, a prototype technology at the time, and talks about being a music collector. “That was another reason why the movie had to be so long” – he wrote all his fave musicians asking them to write a futuristic song, thinking most would say no, then ended up with a ton of songs. He wanted an Elvis song he couldn’t have, so “I don’t know how it happened but” David Lynch produced a cover version.

On Oscars night I thought we should watch something that never* won an award, and so, Conan.

Painted-up horseback killers arrive and destroy young Conan’s town, kill his dad first, then James Earl Jones (with beautiful long hair and named Salsa Doom) beheads Conan’s mom and takes all the town’s kids to be millwheel slaves. Our kid grows into Arnold whilst pushing the millwheel, then gets thrown into gladiator battle where he caves in the other guy’s head, leading to a montage of him killing a lot of guys and “realizing his sense of worth,” haha. After the one-on-one fights in Universal Soldier 6, the chaotic action mishmash of this was bound to disappoint. Impressed, his slavemasters send him to fighting school but some redbeard randomly frees him then he immediately finds a kickass Earth God sword.

The Empty Man, Earth God:

Arnold doesn’t know how to socialize properly, so he has sex with a sorceress while she’s in the middle of reciting his prophecy, then hurls her into the fireplace. He meets Gerry Lopez (thief, archer, and surfer in Milius’s Big Wednesday) and they run around Spain to the lovely adventure music of Basil Poledouris (later a Verhoeven accomplice). Soon after he punches a camel, they meet a cute lady thief (Sandahl Bergman of Hell Comes to Frogtown) and together rob a snake-cult tower and behead the snake god within.

King Max von Sydow congratulates them and sends them on a mission to unkidnap his daughter from the snake cult. Conan ditches the others and runs the rescue mission solo for some reason, asking directions from some hippies, and meeting wizard Mako (The Bird People in China) who lends him a camel, which he learns should be ridden, not punched. Arriving in snaketown, Arnold seduces some guy to steal his cult robes, but he’s not very sneaky and Salsa Doom’s men crucify him on the tree of woe. Really shouldn’t have come alone.

His buddies arrive belatedly and Mako kwaidans him back to life. They sneak in and massacre the palace guards, getting green soup everywhere, while Salsa Doom transforms into a snake and crawls off. The cute girl thief dies of snake wounds before Arnold can find a fireplace to hurl her into. Arnold heals up and goes back to slash his way through more guys, with help from buddies Gerry and Mako and the ghost of his dead girlfriend, beheads Salsa Jones and all the cultists go home. Ends slowly, with a sequel setup, but instead of Conan the Destroyer (a Richard Fleischer/Jack Cardiff joint, shorter, with Grace Jones) I think I’m supposed to watch the Lucio Fulci ripoff Conquest.

*This lost Saturn awards to Star Trek II, Tron, E.T., The Dark Crystal, and Poltergeist, a pretty good lot, but in 2001 it won a DVD commentary award. I listened to a couple minutes of commentary around the camel-punching scene, and nah, I would’ve gone with Charlie’s Angels.

Guess this was technically a rewatch since I remember catching it on cable at Brad’s house in 1983… now that it’s fresh in my mind, bring on the new Mandico version. Milius had recently cowritten Apocalypse Now and 1941, I guess he was into warfare in every era. Producer Dino de Laurentiis also made Halloween III and Amityville II this year, and Edward Pressman and Oliver Stone had just made The Hand.

Supposedly Bergman’s only horror film, but what, the rape/revenge film that inspired Last House on the Left and the most toxic family relations I’ve ever seen and tormented people leading meaningless lives and dead men coming to life and plagues, burning at the stake and death incarnate don’t count as horror anymore?

This one does have phantoms, shaky reality and dangerous insanity, and opens the way horror films do today, claiming to be based on some evidence (in this case a diary) left behind after a disappearance. Liv Ullmann (Autumn Sonata) speaks into camera, setting up the rest of the film as a flashback, her summer on an island with painter husband Max von Sydow.

Liv’s actually the first one to see a phantom, a sweet old woman (216 years old, played by Naima Wifstrand, Granny in The Magician) who says Liv should read Max’s diary while he’s away. So when others start appearing to Max, I’m not sure if they’re real or not. There’s Baron Erland Josephson (a skeptic in The Magician, a madman in Nostalghia) with an invitation to his castle, Max’s naked ex-girlfriend Veronica Vogler (Ingrid Thulin, also a Vogler in The Magician), and a psychiatrist who Max knocks down in anger. Later Max and Liv attend a dinner party with the Baron and the psychiatrist and others (including Gudrun Brost, the clown’s exhibitionist wife in Sawdust & Tinsel, and Gertrud Fridh, Sjöström’s wife in Wild Strawberries), and they seem real enough, but Max’s state of mind is in question – he sweats as the camera whip-pans from one babbling nut to another.

The opening title appears a second time, like an intermission in a 90-minute film. The second party at the castle is less sane. Max is repeatedly promised that he’ll get to see Veronica, while the other guests show off: the Baron walks on the walls, a woman removes her face, Max is given lipstick and eyeliner and taken to meet the still-naked, possibly-dead Veronica, whereupon he states: “The mirror has been shattered. But what do the pieces reflect?” Later Liv tells us he came home and shot at her, then disappeared into the woods.

I actually think Bergman’s movies are more frightening when he’s not trying to be so Halloweeny:

Bergman’s follow-up to Persona, and they seem to have a lot in common, with dialogue about people who live together becoming alike. The DVD extras are awfully repetitive, but Marc Gervais has a few useful things to say, that Bergman’s films of this time were about personality disintegration, also his darkest and most self-conscious period (sounds of film production run under the opening titles).

Great to watch this again in high-def. I remembered it being interesting, but not looking this spectacular. Morose knight (Max Von Sydow) and his charismatic squire Jons (Gunnar Bjornstrand of Winter Light, hard to adjust to him not being the morose one) are heading home through the plague-ridden country, accumulating other characters along the way. It’s both very serious about life and death and also full of jokes and lighter moments, so maybe the first Swedish horror comedy? Along the way, Jons has folksy/philosophical conversations with townsfolk, and the knight has religious/philosophical conversations with Death.

First, Jons rescues an intense, silent girl (Gunnel Lindblom: Sydow’s servant in Virgin Spring, his wife in Winter Light) from a dangerous thief. “I’m a married man, but with any luck my wife is dead by now, so I’ll be needing a housekeeper.” Then they come across actor/jester Jof (Nils Poppe of The Devil’s Eye) with his wife Bibi Andersson, sexy maid in The Magician), who’ve just been ditched by their more serious companion Jonas and need protection. Jonas has stolen the blacksmith’s wife (Inga Gill of Miss Julie), but the smith (Ake Fridell, Monika‘s dad) gets her back and Jonas wanders off to meet Death.

It’s been established that jester Jof can see spirits, so he’s the only one who realizes that the knight’s solo chess games are actually with Death, and that the knight is losing, so he escapes with his wife. The rest of the gang continues to the knight’s castle where his wife Karin (Inga Landgre, recently in Girl With The Dragon Tattoo Remake) is waiting. The six of them are just having dinner when Death catches up, and out in a field with their young son, Jof sees Death leading them all away.

Peter Cowie calls the actors “medieval ancestors of those troubadours, those traveling musicians who are still so popular in Scandinavia today.” I’ve meant to ask Trevor how often he runs across troubadours. Cowie also calls this “the high point of Bergman’s symbolic period.” I’m pretty sure the sudden parade of self-flagellating religious nuts was a Monty Python influence.

Woody Allen:

His big contribution was that he developed a vocabulary to work on the interiors of people. He would choose these great and gifted actors and he would guide them so they could project these inner states of extreme emotional intensity. He would use close-ups and keep those close-ups going longer and longer, and he never let up. Gradually the psychological feelings of the character the actor was portraying just sort of show up on the screen. He was so unsparing with the camera. Finally you start to see the wars that are raging inside the characters, these psychological wars and emotional wars, and it’s no less visual in the end than the movements of armies.

So, in the straightforward ending, pre-crime dept. head Max Von Sydow murdered precog Samantha Morton’s inconvenient mother and good cop Colin Farrell, while Cruise’s ex-wife springs him from The Attic to bring justice and a happy ending. But an article Katy found says the ending is too idyllic and perhaps Cruise never awoke from The Attic, but actually dreams the last half hour Brazil-style. I love that the movie works either way.

Highlights: creepy doctor Peter Stormare and the following scene with retina-scanning spiders invading his apartment complex, Cruise escaping via auto assembly line, Morton’s freaked-out performance, the still-exciting technology and how most of it is becoming real. Katy is hung up on the mismatched architecture/design styles of all the interiors.

Set in one day, almost a real-time portrait of the failings of local pastor Gunnar Bjornstrand (bad father from Through a Glass Darkly). He gives his sermon to a sparse, unattentive congregation then has a series of disspiriting meetings in his office. Gunnel Lindblom (servant girl in The Virgin Spring) wants him to speak with her husband, a depressed Max Von Sydow, never looking more sad and powerless. Local atheist teacher, friend and off-again love interest Ingrid Thulin (Sydow’s secret wife in The Magician) writes the pastor a an attack/analysis letter, delivered as a speech to-camera.

Gunnar and Ingrid:

Then Von Sydow is back (mentioned: “a spider God, a monster”, direct callback to Through a Glass Darkly). He is feeling suicidal and the pastor so completely fails to help (“I’m no good as a clergyman,” he even admits) that Sydow promptly wanders outside and shoots himself in the head. Ingrid goes with Gunnar to inform the widow, and along the way he discusses their lack of a relationship. “I don’t want you. Once and for all I have to escape this junkyard of idiotic trivialities. And I don’t love you, because I love my wife. When she died, so did I.”

Widow Gunnel:

Off to the next church service in another town, joined by the hunchbacked sexton, a thoughtful man and the best character in the movie. Each tormented by their lives’ lack of meaning, Gunnar begins the service, which is attended only by Ingrid.

Sexton Allan Edwall, later in Fanny & Alexander and The Sacrifice:

A strong contender for Most Depressing Film of All Time. Made the same year as Frantisek Vlácil’s The Devil’s Trap (“an allegory regarding science, religion and secular power”) and The World’s Greatest Sinner, in which Timothy Carey renames himself God and defies the other God to show himself. Max von Sydow would follow this up by playing Jesus in The Greatest Story Ever Told.

The ending, in Bergman’s words: “Irrespective of everything, you will hold your Communion. It is important to the churchgoer, but even more important to you.”

P. Cowie from the DVD extras:

When it came out, I remember certainly being very shocked that this did not look like a Bergman film. It didn’t have that spectacular technical expertise which we associated during the 50’s with Bergman. But looking back I think it was very deliberate on his part. It wasn’t a budget problem or anything like that. He just wanted something very, very wintry and very, very severe.

P. Cowie:

Film buffs who know Bergman’s earlier film Through a Glass Darkly will note the organist’s scornful dismissal of that work’s conclusion: “God is love; love is God.” Indeed, Winter Light stands as a bridge between Through a Glass Darkly and The Silence, as well as Bergman’s farewell to his own religious upbringing. Some might call it an exorcism.


The sexton, the little twisted man, alone has a face that is alive with wonder at the mystery of faith. He has been reading the Gospels, he says, and thinks the emphasis on Christ’s suffering on the cross is all wrong. Christ only suffered a few hours, he says, while he, Algot, has suffered more and longer, and it is not so bad. No, the real suffering of Christ came when his disciples betrayed him at Gethsemane, and when he cried out to a father who seemed to have forsaken him. He suffered because he feared no one had heard or understood his message. Christ suffered because he, too, was dismayed by the silence of God.

This might be the beginning of Late-Period Bergman – I’ve seen none before except Persona. He was the son of a major pastor, and the DVD extras say he was “coming to terms with religious baggage of his past” in this thematic trilogy. He “renounced a lot of the expressionism of the 50’s that he’d been known for,” but the compositions, in less stark black-and-white than before, are still striking.

Karin (Harriet Andersson: Monika, Petra in Smiles of a Summer Night) is on Bergman’s beloved island of Faro with younger brother Minus (Lars Passgard, who would not be a Bergman regular), husband Max von Sydow, and father Gunnar Bjornstrand (self-important Egerman in Smiles, Sydow’s challenger in The Magician). Things start out on shaky ground – she’s just back from psychiatric hospital where she got shock treatment, and when dad gets a moment alone he sobs in his office – and only get worse. An hour in, I was wondering which one of them would commit suicide – each seemed pretty likely – then a moment later Gunnar started speaking of his suicide attempt.

Karin finds her novelist dad’s diary about her illness. Minus gets caught looking at dirty pictures, always seems on the edge of panic, has incestual complications. Max is getting no love from his crazy wife, starts a bitter fight with Gunnar over his creative bankruptcy and exploitation of his daughter’s illness. But Karin is worse off than they realize, starts standing in an empty room staring at a crack in the wallpaper and insisting that God is going to come through.

“Your faith and your doubt are very unconvincing. All that’s apparent is your ingenuity.” Harsh words spoken by a character within a film series about faith and doubt. “Don’t you think I know that,” Gunnar responds, a bit of Bergman self-criticism, doubt about his own doubtfulness.

“The door opened, but the God that came out was a spider,” Karin says, resigned to a horrible fate just before the ambulance takes her away again. “Papa spoke to me” are the movie’s final words, a glimmer of hope from poor Minus.

P. Matthews on the Euro-arthouse films of the early 1960’s:

The denuded purity of its sacred texts was an implicit rebuke to Hollywood budgetary decadence, just as their oracular obscurity challenged a feel-good escapism whose meanings were only too pat.

A reprieve is nonetheless granted through earthly love – a coda shows the aloof father chastened and struggling to bond with his neglected son. That the director himself found this optimism facile can be judged from the diminishing spiritual returns in the trilogy, culminating in the almost total cosmic nullity of The Silence.

On a Bergman kick lately, so I meant to watch this and Hour of the Wolf for SHOCKtober, but only made it to one. The beginning of Bergman’s extensive work with cinematographer Sven Nykist, brilliant looking but with less of the extreme blacks of Smiles of a Summer Night and The Magician. Supposedly this was stylistically influenced by Akira Kurosawa, after which Sven and Ingmar created their own style.

Pure and flowery Karin with dark, suspicious Ingeri:

Karin (Birgitta Pettersson, a housemaid in The Magician) is the beautiful daughter of Tore (Max Von Sydow, The Magician himself) and Mareta (Birgitta Valberg of Port of Call), sent to church to deliver candles one Sunday wearing her nicest dress. Pregnant dark-haired servant girl Ingeri (Gunnel Lindblom of Winter Light) comes along. The parents are devout Christians (especially mom, who whips herself in atonement) but the girls aren’t – Ingeri prays to Odin and Karin seems to only care about being spoiled by her parents and looking pretty for boys. Along the way Karin flirts with a boy whom Ingeri knows, and the two flee from an icky bridge keeper.

Commentary says the raven represents Odin

The raven appears right after the old man at the bridge, an Odin supporter:

While Karin is alone she comes across a grotesque gang of acrobat goat-herdsmen brothers, and shares her lunch with them, but the two older ones chase then rape and kill her, while the youngest watches, afraid.

The herdsmen:

Karin, first realizing she’s in danger:

The brothers continue on their travels, ask refuge at Tore and Mareta’s house, and in private offer to sell Mareta a beautiful dress – the one Karin was wearing when she left that morning. So the parents already know Karin is in trouble, possibly dead, when Ingeri comes along and confirms it to Tore. “Kill me first. My guilt is greater than theirs. I willed it to happen. Ever since I became with child I’ve hated her. The very day I prayed for it, he did it. It was him and me, not the herdsmen.”

Sad parents:

Tore puts himself through a purification ritual, wrestles a tree to the ground, then waits for the brothers to awaken and kills them all (knife, fire, and throwing the young boy into the wall). Ingeri walks them to their daughter’s resting place. Mareta: “I loved her too much, Tore, more than God himself. When I saw how she favored you, I began to hate you. It is me God meant to punish by this. I bear the guilt.” When Karin’s head is moved, a spring bubbles up from the ground beneath it. Tore senses God is speaking to him, knows he went too far killing the boy, and swears to devote the rest of his life to building a church on that spot.

Von Sydow, out for blood:

Earlier when Ingeri is preparing sandwiches for Karin’s lunch, she puts a live toad between slices of bread, which falls out just before the murder. The DVD commentary: “in ancient scandinavian folklore, toads were thought to be the devil in disguise.”

The movie won an oscar (against Clouzot’s La Verite), but the American and French critics who’d been Bergman’s biggest champions trashed it. Bergman later said it should be regarded as an aberration in his work, and never made another film in an historical setting.

Tree wrestling:

A decade later Wes Craven took the same story and made reprehensible trash out of it with Last House on the Left.

Oh look, netflix streaming has a whole bunch of James Bond movies. I never watched them consistently, saw a couple all the way through and a bunch more in fragments on cable. So this is an attempt to figure out which Bond is which, and which movies were halfway decent.

Thunderball (1965)
Sean Connery is not-so-excitingly rescued by a helicopter, yells some exposition that I didn’t quite catch. Underwater harpoon battle! Black team vs. orange team, heavy casualties. Everyone except Bond is wearing pants. The movie harpoons a shark, booo. I hope the movie ate that shark. Bond catches up with grey-haired eyepatched Largo (Adolfo Celi of Diabolik and The Phantom of Liberty) aboard the Disco Volante – aha – slaps him around while the boat accelerates to Benny Hill speed. He escapes with a girl named Domino (Claudine Auger of A Bay of Blood), who also has no pants. They ditch the Peter Lorre-like fellow who helped rescue her, and escape into a bluescreen sky. Director Terence Young’s third Bond movie – he’d later make Wait Until Dark.

You Only Live Twice (1967)
Connery fails to escape Donald “Dr. Evil” Pleasence by shooting a guy with his cigarette. Lots of men (ninjas, according to IMDB) fight in different-colored outfits. Bond knocks an unpunchable tough guy into a pirahna pool and pushes the button that makes a spacecraft on TV blow up. Pleasence blows the whole base, but every single person escapes anyway, and the same planes drop the same lifeboats as in the last movie. Bond ends up in one with a girl named Kissy (Mie Hama of What’s Up Tiger Lily).

Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
Jill St. John (of Tashlin & Lewis flick Who’s Minding The Store?) is making a mockery of clothing in her purple/red flag swimsuit. Connery does acrobatics in a suit, while helicopters explode into optical stills. Baddy Blofeld (Charles Gray of the Rocky Horror movies) enters a toy submarine held by a Bond-controlled crane. Connery gleefully wrecking-balls the toy into the control tower until the whole derrick explodes. Nice finale featuring one waiter on fire and another exploding mid-air.

Live and Let Die (1973)
Heroin dealer Yaphet Kotto (of Bone, Alien and the show Homicide) has stolen Roger Moore’s inflation gun, shows off all his silly bad-guy toys (a monorail, waterproof heroin canisters) then threatens Bond and Jane “Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman” Seymour with death by shark. Every movie so far has featured watery deaths. In the most WTF moment of any movie so far, Bond shoves a compressed-air pellet into Yaphet’s head, turning him into a balloon. The last-minute assassination-attempt is back, and Moore tosses a metal-claw-handed Julius Harris (of Black Caesar) out his train window.

The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)
The great Christopher Lee (year after The Wicker Man) is TMWTGG, but Moore shoots him dead before he’s got any lines – shame. Nice scene, all rotating mirrors and neon triangles. Criminals used to put such style into their lairs. Britt Ekland (also of Wicker Man) tosses a guy into subzero liquid (another watery death), then triggers self-destruct with her ass, the least competent of any bond girl so far. He and the girl sail away in an ancient Chinese ship, pausing to dispose of an angry Hervé Villechaize (soon after Greaser’s Palace). These last three were directed by Guy Hamilton, who’d go on to make Remo Williams: The Adventure Begins.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
A boat is blowing up – more water, and oh look, more sharks. Moore is aboard the evil aquatic base, shoots boring Curd Jurgens (star of both a Blue Angel remake and a Threepenny Opera remake), sics Jaws on a shark (a funny joke in the mid-1970’s) and escapes with lovely enemy spy Barbara Bach – codename Triple X, another joke. It all seems rather inert, the least-exciting Bond finale I’ve seen despite Jaws and explosions.

Moonraker (1979)
Oh god, laser gun battles. Moore ejects Michael Lonsdale (!) into space then watches some Star Wars models out the window. Jaws is in love with a girl with pigtails and it’s sweet. He even gets dialogue, helps Bond and Lois Chiles (of Broadcast News) into a shuttle where they play high-stakes space invaders then celebrate with zero-G sex. These last two and You Only Live Twice were directed by Lewis Gilbert, who helmed some thrillers in the 50’s and more recently an Aidan Quinn ghost story.

For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Moore is in a decidedly low-tech mountain hideout, with a full team for once. Punch-out in a church, people thrown through stained glass windows, and another one of those tough guys who just smiles when Bond punches him in the gut. It’s all for some Texas Instruments-looking device which Bond hurls off a cliff so the Russians won’t get it. Not nearly as exciting as the others, with an unsexy PG version of the gag ending from the last few, then a dubbed macaw to close it out. John Glen, editor of the last couple Bond films, is promoted to director and takes the series through License to Kill.

Octopussy (1983)
Hooray for gypsies, acrobats, dancers and sad clowns. This makes up for the drab brownness of the last movie. The title character (Maud Adams, returning from Golden Gun) has a gun and Bond is nowhere to be found. Oh here he is, in a hot air balloon of course. Some Goldeneye-(the video game)-style first-person machine-gunning. Bond on horseback chases down the Afghani/Indian villains’ plane and just rides around on top of it. Louis Jordan (star of Letter from an Unknown Woman) flies his plane into a cliff after Bond and the girl jump to safety. They’ve toned down the sexy ending even further – this is getting out of hand.

Never Say Never Again (1983)
Weird, a non-canonical Bond film from a rival studio, a remake of Thunderball from the director of The Empire Strikes Back featuring the return of Sean Connery. Never having cared about the 007 series, this is not something I ever suspected existed. Connery has a jetpack! He and partner Bernie Casey (of Cleopatra Jones and The Man Who Fell To Earth) scuba into a paper-mache fortress where Max von Sydow reigns, a less-iconic Largo. Bond, as in the original, can be easily recognized as the one without pants. An underwater battle ensues, with worse lighting, much less harpooning, and slightly more Kim Basinger than before. In the would-be sexy postscript scene, Bond dumps Rowan Atkinson into a swimming pool – so, less Benny Hill, more Mr. Bean.

A View to a Kill (1985)
Opens with a disclaimer about baddie Chris Walken’s character name “Zorin” – I wonder what prompted that. Anyway, very excited to see Grace Jones with new wave hair helping out Roger Moore. She explodes while a slick blonde Walken watches from above, as does the proper blonde love interest (Tanya Roberts of The Beastmaster and Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. Bond dangles from a zeppelin line as Walken tries to shake him loose in the city, accompanied by corny dialogue. Punch-out atop the Golden Gate bridge features lots of bluescreen backdrops, Chris Walken with an axe, and an angry old man with a cartoon stick of dynamite. Postscript involves a camera-equipped robot, chuckling Russians and somehow an even less sexy finale than the Rowan Atkinson one. Come on now, 1980’s.

The Living Daylights (1987)
Roger has been retired to a closet at MGM, and was never heard from again. Tim Dalton is flying a plane around with Maryam d’Abo (of Shootfighter), blowing up a bridge while Arabs wage war below. Hmm, they drive out of a crashing plane in a jeep. Warfare afficionado MITCHELL is blasting away at Bond – thought I remembered him as a good guy in the later ones. Mitchell is dead, so never mind. Ash liked all the whistling in this one.