Tom Mankiewicz RIP

Who he you may ask? Well, Tom Mankiewicz wrote the screenplays for DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER; LIVE AND LET DIE; THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN and did work on THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER. I’m apparently one of the few defenders of THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (1974) because Roger Moore was never wittier as 007 (and I love John Barry’s underrated score). Mankiewicz penned the odd 70’s black comedy and Tarantino fave, MOTHER, JUGGS & SPEED (1976) and was later credited as “Creative Consultant” on the scripts for SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II. He soon worked as a sought-after consultant on films such as GREMLINS and BATMAN. He also wrote and directed DRAGNET (1987), which has a dynamic Dan Ackroyd performance as Joe Friday. Sean Connery apparently liked his screenwriting the best for the Bond films, a staple of which is Mankiewicz’s slinky wit, such as this gem from DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER: after 007 has killed Blofeld’s double with the help of his own cat, the real Blofeld chimes in, “Right idea, Mr. Bond.” “But wrong pussy,” answers as only Connery can. Tom Mackiewicz was also an outspoken supporter of the Writer’s Guild of America and he’s certainly left his verbal imprint in film.


15 Responses to “Tom Mankiewicz RIP”

  1. Golden Gun has an intriguing weirdness to it, but unfortunately it also has a Roger Moore-iness to it. Still, that’s not Mr. Mankiewicz’s fault. The inclusion though of Sheriff J.W. Pepper for comic relief represents a lot of what was bad about Bond in the 70s.

    Having said that, I loved all three Mankiewicz Bond flicks when I was a kid and I’m not gonna pull a Wells and crap all over the legacy of the recently deceased.

    RIP Mr. Mankiewicz.

    • christian Says:

      TMWTGG just doesn’t do enough with the awesomeness of having Christopher Lee face off against Moore. It’s oddly lacking in spectacle at the end although it managed to incorporate the kung-fu craze of the period with some good action. The reappearance of JW Pepper didn’t bother me too much then although it’s stupid yet a testament to how popular the character was perceived. But Moore has GREAT lines in this, another being when he aims the rifle at the gun-maker’s crotch and says, “Speak now or forever hold your peace (sic).” And Herve Villechaize! I still have my Corgi TMWTGG car-plane.

    • I loved JW when I was a kid too, it just feels like the 60’s Bonds were made for adults while increasingly during the 70’s and ’80s they were aimed at kids. Not unlike movies in general I guess.

      I like Moore himself much better in Live and Let Die and Golden Gun than in later offerings.

  2. What a loss. The man’s writing genius will certainly be missed. May he rest in peace.

  3. HUGE defender of GOLDEN GUN over here… Love the Barry score, the Lulu song, Christopher Lee, and THE most beautiful or at least most Lexian Bond girl in Britt Ekland. Plus Nicknack!

    Also as a big ’70s car aficionado, absolutely love that the two major cars in the big chase were both AMCs (Hornet and Matador, I believe)… LOVE JW Pepper… I don’t know, just everything about this one hits the sweet spot for me, from the Solex to the PHUYUCK to the tilted ship to the DUEL to SCARAMANGA to… everything. I think it’s great (also notable as the last Bond film to ever be shot in 1.85.)

    Has that cartoonish, fun, colorful Guy Hamilton vibe, and I think Mankiewicz might’ve had a lot to do with that pulpy, sly vibe of this run of Bonds. He also was a great interview on all the Bond DVDs from the late nineties-early 00s, which remain some of my most-watched special features ever (narrated by Patrick Macnee!)

    RIP indeed. James Bond is pretty close to my favorite thing ever, and Mankiewicz was a huge part of the franchise.

  4. Aussie Boy Says:

    JW Pepper (Clifton James) was a painful harbinger of the slapstick stupidity of Moonraker, A View to a Kill and other post-Connery clunkers. At the same time, The Man with the Golden Gun contains moments of sinister surrealism, a classic villain, and a glorious Barry score. It remains my favorite Roger Moore Bond.

    • christian Says:

      Hard to argue with that, and the genesis of JW Pepper popped up in DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER with the good ol’ boy cop chasing Connery.

      My favorite Moore Bond as well.

  5. live and let die was the first james bond movie i saw. i loved it so much (and still do). roger moore may be not the best bond around, but he represented an era of cartoon spy fantasy, a streak i love. this 70s bond feeling, the boss battles in huge sci-fi settings, and these movies (spy who loved me, TMWTGG) are something really singular, although i must say i m more than reserved about moonraker. these movies needs to be seen as something ELSE. the kids aspect were a bit like those godzillas movies, and as a kid during this period, i was glad to be able to actually see something like a bond movie (sharks and piranhas, deaths everywhere, great bond girls, surreal moments, disco funk car chases… come on !!!)

    people always say : connery is the only bond. well, i have to disagree. connery may be the better bond for the record, but the others all have brought something to the character, each in his era and style (even dalton, as a shakespearian white collar). i love moore silliness and greasy sex appeal.

    • christian Says:

      I liked Moore for his wit and personality, but not as Bond. He probably would have been very good as Ian Fleming’s more tortured character if they’d let him go there. You bring up a good point about the Godzilla kid’s films, but those are still some of the most disappointing, even if they hold up well in light of how cool they look in remastered widescreen. And there was always something fun and great about going to a new Bond film; I even enjoyed MOONRAKER while knowing it was the first all out Eon Bond comedy.

      • a new bond film was THE occasion for everybody to rejoice. god, i remember how i craved to see OCTOPUSSY, just based on the poster sheet being around weeks before the movie opened. i could read so much stuff in that sheet…. i loved this movie, when i was 11… but seen today, man….

  6. Count me pro-GOLDEN GUN as well, “It’s oddly lacking in spectacle”…I like that about it. And I like Roger Moore, so there.

    DRAGNET is underrated, almost consistently funny throughout. What was high-concept 80s movies obsession with cults about anyway? (Temple of Doom, Young Sherlock Holmes, etc). The cult thing is wonderfully ludicrous in DRAGNET. Plummer is also fun.

    • christian Says:

      I think it needed little spectacle besides the usual globe-hopping locales, which is why the silly laser island at the end never fit well with what should have been a rousing one on one finale. Apparently they cut a good deal of footage between Bond and Scaramanga.

      I don’t think DRAGNET is that funny minus Ackroyd’s amazing Friday. Hanks is at the nadir of his smart-ass roles that he would break with SPLASH. And I have a theory that any movie that uses the Playboy Mansion as a plot point…but it was an odd hit remake that has a lot of late 80’s vibe.

  7. Yeah, Ackroyd is THE reason to see the movie. Though I’m more positive on Hanks in this role than you are – I think he plays against Akroyd just right, even if the part itself has no originality. Has a really good article been written about how these 1980s comic actors always turn into elderly “serious” actors mourning their youth? If not one should be.

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