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« Posterpalooza Pt 1: Hitchcock, On the Road, The Wolverine | Main | A Handful of Link »
Thursday
Nov012012

007 Code Words

Deborah Lipp wrote "The Ultimate James Bond Fan Book". She's counting down to "Skyfall" with us via 007 about 007 Lists -Editor

One of the coolest moments in any spy movie is when the code words are exchanged. You'll see it parodied, but for me, the beauty of taking it seriously (or semi-seriously) remains. These exchanges are a rarity in Bond films, but as it happens, they have occurred exactly seven times, making this the perfect subject for one of our 007 about 007 lists.

001 In From Russia With Love, we see the following exchange twice:

Agent 1: Can I borrow a match?
Agent 2: I use a lighter.
Agent 1: Better still.
Agent 2: Until they go wrong.

Unfortunately, Bond's enemy, Red Grant (played by Robert Shaw), overhears this code exchange and uses it to successfully fool Bond—for a little while.

002 In You Only Live Twice, when Bond asks for the code sign, he's told I love you, without any counter-sign. The first time, Bond says it to Aki, and she responds, I have a car nearby. The second time, Bond asks Tiger Tanaka, How do you feel about me? and Tiger responds I love you, to the obvious discomfort of both men.

003 For Your Eyes Only has one of my favorites, as old-school is the one in From Russia With Love; this kind of serious spy stuff is rarely found in a Roger Moore movie. Bond is meeting an agent he knows only as Ferrara:

Ferrara: The snow this year is better at Innsbrook.
Bond: But not at St. Moritz.

004 In Octopussy, Bond is looking for his contact in India. A cornier Roger Moore film, this exchange opens with the contact, Vijay, playing the Bond theme on a snake-charmer's flute.

screencap via b+movieblog

Bond: Charming tune, do you take English money?
Vijay: Only gold sovereigns.

005 A View To a Kill was Roger Moore's last Bond film, and overall relied on silliness, but this exchange was done seriously, at the San Francisco wharfs:

Lee: Looking for something special?
Bond: Yes, soft shell crabs.
Lee: I might have some in the back.

006 GoldenEye was Pierce Brosnan's first outing as Bond. In St. Petersburg, he meets up with CIA agent Jack Wade (Joe Don Baker), who doesn't like to play by the rules.

Bond: In London, April’s a spring month.
Wade: Whereas in St. Petersburg, we’re freezing our butts off.

(Somehow, Bond doesn’t regard this as correct.)

007 Finally, we come to Die Another Day. Here, Bond has a long exchange in Cuba, awakening a sleeper agent who has been in place for twenty years. It's obvious that the Delectado cigar is a code word, and also, apparently, the Volado tobacco. How much of the entire exchange is coded is not clear:

Bond: I’m here to pick up some Delectados. [No recognition from the man at the desk.] Universal Exports. Check with your boss.

[After having been taken to see Raoul…]

Raoul: I come to think the Delectados would never be smoked. They are particularly hazardous to one’s health. Do you know why, Mr…?
Bond: Bond.
Raoul: Mr. Bond. Do you know why?
Bond: It’s the addition of the Volado tobacco. Slow burning—it never goes out."

If you had to exchange code words with Bond, what would it sound like?

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Reader Comments (5)

If I remember correctly, Grant says that SPECTRE sweat the recognition code out of a man in Tokyo "before he died". In any case, Grant does not successfully fool Bond only "for a little while" but even when Bond holds him at gunpoint. And while there are certainly moments of silliness in A View To A Kill, I find them to be rather toned down, at least when compared to Moonraker and Octopussy, the truly silly Moore films.

November 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterWilly

this was probably not the intended effect given the status of the film with Bond fans but this series has really made me want to watch the Roger Moore films again because that's what I grew up with but I haven't seen them since they were in theaters.

November 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Willy, I have seen FRWL more than 20 times and now I can't remember what they got out of the tortured agent in Tokyo. As for "for a little while," it's a matter of perspective; it's not exactly a precise measurement.

I hate AVTAK and have it at the absolute bottom of my list. We didn't do a "worst films" list because it's a cheap shot and I wanted to stay mostly positive with these columns.

November 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Would "Take Me! Take me now, James!" be too subtle a code phrase?

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterforever1267

@forever, heeee!

November 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

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