Sunday, February 2, 2014

Blofeld and His Cat

Back in November we picked up the James Bond 50th Anniversary collection, everything from Dr. No to Skyfall, and it's been our regular Sunday night viewing ever since.  It's a great treat to watch them in order, since the haphazard manner in which I saw them on broadcast television in my youth left them a confusing mishmash of gunfights, car chases and glib one-liners.  it's been fun watching them with the girls, since they also provide a fascinating time capsule of what was considered exotic, fashionable or glamorous for the time, from hotels with questionable appointments to people smoking in airplanes through to the seemingly cyclical widening and narrowing of ties and lapels.

Tonight we watched 1987's The Living Daylights, the first of Timothy Dalton's two attempts to fill the shoes of Ian Fleming's immortal agent.  The discs all have a number of decent special features on them, and this one has a 25 year retrospective on the character hosted by Roger Moore.  As we watched the variously themed montages play out some of our favourite moments,  we came across Douglas Pleasence as 007's primary nemesis: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, head of the Special Executive for Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, or SPECTRE for short.

Faceless for his few outings, and recognizable primarily for his omnipresent Persian cat, Bond finally comes face to face with Blofeld in Japan, in 1967's You Only Live Twice, the fifth film of the series.  With his careful diction and scarred face, most people would assume he is a take-off on Michael Myer's Dr. Evil from the Austin Powers movies, rather than the other way around, which is a little bit of shame.

Now, I've seen You Only Live Twice a number of times, partly due to love of Japanese culture and local intelligence chief 'Tiger' Tanaka ("For a European, you are exceptionally cultivated.").  How did I manage to overlook Blofeld's ubiquitous cat doing a bona-fide, grade-A, blue-ribbon freak out during the scene where there is an explosion in the control room?

Having seen it now, it is pretty much impossible to unsee, like that stormtrooper bumping his head on the rising door in Star Wars.  Still, it gives a bit of credence to that old show business adage about never working with children or animals.

Tonight we watched the 15th of 23 movies, and I am looking forward to compiling a retrospective of observations when we have viewed all of them, but Blofeld's cat could simply not be made to wait!

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