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From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang To Pussy Galore

From Chitty Chitty Bang Bang To Pussy Galore

Movie Reviews

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)

Full disclosure.  My all time favorite childhood film was and remains Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. So it seems only fitting that my first post at Cinema Nostalgia should be about this “fine four fendered friend”. Unlike kids today who can see their favorite films whenever they like and as often as they like (thanks first to VHS and now DVD) my generation had to wait for holidays or whenever the networks decided to rerun these shows. So it was always a special treat for me whenever Chitty came on tv.

The opening credits introduce us to Chittys’ previous existence as a famed race car winning competitions all over Europe in 1908 until a freak accident ends its glorious career.

We then find what remains of Chitty in Coggins Garage where siblings Jeremy and Jemima spend many a day playing at “driving” Chitty.  That is until the Junkman offers to buy the car from Mr. Coggins to then sell as scrap. Alarmed at this the motherless children beg their father, an eccentric inventor, Caractacus Potts (Dick Van Dyke) to “save” Chitty by buying her instead.

Did I also mention the lovely blonde Truly (Sally Ann Howes) who after nearly running over the children in her motorcar drives them home to question their father why Jeremy and Jemima are not in school as they should be? The conversation doesn’t go very well.

After trying his luck at a traveling carnival, Professor Potts comes up with the necessary money to purchase Chitty and sets about to restore the racing car to something of its former glory. He succeeds beyond his wildest expectations.

So much so in fact that it catches the eye of the villainous Baron Bomburst (Gert Frobe) of Bulgaria. He simply must have it!

After dispatching his hilariously inept spies to kidnap the inventor, they mistakenly abduct Prof.  Potts father (Lionel Jeffries) instead. No worries.  Prof. Potts, Truly, Jeremy and Jemima are flown …yes flown…by Chitty all the way to Bulgaria to rescue Grandpa. Oh yes! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang flies as well as sails when not driving down English country roads.

Upon their arrival they discover the town is completely devoid of children. We later learn that children are verboten in Bulgaria as the Baroness Bomburst hates children. The villagers are shocked to see Jeremy and Jemima and urge them to quickly hide. The toymaker (played by comedian Benny Hill) hides them in his shop.

While the star of this musical is ostensibly Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, to my mind a great scene stealer is the Child Catcher played with revolting relish by Robert Helpmann. His character still gives me the creeps.

 

If you have never seen this wonderful film (and I can’t recommend it enough) and want to know more than you’ll have to view it for yourself.

The cast nearly 40 years later.

I always found it intriguing that the same mind that dreamt up this wonderful children’s fantasy also conceived super spy James Bond. Mrs. Fleming’s son Ian had a very splendid imagination and the world is the richer for it.

Coincidentally, if you blink you’ll miss Desmond Llewelyn (Q) as Mr. Coggins and yes that’s Gert Frobe as Baron Bomburst who previously incarnated another infamous Fleming villain on the big screen. Which brings me to ….

 

Goldfinger (1964)

The third movie in the 007 series has all the elements that Bond movies are known for; exotic and varied locales, beautiful women, chase scenes, a flamboyant, sociopathic villain and his equally nasty right hand man.

But Goldfinger remains a classic favorite among many 007 fans, and certainly one of the most memorable. Who could ever forget Jill Masterson’s (Shirley Eaton) dead, nude body completely covered in gold paint?

“She died of skin suffocation. It’s been known to happen to cabaret dancers. It’s alright  as long as you leave a bare patch at the base of the spine to allow the skin to breathe.” Bond informs his boss, M. I’ve always wondered if there is any truth to that but I guess I was never curious enough to look it up.

But of all the Bond Girls, I challenge ANYONE to provide a more memorable name than that of Pussy Galore. Seductively played by patrician beauty Honor Blackman, Pussy has a few attributes that set her apart from the other Bond Girls/Women. For starters she’s the oldest Bond Girl. Honor Blackman was close to 40 when she landed the role and quite frankly I still consider her the sexiest Bond Girl ever.

As far as I can recall, Pussy Galore is also the most “physical” of the Bond Girls. She seems the most capable of taking care of herself without needing to be rescued by a man …or anyone. There’s another trait that sets Pussy apart from other Bond Girls but adds to the titillation. The novel states it openly but in the film while never openly said it’s clearly hinted that she is a lesbian …well clearly for a 1964 adult audience. Her response to 007’s  flirtatiousness “You can turn off the charm. I’m immune.” gets her point across.

As in all Bond movies, the principal villain hopes for global domination. In the case of Auric Goldfinger, a gold smuggler his obsession remains gold. One of his smuggling operations draws suspicion from Colonel Smithers of the Bank of England, which results in MI6 dispatching Bond to investigate Goldfinger.

But Goldfinger’s ultimate goal, Operation Grand Slam, goes beyond mere smuggling. He plans on taking possession of the entire U.S. gold supply at Fort Knox with the help of a “little” nuclear device provided by some Chinese friends. These friends want to economically destabilize and cripple the U.S. along with the rest of the capitalist West. In order to add to the value of his own gold supply the amoral Goldfinger is only too happy to assist. And look out for his henchman Oddjob and that bowler of his. Oddjob always takes his hat off for a lady.

To order Chitty Chitty Bang Bang on DVD from either Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Amazon Canada click on one of the corresponding links below.

To order Goldfinger on DVD from either Amazon USA, Amazon UK or Amazon Canada click on one of the corresponding links below.

 

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