Some Girls Do (1969): Bulldog Bond’s last stand

28 AUGUST 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (5):

  • Starring James Villiers (Bill Tanner in For Your Eyes Only) as main villain Carl Peterson.
  • Featuring Daliah Lavi (The Detainer in Casino Royale [1967]) as Baroness Helga.
  • Featuring Virginia North (Olympe in OHMSS) as one of Peterson’s guards.
  • Featuring Joanna Lumley (Angel of Death in OHMSS) as one of Peterson’s women.
  • Lyrics by Don Black (James Bond, various, 1964 – 1989).

Some Girls Do was the third and final 1960s spy movie starring Shakespearian leading man Richard Johnson, the darkly handsome actor who was a leading contender for Bond in 1962. A sequel to Deadlier than the Male (1967), Johnson again plays an updated version of H.C McNeile’s long running hero ‘Bulldog Drummond’. Whilst the filmmakers behind Deadlier than the Male clearly modelled their update of Sapper’s hero on Sean Connery’s Bond, the earlier film maintained its own individuality by casting Drummond as an insurance investigator – rather than an operative of British intelligence – and adding some family peril. However, in Some Girls Do Drummond’s profession is barely referenced by the clunky script and the character is portrayed as just another Bond-style spy. But with plenty of action, amusing characters, and a great soundtrack (Bond lyricist Don Black pens the catchy theme tune), Some Girls Do is a lot of campy fun. For James Bond fans, the film presents a final chance to see an actor who nearly was 007 star in an espionage movie.

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Deadlier than the Male (1967): Bulldog Bond

24 JULY 2023

JBC rating: ****

James Bond Connections (5):

  • Featuring Lawrence Naismith (Donald Munger in Diamonds Are Forever) as Sir John Bedlow.
  • Featuring Milton Sandor (henchmen in Dr No, Casino Royale [1967] and The Spy Who Loved Me) as henchman Chang.
  • Featuring Virginia North (Olympe, an Angel of Death in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) as Brenda.
  • Featuring George Pastell (train conductor in From Russia with Love) as Carloggio.
  • Featuring the voice of Nikki van der Zyl (Bond girl dubbing artist, various, 1962 – 1979) as the voice of Penelope.

An update of English writer H.G ‘Sapper’ McNeile’s long-running hero Bulldog Drummond for the post-Bond jet age, the highly entertaining comedy thriller Deadlier than the Male is the most well-known of three late 1960s spy movies starring the darkly handsome Shakespearian actor Richard Johnson*, who famously turned down the chance to play the first James Bond in Dr No (1962). The popular Drummond thrillers – following the action-packed adventures of a patriotic war veteran defending Britain from sinister foreign villains – dated back to the 1920s and were an acknowledged influence on Ian Fleming when he began writing the Bond novels in the 1950s. In adapting the series for the post-James Bond world, the film shows the heavy influence of the EON franchise. Additionally, the film offers 007 fans the chance to see an actor who very nearly was James Bond in a film very close in style and content to the 1960s 007 movies.

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Charade (1963): Cary Grant’s Bond movie?

10 JULY 2023

JBC rating: *****

James Bond Connections (1):

  • Title sequence designed by Maurice Binder (Bond titles, various, 1962 – 1989).

Director Stanley Donen’s superb comedy thriller Charade is frequently (and justly) referred to as the greatest suspense film Alfred Hitchcock never made. Less discussed, Charade also displays key influences from the then new James Bond franchise, and not just Maurice Binder’s Dr No-style title sequence featuring familiar flashing colours (below). Most intriguingly, the film stars screen legend Cary Grant, famously United Artists preferred choice as James Bond in 1962 (and Cubby Broccoli’s best man during his 1959 wedding). Grant plays a government agent who, in a departure from his usual civilian roles, carries (and fires) a gun during his mission to protect Audrey Hepburn’s wealthy jet-setter Regina ‘Reggie’ Lampert as she’s pursued across Europe by a rogue’s gallery of villains.

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Danger Route (1967): nearly-Bond Richard Johnson as a blunt instrument of the state

4 JUNE 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (2):

  • Featuring actor David Bauer (Morton Slumber in Diamonds Are Forever) as US official Bennett.
  • Theme song composed by Lionel Bart (composer of the song From Russia with Love).

The British B-movie Danger Route is by far the grittiest of three late 1960s spy films starring Shakespearean actor Richard Johnson, the darkly handsome English leading man who famously turned down the chance to star as the first James Bond in Dr No (1962). Johnson’s brutal turn as a jaded, cold-blooded government assassin adds an edge of danger largely absent from his portrayals of Bulldog Drummond in the campy and fantastical Deadlier than the Male (1967) and Some Girls Do (1969). Indeed, Danger Route suggests his portrayal of 007 could have been both exciting and faithful to Ian Fleming’s conception of his hero as a “blunt instrument of the state” and the film is well worth watching for any James Bond fan.

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The Liquidator (1965): Case before Bond

28 MAY 2023

JBC rating: ***

James Bond Connections (2):

  • Starring Jill St John (Bond girl Tiffany Case in Diamonds Are Forever) as British Intelligence secretary Iris MacIntosh.
  • Legendary singer Shirley Bassey (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Moonraker) performs the theme song.

Produced at the height of the 007-inspired 1960s spy movie boom (“Bondmania”), The Liquidator is a solid attempt by 20th Century Fox at creating a rival to James Bond. As with several Bond imitations released in the 1960s, The Liquidator plays as a light spoof of the (then) new series. Australian-born leading man Rod Taylor stars as down-on-his-luck Boysie Oakes (above, left), hired by Trevor Howard’s jaded spy chief Colonel Mostyn (above, right) to assassinate numerous double agents who have infiltrated British Intelligence. Following an incident at the end of the Second World War (detailed in the black and white pre-credits sequence), Mostyn has mistaken Oakes as a Bond-style sharp shooting hero. In fact, Oakes is a selfish coward who, as well as being useless at his new job, is soon tricked by the villains into enabling their scheme.

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