For over half a century, the moniker of 007 has generally been a guarantee of exciting adventure, exotic locations, and beautiful women. While there have been a few missteps with the James Bond franchise over the years – entries that seemed tired (A View to a Kill) or riddled with miscasting (Denise Richards as a nuclear physicist) – the films on the whole have proven themselves as durable entertainments which have amazingly stood the test of time and are so expertly assembled that matters like changes of fashion or advances in technology don’t really spoil their intrinsic appeal. MGM has assembled the twenty-two James Bond films into a single box they’ve entitled Bond 50 which includes nine previously unreleased adventures on Blu-ray for the first time. With the twenty-third entry Skyfall slated for theaters this fall, it’s a perfect time to look back at some of the colorful capers that have occupied the man with a license to kill.
Bond 50 (Blu-ray)
Directed by Guy Hamilton, Terence Young, John Glen, Lewis Gilbert, et al
Aspect Ratio: variable 1080p AVC codec
Running Time: 3850 minutes
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, others
Subtitles: SDH, others
MSRP: $ 299.99
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Review Date: October 10, 2012
The Previously Unreleased Films
You Only Live Twice – 4/5
SPECTRE under the command of Ernst Blofeld (Donald Pleasence) decides it can take over the world if it pits the two major superpowers, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., against one another, so a space missile launched from a hidden military installation in Japan swallows both American and Soviet space capsules confounded both countries with the occurrence. With the U.S. threatening war if their next launch ship is harmed in any way, the British send James Bond (Sean Connery) to Japan to learn all he can about what SPECTRE is up to.
Often denigrated by Bond enthusiasts, the film is actually quite action-filled and entertaining. While Connery has obviously lost his zest for performing in the increasingly mammoth productions (he makes the unlikeliest looking Japanese peasant ever), the producers seem intent on outdoing their own previous successes by fashioning the world’s largest (at the time) indoor set and cramming huge action set pieces into the storytelling. The result is a film that’s huge in scope and yet small in emotion. The Japanese locations are often breathtaking, however, and the film is beautiful to look at even when the drama is at its meekest.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 4.5/5
Having escaped from James Bond when his volcano-secluded fortress was destroyed, Blofeld (Telly Savalas) retreats to a Swiss Alp stronghold dubbed Piz Gloria. Here he plots his next terrorist attack, this time on Great Britain and the world in the form of a biological weapon targeted against agricultural and livestock producers of the world. James Bond (George Lazenby) is dispatched to stop him disguised as a mild-mannered genealogist. Along the way he meets, becomes fascinated by, and eventually falls in love with the madcap, thrill-seeking Tracy Di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg).
With several Bond adventures in the future taking place in ski resorts, this is the film that features the most impressive skiing stunts and most breathtaking Alpine photography. In fact, the entire enterprise seems to up the “wow factor” with a succession of stupendous fights (three in the first twenty-one minutes) and heart-stopping chases in cars, two chases on skis, and a memorable climactic chase and fight on bobsleds. The middle sections of the 142-minute film sag just a bit, but the developing love story between Bond and Tracy is so involving and so unique to the series that it almost doesn’t matter. Amid much world press attention, George Lazenby effortlessly stepped into the shoes of 007. Though he may have been a pill to work with on and off the screen, his recalcitrance doesn’t read on-screen at all, and one wonders if the next several Bonds might not have been improved with his suave, commanding presence.
Diamonds Are Forever – 3.5/5
When a series of seemingly innocent people end up dead from having handled a large stash of smuggled South African diamonds, James Bond (Sean Connery) is assigned to look into the matter. His investigation eventually leads him to Las Vegas where the diamonds are somehow connected to reclusive billionaire Willard Whyte ( Jimmy Dean). With an enigmatic but devastatingly attractive Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) also involved in the caper, Bond eventually finds himself facing off once again with Ernst Blofled (Charles Gray) in another one of his schemes for world domination.
Though there are some of the most famous set pieces in the entire Bond oeuvre present here (the moon buggy chase in the desert, the incredible chase in the streets and one notorious parking lot in Las Vegas) and two sets of infamous dastardly henchmen/henchwomen ( gay couple Mr. Wint and Mr. Kidd, the gymnastic Bambi and Thumper), Diamonds Are Forever is the weakest of the Connery Bonds. The entire secret about the use of the diamonds in Blofeld’s scheme isn’t revealed until the last quarter of the movie making Bond’s adventures take on less import as the movie is transpiring and rather seeming like a series of unconnected occurrences. The villains are entertaining but consistently foiled in not very enterprising ways, and while Connery gives a good effort in his last Eon-produced Bond thriller, he’s noticeably older and heavier. Jimmy Dean’s stunt casting in the movie doesn’t work at all.
The Spy Who Loved Me – 4.5/5
When billionaire shipping tycoon Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) decides the moral decay of the world is too widespread to contain, he hatches a plan for the superpowers to annihilate one another by capturing nuclear submarines of the British, Soviets, and Americans and then plans to launch them against one another starting a global war while he remains safe in his underwater Atlantis compound. The British send James Bond (Roger Moore) to stop his plan while the Russians send their best agent Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach). The two spies become very close until Anya learns that Bond had killed her agent/fiancé in a previous mission.
The tanker swallowing submarines thus potentially sparking World War III in the Christopher Wood-Richard Maibaum script is merely a variation on the plot that got You Only Live Twice off and running. Despite this flagrant borrowing from their own franchise, The Spy Who Loved Me is by far Roger Moore’s best Bond film filled with impressive action scenes (that awe-inspiring ski jump in the precredit sequence), massive and impressive sets, fun gadgets (the Lotus sub/car is marvelous), and a great henchman – Richard Kiel as Jaws even if his seeming invulnerability is a bit frustrating. The film's Bond was modeled for the first time for Moore’s personality as opposed to the previous two films which expected him to do what Connery did, and while his multitude of quips are amusing here, it’s a well that future Moore films would dip into far too often in the future.
Octopussy – 3.5/5
When Russian General Orlov’s (Steven Berkoff) plan for a quick invasion of the West is foiled by the Soviet bureaucracy, he goes rogue stealing precious artifacts from the Russian Art Institute and using them to finance his own operation in league with a shady Indian emir Kamal (Louis Jourdan) and a jewel smuggling/forging operation led by the mysterious Octopussy (Maud Adams). After Bond's winning a Faberge egg in an auction from Kamal, it sets in motion an inevitably deadly face-off between the two which simultaneously involves Bond in Orlov’s scheme.
The ingredients are present in the script and talent on hand to have made Octopussy a worthy follow-up to For Your Eyes Only, another of Moore’s better Bond efforts, but the story and the cast stubbornly refuse to mesh into a memorable film. There are certainly effective set pieces: a mad chase through the streets in Udaipur, a hunt for Bond through an Indian jungle amid tigers and spiders and snakes, a fight on a moving train, and the climactic struggle on a prop plane, but John Glen’s direction in between these action scenes is rather laggard (two extended sequences at a circus). Louis Jourdan doesn’t make for a very threatening villain, and his henchman Gobinda (Kabir Bedi) is more menacing in look than in action. Better are lethal dagger-throwing twins (David and Tony Meyer), but they’re not pushed to the front as other unusual henchman have been done in previous films. There are some neat gadgets and weapons this time around (a yoyo saw is particularly memorable). Q (Desmond Llewelyn) has more to do in this one which is always a positive.
A View to a Kill – 2.5/5
James Bond (Roger Moore) stumbles on a psychotic industrialist Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) quite innocently at Ascot when he suspects Zorin’s winning race horse has been electronically enhanced, and from there he learns of a nefarious plan named Main Strike that Zorin is masterminding. Its aim is to destroy Silicon Valley and claim complete control of the microchip market.
Despite an action packed ski chase that opens the film (though certainly not the first one of those to be found in a Bond movie), this really is the nadir of the series with the most boring villain (Christopher Walken’s manically chortling Zorin makes Louis Jourdan’s Kamal positively sinister in comparison), the fiercest looking but least lethal henchwoman in the franchise (Grace Jones), the blandest chief Bond girl (Tanya Roberts), and a succession of set pieces that seem very tired and overly familiar (a chase through the streets of San Francisco with lots of wrecked police cars, non-thrilling perils in an elevator shaft and mine explosion, and a climactic fight on the Golden Gate Bridge that takes all prizes for lame staging and uninvolving action. Director John Glen can’t seem to summon up any sense of urgency in the film or in his leading man (Moore’s last Bond film, and one too many), and the film seems to take forever to play itself out.
The Living Daylights – 4/5
A crafty Russian general Georgi Koskov (Jeroen Krabbé) requests James Bond (Timothy Dalton) to assist in his defection to the West, but when Koskov seemingly is recaptured by the KGB and returned to Russia, Bond is set off on an adventure with many double-crosses while at the same time falling for Koskov’s Czech girl friend, a concert cellist named Kara Milovy (Maryam d’Abo).
Timothy Dalton’s first Bond film is one of the best in the series, an action and surprise-filled caper in some new locales (Vienna, Afghanistan) and with an excellent supporting cast. Jeroen Krabbé is one of the most effective of the two-faced villains contained in the series, and his henchman Necros played by the towering Andreas Wisniewski combines an imposing physical presence with a really menacing charisma. Director John Glen stages a really impressive stunt-filled fight aboard a carrier plane, and Bond’s new Vantage/Volante models of the famous Aston Martin make a most welcome return to the series in another superb action set piece where its gadgets are more awe-inspiring than usual. Maryam d’Abo is neither the best nor worst of the Bond girls: her transformation from being a meek, deer-in-the-headlights innocent to a gal of action doesn’t quite ring true, but she has charm and pluck, always welcome assets in any woman worthy of 007. As for Dalton, he's a concise and effective Bond but lacking possibly just a tiny bit of star quality, closer to the Bond of the books than some of the other actors who have played him but not a larger-than-life model of the master spy.
GoldenEye – 4.5/5
Russian General Ourumov (Gottfried John) is instrumental in killing James Bond’s (Pierce Brosnan) fellow agent and friend Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean), and nine years later goes rogue and steals GoldenEye, an electronic pulse-emitting Russian satellite which can wipe out any electronic circuits anywhere it is aimed. He’s allegedly working for the mysterious Janus crime organization, and Bond is dispatched by ‘M’ (Judi Dench) to find and destroy the weapon before it can be leveled against any of the world’s greatest cities.
This reboot of the series with a new 007 represents the renaissance of James Bond, for GoldenEye ranks as one of the greatest in the series and Pierce Brosnan one of the best of the actors who have played the role. He’s charismatic and charming and yet lethal enough to continue the tradition of a licensed to kill espionage agent who’ll stop at nothing to get the job done. Stopping at nothing means a raft of incredible action sequences given new life by director Martin Campbell who stages two brilliantly mounted escapes from the Russians (a pre-title sequence and later a chase in the streets of St. Petersburg which is by far one of the highlights of the entire franchise) and a couple of other exceptional suspense sequences where Bond either alone or with luscious Russian computer programmer Natalya Simonova (Izabella Scorupco) cheats death yet again. With Sean Bean every inch Bond’s equal as a fighter and nemesis and Famke Janssen as the series’ most memorable female henchman, GoldenEye is tops in entertainment.
Tomorrow Never Dies – 4/5
Madman media conglomerate mogul Elliot Carver (Jonathan Pryce) is interested in not only extending his influence over the entire world but also in orchestrating events that he can publicize in his many media outlets. He shrewdly and secretly arranges a showdown between England and China by maneuvering each side to think the other has infringed on its rights. James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) has two days to find out what Carver is up to and stop him. The Chinese government has sent their own agent Wai Lin (Michelle Yeoh) to investigate, and the two spies continually find themselves infiltrating each other’s missions. It’s only when they begin working together that it appears Carver can be beaten.
Tomorrow Never Dies is a worthy follow-up to GoldenEye, but it doesn’t quite match it on every front (it did outgross it at the box-office, however). Jonathan Pryce’s villain is the least intimidating since Christopher Walken, and the mission itself doesn’t seem as urgent on a global scale as in the earlier film. However, Michelle Yeoh’s agent who can match Bond as a fighter and a tactician is a breath of fresh air for the series. While the two signature chases don’t quite match the ones in Brosnan’s previous film, the remote control car chase in the garage and a later chase through the streets of Saigon on a motorcycle are certainly action-packed and a lot of fun. The pre-credit sequence is also one of the best of the series packed with action and risky stunts. Roger Spottiswoode keeps things moving at a fast clip in his Bond directorial debut, a very fine effort.
The Previously Released Blu-ray Editions
All thirteen of the previously released films in the James Bond series have been reviewed by Home Theater Forum staff reviewers. As these discs in Bond 50 are virtually unchanged from their original releases (except in places to be mentioned below in terms of bonus features), here are links to the complete reviews of these films contained in Bond 50. Click on the highlighted title to go to the Blu-ray film review.
Cameron Yee’s review of Dr. No.
Cameron Yee’s review of From Russia With Love.
Kevin Koster’s review of Goldfinger.
Cameron Yee’s review of Thunderball.
Cameron Yee’s review of Live and Let Die.
Matt Hough’s review of The Man With the Golden Gun.
Kevin Koster’s review of Moonraker.
Cameron Yee’s review of For Your Eyes Only.
Matt Hough’s review of Licence to Kill.
Kevin Koster’s review of The World Is Not Enough.
Cameron Yee’s review of Die Another Day.
Ben Williams’ review of Casino Royale. (See bonus features below for additional information.)
Cameron Yee’s review of Quantum of Solace.
You Only Live Twice – 4/5
The film is presented in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1, in 1080p resolution using the AVC codec. Though the digital clean-up has performed miracles in terms of clarity, there’s a brownish tone to the timing that seems to age the picture a bit. Flesh tones are also on the brown side, and color, while solid, doesn’t snap with vivacity. The blacks, however, are excellent with the dark of space often blending right into the letterbox bars and aiding greatly in shadow detail. The main titles have not been windowboxed here. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 4.5/5
The 2.35:1 Panavision aspect ratio is faithfully delivered in the 1080p presentation using the AVC codec. Unlike You Only Live Twice, the color here sparkles and has a vibrancy missing from the previous transfer. While flesh tones sometimes err on the pink side (especially in the film’s first half), color consistency is admirable. Sharpness is superb, too, allowing us to see facial anomalies and the texture of fabrics easily. Black levels are very good as is shadow detail. The main title credits are windowboxed with this transfer. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
Diamonds Are Forever – 3.5/5
The Panavision 2.35:1 transfer (1080p, AVC codec) is irritatingly inconsistent throughout. Some scenes look bold and beautiful with superb sharpness, excellent contrast, and brilliant color saturation. But there are other scenes that look brown and much less distinct. Flesh tones run the gamut from overly brown to overly rosy and often completely unrealistic. Worse, black levels are milky. The main titles are not windowboxed. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
The Spy Who Loved Me – 4.5/5
The 2.35:1 transfer (1080p, AVC codec) looks wonderful pretty much all the way through with only an occasional shot that seems to come from somewhere else with less detail and clarity. The transfer is very clean and bright making rear projection work more obvious here than on other films in the series. Color is rich and flesh tones are mostly realistic and consistently presented. Blacks aren’t as deep as they might have been, but contrast has been excellently realized. The opening credit sequence is windowboxed. The film has been divided into 32 chapters.
Octopussy – 4.5/5
The 2.35:1 transfer (1080p, AVC codec) is an almost reference transfer with only the black levels preventing it from reaching a perfect video score (and the blacks aren’t bad). Color saturation is marvelous, and flesh tones remain believable and consistently presented. The image is very sharp throughout with excellent contrast. The opening credits are not windowboxed. The movie has been divided into 36 chapters.
A View to a Kill – 4.5/5
The 2.35:1 transfer (1080p, AVC codec) is another outstanding achievement with very sharp and clear images (only a shot or two seem soft) and excellent contrast throughout. Color saturation is beautifully handled and maintained consistently with accurate and appealing flesh tones. Black levels are quite good. There is a bit of aliasing in some television broadcasts that jumps out momentarily, but it’s a minor inconvenience. The main titles are not windowboxed. The movie has been divided into 32 chapters.
The Living Daylights – 5/5
The 2.35:1 transfer (1080p, AVC codec) really is one of the best in the entire box. Sharpness is consistently superb, and contrast is so expertly dialed in that the picture seems almost three dimensional at times with so much depth to the image. Color is wonderfully saturated, and flesh tones are always natural. Black levels are very good. The main titles are not windowboxed, and the movie has been divided into 32 chapters.
GoldenEye – 3/5
Everything you’ve heard is true: the image has been scrubbed of every particle of grain though it doesn’t seem to have been laden with artificial sharpening and overuse of contrast as one might find in other DNRed-to-death transfers like Predator. In fact, while the images are inconsistent in sharpness, color saturation and richness of hue are exceptionally good, and flesh tones appear completely natural throughout. Black levels are incredibly rich, so many people unaware of the DRN work may find the image very pleasing though a keen eye will notice things are off when the main titles (not windowboxed) come up and appear very smooth and just a bit smeared. The 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio (1080p, AVC codec) appears to be accurate. The movie has been divided into 32 chapters.
Tomorrow Never Dies – 4/5
The 2.35:1 theatrical aspect ratio is once again in full display (1080p, AVC codec), but contrast is the inconsistent quality in this transfer. Scenes sometimes don’t match up shot-for-shot in terms of milky contrast or crystal clarity. Color can be strong and true, and flesh tones are usually accurate. Sharpness is generally good. Likewise black levels are quite good if not breathtakingly deep. The title credits are not windowboxed, and the movie has been divided into 28 chapters.
You Only Live Twice – 4.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 reconstituted sound mix has real explosive power for a film of this period. Excellent panning effects with the helicopters have been worked into the presentation, and the climactic fight inside the volcanic crater is impressive in its dynamics. John Barry’s beautiful music for the film gets a mostly frontcentric spread in the mix but there are occasional bleeds into the rears. Dialogue is always clear and resides firmly in the center channel. There is a Dolby Digital mono track for purists but it has a low bit rate and lacks fidelity on either end of the sound spectrum.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 4.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is excellent (the avalanche sequence will test your sound system almost as much as any modern action film). Discreet use of the fronts and rears is noticeable if not always mixed with aplomb, and John Barry’s music (and Louis Armstrong’s rendition of “We All the Time in the World”) is once again given a greater emphasis in the fronts rather than the entire sound spectrum but it boasts good fidelity. Though most of the dialogue has been placed in the center channel, there are patches of directionalized dialogue in certain scenes. There is also a Dolby Digital mono track included.
Diamonds Are Forever – 3.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is a lackluster effort. Music and ambient sounds don’t spread much past the front channels, and the many explosions and firestorms don’t have much robustness with the LFE channel underutilized, unthinkable in a 007 movie! There is a fair amount of directionalized dialogue, however, which does give the mix some passing interest. Most of the dialogue, of course, can be found in the center channel. This is one film where the user may prefer the Dolby Digital mono mix also provided on the disc.
The Spy Who Loved Me – 4/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is a vast improvement on Diamonds Are Forever. There is actually some heft to the explosions and gunfire, and Marvin Hamlisch’s music score gets a full surround treatment instead of just being spread across the fronts. Though one still won’t mistake this for a modern action film soundtrack, it’s a very impressive retooling of the original stereo surround elements. The disc also includes a Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround mix which doesn’t sound half bad.
Octopussy – 4/5
Once again, the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track won’t be mistaken for a modern action movie soundtrack, and extensive surround tinkering with the original audio stems seems to have been relegated to the circus sequences and some of the other action set pieces. The rear channels go silent for lengthy periods, and John Barry’s score doesn’t get the expanse here that it has in other efforts. The dialogue is always understandable and has been placed in the center channel. There is also a Dolby Digital surround track offered on the disc.
A View to a Kill – 4.5/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix is just a bit more full-bodied than the previous film’s audio. The horse race near the beginning puts one right in the midst of the action, and throughout there are ambient sounds which are threaded through the fronts and rears. Explosions have some real body to them. John Barry’s music also gets a nice spread through the soundfield. Dialogue is always discernible and has been placed in the center channel. There is also a Dolby Surround sound mix for purists.
The Living Daylights – 4/5
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is a very effective adaptation of the original Dolby surround track (also available on the disc), but you’ll note that explosions don’t have quite the power of those in some of the other transfers. There is sporadic filtering of ambient sounds through the front and rear soundstages (airplanes flying around in different areas of the movie are all well done), and John Barry’s score gets a good placement through the soundfield as well. Dialogue is always understandable and has been placed in the center channel.
GoldenEye – 5/5
The 007 movies finally reach the age of the modern action movie soundtrack with this DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix. Split surround effects abound in the mix, and explosions carry the weight one expects from today’s sophisticated sound design. The score by Eric Serra gets a marvelous spread through the soundfield, and dialogue is usually found in the center channel though there are occasional bits of directionalized dialogue.
Tomorrow Never Dies – 5/5
Once again, there are no problems at all with this sterling DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound mix. Split effects get excellent treatment in the fronts and rears, and the numerous explosions, a fireworks array, and constant gunfire throughout the movie have a real heft and make the subwoofer work overtime. David Arnold’s music has the entire soundstage in which to expand and sounds wonderful. Dialogue is always clear and can be found in the center channel.
You Only Live Twice – 4.5/5
The audio commentary is presided over by John Cork who introduces the various members of the cast and crew as their previously recorded comments are edited expertly together to fit the proper places in the film where the remarks are pertinent. He also makes important observations at moments where there are no archival remarks to fit a particular moment. A very entertaining and informative commentary.
Unless noted, the bonus features on all the discs are presented in 480i.
“Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond” is a 52 ½-minute television special recapping the gals, gadgets, and action scenes from the previous four Bond films as a publicity point for the upcoming number five. There’s also some highlights of Q’s contributions to the films with cameo appearances by Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn. It’s in 1080p.
“Whicker’s World” excerpt comes from a 1967 BBC documentary featuring director Lewis Gilbert and producer Harry Broccoli commenting on the new film. It runs 5 ¼ minutes.
“On Location with Ken Adam” is production designer Adam’s recollection of his astounding work on the film building the massive volcano interior set for a then-astonishing $1 million. This runs 14 minutes.
The Mission Control section from the DVDs has been eliminated and only Exotic Locations remains, a 4-minute discussion of locations used for the film narrated by Maud Adams.
“Inside You Only Live Twice” is the 30 ¼-minute documentary summarizing the salient points about the production narrated by Patrick Macnee and featuring interviews with key cast and crew members.
“Silhouettes: The James Bond Titles” offers a loving tribute to the work of Maurice Bender who created many of the main title sequences from Dr. No up to his death in 1999. Examples from many of the credit sequences are shown (including follow-up sequences created after his death but in something of his signature style) in this 23 ¼-minute remembrance.
“Plane Crash storyboard sequence” is exactly as it says shown in a 1 ¾-minute montage of boards and film clips.
Three trailers (the first theatrical is in 1080p), one TV spot ad, and seven radio ads can be watched separately or in play all functions for each.
An extensive step-through image database contains dozens of black and white and color pictures and artwork dividing the production photos into fifteen classifications.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service – 4/5
The audio commentary is once again presided over by John Cork, and it’s once again a compilation of cast and crew comments both vintage and more recently obtained. Expertly aligned with the sequences being described, it’s another entertaining commentary track.
“Casting On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is a brief 1 ½-minute vintage glimpse of George Lazenby and Diana Rigg being interviewed by the press about the movie.
“Press Day in Portugal” is another brief 1 ½-minute look at a staged press event purportedly during the filming of the wedding scene but actually mounted the day before the actual filming in another location.
“George Lazenby in His Own Words” is a 9 ½-minute interview with the second screen Bond being interview at the Dorchester Hotel in 1968 prior to filming and later on in 2002 reminiscing about his brief reign as Bond.
“Shot on Ice” is a 1969 promotional film showing behind-the-scenes work on the sequence where Tracy must drive a car on ice to get away from some of Blofeld’s henchmen. It runs 9 ¾ minutes.
“Swiss Movement” is another vintage 1969 featurette which stresses the international flavor of the casting of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and focuses on the three month shooting schedule in the Piz Gloria location. This is in 1080p.
The Mission Control section from the DVDs has been eliminated with only Exotic Locations remaining,4 ½ minutes with Maud Adams narrating the locations for the movie.
“Inside On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is a 41 ¾-minute documentary featuring interviews with director Peter Hunt, star George Lazenby (who discusses his hiring, the difficult shooting schedule, and his firing), and others covering the basics of the production schedule.
“Inside Q’s Laboratory” is a 10 ½-minute overview of the Q gadgets from many of the Bond films and offering a tribute to Desmond Llewelyn who had died when the Ultimate Edition DVD was being readied for market.
“Above It All” is a 5 ¾-minute behind-the-scenes look at how some of the ski sequences were shot by ace aerial cameraman Johnny Jordan.
The theatrical trailer (in 1080p) runs 2 ¼ minutes, the five TV spots run 3 ¼ minutes total, and there are seven radio spots.
An extensive step-through image database contains dozens of black and white and color pictures and artwork dividing the production photos into eight classifications.
Diamonds Are Forever – 4/5
The audio commentary is another outstanding compilation effort this time hosted by David Naylor who brings in comments from a host of cast and crew members and all placed thoughtfully at the moments in the film where they’re most pertinent.
An interview with Sean Connery shot in 1971 for the BBC after filming was completed answers several questions about his return to his most famous role and the fact that this would be his last time appearing as Bond (untrue as it turned out a decade later). This runs 5 ¼ minutes.
“Lesson #007: Close Quarters Combat” focuses on the memorable fight in the lift between Bond and Franks showing behind-the-scenes rehearsals with the stand-ins and then the two actors going at it. Narrated by director Guy Hamilton, it runs 4 ½ minutes.
“Oil Rig Attack” is a 2 ¼-minute vignette showing some cut footage of the climactic oil rig assault.
“Satellite Test Reel” shows special effects designer Wally Veevers’ storyboards for the satellite laser attack moving into test footage and then the final product. It runs 2 minutes.
“Explosion Tests” shows us the layers used to make a final composite image in a climactic explosion. It also runs 2 minutes.
There are five alternate and expanded scenes with the viewer being able to change different provided angles for the scenes.
There are six deleted scenes which can be viewed separately or in one 7 ¾-minute block.
“Inside Diamonds Are Forever” is a 30 ¾-minute documentary about the film’s production delving into getting the franchise back on track after the disappointing returns for the previous film and featuring interviews from many of the film’s stars remembering their time on the movie, Ken Adam’s production designs, and covering the movie’s big action set pieces. The two primary Bond girls Jill St. John and Lana Wood especially praise Sean Connery as the definitive Bond.
“Cubby Broccoli: The Man Behind Bond” is a 41 ¼-minute tribute to Albert Broccoli’s life and career giving a detailed biography of both his personal and professional failures and successes in a loving tribute to the man.
“Exotic Locations” is narrated by Maud Adams and runs 4 ½ minutes.
There are two theatrical trailers (the teaser is in 1080p), five TV spots, and three radio spots.
There are thirteen image galleries available for perusing for this movie.
The Spy Who Loved Me – 4/5
The audio commentary is by assistant producer Michael Wilson, director Lewis Gilbert, and production designer Ken Adam. This is not as informative as the compilation commentary tracks of the earlier releases, but the three longtime friends and co-workers spend the running time remembering the struggles and the successes of making the movie even if they run out of steam before the end.
“007 in Egypt” is a 6 ¼-minute behind the scenes look at filming in Egypt with Michael Wilson providing commentary about the tricky negotiations to shoot there and showing some highlights of that shoot.
“Roger Moore: My Word Is My Bond” is an excerpted series of interview clips as the star of the movie is interviewed on the set. It runs 4 ½ minutes.
“On Location with Ken Adam” finds the production designer’s home movies showing location scouting and some shots of behind-the-scenes filming. It runs 6 minutes.
“007 Stage Dedication” is a brief look at the 1977 dedication of the new 007 stage at Pinewood. It runs 1 ¼ minutes.
“Escape from Atlantis” is a storyboard sequence that lasts 2 ¼ minutes showing the original storyboards for this climactic sequence in the movie.
“Inside The Spy Who Loved Me” is the 40 ¾-minute documentary on the making of the movie narrated by Patrick Macnee. It concentrates on the initial struggles to get the film going with the loss of Harry Saltzman as co-producer, the leaving of original director Guy Hamilton due to production problems, other legal conflicts the team had to cope with, the filming of the spectacular opening sequence, the creation of Jaws, the casting of Anya, the elaborate production design to top all previous Bond films, the stunt coordination, the creation of the Lotus car/sub, the detailed miniature work, and the dedication of the new 007 Stage.
“Ken Adam: Designing Bond” is a tribute to the production designer of many of the films. After a brief biography of this life and early film work, the featurette plunges right into the unusual sets he did for the franchise starting with Dr. No and proceeding through six subsequent films. This runs 21 ¾ minutes.
The Exotic Location featurette has Maud Adams providing a 4 ¾-minutre summary of the places used for filming this movie.
There are three theatrical trailers (all in 1080p), six TV spots, and twelve radio spots.
The image gallery includes extensive photos and graphics arranged in nine different configurations.
Octopussy – 4/5
The audio commentary is by director John Glen. He covers a good amount of the film’s running time with memories of the production but there are some gaps. Still, it’s clear it is a film he’s quite proud of.
There are two short featurettes on shooting stunts narrated by director John Glen. The first (3 ¾ minutes) involves the crashing jeeps while the second (3 ½ minutes) focuses on the airplane crash at the end of the movie.
“Ken Burns’ On-Set Movie” is a 6 ¾-minute home movie shot by extra Ken Burns during his time on the movie in Germany.
“On Location with Peter Lamont” features home movies of the production designer of the movie location scouting in Berlin in 1982 in this 4 ¾-minute piece.
“Testing the Limits” shows some behind-the-scenes footage of B.J. Worth and his crew rehearsing the aerial stunts used in the movie’s climax. It runs 4 ½ minutes.
The James Brolin screen tests show that the American actor was indeed considered to replace Roger Moore. These three tests show Brolin fighting (1 ¾ minutes), making love to Maud Adams (3 minutes), and engaging in repartee with Vijay Amritraj (1 ¾ minutes) along with Brolin speaking about his experience in an introductory 4 ½ minute piece.
“James Bond in India” is a 1983 promotional featurette focusing on the three weeks of shooting that the company did in India in the streets, palaces, and jungles all contained in a very convenient area not separated by more than a fifteen minute drive for the company. It runs 29 ½ minutes.
“Inside Octopussy” is narrated once again by Patrick Macnee and in 33 minutes covers the basics on casting the film, the title controversy, the stunt work, and accidents that occurred during shooting.
“Designing Bond” has Patrick Macnee describing production designer Peter Lamont’s work on the film but also tracing his work on the series from Goldfinger through The World Is Not Enough showing his contributions to each. It runs 21 minutes.
“All Time High” music video featuring Rita Coolidge runs 3 minutes.
There are two storyboard sequences that run 3 ½ and 3 ¼ minutes respectively.
The Exotic Locations featurette narrated by Maud Adams runs 4 ½ minutes.
There are four theatrical trailers (all in 1080p).
The image gallery is divided into nineteen sections on this disc.
A View to a Kill – 3.5/5
The audio commentary is another compilation effort though it seems there are fewer comments this time around than in previous compiled efforts. David Naylor once again hosts the commentary with members of the cast and crew adding comments from vintage interviews where appropriate to the film as it unfolds.
“Film ’85 BBC Report” is a 4 ¾-minute piece on the start of production with brief interviews with Rogert Moore, Christopher Walken, Tanya Roberts, and director John Glen.
The film’s original promotional featurette runs 7 ¾ minutes and features sound bites from John Glen, Roger Moore, and producer/co-writer Michael Wilson while also mentioning the various locations, the special effects in the movie, the elaborate sets, and the multitude of stunts.
“Streets of San Francisco” offers some deleted footage of the fire truck sequence narrated by John Glen. It runs 3 minutes.
“Float Like a Butterfly” is some test footage of the butterfly nightclub act narrated by Glen and running 1 ½ minutes.
There are four deleted scenes