Thursday, July 31, 2014

Forgotten Gems of the 70's: Streets of San Francisco

Welcome, welcome, welcome back to Day 4 of Forgotten Gems of the 70's Week.  This next show is another cop drama and yes I know you thought we covered that with The Rookies.  Well, we didn't... enough that is.   Oh hush and read on.   So this time around the folks of Martin Quinn Productions (The Fugitive, Twelve O' Clock High, The F.B.I., The Invaders, Cannon and Barnaby Jones)  felt we needed to explore the dark and mean streets of beautiful San Francisco.  Competing against two beloved sitcoms on CBS, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and The Bob Newhart Show this crime drama series got excellent rates and gave the folks of Frisco a different view, not so much as one of dark void that cannot be brought to justice but putting a smudge on a town that California is proud to call " The City"   This is Streets of San Francisco.

Keep Spelling out!!!!

Detective Lt. Mike Stone:  There's a lot of spoiling out there and we got to do something about it, kid.







Our series follows a pair of plainclothes homicide detectives out on the streets of San Francisco (say, great name for a title!) as Lt. Mike Stone (Karl Malden of A Streetcar Named Desire, The Sellout, Operation Secret, On the Waterfront, Birdman of Alcatraz, The Cincinnati Kid, Hotel and Patton) a veteran cop of 20 years, street smart, savvy and follows his gut instincts is partnered with a rookie fresh from college but schooling allows him procedure, shows his book learning giving him the rank of Inspector, Steve Keller (Michael Douglas of The China Syndrome, Romancing the Stone, Fatal Attraction, Wall Street, Falling Down, Traffic and The In-Laws) is being shown the ropes, what to expect on most murder scenes and how reliable witnesses are but we gotta go by the book according to Stone.


Sorry about about your dog, Steve.














The two knock their heads together, walk the scene, retrace their steps and follow the clue wherever they may lead.    With Stone as a mentor, Keller has the rigors and procedures down-pat offering him the potential promotions and how to be a better cop,  to truly care about the victims and their next of kin.

Just a few comments about the show now.  Standard protocol.

The two play off each other well and share their separate skill sets with their partner slowly forming a bond and yes we do have grumpy older cop stuck with rookie scenarios from time to time but this is good solid writing that while a trifle predictable comes off well.   The murder scenes are as accurate for television as allowed.  Apparently showing the true effects of gun shots and splatter patterns is deemed too violent for viewers, in spite of that this does occur in real life.  Both Malden and Douglas did more than 3 months research with the SFPD homicide giving the authenticity needed for the show and the series was filmed entirely in San Francisco using a converted warehouse for the precinct.  


Ford Motors was proud to sponsor the series giving a fleet of Galaxies and a LTD for Keller and Stone to arrive in record time.  

This show offered a lot of actors their bones on it as guest-stars including: Ricky Nelson, Pernell Roberts, Susan Dey, Don Johnson, Tom Selleck. Robert Wagner, Nora Marlowe, Mark Hamill and many more.

Yes, my ears are huge! WHAT OF IT???!!!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Forgotten Gems from the 70's: Chico and the Man

What's shakin' peoples and welcome to Day 3 of Forgotten Gems of the 70's Week.  I know it has been hard hitting action for the past 2 days so what say we move on in to some comedy instead?  No, we will not be taking in Good Times, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son or the ever racist All in the Family.  The goal of the week has been obscure or forgotten as the theme.  Mind you, I wouldn't mind seeing a little Sanford and Son though.  How about instead a crotchety Anglo Saxon running a battered down garage in East L.A. (barrio country for you whiteys) who is as about as tolerant of the Latino population as Archie Bunker but has a heart of gold as he hires Chico Rodriguez, a young and optimistic kid just looking for a job.  This is Chico and the Man.

Like the sign says...


Chico: Loo-king spoiler!









Curmudgeon Ed Brown (Jack Albertson of Run for Your Life, Changes, Justine, The Red Skelton Hour, Rabbit, Run, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and The Fox and the Hound)  refuses to fit in the ever-changing East Los Angeles neighborhood and has managed to ostracize most of the residents around him that even his friends and family are stunned when their boy, former Vietnam Vet Chico (Freddie Prinze of The Million Dollar Rip-Off, Cher, Sammy and Company, Tony Orlando and Dawn, The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: Muhammad Ali and Joys) goes to Ed for a job.  Ed berates him and makes enough ethnic comments to make Archie Bunker send him a Christmas card every year but Chico sees that Ed is just alone and bitter being a widower.

Git out of mah garage you Ompa Loompahs!!














He sneaks in the middle of the night and...  no he does not deface or smash the place.  For crying out loud, people.  Don't jump the gun.  Chico tidies the place up and crashes in a van Ed had inside the garage.  Rather than blast him with a boomstick, call the cops or break out a baseball bat, Ed realizes this kid is a decent sort and the least he can do is give the kid a job.  Pestered by an old neighbor Louie (Scatman Crothers of Meet Me at the Fair, Porgy and Bess, The AristoCats, The Jungle Book,  Hong Kong Phooey, The Shootist, Silver Streak, Roots and The Transformers) who snickered about Ed helping us poor minorities and razzing him every chance.


This combo of grumpy old man and young happenin' kid is not a new formula by any means but literally the first TV series to set in a Mexican-American neighborhood and show the community's strengths and flaws without 60 black and whites and a bunch of kids on the hoods being patted down.  With a grand total of 88 episodes you would think this was a solid shoe-in for more seasons.

Now a few facts about the show.  While fighting a losing battle with depression coupled with new found fame and recognition, Freddie Prinze tragically took his own life with a gun leaving behind his cast mates, his wife Katherine Cochran and his infant son Freddie Prinze Jr.  Beloved by the likes of :Johnny Carson, Sammy Davis Jr., co-star Jack Robertson and Tony Orlando, the Prince of Comedy had passed away at age 22.  A vain attempt to continue out the fourth season ended in dark story arcs, characters that did not go over as well and the magic that was Jack and Freddie could not be duplicated.

I cut you good, old man!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Forgotten Gems of the 70's: Emergency!

Welcome back suckahs to Day 2 of Forgotten Gems of the 70's Week.   Boy, I can drag out a weekly title, can't I?     Well we are back in Los Angeles again but this time around we won't be following flatfoots or plain clothes detectives.  We instead will be keeping up with the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Squad 51.   With creator/writer Harold Jack Bloom (The Naked Spur, You Only Live Twice, Dante, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and 12 O'Clock High) and producer/actor Jack Webb (Joe Friday of Dragnet, 77 Sunset Strip, Dragnet 1967, Adam-12 and Sam) along with producer Robert A. Cinader (Dragnet 1967, Adam-12, Escape, Chase, The Specialists, The Seekers, Quincy M.E. and Knight Rider) came a TV series combining the drama of a medical show and enough action to rival most cop shows.  This is Emergency!

Well, don't stick that in your ear next time.


Dr. Brackett: Get outta here, you hosespoiler!









A shift's LACoFD collection of firemen/paramedics work hand in hand with each other in order to save lives, prevent death and property damage, private or public and it is a helluva task.  Parmedics/Firemen John Gage (veteran TV actor Randolph Mantooth of The Bold Ones: The Senator, Vanished, Adam-12, Emergency + 4, Operation Petticoat, Agent Red and As the World Turns) Roy DeSoto (Kevin Tighe of Emergency + 4, Sierra, K-9, Road House, Another 48 Hrs., Newies, A Man in Uniform and Rose Red) work tirelessly to co-ordinate with firefighters Chet Kelly (Tim Donnelly of Dragnet 1967, Adam-12, Project U.F.O., The Clonus Horror, The Death of Ocean View Park,  The Toolbox Murders and The A-Team) Captain Hank Stanley (Writer/actor Michael Norell of Emergency!, Sex and the Married Woman, Three on a Date, Featherstone's Nest, Long Gone, The Incident, Doomsday Rock and Nash Bridges) Mike Stoker (Real LAoFD firefighter Mike Stoker).
 
Trained firefighters attending first aid and care for sick and injured victims on the scene of an accident all the while the instructions of care, medical procedures where be shouted across CBs to ER department Rampart Hospital with main physician Dr. Kelly Brackett (Robert Fuller of The Big Valley, What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice?, The Hard Ride, The Gatling Gun, Megaforce, Bonanza: The Next Generation, Repossessed, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Walker, Texas Ranger) , M. D. Joe Early (Bobby Troup of Bob Girl Goes Calypso, The Five Pennies, The Gene Krupa Story, Banning, Number One and Mannix) and Resident Nurse Dixie McCall (Julie London of Saddle the Wind, Man of the West, The Barbara Stanwyck Show, The George Raft Story, Follow the Sun and The Eleventh Hour)

HONEY, I HAVE NO IDEA WHEN I WILL BE HOME!!!














A few comments and compliments on the show now.  With seven seasons under their belt this show got placed mid-season in January 15, 1972 and had ran until May 28, 1977 along with six two-hour movies during the last two years.  With Jack Webb and Robert A. Cinader both meticulous in detail and fine print, most of the actors had to sit-in paramedic classes and ride-alongs with the LACoFD to get a feel for the nerve wracking insanity that was the theme of this show.  Unlike Dragnet and Adam-12 which were bother half-hour shows this series ran a full-hour and even managed to work in the 1971 earthquake that demolished the Olive View Medical Center in San Fernando Valley as well as the 1973 Crenshaw Fire in Palos Verdes.


Using the proper equipment, terminology and procedures of the time, the credibility to the show along with showing the reality of firefighting isn't a quick couple of blasts from a hydrant and that's lunch gave the show the proper scope that was needed and kept people interested with the various accidents and events each week.  With good exterior shots of the 127 Station in Carson California and the Harbor General Hospital Universal sound stages took care of interior scenes rather nicely.  

The National History Museum in the Smithsonian Institution has various helmets, turnouts, biophone and even a defibrillator from the memorabilia of Emergency!   Not too shabby.

Prep the clown pants, Steve! We're losing him!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Forgotten Gems of the 70's: The Rookies

Hola kiddies, park it down in your seats and let me blow your minds about the crimewave of Southern California.  With bikers, snowbirds looking for a quick fix and the general rampant misdeeds it is up to the Southern California Police Department to put these mothers in their place. With the Vietnam War making headlines still and morale a tad low, this series follows the lives of what was deemed the typical "blues" police officer, rolling in the patrol car and pounding the pavement,  These folks could be Vietnam vets to college kids fresh from the Academy.  This is The Rookies.

Bullitt went this way, fellas!

Lt. Ryker: Get those damn spoilers off the street and behind bars where they belong!  







Our series tells the tales of three rookie cops working the streets in I guess a fictional town in Santa Carla,California (even though I recognize the streets of L.A. and shouldn't it have a mess of damn vampires???) trying to make a difference.   Our three youthful lads hail from different backgrounds and neighborhoods.  Take Officer Mike Danko (Sam Melville of A Smell of Honey, a Swallow of Brine, The Thomas Crown Affair, Death Valley Days, Gunsmoke, Dallas, Scarcrow and Mrs. King and The Assassin) a former Marine, married and planning a life together with his nurse wife Jill (Kate Jackson of Dark Shadows, Limbo, Killer Bees, Death Scream, Charlie's Angels, Scarecrow and Mrs. King and Loverboy), college graduate Willie Gillis (Michael Ontkean of The Peace Killers, Slap Shot, The Blood of Others, Twin Peaks, Nico the Unicorn, North Shore and The Descendants) and social worker turned cop Terry Webster (Georg Stanford Brown of Bullitt, Colossus: The Forbin Project, Roots, Stir Crazy, North and South, Cuban Blood and Nip/Tuck).

Serving under their superior, Lt. Ryker (Gerald S. O' Loughlin of Men at Law, The Organization, The Blue and the Gray, Automan, Our House and Crime of the Century) these men are on the mean streets with only their wits, courage and sidearms to protect them.  Ryker does his level best to keep an eye on the boys, give them as much advice and wisdom to mold them into good cops.

Don't laugh, it's paid for.













Make no mistake, folks.  This is not your bulletproof supercops of McCloud, S.W.A.T. and Starsky & Hutch.   The concept here was to watch the young, inexperience cops make mistakes, cut corners and in general try to learn from what happened.  It was even made with continuity that those previous mistakes could come back to bite them in the keister.


 

Now a few comments about the show overall.  I found that the crux was cramming Kate Jackson's character in almost every episode.  If one of the guys got hurt, she just happened to be the nurse on duty.  The fellas come off a bit more like social workers and the college graduate seems to have to yank the myopic scope how life should be far too often.  Constantly establishing that he lacks the "hep cat" standing.  He is hardly "down with the street", if you will.   Face it, this guy is whiter than vanilla.

Yes, the dialogue, outlook and overall vibe is dated but honestly I found this more entertaining than the current cop shows of the gritty and dark vibe of the Law & Orders.

Next subject: Bribery and you!

Forgotten Gems of the 70's

What's happening readers of mine?  Ahh, the seventies...  They brought shows like: Starsky & Hutch, Happy Days, Sanford and Son, M*A*S*H* and The Six Million Dollar Man.  Of course also had to endure B.J. and the Bear, All in the Family and The Waltons but that is neither here nor there.  Free love and peace came to an almost grinding halt, gas prices rocketed and disco was king.  From soap operas to Sesame Street, our television shows had their flaws and their strengths and yet several of these did not get the love it deserved.

Why do we always have to fight when we go out??!!


















This week I purpose we examine some of the forgotten gems of the seventies and reflect on what impact they had to our culture and no I do not just mean polyester and bellbottoms.    Variety shows and music of the time broadcast to our homes along with dramas, dark comedies and even some sci-fi got the love of the day and needs to be viewed with a hint remembrance.

So join me in the pursuit of classic TV that rocked you to the core or made you blink and wonder what the heck it is you are watching.

HULK HATE HAIRDRESSER!!!!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Ghosts of N64 Week: Spider-Man 64

Welcome, welcome welcome my console comrades to Day 5 of Ghosts of N64 Week.  As I should have mentioned in my last blog, a family emergency needed met and all is well now.  I was a bit scragged due to crappy sleep prior to do a blog for yesterday.  But enough of that!  We need to observe this N64 game that swept the nation...  to playing it on Playstation instead.  Seriously though, the Playstation version and Game Boy Color got better love than the N64 but what can you do?  So let's catch up with Stan Lee's intro and bring about our favorite wall-crawling, web-spinning, sensational, spectacular Spider-Man.  This is Spider-Man 64.

Hah, take that, Daredevil!














This game brings about the visual representations of the characters as they were portrayed in the 1994 Spider-Man cartoon but with a story-line more closely to the comics.  Using a few voice clips from the cartoon, drawn animations for cut scenes and the voice cast of the cartoon, our game begins with Peter Parker taking pictures for the Daily Bugle as Doctor Octavious (Doctor Octopus) has reformed and is prepping a demonstration of his new scientific wonder under a tarp when Spider-Man swoops down and steals this priceless trinket.  "But Jake, how can Spider-Man do that, if Peter Parker is still in the crowd?  Clone?  Rogue Robot?"   Well, good questions all around as Venom assumes the impostor is the real deal and chases after him when Spidey impostor break his camera...  cause the Bugle just keeps an insane wacko like that on staff.

A city-wide manhunt is conducted by NYPD for Spidey's head and the stolen tech.  I swear this guy never truly gets a break.  Spidey, with the help of a few allies, has to find the device, prove Doc Ock is still a schmuck and clear his name once again.  Heh, Jonah is gonna love that detraction from the papers.  Heck, he should be used to it by now.

Hmm?  Sorry, I was gawking at your breasts. You were saying..?














Just a few points on the game now.   With training modes of time attack (drop the baddies in such a span of time), speed training, item collection (for power ups and power improvements) and of course a cheat menu for different costumes and powers, this single-player beat 'em up action platform is based in time trials, puzzle solving and tough baddies looking to put the hurt on the web-slinger.

With 30 levels of quick thinking, tactical approaches or just leaping in and smacking lackeys around, coupled with boss levels it is easily understood you want the Controller memory card Pak or you may lose your game easily. You may want food, a social life and sleep so saving the game in this fashion is while frowned upon but the hard core gamers, hey I understand the need for all the above.

An unusual pairing of anti-heroes such as: The Punisher and Venom in the game as well as heroes the like of: Captain America, The Human Torch of the Fantastic Four and cat burglar turned adventurer Black Cat throughout the game assist Spidey in one facet or another but never directly fighting side by side with him.  Missed an excellent two-player option there.  Using the same game-engine as Tony Hawk's Pro Skater, the easter egg in Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2, was an option to shred your deck dressed as Spider-Man.  Level restarts are pretty common given the finite amount of web fluid, the failure to save a hostage, health bar running out or my personal favorite, falling to your death.

With power-ups such as Spider-Armor (increased strength and defense) and different webbing creations, Fire Webbing was the coolest and most effective against the symbiotes, the baddie AIs are pretty limited and have no tactical advantages like hiding, using cover or sneaking about.  The gunsels are pretty slow on the trigger and are easily pummeled Spidey style. The details in the graphics give a decent 3D effect of buildings, surroundings and vehicles, heck even the people have decent detail for the day.  Spidey cuts a mean and lean figure as he punches the lights out of his rogue gallery.

Spandex wedgie! Ow, ow ow.














One other amusing concept which PC and Consoles have kinda done to death now because of this game is the alternative costumes.  Each level completed has the chance of a new costume with different abilities with the looks of the black and white symbiote, Spider-Man Unlimited nano-tech suiit, Parker street clothes, Spider-Man 2099, the Scarlet Spider (Parker's clone) the Clone Ben Reilly's Spider-Man costume and the cosmic power Captain Universe costume.  Yeah, the web head has had his share of goofy threads and adventures but all in all the game is still enjoyable to the day and has some great memories attached to it

Ghosts of N64 Week: Nightmare Creatures

It was a dark and stormy night and…oh wait that’s not right at all.  Lemme start again.  In 1997, this game was produced by Activision for the PC, Playstation and the Nintendo 64 in 1998.   A tale of darkness and woe strewn across the history of London, from the shadows and catacombs under the great city.    A secret society known as the Brotherhood of Hecate wanted to create a race of superhuman beings to poise in dominating the planet and wreaking havoc and destruction for whoever dare interfere with their sinister plots.  The Brotherhood went about creating this new breed of man by stealing corpses, utilizing plagues, rabies and other components only to find out the viral agent did not make supermen but ravenous beasts.  Through the acts of one of the Brotherhood, Samuel Pepys set a fire to the warehouse that held the laboratory, the notes, the creatures and some of the Brotherhood that were mad with dreams of conquest went up in The Great Fire of 1666.  This is Nightmare Creatures.

Oh, take the girl. Her butt looks better in breeches than mine.













All knowledge of this unspeakable evil had been wiped out with the exception of Pepys’ meticulous diary.  170 years later a disrepute scientist finds said diary and proceeds to gather funding and powerful allies allowing him to re-create the Brotherhood’s abominations.  Only through the efforts of Father Ignatius Blackward and Nadia F, London and the world itself, stands a chance against the nightmarish creatures.
While this game was originally formatted for Windows 95, 7 handles it rather well.  Mind you I had to use a CD-RW to even install the antiquated game but hey at least I didn’t need a SCUMM drive.  After testing this older game out again I am certain to enjoy jumping back into this particular horror but with the lights on.  Yes I am a sissy and I live with it quite well.  But, today we are on the 64 version so I will give the highlights of creatures, offensive weapons, healing and general gameplay.

Monsters

COMIN' THROUGH!!!














Okay so this is a horror based action/adventure game.  Defeat the creatures and move on to the next level after trouncing the level boss right?  How bad could they be?  Well I am glad you asked.  Let’s get started shall we?

Zombies 

You have two types of zombies.  One is the standard slow shambling creature and the other moves faster and is stronger by far. A real Romeo or Synder package deal.  They usually travel in duo so stay alert.  Save the slow one for last kiddies. Did I mention they are just out and about for a quick meal of brains?  Hmm, must have skipped my mind.

Werewolves

 Lycanthrope.  Loup Garou.  Call it what you will but know this, they are mean, fast and damn impressive fighters.  Defending against your best strikes, they can also counter-strike back and bound after you rather well. A series of slight kicks and roundhouse sweeps about all that can take them down.

Demons

Yes winged, fire breathing creatures from Hell.  Swoop attacks from above and fire breath seems to be their cup of tea, assuming you have the nerve to serve them one.  Surprise, surprise they are resistant to fire attacks.

Pepys’ Monsters

No true definition of these behemoths other than they stand about nine feet tall, have three heads as well as 3 arms, equipped with razor sharp talons and have more teeth than the entire Osmond family.  By far, the ugliest creature you can encounter and one of the deadliest. Hope you have a freeze spell handy for this bugger.

Docker
Strong as an ox and as bright as one, this creature prefers to bash the victim severely with its massive fists or pound hands into the ground creating a miniature quake.  Not particularly fast so slash or strike as quickly as possible.

Insects

Bugs?   Who is worried about a bug?  Well mate this bug is armor plated, about 3 feet tall and lightning fast with its stinger.  Put your can of Raid and fly swatter down, grab a pistol or better still a good blade.

Thames’ Monsters

These foul octopi would put Jacques Cousteau off his lunch.  With a reach of almost 50 feet, razor sharp teeth and dwelling down by the docks.  Late night swim could be one’s last. Dynamite or a proximity mine are about the best course of action here.
Harpies

Fast flying winged wenches with a shrilling voice so loud it could rival Mariah Carey.  Using fly-by attacks or banshee like wail they are quite difficult to defeat. Aim carefully with a pistol.
Faceless Men

Shrouded in long coats and armed with knives, these men are whispered to being original members of the Brotherhood of Hecate mutated by the viral agent against their will.  Standard beat down with punches and kicks will do the trick

Spiders

Remember the bugs and do not judge it solely by its name.  Approximately 9 feet tall and barely in the rear as ugliest creature of this game, the six-legged monsters dwell in tunnels and passageways but look around town.  You will find more than one web or two. Fire is a pet peeve of theirs but use it sparingly.  The webs are quite flammable

Giant Rats

R.U.S.’s?   In London?   I don’t believe in their existence either.  Just to be on the safe side you will spot one of these brutes rather easily.  They are about the size of a mini-coop. Dislike fire a lot.
Gargoyles
 Composed of living stone, pretending to be statues these monstrosities wait for the right moment to catch their prey unaware and swoop down and back killing very effectively.  They are also pack hunters.  Repulsive smoke is a handy one so you can get your bearings and take a few pot shots at them.
Hellhounds

Not meek little puppies that just need a hug.  These fire-breathing demon dogs need a fire extinguisher and a serious neutering.  Of course good luck finding suppressant foam that puts out hellfire, let alone a vet willing to clip them.   Incredibly agile, vicious and just all around nasty, hellhounds are a force to be reckoned with.  By some miracle you do not get slagged from a column of flame, mauled by claws or fangs you clearly just annoyed a Rottweiler and will have to explain yourself to the owner.  Rumor has it, hell hounds are invulnerable to fire and ice.

I'm voguing!













Powerups

Hey, where are you running off to?  Oh relax, you didn’t think we were going to arm you with a rapier or a fighting staff and say, “have at it, kid.”  Did you?
This is a complete list of all the power-ups you can find throughout the game.
Proximity mines are dropped on the floor and will explode and do severe damage to anything that gets too close.
Repulsive smoke will keep monsters at bay.
Freeze spell will deep freeze all monsters in sight.
Dynamite will damage and create knock back to all monsters in sight.
Flash will confuse and blind monsters for about 10 seconds or so.
Firebombs will roast any nearby monsters
The Gun allows you to pick off a single target from long range
The Multi-gun can be used several times at several monsters
Berserker allows you hack your monsters into pieces
Healing gives back a bit of life to your character
Super-Healing restores all health lost
Chaos turns monsters against one another
Heart gives you an extra life

Now on to the downside.  Like Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire and Spider-Man 64, the 360 spin around and viewing of 3D environment can take a toll on your eyes and character as you cannot automatically spin and face danger.  The standard A B button combo does solve most of these issues but the Z button will spin you around faster and target the closest creature.  This can be a disadvantage if it is a shambling zombie versus the breakneck speed of the werewolves.  Cycling through additional weapons is D pad right and it can take a few but it will be quicker than the analog stick for similar games as the analog is completely for movement in this game.  I stressed this in my upcoming podcast that Nadia (accidentally calling her Sonja) is a faster weapon based attack with her rapier but less strength.  Ignatius' attacks are much stronger with his quarterstaff but significantly slower.  Too much upper body strength I guess.

Keep an extra pair of shorts to change in.... kidding.... or am I?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Ghosts of N64 Week: Castlevania 64

Welcome back lovers of byte and graphics to Day 3 of Ghosts of N64 Week.  Today we tackle a title franchise from Konami (Frogger, Contra, Gradius, Metal Gear, Silent Hill and Dance Dance Revolution)  and join in the quest to eliminate (yet again) the minions of evil and their master Dracula for the umpteenth billionth time but this time with the option of playing two different protagonists Carrie Fernadez a sorceress and Reinhardt Schneider, heir to the Belmont clan of the Castlevania legacy.  Bringing about the more realistic graphics of yesteryear in the N64 creation our heroes visit these horror stricken lands and must right these many wrongs.  This is Castlevania 64.

CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, SHUT UP!!!














For nearly sixty years of isolation, chained in his coffin, Dracula reemerges to bring about his destructive wrath.  The year is 1852 and our two heroes sense his arrival and head to the Transylvanian lands of Wallachia to do battle.   Meeting with Charles Vincent an elder vampire hunter in his fifties (God only knows how he has lived this long in this profession), Rosa a freshly turned vampire that does not seek to be evil and Renon I think is supposed to be some demon salesman lead our heroes into this dilapidated villa and volunteer to show them a secret path through Dracula's estate garden maze to an underground path to the castle.

 Before they can make their way through, Dracula's lackeys Death and Actrise try to pit the heroes versus these new-found friends.  Carrie must dispatch her own family now turned vampires while Reinhardt destroys Rosa and then it is up level by level to the castle keep.    Will our heroes reach Dracula in his still weaken condition or will they succumb to the dark prince's powers?

AHHH!! I have 90's superhero shoulderpads!!!













And now just a few comments on the game and gameplay.   This follows the typical action adventure platform with decent enough controls but the camera angles giving the 3D experience is a little wonky so keeping track of enemies is all based on which target gets captured by the recital.  Cycling through additional weapons, acquiring treasures and secondary weapons are easy enough to understand, it is just remembering if you haven't played in a bit can be a hassle.  With the real feel of a story line opening up we get to learn more about the characters in this game than we have the entire franchise up to this point.   With the ability of alternative costumes improving your game either character is acceptable to play unlike that of Nightmare Creatures because the monk was slower than Congress on public opinion.


I like the introduction to a story rather than just slaying monsters because they are evil aspect.  We get a handle on both Carrie and Reinhardt and show they are not infallible and human to the core.  For Reinhardt, he is carrying on a legacy he is loosely attached too, while Carrie is avenging her family that was used as tools for her destruction and Dracula's amusement. This game also shows real time events based on the speed and alacrity that the player has, puzzle solving and even in-depth exploration providing hours of entertainment and frustration.

 I have also noticed a bit of confusion to this title mixing it up with another Castlevania title called Castlevania: Legacy of Darkness.  That particular game is more rare and harder to find and it may use the same graphic engine and levels of its predecessor it is a different game altogether with a different lead character and story arc not commonly stemmed away from the Belmont clan.

How are skeletons beating me up?? They have no muscle to back it up!




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Ghosts of N64 Week: Mega Man 64

Welcome back followers of the almighty console to Day 2 of the Ghosts of N64 Week.   Today I touch base on a series as old as Nintendo's humble beginnings with one of its original but it is not the truest of the incarnation.  MegaMan is commonly an action/platform side scroller which was brought to market on December 17, 1987.  This time around our series is based on Microsoft Windows, PSP, PlayStation and Nintendo 64 bringing Mega Man Legends.  This is Mega Man 64.

The Claw is our master!













Hailing from the franchise of Capcom (Street Fighter, Resident Evil, Devil May Care, Bionic Commando, Ghost n' Goblins, Strider amd Darkstalkers) in 2000, our game is thousands of years in the after the ZX series (In nerd terminology, that means after Mega Man X series) our character is called Rock Volnutt, a treasure hunter and digger who prospects through the ruins around the world picking up refractor shards to mine and trade them as the coin of the realm.  Adopted by Professor  Barrell Caskett a well known digger and author of multiple books on the subject.  He found Rock on Nino Island and took him in as he did his granddaughter Roll after her parents seemed to have disappeared.   Data, their robot monkey holds all existing MegaMan memories and for some reason Rock does not recall his own life.

Living on the edge!!!














A gathering of pirates is constantly giving them a peck of trouble with mechasuits, servitor robots and a collection of Reaverbots, the world as we know it is in danger.  The battle for supremacy of machine and man has begun.

Just a few notes on the game itself.

Unlike the previous Mega Man incarnations this game is more of a action adventure RPG format and Japan dubbed this series Mega Man Legends.  The complaints I have is the camera system similar to Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time and Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire bounding 3D views and giving a 360 view which makes it difficult to travel with.   With that, the exploration and old school shooting technique gives the RPG feel a decent game.  Interaction with the NPCs coming with side quests and giving clues on where to go next is the standard role-playing game feel.

The static 3D animation follows Super Mario 64 and the two Zelda games which giving tumbling hills, flatten dirt roads, and bulbous trees.   With the blinding contrasts of the color combos that doesn't completely mesh well, jerky controls on the analog stick takes a bit of getting used to.  The only speed is running after your metamorphose, otherwise you need to tap the R button slightly.   The photo-phobic crowd may wish to stay away from it.  While the PlayStation version's graphics are a bit more fine tuned, the cartridge version loads faster and cleaner.


Well, at least I don't have to play an ocarina.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ghost of N64 Week: Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker

Welcome N64 fans and all the others that were expecting an movie or TV review.  Today's topic is based on Warner Brothers futuristic Batman story arc.  25 years into the future, Bruce Wayne has become a senior citizen, crime still haunts the mega-city version of Gotham and a new breed of cyberpunks, meta-humans and oddballs still attack the people of Gotham, but along with the wave of criminals comes a new Batman ready to solve crimes, wail on the baddies and bring them to justice.  Based of the animated movie comes a game giving its all to homage the film.  This is Batman Beyond: The Return of the Joker N64.

Captivating title screen!!!














Being a typical beat 'em up side-scroller, the play of course is the futuristic Batman who wanders through levels with a fair degree of the depth in background allowing for 3-D movement.  The game allows the player to select and switch out between four bat suits in-game.  Each suit has its own strengths and weaknesses.  Standard Suit is mostly offensive strength and shields allowing for weapons like the Dark Knight Discus (Because Shuriken would have been hard to spell), Magnetic Nunchuku (Yeah, kinda wish I made that one up) and the Dark Knight Staff.  Offensive Suit: Stronger attacks but is easily damaged making it the most fragile of the suits.  Defense Suit: Weaker attacks but does protect from damage greater than the suits in the game, plus allows more items. It also gives the player two defensive shields to deflect almost all enemy attack and lets you bash a head in with the Shield Punch.  Nimble Suit:  Gives the player the double-jump, gliding and jumping kicks.  Allows for some extra items but so far as I know the glide only seems to have that one function.

Also my Big Gulp spilled and may have fried the panels.














And now of course, a few complaints and compliments for the game.

With the cut scenes throughout this game, you get the feeling they were really trying to capture the essence of the movie but without any real attempt to get the voice acting, sound or screen capture it, it feels a bit on the level of 16 bit.  When I got this, I was hoping for a few digitized cut scenes from the actual flick interspersed with the game.  Instead, I get scroll text to read, a looped intro of the Batman Beyond theme music and a Final Fight, Double Dragon feel.  This is a typical and lazy formula not allowing for story to unfold, clues to be found and gives it a very stilted version of Batman we have seen before.

The Batlad is being taught how to fight,survive and be a detective and none of that is coming through the game.  Even fans of the cartoon this is based on could not stay interested in it.  Heck, my best friend's son was playing it for about 25 minutes and he got bored, turned the volume down so the music would stop annoying him and asked for a new game.  With a count of 16 levels I am guessing they mean for each screen to be a level because I thought it was only 4 but most games show or indicate when you defeat one level after another.  Action packed was the original box's claim.  Action packed must mean walk to series of bad guys, punch and kick them, rinse and repeat. No use of the voice work from the movie though.  I mean it was already in the can, so what was the problem there?

The controls are a bit off as R button can be tapped once to switch from swagger walk (because he looks like he is swaying his hips) and running and lastly, the fricking weapons.  No gas pellets, phosphorous flares or even batarangs.  So all the good toys of distraction and non-lethal ordinance we associate with Batman have been scrapped.  That being said, I'd give it to the neighborhood dog to chew on but I don't want the ASPCA at my door for animal cruelty.

WHEW!!!  Avoid that bathroom, people!

Ghosts of N64 Week

Good day my fine batch of readers and welcome the Ghosts of N64 Week.   After reviewing the last couple of weeks I could not help but notice the total lack of video game reviews and since I am something of a nostalgia fan I thought it proper to give more love to a classic game system as the Nintendo 64.   Bringing the last of the ROM cartridge systems before the switch over to mini-DVD such as the Game Cube and the Wii Optical Disc.  

HELP!! EPON HAS GOTTEN INTO THE ELDERBERRIES!!!













With its original launch games being of course Super Mario 64 and the more obscure and rare Pilotwings 64, this particular gaming system had to go head to head with consoles such as the PlayStation and the Sega Saturn.  Guess who came out on top?  With the introduction to the GameCube all N64 consoles and cartridges ceased production in Japan around 2002 and to this day still one of the most beloved of the consoles.  While it had a limited cache of dimensions and depth in color which and to be be stretch over large in-game surfaces such as land, sea and air, it lacked the ability to save multiple games without the use its Controller Pak which only held 256 Kb for game saves but its game loading time and ability to skip cut scenes were second to none.


Saturn and Playstation relying on a CD-ROM game to load and hopefully the disc is not scratched or it would skip, freeze or possibly not play at all.  The advantage to the cartridge game involved a cotton swab, hydrogen peroxide and allowing it to dry before trying the game again.  So let us dive into this classic console of 1997 and feel a bit old and young at the same time.

*Sniff*   Forever Player 2.

Friday, July 18, 2014

007 Week: Casino Royale

Hello again Bond fans and welcome to the final day of 007 week.  Hope that didn't sound too ominious.  As this is the 21st installment to the franchise the team decided to go back to its roots and tap into Ian Fleming's original character as much as possible.  Weapons, timeline and politics are updated of course, but the source material is true to form as a new Bond is on the scene in his first mission.  With being a fresh field agent, learning to shut down his emotions and do the business at hand, Bond has his hands full with this assignment in shutting down a banker to known warlords and terrorist cells.  This is Casino Royale.

Yes, I am a trifle smug.

James Bond: M really doesn't mind you earning a little money on the side, Dryden. She'd just prefer it if it wasn't selling spoilers.




After dispatching a traitorous MI6 section chief and his contact for classified documents, James Bond (Daniel Craig of Our Friends in the North, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, Layer Cake, The Golden Compass, Quantum of Solace and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) he makes his double 0 status and has been given the designation of 007.  He must travel to Madagascar to find a bomb maker and ends up chasing him down to an embassy.  Hopelessly outnumbered he shoots the bomb maker, defuses the bomb in his pack and swipes the maker's cell phone.

Tracking down the bomb maker's contact he discovers a Alex Dimitrios (Simon Abkarian of Ararat, Casino Royale, Persepolis and Zero Dark Thirty) a contact and associate of the banker and financier Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen of Bleeder, Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, Unit 1, King Arthur, After the Wedding and Hannibal) who plots to destroy a plane company financially with a bomb and causing his shares to sky rocket.  Bond heads to Miami to stop yet another bomber, thwart the impending plane explosion and save the day.

None of your cheek, mister.













Up to his eyeballs in debt, Le Chiffre enters a high stakes poker game to recoop his losses of his client's money.  M (Dame Judi Dench of A Study in Terror, Theatre 625, A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Fine Romance, Henry V, As Time Goes By, Casino Royale and J. Edgar) feels if Bond eliminates Le Chiffre in the card game he will have no choice but to come to British Intelligence to spill his contacts and dealing in order to save his own skin.   So Bond is off to Montenegro for the card game meeting HM Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green of Kingdom of Heaven, Franklyn, Camelot, Dark Shadows, 300: Rise of an Empire and Penny Dreadful) bankrolling this event with $100 million and another 5 million on standby.   With pressure on, Bond hammers through a card game that holds so much going for it and to slip up here may cost him his life.



A few notations about the film now.
In one afternoon's shooting schedule three Aston Martin DBS were destroyed in the car roll cut scenes, each tallying $300,000 a piece.   The way Craig orders his first vodka martini is lifted completely from the novel Casino Royale.  Daniel Craig had to put on 20 pounds of muscle and quit smoking for the role's cardio driven escapades.  Rather than the standard high-stakes game of Baccarat from the novel they changed it up to a series of Texas Hold' Em poker.  

This is also the first Bond film since Dr. No there were no jiggly girls dancing in the opening title sequence.
Former Bond Roger more was reported to have been so impressed with the movie he went out and bought a DVD copy of it.   Now that is a plug you can count on.

Well that is plenty of eye candy in one shot.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

007 Week: Goldeneye

A fine welcome to you fans of MI-6 and their main protagonist to Day 4 of 007 Week.  So far we have gone over 3 Bonds so why not a fourth?  Like the Doctor in Doctor Who, each Bond brings something different to the table.  Better dress, succinct quips and more gadgets that are forever lost to Q branch due to one mishap or another.  Perhaps he is stockpiling toys in the unlikely event he may need them down the road.  Today we move from a gentleman that missed his Bond opportunity clear back in 1987 because of supposed 7 year contract but his show was cancelled after 6 episodes of its fifth season.  The man I rattle on about would be Pierce Brosnan.  This is Goldeneye.

EXTREEEEEEEEEEEEEMMMMMEEEEE!!!!!

Xenia Onatopp: You don't need the gun, Commander.
James Bond: Well, that depends on your definition of safe spoiler.






In 1986, two 00s were assigned to infiltrate and detonate an illegal Soviet biochemical weapons plant.  007- James Bond (Pierce Brosnan of Nomads, Remington Steele, Taffin, Live Wire, Mars Attacks, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Tailor of Panama and The Matador) and 006- Alec Trevelyan (Sean Bean of Patriot Games, Airborne, Ronin, Extremely Dangerous, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Troy and National Treasure).  Separated and mining the facility, Trevelyan is captured by the Soviets and shot in the head.  Bond narrowly escapes with assault rifle blazing, a chase to his plane and a massive explosion leveling the facility.

Yes, that was rather foolhardy of him.














Nine years later, Bond receives his evaluation of performance and is assigned to look into a crime syndicate known only as Janus.   Monte Carlo hosting an event showing off a new prototype combat helicopter able to withstand EMPs  Xenia Onatopp (Famke Janssen of Lord of Illusions, Dead Girl, City of Industry, The Gingerbread Man, House on Haunted Hill, X-Men, Nip/Tuck and Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters) and now General Ourumov (Gottfried John of Mata Hari, Of Pure Blood, A Case for Two and Space Rangers) claiming a Cold War weapon known as Goldeneye capable emitting an EMP that was destroy a country's electronic records, vehicles, batteries and early warning weapon systems.
Will Bond be able to stop the mastermind's organization, end the world of Goldeneye and get the girl in the end?


And now the fact finding portion of the movie's review.
Inspired by the career of Director-General of MI6, the first woman to ever head up the organization is what the M role was based on for Dame Judi Dench (A Study in Terror, Theatre 625, A Midsummer Night's Dream, A Fine Romance, Henry V, As Time Goes By, Casino Royale and J. Edgar).  Lois Maxwell made famous playing Moneypenny suggested a female M as far back as 1985.  Ten years later, it came to fruition.

Famke Janssen stated in an interview with Jay Leno that she did some of the driving stunts and broke a rib during the sauna fight.  47 men were killed in this movie making it one of the highest kill count for James Bond has had in a single Bond movie.   This was also the first completely original  James Bond movie without reference material from any Ian Fleming novel or even short story.

It was said that The Rolling Stones were offer the chance to sing the title song but they took a pass and it fell to Tina Turner.   Definitely could have done worse for herself.

Dalton?  Poor fellow got the boot.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

007 Week: The Living Daylights

Welcome back Bond fans for Day 3 of 007 Week.  Today's Bond gets a lot of flack for not having what apparently is deemed the traditional good looks, wit and charm of the character.  I say to these naysayers that they are wrong.  While he is not in the same region as Connery or Moore I felt he met all the requirements of the iconic role and then some but perhaps I am biased given I was a huge fan of the Dino de Laurentis version of Flash Gordon and knew him as the Erron Flynn of Mongo, Prince Barin.  I speak of Timothy Dalton.  Consequently he had to fight tooth and nail for the role as Sam Neil, Pierce Brosnan (still in his Remington Steele contract), Lambert Wilson, Andrew Clarke and Sean Bean were all up for the part.  This is The Living Daylights.


No, I am not Remington Steele.










M: Gentlemen, this may only be an exercise so far as the Ministry of Defence is concerned.  But for me, it is a mater of spoils that the 00 section has been chosen for this test.  Your objective is to penetrate the radar installations of Gibralter. Now, the SAS has been placed on full alert to incept you, but I know you won't let me down.  Good luck, men.

Our movie opens up with what MI-6 consider a routine training exercise for the 00s based on a HALO jump,  5 mile swim and mountain climb.  Consider this the Iron man event for their performance record.  002 was captured and 004 have been slain by a mysterious assassin and is moving in on James Bond (Timothy Dalton of The Lion in Winter, Wuthering Heights, Flash Gordon, License to Kill, The Rocketeer, Hot Fuzz, Doctor Who and Penny Dreadful) as he manages to escape from the mountain face and pull his reserve shoot landing on nearby yacht with a lovely sun bathing beauty.  

Dr. Kimble is gunning for me!














His customary 2 hours late to report in, "M" (Robert Brown of The Newcomers, Wreck Raisers, The Message, The Spy Who Loved Me, Octopussy, A View to a Kill and Merlin of Crystal Cave) explains to Bond about a Russian general Koscov (Jeremy Krabbe of The Little Ark, Slippers, World War III, Jumpin' Jack Flash, A World Apart, The Punisher (1989), Kafka and The Fugitive)  wanting to defect, claiming his higher up is mad to the level of Stalin and plotting multiple assassinations and the possiblity of nuclear war.  A tag was found on 004's body claiming Smiert Spionom (an old KGB policy of assassins for spies or Death to Spies during the Cold War based on Fleming's SMERSH)  Bond is there at the opera to succeed in helping Koskov to flee the country away from KGB's prying eyes.  No sooner he is in MI-6 custody the another assassin bombs the English manor safe-house, guns down several operatives and helicopters the general away.




Dealing with the fallout of this SNAFU, Bond is assigned to find Koskov and take him back from General Puskin (John Rhy Davies of Shogun, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Best Revenge, Firewalker, Waxwork, Sliders, Wing Commander III: Heart of the Tiger, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring and One Night with the King) who sent his assassin for him and his fellow 00s.  Revenge and professionalism seem to be going hand and hand.

Now some fun filled trivia about the movie.  Surprised?????

Our opening number recorded by A-HA and this is composer John Barry's last composition for the series as he moved on to American projects like  Indecent Proposal, The Specialist, The Scarlett Letter and Mercury Rising.  This is the last James Bond movie to use an original Ian Fleming title until 19 years later with Casino Royale in 2006.

Blast! No fiddling jokes apply here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

007 Week: Live and Let Die

Welcome back Bond fans to Day 2 of 007 Week.  As we acknowledge Connery's success as Bond we need to observe the other fellows that claimed this title as well.  Today I thought we would focus on another kind of Bond.  A dapper gentleman with the same strive and need to serve Queen and country.  Referred as a dandy, I would disagree with that term.   While lacking the rough and tumble standing that Connery had, Roger Moore is no lesser Bond and completely worthy of the title.  This is Live and Let Die.

I really have no desire to work for UNCLE.










Mr. Big: Is THIS the spoiling mother who tailed you uptown?
James Bond: There seems to be some mistake. My name is...
Mr. Big: Names is for tombstones, baby! Y'all take this honky out and WASTE HIM! NOW!

While this is the 8th Bond movie, this is the first Moore film as James Bond.  Three MI-6 agents working in junction with the CIA have been killed within 24 hours of their assignment.  The only comment denominator is was Dr. Kananga (Yaphett Kotto of The Thomas Crown Affair, 5 Card Stud, Bone, The Limit, The Running Man and Homicide: Life on the Street) a dictator of the island San Monique making his way to the UN building in New York.   Deep in Harlem a drug kingpin known only as Mr. Big plans to release no less than two tons of heroin through New York as such a cut rate cost to put all other drug czars completely out of business and making him top dog without firing a shot.  

Carribbean Comcast runs things a little differently.













James Bond (Roger Moore of Ivanhoe, The Miracle, Maverick, No Man's Land, The Saint, The Persuaders!, The Man with the Golden Gun, A View to a Kill and Alias) has arrived in New York and his contact with CIA agent Felix Leiter (David Hedison of A Man About a Dog, Crime Club, Adventures of the Queen, The Power Within, Romance Theatre and Fantasy Island) which personally I feel the role has become nothing more than a straight man for Bond's pithy comments or puns.  Remember when Jack Lord handled this role?  Yeah think on that.

Leiter lets Bond in on the scam in question that Kananga and Mr. Big may been in cahoots with one another given San Monique's tropical climate is ideal for poppy growth. Ensuring his empire Kananga seeks solace in his lovely tarot card expert Solitaire (Jane Seymour of The Only Way, The Strauss Family, Our Mutual Friend, Captains and the Kings, Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Smallville and Modern Men) and she gauges the course of his journey as one would the course of the river.  Bond must uncover the heroin connection and put Kananaga's plot on hold.


Now a few facts about the movie.  This is deemed a bit of a groaner for puns as many of Bond's comments are that.  This film fell into the Blaxploitation and broke race barriers for the Bond Franchise as his first romantic encounter with a black woman, CIA agent Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry of Hell Up in Harlem, Black Caesar, Black Belt Jones, Savage Sisters, Seeds of Tragedy and Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings).  While the previous films focused on meglomaniacs bent on world domination, this movie fixated with drug trafficking  and organized crime.

With a 7 million dollar budget our film cleared $35 million payoff and an Academy Award for Best Original Song "Live and Let Die" by Paul McCarthy and the Wings.  Not too shabby.

Hmm, lovely view.

Monday, July 14, 2014

007 Week: Thunderball

Hello and welcome to the beginning of 007 Week and we clearly cannot start this off without a Connery Bond film.  Sadly, it will not be Dr. No as I already reviewed that for Sean Connery Week if you will recall.  Mind you, there were other things you could have been doing during that week such as: laundry, hemming a skirt or making a quiche.  Nevertheless, we shall have to carry on and move to a popular title to this very day.  From its disturbing content of nuclear arms easily lifted to Bond having to prevent the impending World War III, this film brings us excitement, memorable villains and of course, the fetching ladies of the film.  This is Thunderball.


So... what are you doing after the funeral?

Madame LaPorte: You sound disappointed you did not kill him yourself.
Bond: I am. Jacques Bouvar spoiled two of my colleagues.





As this is the fourth film in the Bond Series starring Sean Connery (An Age of Kings, Macbeth Dr. No, Marnie, Goldfinger, The Anderson Tapes, Meteor, Outland, Highlander and The Hunt for Red October) Bond has returned from avenging several friends from a risque mission when he learns from his superior "M" (Benard Lee of The Angry Silence, Partners in Crime, Whistle Down the Wind, The Brain and Goldfinger) that an organization calling itself SPECTRE (Special Executive for Counter-Intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion) has captured two NATO atomic warheads demanding no less than $100 million in diamonds or an undisclosed major city in England or the States will be destroyed.  Hot on the case, Bond follows leads to the Bahamas where he meets Emilio Largo (Adolfo Celi of Pleasant Nights, The Honey Pot, Danger: Diablolik,  Hitler: The Last Ten Days, Ten Little Indians and The Next Man) a eye-patch wearing, card playing gambler that Bond suspects that SPECTRE's man of operations for this caper.

Mr. Peepers reporting as ordered, sir.














Bond's CIA contact Felix Leiter (Rik Van Nutter of Assignment: Outer Space, The Passionate Thief and Romanoff and Juliet) along with Largo's "niece" Domino (Claudine Auger of The Reckless, The Devil in Love, The Killing Game, Anyone Can Play, A Bay of Blood, Equinox and Summertime Killer) both clue Bond into where the warheads are being kept and pointing out the sheer amount of manpower Largo has at his fingertips.  Not for calling in the cavalry, Bond proceeds with his mission at all costs for Queen and country.

Some interesting facts about this film now.  This is the first of the Bond Franchise to have multiple alternative titles due to the translation gap.  These are: Operation: Thunderball, Ian Fleming's Thunderball, Agente 007- Thunderball, James Bond 007- Feuerball, Atomic Ball, Agent 007 Into The Fire, Thunderball Fighting, Operation Thunder, James Bond, Secret Agent, Operation Thunder and Longitude 78 West.


The "Golden Grotto" in the Bahamas does in fact exist and is now to this day been rechristened as "Thunderball Reef".  Sadly, the villa was torn down in 1990 for a hotel resort.   This is the first time we see all the double o's in one room as "M" has called them all to the carpet for a debriefing.  This is also the first of the Bond films to be shot entirely in Panavision (Anamorphic lens for widescreen shooting).  I really wanted to nick the 1965 Thunderbird Largo was driving around in Paris at the start of the film but I seemed to have misplaced my blue police box.

I think a grip left a tack on my chair!