Tag Archives: Sean Connery

Vic’s Review – Outland (1981)


In the distant future, a police marshal stationed at a remote mining colony on the Jupiter moon of Io uncovers a drug-smuggling conspiracy, and gets no help from the populace when he later finds himself marked for murder.

8 out of 10

The consistently like-able film director Peter Hyams (2010, The Relic, Running Scared) brought to the screen, in  1981, what is obviously a “High Noon” in space sci-fi movie. His film, called “Outland” stars ex-James Bond actor Sean Connery (Rising Sun, The Untouchables) as Marshall William T. O’Niel.  O’Niel has the pleasure of watching over a Titanium ore refinery way out on a moon of Jupiter, Io. The script written by Hyams as well is thematically a western plain and simple. It wears this theme (and comparisons) on it’s sleeve and makes no pretenses about what it truly is. This is why I like “Outland” very much. It’s about good guys and bad guys. Nothing complicated or very dynamic except for the actors are on display here. There are some very good performances from the late Peter Boyle as Mark Sheppard, the Director of the mining facility. James B Sikking (Hill Street Blues) as Deputy Montone is near perfect here as a by the book law enforcer. Frances Sternhagen is the irascible Dr. Lazarus and she steals every scene she’s in as the reluctant Health officer that is forced to chose a side when the battle comes down to O’Neil and the menacing Sheppard. Hyams begins the film with Jerry Goldsmith’s (who did “Capricorn One” with Hyams also) very cool title track which leads us up to an incident that starts the proceedings. A miner, suffering from sort of mental breakdown or psychosis, freaks out and opens his space suit to the atmosphere of Io which causes him to decompress and die explosively.

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It seems that this miner is not the only one. There seems to be a pattern and O’Niel’s deputies and even Doc Lazarus have their hands full with miners acting violently and suffering from a form of cabin fever. Soon after another miner exposes himself to the Jovian atmosphere by getting in an elevator which leads outdoors. O’Neil enlists Lazarus to help him with these mysterious circumstances and discreetly they discover that the miners all have something in common. A psychotic drug in their systems. Yet another worker also attacks a prostitute and Montone hastily dispatches him much to O’Neil’s dismay. When O’Niel approaches Sheppard he is met with resistance. It seems that Sheppard has a different outlook and philosophy regarding his men. “They work hard and I let them play hard” – is what he tells O’Niel, who seems to have his back up against the wall since no one wants to help him take down Sheppard. Sheppard is supplying the men with some hardcore drugs and he is turning a blind eye, like most of O’Niel’s men, to the problem. For Sheppard it’s business as usual and O’Niel is not having it.

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Hyams brilliantly directs Connery here who was born to play O’Niel. He isn’t as tough as nails as, say, Malone from “The Untouchables’ but he is bad ass none the less. He’s kind, by the book and is a man with a good moral center but that isn’t enough to keep him out of trouble. After he sends his wife and son away, O’Niel now has to face Sheppard. Sheppard receives a phone call from some “benefactors” regarding O’Niel and in turn he sends for some hit-men to take care of this Pebble in his shoe. It’s around here that Hyams jacks up the suspense and the movie truly becomes “Hign Noon” in space. O’Niel searches for help and never gets any and he even tries to enlist some of his men who back out. Only Dr Lazarus is willing to help but reluctantly. So, since O’Niel is monitoring Sheppard’s com system he prepares himself for the impending showdown with Sheppard’s thugs. “Outland” is tight, well paced and supremely acted. Hyams gives us a claustrophobic setting and uses it to maximum effect here. Every set has that dirty tech look and the miners all look tired, impatient and frenzied. Stephen Goldblatt’s camera work is impeccable as is Goldsmith’s score. Long hallways, hatches, air locks, rusty elevators, cramped bunk spaces, an outlandish “sex’ bar and some exquisite shots of Jupiter are all nice touches in “Outland”

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Upon it’s release “Outland” was a bit vilified for it’s obvious western style conventions. Over the years that viewpoint has changed a bit. I applaud it’s conventions because Hyams treats the material and his superb leads with respect. Connery is great in the lead and he and Boyle have some very interesting and cryptic exchanges. Sternhagen steals her scenes as she quips to and fro with Connery. She brings an old school charm as she runs about talking to herself and being jumpy and nervous. The story is lean and the climactic showdown does not disappoint especially as O’Niel learns the hard way that some people he thought he could trust are really deceitful scumbags. Hyams delivers the quintessential western in space with “Outland” He gives us a frightful, real and sobering look of what life out on the frontiers of space could one day really be like. Enjoy, gang! Highly recommended!

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When a serious menace threatens MI6, James Bond is on the case — putting aside his own life and personal issues to hunt and obliterate the perpetrators. Meanwhile, secrets arise from M’s past that strain Bond’s loyalty to his longtime boss.

Rating: 10 out of 10

If I sound vague sometimes in the review, it’s only to keep it spoiler free.

It’s a great time to be a fan of James Bond.  Not only has the character evolved over the last 50 years of films, but they have also grown stronger and attracted a higher and higher level of talent both in front of and behind the camera.

Skyfall is a mixture of everything that makes James Bond special and yet reinvents the formula to create a compelling mixture of action and humanity within the Bond universe.  So much of what makes Skyfall stand out is the technical prowess behind the camera from both Director Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition) and Cinematographer Roger Deakins (Shawshank Redemption, No Country For Old Men).  This is the prettiest Bond film to look at of all time. All of the locales each have their own distinct visual styles: Gold and natural light in Asia, deep blues and darkness in Britain, and deep washed out browns in Turkey.  But, you don’t want to hear about the visuals do you?  You want to know whether it has a good story?  Good characters?  Is Daniel Craig his usual ass kicking self?  Yes to all of the above.  Craig has brought so much more to the role than just being a martini sipping quip machine.  He has a past that is explored here including his loyalties to his M, where he comes from, who his parents were, and why he became an orphan.  It adds a humanity to his character that draws you in and Craig’s performance suits this modern Bond so well that I can’t see anyone else in the role.  Supporting work all around is also excellent.  Judi Dench is giving a lot more screen time in this one and she’s typically outstanding, newcomer to the series Naomie Harris is appealing and likable, Ralph Fiennes is great, and Javier Bardem is the best Bond villain ever.  You heard me right….ever.  Why?  The most interesting villains are the ones that aren’t completely single-minded.  He has a damn good reason for wanting revenge against the MI6 agency that Bond works for.  His methods are evil but his reasons are legitimate.  All of it is delivered in a captivating way by Oscar-winner Bardem, who’s ability to play fantastic villains may end up being what he’s best remembered for.

I could go on about all of the action scenes, the terrific dialogue, or the plot progression and pacing, but I’ll close the review with this:  Skyfall is the finest Bond film ever made. There goes our Top 5 Bond Films.

Top 5 Bond Films of All Time


Wth the release of the much-anticipated “Sky Fall” this weekend, we thought it would be the perfect time to break down our list of the Top 5 Bond movies of all time. It wasn’t easy, with so many styles, actors and quoteable lines that stretch generations… but here goes.

5.  License to Kill
Timothy Dalton only acted in two Bond films, but this was certainly his best effort.  This was the polar opposite of the quirky Roger Moore films like “Moonraker” and “A View To a Kill.” This rings truer to the spirit of the Ian Fleming novels.
4.  Goldeneye:
The first and strongest film featuring Pierce Brosnan in the title role.  The climatic ending with baddie Sean Bean 500 feet up in the air is fantastic and the one liners throughout are great.  One of the most fun entries in the series.
3.  For Your Eyes Only:
In my opinion, this is by far the best of the Roger Moore James Bond films.  All of the action throughout is excellent and the plot has some actual teeth to it as the cold war action permeates throughout leading to a cliffhanger at a mountaintop monastery.
2.  Goldfinger:
My favorite entry starring Sean Connery.  It contains the most iconic villain in the history of the 50 year series and was the first to tighten up the action scenes after the first two films, Dr. No and From Russia With Love, contained far more dialogue and superfluous scenes.  It turned Sean Connery into a household name and set the entire series up for its long and storied run.
1.  Casino Royale:
The quintessential Bond film in every way.  It has a terrific plot, fantastic supporting characters, non-stop action, and the best actor to ever play the iconic lead character.  It also has something that almost all of the Bonds film don’t…a heart.  the chemistry between Eva Green and Daniel Craig is palpable and there are emotional consequences for violent actions.  I never thought I’d see either in a Bond film and for it to work so well.

The Bond Films – “You Only Live Twice” (1967)

[about to make love to Helga Brandt]
James Bond: “Oh the things I do for England.”

Victor –

7 out of 10 –

Why start with the 5th Bond film?  Because I left it to chance.  I felt like being random and I spun my being Bond Wheel and voila! it landed on “You Only Live Twice.” YOLT is the fifth Bond film to star Mr Sean Connery and the very smooth, smart and sexually confident James Bond. Very loosely based (actually almost in name only) on the novel by the same name by Ian Fleming. The screenplay was written by Roald Dahl (Matilda, The Witches). It is the first to be directed by Lewis Gilbert (Alfie, Sink the Bismarck, Educating Rita) who went on to direct “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker” after which he became famous (or in some circles, infamous) for the over the top, comedic and epic scope of the Roger Moore films.

YOLT is neither epic or really that over the top. It falls almost in the middle. It has a very traditional Bond-esque opening where we treated to a very deceptive start. A United State spaceship in orbit around the earth  is hijacked  by another unidentified spacecraft.  The US suspect it to be the Russians but the Brits believe it could be the  Japanese since the spacecraft landed in the waters off the Japanese coast. In proper fashion they send oo7 to check things out and to investigate.  James Bond is sent to Tokyo after faking his own death and confronting “M” about the dangers of being undercover for too long and the seriousness of the situation. The “M” and Bond moments throughout Connery’s films are one of the best constants of the movies and they are witty, biting and hilarious to behold. “M” is played with the stunning timing of a comedic actor and the intensity of  a tax audit by Bernard Lee, who steals every scene from under Connery.

Having Bond go East and jumping right into the Japanese culture and inner circle of their spy ring is a great idea. It shows progress, finesse and an increase of danger and scope. Bond has to adjust and adapt to his Asian counterparts and he does with a wink in our direction and a smarmy bit of machismo. Even as he watches a Sumo match he plays it as if he belongs there and has seen a million matches before. There are plenty double twists, spy lingo, booby traps and a very athletic and brutal fight sequence where furniture gets tossed around. DP Freddie Young also treats us to a long reveal shot of an awesome chase / fight scene.

He teams up with the very alluring Bond Girls (In this order) Aki and Helga Brandt (Akiko Wakabayashi and Karen Dor) . Brandt has the better chemistry since of course she has the meatier role of the femme fatale. During these scenes Connery’s Bond is ever the dominant but is shown eventually that he isn’t always in control. Not a bad thing.

So, lets get to the best parts.  The Little Nellie sequence / copter chase.  “Little Nellie” is sent to Bond via Q (Desmond Llewyln) and we get the routine and funny repartee between Q and Bond. Q, as always, detests Bond’s cavalier attitude with his equipment and Bond really lets Q have it by doing not one but two close flybys with the whirly-bird. YOLT is the first time we are treated to actually seeing Blofeld, the leader of SPECTRE.  Here he is played by the brilliant Donald Pleasence (Dracula 1979, Halloween and Fantastic Voyage) and he plays it deadly and straight. Before he is revealed we are treated only to his voice and by the time we do see him, scar and all, Gilbert has set up his villian’s more terrifying traits by his actions and dialog alone. It is just brilliant. Pleasence plays deadly right through his make-up and he relishes in getting rid of some of his enemies in ways that Austin Powers fan will most likely chuckle at.  It is a bit dated but it’s too tongue in cheek not to love.

John Barry’s music is classy but a bit redundant in parts. The title song by Nancy Sinatra is elegant lean but reported to be glued together from 25 takes or so. The we get (spoiler free) the huge payoff where all sides get into the fray of trying to stop SPECTRE from starting WWIII by stealing everyone’s spacecraft’s. There is a nifty, fake lake that will be remembered by the most jaded Bond fans forever. There are ninjas, piranha, self destruct mechanisms. Everything to keep us Bondheads happy. I can only gripe about some of the flat set up scenes in the beginning and at times we are bogged down by lingering establishing shots of the beautiful Japanese countryside. I’m nit picking though. I can strongly recommend this Connery entry even if his execution in parts is lazy. Enjoy, gang. Another Bond review coming soon!


Vic’s Classics: Dr. No

On a mission in Jamaica, suave Agent 007 (Sean Connery) — in the first of the James Bond films — finds mad scientist Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman) plotting to derail the U.S. space program and take over the world, pushing Bond into an intimate alliance with the sexy Honey Ryder (Ursula Andress). With the help of Felix Leiter (Jack Lord), Bond battles seductive double agents and sinister villains in his quest to save the human race.

Rating: 9 out of 10

My first theatrical exposure to a genuine James Bond film was when I saw (I’m cringing right about now) MOONRAKER in 1979. Ugh. What a way to cash in on Star Wars. Well, Disney did it with “The Black Hole,” so why not UA? After the movie I felt as if I had seen all they had in the cool, neat, little package that is James Bond so I shrugged my shoulders and said, “Meh” and moved on to my next flick. My Uncle and Grandfather had insisted that Bond had a very good run of films waaaaay back even before my time. I found it incredulous but hey who was I to argue with my Grandfather and Uncle?  So this is what happened.

Right around the time I graduated high school I went down to Tower Records and Video near Soho, Manhattan and bought every Bond film to date up to Diamonds are Forever on Videocassette. When I got home I popped in “Dr. No” first and that was the beginning of a fruitful and long relationship with Sean Connery as the baddest spy to have ever walked this planet. “Dr. No” was amazing, but I was left wondering how they made “Moonraker.”  Dr. No was produced by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman back in the early 1960s and it was after they saw Connery in “Darby O’Gill and the Little People” that they knew they had someone who could pull off their version of the hard- nosed, all business agent. But Connery brought more to the table than that. He had danger and threat lurking just behind those studly Scottish lips.

Swiss actress Ursula Andress, who was cast after being seen in a photograph just two weeks before shooting began, is my very first Bond girl. Who will ever live up to that walking out of the water onto the beach scene?  NO ONE!  And She can act, too!  I must, in all honestly,  say that Joseph Wiseman out-acts just about everyone in this film as the evil megalomaniac Dr. No who is involved in appropriate evil Cold War hi-jinks with that grand-poobah of evil global organizations S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Wiseman is chilly, dangerous and very aloof and that makes him very evil and believable. This film is just all around a must see Bond film and a must-own for spy film enthusiasts. Connery is just stunning to behold as he swaggers and assassinates his way through this very economical spy thriller. Now if only I can sell off all those Bond videocassettes…

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Films that defined us

All of us have particular movies we’ve seen, whether as an adult or child, that stay with us in a way others hadn’t before. They’re special experiences we hold onto, whether it was because you saw them with a close friend or the film connected with your life in a personal way. These are movies that define us, and we’re breaking down each by genre. Each week, one of our contributors will list their movie.


Action/Adventure: As a child, one of my favorite films was “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” I was 10 years old in the summer of 1989, the prime age for Indiana Jones, and had seen the other two Indy films on Beta Max. But this was the first one I remember seeing and experiencing in the theater. It was magical. The theme song still gives me chills and gets my heart pumping for those thrilling action sequences. Harrison Ford owned this iconic role and Sean Connery was a wonderful compliment to a script full of mystery, suspense and action.

Science-fiction: This one was easy. I can still clearly remember going to see “Return of the Jedi” for my brother’s birthday party. It’s the only Star Wars film to be released in theaters (minus the rerelease and prequels) in my lifetime, so I had to choose this one. I can remember being captivated as Luke pulled off Vader’s mask as we all got a first look at the old man within. I was glued to the screen and hooked on Star Wars for life. I felt so much angst during the fight scenes between Luke and Vader and loved watching the ewoks battle storm troopers. It’s a movie memory that will always stay with me.

Drama: I’m a huge Stanley Kubrick fan, and I could easily put a Kubrick movie in here for every category, but that’s another list. But his epic war film “Paths of Glory” is not only one of the best dramas I’ve ever seen, but one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. It’s a masterpiece from its incredible performances by Kirk Douglas and Adolphe Menjou to the incredibly smart script and stunning visuals by Kubrick. One of the most epic shots is in the opening sequence of the camera panning, seemingly forever, through the trenches of a French platoon as bullets fly overhead, wounded soldiers weep, men vomit in their helmets and soldiers prepare for battle. This is a poignant film with a clear message delivered in a powerful fashion.

Horror: I can honestly say “The Exorcist” still scares the hell out of me — no pun intended. I was 8 years old when I saw this movie. My sister was babysitting me and she rented it not knowing what and how scary it really was. We grew up Catholic. My brother told me it was real, and when I asked my mother if it was she said, “Yes, honey, it is.” That only scared me more. I didn’t take a bath alone for months or go in the basement by myself for years. This is by far the most scared I’ve ever been by a movie. Gives me the willies just thinking about it.

Animation: I think the movie that taught me to love animation for its ability to tell stories that are wild, yet refined, focused and with a heart and imagination, was Walt Disney’s classic “Alice in Wonderland.” The story is wild and spontaneous, sometimes visually scary to a small child with wicked characters who are vicious and insane. It also had a great sense of humor, was visually a masterpiece, and wildly imaginative. I devoured the books after seeing the movies and to this day I’m still a big fan. This film showed me that animation could be more than just princesses and romantic songs and it shaped my taste in animation for life.

Comedy: I am serious, and stop calling me Shirley. I love a silly but smart sense of humor, and that’s just what you get in “Airplane.” It’s the kind of movie I own and have seen dozens of times, but no matter how many times I’ve seen it, I find something new to laugh at. It’s just loaded with silly humor, spoofs, one-liners, word play, zany characters and just ridiculous gags that makes me laugh until my stomach hurts. I saw this as a child, and I missed tons of jokes, but really loved the ones I understood. This is a classic camp comedy and has withstood the test of time.

Family/Children: There are a bunch of great kids movies, like “Back to the Future” or “The Goonies.” This was a tough choice, but for me “The Karate Kid” stands out above the rest because it had such a fantastic blend of action, comedy and at its heart, a meaningful, coming-of-age drama. I think I’ve seen this movie in the theater more than any other film. It seemed like my brother and I were going to see it every weekend. We would karate kick each other silly, wear kung-fu pajamas, and I even took a karate class. But as a film, I still watch this one on a regular basis and I take something new away from it with every viewing.