We realize that among some of our readers, memories of James Bond only go back as far as Pierce Brosnan. But even if you've never seen a Sean Connery/Roger Moore Bond movie, you know the drill: suave spy, killing dudes with gadgets, sexing the ladies. What you are probably not picturing is a cartoonishly Southern, racist redneck cop character played with all of the depth and realism of Yosemite Sam.
We hope this picture of Sean Connery looking suave makes what follows somewhat less painful.
Which brings us to Clifton James, an actor who made his career playing dumb, obnoxious Southern stereotypes, who turned up in not one but two James Bond movies playing Sheriff J.W. Pepper. He's supposed to be the comic relief, but the only joke here was on Roger Moore's career.
Being born in New York City is no obstacle to a career playing Southerners.
How He Nearly Ruined The Movie:
Cringe along with us while Pepper pulls over a black motorist, then arrests him with the words, "Ya got a set o' wheels that just won't quit, boy, if they's yous, that is. Spin around, boy! Ten fingas on the fenda!"
What's strange isn't just that the scene occurs in a Bond movie, it's that it happens right in the middle of a patented James Bond boat chase. As Roger Moore is leading the bad guys across the water and ramping bridges and shit, we keep cutting back to this sheriff going about his cracker stereotypically racist business.
One second it's Bond escaping death with the wind in his hair, the next we're cutting back to Sheriff Pepper in a patrol car, chewing tobacco and talking to his brother-in-law Billy Bob on the radio (we didn't make any of that up). Seriously, there's like nine straight minutes of this.
You could write the whole thing off as some kind of mix-up at the script stage, like an intern accidentally got pages from one of the Smokey and the Bandit movies mixed in when they were copying the script and nobody noticed until after they had shot it.
But then the bastard turns up again, in The Man with the Golden Gun. Bond's in Thailand and he eventually gets into another boat chase. Once more, J.W. Pepper just happens to be there. In Thailand.
He's on vacation, in a tour boat when Bond and the bad guys speed by. Since he can't immediately join the chase at this point, he's stuck muttering racist slurs from his tobacco filled mouth. He shouts, "Little brown water hog!" at the racing boats, and bellows, "If you got your pointy heads out of them pajamas, you wouldn't be late for work!"
After this, he appears in the passenger seat of a car Bond steals for yet another chase, so he can call everyone "Boy" and refer to "Little brown pointy heads" some more. oger Moore even puts on a Southern accent briefly before they fly off a conveniently placed ramp. Add some banjo music and it'd be The Dukes of Hazzard. Seriously, what the hell?
Look, sidekicking for Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones mode is a tall goddamned order. Who other than Sean Connery has pulled it off?
Above: Proof that the universe loves us.
Still, when it came time to make the Raiders of the Lost Ark prequel, Temple of Doom, Spielberg decided to match Indy up with Willie Scott, a stereotypical ditzy, blonde nightclub singer (played by an actress who later married Stephen Spielberg).
Alright, we understand Spielberg's motivation here...
But hey, at least in this flick Spielberg resisted the urge to insert a sassy, precocious child... ah, wait, sorry. This movie featured lots and lots of Short Round, the Chinese kid from Goonies.
...but this choice leads to some disturbing questions.
How They Nearly Ruined The Movie:
Willie, the blonde bimbo, is supposed to serve as the comedic relief, but does so by embodying about every ugly stereotype about women ever invented. She's shallow and materialistic; during a gunfight, she's crawling on the floor trying to find a diamond and mourns, annoyingly, about a couple holes in her dress. Later, she's very interested to meet the Maharajah because she hears he's rich. She's stupid; she loses Indy's gun because it's hot, and complains about cracking a nail (damage to her nails being a recurring complaint). She gets hysterical when there's danger; she almost lets Indy and Short Round die because she freaks out at the sight of a bug.
On the plus side, this.
It's like Spielberg was trying to make up for having previously written a strong female character in Marion. Remember her from Raiders? She punched people, drank men under the table and stood up to the Nazis. What the hell happened to Spielberg's opinion of women between 1981 and 1984?
There's a mild disparity, is what we're saying.
As for Short Round, he embodies several dozen of the Bad Child Character traits we mentioned above, with the added fun of being foreign, which the film wants us to find endlessly hilarious. So the adorable little scamp gets lines like "He no nuts, he crazy!" and "You cheat very big!" One of his very first lines in the movie is "Hokey dokey, Dr. Jones, hold onto your potatoes!"
Let's just stop there and enjoy this YouTube clip of him getting punched in the face:
Edward Furlong was one of many people to play John Connor, the future savior of humanity against Skynet. In T2, Skynet sends a Terminator back in time to kill John Connor at age 10, but the future John Connor sends back his own Terminator to protect his past self, probably forgetting what a huge dick he was when he was a kid.
"My God, I was such a douche."
How He Nearly Ruined The Movie:
We know what you're thinking at this point and no, we don't hate children. We really don't. But let us summarize Edward Furlong's role in T2 with this one scene. It's supposed to be a powerful exchange where Connor learns that humanity is destined for Armageddon, no matter what:
John Connor: "We're not gonna make it, are we? People, I mean."
The Terminator: "It is in your nature to destroy yourselves."
John Connor: "Yeah. Major drag, huh?"
A "major drag."
Look, kids are tough to work with. It's hard to write authentic little-kid dialogue, it's hard to make their role in the action plausible, it's hard to find a kid who isn't horrible at acting. Filmmakers seem to do it as a way to appeal to young audiences, but as Plinkett points out in his excellent Star Wars prequel reviews, kids don't go to movies to see other kids. They want to fantasize about being an adult Han Solo, not a young, annoying Anakin Skywalker.
This is especially true when the little kid is written by some middle-aged screenwriter to be cute and hip and sassy, putting into his mouth all sorts of "hip" lingo the kids are using these days. So, our first impression of John Connor is him hacking (again with the hacking!) an ATM machine and stealing $300, then turning toward us and saying, "Easy money!" as if it's his catchphrase.
You know what? We hope Skynet wins.
And he's all about the catchphrases. Later we have the scene where he decides to teach his robot protector to be human, giving him a course in how the kids talk here in 1991:
"You say, 'No problemo.' And if someone comes up to you with an attitude, you say, 'Eat me!' And if you want to shine them on it's, 'Hasta la vista, baby!' or 'Later, dickwad.' And if someone gets upset, you say, 'chill out!' "
When confronted by some bad guys (bad because they... tried to rescue John because they thought Arnold was assaulting him) one of them calls him a dipshit, which he is. Then he proves it by saying, "Did you call moi a dipshit?" in the dipshittiest way possible.
To be fair, we'd probably have done worse with an unstoppable killbot at our backs.
We understand that lots of us were douchebags when we were little kids, so it's perfectly logical that maybe the future savior of humanity was one, too, at that age. But you don't need to include that part in a movie.
You can read more from Mark at Guanxin.
For more movies that could've been great, check out 5 Awesome Movies Ruined By Last-Minute Changes, If 'Eclipse' Was 10 Times Shorter And 100 Times More Honest and If Hancock Was 10 Times Shorter and 100 Times More Honest.
And stop by Linkstorm (Updated Today!) to learn about the Internet's most annoying characters.
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