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Member Since 01 Mar 2008
Offline Last Active Yesterday, 09:38 AM

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In Topic: The Persuaders

Yesterday, 09:38 AM



Episode 8: Anyone Can Play
Director: Leslie Norman
Writer: Tony Williamson


The English Riviera, a casino in Brighton, Danny Wilde makes a small fortune at the roulette table, but his luck has unexpected results when his winning streak gets him mistaken for a Soviet spy. While the premise of the story has some merit, it is constructed with too many implausibles:


1 – a hopelessly convoluted password

2 – a suddenly, miraculously drunken Brett Sinclair
3 – a selection of helpless hoods
4 – a bumbling Tony Curtis mistaken for a manipulative agent
5 – a climax of extreme ridiculousness set on a rickety studio designed train carriage
6 – the world’s worst break-in
7 – a Soviet spy who is as useless at his job as Danny Wilde is at impersonating him
8 – a host of heavy accents
9 – caricature supporting roles
10 – a series of excruciatingly badly executed fight scenes
11 – a happy-go-Charlie-cheerful music score
12 – unimaginative direction
13 – a lethargic script


This really is one of those episodes which explains why The Persuaders was dubbed ‘the best worst T.V. show of the seventies.’


Plus points – yes, there are some – include an attractive female accomplice played by Cyd Harman and Richard Vernon’s English gent version of Judge Fulton, an intelligence head of some description, who seems to spend his working days play the slots on Brighton pier. All in all, this tale has too much humour, too thin a plot and too many inexcusable inexplicables to be taken remotely seriously.





In Topic: The Persuaders

23 June 2017 - 09:57 AM



Episode 7: Someone Like Me
Director: Roy Ward Baker
Writer: Terry Nation 


Curiously there are no guest stars listed for this episode, which is written by regular ITC contributor Terry Nation and has a slightly sci-fi plot involving memory loss, assassination, kidnap, brainwashing and trigger words. Perhaps, once they saw the end the result, the actors all rather fancied anonymity.


The story involves a Brett Sinclair doppelganger primed to murder his old pal Sam Milford, played by Bernard Lee. [Given that in just a few years Lee, of course, will be playing M opposite Roger Moore's 007 in The Man with the Golden Gun, the novel of which features an attempt by Bond to kill his boss, you do wonder just how that movie might have turned out...] 


This chapter proceeds quite nicely through its scenario which includes a bluff to both the characters and the audience. Roger Moore and Tony Curtis are very good in this one, playing respectively a befuddled victim and a concerned friend. There’s an early scene of great mystery when Brett – or not Brett – wakes up in a hospital bed, only to discover he’s really residing in an eerie deserted dilapidated mansion; Roger Moore is suitably agitated. Tony Curtis’ Danny meanwhile remains convincingly perplexed throughout by the actions of his friend – or foe. 


Unfortunately while Someone Like Me has all the necessities of a Cold War thriller, the actual reason for Brett’s predicament seems remarkably bland and you feel an hour has been wasted on a crime of passion. The central performances deserve better.




In Topic: Moonraker - why such a bad rap?

22 June 2017 - 10:39 PM



But it is the personal opinions of those fans who derided MR which has [possibly] misled many to believe it has always had a bad rap.


I get the impression we're saying the same thing, here, but somehow it's coming off as an argument.


What I'm saying is that when one asks the question, "Why does MR have a bad rap," the answer is the same as "Why is GF so often considered the best?"  In both cases it's because there was a long stretch of time where certain commentators held tremendous sway and were able to create the impression that their personal opinions were some kind of objective fact, or at the very least representative of consensus.  Thus, for a long time anyone coming into Bond fandom after MR was inclined to take these views at face value:  "These guys got a book deal, so they must know what they're talking about."  Similarly, even those of us who enjoyed MR were systematically brow-beaten into questioning our own judgement.  There came to be a stigma attached to defending MR:  If we wanted to have a productive discussion about Bond, we were pressured to give into a sort of "group think" as part of the ground rules.  If we let slip that we liked MR, then our bonafides as "real Bond fans" became instantly suspect: obviously we couldn't know what we were talking about.


Yes, what those guys wrote was their personal opinion. But for a long stretch of time, their personal opinion might as well have been fact, because it was all we had access to.  Thus -- I l believe -- there is an objective answer to why MR has a bad rap: it's because these guys gave it one.  Today, it couldn't happen that way: there are too many websites, too many magazines, too many podcasts, etc for a handful of reviews to sway anyone.  Thus, we'll have to look elsewhere to diagnose why, say, DAD has a bad rap (like MR, it did big box office and many fans praised it on release, but over time it's become largely hated: it'd be interesting to know why, but the reasons would be different in the age of the internet from what they were in the 80s), or why QoS has a bad rap (this one's a bit different in being largely disliked by the general public but defended strongly by pockets of fandom).  In the case of MR there is a disconnect between what happened in the Summer of '79 and the way the film is often remembered now.  I'm interested in why that happened and I believe I know why.  



What you say is correct: Yes, the opinions of a few influential fans/historians gave MR a bad rap.  And what I am saying is correct:  we therefore know why MR has a bad rap.  So it's not a case of "no one knows" or "we'll never know."





When you say there is "no real reason why MR should be singled out for disdain" that is your opinion, others would tell you there are many. The debate, if anything, is what causes the bad reputation and a debate in itself, which will never have a resolution - even a show of hands or a Parliamentary vote does not stop debate - simply can't be explained objectively. 



What I mean is if you want to pick a Bond movie to dump on,  there are plenty of viable candidates.  Presented on a continuum of "best to worst," fine if one wants to put MR at the bottom.  My objection is to having the film invoked as some kind of ultimate symbol of awfulness, the worst misstep in series history.  Even in articles that show at best a passing knowledge of the series, MR is always mentioned as "the low point."  I have no objection to anyone disliking the film or putting it at the bottom of their list, provided they've seen it and compared it closely to all the other candidates, but I don't feel that's always happened.  I think the "GF is best" and "MR is worst" tropes are so ubiquitous by now that poseurs can just toss them out to "prove" they know something about Bond.  Like any "truths" that "everybody knows," I think both positions deserve to be questioned and tested.  Ironically, the only thing that seems likely to save MR from an eternity at the bottom of the pile is the equally "universal" disdain for DAD.  Which is not to say I like DAD at all, but there comes a point where, when "everyone" agrees that film is the worst, I'll want to give it another chance, as well, just to be contrary.





I tend not to pontificate in forums. I prefer to offer short answers. 


What are forums for, if not to pontificate?  :-)  Thanks for the discussion.



No problem. I actually enjoyed it.

I agree, we are probably saying the same thing, just from different angles or viewpoints. Perhaps we're being too esoteric.


I'll certainly give you the points for suggesting "We'll never know" and consider my late night postings a little more carefully in future  :D  :D


I ought also to mention I am not a MR hater and it has always ranked in my Bond Top 10 - for what that's worth. Despite its many and obvious issues, it also has many and obvious successes and I prefer to take the latter's smoothness to the former's rough....

In Topic: The Persuaders

22 June 2017 - 10:28 PM



Episode 6: The Time and the Place
Director: Roger Moore
Writer: Michael Pertwee 


A dead body in the woods drags The Persuaders into a deadly game of coup d’état perfected by the affable, yet fascist, Lord John Croxley, played with just the right amount of despicable authority by Ian Hendry.


We’re back in England, of course, and in the realms of treason as typified by a conversation held beside Traitor’s Gate at the Tower of London, where Brett Sinclair is warned by Anna Palk’s fetching Marie to stay out of the affair for the good of the country. 


Meanwhile Tony Curtis does his Cary Grant impersonation again and is kidnapped by two fake policemen. Escape comes via a spectacular car chase which ends in an expensive looking [for ITC] explosion. 


The action moves swiftly and is well orchestrated and directed. Roger Moore really proves his worth here with some nice creative touches from behind the lens – excellent use of foregrounds, good framing shots and a particularly fine piece of choreographed symmetrical movement. If the ending falls a little flat it’s hardly his fault and more to do with the writing which struggles to maintain itself for a full fifty minutes.


As always the minor coda is played for laughs but, from my point of view, it was only interesting as it afforded a view of Downing Street before they imposed those huge iron gates on us.





In Topic: Moonraker - why such a bad rap?

21 June 2017 - 11:45 PM



David_M, on 20 Jun 2017 - 3:51 PM, said:





Short answer, judging by the very informed and welcome discussion points above :


No one knows.


It's largely down to personal preferences.  




Correct. Personal preference is subjective, which I believe, given the informed and welcome discussion points above, means "no one knows"





If the question had been "was Moonraker a good Bond film," then the answer is a matter of taste.  But the question was "why does it get a bad rap?" and we do know the answer to that: It's because certain well-placed fans with the ability to express their opinions exercised that ability at a crucial point in time.  There have always been fans convinced that their opinion is the only correct one: the difference is that now there's thousands upon thousands of us canceling each other out because the internet's leveled the playing field.  In those days, the few with publishing contracts had a disproportionate degree of influence.  


Objectively, there's no real reason MR should be singled out for disdain.  Goldfinger was the film that detoured the series into the realm of impossible gadgets and OTT plots.  YOLT was the one that made Bond a second banana to technology and big sets. DAF was the one that dragged us into full-on comedy.  Yes, MR was arguably the apex of all those trends, but it didn't start any of them.  It just had the misfortune of running afoul of a few folks in charge of writing the history books.  Because...horrors!...it managed to be a phenomenal success.  If there was anything that upset old school fans more than an "inferior Roger Moore film," it was a Roger Moore film that threatened to be as big a success -- or bigger -- than anything in the Connery era.  



But it is the personal opinions of those fans who derided MR which has [possibly] misled many to believe it has always had a bad rap. As you point out, the playing field has been levelled by other personal opinions. Even when those opinions feel to some to be quite valid [e.g. a good music score] there will be some others whose personal opinion differs. Ultimately any arbiter of taste / fashion / art critique etc is offering a personal opinion, informed or not. They use what they interpret with their own eyes allied to external data and learnings to assess what they personally feel and wish to present. Other people with other learnings will disagree and you will have a debate, as we are here.


Without subjective opinion you cannot have any form of art or artistic movement as it thrives on debate. For every person who for instance adores Michelangelo's David or Miles Davis' Bitches Brew, you'll have some one saying WTFWT? This was happening with MR in 1979 as much as it was in 2017. I remember it - I was there, although young, and while I loved it, my mum thought it was preposterously silly.


When you say there is "no real reason why MR should be singled out for disdain" that is your opinion, others would tell you there are many. The debate, if anything, is what causes the bad reputation and a debate in itself, which will never have a resolution - even a show of hands or a Parliamentary vote does not stop debate - simply can't be explained objectively. 


I tend not to pontificate in forums. I prefer to offer short answers. So sorry to ramble on and I'll repeat it again: given the informed and welcome discussion points above, no one knows.