Feb 16, 2014

Los Angeles Spy Fans: A Rare Opportunity to See Never Say Never Again on the Big Screen This Week!

Attention Los Angeles area spy fans! This week marks a very rare opportunity to see Sean Connery's 1983 return to the role that made him famous on the big screen. It's not often you'll have this opportunity. I'd hazard that thanks to this city's robust revival circuit (there are at least five full-time theaters dedicated to playing older movies in town, not to mention universities and special screenings), L.A. affords cineastes more chances to watch old movies projected in 35mm (or, more and more commonly now, in DCPs) on the big screen than just about any other city in the world. Yet, in the fourteen years that I've lived here, this is the first time that Never Say Never Again has ever screened at one of those revival houses. For comparison, I'd estimate that every other James Bond film (including that other black sheep of the series, the 1967 Casino Royale) has played at least twice in all that time. The vast majority of them have been shown many more times than that, and Connery's earlier entries average about once a year. (Less often for You Only Live Twice, sadly, but more often for Goldfinger, so they even out.) But, let me repeat, Never Say Never Again has never screened here in at least the last decade and a half. That makes this week's showing at the New Beverly Cinema roughly the cinematic equivalent of a first edition of Casino Royale for its obscurity. (Okay, maybe not quite that rare, but damn close!) So if you're a Bond fan, even if you don't rate that rogue entry particularly highly, I definitely recommend making a trip out in the next three days to see this elusive unicorn of a Bond film.

Personally, I really like Never Say Never Again a lot. Sure, the plot is a rehash of Thunderball; (but let's face it: that can actually be said of quite a lot of movies over the years!) sure, it may not have the Bond Theme for legal reasons, and sure, there are unfamiliar staff holding down the fort at MI6 (though I get a huge kick out of Edward Fox's quarrelsome M and Alec McCowen's cockney Q), but it does have SEAN CONNERY back in the role he had abandoned twelve years priorand looking fitter and more interested than he did in his last official picture (Diamond Are Forever, which is also on the docket at the New Bev)! And it's got Barbara Carrera as one of the best (and best costumed) Bond villainesses ever (and a virtual prototype for Xenia Onatopp, another contender for that crown), Klaus Maria Brandauer as a superbly unhinged villain, Bernie Casey as a terrific Felix Leiter, and stellar cinematography (all the better in glorious 35mm!) by the man who shot Raiders of the Lost Ark, Douglas Slocombe! And it's got the immortal line, "I wouldn't know. I've never lost." (Old spy hands Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais, writers of one of my favorite spy send-ups, Otley, did an uncredited dialogue pass on the script, and the dialogue generally sparkles.) Yeah, I really love it.

It was also my own frustrating White Whale for a long time in one intangible, experiential aspect of my personal Bond collection: collecting big screen viewings. My first cinematic Bond experience as a kid was Licence to Kill, but over my years living in Los Angeles I managed eventually to rack up all the others in theatrical screenings. (Most far more than once.) But Never Say Never Again eluded me until 2012, when it played in New York while I just happened to be visiting that city. Unfortunately, I took the wrong train, and ended up missing the first half of the film. So I've only seen half of it in a theater to date, and that doesn't really count. Hence, I'm looking forward to striking it off my list tonight and completing my virtual "collection"... and then probably seeing it once more for good measure on Monday or Tuesday.

As I mentioned above, Never Say Never Again isn't playing alone. It's on a double feature bill along with Diamonds Are Forever (nowhere near as rare, but also not among the more commonly screened Connerys), so for one low price you can see Sean Connery's last two Bond movies at the New Beverly Cinema February 15 through the 18th. (Yeah, I'm a day late in getting the word out here, but you've still got three chances!) Both titles are screening in 35mm (as do all movies at that wonderful theater), which I'll take over a DCP any day of the week. Tickets are $8 (what a bargain for two Bond flicks!) and can be purchased at the door or online here. On Sunday, Diamonds Are Forever starts at 5:10pm and Never Say Never Again at 7:30, and on Monday and Tuesday Diamonds Are Forever plays at 7:30 with Never Say Never Again beginning at 9:50. Make the trip! It will be well worth it. (Also, while there's no guarantee, the New Beverly usually programs thematically related vintage trailers with their double features, so hopefully we'll get a taste of some other Bond and spy films, too.)

Incidentally, in other Never Say Never Again news (and more helpful news for people who don't happen to live withing driving distance of Los Angeles), the Blu-ray, which has been out of print for some time and was commanding prohibitively steep prices last year, has recently come back into stock at Amazon through third part sellers for reasonable prices. I don't know if this actually means that it's back in print (doubtful), or just that someone uncovered some unsold stock. In any case, if you don't own it already on Blu-ray (and it's a shockingly good high-def transfer for a film EON would rather MGM bury somewhere and forget), you might want to grab it now while the grabbing is good, because in a few months the supply might dwindle and it might go back to being a $60 disc.

1 comment:

Comrade Von Pussycat said...

What I wouldn't give!