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James Bond and wildlife

On this page, I run through all the James Bond movies in chronological order and list the animals and nature 007 has encountered. I mostly focus on the wild animals, such as snakes and sharks, rather than pussies (as in Blofields pet cat). I comment on the realism (or not) of the encounter.

the real James Bond was a bird-watcher!

James Bond was born of wildlife. The original James Bond, the man that gave Ian Fleming the idea for the name, was the author of 'Field Guide of Birds of the West Indies'. Fleming was based in Jamaica at the time, and this is where he wrote most of the James Bond books. Fleming was an observer of nature; not just birds, but also a keen swimmer and snorkeler who loved exploring coral reefs. In his novels he describes pelicans, giant squid, and barracuda.  

Sean Connery as James Bond (1962-1983)

Traditionally, this is the actor who played the role that everyone likes the most. Eh. I think Sean Connery is great outside of this role (The Untouchables, Highlander, Rising Sun, Robin Hood, errr...Zardoz?), but I don't care much for his greasy-lipped, woman slappin', hay flippin', slightly sleazy slinkster. Okay, he has a cool walk. Maybe it is because he was mostly before my time, but he just seems to be the least like James Bond; all of those actors are great, but he is my least favourite. I know, I know, heresy (but, hey I like The Prequels eps 2 & 3).

Dr. No (1962)

the film

The first James Bond film. This film is strange, it is very old-fashioned and looks like 1950's film-making, but it feels kinda fresh, tropical and simple. This film has his first "Bond...James Bond" introduction (only because Sylvia Trench introduces herself that way, and thus she sets off the most famous quote in movie history). Sylvia becomes the first 'bond girl' to do two films, and the only one up until Madeleine Swann. Bond then beds Mrs Taro, a French/English actress who grew up in Kenya, but was in no way Asian, playing an 'oriental' girl...ahh, old movies! There is also the great "and you've had your six" scene and shoots Dent in the back just make sure he is dead. Heroes don't do this!

the wildlife

The most infamous animal in this film is a tarantula. Back then, and right up until the Brady Bunch went to Hawaii, everyone thought those creepy critters were deadly; of course they can have a painful bite, but they are not fatal to humans. Connery was understandably not thrilled about having a big hairy spider crawling on his big hairy chest, so the creature is clearly sitting on a sheet of a glass, which can be seen when the actor shifts.

James does the right thing and lets it crawl over him in a tense scene, and then when he has the chance, he squashes it frantically and cathartically with his shoe, with some hilarious Mickey-Mouse-ing stabs of music. Bond will encounter big hairy spiders again two decades later in Octopussy, in a less appropriate context. 

A tarantula in South America

For more on tropical American spiders!

Another infamous animal was a monkey. At one stage, one of the screenwriters was going to 'subvert expectations' and have Dr. No revealed to be a monkey. Sounds like something Rian Johnson would do.

This is the best example of a James Bond tale where there is way more wildlife in the novel than in the film, and the only example where the novel is more outrageous than the film. The novel of Dr. No is fantastic, and has some amazing scenes that have still have not been used, even when most scenes of all the original  books have been cannibalised.

First, instead of a tarantula, it is a centipede that is put into bed with James Bond; this is a scolependrid centipede, and these animals are certainly dangerous. Their poisonous bites can result in pain and sickness for several days. There has also been a few unlucky people die from bites by these fast and often large centipedes. They are more common in wet tropical areas, and can be common on islands. That scene does turn up in a film; there are 'space centipedes' crawling under the cover with Natalie Portman as Senator Amidala in "Attack of the Clones".

Don't let these into your bed!

For more on centipedes (and millipedes) in tropical forests 

The climax of the book sees J.B fighting a giant squid! This could have been incorporated into one of Roger Moores films, but will probably never be filmed now in the age of the angsty and realistic modern Bond. It's a shame. Giant squid like this are real. And they are scary; they could in theory be quite a threat, but humans just don't get the chance to interact with them, because they live in such deep water, they may as well be aliens. Back when this novel was written, these animals had never been seen alive; sailors would report them, Sperm Whales would be seen with giant sucker marks on them, and every now and then they would wash up dead. But until the 2000's, there were NO video or photographs of them alive - the biggest invertebrate on the planet! Now there is both, and many species are classified.

From Russia With Love (1963)

This is the first film to be scored by the late great John Barry. He had re-arranged, jazzed up and brought to life a theme by Monty Norman into the James Bond theme. In this movie he brings in a second theme called "007": which unfortunately was only used in three more films...bring it back! This film also had the first appearance of the animal that is the mastermind behind many of the world domination plots...a pussy cat! 

This was, apparently, a white blue-eyed Turkish Angora cat.

This film also uses 'Siamese Fighting Fish' Betta splendens. They are native to south-east Asia, found in the freshwater wetlands of Thailand. These area continue to be drained quickly, so these fish are endangered in the wild. However, they were one of the first 'domesticated' fish in the world, and are one of the most common aquarium fish. The ones in the wild don't have the colours the aquarium breeds display.

"It's just the right size, for me that is"

Goldfinger (1964)

The film that kicked the series into blockbusters. Infamous for having Bond not do an awful lot, and have things happen to him, which is actually just a reflection of the more realistic way things were depicted in the original novels. The main female character is called Pussy Galore (that's also from the novel).

Oh, look there is a seagull! Ah, no, it's Sean Connery's hat.

There are some horses in 'Kentucky'. We know it is Kentucky because there is a Kentucky Fried Chicken there! The horses are probably the most statistically dangerous animal we see in a James Bond movie.

Thunderball (1965)

This film represents the peak of the series popularity, both culturally and financially; this was the Star Wars of the 1960's. It still remains (inflation adjusted) the most successful movie in the series, followed by Goldfinger. It is an epic film, and many of the underwater scenes were no doubt incredible firsts for their time, but it's pretty long, badly edited, and the underwater stuff gets pretty boring. But due to its tropical location, it's the film where the wildlife action starts happening...

The sharks in the pool of eye-patched villian Largo, are called 'Golden Grotto Sharks'. However, this is a fictional species, made up to be a scary name; they are in fact Tiger Sharks, which is pretty damn scary enough. There are some interesting shots of Connery with sharks. One is of him clearly holding his hand against glass as a shark goes by (a little bit like the tarantula from Dr. No, and Indiana Jones with the snake in Raiders of the Lost Ark). But the plexiglass was not big enough, and a shark managed to get on the side with Sean Connery. As you can imagine, the star wasn't so happy about this close encounter. But then again, he got to snog Claudine Auger, Luciana Paluzzi and Molly Peters. The second shot looks great; Sean Connery hops out of the pool as a shark comes racing towards him and the slot between pools; he gets out just in time! I was was always amazed by this shot, but apparantly it is a dead shark being pulled along on a rope by a crew member.

In one of the more sensual scenes, James Bond sucks the toxic spines out of Domino's foot (was it a sea urchin?). In the book there is a similar scene, it is foot-fetishingly descriptive enough to please Quentin Tarantino, and it leads into the two having sex, but in the film the scene climaxes with Bond errr...shooting his spear into a man. Hmm. In both Connery says: "This is the first time I've eaten a woman, they're rather good".

In the end underwater battles there are various animals seen, including Bull Sharks and Marine Lobsters. 

You Only Live Twice (1967)

the film

This where the films went to space, went a bit silly, and threw story logic out the window. This is the film that gave most of the ammunition for Austin Powers.

However, it is so beautifully shot - it is the first good looking film of the franchise (many of the previous films were dark and murky). It also has a wonderful, exotic, romantic and exciting score by the other JB - John Barry!

It is the only film in the series where the main story (apart from the pre-credits sequence) is set in one country (Japan), and to not have James Bond drive a car (Sean was too big to fit into the small Japanese vehicles). I love how they call him zero-zero-seven. And Dikko (who is not very ocker, like in the book, serves his martini stirred not shaken, and Sean just smiles and accepts it).

The original novel is bizarre and fantastic, and part of the fascinating "Blofeld trilogy", but the film doesn't use any of that story, just a few character names.

"Oh, heaven forbid"

the wildlife

Blofeld has a pool that he throws his used henchman into it, and it contains Piranha. They are not actually seen, but represented by moving bubbling water. This is unlikely to happen in real life. There are somewhere between 30 and 60 species of Piranha over several different genera. They are a group of freshwater fish that live in the Amazon river and other waterways across tropical South America. Many species of piranha are vegetarian, eating fruits that plop into the water. Some do attack and eat other animals. They can be attracted by blood or erratic movement in the water, and can eat the flesh off a dead animal in the water with their small sharp teeth and powerful bites. The most threatening species to humans are the 'Black Piranha' and especially the 'Red-bellied Piranha'. However, it is thought the many of the humans that have been found eaten by these fish, were people that had drowned already. While bites to fingers and body parts occur, fatal attacks by school of piranha are hard to prove.

The sharp teeth of a piranha (Amazon, Brazil). Yes, they are my fingers, but the fish is dead.

For more on Piranhas and their tropical freshwater habitats

Blofield's pussy cat is back. It tries to get out of its masters hands a few times, reacting to the explosions on set. At one stage, the cat disappeared, and was found in the high rafters of the volcano set days later.

"You are very sexiful"

On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

Often derided, but now recognized as a classic, this is the first James Bond movie without Sean Connery, and with an Australian from the country no less. While he is not a great actor, George Lazenby comes across as a more human Bond. The film, which follows the novel quite closely, has loads of great action. And Diana Rigg. If anyone deserves to be Mrs. James Bond, it is "M. Appeal".

'Common Ravens' Corvus corax are seen around the climber.

A St. Bernard dog ambles up to Bond at the end.

Great quote? "This never happened to the other fella!"

Common Ravens and other birds of the Arctic tundra habitat

Diamonds are Forever (1971)

This is one of the lesser films, but it was probably exciting at the time to see Sean Connery coming back after four years. It has a tackiness, although this reflects its setting, and it is mostly set in already well known locations, such as Las Vegas. And Sean Connery looks terrible! It's also strange and lazy that Henderson from YOLT re-appears as Blofeld, and this is the fourth different actor playing the villain in as many films. But this is probably the funniest of all the James Bond films, with witty lines, amusing situations and bizarre imagery.

Blofeld's pussycat makes yet another appearance, but final official one for a decade. In fact, when Blofeld clones himself, he also clones his cat. 

This is the first appearance of a scorpion in a Bond film, but it won't be the last. Lovers and killers Mr. Wint and Mr. Kint slip a scorpion down a dentists shirt (a reversal of the usual direction of pain with dentists) and he arches his back and dies on the spot. Many scorpions have very painful stings to humans, and about 25-40 species have stings that are potentially fatal for us. In fact, there are reported to be hundreds of deaths a year from scorpions, particularly in the drier areas of Central America, not too far south of Las Vegas. This makes them one of the more legitimately deadly creepy-crawlies in a James Bond movie. However, no species would kill someone this quickly.

For scorpions and other arachnids of the American rainforest

Roger Moore as James Bond (1973-1985)

"What are you, some kinda doomsday machine, boy?"

No, he is not the best James Bond, but he might just be my favourite; partly from growing up watching him, partly because he was the kids 'fun' Bond that everyone in the family could watch (except for the mums, who preferred perving at Connery).

But good old Roger had the peak of the animals and natural interactions, as the series became much more 'Perils of Pauline' serial-like traps and escapes. It was also a time when many of the films were filmed on real life locations, the film-makers pre-production recces influencing the storyline and situations. And wildlife could be used in films, as opposed to today, where there are stricter rules, and welfare regulations protect animals, and thus wildlife is done digitally.

Live and let Die (1973)

I love this film. It's unusual in the Bond films in it being the only one with a 'magical' element. It has the first non-John Barry track since Dr. No, and it is funking fun. The cast is interestingly diverse with a range of black actors playing a range of memorable characters, and Roger Moore plays an amusingly 'fish-out-of-water' proper British gentleman in contrast. He is so young that he is prettier than his leading ladies, even though he was forty fucking four when he took over the role. Actually he wan't quite as pretty as Jane Seymour who was also shocking in her age, in the other direction. When Roger took over the role, he owned it from the first second he touched his hokey casio digital watch, that he spend more time looking at than the magnetic Miss Caruso. The book is...interesting. The whole dynamic of the film with a black cast playing both good and bad guys is not here; instead we have a very 1950s British colonial version of people in the Caribbean, and it shows its age.   

This film has some of the most wildlife of the entire series, and it's generally (and unusually) pretty accurate.

The most famous scene in the movie is the jumping-across-back-of-crocodiles stunt. It's a fantastic scene. Bond is made to look like an idiot (again), this time by Tee-Hee, who strands him on an island surrounded by hungry crocodiles. The loud and twangy score goes silent. All we can hear is the sliding and snapping of crocodilians. Bond tries to use his magnetic gadget watch to get out of the situation, but the boat is tied up, and now he has to use his wits. He eventually jumps across the back of several crocodiles and lands back on the mainland, with a burst of George Martin score and then proceeds to burn and fuck the place up good. This stunt was done for real; the crocodiles had their legs tied up, but their jaws were free to snap, and snap they did. The stunt took several goes to get right and croc farm owner and now stuntman Kananga fell several times, and on one trip the never-smile-at-a-crocodile teeth caused him to get stitches.  

The snake that is shoved into peoples faces when they are being 'King Kong' sacrificed is sometimes rubber, sometimes real. When it it real, it is an 'Emerald Boa', Corallus caninus. They are native across much of South America. Its bites the victim at the start; but even though they have big fangs which would hurt and draw blood, they are not venomous. 

Someone slips a snake into James Bonds hotel bathroom. This is reported to be a 'Speckled Kingsnake' (Lampropeltis holbrooki). This species in native to the southern U.S.A., is non-venomous, and often kept as a pet. But James roasts it anyway.

"Secret Agent? On whoooose side?"

" By the powers in-vested in me, by this parish, I hereby commandeer this veh-icle, and all those within...that means you, smart-ass"

For more on tropical American crocodilians and their habitats.

The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)

This film is often seen as a weak james Bond fiulm, but I reckon it's a classic. Some of the girl swapping in hotel beds is very 'Carry-on'. People are shocked by Roger slapping Maud around, but he is the target of an assassin and he is interrogating her, so he understandably wants to know what the hell is going on, and quickly. Tellingly, no one feigns shock-horror when James similarly picks on a male, Lazar the weapons-maker, by aiming a rifle at his 'piece'. And of course the titular (in both senses of the word) villain is the wonderful Dracula-Count Dooku himself, Christopher Lee, cousin of Ian Fleming. With his turn in Lord of the Rings, Mr. Lee has played more major roles in bigger franchises than anyone. The film is set in the 'exotic east', which includes much location filming in Thailand

With the tropical Asian setting, there is a few critters around, although I wish there was more. An Asian Elephant pushes vacationing J.W. Pepper into the water. Asian Elephants can still be seen in the wild a few hours outside of Bangkok. They are also domesticated across Asia. 

James is seen steering boats through Bangkoks back canals. These days those waters are pretty heavily polluted and wouldn't make for a very pretty or safe chase as they did back in the early 1970's. Even back then, Moore was concerned about infections from the dirty water. This is of course where he pushes an annoying price-haggling kid out of the boat after tricking him. 

"Bottoms up"

Elephants and other mammals of Asian woodlands

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The second greatest film of '77. This is objectively one of the best Bond films, one of my favourites and has so much good stuff. Two of the high points of the film are Caroline Munro. There are actually two novels called "The Spy Who Loved Me"; the original Ian Fleming is a slight and slightly boring read, an experiment by the author and told from a womans point of view as she is rescued from thugs in hotel room by a mysterious man who looks like Hoagy Carmichael. Then there is the 'tie-in' movie novelisation by the screen-writer of the film, Christopher Wood. It is a FANTASTIC read! It imitates Ian Flemings prose in such a clever way, and actually manages to make the ridiculous plot sound plausible, it's a good blend of the novel and film world - genius! The film has a lot of high points. One of those is the 1970's disco version of the classic James Bond theme, called Bond '77. This films pre-title sequence is one of the best film scenes this side of Captain America swinging Thors Hammer. James Bond, in a bright banana yellow ski suit that only Roger would get away with, skis down a slope chased by goons; he somersaults, skies backwards, and then skis right off a cliff, seemingly to his death. There is silence and just the sound of wind as James falls and tumbles through air. Then, with a burst of the James Bond theme, his Union Jack parachute opens. And that was a real stunt. (I'm looking at you, car going off a cliff with Dom & Brian in equal silence in Fast Five).

This film focuses on some underwater wildlife.

Roger Moore as Jimmy Bond pretends to be marine biologist "Sterling, Robert Sterling" to stage an audience with mega-villian Karl Stromberg. It is a subtle detail that is hard to see on television, but the the bad guy has webbed fingers (that's why he doesn't like to shake hands, as Naomi advises). Another great little touch is that when Stromberg is feeding his fish their fish food, he eats a bit of it! They stand in front of those strange aquariums where they magnify the fish (he must have learnt that from fellow megalomaniac Dr. No). Stromberg doesn't believe such a nattily dressed pretty boy like Roger could be a real biologist, and asks him, say, what's that fish over there then? Of course, this was the time in the series when Bond knew everything, and after a pause for suspense, James recognises the Lionfish, and even calls it by its scientific name of Pterois volitans, adding one of the best lines of the movie, "Handsome, but deadly".

A Lionfish in its native habitat, the warm water of the tropical Indo-Pacific

For more on lionfish and other tropical fish of coral reefs

Speaking of good lookin' and ugly; there is a great moment when Stromberg describes his underwater world. "There is beauty, there is ugliness, and there is death". When he points out 'beauty', there are butterflyfish and Triggerfish. When he points outs ugliness, there is film of two marine turtles (Green Turtle) including one with a Remora sucking onto its back. The latter are a fish that spend most of their adult lives hanging onto larger animals such as sharks and turtles.

For more on coral reef fish and marine turtles

James Bond rides a camel when in Egypt.

quote from the film: "Wherever there is an ocean, a marine biologist is never on holiday".

Moonraker (1979)

the film

 This may be Black Widow''s favourite Bond movie, but not mine. I didn't mind the outrageous of it, but it's just a bit boring. The drab cinematography and sluggish John Barry score doesn't help. But there are some classic bits in there. The main female character is called Dr. Holly Goodhead (the main woman in the book was called Gala Brand). There is significant trotting of the globe here, including Sugar Loaf in Rio, and Iguazu Falls.

the wildlife

When James stumbles upon Draxs Thunderbirds-are-go base, he is is flipped into an encounter with a giant snake. Presumably the snake is meant to be a type of Anaconda, given the location. There are several species, with the largest being the 'Green Anaconda' Eunectes murinus (the heaviest snake in the wold). But the snake actor itself doesn't appear to be an anaconda, but two other things - first; a pretty obvious rubber snake that makes Moore look like a great actor, and probably a 'Reticulated Python' (a great scientific name - Python reticulatus) from tropical Asia, which is the longest snake in the world. Both snakes kill their prey with constriction. A soggy Roger quips: "I discovered he had a crush on me". Pythons (and boas) are not venomous, but kill their prey by wrapping coils around them. For a while it was thought that death was due to bones and internal organs being crushed, and then for a long time it was said that the constriction stopped the prey from breathing. A recent paper has found out that the tight squeeze shuts off blood flow, and therefore oxygen to the heart and brain, and the prey dies within seconds. The snake can feel when the heart beat has stopped. Either way, it is probably a terrible way to go. The good news is that Anacondas, (the snake it is supposed to be) have never been proven to eat a living human being; the bad news is that the species the actual snake actor is, (the 'Reticulated Python'), has certainly squeezed, killed and swallowed human beings. There are records of this occurring in Indonesia and the Philippines. The solution? Always take a poisonous CIA-issued pen with you into the jungle.

For more on Anacondas and the wildlife of the Amazonian jungle

There is a pigeon in Moonraker. A very infamous one. When Roger glides past in his embarassing gondola-turned-hovercraft, the film is reversed back and forth to make it look like a pigeon is doing a double take. It looks bad, is a stupid idea, and is often considered the low point of the film series. These pigeons are common, and they are the 'Feral Pigeons' Columba livia domestica found in human habitations all around the world. They evolved from a species called the 'Rock Pigeon' that lived in caves in Europe. They are a well known feature of Piazzo San Marco (St. Marks Square) in Venice.

"Hang on James!". "The thought had occurred to me.."

For Your Eyes Only (1981)

the film

For Your Eyes Only plays a bit like a 'greatest hits package' of James Bond action scenes, with the skiing, underwater, and chase scenes all seeming like they are variations on what has come before in the series. Yet, there is a freshness and vitality to this film that was not apparent in the plodding Moonraker; this is probably partly due to the new director John Glen, but also to a fun and energetic score by Rocky composer Bill Conti. Roger Moore is starting to look like an older man, but it suits the style of the film, and it feels like they are leaning into it; Bond huffs and puffs when he runs up the stone stairs to catch up with Locke in his car. It's a shame they they just ignore this trend in the next two films and pretend he is a young man again.

the wildlife

Now that Joh Glen takes over as director, he does the longest and most consistent stint in the series, doing all five Bond movies in the 1980s. His films vary in tone and quality, but he say "he likes animals in films", so we continue with the wildlife!

Max the parrot provides James Bond with essential information that leads him to St.Cyrils Monastery. The parrot also tries it on with a very funny impersonator of the British Prime-minister Thatcher. This parrot is a species called a 'Blue and Yellow Macaw' Ara ararauna. This macaw was played by "Chrome", and he was once owned by Mrs. Bond, Diana Rigg! It appears again in The Living Daylights.

"Give us a kiss, give us a kiss!"

For more on Macaws and other Neotropical birds

Another good quote: "Yes, well, why don't you put your clothes back and I'll buy you an ice cream.."

Octopussy (1983)

the film

"Oh, that's my little Octopussy".

A M said to Bond in Thunderball; "This is the big one, 007". Although I think this is just an average Bond film, this is THE film with the most wildlife. 

The flick is mostly set in India, and this is certainly a country full of wild areas and wildlife. As a James Bond film it is good, not great. There are some great bits...and some stupid bits...

The moment when Bond tries to diffuse a bomb while dressed as a clown is often ridiculed, but I think it works incredibly well as a suspenseful scene, and the costume is meant to juxtapose the tenseness. The more ridiculous part is Jimmy dressed as a gorilla, and then how quickly he gets undressed from a gorilla! As was the way with these EON films in the 1970's and 1980's, the mood and tone flips dramatically; a few minutes later Roger is shooting people in the head in a great scene where Bond gets lethal. There is a great chase atop of a train; it is incredible that this hadn't been done before in a James Bond film. Included here is a a car driving on train tracks, a gag stolen and used in "Running Scared" (Hollywood films steal a LOT from Bond films). 

And there they put in a Tarzan yodel; didn't they learn their lesson from the slide whistle? In the same year, George Lucas would make Chewbacca do the same while swinging on the moon of Endor (although I don't know why there's a big liana in that temperate forest).

The John Barry score is a bit dreary and sounds old, a bit like Roger...

the wildlife

The most absurd animal in the film is the titular Octopussy. No, not maud Adams. The Octopus is based on the 'Blue-ringed Octopus'. When Roger Moore's stunt double fight some goons in Octopussy's room, one of the men is thrown face first into the aquarium and ends up with the octopus wrapped around his face. The Blue-ringed Octopus is HUGE here in the movie. This was a prop, and obviously made larger to be more dramatic. But in real life, they are quite small, and beautiful. I have picked them up in my hat and in nets. There are several species. They are in theory one of the most dangerous animals in the world, but in practise they are small, shy and hidden away from most people. And they are unlikely to grab you on the face like a HR Giger Alien facehugger! This scene in Octopussy was more like something out of Naked Gun.

The rings of the real Blue-Ringed Octopus (Montgomery Reef, north-west Australia)

Blue-ringed Octopuses are one of the most venomous animals in the world. It is thought that the toxins from one small individual animal could kill over 25 people in one dose. The list of chemicals in the venom include: 5-hydroxytripamine, hyaluronidase, tyramine, histamine, tryptamine, taurine, acetylcholine, dopamine and tetrodotoxin; it is the latter that is most dangerous. Tetrodotoxin is found in pufferfish, and is reported to be some 100 times more toxic than cyanide. When the victim is bitten, they are partly paralysed, including the diaphragm, and thus unable to breath, and can die within minutes if not treated. There is no antidote. However, if mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is provided and maintained, and then machine ventilation once in hospital, the body can break down the toxin within a day, and the patient should survive.

For the Blue-ringed Octopus and other beautiful animals of the tropical coral reefs

There is a cobra being charmed by assistant/tennis pro Veejay when he first makes contact with Bond. In one of the few fourth wall breaking moments in a Bond film, and it is a bit I love, Veejay plays the 'James Bond theme' on his instrument. "Charming tune.." observes Bond casually, of the most famous movie theme in history.

This film has a scene showcasing an exaggeration of 'exotic' Indian food. Even though some of this movies action and setting might be in reaction to Indiana Jones nipping at Bond's heels as the new action man in town, this film actually beats Indy in India by a year. Not only that, but there is a similar scene in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" (1984), although of course George Lucas (please please please come back home) and Steven Spielberg amp the craziness up and the director almost makes his future wife eat the brains out of a monkeys skull. Both scenes are a bit odd considering how vegetarian many Indians are, and how sacred their animals are.

A camel watches Bond fly overhead in a tuk-tuk. At least it doesn't do a double take.

There is some good crocodile action in the film. Several of the goons fall into the water to be gobbled up by crocodiles. These are presumably meant to to be the most widespread of the local species, which is the 'Mugger Crocodile', found mainly in India. Although they may using a different species for this, they are real crocodilians. These crocodiles are certainly dangerous and attack and kill people quite regularly in India. Apparently, one of the real crocodilians used on the Pinewood set in England hid under the stage for several weeks; given the low temperatures, it wouldn't need to eat much, and was fine.

A Mugger crocodile

For more on Mugger Crocodiles and tropical freshwater wetlands in India and south-east Asia

Oh no, James has been eaten by a croc! Nope, he's just using a Q branch built croc-submarine to get around in... The mechanics of this don't make any sense. How deep is it? How did they get it here? And people think the invisible car is stupid...!

Then there is the 'hunt' sequence. It is ridiculous, but fun, with some inaccurate stuff. They intend to make Bond an 'endangered species' by hunting him from atop domesticated Asian Elephants. 

For more on elephants and other mammals of Indian and Asian woodlands 

Bond encounters a tiger, or at least initially a dummy that someone shoves into frame. Bond reacts by saying "Siiii---iiit!" in his best Barbara Woodhouse voice (she was a pet-trainer and a television sensation in the 1980's). The Tiger is the largest cat in the world. They were once distributed right across Asia in many habitats, but are now very rare; last century they were still attacking people on the island of Singapore. Today, India is still the best place to see them in the wild. They certainly eat the occasional person. Saying 'sit' probably won't work, but certainly not running and keeping eye contact will help. However, the reality is, that unlike in movies where predator always growl and look at you before attacking, if a tiger were to grab you, you probably wouldn't even know it was going to happen.

A Tiger in Kanha national park, India

For information on tigers and other mammals of India and Asian dry forests

James again encounters 'tarantulas', which have been put into aerial webs that they wouldn't naturally live in. He squashes one into goo - uck.

A snake crawls over his leg; he does the right thing and lays still until it slithers off. "Hiss off" he quips.

He also has to burn off a huge leech that attaches to his chest; it looks a bit like a third nipple! There are many ways to get rid of leeches. This (rubber prop) leech looks like an aquatic species, but in Asia, New Guinea and Australia, land leeches are quite common; but they are much smaller, resembling 'inch-worms'. Working in the rainforest in Australia, I have had many leeches over me, including in my eyes, and errrr, somewhere else that I don't want to talk about. As far as we know, they are harmless, but if you want to get rid of them, use anything with a higher solute content, such as toothpaste or even better, salt; this sucks the moisture out them through their permeable skin and they will curl up and fall off. A lighter woukld work, but you risk burning yourself; that inefficient method was probably used a lot because in the old days (including 1983!), people always carried matches or a lighter for their death sticks.

"No ma'am, I am on the economy tour" 

For more on leeches and other creepy-crawlies of the Asian rainforest...

Never Say Never Again (1983)

This is the same director of "The Empire Strikes Back"?

The cat is back.

Good quote: "Your brothers dead...keep dancing"

Best quote: "Now that you're back, I hope we can expect some gratuitous sex and violence"

(From) A View To A Kill (1985)

the film

Yea, it's not one of the best James Bond films. Stacey is one of the least enjoayble Bond girls, screaming so much she goes hoarse. Roger Moore looks old and strange, his plastic surgery giving him a startled look, and why did he rid of his signature mole?? James Bond makes a quiche; for some reason, this is more disturbing than getting his balls whipped by a chain. But it's got some good stuff in there. Bond goes undercover as "St. John Smyth". I never understood this joke as a kid, but it's very clever; the screenwriters picked two names that are often not pronounced as you might think. "Killing Tibbet was a mistake" hisses Roger threateningly; he's fucking good when he's serious; it happens so rarely that when it does, it means something.

the wildlife

The first section of the film focuses on horses. Pegasus rears up (probably scared of May Day). Inferno is "a little spirited".

Stacey has a pussy cat called 'Pussy'.

Classic quote: "The bubbles are tickling my....Tchaikovsky!"

Timothy Dalton as James Bond (1987-1989)

For the first time, James Bond was played by a 'proper' act-ORR. After watching Roger Moores stunt double for so long, even for getting out of a chair, it was refreshing to see Tim rolling around on top of a speeding truck. It was also cool to hear an actor actually talk about the role, the novels and take the character seriously. But like Connery, I think I prefer Dalton in his non-Bond roles, he is great in Brenda Starr, Flash Gordon, Hot Fuzz, and that other great British hero that changes faces every few years - Dr. Who.

The Living Daylights (1987)

Yea, this film is OK. I miss old Roger. Timothy is great with the drama, such as the first shot of him as the camera dollies in on his wind blown face, or when he squeezes and pops the balloon in anger. He is great when seething when anger: "They can stuff my orders". But he is not very funny or smooth with the ladies. There are two repeated lines stolen from earlier in the series, the "better make that two (hours') and "there is a useful four letter word, and you're full of it". It's interesting that he throws away his introduction of "Bond, James Bond" so casually. 

This film has some great reaction shots of a native primate in the Gibraltor pre-title sequence. This is  the Barbary Ape, which is actually a macque monkey, the only primate native to Europe.

For more on macaques and other primates...

Li(s)cence (revoked) To Kill (1989)

the film

I love this film! It's the first time Bond goes completely 'rogue', which was a novelty back then for this character. (Not any more, now that Craig does it every film). Timothy is getting better; sometimes he looks great (his black and whites when in Sanchez lair, charming the bad guy into working for him) and other times he looks strange (slicked back hair in the casino). It has one of the best action scenes of the series, with Bond firing a speargun into a goon "That's for Sharky!", diving off, getting into a fight underwater, and water-skiing behind a water plane, all to Michael Kamens rousing version of the JB theme. There is other great stuff; the scene where Bond quits: (M replies: "This is not a country club 007"). But then there is Lupe. And Carey Lowell, with sexy short hair....and even shorter dress. I love where she keeps her baretta. Am I imagining it, or does she do a wanking joke when ordering Bond's "shaken martini"? 

This is the end of an era. This is the last of the 'classic' series where the character is more or less a through line from the start, including references to him being married. The series, especially the Living Daylights, was starting to look old-fashioned next to Hollywood films of the time. After a quarter of century they are still using many of the same sound effects, with the same bullet sounds and even the same screams from falling henchman. It is the last film for many of the EON staff, as there is a big 6 year break and soft re-boot for Goldeneye after this.

the wildlife

This film has a lot of wildlife, the last one of the series to have such a classic range of creatures...

James Bond is again undercover as an animal guy, this time working for the zoo and looking for Carcharodon carcharias, said with Daltons wonderful rolling accent. This is the correct name for the 'Great White Shark' - of course Bond would be looking for Jaws! 

This leads into a pretty silly fight with henchman in the warehouse. First, he opens a drawer full of maggots, which are pretty obvious bits of rubber being shaken around (the squelchy sound effects sold it when I was a kid). Then Bond throws a fistful of maggots into a henchmans face as a defence technique - "...arghhhh!". That's a bit 'Naked Gun', again.

But getting electrocuted by an electric eel? Oh boy, that's like something out of 1960's televsion Batman. Yes, people do electrocuted by electric eels. There have been a few unlucky folks that have been zapped and then drowned. There are three species of Electrophorus, and they are more closely related to catfish that true eels, although they are long in shape. They are found in freshwater in the Neotropics. Additionally, it appears that generating an electrical field has evolved independently half a dozen times in fish; in Australia we have the 'Coffin Ray' or 'Australian Numbfish', which can also electrocute people, although non-fatally.

The bad guy Sanchez (he used to be special agent Johnson) has an Iguana as a pet, that he carries around his shoulder. Iguana are reptiles that are native mostly to the warmer parts of the Americas, although a few have dispersed naturally to Fiji. The pet looks like a Green Iguana, a very widespread species. Yes, they are native to Mexico, Panama and even Isthmus city!

And once again James is surrounded by pussy. When he is seething at M and wants to quit, the scene is set at Hemingway's House in Key West, in the U.S.A. The tourist place is renown for its population of about 50 cats. These felines are well fed and looked after and are thus territorial and chase other cats away. They apparently all have polydactyl, a genetic condition of having more than the normal number of digits, with many of the cats having six toes.

Weird quote: "We gave her a nice little honeymoooooon!"


James Bond is asked for his job description: "So you are a problem solver?"

He answers: "No, more like a problem eliminator"

Pierce Brosnan as James Bond

One of the best movie trailers of all time was made for this film, with a man in the shadows shooting the titles into "007", followed by him walking into the light to reveal himself to be Pierce Brosnan sauntering up to the camera and saying "You were expecting someone else?".

No, PB, we have been waiting for you for years!

I think Pierce is the best James Bond; a perfect combination of all the others. He has the whole package with no weak areas; the looks, the charm, smoothness and suaveness, the wit, jokes and twinkle in the eye, the physicality, and also the emotional depth. And he want to the Roger Moore school of always having his hair look great! Before he was considered for Bond, if I closed my eyes and imagined Bond from the novels and the games, it looked closest to Pierce. He was born to be play Bond, yet he was cheated out more films both at the start and at the end of his JB career.

He has a similar trajectory to Roger Moore, playing a popular charming almost-Bond in an entertaining and light television show (Remington Steele, with the there-is-something-sexy-about-her-girl-next-door Stephanie Zimbalist). But this also means he is the opposite of Dalton and Connery; when I see him play other movie roles, he seems weaker or he is just Bond again; slightly socially awkward but basically Bond as the vulcanologist in the excellent 'Dante's Peak', or playing the straight man in cross-dressing weirdness of the corny 'Mrs Doubtfire', or a disturbing bobble head in 'Mars Attacks!', or worse, singing ABBA in a fucking musical!

Great films, but not much wildlife!

Goldeneye (1995)

A classic Bond film and objectively one of the best. This was the perfect updated Bond. It kept the formula, but modernised the story, sound, and editing, and indulged in some great meta-commentary "sexist, misogynist dinosaur". There are so many good lines by Pierce and he has an amazing performance right off the bat. (Although his hair is a bit of helmet in this first one). His chemistry and scenes with Judi Dench are incredible. The score is weird and inappropriate at times, but every time I watch it, it grows on me (within the film, not as a seperate listening experience). The leading lady is pretty, but strangely dressed unglamorously for most of the film. But our orgasming Dutch femme fatale ("Ontatopp" "Onatopp?" "Onatopp") makes up for it.

"Hey, that's my lunch!"

"I am invincible!"

wildlife

Not much, except...

The film is named for the 'goldeneye' satellite, which was named after Ian Fleming's house where he wrote the novels, but the house was named after a navel operation in World War 2 (and a book title), and that was named after....well, technically, the film is ultimately named after a duck! 'Goldeneyes' are two species of diving duck found in the Holarctic region (Europe and North America).

Tomorrow Never (lies) Dies (1997)

Another awesome movie! Fantastic action, and great soundtrack. Terri Hatcher is unfairly criticised; she is great and plays an interesting character. Michelle Yeoh is fun; her character is awesome and entertaining, although apart from her slinky silver dress in her introduction, she was quite sexless; I find her much sexier now a quarter of century later as the evil Georgiou in Star Trek Discovery.

The most interesting 'wild' animal here is from a deleted scene where Q is about to show Bond his new car, and opens a crate to reveal a big cat and Bond says "Jaguar?"! You can still see the big slinky cat prowling around in the background when Desmond goes through Brosnans new car controls. 

"Please mister Bond, I am just a professional doing my job". "So am I"

The World is Not Enough (1999)

What a great title! Readers of the books and fan of OHMSS knew that reference; it was on the Bond coat of arms, the one with all the balls. It's not as much fun as the previous two films. I LIKE Denise Richards. There is no reason a nuclear physicist couldn't look like her, and wear tight shorts; in fact, I would prefer that. When she introduces herself as Dr. Jones, Christmas Jones, she warns the undercover Bond that "and I've heard all the jokes", Pierce responds deadpan and with heavy accent "I don't know any doctor jokes". The main villian turns out to be female, for the first, and last, time in the series.

R: "Ah yes, the legendary 007 wit. Well, at least half of it"

Die Another Die (2002)

the film

Come on, it's not THAT bad. It's a half a great movie!  Cool hovercraft chase, torture over the fascinating opening credits, tense scene between Brosnan and Dench (they are so good together!), walking into the hotel soaking wet in Hong Kong, the escalating sword fight at Blades; it's all great until Halle Berry jumps off the wall. They rely on CGI too much, and that dates the film. They also steal a few trends, such as speed ramping, but by the time they used them, they were already cliches. Halle plays a fun character called 'Jinx' but her introduction is followed by the one of the most bizarre, badly written and awfully acted scenes in the franchise, it's really strange; two great actors give the most uncomfortable and corny readings of their careers!

The villains were over the top, but lots of fun; a smarmy Toby playing Gustav Graves ("I based myself....on your unjustifiable swagger"), henchman with a face full of diamonds, and the bitchy but adorable Miranda Frost. 

The soundtrack is great and has some incredible moments (the "I'm checking out" of the hospital scene and into HK harbour). And there a lot of great callbacks to previous films and even the novels. Part of the film seems to be a remake of the novel Moonraker, with a scene in Blades, and the best reference of all.....

the wildlife

At one point when considering a cover,  James Bond picks up a book "Birds of the West Indies". In the Spy Who Loved Me, Bond went undercover as a marine biologist. Now he goes undercover as a bird expert. When he explains to Jinx that he is an ornithologist, she looks RIGHT AT HIS DICK and says: "Wow, there's a mouthful". And that's the ONLY good line (and line reading) in this scene!

There are some scorpions in the opening title. Most appear to be cartoonish CGI creations, but that is not such as issue as it part of the traditionally abstract title sequence.  

Daniel Craig (2006-2021?)

Bond has been played by a Scot, an Aussie, a Welshman, and Irishman, and just one plain old English guy. Well now he was back to being an English lad again. The man with two first names. The blonde Bond (although Roger had light coloured hair). Daniel Craig was in a few films before 007 - he his most commercial turn was playing off Angelina Jolle in Tomb Raider; he stood out in an average film. This was despite the confusing accent - Daniel was a Brit playing a Yank, and Angelina was a Yank playing a Brit. Daniel wasn't classically handsome; not a pretty boy like previous entries, but he had a simmering intensity the gals liked, and he actually worked out at the gym. Now, for some reason, suddenly everyones girlfriend wanted to come along and see the latest James Bond movie! Having one of the two main creative producers be a female (Barbara Broccoli, who could have played Bond girl) brings a different perspective and drive to the films. Like the superhero films of Zack Snyder, the films began to have the camera perv at the men's bodies just as much as the women. (If I have to look at Henry Cavill's abs so I can have a peek up Gal Gadot's skirt, that's a deal I'll happily take).

Even adjusted for inflation, some of Daniel Craig's films, such as Skyfall, have taken huge box office money, (although they are still nowhere near the peaks of Thunderball or Goldfinger), and have re-gained cultural relevance. However, his films also quickly fell too much into the "this time it's personal" storylines, and stumbled awkwardly when they tried to connect all the previous stories together very clumsily in Spectre. And there ain't a lot of wildlife.

Casino Royale (2002)

One of the best directors, Martin Campbell, came back to do what he had done before, bring in another Bond with a bang. There wasn't much expectation for this film; Daniel Craig seemed like a strange choice, the idea of a prequel was weird, and Pierce still had some good years left in him. But the pre-credits sequence is full of mystery and violence.

The post-credit start of film is set in Madagascar, a wonderful country with incredible wildlife, but there is not a single Chameleon or Lemur to be seen. However, we do see a fight between two non-native animals; a Mongoose and Cobra.

Quantum of Solace (2008)

Where the fuck is the gun barrel introduction? There is a good film somewhere underneath all that bad editing...maybe. Like Die Another Die, QOS tries to steal trends, like the fast cutting and jittery camerawork of that other JB (Jason Bourne) but doesn't do it well, and does it too late. They also don't need to do it, as this style usually hides deficiencies in stunts and budget, neither of which would be lacking in a Bond production. The horrific editing obliterates essential points we need to see to understand what is going on, and the crime is that hugely expensive action scenes are ruined by cheap editing. There are some good character beats though, like Bond getting drunk, or throwing his friend into the dumpster, or Felix Leiter denying he knows Bond. And then there is a chance to ogle at tanned Olga.

wildlife

In the desert we see a Tegu lizard.

There isn't much other wildlife though, apart from Elvis hairpiece.

"We have people everywhere...Lots of people say that. Florists use that expression"

Skyfall (2012)

the film

Where the fuck is the gun barrel introduction? (again!) This movie is pretty good; although maybe not as amazing as everyone thinks it is, but it is good fun, and beautiful to look at. All that slightly sexual-mommy-bad-boy chemistry between Daniel Craig and Judi Dench finally pays off as M becomes a big part of the story, and she becomes the plot and the sad ending.

wildlife

There is wildlife, BUT it is not great. They are computer generated Scorpions and Komodo Dragons. Uck. However, both animals are accurate and both can cause the damage that they threaten or perform in the film.

When James is going through his 'enjoying death' phase, he plays drinking games with scorpions on his hand. This is the third time scorpions are shown in James Bond films. It is an obvious CGI effect.  

Komodo Dragons are a type of very large monitor lizard (or as we say in Australia, 'goanna'). Again, it looks fake. People complain about the fakeness and digital effects of Die Another Die; yet I would argue this is just as obvious. Komodo dragons do eat people, but not very often - because they are large and drag their feet, they are not very good at sneaking up on you.

Komodo Dragons - real ones!

For more on Komodo Dragons and the habitat in which they live

Spectre (2015)

the film

Spectre. Boy, they really fucked this one up. There was so much potential. They were the same people that made Skyfall! It's just OK. A bit drab, with some good stuff, but such a ridiculous storyline with Blofield being his half brother; good lord, what were they thinking? "And I am the author of all ya pain".  It's the Casino Royale/Quantum of Solace and Live and Let Die/Golden Gun problem, how do you follow such a good film? The main girl is supposed to be the love of JB's life (again), but she's pretty boring! They should have swapped here for Monica Belluci and it would have made sense! But by having Madeleine Swan in the next one, it might retroactively make her a deeper character. 

wildlife

Not much.

There is a gecko on the wall when Bond wakes from his torture. This is probably the widespread South-east Asian House Gecko.

Blofield's white Persian pussycat makes an appearance, after being missing for almost forty years.

Cool line: "You're like a kite in a hurricane Mr. Bond"

No Time to Die...? (2020-2021)

This film is (finally) due out in October 2021 (or November for us mismanaged Australians). One of the few scenes from the novels not yet filmed is the 'Garden of Death" from (Blofields) Shatterhand's castle in You Only Live Twice, where Japanese people come to commit suicide with deadly plants. There is a shot that kinda looks like that in the trailer....that would be cool! 

Box office success (in US, inflation adjusted)

Thunderball (1965)

Goldfinger (1964)

Skyfall (2012)

You only live twice (1967)

Moonraker (1979)

Die Another Die (2002)

Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

From Russia with Love (1963)

Diamonds are forever (1973)

The world is not enough (1999)

Goldeneye

Quantum of Solace

Spectre

Octopussy

The spy who loved me

For your eyes only

Dr.No

Never Say Never again

On her majestys secret service

Updates
Throughout the virus I am working in Australia on and off as local borders close, mostly in the Kimberley with Coral Expeditions (May-September). If you can't go travelling until everything settles down, then until then, here I am doing online guided walks for Noble Caledonia and online lectures for Silversea.