Okay, here is a little thread about something that absolutely made my brain explode yesterday. I had never even put it together, somehow. But a tiny jump down a rabbit hole explained a HUGE part of my life in comics.
Wanna hear? It's weird.
I have talked about growing up on a remote farm in the boonies quite a lot. There were mostly farmers, fishermen, and loggers where I lived, very tough, strong guys. Mostly very nice guys, too!
But we didn't get a lot of tv reception, so access to movies was limited.
I can't remember the exact circumstances, but the only movie theater in our tiny town showed older movies on the weekends as matinees. They had a double feature of Doc Savage and The Man With the Golden Gun. I was just a kid, can't remember how old, but really young.
I didn't know anything about James Bond, but I was a fan of pulp heroes. Doc Savage was my least favorite big name pulp character, but I was bored, I asked if I could go, no one wanted to go with, so I went by myself as a kid and planned up, it was going to be fun.
Anyway, Doc Savage was first, I was bored to tears, I almost left because I didn't know anything about James Bond. But movie days were rare, so I stayed. And it's The Man With The Golden Gun, one of the most critically-loathed of the entire series.
There are many, many people who hate this movie to their toes. The famous Bond score composer, John Barry, said it had the worst theme song. It was the fourth lowest-grossing of the entire series.
I had no interest in spies, I didn't like camp heroes.
Shoulda hated it.
Instead, I loved it. Holy shit, I just did. The scenery of the locations, the clothes, the action, I loved it all.
And Barry was wrong about the theme song, it's an absolute banger, sung by Lulu.
Tell me I'm wrong.
Here it is.
And there's a couple other things that I thought were great...I loved Hervé Villechaize as Nick Nack. It's been a long time since I've seen the movie, it's probably awful in it's LP representation, but there was something wildly charismatic and lethal about him.
And the biggest bonus of all...CHRISTOPHER DAMN LEE as 'Six-Gun' Scaramanga, the Man With the Golden Gun.
I loved his portrayal, I loved the coldness of it. He seemed not just Bond's equal, but his better. Still my favorite Bond villain.
Here's where it gets a little odd. I loved the movie so much, I became a Bond fan.
And weirdly, that made me LESS of a Roger Moore fan. I would go see the movies, because Bond, but the cornball humor really annoyed, and I ended up liking every other version more.
Reading the books turned me off of Moore's Bond even more. It's only recently, having read a couple of his books, and reading stories about how gracious and kind he was, that I have re-looked at his appeal and can see why people like that version.
But it meant that this movie that I genuinely LOVED as a kid, I kind of avoided ever since.
He made me love Bond, then I abandoned him for all the OTHER Bonds (except Brosnan, that's another story).
But yesterday, I randomly said, HEY! I LOVE THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.
And it hit me...why did I love it so much? All I remembered at the moment was that weird Southern Sheriff character.
Then it hit me, I remembered why I loved it, why it made me want to sit up and cheer, and why it changed my entire life and affects me to this day!
Here it is. There's a scene where Bond infiltrates a compound in Bangkok, aided by a police lieutenant from Hong Kong named Hip.
Bong enters alone, ends up unconscious, wakes up as a lethal show of martial artists is taking place.
It's a fun scene, Moore seems game.
But he's surrounded by martial artists and is barely able to hold his own against one of them, their champion. So he jumps out of the arena and makes a run for it.
And this is where everything changed for me.
The two nieces, in their school uniforms, stand right next to Bond as they are surrounded on both sides by all these killers.
Bond looks genuinely like he knows an asskicking is coming their way. There is an unusual expression of, 'this is bad' for him.
He gallantly tries to shield them.
"Stay behind me, girls."
Note the nieces' faces here.
That is an expression I have tried to recreate a thousand times in fight scenes.
Without a word, the two young girls, in their schoolgirl blouses, skirts and shoes, both deliberately walk in FRONT of Bond, with an expression that so PERFECTLY says, "No, we got these assholes."
It is so elementally powerful, I'm surprised the screen didn't catch fire.
And then they quietly, purposefully beat the living SHIT out of the martial artists, one after another. Kicks to the head, kicks to the balls, they are RUTHLESS.
I watched it yesterday for the first time in years, and it blew my mind all over AGAIN.
No one is going to call the Bond films of that era progressive. But not only are they not sexualized, Bond shows them the respect of standing back out of the way while they take care of business.
I say again. LOOK AT THESE FACES.
And watching this scene over and over again yesterday, it just unleashed this flood of emotion and memory. I was dog-tired of heroines who had to be rescued, they were EVERYWHERE.
I know a lot of martial arts films had fighting women, but they were RARE here.
And it finally hit me that this scene has been in the back of my brain, pushing me on, EVER SINCE. Without me even knowing it.
First, I've written some deadly schoolgirls, especially in Birds of Prey, with Sin and Bethany. That's directly from this scene.
But more than that, that one scene was quite likely the first time I ever saw a female of ANY age play the stoic, silent and lethal fighter in any medium.
And I have spent the rest of my life reading, and eventually WRITING, stories with just that archetype.
So that is why my brain exploded yesterday, I realized an incredible scene in an okay movie led me DIRECTLY to this moment all this time later, still writing women who stand up and fight back.
Still trying to capture the gold standard of 'don't fuck with me' face. :)
I ask you, how weird are the building blocks of our lives?
If I hadn't seen that movie, I might never have loved Batgirl and Wonder Woman so much. And I'd probably be a garage mechanic somewhere.
But kind of wonderful.
Sadly, the girls aren't even credited in the movie's titles.
That sucks. I hope they know what an impact they had!
One quit the movie business for good. One quit for 28 years, until...
...she returned in triumph to play the best part of a masterpiece, KUNG FU HUSTLE, as the ultimate badass, the landlady. It's true, it's that same schoolgirl kicking ass decades earlier in Man With The Golden Gun!
STILL WITH THE 'DON'T EVEN TRY IT, CUZ' FACE!
That's it, no big message, BUT if I was GOING to say something about it, it would be this:
Don't be a rock. Be a goddamn sponge.
Creators get their stories and their images from everything, good and bad, sweet and sour.
You never know.
You never, ever know.
Thank you, Yuen Qui.
P.S. Here's the actual scene, the girls come in about halfway through. PLEASE ENJOY!