Star Wars: Han Solo and the history of troubled Star Wars production

It’s been recently announced that the directors of the Han Solo film, Phil Lord and Chris Miller, have left the film. While the details are a bit sketchy, it seems to have mostly come down to creative differences between Lucasfilm and the two directors (Seen manning the controls here alongside the cast)

This isn’t of course the first time this film has suffered director problems-Josh Trank was apparentally part of the project up until mid-2015, during the highly publicized turbulent release of his “Fantastic Four” film.

Reportedly, this is because Phil Lord and Miller-whose main experience is directing family (Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs) and comedy films (The 21 Jump street films) were making the film too much of a comedy, and Kathleen Kennedy and Lawrence Kasdan-who fleshed out Han’s character as co-writer of The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, and The Force Awakens-wanted the matter to be taken more seriously, arguing that while Han’s provided moments of comic relief, it’s been in a more sarcastic way.  I’m actually kind of with Kasdan on this.

“I grew up here, you know.”

“You’re going to die here, you know. Convenient.”


Although this of course isn’t the first time there’s been production issues with the films, or sudden departures-although I’m pretty certain the films haven’t fired directors before-perhaps because George Lucas directed four of the original six films (Despite a few fans wanting him to step aside after TPM disappointed them)-mainly removing himself from ESB and ROTJ largely because A New Hope was a tough shoot, with Lucas not even sure the film would do well, problems with the special effects, the tough filming in Tunisia etc..


Empire Strikes Back suffered quite a few problems during production as well.  Difficulty with the sets, such as the Dagobah set with stunk, the very cold filming in Norway….

and perhaps most troubling of all was the Carbon Freezing chamber set where two key scenes were set (Han being frozen and the first part of the Luke/Vader duel), which had the very loud pistons fire at the wrong time, numerous dialogue rewrites, and was pretty hot too.

The film went largely overbudget, and it’s been speculated by many that this is why producer Gary Kurtz left the series (Although Kurtz says it’s more to do with creative differences with Lucas)


“Return of the Jedi” went a little smoother, as did the prequels somewhat, although there were some problems with TPM’s production (sandstorms, for one)  and Lucas disagreeing visibly with his team (Most notably ILM’s John Knoll). Much of this was shown in The Beginning, a documentary released around the time of TPM’s DVD release-footage from which is often used by internet critics on youtube to help dissect what went wrong.

The main problem was mainly with the actors, most notably Ralph Marsh (Pilot Ric Olie) and Terrance Stamp (Chancellor Valorum) who expressed pretty damning opinions of Lucas’s directing after the film came out. There were also rumors of on-set disputes with arguably two of the most successful actors from the films, Liam Neeson and Natalie Portman.


Even under Disney things haven’t been 100% smooth. Michael Ardnt was the initial writer of Force Awakens, but was also let go (He didn’t seem too sad about it, though)

Image result for Michael Arndt

And of course there’s the on-set accident which badly hurt Harrison Ford’s leg (as demonstrated by Harrison on the Tonight Show).


And Rogue One had some highly publicized reshoots, including a great deal of the scenes shown in the initial teaser trailer-although it at least kept it’s director.


And of course Carrie Fisher’s recent passing has radically reshuffled plans for Episode 9, set to film fairly soon as the finishing touches are put on “Last Jedi”. Although not the only person to die while working on a Star Wars production-Leigh Brackett for instance died while writing The Empire Strikes Back-she was reportedly going to be center to the plot of 9, perhaps with Leia’s relationship to Kylo Ren.

So now, things remain a bit frozen while the search for a new director takes place, possibly with Ron Howard (Who worked with Lucas behind and in front of the cameras with “American Grafitti” and “Willow”)…but right now, things remain….frozen like a certain scoundrel…..

But hopefully soon the Millenium Falcon will fly again 🙂




James Bond in Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Part IV


Bond’s initial meeting with a representative of Blofeld’s group is Irma Bunt, who in her appearance and demeanor, seems slightly reminiscent of Blofeld’s former follower, Rosa Klebb-except a bit more uptight and slightly less sadistic.


Piz Gloria is an interesting Bond location. It’s not quite as elaborate as the volcano base from the last film, but it’s still pretty interesting in that Bond is pretty much isolated up here, with no easy means of escape or contact with the outside world, as we soon learn. A similar location-the Solden Ice Restaurant (also dressed as a sort of clinic) would appear in the later SPECTRE film, probably intended as a nod.


It’s kind of funny how Bond sort of plays counter to his personality here-stating that he’s not a good traveler, doesn’t know any other languages, has never been in a helicopter before, and best of all,  that guns make him nervous! Although he does slip in a few jibes-first as Bunt’s name, which means the baggy parts of a sail, and also that Blofeld has “characteristic ambition”–for a humanitarian, of course. Bond does the usual bug checking of his somewhat overly secure room….and then goes into the alpine room, where we meet Blofeld’s eventual angels of death-with the intro set to sexy sax music.



Like with Octopussy, Living Daylights, For Your Eyes Only and other films with many background women in at least one scene, this got a publicity shot used in some of the film’s posters.


(Strange that Ruby, the principal girl, is left out of the shot here). BTW the lady in the foreground here? That’s Joanna Lumley, who would later star in the sitcom “Absolutely Faboulous” as Patsy.

Bond sits down in the alpine room’s table and gives them a lecture about genealogy, which the girls sort of half-listen to as they either stare longingly at Bond or have dinner (BTW there’s a lot of suggestive shots of them eating, such as Ruby gnawing on a chicken leg seductively). More of Peter Hunt’s sort of unusual style for this film of quick cuts.



Speaking of Ruby, she’s the one who seems to take the most interest in Bond, in all ways. Although the girls and men are forbidden from visiting each other at night-for reasons soon apparent-Ruby uses her lipstick to write her room number on Bond’s leg, which prompts a funny visual reaction from Lazenby, which Bunt notices, and Bond responds with one of the series’s major corny double-entendres: “Just a slight stiffness coming on….in the shoulder”.


Next, we come to Bond’s first visit with “Count Bleauchamp” in his labs. Now, there’s a bit of a continuity error here-the two should know each other by face already, but although they probably know here that either is not who they say-and they’re sizing each other up- they still act like they don’t know each other, even though Blofeld clearly has the upper hand here.  There’s sort of a reason for this-in the novel order, YOLT comes after OHMSS-and-other differences aside-the two haven’t met face to face yet novel-wise. Although the films are obviously in a different continuity, Hunt wanted to be as true to the novel as possible despite the continuity error here. It can be argued that Blofeld has had surgery to change his face-although he’s still obviously bald, the scar is gone, and Savalas’s voice and body language is completely different from Pleasence’s-and also his successor, Charles Gray. It’s been said that pretty much every Blofeld is fairly unique, even more than Bond.


Blofeld’s lab? He says he’s working on “cures”. Sure….he also says he’ll give “Sir hilary” the stuff he needs, but he’s absolutely not leaving to prove his credentials at Ausburg.

After this somewhat frustrating meeting, Bond returns and sneaks to Ruby’s room, using an improvised gadget to disable the electronic locks on the doors. He flirts with her a bit of course and then does the usual Bond thing. Technically he’s sort of cheating on Tracy here, I should add…but this does provide him with some vital intelligent-that Blofeld’s therapy has cured her allergies to chicken.Then a bizarre light show occurs, with Blofeld’s voice booming over the speakers-obviously, a form of hypnotism.


Bond returns to his room and briefly slips back into his Lazenby voice “Hilly, you old devil!”-but then finds another lady in his room, who used the same technique to escape her room. She’s played by Catherine Schell, an actress also known for…


Return of the Pink Panther….


…..and Countess Scarlioni, the cunning but somewhat naive wife of Scaroth in City of Death.

Bond mutters the same lines he gave to Ruby, although he slightly remarks “You’ll need to be”….perhaps because he’s kind of cheating on Tracy yet again, or he’s a bit spent after his rendezvous with Ruby just moments before.

The next scene has Bond once again sort of going back into his more clumsy “Sir Hilary Bray” persona, which is even more Christopher Reeve Clark Kentesque as he stumbles when he attempts to do curling.


However, a distraction comes in the way of Campbell, who has attempted to scale the mountain after being denied by Blofeld’s henchmen, with Blofeld warning him about trespassing, and that he’ll be “sent down” with his stuff. Bond meanwhile stays in the sunlight’s glare, out of sight, but he’s clearly troubled by Campbell’s showing up and attempts to try to escape-but simply by asking permission to take the car down. However, that obviously doesn’t work…and Bond’s still stuck so he just returns to setting things up with the rest of the ladies….which will be part of his downfall here.

He goes to see Ruby again, but surprise! It’s actually Irma Bunt! Also, the other henchman-Grunther-knocks Bond on the back of the head, which, as I’ve said in my last review, sure seems to be the best way to at least subdue 007…




James Bond in Review:On Her Majesty’s Secret Service part III

We next go see Tracy attend her father’s birthday, to the tune of “We have all the time in the world” but a bit lighter. Of course, Bond is there, and Tracy is immediately wise to her father being up to something.

She puts an ultimatum to father: Give him the information about Blofeld, or never see her again-Draco reveals that Blofeld might have a lawyer in Sweden, but Tracy is still upset that she was used as a pawn. Bond apologizes, and the two seem to reconcile and we get a nice montage set to the lyrical version of Louis Armstrong’s “We have all the time in the world”, with the two horse-riding, walking through a fancy garden, running on the beach etc. It’s a little sappy but pretty effective at the same time. It ends with them looking at each other happily in the car with Draco in-between, who seems a bit uncomfortable, and even a bit worried the two are in love. Hey, it was your idea!

We next get a nice, tense scene where Bond breaks into the lawyer’s office to crack his safe and copy some documents about the Blofeld connection (He also enjoys some nice newspapers and magazines while doing so). We’re shown scenes of the lawyer nearly returning to amp up the tension a bit.

The safe cracker is one of the few gadgets in the film, along with the reprises ones in the opening (and I suppose Q’s lint) and Bond’s office, as well as Blofeld’s later deadly makeup kit. Bond then chucks the gadget into a barrel operated by crane from Draco’s construction crew, where Campbell-played by British actor Bernard Horsfall, known for many guest roles in Doctor Who-among others-collects it nearby.

It’s not quite made clear if Campbell is one of  Draco’s men or a fellow secret service guy, although it’s made clear in the novel that he’s the latter (Although Bond is “on leave”). Then again, sometimes MI6 would go over M’s head to help James if he’s in a pickle (As we see in License to Kill and Spectre).

We see Bond visit M at his mansion, something we haven’t seen at the film yet, looking over his butterfly collection (M butterfly? Sorry, bad pun) with Bond showing off that he knows a bit about the study of butterflys as well, in addition to alcohol, weapons and women (Although he doesn’t know much about diamonds as we learn in the next film).

He manages to convince M to let him back on Operation Bedlam, and we learns that Blofeld-using the alias de Bleucham (Which is french for Blofeld)-wants to become a count and has asked the college of arms to look into it. Bond takes the opportunity to learn about his own past as well, including his family crest.


Orbis non suffict-AKA The World Is Not Enough….hey, that sounds like a good title….

Bond meets with-and intends to impersonate-Sir Hilary Bray, played by George Baker here (Baker would return to Bond to play a different character in “The Spy Who Loved Me”, but is otherwise perhaps best known as the troubled Emperor Tiberius in the I, Claidius series. )  so that he can get close to Blofeld, find out what he’s up to, and finally capture him (He’s given a hint by Bond that “Bleauchamp” has no earlobes). Funny thing is, Bond’s impersonation includes his *voice* as well, which means for pretty much the next 45 minutes, Bond sounds exactly like him with a few exceptions. In a sense, George Baker “plays” James Bond!

And so the deception begins, with Bond wearing a hat, glasses and trenchcoat. Not exactly the most convincing disguise (The hat’s somewhat similar to the one’s he worn before, even)….and Bond set off to Switzerland.


Bond in Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service part two

Still in the area, Bond stops by a local hotel and casino, where the woman’s car is also parked. Inquiring as to the owner, he learns that she’s Count Tesera De  Vicenzo. As the night closes, Bond settles down for some baccarat in a nice casino. I’m drawing another Goldeneye connection here….first a small race with a red car, now baccarat in a fancy hotel.

However, instead of the innuendo and subtle interrogation of the later game, Teresa-who wishes to be called Tracey, as “Theresa was a saint”-makes a dumb move, and what’s worse, she has no money on her at all! So Bond bails her out, rescuing her for a second time, although perhaps from jail rather than drowning. During their little table chat, he flirts with her a bit, and the chemistry of Lazenby and Rigg here is very, very good.

Going to meet Tracey for a late night rendezvous, Bond instead meets Che-Che. He’s one of the few fights in Bond films in which Bond later becomes buddies with his opponent (The other being Quarrel/Pussfellow and I suppose Pussy Galore.) After knocking him out-with a gate no less (With Bond quipping about him being a “Gatecrasher”) Bond samples some caviar (originally intended for him and Tracey), and is able to figure out exactly what fish they came from (A Royal beluga sturgeon from the caspian sea). Maybe it’s from Valentine’s stock.

Cavier Torture


Bond returns to his own room, where Teresa is pointing a gun at him, but he quickly disarms her and wonders what her deal is. I kind of like how Lazenby’s able to play a mix of toughness and utter confusion here at the same time. After trying to figure her out, the two just give in.

Bond awakens to find her gone, but on the way out, Cheche and a few other guys show up, and direct Bond to a car which then takes him to some facility, and we get an instrumental version Listen closely to the janitor here as they take Bond in-he’s whistling “Goldfinger”.

Bond’s able to fight them off and enter the office-and then we get this great shot of Bond about to throw his knife-which hits the calander behind….

Marc-Ange Draco.  Draco fits the sort of “Kerim Bey” or “Columbo” role here, as Bond’s ally who has a bit of a rap sheet, but one that works with Bond regardless. In this case, Draco is the fictional head of the (actually real life group) Unione Course, as well as his own construction company as a front.

However, his meeting with Bond is not really about that-he’s actually Tracy’s father…it turns out he spoiled her too much, she became rebellious and now is pretty much just depressed. The men Bond fought earlier (and probably killed at least one!) were actually just keeping an eye on her, more or less. However, he think’s Bond’s rescues are starting to make her feel better-and he actually wants Bond to get engaged and married to her-but Bond wants to live the bachelor lifestyle and doesn’t have too much faith in his own ability to help Teresa (Maybe his failures with Fiona and Helga blew his ego a bit). However, Bond knows that Draco has connections, and might know where Blofeld is hiding….and he might consider it.

Next we get a more typical Bond scene, of sorts, as Bond stops into M’s offices, with the usual Moneypenny flirting (Lois Maxwell looks a bit older here, especially next to Lazenby, who was 30 at the time. However her aging worked a bit better with Roger since they were pretty much the same age anyway). However, the meeting with M is unusual-it’s not a mission briefing, but a bit of a scolding-M wants Bond off of Operation Bedlam since he can’t seem to find Blofeld yet. Bond isn’t too happy about this, and tells Moneypenny to tell M that he wants to quit.

Along with the opening credits and the guy whistling Goldfinger, we get another reminder to the audience of the legacy of the older films,  as Bond goes through various gadgets and mementos from the previous films, complete with their associated themes (with “Underneath the mango tree” for Dr.No and Honey’s knife). Funny that the film most often associated for beginning the whole “Bond is simply a code name” thing is also the one that hits the audience on the head over and over again with the whole “This is the same guy!!!!” thing. While Bond films do of course reference the past films-most notably in the anniversary films Die Another Day and Skyfall-it’s still fairly early days here, and mainly to establish Lazenby as a legit 007. Other Bond debut films wouldn’t quite do this-“Live and Let Die” in many ways did it’s best to distance Roger Moore from Connery (Roger, for instance, smokes cigars while Connery smokes cigarettes) as did “The Living Daylights”, “Goldeneye” (Especially with Judi Dench’s M) and most of all, “Casino Royale”. But here it’s pretty much part of the sell.

However, Bond doesn’t have to quit, as Moneypenny reworks his request into simply asking for leave. Which also is sort of James Bond movie doublespeak for “You can still do your mission, but just be discreet about it.”









James Bond in Review: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service Part One

In 1967, Sean Connery left the series, due to being typecast and also the strain of too much publicity and paparazzi. In an unexpected move, the producers then cast George Lazenby, an Australian model and commercial actor, in a controversial choice, which only became more controversial with rumors of trouble on the set and then Lazenby bowing out of the role as the film premiered (While the film didn’t do as well as the Connery films, Lazenby still had a chance to do six more films-but declined. He wasn’t fired).


OHMSS starts with an interesting gunbarrel, which, like the Dr.No Gunbarrel, pauses to briefly bring up the producers. The theme has changed a bit-it’s certainly a bit less grand, and the spanish guitar is pretty much gone (although it would show up again in the next film).


We open on Q and M, oddly enough, with Q showing off some new magnetic lint that can be used as a tracking device…. (Q by the way, doesn’t do too much in this film, as it’s fairly light on the gadgets) but M wishes he could put a tracker on 007, who seems to not be up to much. Turns out, since the events of You Only Live Twice, MI6 has put into effect “Operation Bedlam”-an attempt to track down and capture the SPECTRE leader before he strikes again. But the trail’s gone cold.

We cut to Bond on some beachfront somewhere, driving a new Aston Martin DBS (Which bears some cosmetic resemblance to the later Valante used in The Living Daylights). He’s wearing Bond’s trademark hat, what appear to be sunglasses and smoking a cigar, but he’s mainly obscured in semi-darkness (Dalton and Brosnan would have similar slow reveals)

A woman in a red car cuts him off. Wouldn’t be the last time, as “Goldeneye” proved…(although Xenia Onatopp was far, far more nefarious than Tracy here)


Although instead of a race, she just wants to get to the ocean. Bond, intrigued, uses his scope to check her out-until he realizes’s she is in fact trying to drown herself. The gallant Bond saves her, although it’s a reluctant rescue for her-and Bond does his trademark name catchphrase-revealing Lazenby for the first time in full.


…and of course, this being a Bond pre-credits sequence, there’s got to be action…and in this case, Bond and the woman are quickly surrounded by armed men, who seem to want to take her away. Bond quickly gets free though, and we’re given a fairly chaotic fight on the beach and in the waves, a bit hampered by the dark early morning setting (You can’t really make out too much going on). There’s a lot of fast cuts and sped-up shots-Peter Hunt, the director, after all edited a lot of the other films and seems to have pretty much been given more free reign here, although if I’m not sure the edits are to show Lazenby’s weaknesses as a fighter or what (He’s certainly better than Moore at it though). This Bond seems to use a lot of judo as well.

In all the chaos, the woman slips away, using Bond’s car to drive up to her own and then escape, but leaving her slippers behind. Picking them up, he remarks “This never happened to the other fellow!”



It’s sort of a meta-joke about Sean Connery, although in the context of the movie, it’s probably intended as a reference to Prince Charming from Cinderella (hence the slippers). Although it’s certainly spawned about a gazillion “Bond is really just a code name!” theories to explain the change in actors throughout the series.

We then come to the title sequence, which is really brilliant. A martini glass also functions as a bit of an hourglass, and Bond hanging from a clock arm also deals with the concept of time. One of the themes of the movie is “We have all the time in the world”-but it’s kind of clear that time may not be on Bond’s side with the draining of the hourglass/martini.

The opening credits also use various stock footage from the first five films, in part perhaps to sell that this is the same Bond we’ve known for the past decade-there’s villains, girls, actions and some other elements. Of course there’s also shots of the union jack, the crown (Given the movie’s title after all!), and of course the silhouetted  girls.


…..and then there’s the theme, which has no lyrics and is pretty much the best non-Bond theme instrumental theme in the series. It’s influence can certainly be felt in the score for the (Far inferior IMO) View To A Kill, and one of the trailers for SPECTRE likewise used a version of the tune. It was also memorably used in the 2003 teaser trailer for the Disney/Pixar film the Incredibles:





Bond In Review: You Only Live Twice Part IV



Bond and Tiger next meet at Tiger’s ninja training school near Himeji castle. The Castle’s shown up in various films, including King Kong vs. Godzilla.


Which also starred Akiko Wakabayashi (Aki)


This cool shot of a ninja passionately training with his sword and facing the camera even made it to one of the stock clips used in the On Her Majesty’s Secret Service opening…


He later introduces to a more “modern” Ninja training range with various guns being used, as well as some more specialized equipment. This is pretty much the “Q” lab scene of the film, minus Q. Tanaka in particular has another of the film’s signature gadget-a cigarette that launches a small explosive dart.

There’s a bit of a funny quip here, too.


Tiger: It can save your life, this cigarette.

Bond: You sound like a commercial.

Next comes one of the somewhat more implausible parts of the movie-to get closer to the island and find out what’s really going on there, Bond has to go undercover as a Japanese man, complete with a wife on the island (To his disappointment, not Aki but a local “Ama” girl. Ama girls are shellfish divers from Japanese islands).


It’s not exactly the most convincing disguise. Spending one last night with Aki before his “wedding” Aki unfortunately succumbs to poison meant for Bond.

Not only that, but they’ve also slipped another spy among the ninjas, who nearly kills Bond. It’s apparent that the Himeji castle base has been compromised by SPECTRE, so Bond heads for the island, although I think it’s very clear at this point that SPECTRE pretty much knows what he looks like even with his ‘disguise’.

Bond then gets “married” to agent Kissy Suzuki in a nicely shot and scored sequence. This isn’t the first or last time Bond would be fake married-He and Tataiyana were the “Somersets” in From Russia With Love, and he would be the “Sterlings” with Anya in Spy Who Loved Me. Likewise, Rosie Carvier posed as a “Ms.Bond” for part of Live and Let Die Of course, there’s only one true Mrs. Bond…if only for a few moments.

Now on the island, Bond of course starts making the moves on Kissy, arguing they must “keep up appearances” on their “Honeymoon”- there’s even an oyster joke here similar to “Thunderball”. Tiger later shows up, and warns them that there’s going to be another launch, sooner than expected. But now they’ve got a vital clue-a local girl died near a cave.



Rowing away from the fishing fleet-with a few nice shots-looks like Aki is starting to warm to her “husband”.  Although this is still a blue-screen shot I believe, it’s one of the better ones in the movie.

They stop by the cave, but it’s filled with poisonous gas-with the dive pretty much destroying Bond’s disguise. Bond realizes that there’s something weird about the volcano despite his earlier Arial recon.

Finally the two embrace, but their moment is kind of ruined by a SPECTRE helicopter-which lands in the crater. So, if having four helicopters earlier try to kill you didn’t convince you something was up about that volcano, one landing prompts a closer look?

Once they figure out that the lake is fake and it opens to reveal another helicopter, Bond quickly adopts a ‘ninja’ look and infiltrate’s SPECTRE’s fortress and it’s monorail. Bond quickly finds the captive astronauts (minus the one who died in the opening) and frees them. There’s some nice sort of detente’ dialogue here, with the Astronaught and Cosmonaughts talking about training. Bond rescues them, and quickly tries to disguise themselves as SPECTRE astronauts to attempt to sabotage SPECTRE’s rocket. But Bond makes a stupid mistake by taking his AC unit in, which Blofeld notices.

Don’t worry James, you’ll make it to space someday. But in something a little more yellow and drab than this suit right here (Which was actually worn by the other astronauts in Moonraker, minus the name and union jack)

Brought to Blofeld, the SPECTRE leader is finally revealed, with his iconic bald head, Mao suit and scar in addition to what we already are aware of-the cat. Although it would really only be the suit which would survive to most later versions; even Waltz’s version had one.





Although he’d certainly get the scar, if not the baldness-yet.

Of course, he gets to say the title, when noting Bond’s fake death.

Bond: Yes, this is my second life.

Blofeld: You Only Live Twice, mr.Bond.

Pleasence’s performance of Blofeld is quite good, although as noted he’s a bit more high-pitched than the previous ‘no face’ Blofeld. He’s sort of got an atmosphere of seething menace, while future Blofelds would be somewhat more camp (including Waltz), if less visually distinct.


Blofeld’s about to start World War III with his rocket, although Tanaka’s ninjas-along with Kissy, are on their way. Using his machine guns to take them out and close the crater, he states that it’s like watching a TV program.


Blofeld: The firing power inside my crater is enough to annihilate a small army. You can watch it all on TV. It’s the last program you’re likely to see.

James Bond: Well, if I’m gonna be forced to watch television, may I smoke?

Yes. Give him his cigarettes. It won’t be the nicotine that kills you, Mr. Bond.

….and there you go Blofeld, you’ve practically handed Bond his means of escape, much like Red Grant with the attache case. At least Goldfinger inspected or damaged most of Bond’s gadgets. Bond uses the cigarette to knock out a few guards, and open the crater just enough for Tanaka’s ninjas to slip in. Although Bond is quickly re-captured, Blofeld decides to take care of him personally-but first shooting Osato. Thankfully, a timely ninja shuriken injures Blofeld enough to save Bond. Cue big action scene!



This is pretty much the equivalent of Thunderball’s big navy vs. SPECTRE action scene, and would be followed by more in later films. 

In Blofeld’s office-which holds the destruct button for the rocket-Bond faces off against Hans, another SPECTRE henchman who is pretty much just Red Grant without dialogue. He’s pretty much the first Grant ‘clone’-strong, largely silent, blond etc. although certainly others would follow-Eric Kreigler(For Your Eyes Only) Necros (The Living Daylights) and Stamper (Tomorrow Never Dies). Bond sends him into the piranha pool after a brief struggle.

Meanwhile, if Bond can’t stop the rocket, World War III might happen at any moment. As a radar technician watches. You might remember this guy-he’s Shane Rimmer, who has played a number of small roles in Bond and other films.



His most substantial role? That of Commander Carter in “The Spy Who Loved Me” where he shared several scenes with the later Roger Moore.

That same year he also appeared in “Star Wars” as the guy who asks Luke if he wants a fresh R2 unit…

Most recently though he showed up as the guy controlling the train lines in Batman Begins…



Rimmer was a Canadian actor living in Britain, so he appeared in several films-American and otherwise-shot there. He also worked for Gerry Anderson’s shows in the UK.


Anyway, back to the movie, Bond manages to destroy the rocket, but Blofeld has his own self-destruct for his base, although he escapes to fight Bond another day.

Like at the end of “Thunderball” (and to a degree “Dr.No” Bond is once again adrift at sea with the girl as they escape the now-active volcano). Although he doesn’t need a fulton balloon this time, as M’s sub surfaces right under them.

Lois Maxwell in You Only Live Twice, Miss Moneypenny in You Only Live Twice

I should note that this is a far happier-and Bond like-ending than the novel, which has Bond amnesiac and actually believing he is Kissy’s husband (and she’s actually pregnant with his son!), until he’s captured by foreign agents who brainwash him (leaving into “Man with the Golden Gun”)

Although Bond certainly would not get a happy ending in the next film-On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

YOLT is a great film visually as far as set design and locations are concerned-not quite the tropicalness of Thunderball but still a cool look at another country and it’s culture. Plot-wise it’s a bit thin, and acting-wise although Pleasence, Tetsuro Tamba and the ladies (or their dub actresses) try their best, I feel it’s one of Connery’s weaker performances in the role-he seems somewhat disinterested and lacking the spark of the earlier performances.  Not to be too judgmental or anything, but it also looks like he’s gained some weight, and not quite as healthy as he was in the previous films. Not as bad as he looks in Diamonds Are Forever though….



(I mean-hair aside-he looks older and less Bondian here than in Never Say Never Again-possibly he gained weight in part due to his personal stress at the time, such as his divorce)

Although I suppose his “Diamonds” look could be down to a bad toupee as well-Connery of course has been balding at that point already…


But alas, that’ll be explored later in my “Diamonds” review.


Bond in Review: You Only Live Twice Part III


Bond is taken aboard the Ning-Po to be interrogated by Helga-Spectre’s No.11 (One number less than 12, which would be the designation for another Fiona Vulpeish character-Fatima Blush-in Never Say Never Again). Bond confesses he’s a spy, but simply an industrial one instead of a government one-and hence still “Mr. Fisher”. He manages to avoid getting interrogated by bribing and seducing her.


….But just like Volpe before her, she doesn’t get redeemed like Pussy Galore did, and instead tries to kill Bond in a plane by locking him in and jumping out, allowing the plane to crash and catch fire. It’s a bit over elaborate, and of course Bond lands and gets out just in time. You’d figure he would’ve learned his lesson about SPECTRE women from Fiona Vulpe….but nope.

Getting back to Tanaka, Bond learns the identity of the island the Ning-Po’s been to-and of course wants to do some aerial reconnaissance. Enter Q, who gives him “Little Nellie”-a small gyrocopter that Tanaka thinks looks like a silly toy, but she’s quite formidable, with rocket launchers, SAM missiles, flame throwers, smoke jets *and* aerial mines!

We soon get a demonstration as Bond goes on the island, which seems to have nothing but a volcano-but then SPECTRE choppers move to intercept, so there’s obviously *something* there. We then get a cool sequence with Little Nellie, with the 007 “action” theme playing in the background at first, but then just the Dr.No stock version of the Bond theme. It’s certainly more fitting here than the Bond checking into the hotel scene in FWRL, but it might’ve been interesting for a fresh tune. While there aerial shots of the helicopters are of course great, some of the close ups of Connery don’t have great blue screen, he looks kind of silly in the helmet, and the helicopter explosions are obviously models (and possibly the same shot recycled). Oh well.


Meanwhile, the Russians make their space shot, and of course the SPECTRE rocket comes and steals it, making it of course look like the USA did it-making World War III imminent, and the United States even more skeptical of the Japan claim. This time, we see the rocket land-in the volcano-in reality, a huge SPECTRE base, and probably the main thing people remember about this movie apart from Donald Pleasence’s Blofeld. At the time, it was one of the largest sets ever constructed, although it would be later topped by the LIPARUS in Spy Who Loved Me, directed by the same guy and with a somewhat similar plot.

Speaking of Blofeld, he’s got a nice underground lounge that’s somewhat reminiscent of Dr.No’s.

Although instead of a glass aquarium magnifying mostly harmless fish, he’s got an open pool of deadly piranhas. He intimidates some men-possibly Chinese who would benefit from the upcoming World War between the United States and Russia-and they call him on it, saying it’s extortion-but of course, that’s what the E in Spectre stands for, as Blofeld notes.

He then brings in Helga and Osato, and shows him the X-ray of Bond’s gun taken in Osato’s office-noting that only one man they know carries such a weapon (seriously? As noted in-universe in Dr.No, there’s a lot of CIA guys who use it, for one) James Bond.

I wonder if Valentine’s recognition of the gun in “Goldeneye” is a bit of a callback to this-it even has similar dialogue.

They both use the excuse of Bond’s “death” in order to deflect responsibility, but Blofeld isn’t buying it. Much like Kronsteen, Count Lippe, and SPECTRE No.9, he decides to make an example of a henchman-this time, Helga, by dropping her into the pool.

Although pretty much free of gore, it’s still a pretty disturbing Bond girl death, one of the more shocking in the series along with Corrine in Moonraker and Della in License to Kill. And those were good Bond girls!

Blofeld-whose voice is now a lot less deeper than his previous incarnations-barks an order: “KILL BOND! NOW!”


Next: Ninjas, Bond goes native, and Kissy is introduced.