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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Licensed to Blecch: Mad Magazine's James Bond Parodies

Posted By on Tue, Nov 27, 2012 at 9:30 AM


The new James Bond movie Skyfall has been out for a few weeks now, grossing nearly $789M worldwide and getting a healthy 91 percent on the Tomatometer. That's a damn shame, too, because it means that hundreds of critics were denied the opportunity to write "Skyfall? More like Skyfail, amirte?"

Under normal circumstances we could count on Mad Magazine to pick up that particular slack, but oddly enough, it hasn't spoofed a Bond film for 30 years, and it only did three full-length parodies before quitting.

See also:

In Space, No One Can Hear You Blecch: Mad Magazine's Alien Parodies

The Top 10 "Wait, What?" Moments from Bad Movie Night, Part 1: A - M

Retro Nerd Alert No. 3: Bob Wilkins Talks Hardware Wars & More on Creature Features

Maybe it's because the Bond movies are pretty much comedies to begin with -- yes, even the oh-so-gritty Daniel Craig ones -- and it's tough to make fun of a movies that don't take themselves seriously in the first place.

But let's look at the Mad Bond parodies that do exist!

"007: A Mad Musical," Mad #94.

The first Bond parody appeared in mid-1965 when there had only been three Bond films -- Dr. No, From Russia with Love, and Goldfinger -- but rather than spoofing any of those films directly, Mad spoofed the genre, and in the form of a musical, because why not? They would later do more direct musical parodies of Star Wars and The Lord of the Rings.

The running joke in the movies and the parody alike is that Bond is a huge pussyhound, and they nicely capture what a suave sonofabitch Sean Connery was back in the day. (Technical note: For most of these, you can click on them to see a bigger, easier-to-read graphic.)

click to enlarge sc_106_01_007splash.jpg

I could do without the cross-dressing humor, but to repeat what I said regarding the transphobic jokes in the Alien parodies -- those were different times, they had to come up with hundreds of jokes every month and sometimes they got lazy, yadda yadda yadda. It is what it is, and I ain't gonna angrily tweet about it or go back in time and glitterbomb The Usual Gang of Idiots.

In any event, here's the original "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" sung by Hugh Jackman in a recent Broadway revival:

And, hey! A Mad Zeppelin sighting!

The villain is revealed to be mostly forgotten pulp crime icon Mike Hammer. (Speaking of Mike Hammer, if you haven't seen Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly, you really should. It's a brilliant film that Quentin Tarantino stole wide swaths from.) You have to admire the cultural literacy that Mad expected of its readers, though I guess in 1965 there was a pretty good chance that kids reading it would be familiar with songs from Oklahoma!, especially deep cuts like "Poor Jud is Daid." But that's also what was so great about Mad: If you didn't get all the jokes, that was your problem, not theirs.
click to enlarge sc_106_03_mikehammer.jpg
The original song from the 1955 film Oklahoma!:

"8 'James Bomb' Bomb Movies," Mad #165.

Mad didn't bother with James Bond movies again until 1974, when it was overwhelmingly obvious that the series wasn't going away. In order to get up to speed -- and because the post-Goldfinger Bond films were samey enough that they didn't really warrant individual attention -- they crammed the first eight movies into a single feature, treating each film with the respect it deserved. Which is to say, none.

From 1962's Dr. No ...

click to enlarge sc_106_04_bombmovies_drnono.jpg 1963's From Russia with Love...
... on to 1964's Goldfinger (with a Ralph Nader joke!) ...
click to enlarge sc_106_06_bombmovies_goldfingerbowl.jpg
... through 1965's Thunderball ...
... and on to Connery's first swan song in 1967's You Only Live Twice ...
... to the largely forgotten George Lazenby vehicle On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1969 ...
click to enlarge sc_106_09_bombmovies_onhismajesty_ssecretshamus.jpg
... to Sean Connery's return in 1971's Diamonds Are Forever ...
click to enlarge sc_106_10_bombmovies_dollarsareforever.jpg
... and his (mostly) final replacement by Roger Moore in the 1973 Blaxploitation classic Live and Let Die.
click to enlarge sc_106_11_bombmovies_liveandletsuffer.jpg

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Sherilyn Connelly


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