Familiar meme: megalomaniac environmentalists

This weekend’s U.S. release of Kingsman: The Secret Service marks the return of a familiar meme in spy entertainment — the megalomaniac environmentalist who has the means to take radical action (i.e. wipe people out) to restore ecological balance.

This is a sampling of both television and movie efforts.

Dr. Loveless (Michael Dunn) looks displeased with associate Kitten Twitty (Jenie Jackson)

Dr. Loveless (Michael Dunn) looks displeased with associate Kitten Twitty (Jenie Jackson)

The Wild, Wild West: The Night of the Murderous Spring (first broadcast April 15, 1966): Dr. Loveless, after three prior defeats by U.S. Secret Service agents James West and Artemus Gordon, is in the midst of his biggest scheme yet.

Loveless (Michael Dunn) arranges to use West (Robert Conrad) as a test subject for his newest discovery. When Loveless’ powder is mixed with water, it’s absorbed into people. When that happens, they lose their inhibitions and their aggressive tendencies are magnified. The powder also causes hallucinations.

In separate incidents, West imagines he kills Loveless and Gordon (Ross Martin). When the real Arty gets into town, he’s told West has been taken to a hospital. It’s really a cover for Loveless’s hideout.

The plan is revealed. Loveless will use a large number of birds to distribute his powder. It’s the start of spring. The birds will reach water, spread the powder and people will kill themselves. Loveless provides a demonstration where the bulk of the “hospital’s” staff kill themselves off.

West and Gordon barely avert catastrophe. Loveless and two women, Antoinette and Kitten Twitty, flee on a boat across a lake. West shoots a hole in the boat and it sinks. After 20 minutes, the agents give up. Bad move, but that won’t become evident until the show’s second season.

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die poster

Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die poster


Kiss the Girls and Makes Them Die (1966): Ardonian (Raf Vallone) is concerned about the prospects of overpopulation. (The world’s population was about 3 billion at the time, it reached 7 billion in 2011.)

Ardonian, being a megalomaniac, isn’t content to just fret. He plans to launch a satellite that will zap the earth. Sexual activity will stop and the population will decline naturally as people die off.

Meanwhile, Ardonian is abducting various beautiful women and having them frozen. When it’s time to repopulate the Earth, Ardonian will have sex with the women and get them pregnant.

Ardonian’s activities, however, don’t go unnoticed. American agent Kelly (Mike Connors) and British agent Susan Fleming (Dorothy Provine) eventully join forces and foil the scheme.

The Malthusian Affair, unmade television movie, 1976: Sam Rolfe wrote the pilot for The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and was its first-season producer. In 1976, he was hired to write a new U.N.C.L.E. television movie that would double as a pilot for a new series.

The title refers to Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), who warned about population growth in his day.

The head of Mogul Industries is a big believer in Malthus. So he’s going to kill off vast numbers of people to restore ecological balance and run things himself. (Funny how megalomaniacs never volunteer to sacrifice themselves.)

U.N.C.L.E. agents Napoleon Solo and Illya Kuryakin, aided by two younger agents, put a stop to the plan. But their luck with studio executives wasn’t nearly as good so the story never went before the cameras.

For more information, CLICK HERE For The Man From U.N.C.L.E. episode guide’s page on never-made U.N.C.L.E. projects.

The Spy Who Loved Me poster

The Spy Who Loved Me poster


The Spy Who Loved Me (1977): Industrialist Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) is concerned about the world’s oceans. All those billions of people keep polluting them.

Solution: Snatch nuclear submarines and launch their missiles to start a nuclear war. Stromberg uses a specially built freighter. Its front opens up, swallowing up the subs. Stromberg also has some kind of electronic device to disable the submarines, making it easier to make off with them.

James Bond (Roger Moore) and Soviet agent Triple-X (Barbara Bach) are assigned by their respective governments to find the missing submarines. Similar to Kiss the Girls and Make Them Die, the two agents initially oppose each other before joining forces.

The two are aboard a U.S. submarine to observe Stromberg’s massive ship when the megalomaniac adds that sub to his collection. The timing is good. Stromberg is just about to execute the final stages of his plan. Long story short, the plan is foiled, Bond kills Stromberg and Bond and Triple-X have sex.

Moonraker teaser poster

Moonraker teaser poster

Moonraker (1979): Industrialist Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) has two obsessions — the exploration of space and fixing the environmental mess on Earth.

Like other megalomaniacs, he concludes it’s best to kill off most people, leaving himself in charge. He already has a space station in orbit that nobody knows about because it has a radar jamming system. He plans to make it into an orbiting “stud farm” to repopulate the Earth after he kills off everybody except himself and his employees.

Drax makes his first mistake when he steals one of his own Moonraker shuttles from the British. One of the shuttles Drax planned to use developed a fault. The problem with this move is the British are rather annoyed (they’ve lost a 747 aircraft and its crew was killed). So James Bond (Roger Moore) is on the case.

Bond begins his investigation in Southern California, where the Moonrakers are made. It turns out the CIA has an operative, Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), working undercover there. Like Mike Connors and Dorothy Provine….well, you can guess by now what happens.

The story goes to Venice to Rio to the Brazilian rain forest to, eventually, Outer Space! (as it says in the end titles listing the locations.) The space station will launch globes of a deadly poison to kill off Earth’s population. After dispatching Drax, Holly flies a Moonraker while Bond destroys three launched globes (the others were destroyed previously) with a laser.

Kingsman: The Secret Service (2015): Samuel L. Jackson’s Valentine is the latest megalomaniac to decide he’s the man to solve Earth’s environmental problems.

We’ll avoid the specifics. His plot is similar Dr. Loveless’s, except Valentine’s involves electronics, rather than a chemical.

This being the 21st century, things are nastier. We witness a demonstration of Valentine’s device. Also, it’s implied Valentine is at least partially successful. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people may have died before the plot was stopped.

Wall Street Journal profiles one-time 007 villain Michael Lonsdale

The Wall Street Journal’s arts section, in a story dated Dec. 3 but already online, has a profile of actor Michael Lonsdale, who played 007 nemesis Hugo Drax in Moonraker.

Here’s an excerpt:

At 79 years old, Mr. Lonsdale has played the gamut of religious roles —priests, abbots, cardinals, inquisitors—as well as countless aristocrats ranging from English lords to Louis XVI. Also a man of the theater, his circle of friends has included literary heavyweights like Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett and Eugene Ionesco, whose works he performed on stage in Paris in the 1960s. Perfectly bilingual, he moves easily between the bizarre shoe salesman in François Truffaut’s “Stolen Kisses” and the campy bearded villain in the James Bond classic, “Moonraker”

There’s a lot of detail about Lonsdale’s career and current projects. To read the story, JUST CLICK HERE.

And here’s a quick look back to the 1979 007 film where Lonsdale delivers a short speech to his minions on a space station while Bond (Roger Moore), Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles) and Jaws (Richard Kiel) look on.

Moonraker 30th anniversary addendum

ABC and James Bond has a long relationship. So here’s the opening to The ABC Sunday Night Movie when Moonraker appeared a few years after its 1979 debut in theaters. Ernie Anderson does the honors for the voiceover:

And while we’re at it, here’s a 1980s repeat showing of From Russia With Love where Anderson tells us “the Best Bond returns!” Note the parential advisory at the start.

HMSS nominations for best lines from James Bond movies

What’s the best line from a James Bond movie? Here are a few for consideration:

“Bond, James Bond.” Sean Connery (James Bond, natch) from Dr. No.
Analysis: Perhaps a cliche now, but Connery established a classic introduction line.

“She should have kept her mouth shut.” Sean Connery (Bond), capping off a tense sequence in the movie From Russia With Love that was mostly a faithful adaption from a memorable chapter of the Ian Fleming novel of the same name. Connery had delivered a number of quips in Dr. No, but this one reflected perfect timing and Connery’s growth in the role of 007.

“No, I expect you to die!” Comeback by Auric Goldfinger (Gert Frobe dubbed by Michael Collins) to Bond’s witticisms from Goldfinger.

“Somebody’s probably lost a dog.” Bond (Connery again) skeptical that about the emergency for which he has been summoned in Thunderball. Often overlooked among 007 witticisms, it’s a perfect example of Connery at his peak in the Bond role.

“Wait till you get to my teeth.” Bond (Connery) muttering to himself following his first encounter with Domino in Thunderball. The line isn’t as memorable as Connery’s delivery, a perfect example of what was the actor’s polished confidence in the role.

“Mr. Osato believes in healthy chests!” Helga (Karin Dor) to Bond in You Only Live Twice. An early sign of how the series was starting to parody itself.

“But darling we have all the time in the world.” Bond (George Lazenby) to his soon-to-be-deceased bride Tracy (Diana Rigg) in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. A line based on Ian Fleming prose, something that would soon be rare in the film series.

“Look after, Mr. Bond. See that some harm comes to him.” Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) to his manservant Chang in Moonraker. An example of subtle humor and menance in an otherwise over-the-top film.

“I’m glad I insisted you brought that cello!” Bond (Timothy Dalton) to Kara in The Living Daylights. For most of a key sequence, Dalton/Bond had been more than a little annoyed that Kara had insisted on bringing the cello. The instrument turns out to be both a clue and a means to a getaway from Cold War-era Czech troops.

“He disagreed with something that ate him.” A note attached to Felix Leiter (David Hedison) in Licence to Kill, which took the idea from Fleming’s Live And Let Die novel.

“The bitch is dead.” Bond (Daniel Craig), referring to double agent Vesper Lynd in Casino Royale. Once again, going to the Fleming source material.