We have a wonderful community here, and it's sometimes nice to learn more about our members.
So over the last couple of weeks, I've been interviewing @Andi1996Ruegg
, so we can learn more about him.
Unlike the Behind The Avatar
thread, the interviewee is picked by myself, and there is no member Q&A at the end.
I hope you enjoy this, the first of two parts of the interview.
1. When and how did your interest in James Bond come about?
Prior to 25th March, 2017 I had never come in touch with the world of James Bond. While I had heard the name before, I wasn’t aware that it’s such an iconic figure of cinema and literature, books and games.
Diamonds Are Forever was the first James Bond movie shown to me. We were a group of soldiers watching it in our quarters on an Apple MacBook Pro which gave a beautiful viewing experience in HD and crisp sound.
It was our unit leader @BondJasonBond006
who decided to show us the film, purpose being able to unwind after the hard training day.
The impact on us was huge. Not only did we have the best time with DAF, but we wanted to see more. And so it came about that we watched all 25 Bond movies in spring and early summer of 2017. The order in which we saw the films, while seemingly random, was a well thought out plan to introduce us properly to the world of cinematic Bond.
It worked very well and we never knew what would come next and it was always so very exciting to find out which actor would be Bond in the next one and which recurring characters would pop up or not. Going into this series of films, totally blind without knowing anything about it really was an extraordinary experience and a great pleasure.
2. What are your personal highlights from the series?
I started to watch all the films again in mid-December 2017. I included all the films with the James Bond character, 27 in total. I have watched half of the films a third time by now and the rest twice.
That is still early to decide for favorites in actors, films, scenes, music or plots. But of course I do have favorites so far, things that stand out for me of the mass that is all things cinematic Bond. I have a very good idea in which order to rank the films in the top half and I’ve given it much thought. Over time this or that may change a little, naturally. Overall I feel, my ranking will stand the test of time, especially the Top 10 seems to be set in stone now.
1 OHMSS, 2 DN, 3 CR, 4 GF, 5 YOLT, 6 TSWLM, 7 GE, 8 DAF, 9 TMWTGG, 10 TB, 11 SF, 12 TWINE
The rest of the films is still too much in flux ranking wise, but FRWL and the other 70s films will never be near the bottom.
There’s no denying my favorite decade of Bond is the 60s. It doesn’t mean necessarily that Sean Connery is my favorite actor, or that he isn’t. I first like the film and then it’s a question of the actor. A film has to entertain me on the whole, the sum of all parts is more important to me than the details that may stick out positively or negatively.
Things that I enjoy tremendously in Bond are the recurring characters and actors. Geoffrey Keen may be a favorite, so is Walter Gotell. But even people like Shane Rimmer who pop up here and there in different roles are a great addition to the overall experience.
If I have to pick some clear favorites then among them are Charles Gray, Christopher Lee, Jill St John, Diana Rigg, Barbara Bach, Judi Dench, Bernard Lee and Roger Moore.
Yes, you read that right, Roger Moore. Contrary to what I said earlier about not picking favorites with the Bond actors, Sir Roger Moore is the one that I enjoy and will return to the most, regardless of whether it’s one of my favorite films, TSWLM or one that sits near the bottom, AVTAK. One of the great redeeming qualities of the Moore era is its entertainment value. All seven films are pure fun, never too much drama and they never take themselves too seriously. There’s a Moore for every mood too, from fantasy to harder action, from exotic adventure to outlandish sci-fi, from romance to revenge.
Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell I have to mention separately. Their presence alone will guarantee I watch the first 14 films more often than the rest. That Desmond was kept for the Dalton and Brosnan tenure is a wonderful thing. His departing scene in TWINE will always make me cry.
What makes Bond great for me is the different elements that work together and create a unique Bond experience. The gun-barrel, the title sequence with the Bond theme, the score, the familiar characters that are in (almost) all the films, the trademarks like the martini, the Bond James Bond introduction, the witty dialogue, the tuxedo, the navy uniform, and more. But even so, the series never stands still caught in a single genre or style, it provides a great variety of films to this day.
3. With the good comes the bad, what are the worst aspects of the Bond series for you?
I don’t find anything really bad in the films, generally speaking. Most is a matter of taste anyway. Of course there are the infamous moments in various films. The back projection in Goldfinger’s Miami sequence, the «you only blink twice» pigeon in Moonraker or the Tarzan yell in Octopussy. Some questionable CGI work in DAD, QOS and SF. Too much CGI in general in the Craig era.
In context of 55 years of Bond those are minor complaints though.
4. Away from the people in front of the camera, who or what are some of the things that you appreciate in the Bond films?
I have been watching all the "Inside" documentaries and other documentaries on the special features of the films and I’ve gotten to know the whole EoN family pretty well through those. I've seen "Everything or Nothing" and "Becoming Bond".
You can feel the love and passion these people have for the films and for making them.
Ken Adam I find especially wonderful. As a person and of course for his incredible body of work. Peter Lamont is a worthy successor and I like his work a lot too.
John Barry is another genius that EoN had the luck to work with. David Arnold is the next best thing and again EoN was in luck to have him. Some of the movies I want to watch for the scores sometimes because it's like visiting an old friend, another character that has a big part in the films. Like TB, YOLT, OHMSS, DAF, TMWTGG, MR, TND, TWINE, QOS.
The stunt work has to mentioned by me. I’m especially impressed by the many parachuting sequences. I’m a para-scout and I have a special appreciation for the many such scenes in the Bond films. My favorite may be in Thunderball when the good guys jump to get into the big fight underwater or in The Living Daylights in the PTS.
As a Swiss I’m obviously biased when it comes to locations. Goldfinger makes great use of Switzerland and of course OHMSS is the Swiss Bond. What is especially wonderful about these is that almost all the locations in the films are real and still exist. Even the barn from OHMSS is still there! Piz Gloria may be the most famous of all the Bond locations and after 50 years it’s more popular than ever and it’s even turned into a Bond attraction/museum in part.
5. With 24 films in the official EON series, where do you see the films heading, and what would you like to see in future Bond films?
Being relatively new to the series I haven’t given a lot of thought about a possible future for Bond. Of course I want it to go on and I’m sure it will. Artistically the series may be in uneven times with films like CR, QOS, SF and SP being vastly different in quality. And the gaps between the films seem to suggest an uncertain future as well.
A new start may be needed but it looks like that is not going to happen in this decade.
I am grateful for the 24 films at hand that are a gift that keeps giving. Even if the series should stop at some point or evolve in something completely different, we will always have the existing films. They are here and will be with us as long as we live.
6. Obviously you're still fairly new to the world of James Bond. Are there other areas of the OO7 that interest you? The novels, games, music etc?
2017 was my cinematic Bond year. 2018 will be my literary Bond year. That’s it in a nutshell. I’m in luck to have all the books but also all official scores and the expanded scores at my disposal. I’ve only started to tap into them.
I have started to read the Dynamite comics. Hammerhead I enjoyed tremendously and Felix Leiter is just awesome!
7. Imagine you get too make your perfect Bond film. Who would be in your cast? What locations would you go to? And what would the story be about (briefly) ?
OHMSS is pretty much the perfect film. If I could produce a Bond film it certainly would be resembling the 1969 Bond. Maybe even a remake.
A one-shot Bond film with an actor playing Bond only in that film.
I’d keep the original score but get David Arnold to work on the music and provide a variation of it for the new movie.
Get a DoP that captures the world in clear, brilliant and lush colors that look natural. Get a director that sees himself as a part of the whole machinery and not one that needs to put his artsy stamp on the film.
No political correctness rubbish with the casting or other stuff. And let Bond womanize and smoke, let him have fun and let the audience have fun.
As for locations, they have to be real (from the outside). No CGI buildings. Get stunt people that can provide real stunts without CGI. If they can't do it, let it go and look for something else.
As I don’t know any current actors I really could not give any possible names. Bond has to be naturally athletic like Lazenby but not a muscle boy like Craig. Make him tall and dark haired and around 35. No big star unless it’s a perfect undisputed fit.
8. You've got OHMSS as your number 1 on your own ranking. What is it about that film that it makes the top spot?
OHMSS is my favorite Bond film, by a large margin. None of the other existing Bond movies will ever dethrone it.
It came out in 1969, at the apex of the decade, and acts as a capper to a magical six film run.
Peter Hunt’s only directional work in the series, but what a triumph it is. It's easily one of the most lushly shot, designed and photographed films of the series, with a very carefully chosen color palette, as well as style to burn. Hunt expertly excels at the action scenes, which are among the best in a series known for them. He also is in part responsible to make this the most romantic of all Bond films.
The breaking of the fourth wall opening is a witty wink at the audience. «Good morning, my name’s Bond, James Bond» the build up to this second in the PTS works so well. We never see Lazenby’s face up to that moment and then it’s there up-close. Lazenby also gets to showcase his ability to engage in a believable hand-to-hand fight.
In OHMSS Bond does actual, real spy-work! He stays undercover (sometimes literally with the ladies) for a majority of the middle section of the film. Before Piz Gloria he is doing some great spy work at Gumbolt’s office in Berne, Switzerland. This is classic stuff!
Diana Rigg arguably is THE Bond girl. The only one that becomes James’s significant other. Beautiful locations in Portugal, London and Piz Gloria, the truly remarkable place, clinging precariously to an icy cliff located in the Swiss Alps, and it still can be visited today. All these European locations gives OHMSS a sleek, classy feel.
The fast edited, lengthy action sequences on skis and on snow and ice are masterpieces and they get accompanied by the definite James Bond music. John Barry’s sweeping score.
OHMSS ends tragically, with Tracy being shot. It’s a shocking way to end a Bond film and it gives OHMSS more emotional heft than any other film. This movie shows us an emotional journey and a physical one as well. Another reason why this is such a special Bond movie.
But it’s also a Christmas Bond and this makes it again, special, and invaluable.
9. All the Bond films have memorable dialogue. What are some of your favourite lines, and why?
Can I just give you the dialogue script for DAF please....
...only kidding! Dialogue is one of the main strengths of cinematic Bond.
Some films are filled with witty and memorable dialogue, my favorites in that regard may be Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, GoldenEye.
But really all of them feature at least some witty dialogue that is worth going back to.
I really only can give a small excerpt of what I love in spoken Bond. Sexuality is a big part of the films and I admit I love that aspect. The more frivolous the better...
Irma: "Is anything the matter, Sir Hilary?"
James Bond: "Just a slight stiffness coming on... in the shoulder."
Irma: "Due to the altitude, no doubt."
-A slight stiffness is always welcome, even if watching a James Bond film. And why play it safe, when you can have fun.
Xenia: "You don't need the gun."
James Bond: "Well, that depends on your definition of safe sex."
-The moments after sex are the best.
James Bond: "I always enjoyed learning a new tongue."
Miss Moneypenny: "You always were a cunning linguist, James."
James Bond: "I was wrong about you."
Dr. Christmas Jones: "Yeah, how so?"
James Bond: "I thought Christmas only comes once a year."
Max Zorin: "You slept well?"
James Bond: "A little restless but I got off eventually."
-Flirting beforehand is paramount of course.
Miss Moneypenny: "You've never taken me to dinner…"
James Bond: "I would, you know. Only "M" would have me court-martialed for... illegal use of government equipment."
James Bond: "Who are you?"
Pussy: "My name is Pussy Galore."
James Bond: "I must be dreaming. I thought I'd wake up dead."
-Naturally we don't want to bump into any trouble...or husbands...
James Bond: "Is Mr Case not at home?"
Tiffany: "There is no Mr Case. The T is for Tiffany."
James Bond: "Tiffany Case? Definitely distinctive."
Tiffany: "I was born there, on the first floor, while my mother was looking for a wedding ring."
James Bond: "I'm glad for your sake it wasn't Van Cleef and Arpels....Weren't you a blonde when I came in?"
Tiffany: "Could be."
James Bond: "I tend to notice little things like that. Whether a girl is a blonde or a brunette."
Tiffany: "And which do you prefer?"
James Bond: "Providing the collars and cuffs match..."
-Poor Bond has a lot to put up with M and Q, or is it the other way around I wonder....
James Bond: "Who would pay a million dollars to have me killed?"
M: "Jealous husbands, outraged chefs, humiliated tailors. The list is endless."
James Bond: "Q, have I ever let you down?"
Q: "That old thing (DB5) is taking quite a bit of time. Mind you, there wasn't much left to work on. Only a steering wheel. I believe I said, -Bring it back in one piece,- not, -Bring back one piece.-"
Frederick Gray: "Bond, what do you think you're doing?"
James Bond: "Keeping the British end up, sir."
Frederick Gray: "My God, what's Bond doing?"
Q: "I think he's attempting re-entry, sir."
-And all the villains James Bond encounters...
James Bond: "Where is he? I shan't ask you politely next time."
Blofeld: "If I were to break the news to anyone, it would be to you first. You know that. But it's late, I'm tired, and there's so much left to do. Good night, Mr Bond. Well, go on, go on. It's merely a lift. Or perhaps I should say "elevator". In any event, I'm sure you'll find it much more convenient than mountaineering about outside the Whyte House. You press L, Mr Bond. The word "lobby" begins with L."
-Some villains seems to have an appreciation for our James.
Alec: "Bond. Only Bond."
Scaramanga: "A duel between titans. My golden gun against your Walther PPK. Each of us with a 50-50 chance."
-After a while the villain may become a tad impatient.
Alec: "Why can't you just be a good boy and die?"
Drax: "James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season."
Goldfinger: "No, Mr Bond! I expect you to die!"
Goldfinger: "You have interfered with my plans for the last time, Mr Bond."
-Sending the villain off properly is an art.
"I may have some breaking news for you, Elliot. You forgot the first rule of mass media, give the people what they want."
"Heartbroken, Mr. Drax. Allow me. Take a giant step for mankind."
-When the job is done you'll give the whole affair the proper finish.
(after putting Fiona who just got shot on a chair) "Do you mind if my friend sits this one out? She's just dead."
(finishing of Locque) "He had no head for heights."
(goons in black car rolling down the hill) "I think they were on their way to a funeral."
As I said, this is only the tip of the iceberg that is a myriad of joy and endless smiling and laughter!
Drax: "You must excuse me, gentlemen, not being English, I sometimes find your sense of humor rather difficult to follow."
...not me, Mr Drax, not me...
10. This is a bit of a mean one. Sorry. We've had six actors in the EON series play James Bond. Can you give each of them a pro and a con?
It’s not easy for me to find a pro and a con for each Bond actor tenure. Some things may be more obvious than others though.
I am tempted to say he was lucky to be in the 60s which generated the best films overall. But DAF is a favorite of mine as well and I’m convinced he would have carried LALD and TMWTGG as strongly. So maybe Sean himself is the biggest pro factor in his tenure. He is just incomparable. Maybe that’s his con too, he was so good in the role, he made it virtually impossible for his many successors to step out of his shadow. To this day a futile attempt.
The con is so obvious, just one film. The pro is as obvious, the very best of all the films is his. And he has no small part in that feat.
Because OHMSS is perfect.
The pro is quite clear. He managed to re-invent James Bond, tailored to his own personality and character. EoN soon realized that and we got TSWLM. The con is maybe that Sir Rog should have refused to play Bond again in 1985. I understand the predicament that EoN was in at the time though. As much as I love Moore, AVTAK was one film too many and should have gone to Timothy.
His definite pro is the actor himself. Dalton is Bond, the literary Bond as I imagine it. When I start reading the novels I will see him in my mind. And I haven't read them yet. But still, Dalton comes across like a figure out of a novel. He is that kind of actor.
The con is quite sad actually. Dalton got one so-so film with TLD (my personal opinion) and then came LTK. It doesn’t matter how the film is perceived today, in 1989 it was not very popular and I can see why. Potentially best Bond actor wasted with mediocre films.
His pro are many things. He managed to make Bond modern and still clearly it's Bond as we knew it before. As soon as Pierce is on the screen, the excitment starts. Purely visually speaking, Pierce is the definite Bond. The level of fun in his films is maybe only rivaled by Moore's tenure.
As a con I see that Brosnan, while having tons of charisma, charm and suaveness he still seems to be a kind of best of all that came before. Of course it’s exactly that what also could be seen as a pro, depending on how you look at it.
His pro is clearly the quality of films he got, technically speaking. Even SP can’t be called bad in a technical cinematic sense, bar the overuse of CGI and color filters. Craig’s tenure profits heavily from perfect casting decisions almost all the way.
His con is that as an actor on screen he started at his peak and since then it’s been downhill. Not a steep decline by any means but his predecessors Connery, Moore and Brosnan had their high points later in their run. Arguably with TB, TSWLM/FYEO, DAD.
No matter the (very few) cons each actor has, all of them received at least one "masterpiece" GF, OHMSS, TSWLM, GE, CR, the five films that as far as I know are the "iconic classics".
Timothy Dalton may not have had such luck but he is an insider tip and the hidden treasure to be discovered by new audiences. EoN has it all, nobody did it better, nor ever will.
And so this is the first part.
Part 2 will be posted tomorrow.