The opening disclaimer is odd. Zorin… One wonders whether the apologetics were in deference to Valerian Zorin. In the West, the Soviet diplomat/statesman was best known for a stand-off with Adlai Stevenson at a UN Security Council meeting during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Surely the legal clarification wasn’t at the behest of a high Soviet official? The question is important because it colors my reading of this film. Something unique was afoot for this production. At what point in the life of this film was the disclaimer created? Valerian Zorin died the year after this film was released.
Is it significant that an MI6 agent dies in the carwash at a BP gas station? Is it significant that a Chevron sign comes tumbling down to destruction in the San Francisco car chase?
One thing is certain: the fact that villain Max Zorin is interested in horse breeding and horse racing is no accident. Dr. Carl Mortner (played by Willoughby Gray) is a former Nazi scientist whom the Soviets picked up (à la Operation Paperclip). His steroid experiments on pregnant women in concentration camps spawned our highly-intelligent, psychopathic antagonist in question. One could draw many parallels…
But we must also remember that this is a movie. In my estimation, it is the best Bond film up till this point with the possible exception of The Man with the Golden Gun. What makes this film so special is indeed exactly what I have been skirting around: its villain (Christopher Walken).
Yes, the theme by Duran Duran is great. Yes, Grace Jones is fantastic. But it is Walken who really provides the drama. That the greatest of all Bond villains would have a particularly nasty scheme up his sleeve is only natural. Eliminate the competition. It is simple. Cold, calculating, mechanical…and creative in its destruction.
Fiona Fullerton really filled out since her role as the title character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1972). She would have made an excellent Bond girl, but the honor goes to perhaps an even more worthy candidate: Tanya Roberts. The blue-eyed Roberts and the blue-eyed Roger Moore are almost like the thoroughbreds which play a minor role in this film. Credit both actors with remaining human while still being among the beautiful people. Both do an excellent job of giving depth to their characters. This would, sadly, be the last Roger Moore production in the Eon series of Bond movies (barring a late comeback).
It may or may not be significant that Roberts’ character has the last name Sutton. Considering the geopolitical intrigue at stake, one might consider the reference as to Anthony Sutton. Dr. Sutton was a historian, economist, and writer on politics who researched and published on such fascinating topics as the Skull & Bones fraternity of Yale University, The Trilateral Commission, and the U.S. Federal Reserve System. Of particular note are Sutton’s books on the relation of Wall Street to both the Bolsheviks and the Nazis.
Shedule, not skedjule. With a simple pronunciation nuance, Walken exits the mine after killing his own workers with an Uzi (while laughing). Surely such demented individuals don’t reach such important positions of power, do they?
Walken even laughs at his own death. By attacking Moore with an axe, we are brought back to the archetypal depiction of insanity which Jack Nicholson so hideously characterized in Kubrick’s The Shining.
I won’t forgive myself without mentioning the significant contribution over the years of Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny (this being her last film in the role). And as a reward for having read this far, the secret to the disclaimer is Zoran Corporation (which strangely, strangely actually did specialize in making microchips…and! was located in Silicon Valley). As a side-note, the aforementioned company derived its name from the Hebrew word for silicon (being strongly connected to the government of Israel, though incorporated in Delaware).
And I didn’t even get to snowboarding…or the game for Commodore 64 🙂