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The James Bond Franchise in the 80s


The 1980s was a time of big social and political changes. The Bond movies reflected these changes, at least once by accident. United Artists released a Bond movie every two years during the 1980s. There was also an unofficial Bond movie. This article contains spoilers and digressions.

Bond Down to Earth

After Moonraker the franchise toned down the special effects. For Your Eyes Only didn’t have a high-tech complex. The plot didn’t revolve around a supervillain’s grandiose plans. In the opening scene Bond visits his wife’s grave. Then a character, assumed to be Ernst Stavro Blofled (John Hollis), attempts to kill Bond (Roger Moore). Bond turns tables and kills the character. The cat escapes.

An old sea mine sinks a surveillance ship, disguised as a fishing boat, off the coast of Albania. The ship goes down with all hands before the crew could destroy a submarine targeting system called an ATAC. The British ask Havelock (Jack Hedley) to look into recovering the ATAC. When Gonzales (Stefan Kalipha) strafes and kills Havelock and his wife Iona (Toby Robins). MI6 sends James Bond to capture and interrogate Gonzales.

Within minutes of finding Gonzales James Bond is captured, identified, and taken off to be killed. Havelock’s daughter Melina (Carole Bouquet) kills Gonzales with a crossbow. This distraction allows Bond to break free. This scene takes place poolside. This scene contains the first transgender Bond woman, Caroline Cossey[i]. The British tabloid, News of the World, identified her as being transgender.

While escaping Bond comes face-to-face with Melina’s crossbow. She uses the crossbow to kill a henchman chasing Bond. A henchman tries to break into Bond’s car. This sets off the car’s Armageddon device. Bond and Melina are forced to escape in Melina’s Citroen 2CV. In the subsequent car chase Bond and Melina’s driving skills, not wild gadgets, carry the day.

Killing Gonzales is not enough for Melina. She plans to kill those who ordered her parents’ death. Bond tells her Confucius’s proverb, “Before setting out for revenge, you first dig two graves.” Granted nowhere in the canon does it say Bond has to practice what he preaches. Revenge is at least part of his motivation in most of the Bond movies.

The plot was a bit more complicated than usual. Kristatos (Julian Glover) was helping MI6 and he points to Columbo (Topol), a smuggler, as the one trying to get the ATAC. Kristatos has a protégée, Bibi (Lynn-Holly Johnson). She is an Olympic figure skater. The Winter Olympics was popular in the U.S. thanks to American successes in the 1980 Winter Olympics. This was apparently a continuing attempt in the franchise to include what’s trendy in their movies. Her coach Brink (Jill Bennett) is a former gold medal winner who defected from the Soviet Union. Her stern manner gives the impression she might be more than what she seems.

Bibi is a wild teen who is blunt in her advances towards James Bond.[ii] Bond appears off balance in turning down Bibi’s proposition. The scene could signal Bond is an anachronism or Roger Moore was getting too old for the part. Bibi has a crush on East German biathlon champion, Kriegler (John Wyman).

He has no interest in women or bad habits. Kriegler is one of the bad guys. He, and two henchmen on motorcycles, try to kill Bond. The chase scene includes a run down a bobsled course. Stunt performer Paolo Rigoni was killed filming this scene.[iii]

Kriegler shows his superhuman strength by throwing a motorcycle at Bond. Bond’s next fight is on the ice rink against henchmen in hockey outfits.

Bond spends the night with Columbo’s girlfriend Lisl (Cassandra Harris). They are trying to get information out of each other. Lisl pretends she’s an Austrian countess but is actually from Liverpool. Stunt performer Cyd Child was injured during the filming of Lisl’s demise.[iv]

Columbo’s men rescue Bond. A conversation and a battle later, Bond knows Kristatos is the bad guy. There is some impressive mountain climbing before the final battle. It is scaled down. Counting Bond there are only 5 men, and one woman as Melina points out, in the assault. The fight has little violence.

Bond ends up with Melina. Columbo ends up with Bibi and Brink. The ATAC ends up in pieces. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ends up talking to a parrot.

[i] The term “Bond Woman” is subjective. Caroline Cossey was one of 11 women poolside during this scene.

[ii] Bibi was supposed to be 17 but her age wasn’t mentioned in the movie. By Italian law she was above the age of consent.

[iii] International Movie Database, For Your Eyes Only (1981) - Trivia - IMDb, last accessed 12/21/20.

[iv] International Movie Database, For Your Eyes Only (1981) - Trivia - IMDb, last accessed 12/21/20.

Bond vs Bond

There were two Bond movie releases in 1983. The official Bond movie was Octopussy. The movie is mostly set in India. It begins with an action scene that has nothing to do with the plot. The plot begins with the assassination of 009. The scene is reminiscent of a “Get Smart” episode.[i] Bond is sent to pick up where 009 left off. The mission concerns the smuggling of a Faberge Egg.

A lead takes Bond to India. His contact in India, Vijay (Vijay Amritaj), uses the 007 theme music to get Bond’s attention. Two of the bad players are Kamal Khan (Louis Jourdan) a smuggler, and Soviet General Orlov (Steven Berkoff). Octopussy (Maud Adams), is a cult leader[ii]. Her cult is exclusively women. She is a smuggler and uses a circus as a cover for her operations. At first it appears Kamal Khan is Octopussy’s flunky. In reality he is using her as a patsy in a plot to start Word War III.

General Orlov’s plan is for Octopussy to unwittingly take the bomb onto a U.S. Air Force Base. The bomb will explode and the Europeans will assume it was a nuclear accident and demand nuclear weapons be removed from Europe. That would clear the way for a successful Warsaw Pact invasion of Europe. The plot played on the contemporary anti-nuclear sentiment in Europe.[iii]

The climactic battle is after Bond foils the plot. The battle is between Octopussy’s women and Kamal’s men. The battle is one sided and whimsical. This is the first time Q (Desmond Llewelyn) takes part in a battle. Octopussy ended up as a damsel in distress for Bond to rescue. This is the first Bond movie where no women died.

The unofficial Bond movie was Never Say Never Again. The copyright issues surrounding James Bond gave a legal excuse to make a version of Thunderball. This didn’t stop a legal battle. Never Say Never Again starred Sean Connery as James Bond. Klaus Maria Brandauer played Maximilian Largo of SPECTRE. Max von Sydow played Blofeld.[iv] Kim Basinger played Domino, Largo’s mistress. Barbara Carrera played Fatima, a SPECTRE woman who enjoys killing. In Never Say Never Again she had to wait for permission to kill 007. In Thunderball her equivalent character, Fiona, wanted to delay 007’s demise.[v] Bond used Fatima’s pride and one of Q’s (Alec McCowen) weapons to kill her. Felix Leiter (Bernie Casey) was waiting in the wings in case Bond needed help.

A Never Say Never Again movie trailer quoted a review stating it was the “better Bond”. The box office went to Octopussy with a worldwide gross of almost $68 million. Never Say Never Again grossed under $56 million and cost about $8.5 million more to make.[vi]

[i] “The Greatest Spy on Earth”.

[ii] Maude Adams was also a Bond woman in “The Man with the Golden Gun”.

[iii] The 1987 movie The Fourth Protocol, which starred future James Bond Pierce Brosnan, had a similar premise.

[iv] It was an uncredited role in Thunderball. Anthony Dawson played Blofeld.

[v] In Thunderball Luciana Paluzzi played Fiona.

[vi] International Movie Database, Octopussy (1983) - IMDb, last accessed 1/18/21.

Upstaging Bond

A View to a Kill begins with the disclaimer “Neither the name ‘Zorin’ nor any other name or character in this film is meant to portray a real company or actual person.” The movie’s villain is Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) owner of the Zorin Corporation. There is a real-life company Zoran Ladicorbic, Ltd. that didn’t want to be confused with a supervillain’s evil plot.

James Bond is in Siberia. He recovers a microchip from a dead agent 003 and escapes his Soviet pursuers by using a snowboard. The snowboarding is to the tune of “California Girls”.[i] He escapes in a boat that is disguised as an iceberg. On the inside there are luxurious furnishings and Kimberly Jones (Mary Stavin). Kimberly Jones is the first of 4 women 007 had actual or implied intimate relations with, a James Bond movie record.[ii]

At the office Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) is wearing an elegant dress. Later she, Bond, and some others are off to the horse races. Miss Moneypenny reprises the “My Fair Lady” horse race scene. She mentions she had been on a date and she has a life outside of the office and 007.

The microchip was resistant to an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). In the ’80 there was a big concern a nuclear detonation at high altitudes can take out the electronics over a wide area. A maker of microchips that was resistant to EMP was Zorin Corporation, headed by industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Zorin was a horse racing enthusiast whose horses consistently won against horses with superior blood lines. May Day (Grace Jones) was Zorin’s companion. This was the first time a Bond villainous had a relationship with outside of business with a Bond villain. May Day, and Zorin, like his horses, were a product of drugs invented by Dr. Carl Mortner (Willoughby Gray). This made them superior mentally and athletically. It also had the side effect of making the subject violent.

James Bond seemed outclassed by the villains. In the only scene where Bond shot somebody, he was using a shotgun loaded with rock salt. Zorin had an army of henchmen. Zorin decided to kill almost all of his operatives himself. This turned May Day against Zorin and saved Silicon Valley. Bond prevailed and the Soviets gave Bond a medal. The Soviet reasoning was without Silicon Valley they couldn’t steal American technology and so it would arrest Soviet technical development. Soviets stealing American technology was another common ‘80s theme.

[i] “California Girls” was a 1965 song by the Beach Boys.

[ii] The number was also 4 in the unofficial Bond movie, Never Say Never Again.

Dalton Timothy Dalton

The Living Daylights had a new James Bond (Timothy Dalton), and for the first time a new Miss Moneypenny (Caroline Bliss). Many hoped Pierce Brosnan would be the next James Bond.[i] One sign of the times, sex was toned down for Timothy Dalton’s Bond. The opening scene has nothing to do with the movie’s plot. Since this was Timothy Dalton’s first time a Bond it did serve to give some in the audience a chance to guess which of three 00 agents was Bond.

General Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) says he wants to defect. General Koskov insists MI6 send James Bond to help in the defection. Koskov said a KGB sniper had been sent to kill him. The first phase of the defection was for 007 to shoot the sniper, world famous cellist Kara Milovy (Maryam dAbo). Fortunately for Kara she has no experience with a rifle. Bond notices this and shoots the rifle and only slightly wounds Kara. Koskov used Kara, his lover, as a patsy. The second part of the plan is to smuggle Koskov out of the area in a pipeline scouring plug at the gasworks. The confederate at the gasworks is Rosika Mikos (Julie T. Wallace), a robust woman. She tells Bond she was going to “take care of” the supervisor (Peter Porteous). She takes a wrench. In an amusing twist she uses sensuality instead of violence.

Bond is suspicious of Koskov. Koskov claims he defected because General Leonid Pushkin (John Rhys-Davies) is trying to restart the Cold War, which can cause World War III. There is a fake kidnapping of Koskov from MI6. M (Robert Brown) orders 007 to kill General Pushkin. Bond, as usual, follows the woman, Kara. Bond initially leads her to believe Koskov sent him. When making their escape from the Iron Curtain Kara insists on taking her cello along. Bond objected but took it. When they used the cello case to slide into Austria Bond pretendd it was his idea to take the cello.

Brad Whitaker (Joe Don Baker) is an arms dealer. He pretends to be a military man but he was kicked out of West Point for cheating. He was a mercenary for a short time then became an arms dealer. General Pushkin calls off the arms deal the Soviets had with Whitaker. Koskov tries to rush Bond into killing General Pushkin by making it personal. The plan backfires and Bond is soon after Koskov and Whitaker. Koskov dupes Kara into helping him capture Bond. Soon Bond and Kara are Soviet prisoners in Afghanistan. Bond, with Kara’s help, breaks out of jail. As luck would have it, they help a mujahideen escape. Bond tried to enlists the mujahideen’s help. Bond sets out alone. When Kara, Kalashnikov in hand, takes off after Bond the mujahideen follows her. Kara is very good at knocking men off her horse and jeep. Bond and Kara fly out of Afghanistan. Bond destroys ½ billion worth of opium and kills the main henchman (Andreas Wisniewski) in the process. He even takes out a bridge with a small bomb that helps his mujahideen friends escape from the Soviets.

The final showdown with Whitaker is anticlimactic. Koskov survives the movie but General Pushkin makes it clear he will be killed off camera. The movie brings up a question. Would a bullet hole in a cello affect its sound?

[i] Pierce Brosnan had a considerable following because of his role in the TV series Remington Steele. Ironically the popularity of the series kept him from being James Bond in The Living Daylights.

Getting Personal

License to Kill closed out the ‘80s for Bond and Timothy Dalton as Bond. Bond is to be the best man at Felix Leiter’s (David Hedison) wedding. Leiter learns drug kingpin Franz Sanchez (Robert Davi) is in the United States.[i] Tuxedo clad Leiter, Bond, and Sharkey (Frank McRae) take off to arrest Sanchez. Sanchez was in the Florida Keys because his mistress Lupe Lamora (Talisa Soto) was cheating on him. Sanchez orders her lover’s heart cut out and beats Lupe. Sanchez tries to escape in a Cessna 173 but Bond, in a pursuing helicopter, wraps a cable around the Cessna’s tail. Bond and Leiter parachute in for the wedding. Thanks to a $2 million bribe Sanchez escapes. Sanchez has Mrs. Leiter (Priscilla Barnes) killed and a shark take a couple of bites out of Mr. Leiter.

Bond gets right to revenge. When he refuses to stop M (Robert Brown) dismisses Bond from the Secret Service. Bond sets out on his own. The bad guys kill Sharkey and Bond goes into attack mode. Bond meets CIA contract pilot Pam Bouvier (Carey Lowell). They go into a “anything you can do I can do better” routine before and after a bar fight. Bouvier gives the backstory onhenchman, Dario (Benicio Del Toro). He was thrown out of the Contras.[ii] The night on a boat together didn’t seem to change their professional relationship. Bouvier stayed with Bond after she flew him into the fictitious Central American country of Isthmus.[iii] He introduces Bouvier as his executive secretary. When she complains and asks why he couldn’t be her executive secretary he said Latin America was still a man’s world. He also instructed her to get something that looks more like an executive secretary. The inference is she get something more feminine than the pants outfit she is wearing.

Sanchez negotiates drug deals via coded communications through a televangelist, Professor Joe Butcher (Wayne Newton). Bond’s attempt to assassinate Sanchez fails. He soon learns his vendetta got 4 agents killed and disrupted two operations against the Sanchez empire. Sanchez is planning a major drug distribution deal with Asian cartels. Sanchez also purchased some Stinger missiles.[iv] Sanchez planned to threaten to shoot down an airliner a day unless the Americans stopped trying to capture him.

Q (Desmond Llewelyn), ostensibly on holiday, brings his bag of tricks to 007. Bouvier almost burns a hole through Bond’s head with one of Q Branch’s Polaroid cameras. Since Q was demonstrating a weapon that looks like a camera Bouvier’s actions could be interpreted as stupidity or the usual field agent contempt for devices made by a technical division. Q gets to do some field work for Bond. In the field he uses a communication device disguised as a broom. When he finishes using this sophisticated device, he tosses it into the bushes. Q’s action could indicate the natural contempt field agents have for high tech gadgets.[v]

Pam is jealous when Lupe tells Pam she spent the night with Bond. Q tries to cover for Bond by explaining field agents have to do such things. Pam is vulgar in rejecting Q’s explanation.

Sanchez killed and tortured people in manners that were crude but effective. The violence was more explicit than in previous Bond movies. License to Kill got a PG-13 rating in the U.S. and a 15 rating in the UK for violence.

Unlike previous Bond movies 007 has a choice of two women at the end. Bond passes off Lupe to President Hector Lopez (Pedro Armendáriz Jr.) and jumps in a pool, dressed in a tuxedo, with an evening dress clad Pam.

The movie made a profit but it didn’t do as well as expected. The Bond franchise had more copyright issues so there wasn’t another 007 movie until 1995.[vi]

[i] The place is called Crab Key, a reference to Dr. No.

[ii] The Sandinistas took over Nicaragua in a revolution. The U.S. backed resistance movement against the Sandinistas were the Contras.

[iii] This was timely since the U.S. invaded Panama in 1989 because of Manuel Noriega’s, Panama’s leader, involvement in the drug trade.

[iv] Stingers are man portable ground to air missiles. They were prominent in the ‘80s because of their success against Soviet aircraft in Afghanistan.

[v] According to the International Movie Database, it was Desmond Llewelyn’s idea to toss the broom,, last accessed 1/18/21.

[vi] International Movie Database,, last accessed 1/18/21.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Robert Sacchi


Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on January 19, 2021:

Robert, I appreciated that.

Robert Sacchi (author) on January 19, 2021:

Miebakagh Fiberesima - That's pretty much my situation here.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on January 19, 2021:

Robert, you're welcome. I hardly go to the movies. My pc or tv can entertain me and the family at home.

Robert Sacchi (author) on January 19, 2021:

Thank you all for reading and commenting:

FlourishAnyway, Yes, the transgender Bond woman was ahead of its time. The thing is they didn't know about Caroline Cossey until after the fact. The question is would it have made a difference. While the first Bond movies were risque by the late '60s they were tame. The For Your Eyes Only poster was more daring than the movie. I debated whether to have that as the lead poster.

It's too bad Maven doesn't allow comments on articles.

Miebakagh Fiberesima: I have been going on the chronological order. I haven't been going to the movies much in recent years. I'm debating whether I should take these Bond articles into the 21st century.

Pamela Oglesby: The articles that covered Caroline Cossey did so as a novelty rather than a political statement. Today it would probably be a major selling point.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 19, 2021:

This is an excellent review, Robert. I liked the James Bond movies when they were released and I didn't remember much of the story until your review. I didn't know about the transgender woman either.

Miebakagh Fiberesima from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA. on January 18, 2021:

Robert, I'm a real lover of James Bond(JB) movies. I had more collection of his films than any other. In fact, when Spetre and Sky Fall were roll out(wondering why you did not touch on these) I went online same day and down load them on my laptop! I regularly watch all the films you described for relaxing. Thanks for sharing.

FlourishAnyway from USA on January 18, 2021:

I recall these in the theatres but I wasn’t allowed to go. The names and posters were enough to ensure of that. I saw some later on tv. I had no idea there was a transgender Bond woman. Whoa were they ahead of their time!

Robert Sacchi (author) on January 18, 2021:

Thank you both for reading and commenting.

Liz Westwood - Yes, the Opening Scene in "The Living Daylights" was a car chase, among other things, around Gibraltar. The times have changed. In the '60s they were knocking out one a year almost. The films with the bigger and better meant more time, and money, to make. Much of the magic with the early Bond movies went away because it was no longer something new.

Peggy Woods - Yes, I enjoy writing about movies. The hard part is keeping the Hub short.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 18, 2021:

We have recently watched some old Bond films on TV and enjoyed them once again. I enjoyed this trip down memory lane.

Liz Westwood from UK on January 18, 2021:

This is a real trip down memory lane. Was the opening scene of ' The Living Daylights' a car chase round the rock of Gibraltar? Ever since I visited Gibraltar a few years ago I have intended finding and rewatching the opening chase scenes, but have yet to do so. Many thought that Roger Moore was a little too tongue in cheek for Bond. I recall seeing Timothy Dalton play Romeo at Stratford on stage. He was a more serious actor. It's a shame that the gaps between Bond films have extended over the years.

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