A View To A Kill
Written by: Ian Fleming
In the years that Mr. Fleming was writing Bond novels, he also wrote a few short stories starring the most famous British spy in the world. Some of these stories have been turned into movies…typically with only the titles being the same. Let’s see how From A View To A Kill faired in its translation from book to screen.
The story opens with a young man on a motorcycle, doing his daily delivery of top secret material for the Royal Corps of Signals (apparently, aka SHAPE). He stops on a deserted highway because he sees one of his own coming up behind him in his mirror. The man gets about 20 feet from the young man and promptly shoots him in the back. He steals the young man’s package, wallet and watch. (Gotta make the officials think it was a random robbery.) His cohorts take the body and the bike off into the woods where it won’t be found for a while.
Bond, meanwhile, is nearby in Paris, a town that he has hated ever since the end of WWII. Yes, it’s the town where he lost his virginity at 16, but it has since “sold its heart” to the tourists.
Suddenly, a young lady careens up to him in her beat up little car, gets out and says, “I’m sorry I’m late, but we must be going!” She gives the secret sign that she’s with the local version of MI6 and he quickly goes with her…and takes a liking to her, thinking that maybe he would like to stay in Paris for a bit.
She gets him involved in the case, but no one in SHAPE really wants him horning in on things. They think they’ve already done everything that they can and are ready to give up. M, though, wants Bond to take a look for the “invisible man.” Hopefully, he’ll see something that they didn’t.
Of course, he does. He goes to the woods where the body and bike were found and notices a moving flower in a former “gipsy” campground. It turns out to be a surveillance camera. After the camera sees that no one is there, a door opens up and a small crew of men come out with a motorcycle. Bond knows what to do.
Mary Ann, though, is dead set against it. After he tells her his plan, she tells him that it’s not up to him to “re-enact” the murder. She eventually allows it and plays her part…telling SHAPE to be ready.
He dresses as a delivery man and the same thing transpires as what happened to the young man at the beginning of the story. Except, of course, Bond kills the intruder. He then makes the signal that he heard in the wooded glade and a some men pop out to take the body. When he doesn’t give them the next signal (an answer to a question in Russian), they get suspicious. One of them jumps him and, just when he thinks he’s going to die, the man is shot and rolls off of him. He looks up and sees Mary Ann with a gun behind a bunch of SHAPE men.
He immediately tells her to come with him. “I want to show you a bird’s nest.”
The story is pretty fucking slight, but it is a short story. It’s not meant to do much more than give us a quick adventure. It does its job (just barely) and then gets out.
Honestly, though, it’s kind of pointless. If they hadn’t made a movie with the same title, the story probably would have disappeared.
Was there anything from the story in the movie? Let’s find out.
CONQUESTS: Mary Ann Russell
GLOBE HOPPING: Paris
Directed by: John Glen
Based on the title of a short story by: Ian Fleming
There comes a time in every actor’s life when he realizes that he can’t play the roles he used to play. That time really came for Roger Moore in about 1981, not long after he made For Your Eyes Only. He probably should have called it a day with that one.
Unfortunately for him (and the Bond-loving public), MGM kept him on board for two more films: Octopussy (which we’ll get to later) and this one.
At the time, there was a comedian (I forget who) who joked about how old Moore was. He said that the producers told him that there was a big stunt coming up…picking up a gun from the ground. “Ok. I’ll…give it a go.” And then he put his back out. I thought it was a little unfair at the time, but I was nine years old. Roger Moore was my Bond.
At 57 years old, though, Roger Moore was really getting too old for this shit. I think his stunt man was in the movie more than he was. He knew it. Sean Connery (who is younger than him) knew it. And, really, the producers had to know it, too. But Roger was on a roll, more popular than ever.
The movie opens with him being too old. Bond is in Siberia (actually Iceland…although Moore wasn’t actually there at all) running away from a bunch of Russian spies. He’s just gotten a microchip from the body of 003 and is now skiing away from his enemies. Of course, he ends up on a snowboard to the tune of a revamp of “California Girls.”
The whole time, the only shots of Moore are close-ups with obvious blue-screening going on behind him. Everything else is a stuntman covered head to toe with snow gear.
Of course Bond gets away with the help of a beautiful MI6 agent in a submarine disguised as a tiny iceberg. They soon do it.
The opening credits sequence is definitely 80s. Lots of neon and day-glo all over naked ladies. Duran Duran’s theme song is probably my favorite 80s Bond theme, but it’s still silly. (John Barry knew it, too. He didn’t think a pop band was right for Bond. Although, I’m not sure what he thought Nancy Sinatra was. Or Lulu. He must have felt awful on his next one when he worked with a-Ha.)
Watch for blurred and darkened nudity throughout the sequence. The British government made ‘em do it.
Bond meets Q, M and the Minister in M’s office to be sped up on how important silicon valley is to the world. Q has a new toy, a surveillance robot that looks like a dog and tells them all that there’s a new microchip that is impervious to radiation/nuclear holocaust. That’s good because then no one will be able to irradiate America’s supply like Goldfinger tried with the gold.
Oh…wait. More on that later.
They talk a bit about this new possible menace named Max Zorin (Christopher Walken). Something about horse races and possible cheating. They all head to the races (including, for some reason, Q and Moneypenny – Lois Maxwell’s final appearance) and see what Zorin is up to with the help of Sir Godfrey Tibbett (ex-Avenger Patrick Macnee, who happens to be Moore’s best friend). Here we get our first glimpse of Walken with bleached blonde hair and May Day (Grace Jones) with a tall hat.
Bond head to Paris to talk to a man who Tibbett has investigating Zorin. They go to dinner and a show at the Eiffel Tower where the man is almost immediately killed by a butterfly. The offending insect is actually a marionette operated by May Day, who is just barely disguised.
Bond runs after May Day, but is thwarted when she jumps off the Tower. He follows her in a stolen taxi. This is actually probably the most exciting sequence for a long time, so pay attention.
May Day gets away and Bond is caught by the cops. M bails him out and sends him with Tibbett to infiltrate Zorin’s horse stable to see what’s really going on. They snoop around at a party/auction. Bond very briefly meets Stacey Sutton (former Charlie’s Angel Tanya Roberts), but is cock-blocked by Zorin and May Day.
This is also where we first see Alison Doody in her film debut. You’ll remember her from Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade.
Bond and John Steed, erm, Tibbett find a shipment of microchips…but what does it all mean?
Zorin and May Day find out that someone is snooping around, so they immediately think of Bond. They check his room to see that he’s not there. Instead, he’s just made it to May Day’s room where he’s had time to undress and climb into her bed as if he’s waiting for her.
They do it.
By the way, Moore and Jones did NOT get along at all. Moore called her an awful woman. This must have been a pretty difficult scene for them.
Zorin figures out who Bond is and invites him to a deadly steeplechase. Meanwhile, May Day kills Tibbett. Bond survives the steeplechase, but is caught when May Day drives up in Tibbett’s car. (I love Walken’s delivery here. “You amUSE me, Mr. Bond.”) They try to kill Bond by throwing him in the lake in the car, but he breaths the air from the tires and all is well in the world.
Here, we learn that Zorin is a “former” KGB agent…although “No one ever leaves the KGB.”
His next step is a meeting with his business associates on his blimp. He tells them that he needs some money so that he can destroy Silicon Valley. This way, his chips are worth more than the rest of the world’s. One of the men says no and is promptly killed by May Day.
Wait….haven’t we seen this before? Oh yeah! Fuckin’ Goldfinger! So, the official Bond movies are starting to repeat themselves!
After the meeting, they look out over the San Francisco Bay and have this exchange:
May Day: “Wow! What a view!”
Zorin: “To a kill!”
Audience: “Wow….um….can we leave?”
Bond, of course, is hot on their trail and meets a guy from the CIA to find out that Zorin is part of a genetic experiment from just after WWII. All of the subjects turned psychotic. What this really has to do with anything is never really explored very well.
He heads to Zorin’s underwater oil pumps and finds out that he’s pumping seawater into the wells. Why? He doesn’t have time to answer that question because he’s nearly killed by a turbine. Fortunately for him, a KGB agent was also snooping around and Zorin catches him, throwing him into the turbine as Bond gets away.
Bond meets up with Pola Ivanova (Fiona Fullerton), a KGB agent that he’s “met” before. They do it and he steals her tape of Zorin’s meeting. This is how he finds out what Zorin’s real plan is.
He then manages to sneak onto Stacey Sutton’s property. She thinks he’s a Zorin stooge until he runs off Zorin’s actual stooges. She helps by bashing one of them over the head with her grandfather’s ashes. Strangely, she’s not very upset by the loss of the ashes. She just kind of shrugs, wipes the ashes off on her dress and shakes Bond’s hand.
It turns out that Gramps was the owner of Sutton Oil, a business that Zorin is trying to buy. Stacey is having none of it. She also figures out that Zorin is pumping the seawater directly into the San Andreas Fault. This is VERY bad. Major earthquakes and such.
They both head to City Hall where they’re quickly framed for the murder of a city official. Zorin and May Day set fire to the place and stick Bond and Stacey in an elevator that they handily escape. They make it outside (to the tune of “Dance Into The Fire”) and are nearly arrested for murder. Bond steals a fire truck and they just barely get away when the most incompetent cops since Live And Let Die/The Man With The Golden Gun show up on the scene.
(Moore did his own driving here because the stunt driver was too short to reach the pedals of the fire truck. Moore was a lorry driver before he started acting full-time, so he did a great job.)
From here, the two of them head to Zorin’s mines/earthquake factory. They figure everything out and are caught and shot at by Zorin and May Day. Zorin decides to go ahead and flood the mines, trapping everyone underground, including his men and May Day. He grabs a machine gun and starts shooting everyone with glee. (Moore had a HUGE problem with this. More on that later.)
Stacy gets out of the mine, but Bond and May Day fall into the water. May Day switches sides (much like Pussy Galore before her: “I thought that creep loved me!”) and helps Bond get the bomb away from all of the explosives. She has to sacrifice herself to do this, though.
Zorin picks Stacey up in his blimp and Bond grabs hold of a mooring rope…and is somehow able to hold on as they fly over San Francisco. ‘Cause, ya know. A 25 year old man would have a problem doing that. A 57 year old man would have NO problem.
They head towards the Golden Gate Bridge and Zorin plans on slamming him against the suspensions. (“This is gonna hurt him more than me.”) Like anyone else would, Bond ties the mooring rope to the bridge, stopping all progress. Zorin, who is apparently a complete idiot, tries to break free of the rope. (“MOAR! MOAR POWAH!”) Stacey attacks him and somehow manages to knock out his two cohorts, including an old man who has show up a few times in the film, but he hasn’t been particularly important until now. Apparently, he loves Zorin like a son? Or something? I dunno.
Zorin gets out of the blimp and onto the suspensions where he and Bond duke it out with an axe. (This is probably the second most exciting part of the film. Pay attention.) Zorin falls to his death and the old man screams. He starts shooting, runs out of bullets and tries to throw a stick of dynamite at Bond. Instead, Bond cuts the rope and sends the blimp on its way. Old man loses his grip and the whole thing explodes.
Cut to the head of the KGB giving an award to M in Bond’s honor: the first ever award given to a non-Soviet agent. “Where would Soviet research be without Silicon Valley?” Unfortunately, Bond is missing and presumed killed. Moneypenny cries.
Q, on the other hand, is out in the field with his new toy. He sends the robot in to Stacy’s house where he sees Bond and Stacey in the shower together. “Where is Bond?” says M.
“Just cleaning up a few details.”
Q seems genuinely annoyed when Bond throws a towel over the robot’s cameras. This movie really makes Q seem like a perv.
So, there’s the movie. There’s absolutely no comparison with the story because they have NOTHING but a title in common. Maybe the fact that the movie has a few scenes in Paris and there are Russian spies involved. Other than that, nothing. (Wait. Would the surveillance dog be an equivalent for the surveillance flower? Maybe.)
Maybe that’s why they took a word out of the title at the last minute, so no one would think that the movie was actually based on the story.
No, they probably just thought it was awkward with the extra “From” at the beginning. And they’re right.
This movie is pretty fuckin’ bad. From a pretty bland bad guy (HOW is Christopher Walken this bland?!) to completely stupid characters (let’s waste an Angel in a stupid, non-action oriented character), there’s just not a lot to recommend here. It’s basically a remake of Goldfinger, but without the interesting…anything.
This is Roger Moore’s least favorite of probably all of the Bond’s, but definitely his own. First off, he knew that he was too old, but we’ve been over that. His other problem was the violence. If there had been more blood spurts, this would have been a pretty good Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. There were certainly enough machine guns and mass murders going on. At least in Goldfinger, the bad guy only killed ONE of his men. Here, Zorin kills approximately 487 of them. It’s a little disturbing for a Bond film.
The thing is that Moore said something about Bond never being about “blood and brain matter.” I don’t remember seeing any brain matter here. Not even really any blood. Just a lot of bullets.
So, yeah. Not a good movie and a pretty weak way to go out for Mr. Moore. It’s one of the few Bond movies that, 10 minutes after seeing it, you forget everything but the theme song.
But, if it’s any consolation, Bond has sex with more women in this movie than any of the official Bond movies, tying only with the unofficial Never Say Never Again. So…I guess that’s something.
CONQUESTS: nameless MI6 girl in submarine; May Day; Pola Ivanova; Stacey Sutton
GLOBE HOPPING: Siberia; Paris; San Francisco; Silicon Valley