Posted in Uncategorized

Ode to Moneypenny


Of all the Bond Girls, Moneypenny was always my favorite.  Long-suffering, administratively excellent, frumpy, pragmatic, saucy and salty Moneypenny.  You could depend on her to be in her seat, doing her job, making the world safer for 00 agents everywhere (and everyone else by proxy), and you could depend on her to flirt shamelessly with James Bond.  And in full knowledge of the flirtation’s futility.

Dr. No (1962)

Miss Moneypenny: James! Where have you been? I’ve been searching all over London for you.
[Picks up phone]
Miss Moneypenny: 007 is here sir.
[Slaps Bond’s hand away from the papers on her desk]
James Bond: Moneypenny! What gives?
Miss Moneypenny: Me, given an ounce of encouragement. You’ve never taken me to dinner looking like this. You’ve never taken me to dinner…
James Bond: I would, you know. Only “M” would have me court-martialed for… illegal use of government property.
Miss Moneypenny: Flattery will get you nowhere – but don’t stop trying.

Lois Maxwell, who originated the character, was not an unattractive woman.  Take a look at her and Honor Blackman, the notoriously well-bedded-by-Bond Pussy Galore, side-by-side from Goldfinger:

Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, and Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger.  My two favorite Bond girls, side by side.
Lois Maxwell as Moneypenny, and Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. My two favorite Bond girls, side by side.

Not a lot of difference there, but miles of difference in how Bond related to them.

I could always relate to Moneypenny.  I wasn’t ever going to be the girl James Bond went out of his way to wrangle.  I would be the one fetching his coffee and bantering back at him.  It would be okay and friendly because we would both know, though he would be kind about it, that he had absolutely no interest in me (or even recollection of me) once he’d hung his hat and passed by my desk into M’s office, leaving me to daydream over what it might be like to be fancied by the world’s most dangerous spy.  Would I have tapped that given the chance?  Absolutely not.  I’m smarter than that.  And that’s why Bond never would have really given Moneypenny a go.  She was too smart for that.

What I didn’t get as a child was that it was no negative reflection on me that James Bond would have passed me by.  It was all on Bond himself.  Aside from his likely fear of rejection from someone he obviously respected, Bond was too damaged to manage a relationship.  There was always the whisper that Moneypenny was too smart, too professional, and too important for Bond to bring into the vortex of his romantic life.  He didn’t worry about destroying cars, watches, or anything else Q gave him, but you know that Bond would never have intentionally hurt Miss Moneypenny.  Misuse of government property is right.

If Moneypenny had been some little dink secretary, do you really think he’d have given a go a second thought? He bagged less attractive babes.  But Moneypenny was a smart woman with a tongue as sharp as his, and a wit to challenge his best one-liners.  She was one of the only other characters who ever got to give Bond as good as he gave her.

This is why I am so disappointed with the new Moneypenny, who took a desk job because she wasn’t good enough to be in the field.  Real Moneypenny had her job because she earned it–you don’t get to that level chewing gum and missing shots.  Real Moneypenny could match Bond’s wit.  As gorgeous as Naomie Harris is, and she is STUNNING, I will always prefer Lois Maxwell’s guns.

Lois Maxwell's guns vs. Naomie Harris'.  My money is on Real Moneypenny.
Lois Maxwell’s guns vs. Naomie Harris’. My money is on Real Moneypenny.

 

Also, Bond respected Real Moneypenny enough to know her name.

Goldfinger (1964)

James Bond: What do you know about gold, Moneypenny?
Miss Moneypenny: Oh, the only gold I know about is the kind you wear… you know, on the third finger of your left hand?
James Bond: Well, one of these days we really must look into that.
Miss Moneypenny: How about tonight? You’ll come over for dinner…
[playfully tosses Bond’s hat onto the hat rack]
Miss Moneypenny: and I’ll cook you a wonderful angel cake.
James Bond: Well, nothing would give me greater pleasure, but I’m afraid I have a… business appointment.
Miss Moneypenny: [laughing] That’s the flimsiest excuse you’ve ever given me. Oh, well, some girls have all the luck. Who is she, James?
M: [over intercom] “She” is me, Miss Moneypenny. And kindly omit the customary byplay with 007. He’s dining with me and I don’t want him to be late.
Miss Moneypenny: [to Bond] Then there’s hope for me yet.
James Bond: [gives Moneypenny a playful peck on the cheek] Moneypenny, won’t you ever believe me?

Posted in Reviews

A Review: Skyfall–Bond, James Bond


It would be absolutely impossible to talk about the plot of the new Bond movie without ruining it for everyone, so I won’t.  Instead, I’ll just tell you some of the impressions I had whilst watching Daniel Craig keep up the tradition.

In short, the movie was just okay.  It was hella too long, and felt cobbled together from various Bond flicks and other tv and movie spy tropes.  I know a lot of the Bond imagery was meant as treat for the die hard fans (like me–and I know the books as well as the movies), but you can’t [mild spoiler] resurrect that car after Sean Connery drove it into a wall and expect me not to hiss at you.  And you can’t techie speak in today’s world and not expect my husband to hiss at you.  And you can’t show me Komodo Dragons and not expect me to expect them to hiss at everyone else.

I picked up on theme and/or imagery theft from Indiana Jones, the Bourne movies, (God help them) Live and Let Die, Batman, X-Men,  and at one point I turned to Bryan and asked, “Didn’t we see this on an episode of Burn Notice?”  Because it was almost straight up out of the Burn Notice episode.  All that was missing was Bruce Campbell.

That said, Javier Bardem has shot up the totem pole to be my #2 favorite Bond villain of all time, just behind Dr. No himself.  Judi Dench is my favorite Bond Girl of all time.  I’m not sure why there was anyone else in the movie.  I could have made a whole viewing out of Bardem’s delicate mastication of the scenery.  I say it that way because he was the perfect balance of restraint and hambone.  I LOVED him.

I have nothing but praise for Daniel Craig as Bond.  He makes those Tom Ford tuxedos look beautiful, and I never get tired of his dogged sociopathic stare.  He is the Book-Bond of my dreams.  He is dark and dangerous, and set on self-destruct, but too addicted to pleasing his bosses to die.  In other words, he is a layered, deep, and realistically tortured character.  He is to Bond what Benedict Cumberbatch has become to Sherlock Holmes.  Breathed quite a bit of life into it.

If you are a Bond fan, you need to see the movie.  If you are an action fan, you need to see the movie.  If you are torn between that and something else…flip a coin.  It is long, and there is a lot of ridiculous running around.  I’m a Doctor Who watcher, so I’m used to ridiculous running around, but my payoff there is a TARDIS.  I had no Running Around payoff for this one.  Only me shaking my head at something that I think was meant to make me cry.  I did not cry.

I cried watching Glitter.  I cry at everything.  I cry watching Boardwalk Empire.  I did not cry at this tender, touching scene because all I could think was, “What? What is happening here?”

The only other thing I will say is for Karen:  There will come a scene with Javier Bardem, and you will have to cover your mouth to keep from bursting out laughing, recalling PeeWee Herman’s big scene in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  You will love him for it.  You will not be able to focus on the next few minutes of the movie because of it.

A disappointing, but not dismal 2.5 out of 5 stars