Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

After one movie, George Lazenby was out. He was offered seven movies and left after On Her Majesty’s Secret Service on the advice of his agent. John Gavin, Adam Westm Burt Reynolds, Michael Gambon were all up for the role until United Artists made a demand: get Sean Connery back. Money be damned.

Connery came back for 1.25 million pounds, which is about $22 million dollars in today’s money and two back-to-back movies of his choice. To his credit, Connery used the money to establish the Scottish International Education Trust, where Scottish artists could apply for funding without having to leave their homeland. Connery’s made The Offence, directed by Sidney Lumet and was to make an all-Scottish version of Macbeth, which was abandoned because Roman Polanski’s version of the story was in production.

John Gavin came off the best, as he had a pay or play deal to be Bond, so he got his full salary.

The film starts with Bond chasing the man who killed his wife, SPECTRE boss Blofeld, catching him in a facility packed with clones of the villain. Bond kills a clone and then, supposedly, the real Blofeld (this time played by Charles Gray instead of Telly Savalas).

Bond is up against SPECTRE agents Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd (Bruce Glover and Putter Smith) who are killing diamond smugglers. Glover and Smith had Connery convinced that the two were actually openly homosexual, but years later, while flying first class and flirting with a female flight attendant, Glover heard a Scottish voice say, “You son of a bitch.” Sitting behind him was Connery.

Our hero is accompanied by Tiffany Case, a diamond smuggler who is played by the first American Bond girl, Jill St. John. Felix Leiter is also on hand, this time played by Norman Burton (Simon King of the Witches, Mausoleum).

Ironically — as Jill St. John later married Robert Wagner — another Bond girl, Plenty O’Toole, is played by Wagner’s other wife Natalie Wood’s sister Lana. Wait — it gets nuttier.

The two have been involved in a decades-long feud that started during the filming of this movie as both were dating Sean Connery at the same time. And yes, Wagner started dating St. John three months after the mysterious drowning of Lana’s sister. At a photoshoot of former Bond girls for Vanity Fair magazine, an altercation occurred between them got so bad that Wood started crying. To top that off, Wood crashed an event honoring St. John in 2016 and with cameras in tow, began angrily demanding to know if Wagner killed her sister.

They have one thing in common: bad relationships. St. John was divorced three times by the age of 28 and Wood had two annulments and four divorces by 34.

Sausage pitchman Jimmy Dean is also in this as the Howard Hughes-like Willard Whyte. Dean was hesitant to play this part, as he had been an employee of the inventor at the Desert Inn.

Marc Lawrence, who directed Pigs, is in this as an attendant at the Morton Slumber Funeral Home, ably assisted by Sid Haig.

At the end, it looks like Bond is triumphant and Blofeld is dead again. Thanks to the McClory lawsuit, this is also the last movie with SPECTRE in it.

There’s one part of this that was always interesting to me. The moon landing set was a reference to the fake moon landing just two years after it happened, predating the mainstream belief in this conspiracy theory.

Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle (2003)

The Angels are all back, as is Crispin Glover as The Thin Man in the next installment of this series. This time, however, Bosley’s half brother, played by Bernie Mac, is in charge and the Angels are going up against one of their own. This entire film is packed with cameos and more comedy than the original, which is OK. In times like these, it’s a nice bit of fluff that goes down easy.

Natalie Cook (Cameron Diaz), Dylan Sanders (Drew Barrymore) and Alex Munday (Lucy Liu) are up against former angel Madison Lee (Demi Moore) as well as numerous criminal organizations.

Jaclyn Smith returns as one of the original girls. You also get John Cleese as Alex’s dad, Bruce Willis as a federal agent, Robert Forester, the Olsen twins, Carrie Fisher as a nun and many, many, many early 00’s celebrities. You can have a great time just naming each new one who appears.

There were plans for two more sequels, but they never happened.

REPOST: I Spy (2002)

AUTHOR’S NOTE: As part of James Bond month, I’ve brought back this review, originally published on December 29, 2019, for you to check out. This has just been re-released on blu ray by Mill Creek, so it’s easy to find.

Based on the 1960’s TV series that starred Robert Culp and Bill Cosby, this 2002 remake unites Owen Wilson as Special Agent Alex Scott and Eddie Murphy as boxer Kelly Robinson. Together, they must bring back a stolen spyplane from arms dealer Arnold Gundars (Malcolm McDowell).

Plus, you also get to see Famke Janssen as Special Agent Rachel Wright and well, that’s pretty much worth watching this movie for.

Evil arms dealer Gundars is sponsoring Robinson’s next match and using the event to auction off the stolen plane called the Switchblade. The agency has assigned Robinson as the civilian cover for Scott’s mission to get the plane back. Gary Cole, a long-time favorite of mine, also plays Carlos, the agent that everyone else wants to be.

This was directed by Betty Thomas, who was also behind Only YouThe Brady Bunch MoviePrivate Parts and 28 Days amongst others. It was written by Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, who wrote The 6th DayCharlie’s Angels: Full ThrottleBad Boys II and both National Treasure movies. They were joined by Jay Scherick and David Ronn on the scriptwriting duties. They both worked on the Baywatch theatrical film and Zookeeper.

There’s a cute cameo when Robinson speaks to George W. Bush, as that’s Will Ferrell doing the voice.

I Spy is a strange show to remake, as I don’t know anyone that would be clamoring for a new version of the show. That said, it’s a fun movie and Murphy and Wilson mesh well together.

This has just been re-released by the great people at Mill Creek Entertainment. Check out their new blu ray release right here.

DISCLAIMER: This was sent to us by Mill Creek.

Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs (1966)

Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs is an odd film. This 1966 Eurospy parody is at once a sequel to two different movies that have nothing in common: Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine and Two Mafiosi Against Goldginger.

Fulvio Lucisano, the head of Italian International Film, wanted a sequel to his film. American-International Pictures wanted a sequel to theirs. They got their chocolate into one another’s peanut butter and co-financed this movie.

That disparity continues the whole way through the two different versions. In America, the main story is about Vincent Price’s Dr. Goldfoot battling against Fabian. Yet in Italy, the film has a different title (Le Spie Vengono dal Semifreddo, which means The Spies Who Came In from the Cool, a parody of 1965’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold). It also concentrates more on the antics of Franco Franchi and Ciccio Ingrassia. Together, they appeared in 116 films, usually as the main characters, and are the most famous Italian comedy team of all time.

Despite being blown up real good at the end of the last movie, Dr. Goldfoot is working alongside the Chinese, making exploding female robots — Mike Myers owes this movie money — when he’s not impersonating a NATO general. Our hero is Security Intelligence Command agent Bill Dexter (Fabian!) who is too busy chasing women to save the world most of the time.

One of his conquests, Roseanna, is played by Laura Antonelli, who was Wanda in Venus In Furs. George Wang, who came to Italy by way of Shanghai to star in plenty of spaghetti westerns, is also here, as is former boxer Ennio Antonelli who is also in the spy films Danger: DiabolikMatchless and Agent 3S3: Massacre in the Sun.

Amazingly, this movie is directed by Mario Bava. He had no interest in the film, but he had a contract with Lucisano. The script changed nine times, people argued over the right women for each shot and even Price would say that this movie was “the most dreadful movie I’ve ever been in. Just about everything that could go wrong, did.”

That’s right. The only time Bava would work with Price and we ended up with…this. Oh well. What can you do?

You can watch this on Amazon Prime.

Agent for H.A.R.M. (1966)

Gerd Oswald is known for his TV directing and some of his film noir work, like A Kiss Before Dying and Crime of Passion. He directed this thinking it’d be the pilot for a TV series and then, with the spy craze, it ended up being a theatrical release.

Adam Chance (Peter Mark Richman, Dr. Charles McCulloch from Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan and Chrissie’s religious father on Three’s Company) works for the American spy agency H.A.R.M. (Human Aetiological Relations Machine). That may be the most ridiculous acronym ever. I mean what is aetiology? Research tells us that it’s the British spelling of etiology or the study of the causes and origins of diseases.

In this adventure, Chance has to protect a Russian defector who has created a skin-eating weapon. Complicating matters is a double agent — the defector’s niece Ava Vestok, who is played by one of the first ladies of giallo, Barbara Bouchet. Yes, that’s reason enough to suffer through this silly little spy film!

Martin Kosleck is in this as a villain. He was a German actor that hated the Nazis and Hitler so much that he set out to play them in every film to show how horrible they were. In fact, he played Joseph Goebbels five times. He’s a Russian here, though.

Vincent Price’s least favorite actor — Count Yorga himself — Robert Quarry, is also on hand, as are Rafael Campos (The Astro-Zombies), Robert Donner (Exidor on Mork and Mindy) and Playboy Playmate of the Month for December 1963 and 1964 Playmate of the Year Donna Michelle. She’s also in the two theatrical movies made from episodes of The Man From U.N.C.L.E.One Spy Too Many and The Spy With My Face.

Looking for someone to blame for all this? It was written and created by Blair Robertson, who wrote The Slime People. She’s also Mrs. Castillo in that movie.

Gold Dust (2020)

They sold me with this sell copy (which is a good thing for sell copy to do): “Classical music. Thundering opera. Rattlesnakes and precious gems. Mansions and gold mines. Friendship and despair. Treasure beyond imagination that vanishes in the desert wind. In the desert there is no limit to the adventures at hand!”

If you like the band Cage the Elephant, that’s another bonus, as they did some of the music for this movie.

Somewhere in Mexico, two lifelong friends are searching for a ghost ship that is rumored to be beneath the shifting desert sands. Today, drug lords use this land for their own gain, creating their own private army of kids in gliders armed to the teeth with semi-automatic weapons. Now, the guys have to decide whether or not to keep their dreams of finding $6 million dollars worth of gold dust or save some of the children.

This film was written and directed by David Wall. Its leads, Darin Brooks and Chris Romano, starred as best friends on the TV show Blue Mountain State.

Gold Dust is available on demand and on DVD April 7 from High Octane Pictures.

DISCLAIMER: This movie was sent to us by its PR team.

On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)

After five films, the unthinkable happened. Sean Connery was no longer James Bond. In fact, during the filming of You Only Live Twice, he wasn’t even on speaking terms with producer Albert Broccoli.

Who would be James Bond? In a field of contenders that included John Richardson, Hans De Vries, Adam West, Robert Campbell and Anthony Rogers, an unknown Australian named George Lazenby got the part after the producers saw him in a Fry’s Chocolate Cream advertisement.

For his audition, Lazenby pretty much showed up as Bond, wearing a Rolex Submariner wristwatch and a Savile Row suit that had been ordered for, but not picked up by Connery. He even went to Connery’s barber at the Dorchester Hotel. What sealed the deal was a fight test where Lazenby broke the nose of stuntman Yuri Borienko (who was once British pro wrestler Red Staranoff).

There’s also the perhaps urban legend George Lazenby talked his way into meeting director Peter R. Hunt and producers Albert “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman. After lying about his acting roles, he got a screen test. Lazenby then confessed to Hunt that he had made it all up and that he wasn’t really an actor. Hunt laughed and told him, “You just strolled in here and managed to fool two of the most ruthless bastards in the business. You’re an actor.”

Lazenby was offered a contract for seven films. A combination of him wanting to be part of the swinging 60’s and an agent that convinced him that secret agents would be out of favor soon. I hope he fired that guy.

Believe it or not, this is probably my favorite Bond movie. It’s one of the few where Bond’s character makes forward emotional progress. And it’s full of amazing set pieces and Telly Savalas.

Bond saves a woman on the beach from committing suicide by drowning. She disappears afterward, but he runs into her later at a casino and learns that she is Contessa Teresa “Tracy” di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg, who was also on The Avengers).

Before she can thank him, Bond is attacked. The next morning, he’s kidnapped and taken to Marc-Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti, The Night Porter). Draco — the head of a crime syndicate — informs him that Tracy is his daughter and offers Bond a million pounds to marry his daughter. 007 refuses, but agrees to keep dating her if Draco reveals where Blofeld is.

Bond threatens to resign from MI6 before heading back to romance Terry anew and that leads him to an allergy clinic high in the Swiss Alps, run by Blofeld and his twelve Angels of Death, female patients who he has cured of all allergies.

It all leads to Blofeld putting the entire world at hostage, MI6 forbidding Bond to stop him and our hero enlisting the European crime families to battle Blofeld (who has somehow become the much more attractive Savalas).

The end of this movie shocked me as a child and still impacts me today. After Bond marries Tracy in Portugal, they pull over to remove flowers from their car. Blofeld and his henchwoman Irma Bunt drive by and murder Bond’s wife. And that’s how the film ends.

Virginia North — who made such an impression in just five films (Deadlier Than the Male, The Long Duel, Some Girls Do, The Abominable Dr. Phibes and this movie) — plays Olympe, Draco’s girlfriend.

Blofeld’s Angels of Death, who have been hypnotized to spread his Virus Omega, are played by Angela Scoular (Buttercup from Casino Royale), Catherine Schell (Madame Sin), Julie Ege (The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires), Jenny Hanley (Scars of Dracula), Anouska Hempel (Tiffany Jones), Mona Chong (The 2nd Best Secret Agent in the Whole World), Sylvana Henriques (who was the fan dancer in the title sequence for You Only Live Twice), Dani Sheridan, Ingrid Back, Zaheera and Helena Ronee (Five Dolls for an August Moon).

Saltzman had planned to adapt The Man with the Golden Gun in Cambodia and use Roger Moore as the next Bond, but that region was politically unstable. Moore then signed up for another season of The Saint.

Peter Hunt, who had edited the first five Bond movies, finally convinced Broccoli and Saltzman that he deserved a chance to direct. He said, “I wanted it to be different than any other Bond film would be. It was my film, not anyone else’s.” It would be the last Bond film that he worked on.

This is a film full of plenty of references to the past films, starting with Bond saying, “This never happened to the other fellow.” The credits reference the past five movies and Bond’s office has souvenirs from Dr. No, From Russia with Love and Thunderball.

Lazenby had difficulty learning how to act and dealing with the star power of his co-stars. I feel bad for him, but I love the story of how the crew was paid in cash for the entire films per diems. Seeing Lazenby with a suitcase full of cash, Telly Savalas invited him to a late-night poker game and the famous Player’s Club member cleaned him out. Producer Harry Saltzman was so upset, he joined the game and won back the money for Lazenby.

I share the belief that if Connery had been Bond in this movie, it would be everyone’s favorite. It would have been the perfect ending for him in the series, but instead, he would return for the next film, Diamonds Are Forever.

As for Lazenby, his career has taken him from giallo like Who Saw Her Die? and Bond-like appearances, like him playing “J.B.” in the 1983 TV movie The Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Fifteen Years Later Affair, where he helped Napoleon Solo and Illya Nickovitch Kuryakin, showing up with his tuxedo, Walther PPK and Aston Martin. He’s also Drew Stargrove, the Bond-style character in Never Too Young To Die. There’s also the documentary Becoming Bond, where he discusses how he got the role and what happened next.

As I said before, this is my favorite Bond movie because of how it moves the character forward. Other than Skyfall, it’s the only movie where he cries. It’s also the only film in the series in which the main villain (Blofeld), and his sidekick (Irma Bunt), survive, and are not arrested or killed. Bunt was to return for Diamonds Are Forever, but sadly Ilse Steppat, the actress playing her, died from a heart attack a week after this movie premiered.

Charlie’s Angels (2000)

Remember when McG was a thing?

The director of Charlie’s Angels began his show biz career by producing Sugar Ray’s first album, co-writing their earworm song “Fly” on their second and directing videos and documentaries for Smash Mouth, The Offspring and Korn. This led to ads and finally, to this remake of the 1970’s TV series, moving it a more spy-friendly direction.

After Terminator SalvationWe Are Marshall, the Chuck TV series and several abortive attempts to direct bigger studio films, he has seemed to settle into directing Netflix films like Rim of the World and The Sitter.

But man, for a while, he was the toast of the town.

This movie combines everything late 90’s into one tidy little time capsule for you. Cameron Diaz, producer Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu are the Angels for this generation, not jiggling and definitely more aware of their sex appeal. They work for Bosley — Bill Murray, who famously treated Liu like offal to the point that she physically attacked him — and the always unseen Charlie (voiced by John Forsythe, just like the series).

For that matter, McG has always claimed that Murray beat him up on the set. I’m sure he had his reasons.

The Angels’ mission? Find and rescue a software genius (Sam Rockwell) from an evil communication magnate (Tim Curry). Along the way, they encounter a hair-sniffing lunatic that continually gets the best of them in fights. As played by Crispin Glover, this movie represents the actor’s return to the mainstream while remaining a complete maniac, which is always appreciated. After all, he was supposed to have speaking parts, but Glover refused to voice them, wanting his character to be even more mysterious.

Of course, Rockwell is really evil and tries to kill the Angels and Charlie, who he blames for killing his father in Vietnam. And oh yeah — Tom Green, Matt LeBlanc and Luke Wilson all show up as boyfriends.

The real heroine of the film? Barrymore, who bought the movie rights to the show and pocketed $40 million on this movie and $80 million on the sequel. Seeing as how she had to read through thirty versions of the script, I’d say it was all worth it in the end.

Dr. Goldfoot and the Bikini Machine (1965)

I don’t know if much media was considered meta in 1965, but this film definitely fits the bill. Somehow it combines everything American-International Pictures did best — Edgar Allan Poe movies, beach films and movies that appealed to the teenage zeitgiest — and mashes and mixes them up into one overall satisfying piece of ridiculousness.

It all started with AIP president James H. Nicholson looking for a way to show off contract player Susan Hart, who would become his wife. It went through plenty of drafts before Norman Taurog (who had made movies with Martin and Lewis, Elvis Presley and was the youngest director to win an Oscar when hs film Skippy was honored in 1931; Damien Chazelle has since beaten him out when La La Land won in 2017) came on board.

While most AIP films had slender budgets, this one had over a million dollars to spend. That said, it also recycled plenty of their famous props and sets, but to great effect.

Originally, the film was to be a musical, but the script got rewritten to the displeasure of Price. Susan Hart would say, “One of the best scenes I’ve seen on film was Vincent Prince singing about the bikini machine – it was excellent. And I was told it was taken out because Sam Arkoff thought that Vincent Price looked too fey. But his character was fey! By taking that particular scene out, I believe they took the explanation and the meat out of that picture.”

Honestly, there isn’t much story. Price plays Dr. Goldfoot, who has an army of female robots who seduce, marry and murder men — after taking their money, of course. The femme fatales include Deanna Lund (Land of the GiantsElves and nearly the wife of Larry King), China Lee (Mort Sahl’s wife who had been a Playboy Playmate for the month of August 1964 ; she also shows up in What’s Up Tiger Lily?), Sue Hamilton (Playboy Playmate of the Month for April 1965; also the first Playmate to have breast implants, as well as be under five foot tall), Marianna Gaba (Playboy Playmate of the Month September 1959), Nicholson’s daughter’s Luree and Laura and Alberta Nelson (who often played a motorcyle girl named Puss in the AIP beach movies).

Speaking of that motorcycle gang, their leader Eric Von Zipper (Harvey Lembeck) shows up. And so does Annette Funicello for the briefest of moments. And Frankie Avalon and Dwayne Hickman just switch their names from Ski Party and play the same parts. Other beach party cameos include one-time Gidget Deborah Walley and Aron Kincaid.

The movie also boasts a Claymation title sequence by Gumby creator Art Clokey, a title song by The Supremes and a reappearance of the set from The Pit and the Pendulum. There’s also a scene where Goldfoot shows off his ancestor’s portraits, which include Price AIP roles like Verden Fell from The Tomb of Ligeia and Roderick Usher from House of Usher. And the missles that supposedly wipe out the evil doctor at the end were lifted from Mothra vs. Godzilla, which AIP had released as Godzilla vs. The Thing.

Due to a lawsuit by Eon Productions, this movie was titled Dr G. and the Bikini Machine in England. It did modest business everywhere but Italy, where it was a major success. That would lead to a sequel, Dr. Goldfoot and the Girl Bombs, which would be directed by Mario Bava.

There was also a TV special that aired in the place of Shindig! on November 18, 1965 on ABC. The Wild Weird World of Dr. Goldfoot featured Vincent Price, Tommy Kirk and Susan Hart, along with the songs that were cut from this film’s release. Through the magic of the internet, you can watch it right now.