Too many 70’s-80’s era 007 post to quote.
Firstly, I think Moonraker is better than the sum of its parts, despite having many cringe-worthy bits and needing an overhaul before going into the second remake of a single story. (YOLT, TSWLM). It is very much the bloated Thunderball to TSWLM’s Goldfinger, but there are many great elements there, and if you look past the silliness there is some serious material which Roger handles beautifully. This is evident in Christopher Wood’s writing which actually leans more toward the Fleming style in his novelization-yet at the time the film team wanted the lighter approach. (Plus some added uncredited Mankiewicz revisions on at least TSWLM)
The effects are top notch, and for realism in pre-CG space effects it’s about as good as you can get outside 2001-yes I made that comparison. Other than the stupid laser beams, poor wire performances of some actors, and instant launch of the US shuttle it’s damn impressive.
And then the score…this is where Barry goes into epic mode and furthers his string orientation. Only issue is that the music film mix isn’t very good and the recordings in France were not in the best of halls-let alone that the master tapes have been lost and the music album master isn’t good. But all that aside, this is an epic score and the 'Flight into Space" is one of the great movie music cues that can give goosebumps.
AVTAK is a weird beast. Part nostalgic, part long in the tooth, part darker 80’s edge in the villain’s bloodlust, part silly, part underwhelming. Most will give it a cursory glance and write it off like MR. But that does what it gets right a disservice, and there are many great elements here, covered beautifully in the book “A Closer Look at A View To A Kill”. My favorite is the constant hammering of Bond’s older age, and his character convictions-primarily in his confrontations with Zorin, Roger’s angrier closeups, and Barry’s score which is again a masterpiece. The smaller bits are lovely such as Bond cooking and putting Stacey to bed alone. Zorin is Walken’s finest hour and cannot be praised enough. Again, there is much to be praised here but you have to look beneath the surface of the bad to really enjoy the what could have beens.
Also: Bond+Steed wins all arguments.
TLD is a masterpiece. It is the last great entry in the series, and the ONLY time since the 60’s both film Bond and book Bond were married perfectly. Dalton is perfection I feel, and gives one of the great lead performances. Even the lackluster seeming villains are grounded in such a reality that they are actually believable in spite of their plans. This is the key to the film’s success. In grounding the storyline in such a realistic Cold War based enviroment, the more ludicrous 007 film elements can be slotted in to provide audience entertainment without insulting intelligence. Thus you get to eat the cake too.
My only criticisms are that I feel Kara is portrayed as a bit too thick headed, and Glen’s desire to do the cello case sequence starts to break the credibility rule.
Barry’s score is arguably his finest and certainly his most musically accomplished; featuring multiple themes for the three songs, beautiful balance between his old and new style, good use of both synth and strings, and a wonderful romance motif interposed with music perfect for the revival of 007 as assassin.
But admittedly I cannot really criticize the holy 16. Only nitpick, and point out production troubles etc.
Lost Horizon (1937)
Capra’s epic that doesn’t really work. Beautiful, incomplete, haunting, yet eternally frustrating in that the story just doesn’t quite work. Too long for it’s own good most likely, but undeniably beautiful.
The More The Merrier
Wonderful George Stevens romantic comedy with elements of screwball, later remade as Walk Don’t Run. Funny, yet human and lovely.
The Talk of The Town
Probably the best picture Stevens ever made alongside Gunga Din. A beautiful Capra-esque clashing of wills between Cary Grant and Ronald Colman with elements of screwball layered in to teeter wonderfully between drama and farce. Moves wonderfully, and has a striking opening sequence where Grant is made out to be a murderer and escapes from prison. One of those gems, mostly forgotten from a bygone era.