Apr 15, 2014

Another Chance to See Never Say Never Again on the Big Screen in Los Angeles, Paired With The Rock

Well, I suppose Never Say Never Again screenings are like those proverbial city busses. You wait and wait for one to come along, and then there's another one right behind it! Only two months ago I was writing about how rare it was to see the 1983 Rogue Bond picture play at revival houses. In my fourteen years living in Los Angeles, it hadn't played once, whereas in that same time span all of the other Bond movies (including the other rogue one, the '67 Casino Royale) had played at least twice eachand far more often that that in the case of the other Connerys! So for the sake of the film's relative rarity, I encouraged anyone in the area, even those Bond fans who (for some odd reason) dislike the movie, to be sure to see it when it played for three nights at the New Beverly on a double bill with Diamonds Are Forever. And now, just a scant few months after that, it's playing once again on the big screen in L.A., this time at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. (My favorite local theater—and the same one that's showing Prisoner episodes a few days later.) And this time on an even better double bill than before. It's a Sean Connery night with Never Say Never Again (1983) and The Rock (1996). They're running this double feature as part of their "Unofficial Sequels" series, as Connery's character in The Rock is a former British agent and the script makes some sly nods to Bond. You could also call it a Connery/Clement/La Frenais night, since writers Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais (Otley, Spies of Warsaw) contributed to both scripts (albeit on both occasions uncredited). Whatever the reason for the pairing, I think it's a great combination! For me, Connery got tougher and tougher as he grew older, and as much as I love him in the Bond role in the Sixties, he's at his peak of asskicking in these two movies. The double feature screens on Friday, April 25 at 7:30pm. Tickets are $11 for non-members, and available for pre-order through Fandango.

As I said the last time I was writing about a local Never Say Never Again screening, personally, I really like the movie 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. 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, a fight with Pat Roach, 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." 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 when the opportunity came to see it at the New Beverly earlier this year, I went twice in one weekend! And now I guess I'm making up for lost time all these years, because I'm planning to go to this showing as well.

Incidentally, in other Never Say Never Again news (and more helpful news for people who don't happen to live within 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 already own it 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.

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