The Perfect Tease: A Guide to the James Bond Teasers

There may only be a handful of people in the Western world, indeed in the entire world, who wouldn’t recognize the teaser sequence that focuses on the opening action of a James Bond movie. Perhaps second only to Peter Hunt’s editing style, the teaser sequences of the James Bond films have had an enormous impact on film and television. It’s a rare movie or prime-time show – drama or sit-com – that starts without a small scene that either sets up the plot or provides a quick laugh.

For James Bond fans, the teaser is something akin to the before-dinner drink. Just as a touch of alcohol helps amplify the palate, a shot of mayhem with a chaser of style is just what the viewer needs to settle in for two hours of wonderfully unrealistic fun. The teaser sequences have give us a preview of the tone of the film so we’re able to set our expectations accordingly. Indeed, watching a jet pilot ejected into the bottom of a plane flying overhead is usually enough to predict the nature of what’s to come.

Don’t what I’m talking about? Technically speaking, the teaser sequence falls between the gun barrel scene and the title credits. The white circle comes dancing from left to right, then opens to the famous gun barrel. The man turns, shoots, the blood pours. The barrel wavers and drops to the bottom right of the screen (usually – Licence to Kill and GoldenEye were exceptions), then fades into the teaser sequence. When the sequence ends, the title credits begin.

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    Evolution of the Form

    Throughout the seventeen films (Dr. No didn’t have a teaser), the sequences have evolved in a distinct, circular pattern, ending up back where they began. The first few sequences were short, one and two-scene action sequences which had little or nothing to do with the plot. They grew into multi-scene stories with distinct beginnings, middles, and ends that placed more emphasis on providing background for the plot and less emphasis on James Bond. Just after the halfway point in the series, the sequences migrated back to the early style – one scene, major action, little plot.

    From Russia With Love started off with Bond creeping around a hedge maze in sequence that provided both background and foreshadowing but neither in such an amount that it couldn’t have been achieved in some other way. The one and two-scene sequences which followed in Goldfinger and Thunderball had nothing to do with the plots of those films and appeared to do little but celebrate Bond’s style and skill while providing a touch of action to spice things up. It was scenes like these – coming at the height of 1960s “Bondmania” – that indelibly etched the teaser sequence on a generation of fans.

    In later films, the balance of content shifted. The teaser sequence was no longer for mere entertainment, but rather told some of the story – sometimes a great deal of the story. First we had the three-scene device of You Only Live Twice which set-up the entire plot of the film. The teaser sequence was used to introduce the new Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and it was used to wrap up plot threads in the next film, Diamonds Are Forever.

    The storytelling trend reached its peak in the next two films – Live and Let Die and The Man with The Golden Gun. So much so, in fact, that there wasn’t room left for James Bond himself. The former film had three scenes which covered a great deal of ground in telling the plot, and the latter film had an extended sequence which introduced the villain, the henchman, and the girl.

    Things began to change with the next film. Despite having the highest scene count of any teaser sequence, The Spy Who Loved Me marked a gradual shift back to the irrelevant, action-driven sequences of the early films. It was used to set-up the revenge sub-plot of Bond’s Russian counterpart and foreshadow the master scheme of the major villain, but the part everyone remembers is the stunt – Bond’s ski-borne flight off a cliff that had nothing to do with the film, but existed solely to leave the audience in slack-jawed disbelief.

    From there, the sequences beefed up on action and cut back on story-telling. After a quick plot-driven scene in Moonraker, we watched Bond jump out of a plane with no parachute. How did he get in the plane? Where was he going? Who was trying to kill him? Nothing was explained and no one seemed to care. The teaser sequence had returned to its origin – it was an excuse to throw Bond in harm’s way and watch him overcome the circumstances.

    Moonraker was the last sequence with more than one scene. In For Your Eyes Only, Bond was walking on the skid of a helicopter in flight, and Octopussy had him dodging heat-seeking missiles in a miniature jet – neither had anything to do with the rest of those films.

    Subsequent films introduced the current era: the flimsiest thread of plot combined with a one-scene action sequence that’s sometimes the highlight of the movie. A View to a Kill gave us another ski chase wrapped around the search for a microchip relevant to the plot. The Living Daylights introduced us to the term “Smiert Spionam” during a training assault on Gibraltar. The teaser sequence for both Licence to Kill and GoldenEye brought Bond face to face with the major villain. Finally, Tomorrow Never Dies introduced us to a mysterious red box during a rip-roaring encounter high in the mountains.

    Notably, the teaser sequences are getting longer. While From Russia With Love was a scant two-and-a-half minutes, subsequent teasers averaged four to five minutes through Live and Let Die. After that, they stayed on the high side of five minutes, sometimes ballooning to seven-and-a-half minutes or more. Licence to Kill broke the eight minute mark at 8:15, and GoldenEye was only a few seconds short of ten full minutes. More and more, it seems, the teaser is becoming the highlight of the film.

    The Good, the Bad, and the Penalty-Free

    But what makes a “good” teaser sequence? Any answer is obviously subjective. While some sequences stand out from others, three things seem to have become recurring themes:

    First, action has become par for the course. Live and Let Die remains the only teaser without an action sequence of some kind. The action has kept pace with contemporary cinema, and scenes like the fight in Thunderball, which seems tame in retrospect, have evolved into action blockbusters like the assaults on Gibraltar in The Living Daylights and the chemical weapons plant in GoldenEye. More often than not, the sequences contain large-scale or gimmicky stunts that wouldn’t fit anywhere else in the film – the Acrostar sequence from Octopussy, the bungee jump from GoldenEye, and the cliff leap from The Spy Who Loved Me, among others.

    Second, as mentioned earlier, the sequences are used to set up the plot – more so in the earlier films than today. The method is subtle – bits and pieces that make little sense before the film starts are fully explained later on. Of late, the links to the plot have been extremely thin – nothing is revealed in the teaser sequence that couldn’t be handled in a minute or two anywhere else in the film. In fact, it sometimes seems as though the plot details in the teaser are present simply so the sequence makes sense. Audiences don’t like irrelevancy, and they may wonder why exactly Bond was fighting in the Khyber Pass and what that has to do with a media party in Hamburg. Thus, a complete reversal has taken place – the teaser sequence no longer sets up the plot as much as the plot is used to justify the teaser sequence.

    Finally, there seems to be a welcome abundance of Bond’s personal style in these scenes. One-liners abound, and we get witty moments like the tuxedo under the wet suit in Goldfinger and the exchange with the lonely woman on the yacht in The Living Daylights. These are bits that would seem out of place in any other location in the film.

    This begs a question: are the teaser sequences free from the dramatic constraints imposed on the rest of the film? Many moments seem to work in the teaser sequences where they wouldn’t by the time the film gets wrapped up in the plot. The Beach Boys music while Bond snowboards down the mountain in A View to a Kill is a perfect example. Though many fans cringe at the memory, the sequence went over well with the general public. But would it have been the same if the sequence was integral to the plot? If the world hung in the balance and this scene was the culmination of two hours worth of storytelling, you’d have to wonder if the audience wouldn’t be rolling their collective eyes in disgust. (Some did anyway, but t_hat’s another point entirely.) Other examples of this are Lazenby talking directly to the camera in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Jaws flapping his arms in an attempt to fly in Moonraker.

    In a way, the teaser sequences have become penalty-free zones, where even more unrealistic things can happen than in the film proper. They are moments unconstrained by plot or character where screenwriters can get all their James Bond fantasies out without damaging the main storyline or making it do backflips to accommodate a situation they’re just dying to see on the screen.

    As a result, the teaser sequences have provided us with a few flashes of questionable farce but also countless moments of pure Bond. Next time you watch a retrospective of clips from the eighteen films, count how many came from the beginnings of those films. You’re bound to see Bond shed his wetsuit for a tuxedo, take a flight off a cliff with a Union Jack parachute, or bungee jump into harm’s way.

    From Russia With Love (1963)

    • Relevancy: Slight
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 2:35

    Summary

    A large, blond man stalks James Bond through a hedge maze. He ambushes him, garrotes him with a wire pulled from his watch, and apparently kills him. Floodlights immediately illuminate the area and another man appears and announces he’s been timing the proceedings. It’s revealed that “Bond” is just a man in a mask and it was all a training exercise for some mysterious organization.

    Commentary

    The hunt through the garden maze symbolizes the larger theme of the film. From here on, the real Bond will be stalked at every turn by the blond killer, who repeats the teaser’s “hunt” on a grand scale, maneuvering 007 into the ideal position for a murder. When we see the lethal watch again during the train fight, the danger will seem especially real, as we’ve seen it kill one “Bond” already.

    On the negative side, the teaser lacks any sense of real-world logic. Stalking a man in a James Bond mask, but without Bond’s cunning or experience, makes about as much sense as rehearsing for deer season by stalking a dog with antlers tied to its head. Notice that Connery is wearing heavy makeup on his face – a nice detail since an imposter would necessarily be wearing makeup. Twenty years later, a thinly-disguised variation of this “testing exercise” was used to open Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.

    Also of note in this sequence is the superb scoring by John Barry. The Bond theme rears its head here as subdued and tense background music that’s perfectly in sync with the action on-screen.

    This sequence is a mixed bag. Many people love it for its understated tension, however it does suffer from simplicity in retrospect as the teasers that followed got more animated and more outrageous. By comparison, this one seems positively quaint.

    Production Notes

    The bald man who congratulates the killer afterwards is Morenzy, played by Walter Gotell. Gotell would return for six more films as KGB General Alexis Gogol.

    Goldfinger (1964)

    • Relevancy: Nine
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 4:30

    Summary

    Bond swims to an oil refinery in a wet suit with a fake seagull on his head. After planting explosives in a drug lab hidden in one of the holding tanks, he strips off his wet suit to reveal an tuxedo, then makes his way to a nightclub just as the explosions start. He confers with an associate, then leaves to visit a Flamenco dancer who was performing in the club. While kissing her, an assailant behind him is reflected in her eyes. He and the man scuffle and Bond throws him into a bathtub. When the man goes for a gun, Bond tosses an electric appliance into the tub electrocuting the man as Bond walks away muttering, “Shocking. Positively shocking.”

    Commentary

    When the hero shows up with a fake bird on his head, the message is pretty clear: put your tongue in your cheek to enjoy this film. From this bizarre sight gag we quickly veer into literally explosive action, another sight gag, sex, a great fistfight, and finally an amusing sick joke. In short, all the key elements of the movie itself are summed up in the teaser: style, speed, humor, brutality, eroticism, and harmless perversion.

    Bond’s discovery of the heroin lab inside the oil tank is an early tip-off that things in Bond’s world are never what they seem on the surface, something we’ll be reminded of when sports cars eject passengers and little old ladies fire machine guns. Also, the inside of the tank gives us a taste of the superb Ken Adam set designs yet to come climaxing with the spectacular interiors of Fort Knox.

    Bond style oozes from this sequence with every shot. When 007 strips off the wetsuit to reveal the dinner jacket (spoofed years later in the 1993 film True Lies), it simply proves what we all knew – Bond is man of action who can go from saving the world to romancing beautiful women in the blink of an eye. Connery’s expression when the explosions actually go off is an absolute classic. It’s as if he can’t understand what all the commotion is about.

    There’s no attempt to make this teaser remotely realistic and that’s what makes it work so well. Bond is presented as almost super human – destroying hideouts, romancing women, and winning fistfights while still managing to throw out a witty line on his way to the door. The sheer arrogance of the characterization risks having audiences roll their eyes, but instead it works perfectly.

    The Goldfinger teaser stands as a mini-Bond film in its own right. In terms of defining the character to audiences, this may be the most important four minutes in the series to date.

    Production Notes

    The dancer is played by actress Nadja Regin. She also appeared in From Russia With Love as Kerim Bey’s girlfriend who saves him from a bomb by beckoning him to bed. Alf Joint got the job of the assailant (he has a name – “Capungo”) when the person originally cast was arrested for burglary before shooting. Joint burned his leg during the shoot when his foot got wrapped around the steam hose in the bathtub.

    Thunderball (1965)

    • Relevancy: None
    • Scenes: 2
    • Running Time: 4:16

    Summary

    Bond and a beautiful French woman observe a widow paying her respects at the funeral of an enemy agent. The widow leaves in a limousine. When she gets to her home, Bond is waiting. He attacks “her” – who turns out to be the supposedly dead enemy agent in disguise. Bond kills the man after a lengthy fight, then escapes using a jet pack. He’s met by his female friend with his Aston Martin, stows the jet pack in the trunk, then shoots jets of water from under the car’s bumper at the men chasing him.

    Commentary

    Thunderball tries hard to outdo its predecessor at every turn. Great effort is made to be bigger, costlier, wilder and noisier than Goldfinger, and there’s no such thing as restraint. To this end, logic began to take a backseat. If Bond just realized the woman wasn’t what she seemed when she opened her own car door, then how did the jet pack get planted at the house? Wouldn’t that amount of water have made the car too heavy to drive?

    Additionally, the gadgets begin to detract from the genuine thrills in this sequence. Some say that this is when gadgets began to take over the films. Even though he has a good old-fashioned man-to-transvestite fight with Jacques Boitier, at this point Bond’s function is primarily to push buttons, on the jet-pack and in the car. In fact, both the jet pack and the water jets have a very contrived feel to them, like the sequence existed solely to show them off. The rest of the film will walk this same line between rough-and-tumble grittiness and gee-whiz science.

    Nonetheless, the fight is well-staged, especially by 1965 standards. And, thankfully, Bond style rears its head again as 007 tosses some flowers on the body of the dead agent just before he slips out the door. Also, the water that squirts from the Aston Martin fills the screen for an underwater titles sequence, making this the smoothest transition to date.

    Although a step down from the previous film, Thunderball ranks high for its throwaway action and quick wit.

    Production Notes

    The jet pack is real, having been developed for the Army by Bell Textron Laboratories. The two stuntmen who flew it for the film refused to do so without a helmet. This explains the insert shot of the normally daring James Bond carefully donning headgear – the shots wouldn’t have matched otherwise.

    Thunderball is the first film in which Sean Connery appeared in the gun barrel sequence. In the prior three films, the same footage of stuntman Bob Simmons was used each time. However, for Thunderball, the producers switched film type from the British Standard ratio (1.66:1) to Cinemascope (2.25:1) necessitating a re-shoot of the sequence. The actor that played Bond in the film was used for the sequence from this point forward.

    From this film forward, the white dot of the gun barrel fades into the teaser sequence instead of reducing size and disappearing to a full-screen fade as in the previous two films.

    You Only Live Twice (1967)

    • Relevancy: Very
    • Scenes: 3
    • Running Time: 5:32

    Summary

    A story in three parts.

    First, an orbiting American spacecraft is swallowed by a mysterious rocket.

    Second, American and Russian diplomats argue over the origin of the assailing spacecraft. The Americans think the Russians were at fault and threaten war over any more interference. The British intercede and claim they have evidence that the rocket came down near Japan, and their “man in Hong Kong” is working on the problem right now.

    Cut to James Bond in bed with a Chinese girl. She crosses the room and presses a button that folds the bed into the wall. Several men burst through the door and shoot through the bed. The police show up, pronounce Bond dead, and claim that he “died on the job. He’d have wanted it that way.”

    Commentary

    Here’s the first example of the “only 007 can save us now” teasers. A sequence of Earth-shaking events piles up until someone in authority says what the audience has been thinking for several minutes: “call in James Bond!” Then we’re thrown a curve ball as Bond is supposedly shot to death before he can do anything helpful. This one gets a low rating on the excitement scale, but it’s important as the first step in building Bond up as a world-saver.

    Additionally, this sequence marks the trend toward story-oriented teaser sequences and away from irrelevant action. Bond was slowly getting squeezed out of the teasers, and he’d be gone entirely two films later. In his place is something of a mystery novel – a “crime” has occurred that Bond must spend the rest of the film solving. The idea isn’t for the audience to break into a smile as Bond does something witty like in Goldfinger and Thunderball, but instead to peak interest of the audience and carry them through the rest of the film. In this sense, it’s an enormous break from the previous installments.

    You Only Live Twice broke new ground for the teaser sequences – but was it a step forward or a step back?

    Production Notes

    When the film was first shown on American television, the pre-credit sequence was chopped up. Many subsequent prints have been made from that master, including some video releases. Also, one of the technicians at the space center is played by Shane Rimmer. He’d return twice in the Bond series: as one of Willard Whyte’s assistants in Diamonds Are Forever, and as captain of the captured American submarine in The Spy Who Loved Me.

    On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)

    • Relevancy: Slight
    • Scenes: 2
    • Running Time: 6:09

    Summary

    Q is shown in M’s office, demonstrating the finer points of “radioactive lint.” M mentions that they need to find Bond.

    Cut to a silver Aston Martin driving along a seaside highway, the driver shown only in shadow. He’s passed by a woman in red sports car that he later finds parked on the side of the road, its driver walking into the sea. He races to the water’s edge (here we see George Lazenby’s face for the first time), and retrieves the woman from the water, announcing, “My name’s Bond. James Bond.” A gun appears at his head and Bond fights with three men who have appeared behind him. The woman, meanwhile, steals Bond’s car from the beach, drives back to her car, then flees the scene.

    Having defeated his assailants, Bond looks after the woman and says, “This never happened to the other fellow” then looks directly at the camera.

    Commentary

    In the Fleming novel, Bond’s rescue of Tracy comes later in the plot, but it works well here to introduce not only the new Bond but also to the girl he’s destined to marry. The only problem with making this Bond’s introduction to Tracy is determining how he knows she’s trying to commit suicide just because she wades into the surf. (Perhaps he races to the scene just to save that expensive evening gown from ruin?)

    Lazenby does exceedingly well in the fight scenes, and shows off an impressive physique (his prowess at fight scenes was one of the reasons he was hired). John Barry scores the scene with his usual mastery, and the variation on the traditional Bond theme indicates that he’s adjusting his normal approach to fit the new Bond. Later he’ll do the same for Roger Moore by arranging a strings-heavy orchestral version of the theme.

    This teaser works nicely in balancing throwaway action with plot details. Like the previous film, we have a situation that peaks our interest and carries through to the rest of the film. In this case, however, it’s accompanied by fast cars, a beautiful woman, a gorgeous location, and Bond beating the odds.

    Of course, we must address the aside where Bond speaks directly to the camera – the first and last time this has ever happened in the series. Some thought the joke was a nice way of handling the change in actors, others thought it was a travesty and completely destroyed the sequence.

    Thrilling action, a tight storyline, and a beautiful beach location made this teaser a fantastic way to introduce the new James Bond.

    Diamonds Are Forever (1971)

    • Relevancy: Somewhat
    • Scenes: 4
    • Running Time: 4:16

    Summary

    The sequence begins with a three-scene montage of Bond roughing various people up, asking each of them where Blofeld is (remember that Blofeld killed Bond’s wife at the end of the last film).

    Cut to Blofeld arranging for plastic surgery and several scrub-clad men giving someone a mud bath in some kind of laboratory. They leave and Bond enters, having disabled one of the attendants and taken his place. The man in the mud tries to shoot Bond, but Bond buries him with more mud only to find he’s not Blofeld. Blofeld and two of his guards enter, some unfriendly banter ensues, and Bond scuffles with the two guards. Victorious, Bond ties Blofeld to stretcher and rolls him into some kind of hot mud pit. He turns up the heat and leaves with, “Welcome to hell, Blofeld” as the mud bubbles over.

    Commentary

    Did the summary seem odd and confusing? Then reading it is a lot like watching it, as it’s a bizarre sequence all around.

    The reappearance of Connery is welcome, and was likely cheered by audiences. Even so, it’s a bit jarring to note his added pounds, wrinkles, and ill-fitting hairpiece since You Only Live Twice. (Actually, Connery wore a hairpiece in every film after From Russia With Love, it just looks worse here.) It is, however, amusing that each bogus Blofeld gets his own personal clone of the white cat. Also note the rare bit of nudity in the scene where Bond strangles the woman with her bikini top.

    Very little of this teaser makes sense. For instance, why does the fellow in the mud bath have a gun? And Bond pulls him out of the mud easily after killing him, so why couldn’t the man have saved himself? While other sequences have been illogical, this one offers nothing in return – there’s no wild stunt or gunfight to reward us for our considerable suspension of disbelief.

    This teaser falls completely flat and is ample justification for that fast forward button on the remote control.

    Live And Let Die (1973)

    • Relevancy: Slight
    • Scenes: 3
    • Running Time: 4:12

    Summary

    New York – a United Nations representative is killed by some kind of deadly noise projected through his translation headphones.

    New Orleans – a man standing outside a “Fillet of Soul” restaurant is stabbed to death, then his body is picked up by trick coffin in a passing funeral procession, the participants and music of which go from morose to jubilant as the body disappears.

    San Monique, an island in the Caribbean – a man tied to a post is bitten and killed by a snake in some kind of Voodoo ritual.

    Commentary

    Many would rank this teaser as the weakest in the series for the sole reason that Bond fails to appear at all. However, it does set the tone for what follows, namely an alternately moody and outlandish film with an emphasis on spooky voodooism and all-too-trendy fashions. One might take Bond’s absence as an act of bravado: after going to such lengths to properly introduce Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the producers are decidedly nonchalant with their unveiling of Moore.

    The last scene of this sequence – an intense voodoo ceremony – gets positive marks for being so bizarre and seemingly out of place. More than one fan watched this and thought, “Just what the hell is this all about?” While this often detracts from a sequence (see Diamonds Are Forever), here it manages to pique the viewers’ interest. This scene, in contrast to the one from the previous film, walks on the right side of that fine line.

    The end of this teaser, however, is almost ruined by the inclusion of a snake that appears so obviously made of rubber that it’s almost comical to watch. But, get this – the snake is real. Real or not, however, the snake appears to bite without leaving any noticeable marks on its victim’s neck.

    Live and Let Die's teaser is clean and well-structured, but with no Bond, who cares? This sequence could have been edited out and the plot would have still have made perfect sense.

    Production Notes

    From this film on, James Bond no longer wears a fedora during the gun barrel sequence.

    The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

    • Relevancy: Somewhat
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 7:36

    Summary

    A midget waiter delivers champagne to a couple on a secluded beach. The servant then welcomes an aging American hit man at another location, takes him to a house, and pays him with an envelope of cash. The servant retreats to a control room and sends the hit man and the man from the beach through some kind of fun house – complete with wax dummies of gangsters, cowboys, and James Bond himself. The man finally kills the gangster, and it’s revealed that the servant “tests” his master occasionally by hiring people to kill him. The man then shoots the fingers off the wax dummy of James Bond that appeared previously.

    Commentary

    A flaw in this sequence ends up projecting throughout the entire film – Scaramanga is simply a weak villain. Nothing in this sequence draws our interest to him, and, until he shoots at the Bond dummy, we don’t even realize he’s the bad guy. The intent was evidently for Scaramanga to sweep us off our feet and make us forget about the absence of 007. It doesn’t work.

    The sequence in the fun house is bizarre and confusing. Again, like in Diamonds Are Forever, the sets have a low-budget feel to them and appear to be hodgepodge of a small child’s nightmares. We don’t know who Scaramanga is, nor do we know anything about the hit man. It’s hard to maintain interest when the audience doesn’t care one whit about the two participants. When it’s over, we’re left wondering if everybody else knows something we don’t.

    There’s no action, no Bond style (no Bond at all, actually), and nothing much is said about the plot. Sadly, this one’s a failure on about every level.

    Production Notes

    The hit man is played by Marc Lawrence. He also played one of the gangsters in Diamonds Are Forever who threw Plenty O’Toole out a window.

    The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

    • Relevancy: Very
    • Scenes: 6
    • Running Time: 7:23

    Summary

    Some calamity befalls a British submarine. In the next two scenes, the PM and General Gogol have both been advised that they’re each missing a submarine. Gogol calls for “Agent Triple-X” who turns out to be a beautiful woman in bed with her lover. Cut to M asking for Bond – Moneypenny says he’s in Austria.

    Cut to Bond with a female friend in a mountain cabin. When Bond he leaves on skies, the woman reveals a radio and advises several men outside that Bond has just left. A chase ensues, Bond kills several men (one of which is the man who was with Triple-X earlier), then skis off a cliff and opens a Union Jack parachute.

    Commentary

    After spending the last two films on “small-fry” assignments chasing dope pushers and fighting duels in fun houses, Bond returns to the big time in this film. The teaser signals Bond’s return to giant-size adventures by giving us sweeping vistas of the open sea and the towering mountains of Austria. Also contrary to the last two films, Bond is in the driver’s seat from square one, exploding into action and setting a pace that keeps up throughout the film.

    This is also a return to the “only James Bond can save us” teasers, as M promises to “put our best man on it at once.” However, much like the rest of the film, Bond has to share the limelight as the Russians have their own idea of who can save them. M and Gogol both dispatching their best agents in consecutive scenes sets up the rivalry nicely. A neat surprise comes when “Triple-X” turns out not to be the Bond-like Russian fellow, but his female bed-mate. Note the misdirection as we’re not quite sure which one will answer the call.

    The attempt on Bond’s life does, however, present a problem in logic: namely, why is Bond the object of a Russian hit? For the rest of the film, the Brits and the Russians seem pretty cozy. In fact, this scene is the first time in the series when Bond is attacked by Russians other than crazed rogues or defectors to SPECTRE. An even bigger lapse in logic is that Bond is wearing a parachute in the first place. Did he know he was going to be attacked and could escape by flying off a cliff? Or was he simply planning to get home that way?

    Regardless, none of this seems to matter when the bullets start flying. The ski chase and stunt itself are superb. The tight, fast following shots of Bond skiing through snow canyons are thrilling and the jump is still amazing, even decades years later. Bond seems to fall forever before the parachute opens. When it does, the brazen combination of the Union Jack and the brassy Bond riff on the soundtrack is enough to bring a smile to anyone’s face and make them forget any lapses in continuity or logic. Our man Bond, on the job once again.

    The action is well-filmed, the plot details are handled nicely, and the stunt is one of the most memorable moments in Bond history. For these reasons, The Spy Who Loved Me is a hard teaser to beat.

    Production Notes

    Rick Sylvester donned skis for the breathtaking ski jump that has been ranked among the ten best stunts ever captured on film. The cliff was Asgard Peak on Baffin Island in Northern Canada. Sylvester, second unit director John Glen, and 14 crew members braved freezing temperatures and snowstorms for 10 days while waiting for a perfect opportunity to make the jump. (An excellent account of this stunt can be found under the entry “The Asgard Jump” in Steven J. Rubin’s “The Complete James Bond Movie Encyclopedia.”)

    Moonraker (1979)

    • Relevancy: Slight
    • Scenes: 3
    • Running Time: 5:13

    Summary

    A space shuttle is hijacked off the back of a 747 in flight, destroying the plane and killing the crew. M calls for 007.

    Cut to Bond getting amorous with a flight attendant. She produces a gun and, with the pilot, disables the plane, evidently hoping to parachute to safety while leaving Bond to die. Bond and the pilot scuffle and the pilot gets thrown out the door of the plane (he has a parachute, remember). While standing the doorway, Bond is pushed out of the plane by Jaws (Bond has no parachute). Bond catches the pilot in mid-air and takes his parachute. Jaws catches Bond, tries to bite him in the leg, but Bond manages to pull his own ripcord. Jaws rips his ripcord off accidentally, and flaps his arms in an attempt to fly before landing on a circus big top.

    Commentary

    Again, the elements that define the film are all here in the teaser. Specifically, huge spectacle and great stunts marred by a complete lack of restraint and disregard for logic.

    The shuttle theft, while obviously impossible in reality, is at least nicely filmed thanks to Derek Meddings’ superior model work. However, when Bond is pushed out of the plane, what could have been the best stunt in the series is tainted by a comedic appearance by Jaws. The assassination attempt itself is completely illogical – rather than just shoving Bond out the door, the plan is to disable the plane and leave Bond inside it while everyone else leaps to safety?

    Perhaps the greatest measure of the Bond mystique is that few people gave the implausibility of this scene a second thought. Refer to the The Spy Who Loved Me – ridiculous situations and illogical plot twists can be forgiven when something is offered in return. In this case a top-notch stunt is thrown at the audience before they can ponder the ridiculousness of the situation that brought the stunt about.

    The freefall stunt ranks as one of the best, not only because Roger Moore’s stunt double bears a striking resemblance to the star, but also because the stunt itself is so novel (even though it’s been copied many times since). But again, besides just being silly, the appearance of Jaws is unexplained and perhaps inexplicable. At this point he should be between employers. Has attacking Bond become his weekend hobby now?

    An “A” for action and a “C” for everything else leaves this teaser slightly higher than mid-pack.

    For Your Eyes Only (1981)

    • Relevancy: None
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 5:57

    Summary

    Bond is paying respects to his dead wife at her grave when he’s unexpectedly picked up by a helicopter from the office.

    Cut to a man in a wheelchair with a helicopter control console in front of him and stroking a white cat. The pilot of the chopper is killed by an electrical charge, and the helicopter is remotely controlled by the wheelchair-bound villain while he taunts Bond through the chopper intercom, evidently planning to kill him by crashing the aircraft. Bond crawls out on the skid of the helicopter, throws the dead pilot out, and takes control . He scoops the villain’s wheelchair up on the chopper skid and dumps him down a smokestack.

    Commentary

    Much has been made of this teaser, in which the most prominent villain in the Bond series is apparently killed. We have to assume the bald-headed man is Ernst Stavro Blofeld – villain of six previous Bond films and the man who killed 007’s wife.

    The inclusion of Tracy’s grave and the Blofeld-like villain – references to past adventures – were meant to introduce a new actor in the Bond role (during the pre-production phase of For Your Eyes Only, it seemed unlikely that Moore would return). It is interesting to note that this is the second post-On Her Majesty’s Service reference to Tracy’s death, making the events of that controversial film the only events in the series which are inarguably “canon.” With this in mind, some have argued that Blofeld shouldn’t have been killed in such an off-hand manner. It would seem that the most significant villain in the world of Bond should have had a more significant send off.

    An illogical attempt at killing Bond works here where it hasn’t in other moments in the series. In addition to involving first-rate stunt work, the attempt on Bond’s life isn’t meant to simply get him out of the way as much as it is an elaborate act of revenge. Additionally the method is reminiscent of the last time we saw Blofeld himself – flying wildly through the air in his Bathosphere at the end of Diamonds Are Forever. Perhaps he wants to kill Bond in much the same way he evidently ended up in a wheelchair?

    The stunt work here is particularly well done using claustrophobic camera perspectives to capture the inherent problems in flying a helicopter inside of a building. The soundtrack starts up quickly when Bond gains control of the helicopter, turning into a fast-paced brass number. Incidentally, this marks the second use of a slide whistle in a Moore film, something that would have seemed unimaginable in Connery’s day.

    Aside from this, however, the entire teaser works well to demonstrate that Moore’s Bond is about to sober up after the previous four lighthearted romps. Throughout the film, we’re treated to a Bond who seems aware of his mortality, his age, and the loneliness of his profession. All told, the teaser combines great action with a throwaway (if cryptic) story and comes off as an irrelevant thrill ride – exactly as intended.

    Production Notes

    The rights to Ernst Stavro Blofeld were mired in legal controversy so the character was only referred to as “Bald-headed Man” in the credits. Also, if you listen closely, you can hear the man offer Bond “a delicatessen in stainless steel” to let him live. Cubby Broccoli came up with this line. It was an old mafia promise in New York in the ‘30s to pay somebody off with a delicatessen, particularly one with stainless steel counter-tops, which were considered the best.

    Octopussy (1983)

    • Relevancy: None
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 6:58

    Summary

    Bond arrives at a horse show set in an unnamed Caribbean Communist nation (could it be… Cuba?), which just happens to be next to a military base. Bond is driving a truck pulling a horse trailer. He reverses his jacket and hat to reveal a military uniform. With the help of a pretty accomplice, he poses as Colonel Luis Toro, enters an aircraft hanger, and places an explosive in the nose cone of an aircraft. He’s captured by the real Colonel Toro and taken away in a military truck. Bond’s accomplice drives up next to the truck and distracts the guards (and the audience) with her cleavage long enough for Bond to pull their parachute cords, sending them flying. He jumps into the four-wheel drive and disconnects the horse trailer. The rear end of the “horse” tilts on a hinge, revealing itself to be just a prop, and Bond takes flight in a tiny jet. The jet evades a missile by flying through the same hanger in which Bond was captured. The missile explodes, destroying the hangar, and Bond lands the jet and rolls to a gas station looking for fuel.

    Commentary

    The last irrelevant teaser, as Bond engages in an exercise completely unrelated to the rest of the film. Director John Glen named this as one of his favorite action sequences in the five films he directed.

    The aerial sequences are top-notch, with the rear projection shots coming off better than usual. The plane itself is a wonderful novelty – that much punch in such a small package is exactly what Bond gadgets are all about. The redirection of the missile is a classic Bond moment – in a single stroke, 007 eludes death and achieves his original objective, the destruction of the fighter plane.

    Moore’s punch line at the gas station is delivered with his patented twinkle and provides an audience-pleasing wrap-up. A sort of “last hurrah” for the comedic Bond era. Timothy Dalton would later remark about Roger’s approach: “How else can you play the part except with a raised eyebrow, when you’ve just flown a mini-jet out of a horse’s backside?” On the negative side, Roger is looking old. It’s hard to imagine he could evade a missile without having heart failure.

    Nevertheless, the Octopussy teaser is all fun and thrills without the slightest hint of serious issues like saving the world. This one’s an all-time classic.

    Production Notes

    The Acrostar is one of the smallest jet aircraft in the world, measuring 12-feet long and weighing only 450 lbs. It toured U.S. air shows for many years as the “Coors Light Microjet” and, later, as the “Bud Light Microjet.”

    The scene where the Acrostar flies out the rapidly closing doors of the hanger seems almost unbelievable – it appears as through there are only inches to spare on either side of the plane. However, some trickery was used to film the shot. Of the two doors, only the one farthest from the camera was real. The door closest to the camera was a miniature door placed a few inches in front of the lens to appear as though it was full size. In reality, there was only one door, giving the pilot of the Acrostar plenty of room on that side of the aircraft.

    Also, in the insert shot when the Acrostar flies through the hanger, look directly under the plane. You can just see a white pole moving across the screen. The plane in this shot was actually a mock-up on a pole mounted on an old Jaguar and driven through the hanger. Incidentally, the brakes on the Jaguar failed as it exited the hanger causing it to crash.

    A View To A Kill (1985)

    • Relevancy: Slight
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 5:41

    Summary

    Scores of ski-clad Soviet troops are looking for something in the Siberian wilderness. Cut to James Bond finding a body under the snow and retrieving a microchip from a locket around the dead man’s neck. He’s discovered, shot at, and a chase ensues between Bond and Soviet soldiers on skis, a snowmobile and a helicopter.

    Bond steals the snowmobile, which promptly explodes beneath him. He then uses the ski of the destroyed vehicle to “surf” down the mountain to the tune of the Beach Boys’ “California Girls.” He loses most of his pursuers, then destroys the helicopter using a smoke flare. A hatch opens up on what appears to be an iceberg but turns out to be a small submarine. Inside is a beautiful girl who radios M. Bond produces caviar and vodka, and explains that “it’s five days to Alaska.”

    Commentary

    This is a short sequence, essentially consisting of one extended chase scene with little on either end. Like Goldfinger, this one tries to make Bond look completely super human by escaping from hundreds of Soviet troops in the Siberian wilderness. Some fans thought it worked well, others thought it fell flat.

    In particular, the inclusion of the Beach Boys tune is a point of great contention. Is it blatantly ridiculous or over-the-top funny? Public reaction was positive; fan reaction, less so. (Actually, that’s too kind – many fans have singled this out as the worst moment in the entire series.) This is a perfect demonstration of the theory that the teaser sequences are free from dramatic constraints placed on the rest of the film. The music would have destroyed this sequence had it been integral to the story.

    While the ski chase is shot and choreographed well, we come back to the fact that the actor is getting too old for the action associated with the teaser sequences. The thought of a 57-year-old Roger Moore snowboarding is our first indication of how awkward the rest of the film will be. As the series becomes more focused on outlandish physical feats, Moore becomes increasingly unsuitable for the role.

    Also, in the previous four films, major ski chases appeared in two – The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only – and the novelty was beginning to wear off. In particular, this one suffers considerably compared to the For Your Eyes Only chase.

    The sequence wraps up nicely, with a beautiful girl, snazzy vehicle, and a witty line or two bringing things to a close. It’s hard to classify this one – some loved it, others hated it.

    The Living Daylights (1987)

    • Relevancy: Slight
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 6:55

    Summary

    In an aircraft, M briefs three Double-O agents about to make a mock assault on the radar installations of Gibraltar. After a parachute landing on Gibraltar, one of them is shot by a guard with a paint gun – this is just an exercise, remember? However, some distance away, a mysterious man appears and starts killing people for real – first a Double-O, then a guard. We see Bond (Timothy Dalton in his debut) rushing to the side of a dead man where he find a piece of paper bearing the words “Smiert Spionam.” He runs after the assassin, jumping on the roof of a jeep he’s using to escape. The jeep – filled with explosives, naturally – careens out of control while Bond and the assassin fight. The explosives are ignited by gunfire, and the jeep goes over the edge of the rock. Bond activates his reserve chute and it pulls him out of the burning vehicle which explodes just before hitting the water. Bond lands on a yacht and delays his report after meeting the bikini-clad beauty on board.

    Commentary

    Quite a bit of action is crammed into this one, along with some impressive scenes of Gibraltar. Where Connery had a suave debut at a gaming table, and Moore had a relaxed and slightly seedy debut in bed with a missing spy, Timothy Dalton hits the ground running. This a good indicator of how his brief tenure as Bond will go: fast, furious and more than a little brutal.

    The director plays with us a bit by showing the three Double-O’s one by one: assuming one missed all the publicity in 1987, one might be wondering which of these blokes is the new James Bond. Dalton makes the unusual (and in some circles controversial) decision to throw away the “Bond, James Bond” line, delivering it as if it doesn’t really matter. This is our first clue that Dalton sees Bond as a true spy, operating anonymously in the shadows, as opposed to earlier films where Bond is treated as a celebrity.

    The appearance of the note reading “Smeirt Spionam” provides a nice thrill for Fleming fans, and is the first indication that the plot will respect the spirit of Bond’s creator. However, just when we think this Bond is all business and no pleasure, Dalton deftly steps back from the brink in his exchange with the lonely socialite.

    This teaser has a perfect mixture of thrilling locations, high adventure, and a bit of Bond’s wit thrown in for good measure. It’s a high-point in the series – one of the best.

    Production Notes

    The monkey that jumps out of nowhere to scare 007 was continuing director John Glen’s penchant for animal cameos. In each of the five films he directed, an animal suddenly appears to scare the audience. In order, they are: the birds on the cliff in For Your Eyes Only; the birds on the Monsoon Palace in Octopussy; Stacy Sutton’s housecat in A View to a Kill; the monkey on Gibraltar in The Living Daylights, and the shark and pigeons in Licence to Kill.

    Licence To Kill (1989)

    • Relevancy: Very
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 8:15

    Summary

    Somewhere in the Florida Keys, Felix Leiter (having inexplicably switched from the CIA to the DEA) is on his way to a wedding (his own) when he gets word that a plane carrying drug kingpin Franz Sanchez has strayed into American jurisdiction to retrieve his mistress from the arms of another man. Felix postpones his trip to the church to fly via helicopter to Sanchez’s location. He takes with him his best man, James Bond, with orders to remain an “observer.”

    Bond joins the DEA agents in the capture of Sanchez’ men, but they almost lose the villain himself when Sanchez escapes in a light plane. Dangling from the DEA chopper, Bond “ropes” Sanchez’s plane like an errant steer and the chopper tows the plane into custody. Bond and Leiter parachute to the chapel just in time for the wedding.

    Commentary

    Another action-packed teaser, although this one lacks the focus of The Living Daylights. The tone of the film is set early – this is going to be a violent and gruesome entry in the series. It begins with a man’s heart being cut out off camera and a mistress being whipped by a drug lord. Sanchez is nicely characterized in this sequence as well. He’s very real, very brutal, and – unlike other villains who sit in control rooms and bark out orders – willing to personally hunt down his enemies.

    In contrast, the “roping” of the plane is a wildly outlandish stunt. It’s excitingly filmed, thanks in part to Dalton filming parts of the stunt himself, but it doesn’t seem over-the-top enough in comparison to the sequences that precede it. The ending of the sequence is marred by some disparity in altitude between shots from the plane and shots from the ground.

    This teaser does a great job of providing background and characterization, but not much else. It’s surprisingly forgettable.

    Production Note

    The weapon Sanchez uses to whip Lupe is the tail of a sting ray. This is a connection with Fleming’s short story “The Hildebrand Rarity” – Milton Krest used a sting ray’s tail in that story to threaten his wife.

    The “submerged dot” is absent in this opening. For this film only, the dot fades into the teaser from the center of the screen.

    GoldenEye (1995)

    • Relevancy: Somewhat
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 9:54

    Summary

    In the Russia of Iron Curtain days, a figure with a black bungee cord jumps down the face of a huge dam, then fires a piton into the ground and reels himself down. Thus gaining entry to a top-secret facility, he is revealed as James Bond, on a joint mission with agent 006, Alec Trevelyan.

    The usual hijinks ensue as the agents set out to destroy the facility. Things take a nasty turn, however, when our boys are caught in the act and 006 is apparently shot dead. Bond effects an escape, with an army in hot pursuit. Stealing a motorcycle, he attempts to transfer to a plane during take-off, only to fall out with the pilot. Back on a motorcycle again, he drives off the edge of a cliff, freefalls to the plummeting and pilotless plane, climbs in and recovers control to escape as the Russian facility goes up in a huge explosion.

    Commentary

    If Moore’s debut was laid back, Brosnan’s is completely off the wall. We first glimpse the new Bond hanging upside down over a toilet!

    Bond and 006 in the chemical plant Brosnan’s actions in the teaser are a good indicator of his approach to Bond: he’s sort of an amalgam of his predecessors: the toughness of Connery, the fearless agility of Dalton, and the punning wit of Moore. Brosnan attacks the role with confidence, establishing himself as heir to the 007 throne within a few minutes. Double-oh-six comes off as a capable agent, although the sight of Bond working with a partner is a bit odd.

    The real-life physics of Bond’s bungee jump and free-fall sequences have been debated endlessly. Wouldn’t the tension from the bungee cord have pulled the piton out of the ground? If not, then wouldn’t it have taken a stronger motor to reel Bond in? How can a free-falling Bond catch up to an equally free-falling plane? (Please, no email on this one – we’ve already heard a million explanations in both directions.) The free-fall sequence was obviously the product of computer enhancement and rear-screen work, and doesn’t have quite the impact it should. However, once again, no one seemed to care – Bond was back after a six year absence, so reality be damned!

    Finally, we’re made acutely aware that Bond has now entered the 90s, when every scene in every script seems to end with “insert huge explosion here.” Curiously, the teaser is set “nine years ago,” which would retroactively negate Dalton’s tenure as Bond. Coincidence?

    At almost ten minutes, this is easily the longest teaser of the series, but it’s still a great return for our man Bond and brought memories of 007 rushing back for fans who had all but given up on him. Exceptionally well done all-around.

    Production Notes

    The “submerged dot” is back, but in the bottom left corner of the screen this time.

    Tomorrow Never Dies (1997)

    • Relevancy: Slight
    • Scenes: 1
    • Running Time: 9:10

    Summary

    At a terrorist arms sale in the Khyber Pass, James Bond uses a camera and satellite uplink to document the illicit sale of arms. When an overzealous British admiral orders a missile strike on the site, he risks exploding a nuclear missile found to be among the weapons. Bond is forced to effect a desperate escape in one of the fighter jets up for sale. He makes it out in the nick of time, only to find himself in an aerial dogfight with the added handicap of a backseat passenger who’s trying to garrote him. Thinking fast, he ejects his passenger into the bottom of the enemy jet flying overhead and heads home triumphant.

    Commentary

    Illogic abounds in this one. Why did the passenger wait until Bond was airborne before attacking him? How intelligent is it to kill the pilot of a plane you’re riding in? When the passenger – who had a garrote wire around Bond’s neck – was ejected, why didn’t Bond’s head pop off?

    Also, the lack of a gimmicky and pointless stunt is also conspicuous. In the end, this was just a generic shoot-em-up with nothing special to make it leap to memory. Rumor has it that this teaser was “Plan B” when the original idea – something to do with a ice fall and a big hole in the ground – was deemed too dangerous to shoot.

    Regardless, when the enemy jet explodes, the audience loved it all anyway (it had been almost 90 seconds since the last huge explosion and withdrawal pains were threatening). Ejecting an assailant into a plane flying overhead was so ridiculously over-the-top that audiences roared with approval. The sequence is all presented with the usual high standards of photography and editing, and our first glimpse of MI6’s “mission room” is impressive.

    M plays a nice role here. When asked what Bond is doing, she responds with a terse, “His job.” Additionally, it’s intriguing to watch her disagree and have to play politics with the military types in attendance, thus calling into question the omnipotence normally associated with her character.

    An uneven effort that works very well in places and not at all in others.

    The World Is Not Enough (1999)

    • Relevancy: Very
    • Scenes: 2
    • Running Time: 14:15

    Summary

    In Bilbao, Spain, Bond meets with a Swiss banker to retrieve the 3 million pounds Sir Robert King paid for a stolen, top-secret report. When the polite approach fails, Bond trashes the banker’s armed men and questions the banker at gunpoint. Before he can answer, the banker is murdered by the mysterious “Cigar Girl” and Bond effects a daring escape through an upper-story window, one step ahead of the police.

    Back at MI-6 Headquarters, Sir Robert arrives to claim his cash from his old friend (and lover?) M, and is blown to bits by incredibly complicated and unlikely means. Seconds too late to prevent this, Bond spots the Cigar Girl in a powerboat on the Thames, and gives chase via the gadget-laden “Q-Boat.” Cigar Girl meets her doom and Bond narrowly escapes his own, taking a spectacular fall onto the Millennium Dome and suffering a shoulder injury that will plague him throughout the film.

    Commentary

    Among the most “relevant” of all the teasers, this sequence launches many major plot elements that will greatly affect the course of the film. Sir Robert’s murder is the event that puts Bond on the case, makes things personal for M and provides some surprises near the film’s end. The injury Bond sustains here will continue to factor into the action and love scenes, and Renard’s surprising knowledge of the injury contributes to Bond’s suspicions regarding Elektra King.

    Once again, the teaser tips us off to how the rest of the film will go. It’s very long, for one thing (at a whopping fourteen minutes plus!), and after one effective “ending” it keeps on going, upping the ante in terms of noise, action and spectacle, to offer a second, even bigger ending. This will happen again at film’s end when the emotionally-charged showdown between Bond and Elektra is followed by a much more pyrotechnic (though utterly impossible) showdown with Renard. And like the film in general, the teaser crams in tons of exposition that goes by quickly and doesn’t always add up. Explanations of what’s in that mysterious report and how Sir Robert got involved are hard to follow, and some questions are never answered, like how the banker got hold of Sir Robert’s funds and why he’s giving it back.

    The teaser, like the film as a whole, attempts a precarious balancing act between over-the-top action and humor on the one hand, and dead-serious, character-driven plotting on the other. A rare sense of reality intrudes as Bond is given the first plot-affecting injury in his 40-year film history. But this comes mere moments after a decidedly over-the-top boat chase that takes Bond underwater (despite the open cabin of his craft) and then over the streets of London, around corners, down alleys and through a busy restaurant with police cars in hot pursuit (having arrived, incidentally, mere seconds after Bond hits land!). One could be forgiven for leaning a bit closer just to make sure Roger Moore hadn’t taken over the boat’s controls from Pierce Brosnan. This curious dichotomy is continued throughout the film as comic-book-style action sequences and painfully juvenile puns exist side-by-side with powerfully-acted dialog scenes.

    Like most Bond films, The World Is Not Enough has its fans and its detractors, but most viewers are in agreement that the teaser, at least, is a definite highlight. More than most, this one stands on its own as a “mini-movie.”

    Production Notes

    The filming of the boat chase garnered a great deal of attention, first for supposedly creating enough noise to disturb a session of British Parliament, then for generating almost daily reports on various Web sites (which according to the tabloids, angered the film’s producers). Both “controversies” merely helped assure healthy box office receipts once the film arrived in theaters.

    Months after the film’s release, two locations used in the teaser would be the focus of Bond-like events. The Millennium Dome was the target of a daring daylight robbery attempt, and MI6 was struck in a missile attack eerily reminiscent of Sir Robert’s murder.

    As the teaser ends, a silhouetted Bond drops to the ground and, nursing his injured shoulder, walks off screen in the first few frames of Daniel Kleinman’s title sequence. It’s a neat effect that brings to mind Lazenby running from the beach into Maurice Binder’s titles for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (rather fittingly, as a line of dialog from that film inspired the title of this one).