Sunday, September 30, 2007
MONEYPENNY CASHES IT IN: R.I.P. LOIS MAXWELL (1927-2007)
The spy movie genre has lost one of its most familiar faces with the passing of Lois Maxwell, better known to the general public as the original Miss Moneypenny, wry secretary to 007’s boss, M.
Born Lois Hooker, she changed her name to Maxwell for some inexplicable reason and, after years in entertainment, found screen immortality as the horny office goddess who relentlessly — and fruitlessly — flirted with James Bond while keeping M’s administrative shit together, her invaluable services noted aloud by both 007 and M in 1969’s superb ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE.
Maxwell’s passing is a great downer to those of us in lifelong Bondage, and her life and career will no doubt be covered in far greater detail on other sites, so I’ll leave that to the other fans/geeks. We all know she was in a bunch of the best of the James Bond flicks, appearing in 14 of them from DR. NO (1962) through A VIEW TO A KILL (1985), but my favorite screen appearance of hers was in OK CONNERY (1967, aka OPERATION KID BROTHER and OPERATION DOUBLE 007), one of the legion of 1960’s “spy spoofs” — translation: “James Bond ripoffs/cash-ins” — but OK CONNERY stands unique for its complete and utter shamelessness.
While there were literally dozens of Italian Bond swipes, none of the others had the unmitigated balls to feature Danielle Bianchi (Tatiana Romanova in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE), Adolfo Celi (THUNDERBALL’S arch villain Emilio Largo), and Bernard Lee (the original M), all from the classics of the series’ early days, but the radioactive icing on the cake is star Neil Connery, the talent-free younger sibling of the awesome Sean Connery, whose voice is obviously dubbed by an American actor.
With a plot that basically amounts to the real Bond not being available for a mission against evil organization Thanatos and his martial arts expert/mystic hypnosis master brother called in as a substitute — swear I’m not making this up — the flick is ludicrous enough on its own, but it’s truly hilarious to see a fantastically bad Bond ripoff starring the actual Bond supporting cast members. Maxwell even played a secret agent named Miss Maxwell, for fuck’s sake, but unlike in the straight 007 flicks she got to kick mucho ass with guns, fists, and feet in some of the movie’s several nonsensical fight scenes. Played absolutely straight, OK CONNERY is hands down the funniest of the so-called spy spoofs and is quite lively — most of the Bond clones of the time simply laid there like roadkill, and often stank just as powerfully — but it’s unfortunately not available on DVD (although there are professionally-made copies available on eBay, or so I’ve been told…), not even in the version seen on MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 as OPERATION DOUBLE 007 back in 1993. Hopefully that oversight will be remedied soon.
So, rest in peace, Moneypenny. You were one of the last breaths of the pop culture Cold War, and Bond may have just been being a professional in the workplace, but he was a fool not to break off a piece of your good stuff.