James Bond: 5 Great Moments of Unintentional Humor (part 2 of 2)
Live and Let Die (1973): Kananga Revealed
We come to one of my personal favorites, with this one from Roger Moore’s debut as 007.
In Live and Let Die, Bond goes up against Kananga (Yaphet Kotto), a diplomat from a small island in the Caribbean looking to make a killing on a huge heroin shipment. He keeps this little bit of trivia a secret by posing as Mr. Big, a Harlem gangster, and for roughly the first three-quarters of the film, Bond is meant to be unaware of this.
The audience (and I like to think Bond, too), however, has figured it out long beforehand, because while Yaphet Kotto is a fantastic actor, his voice is a little too distinctive to hide behind a bad prosthetics job.
But the reveal is quite funny, though not for the reasons I’ve listed. Kotto, as I said, is a very good actor, and he gives Kananga a nicely low-key, suavely menacing personality that makes for a splendid villain. He only goes over the top in one scene, and it’s when he unmasks in front of Bond.
It begins with him ripping off a piece of the mask, gradually getting more and more pissed off as he tears the face away, until he rips off his wig and slams it down on the ground so hard I expected it to explode on impact.
It’s a bravura piece of acting that is way, way funnier than what was probably intended.
Licence to Kill (1989): The Worst Bunch of Seamen on the Water, and Journalism at Its Finest
We end with two entries from Licence to Kill, the second outing for Timothy Dalton as 007, which finds him going after drug dealer Robert Davi, who’s fed his buddy Felix Leiter to a shark on his wedding day.
The film is grim and gritty, with some surprisingly violent moments (overall, it’s quite excellent) but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some laughs, as well. While Dalton’s Bond was fairly serious (most of the humor with him was rather dark), Robert Davi as Sanchez does have a few funny moments… as well as one that comes by accident.
In the beginning of the film, Bond and Felix capture Sanchez in an audaciously over the top stunt sequence, and he’s taken into custody of the DEA. As he’s being loaded into the van, a flock of reporters bombard him and the agents escorting him with questions.
You get the normal stuff one would expect (where is he being taken, why did he come out of hiding), but the gem is this little number from an off-screen reporter.
Oh god, that kills me every time. It’s not the line itself, but the fact that I could absolutely see some dipshit reporter coming up with that one and blurting it out in real life. I can also imagine his cameraman just snorting derisively as he walks back to him after the van leaves.
You can find something similar in Die Another Day when Graves parachutes in. I’d bet good money that most of the extras playing reporters were actual British tabloid reporters, because very few actors can come across with the right level of snobbishness and/or vapid stupidity that the real deal can.
The second thing that makes me laugh is a little more complicated and is, in a way, quite brilliant when you think about it. After Felix gets gnawed on (surviving, because I guess when you hang out with James Bond you absorb whatever keeps his hair from getting mussed), Bond sets out to destroy Sanchez’ operation by turning him against his employees.
Bond seduces his girl, he gets Sanchez to trust him, and most importantly, he makes off with a large amount of money being delivered by Milton Krest (Anthony Zerbe) to the villain. Krest uses a marine research vessel as cover, and his crew is, to put it mildly, rather Gilligan-esque in terms of their seaworthiness.
Put it this way: I don’t ever want to be on a boat where the captain can’t properly identify a manta ray, and uses gun-toting goons who are too goddamned lazy to check for a body after firing into the water for a few minutes after a saboteur has screwed up my money laundering operation…
Uh, not that I have one, or anything.
What makes this brilliant is that it works out great for Bond, as I have to figure this is what Sanchez is thinking after Bond insinuates that Krest is looking to off him:
“Krest… hmm. Well, he does employ some real pinheads. Never really cared for that. I prefer my guys to be well-trained and have their acts together. Yeah, he might be looking to pull something.”
And the end result?
That’s it for now. Come on by my blog for more great stuff.