Top Five Favorite Episodes of “HAWAII FIVE-O” Season Three (1970-1971)

Below is a list of my top five favorite episodes from Season Three of “HAWAII FIVE-O”. Created by Leonard Freeman, the series starred Jack Lord as Steve McGarrett:

 

TOP FIVE FAVORITE EPISODES OF “HAWAII FIVE-O” SEASON THREE (1970-1971)

1. (3.22) “The Bomber and Mrs. Moroney” – A recently released convict, armed with a bomb, takes people hostage at Five-O headquarters and threatens to blow up the office, unless Danny Williams surrenders himself.

 

2. (3.01) “And Time to Die” – Five-O must move swiftly to prevent a threat against the kidnapped daughter of a surgeon, who is to operate on a wounded U.S. undercover agent. Donald Moffat, Gerald S. O’Loughlin and Khigh Dhiegh guest-starred as Chinese agent Wo Fat.

 

3. (3.08) “Reunion” – Three former prisoners of war accuse a Japanese millionaire of being the officer responsible for their torture during World War II. Teru Shimada and Simon Oakland guest-starred.

 

4. (3.18-3.19) “F.O.B. Honolulu” – Murder, treason and double-cross permeate in this two-part episode in which various international agents, including Wo Fat, search for counterfeit plates for U.S. twenty-dollar bills. Khigh Dhiegh, John McMartin and Roger C. Carmel guest-starred.

 

5. (3.09) “The Late John Louisiana” – The Five-O team searches for the witness to a two-year-old murder to protect her against one of Hawaii’s most-wanted criminals. Don Stroud and Marianne McAndrew guest-starred.

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“DJANGO UNCHAINED” (2012) Review

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“DJANGO UNCHAINED” (2012) Review

Over three years following the release of his 2009 movie, “INGLORIOUS BASTERDS”, Quentin Tarantino courted success and controversy with a new tale set the past. Called “DJANGO UNCHAINED”, this new movie combined the elements of the Old West and Old South and told the story about a recently freed slave-turned-bounty hunter in search of his still enslaved wife. 

The movie begins with a gang of male slaves being transported across Texas by a group of slavers called the Speck brothers. The group encounter Dr. King Schultz, a German-born dentist, who also happens to be a bounty hunter. Schultz offers to purchase Django, whom he believes can identify a trio of murderous siblings called the Brittle brothers, who had worked as overseers for Django’s previous owner. The Specks become hostile and Schultz kills one of the brothers. He then frees Django and leaves the wounded brother behind to be killed by the newly freed slaves. Django and Schultz come to an agreement in which the latter will give the former freedom, a horse and $75 for helping him identify the Brittle brothers. Once the pair achieve their goal at a Tennessee plantation owned by one Spencer “Big Daddy” Bennett, Schultz takes on Django as his associate and over the winter, collect a number of bounties. In the following spring, Schultz offers to help Django track down the latter’s wife, Broomhilda von Shaft. They discover that she is owned by a brutal, yet charming Mississippi planter named Calvin Candie. The pair realize that in order to rescue Broomhilda, they would have to pose as potential buyers of a fighter slave in order to secure an invitation at Candie’s plantation called Candyland.

Even before its initial release in movie theaters in late December, “DJANGO UNCHAINED” managed to attract a good deal of controversy. Producer/director Spike Lee declared the movie as an insult to his ancestors in a magazine article and his refusal to see it. Others have criticized the film for its violence and its use of the word “nigger”. And some have criticized the movie for historical inaccuracy. They claimed that the practice of fighting Mandingo slaves never existed and that Tarantino depicted the Klu Klux Klan a decade before its actual existence. And Jeff Kuhner of The Washington Times complained that: “Anti-white bigotry has become embedded in our postmodern culture. Take Django Unchained. The movie boils down to one central theme: the white man as devil — a moral scourge who must be eradicated like a lethal virus.”

Mind you, I have my own complaints about “DJANGO UNCHAINED”. Actually, I have three complaints. One, I found the movie’s chronological setting rather confusing. According to the movie’s opening, it began in “1858 – Two years before the Civil War”. Judging by the weather, Django’s first meeting with Schultz in Texas occurred in the fall. Which probably means that the movie began two-and-a-half years before the Civil War, not two years. Yes, I am being anal about this. However, Django and Schultz accompanied Candie to Candyland in early May 1858 . . . at least according to a scene that featured Candie’s head slave Stephen writing out a check for supplies. It is quite obvious that Tarantino got his time frame a little off. Was “DJANGO UNCHAINED” set between the fall of 1858 and the spring of 1859? Or was it set between the fall of 1857 and the spring of 1858? Only Tarantino can answer this. I also found the character of Broomhilda von Shaft slightly underdeveloped. Some have claimed that her character is passive. I would disagree, considering she was introduced being punished for attempting to run away from Candyland. But aside from a scene or two, I feel that Tarantino could have done a little more with her character. And three, I have mixed feelings about Tarantino’s use of flashbacks in this movie. Some of the flashbacks were well utilized – including those featuring Django’s memories of Broomhilda being whipped and branded as a runaway, Schultz’s trauma over witnessing the mutilation of a Candie slave named D’Artagnan, and Big Daddy organizing a group of night riders to attack Django and Schultz. But some of the flashbacks seemed to go by so fast that I found their addition to the film unnecessary.

As for the other complaints about the movie, I do have a response. Spike Lee is entitled to his decision not to see the movie. However, I do find his willingness to condemn the movie without seeing it rather strange. Criticism of Tarantino’s use of violence in his movies have become repetitive in my eyes. “DJANGO UNCHAINED” is a Quentin Tarantino movie. Can someone name one of his movies that did not feature any violence? Because I cannot. And his recent films do not strike me as violent as earlier films such as 1993’s “RESERVOIR DOGS”. Also, violence has played a part in many slave societies throughout history . . . including U.S. slavery. Yes, the Ku Klux Klan was first organized in the late 1860s, after the Civil War. But the Klan’s origins came from patrol riders, who were recruited by planters in many Southern states to maintain vigilance of both slaves and free black in local rural neighborhoods. So, the idea of “Big Daddy” Bennett organizing a group of local riders to attack Django and Schultz is not implausible.

In response to Jeff Kuhner’s accusation of anti-white bigotry, Tarantino not only created the German-born Schultz, who helped Django attain freedom and find Broomhilda; but also a Western sheriff portrayed by television veteran Lee Horsley (“MATT HOUSTON” anyone?), who seemed very friendly to both the German immigrant and the former slave. Tarantino also created Candyland’s head house slave, Stephen, who proved to be one of the film’s worst villains. So much for Kuhner’s accusation. A great deal of “DJANGO UNCHAINED” is set in the pre-Civil War South and its topic happens to be about American slavery. The use of “nigger” is historically accurate for the movie’s setting. And I am surprised that no one has complained about the slur being used in Steven Spielberg’s recent movie, “LINCOLN”. Hell, the word is used throughout productions such as the two “ROOTS”miniseries, the three “NORTH AND SOUTH” miniseries, “QUEEN”, the 1971 movie “SKIN GAME” and in a good number of other movie and television productions set in antebellum and Civil War America. Even the use of the slur in a production set in the 19th century North would be historically accurate. I also recall the use of racial slurs for whites in a few scenes. As for Tarantino’s use of Mandingo fighting slaves in the movie . . . I have no explanation for its presence in this film. There is no historical evidence of this particular sport. And I suspect that Tarantino was simply inspired by the 1975 movie, “MANDINGO” and Kyle Onstott’s 1957 novel upon which the latter was based.

So . . . how do I feel about “DJANGO UNCHAINED”? Frankly, I believe it is one of the best movies of 2012. And I also consider it to be another cinematic masterpiece by Quentin Tarantino. One of the aspects of “DJANGO UNCHAINED” was Tarantino’s ability to take a rather dark topic like slavery and fashioned it into a explosive mixture of action, drama, suspense and some comedy. Many have complained that the movie should have been a straight drama, considering its topic. But I disagree. Yes, “DJANGO UNCHAINED” could have been an effective straight drama. But Tarantino decided to take a rare and unique route in unfolding his tale. And in doing so, he managed to fashioned a fascinating story that allowed me to experience an array of emotions that left me more than satisfied by the movie’s last scene.

“DJANGO UNCHAINED” was not the first time comedy was used to reveal one of the darkest episodes in this country’s history. This has been done in “SKIN GAME” and in television shows such as “BEWITCHED” and the comedy sketch series, “KEY & PEELE”. Tarantino used the same mixture of pathos, horror, drama and comedy for many of his past movies – especially in“INGLORIOUS BASTERDS”. I found this use of humor especially effective in scenes that included the surviving Speck brother’s attempt to convince the slaves freed by Schultz not to kill him. I never knew that James Russo, who portrayed the surviving Speck brother, could be so funny. Django and Schultz’s little exchange regarding the former’s identification of the Sprittle brothers struck me as funny. I could say the same about Stephen’s reaction to Candie’s treatment of Django as a house guest and Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly’s (Candie’s sister) futile attempts to attract Schultz’s attention. But the funniest sequence has to be the flashback featuring “Big Daddy” Bennett’s recruitment of night riders for an attack on Django and Schultz. In fact, that particular scene practically had me rolling with laughter.

Some people have complained that “DJANGO UNCHAINED” is basically a revenge tale for African-Americans. I find this accusation rather odd, considering that Django’s main objective was to find Broomhilda and get her out slavery by any means possible. And despite the movie’s prevalent humor, Tarantino did not hold back in presenting not only the horrors and emotional traumas of slavery, but also racism. This was especially true in a handful of scenes in the movie. The opening scene featured an emotionally shell shocked Django being transported across Texas as part of a slave coffle. Other traumatic scenes include Candie’s little speech on the inferiority of blacks, the erruption of violence at Candyland that resulted in Django hanging from a barn’s roof, naked and bound and Stephen’s maleovelent revelation of Django’s fate as a slave for a Mississippi mining company. One horrifying scene that I found particularly brutal was a flashback featuring Broomhilda’s brutal whipping at the hands of the Brittle brothers, while Django desperately tries to convince one of the brothers to spare her.

I really do not know what to say about the performances featured in the movie. I realize there are no Academy Award nominations for ensemble casts. If there were, I would nominate the cast of “DJANGO UNCHAINED”. One, Tarantino cast old movie and television veterans in cameo roles. I have already mentioned Lee Horsley and James Russo. I also spotted the likes of Russ and Amber Tamblyn, Don Stroud, Tom Wopat, Cooper Huckabee, Robert Carradine, Michael Parks and a humorus special guest appearance by Franco Nero. Both Bruce Dern and M.C. Gainey (of “LOST”) were especially scary in their brief appearances as Old Man Carrucan (Django and Broomhilda’s former owner) and Big John Brittle. Both Dana Michelle Gourrier and Nichole Galicia gave solid performances as Cora and Sheba, Candie’s housekeeper and concubine respectively. And Dennis Christopher’s performance as Calvin Candie’s obsequious attorney, Leonide Moguy, struck me as spot-on.

Don Johnson provided a skillful combination of charm, menace and humor in his role as Spencer “Big Daddy” Bennett, the Tennessee planter who served as the Brittle brothers’ current employer. Jonah Hill had a funny cameo as one of his night riders. I could say the same about Miriam F. Glover, who gave one of the movie’s funniest lines, while portraying one of Big Daddy’s house slaves. Ato Essandoh of A&E’s “COPPER” was very effective as D’Artagnan, the frightened fighting slave whose runaway attempt led to his brutal death. Laura Cayouette’s performance as Lara Lee Candie-Fitzwilly, Candie’s widowed sister, struck me as effective. On one hand, I found her attempts to seduce Schultz rather funny. On the other hand, her outrage over Candie’s attempt to display a naked Broomhilda during supper provided a great deal of tension in the scene. Walton Goggins gave a memorable and scary performance as one of Candie’s henchmen, Billy Crash. James Remar got to portray two intimidating characters – Ace Speck and Candie’s main henchman, Butch Pooch. And he did a damn good job with both roles.

Although I had been critical of Tarantino’s creation of the Broomhilda von Shaft, I must admit that Kerry Washington still managed to wring out a first-rate performance from the role. I especially impressed with her in scenes that featured Broomhilda’s tense encounters with Stephen; and her subtle, yet pleased reaction to Schultz’s purchase of her from Candie and her painful whipping by the Brittle brothers in one of the flashback. And I must admit that I found that last shot of her removing a shotgun from her saddle rather interesting. Perhaps after all that Broomhilda had endured, she was not taking any chances. I believe that the year 2012 will prove to be one of Samuel L. Jackson’s best years professionally. Aside from portraying Nick Fury in the year’s biggest hit, “THE AVENGERS”; he got to portray one of the most complex and villainous roles in “DJANGO UNCHAINED” as Candie’s trusted and malevolent head house slave, Stephen. Watching the movie, I was struck at how much Stephen reminded me of the Mr. Carson character from the British television series, “DOWNTON ABBEY”. Both characters possessed the same blinding loyalty, snobbery, jealousy over his position within the slave hierarchy, and anger toward anyone from their background who managed to rise higher than they (for example: Django). Jackson did a superb job in not only conveying Stephen’s penchant for utilizing the old “Puttin’ on Old Massa” routine publicly, but also his intelligence while in the private company of Django, Broomhilda or Candie. And by the way, the man has a nice singing voice. Many people have expressed surprise at Leonardo Di Caprio’s portryal of the villanous, yet charsmatic Calvin Candie. I was not that surprised, considering I have seen him portray a villain before – as the cold-blooded Louis XIV in 1998’s “THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK”. But I do believe that Candie not only proved to be a more memorable villain, but also one of the actor’s best roles ever. He was fantastic as the charming, yet brutal Candie . . . and at the same time rather contradictory. It was obvious that Di Caprio’s Candie fervently believed in the superiority of whites; yet at the same time, he had no problems with allowing Stephen to handle the plantation’s finances or accepting the elderly slave’s intelligence and sharp observations about Django, Schultz and Broomhilda with very little reluctance.

Instead of portraying a villain, Christoph Waltz portrayed Django’s friendly, yet ruthless mentor and partner; the German-born dentist-turned-bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz. And he was fantastic. Waltz effectively portrayed Schultz’s cold-blooded pursuit of wanted criminals for profit, yet at the same time; conveyed the character’s disgust over the institution of slavery and open-mindedness toward Django, Broomhilda and other slaves. Waltz’s best moments proved to be Schultz’s encounter with the Speck brothers and Django in Texas, his taking down of the wanted Sheriff Bill Sharp (portrayed by Don Stroud), his reaction to D’Artagnan’s mauling and the revelation of his disgust toward Candie. And Waltz proved to have great screen chemistry with Jamie Foxx. I believe that the latter’s portrayal of the title character has proven to be vastly underrated by the majority of film critics and some moviegoers. I am a little disappointed, but not surprised. Django turned out to be a somewhat introverted character that was not inclined to speak very much . . . whether as a slave or a free man. Critics and filmgoers are not inclined to pay much attention to non-showy characters. Since Django proved to be a quiet character, Foxx resorted to good old-fashioned screen acting to convey most of the character’s non-speaking moments. And he did a superb job in portraying Django’s array of emotions – especially in the opening scene featuring the slave coffle in Texas, Schultz’s killing of the criminal, his first view of Broomhilda at Candyland, and the confrontation with Candie during the latter’s supper party. Ironically, another one of Foxx’s best moments proved to be quite verbal in which he attempts to con a group of slavers for a mining company to take him back to Candyland in order to collect on a fake bounty. In the end, Foxx did a superb job in developing Django from a slave in shock over the traumatized separation from his wife to the soft-spoken, yet self-assured man who could be very ruthless when the situation demanded it.

I also have to say a word about the movie’s behind-the-scene production. I was impressed by Sharen Davis’ costume designs. She did a solid job in re-creating the fashions of the late antebellum period. However, I noticed a few oddball designs for Candie’s slave mistress Sheba and a maid at a social club in Greenville, Mississippi; reflecting the planter’s penchant for anything French. I suspect this was a visual joke on Tarantino’s part. I was also impressed by J. Michael Riva’s production designs and Leslie A. Pope’s set decorations in the sequences for the Texas town featured in the movie’s first 10 to 20 minutes, Candie’s Napoleon Club in Greenville and especially the interiors for Candyland’s mansion. Robert Richardson did an excellent in capturing the beauty of California, Louisiana and especially Wyoming with his photography. As he had done for “INGLORIOUS BASTERDS”, Tarantino used already recorded music to serve as the score for his movie. I did notice that a few songs – especially one for the opening title sequence – seemed to have been written specifically for the movie. However, I do not know who may have written them.

It occurred to me that “DJANGO UNCHAINED” was Tarantino’s second period piece in a row. And I found myself wondering if he planned to write and direct a third period movie as part of some kind of semi-historical trilogy. Whether he does or not, I must say that I was impressed with “DJANGO UNCHAINED”. More than impressed. I believe it is one of the best movies I have seen released in 2012. And I feel that it is one of the writer-director’s more original works, due to superb writing, direction and an excellent cast led by Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz.

P.S. Check out this photo:

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Ohmigod! It’s Crockett and Tubbs!

List of Favorite Movies and Television Miniseries About Slavery

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With the recent releases of Steven Spielberg’s new movie, “LINCOLN” and Quentin Tarrantino’s latest film, “DJANGO UNCHAINED”, I found myself thinking about movies I have seen about slavery – especially slavery practiced in the United States. Below is a list of my favorite movies on the subject in chronological order: 

 

LIST OF FAVORITE MOVIES AND TELEVISION MINISERIES ABOUT SLAVERY

13-Skin Game

“Skin Game” (1971) – James Garner and Lou Gossett Jr. co-starred in this unusual comedy about two antebellum drifter who pull the “skin game” – a con that involves one of them selling the other as a slave for money before the pair can escape and pull the same con in another town. Paul Bogart directed.

 

9-Mandingo

“Mandingo” (1975) – Reviled by many critics as melodramatic sleaze, this 1975 adaptation of Kyle Onstott’s 1957 novel revealed one of the most uncompromising peeks into slave breeding in the American South, two decades before the Civil War. Directed by Richard Fleischer, the movie starred James Mason, Perry King, Brenda Sykes, Susan George and Ken Norton.

 

2-Roots

“Roots” (1977) – David Wolper produced this television miniseries adaptation of Alex Haley’s 1976 about his mother’s family history as American slaves during a century long period between the mid-18th century and the end of the Civil War. LeVar Burton, Leslie Uggams, Ben Vereen, Georg Sanford Brown and Lou Gossett Jr. starred.

 

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“A Woman Called Moses” (1978) – Cicely Tyson starred in this two-part miniseries about the life and career of Harriet Tubman, the former slave and abolitionist, who was the most successful conductor of the Underground Railroad during the last decade before the Civil War. Based on Marcy Heidish’s book, the miniseries was directed by Paul Wendkos.

 

3-Half Slave Half Free Solomon Northup Odyssey

“Half-Slave, Half-Free: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey” (1984) – Avery Brooks starred in this television adaptation of free born Solomon Northup’s 1853 autobiography about his twelve years as a slave in antebellum Louisiana. Gordon Parks directed.

 

4-North and South

“North and South” (1985) – David Wolper produced this television adaptation of John Jakes’ 1982 novel about the experiences of two American families and the growing discord over slavery during the twenty years before the American Civil War. Patrick Swayze and James Read starred.

 

6-Race to Freedom - The Underground Railroad

“Race to Freedom: The Story of the Underground Railroad” (1994) – Actor Tim Reid produced this television movie about four North Carolina slaves’ escape to Canada, following the passage of the Compromise of 1850. Janet Bailey and Courtney B. Vance starred.

 

10-The Journey of August King

“The Journey of August King” (1996) – Jason Patric and Thandie Newton starred in this adaptation of John Ehle’s 1971 novel about an early 19th century North Carolina farmer who finds himself helping a female slave escape from her master and slave catchers. John Duigan directed.

 

8-A Respectable Trade

“A Respectable Trade” (1998) – Emma Fielding, Ariyon Bakare and Warren Clarke starred in this television adaptation of Philippa Gregory’s 1992 novel about the forbidden love affair between an African born slave and the wife of his English master in 18th century Bristol. Suri Krishnamma directed.

 

11-Mansfield Park 1999

“Mansfield Park” (1999) – Slavery is heavily emphasized in Patricia Rozema’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s 1814 novel about a young English woman’s stay with her rich relatives during the first decade of the 19th century. Frances O’Connor and Jonny Lee Miller starred.

 

7-Human Trafficking

“Human Trafficking” (2005) – Mira Sorvino starred in this miniseries about the experiences of an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent investigating the modern day sex slave trafficking business. Donald Sutherland and Robert Caryle co-starred.

 

5-Amazing Grace

“Amazing Grace” (2007) – Michael Apted directed this account of William Wilberforce’s campaign against the slave trade throughout the British Empire in Parliament. Ioan Gruffudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Romola Garai Rufus Sewell and Albert Finney starred.

 

12-Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter

“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (2012) – History and the supernatural merged in this interesting adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s 2010 novel about the 16th president’s activities as a vampire hunter. Benjamin Walker, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie and Mary Elizabeth Winstead starred.

 

1-Lincoln

“Lincoln” (2012) – Daniel Day-Lewis portrayed the 16th president in Steven Spielberg’s fascinating account of Lincoln’s efforts to end U.S. slavery, by having Congress pass the 13th Amendment of the Constitution. Sally Field, David Strathairn and Tommy Lee Jones co-starred.

 

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“Django Unchained” (2012) – Quentin Tarantino directed this take on Spaghetti Westerns about a slave-turned-bounty hunter and his mentor, who sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner. Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz, Leonardo Di Caprio, Kerry Washington and Samuel L. Jackson starred.

“LICENSE TO KILL” (1989) Review

”LICENSE TO KILL” (1989) Review

 Most James Bond fans tend to use ”LICENSE TO KILL” as an example of why Timothy Dalton’s tenure as the British agent had failed. Failed? Hmm. Granted, the Welsh-born actor had only starred in two Bond films, but chances are he would have starred in a third if EON Productions had not found itself mired in some lengthy legal battle that lasted throughout the early 1990s. Although ”LICENSE TO KILL” never made as much money at the U.S. box office as its predecessor, ”THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS”, it proved to be an interesting addition to the Bond franchise. 

Now, when I had said that ”LICENSE TO KILL” was interesting, I was not kidding. It turned out to be a rather unusual experience. The movie turned out to be a revenge story that started with the capture of a drug czar named Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi), at the hands of Bond and Felix Leiter (David Hedison), now a DEA agent, on the latter’s wedding day. Unfortunately for Leiter and his new bride (Priscilla Barnes), a fellow DEA agent named Killifer (Everett McGill) helps Sanchez escape . . . an act that leads to Della Leiter’s death and Leiter’s mutilation. Determined the avenge the fates of the Leiters, Bond decides to ignore his new assignment, disobey MI-6 and seek revenge against Sanchez. With the help of former Army pilot/freelance CIA agent Pam Bouvier and Sanchez’s mistress Lupe Lamora, Bond manages to bring down Sanchez’s organization and the drug czar, himself.

Watching this movie made me realize that Timothy Dalton has become the most reserved Bond in the franchise’s history. I could not say that he was the only reserved Bond on film. Hollywood icon David Niven turned out to be the first actor to portray Bond as an introvert in 1967’s ”CASINO ROYALE”. But Dalton became the only introverted Bond for EON Productions. Personally, I have nothing against this. One, I do not believe that the character of James Bond can only be portrayed in one style. Two, I have always believed that any actor who portrays Bond, should do so in the style that suits him. Which is what Dalton had done . . . thankfully.

In fact, Dalton took his angst-filled take on James Bond a step further in this tale about personal vengeance. The emotions that Bond seemed reluctant to openly express are very obvious in Dalton’s intense green eyes (okay, fangirl moment). What can one say about Dalton’s performance? He was excellent, as usual. The man managed to completely capture Ian Fleming’s literary counterpart. Who could forget those moments when Bond stumbled across Della’s dead body spread across the bed? Or his discovery of Leiter’s body . . . and the belief that the latter was dead? Or his anger at M for ordering him to drop any concern regarding the Leiters? By the way the latter scene – filmed at Ernest Hemingway’s Key West home – provided another delicious interaction between Dalton and Robert Brown, proving once again that the two actors had created one of the most interesting Bond/M relationships in the franchise. But most of all, Dalton showed just how dangerous Bond could be in three particular scenes:

-Sending the traitorous Killifer to his death inside Milton Krest’s warehouse
-Threatening Lupe Lamora aboard Krest’s yacht
-Confronting Pam Bouvier about her meeting with one of Sanchez’s minions

Once again, Dalton was lucky enough to find himself with a worthy leading lady. In “LICENSE TO KILL”, she came in the form of former model-turned-actress, Carey Lowell (of “LAW AND ORDER” fame)who portrayed CIA contract pilot, Pam Bouvier. Carey portrayed Pam as a tough, no-nonsense and gutsy young woman that manages to save Bond’s ass on numerous occasions. I could say that Lowell was great. And she was. I did not even mind an overwrought dramatic scene between her and Dalton, which seemed to be reminscent of an emotional scene from “THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS”. But I must admit that one of the problems I had with Pam’s character was her tendency to be defensive about her “professionalism”. At one point, she seemed to have lost her sense of humor when Bond joked about her crashing Milton Krest’s yacht into a pier. Another problem I had turned out to be Pam’s schoolgirl infatuation of Bond. Quite frankly, it seemed out of sync with her personality. I had no problems with her falling for the British agent. But her passive attitude in dealing with it – aside from her jealous outburst over Bond’s one-night stand with Lupe Lamora – seemed unreal and slightly theatrical.

The other Bond girl in the movie was portrayed by Talisa Soto, another former model-turned actress. She portrayed Lupe Lamora, Franz Sanchez’s long-suffering mistress. Watching Lupe endure a beating by Sanchez in the beginning of the movie, one cannot help but wonder why she had even bothered to stay with a man she despised. And then I remembered . . . Lupe’s decision to leave Sanchez for another man had set the story in motion in the first place. Judging from her role as the villain’s mistress and second female lead, one would assume that Lupe eventually bites the dust. Miraculously, she managed to survive a brief affair with Bond and the vicious Sanchez with a new benefactor at her side by the final reel. Okay. Time to stop dwaddling. What did I really think about Talisa Soto’s performance? Well, back in 1988, it seemed obvious that she was not an experienced actress. In fact, “LICENSE TO KILL” marked her second screen appearance. There were moments when Soto managed to deliver her lines in a competent manner. Unfortunately, these moments could not overcome her wooden acting. However, Soto had the good fortune to possess the looks and screen presence to occasionally compensate her lack of talent.

Robert Davi, who had portrayed Latin American drug czar Franz Sanchez, was 34 years old at the time of the movie’s production – a good eight to ten years older than Dalton. Yet, the American-born actor managed to create such a charasmatic and menacing character that managed to hold very well against the older Dalton. In fact, Davi had infused his character with a charm and wit that made Sanchez one of the more subtle and effective villains in the Bond franchise. I still found it amazing to watch how Davi transformed Sanchez from an intimidating and menacing villain into a charming man . . . and back again. And he did this with no effort. I can think of two particular scenes that showcased Davi’s efforts in portraying the two sides (or should I say the “yin and yang”) of Sanchez’ personality:

-the drug lord’s charm and wit seemed to be in full force during his meeting with the Hong Kong triad leaders;
-on the other hand, Milton Krest’s death proved how brutal and ruthless Sanchez could be
.

The only problem I had with the character of Franz Sanchez is that he would seemed to be more at home in an episode of “MIAMI VICE” or the movie version, than he would be in a Bond film. But despite this setback, I must admit that he has become one of my favorite villains, along with the likes of Georgi Koskov, Ari Kristatos, Le Chiffre, Alex Trevaleyn, Emilio Largo and Kamal Khan.

“LICENSE TO KILL” is one movie that seemed to be endlessly filled with supporting character – in fact, more so than any other Bond movie I have ever come across. The following happens to be a list of Franz Sanchez’s minions, which is the biggest list of minor villains I have ever come across:

-Heller (Don Stroud)
-Dario (Bencio Del Toro)
-Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe)
-Professor Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton)
-Ed Killifer (Everett McGill)
-Truman Lodge (Anthony Starke)
-Perez (Alejandro Bracho)
-Braun (Guy De Saint Cyr)

Damn, that is a lot! Both Wayne Newton and Anthony Zerbe seemed wasted in this film. Anthony Starke simply got on my nerves with his yuppie persona. And I barely noticed Alejandro Bracho and Guy De Saint Cyr as Sanchez’s nearly silent henchmen. However, I was impressed by Don Stroud’s cool performance as the very competent Heller. Although Everett McGill has never been a personal favorite of mine, I must admit that I rather enjoyed his performance as the traitorous Ed Killifer. And future Oscar winner, Bencio Del Toro proved that even at the tender age of 21, he could knew how to make his presence known on the silver screen. Which he did with such panache in both the Barrelhead Club fight sequence and in Dario’s final confrontation with Bond and Pam.

Speaking of minor characters, there are . . . the good guys. I have already commented on how impressed I was by Robert Brown’s interaction with Dalton featuring Bond and M’s confrontation at Hemingway’s Key West home. I barely noticed Caroline Bliss as Moneypenny. It was nice to see Desmond Llewellyn as Q in a larger role. But to be honest, his character was as irrevelant to the story as Moneypenny’s. David Hedison returned to reprise the role of Felix Leiter. Unlike his smooth and easy-going performance in “LIVE AND LET DIE”, Hedison seemed over-the-top in this movie. Unusually loud. Perhaps he needed Roger Moore by his side, instead of the Shakespearian Dalton to keep his performance under control. Priscilla Barnes (“THREE’S COMPANY”)? Barely noticed her. I could say the same about Frank McRae (as the doomed Sharkey) and Grand L. Bush as DEA Agent Hawkins. I would like to add that Bush had originally co-starred with Robert Davi a year earlier in the action hit, “DIE HARD”. They portrayed Special Agents Johnson and Johnson. Pedro Armendariz Jr. (son of FRWL‘s Pedro Armendariz) portrayed Isthmus’ President Lopez. Hmmmm. I barely noticed him. However, one could not help but notice Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (“NASH BRIDGES” and “PEARL HARBOR”) as Hong Kong narcotics Agent Kwang. The man had an intensity that matched both Dalton and Davi. He made full use of his brief presence on the screen.

Despite the prevailing view, I do believe that “LICENSE TO KILL” is a first-class Bond movie that provided plenty of action, locations, humor, drama and excellent acting by Dalton and most of the leading cast members. I feel that it is also one of the grittiest Bond movies in the franchise. Was it the first Bond movie to feature gritty violence? Personally, I do not think so. I can think of at least three or four previous Bond movies that were just as violent, including 1981’s “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY”. In my opinion, director John Glen and screenwriters Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson created a pretty damn good story with LTK. But it did have its faults.

However, the movie’s main fault – at least for me – seemed to be the story itself. I had no problem with the idea of Bond seeking revenge against the person responsible for the maiming of old buddy Felix Leiter and the murder of the latter’s bride. I had a problem with the fact that the person responsible happened to be a drug czar with no real connections to the intelligence community. I had a problem that Maibaum and Wilson decided to change Leiter from a CIA agent to a DEA agent in order to fit their story. “LICENSE TO KILL”‘s setting does not really seem to belong in the world of James Bond or any other spy thriller. This story would have been a lot more revelant if Franz Sanchez had been a terrorist or an enemy agent, or if “LICENSE TO KILL” had starred characters similar to Sonny Crockett and Ricardo Tubbs of “MIAMI VICE”. James Bond battling a drug lord? Were they kidding? It seemed quite obvious that Cubby Broccoli and Michael G. Wilson wanted to exploit the popularity of the NBC television series. Unfortunately, the LTK had been released in the U.S., two months after the “MIAMI VICE” TV series went off the air. Talk about bad timing.

Another problem I had with “LICENSE TO KILL” was the size of the cast. Yes, Bond movies are known to have a “cast of thousands” so to speak. Having a large cast of extras is one thing. Having a large cast of characters allegedly revelant to the story is another. Once again, the problem centered around the Sanchez character. Quite frankly, he had too many minions. I mean . . . eight? Geez! Personally, I could have rid the movie of at least half of them. and finally, I wanted to point out the major action sequence featured in the movie’s finale. It seemed quite apparent that the producers wanted to repeat the success of the lengthy action sequence featured in “THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS“. I do not think that it quite worked in LTK. Quite frankly, I found the action sequence leading up to Sanchez’s death to be over-the-top. It was simply too much. Even worse, it lacked the stylish direction of TLD‘s action sequence. As for the movie’s theme song, performed by Gladys Knight . . . all I can say is “meh”. I have heard better. Thankfully, I can say that I would never consider the song to be amongst the worst in the franchise.

But you know what? Despite the ridiculously large cast and a story that could have easily been a three-part episode of “MIAMI VICE”, I still like “LICENSE TO KILL”very much. I feel that it was an entertaining, yet interesting story with a first-rate acting from Dalton and most of the cast. And I feel that John Glen did a pretty good job, despite the overbearing action sequence in the finale.

Memorable Lines

Bond: This is no place for you, Q. Go home.
Q: Oh, don’t be an idiot, 007. I know exactly what you’re up to, and quite frankly, you’re going to need my help. Remember, if it hadn’t been for Q Branch, you’d have been dead long ago. [Opens case] Everything for a man on holiday. Explosive alarm clock – guaranteed never to wake up anyone who uses it. Dentonite toothpaste – to be used sparingly, the latest in plastic explosive…

President Lopez: There has been a mistake with my cheque. Look at it! It’s *half* the usual amount.
Sanchez: You were very quiet when I was arrested. Remember, you’re only president… for life.
[El Presidente take the cheque and leaves]

[Killifer is dangling on a rope over shark-infested water]
Killifer: There’s $2 million in that suitcase. I’ll split it with you.
Bond: [menacingly] You earned it. You keep it . . . Old Buddy!
[Throws the case at Killifer, knocking him into the water]
Sharkey: God, what a terrible waste. [Bond gives him a look] Of money.

Della: Oh, James, would you mind? Felix is still in the study and we’ve got to cut this cake.
Bond: I’ll do anything for a woman with a knife.

M: This private vendetta of yours could easily compromise Her Majesty’s
government. You have an assignment, and I expect you to carry it out
objectively and professionally.
Bond: Then you have my resignation, sir.
M: We’re not a country club, 007! [pause] Effective immediately,
your licence to kill is revoked, and I require you to hand over your
weapon. Now. I need hardly remind you that you’re still bound by
the Official Secrets Act.
Bond: I guess it’s, uh… a farewell to arms.

Bond: In my business you prepare for the unexpected.
Sanchez: And what business is that?
Bond: I help people with problems.
Sanchez: Problem solver.
Bond: More of a problem eliminator.

Sanchez: In this business, there’s a lot of cash. And a lot of people with their hands out.
Kwang: In a word… bribery.
Sanchez: Exactly. He took the words right out of my pocket.

[Sanchez has just blown up Milton Krest in a decompression chamber full of money, splattering blood all over it]
Perez: What about the money, patron?
Sanchez: Launder it.

Truman-Lodge: Brilliant! Well done, Franz! Another eighty-million dollar write-off!
Sanchez: Then I guess it’s time to start cutting overhead.
[Shoots him]

Leiter: See you in hell!
Sanchez: No, no. Today is the first day of the rest of your life!

Leiter: [to Bond] Hey, observer! You trying to get yourself killed?
Bond: If I don’t get you back in time for the wedding, I’m a dead man for sure!

“When it gets up to your ankles, you’re going to beg to tell me everything. When it gets up to your knees, you’ll kiss my ass to kill you.” – Sanchez

Bond: [Pam kisses Bond] Why don’t you wait until you’re asked?
Pam: Why don’t you ask me?
[kisses Bond again]

Leiter: Where’s my wife?
Dario: Don’t worry. We gave her a nice Honeymooooon.

Della Leiter: Did I say something wrong?
Felix Leiter: He was married once. But it was a long time ago.

“Out of Gas. I haven’t heard that one in a long time.” – Pam Bouvier

“Drug dealers of the world, unite!” – Sanchez

Q: Look, don’t judge him too harshly, my dear. Field operatives often
use…every means at their disposal to achieve their objectives.
Pam: Bullshit!

Pam: Well, what are you waiting for? Get in!
Bond: Yes, sir.

7/10