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: 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.

 

 

 

James Bond In Review: You Only Live Twice Part one

After “Thunderball”‘s undersea adventures, the next Bond film would adapt “You Only Live Twice”, in which Bond travelled to Japan to unravel the schemes of the mysterious Dr. Shatterhand (In fact his nemesis and widowmaker Blofeld, for the novel followed On Her Majesty’s Secret Service in the chronology)-which left him injured, amnesiac, and presumed dead until the following novel, The Man With The Golden Gun. (Some of the elements of this would be used in “Skyfall”, with Bond presumed dead after the opening sequence-although he certainly wasn’t amnesiac after, just very, very bitter).

The movie adaptation would keep some of these elements-Japan, Blofeld, Bond’s ally “Tiger” Tanaka, and Bond being presumed dead. However, it would do them in a radically different fashion, and the shatterhand angle would be dropped entirely (Although it can perhaps still be used for a future Bond film, as I’ve suggested in earlier posts). It would also deal, in part, with the cold war, something not really touched on since “From Russia With Love”. Also, whereas “You Only Live Twice” was pretty much the end of the Blofeld “trilogy” in the novels, You Only Live Twice would be the opening chapter, revealing the face of the villain for the first time.

It opens somewhat unexpectedly for a Bond film as well-in space! We see what appears to be a normal capsule orbiting in space, when suddenly, a massive rocket with soviet markings gobbles it up (and cuts off the air of a poor astronaut in the process), making the first ‘space death’ of the series (to be followed by many more in Moonraker).

The next scene is kind of a funny argument between the United States, Britain and Russia over the responsibility for the incident, in a globe-shaped building that kind of look like mini-Epcots (I’m guessing the design for the interior is the work of Ken Adam). It’s kind of a funny scene, with the US and Russia arguing and England-in the center-calmly trying to settle the situation by focusing on a faint trail in Japan, with their man in Hong Kong looking into it.

 

The man of course, is James Bond, and the woman he’s with, Ling. She’s played by Tsai Chin, a celebrated Chinese actress who would later return to Bond in “Casino Royale” as card player Madame Wu.

However, she unexpectedly flips the bed, and two men fire at Bond-two police officers who rush in to discover Bond dead. One of them is Anthony Ainley, who would later become the nemesis of a certain other British icon played by multiple actors…

 

Bond’s bloodstain blooms into the opening graphic and titles, which feature, in addition to Japanese women, and lot of volcano imagery, given the setting of SPECTRE’s base in this film.

 

Nancy Sinatra’s song is somewhat more low key than the more bombastic themes to Goldfinger and Thunderball, resembling in a few ways “From Russia With Love”, but with a touch of more Japanese instrumentation (This is also somewhat present in the gunbarrel as well). Nancy’s lyrics sort of change the meaning of the original novel phrase:

“You only live twice:
Once when you are born
And once when you look death in the face.”

instead it’s

“You Only Live Twice,

or so it seems; One life for yourself, and one for your dreams.”

To be fair, I’m not sure the first line would’ve worked well in this kind of song.

 

Nancy BTW is also known as the singer of These Boots Are Made For Walking:

and of course, as you can probably imply from the name, is the daughter of a certain Chairman of the board.

Unfortunately, Frank never made any Bond appearances, although another Rat packer did-sort of. Sammy Davis Jr. was to have a cameo in Diamonds Are Forever, but it was cut.

 

 

 

 

We see a newspaper with James Bond’s obituary. This wouldn’t be the last phony death notice for Bond, as we see in Tomorrow Never Dies and Skyfall (The Skyfall wording actually is partially based on M’s obit in the novel of You Only Live Twice.)

 

After his traditional naval burial at sea, Bond is recovered by frogmen from a submarine, who open up his wrappings-and it turns out Bond’s not really dead at all, just pretending so his enemies’s attention will be diverted from him.

 

This is the first time we see James Bond in a proper naval uniform, something we’ll see later on in The Spy Who Loved Me and Tomorrow Never Dies-two films that have quite a lot in common with this one (Same director for “Spy” too!). Lazenby and Dalton didn’t get the chance to, and Craig hasn’t donned the outfit yet either.

As an added bonus, we also get M and Moneypenny in the naval outfit too.

 

Turns out M has an office on this ship too (M is an admiral after all, although his real name-Miles-would not be revealed until The Spy Who Loved Me, along with Q’s), and he briefs Bond on the looming crisis and what they know, and to hurry before this thing turns into a full scale World War III. Bond also gets an unforgettable mission password from Moneypenny-“I love you”-and a book of Japanese translations-but Bond assures her that he took Oriental languages at Cambridge and knows his stuff-which is odd because he doesn’t seem to know Chinese in “Tomorrow Never Dies” at all, but this isn’t really a big deal. After all, this is a series where the lead changes actors and age with no explanation whatsoever, at least until the Craig films which are in a separate, “rebooted”  continuity. It was pushing credibility a bit for the Bond in “Die Another Day” to be the same character that debuted with Connery. There’s also a brief conversation about Ling, implying that she was in on the “death”.

Bond is ‘torpedoed’ onto the coast of Japan (probably) because he’s still presumed dead, and therefore this is somewhat more secret than taking a plane, boat or car in.

And now….

Next: Bond arrives in Japan, meets Aki and Tiger, and also investigates Osato chemicals-a front for SPECTRE.

 

 

 

James Bond in Review: From Russia With Love Part One

Dr.No was a huge success, and James Bond films were here to stay. For their next film, the producers decided to adapt the novel that, in the novel continuity, took place before Dr.No-From Russia With Love, although with modifications to the story that would continue the SPECTRE storyline. Over 50 years since it’s release, it’s still considered one of the best Connery Bonds, if not the best, and some even hold it as the best in the whole series.

While Dr.No didn’t reveal the villain of the film until the last twenty minutes or so, From Russia With Love wastes no time introducing them after the gunbarrel (Which now starts with the Bond theme instead of the strange noises that started Dr.No), as we see Bond wandering around a fancy garden-and seemingly it looks like they’ve overdone the makeup a bit. However, there’s probably a reason for that.

He’s being stalked by Red Grant (Robert Shaw)-yes, the same Robert Shaw who you might also know as Quint from Jaws. A testament to the guy’s range that he’s able to do both the Chameleonish, quiet but well-dressed Grant, and the more vulgar, unkempt Quint. Both sort of fall due to their own egos though….

 

Grant quickly subdues and uses his garrote-watch to kill Bond, although it’s revealed it’s not really Bond, but just a guy wearing a Bond mask. He’s congratulated on his record kill by Morenzy-another villain in the film (although one in a supporting role.); and they retreat to a mansion.

 

Walter Gotell as Morzeny, a member of SPECTRE

Next we’re given our title sequence, the first to really introduce dancing or posing girls among the opening credits, something that would be perfected in “Goldfinger”. Here, we’re given a lot of belly dancers with the credits projected on them…

 

Of particular note is the music too-a mix of a sort of exciting preamble, as well as an instrumental version of the “From Russia With Love” theme, and a more exotic, fast-paced version of the Bond theme. The preamble music must have made an impression on future Bond composer David Arnold, as it returns in the Pierce Brosnan films he scored. Matt Munro’s theme-heard during the film and later at the end-is kind of slow-paced on it’s own and perhaps wouldn’t have worked that well as an opener.

We’re next introduced to Chess ace Kronsteen, a sort of Peter Lorre looking fellow who’s a chess wiz, who, after receiving a summons from SPECTRE via custom drink coaster, quickly wins the chess tournament.

 

Maybe this would’ve been a cool piece of merchandise for the later Bond film SPECTRE.

Although I’m not sure Heineken would’ve approved.

 

We’re quickly introduced to SPECTRE’s No.1, Blofeld-and from right off we’re given his ruthless philosophy.

 

Blofeld: Siamese fighting fish, fascinating creatures. Brave but of the whole stupid. Yes they’re stupid. Except for the occasional one such as we have here who lets the other two fight. While he waits. Waits until the survivor is so exhausted that he cannot defend himself, and then like SPECTRE… he strikes!

This sort of sums up Blofeld’s later plot in “You Only Live Twice” as well-pit the powers against each other until SPECTRE’s there to pick up the pieces.

Here we’re given several of Blofeld’s trademarks-the SPECTRE ring, his cold nature, and of course, the Persian cat. However, we’ve yet to see his face, and a view from behind shows him with hair, instead of the trademark baldness he’ll later have in You Only Live Twice, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, and with his ‘death’ in For Your Eyes Only. I suppose plastic surgery-something Blofeld utilizes to create doubles in “Diamonds Are Forever”-can be credited with his changes in appearance (Can’t really explain quite as well Bond, Moneypenny, Felix and all the other characters who change faces all the time though!). It also can be noted the cat kind of looks different in every film it’s in too-same breed of course but largely different coats. There’s also another, far goofier explanation-that the cat is the real Blofeld all along, and each Blofeld is a different ‘host’.

 

Blofeld’s guest in addition to Kronsteen is Rosa Klebb, former head of operations for SMERSH (In the novel, she still works for SMERSH as they’re the villains in the book, and not SPECTRE). Klebb is of course the prototype for later “evil schoolmarm” villains such as Irma Bunt and the parody character Frau Frabusinna in the Austin Powers movies. Her actress, Lotte Lenya, was actually a HUGE theater star as well.

Kronsteen’s got a plan to trick the British and the Russians into practically handing over a LEKTOR encoder, and also to kill and humiliate James Bond in the process, who as we saw in the pre-title sequence, is pretty much on SPECTRE’s radar after killing Dr.No in the last film. Of course, the second part of the plan hinges on Bond actually being the agent assigned to the task, which is a bit of a stretch, although not nearly as much as the Bond being well-known for a “secret” agent plot that “Diamonds Are Forever” was particularly guilty of.

 

It’s interesting at this point in the movie the film hasn’t really shown Bond yet, unless you count the gunbarrel and and the imposter. Pretty much every Bond film from this point on-with the notable exceptions of Roger Moore’s first two films (save his dummy in Man With the Golden Gun)-would pretty much introduce Bond right away (World Is Not Enough even has the gunbarrel revealing his face right away!), or at least after some initial plot build up (Like You Only Live Twice, Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker). It’s kind of nice as it gives some dimension to the film’s villains and plot, instead of jumping right into the action. It’s a slow burner, but it’s a good one.

 

Klebb’s next port-of-call is SPECTRE island-and it’s actually called by that name.  As far as Bond lair hideout names go-Crab Key, Piz Gloria, The Whyte House, Atlantis, Moonraker etc. It isn’t the most imaginative title, but it’s an interesting location nonetheless, with it’s “training area” foreshadowing many of the Q lab scenes in later movies (as well as Tiger Tanaka’s castle in You Only Live Twice)…although this place is far more nefarious and lethal than the sometimes goofy Q gadgets.

Klebb tests Grant-who we learn is “superb material” since he’s homicidal and paranoid-by punching him in the gut with brass knuckles, and he barely flinches.

 

Next scene is still not Bond, but introduces our leading lady, Tataina Romanova, in the film’s principal location of Istanbul, Turkey (A setting that would be revisited in later Bond films, notably the World Is Not Enough and Skyfall, although this film by far makes the most use of it. Although TWINE of course uses it for a bad joke….) A Russian cipher clerk, she’s an unwitting pawn in SPECTRE’s plot involving the LEKTOR and Bond. She’s unaware that Klebb now works for SPECTRE, and is convinced she’s only going to stage a defection on orders from SMERSH-but even now, she seems kind of reluctant, in part due to Klebb’s creepy nature. Although Daniela Bianchi’s voice was dubbed in post-production due to her own heavy accent…

Her expressions and body language perfectly capture her inner revulsion of Klebb, especially as the scene closes on Klebb’s line:

“Come, come, my dear. You are very fortunate to have been chosen for such a simple, delightful duty. A real.. labour of love, as they say.”

And speaking of “Love” the main music theme with lyrics starts for “From Russia With Love” on a radio and we’re finally properly re-introduced to Bond enjoying a “picnic” after some canoeing….

Next: Bond heads to Turkey.

Bond In Review: SPECTRE Part I

This will close out “Bond in Review” for a while. I still intend to, at some point, start with the first few films (Dr.No To Live And Let Die), but I decided to do this thing in a ‘mid-maraton’ so I’ve recently seen those films, and so I’ll wait a bit longer for a ‘refresh’ viewing and review.

“Skyfall” of course was a huge success, and so director Sam Mendes was asked to return for another film with Daniel Craig. This time, the film would bring  back SPECTRE, the criminal organization which faced Bond in the 60’s and 70’s (and also in the unofficial Bond film “Never Say Never Again”), and also tie it to the Quantum storyline from Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace (and even a bit with Skyfall as well). The organization and it’s leader-Ernst Stravro Blofeld (The bald guy with the white persian cat) had pretty much been unused due to complicated rights issues, although Blofeld “sort of” showed up in the opening scene of “For Your Eyes Only”.

“Spectre” is the first Bond film to really open with a proper Bond gunbarrel, with a white background. “Casino’s” happened after the opening scene, and was hardly traditional, with Bond in a bathroom and casual wear; and both Quantum and Skyfalls were at the end of the film.

Although none of the Craig gunbarrels have used the ‘swaying’ effect (presumably the death of the guy pointing the gun at Bond). We then cut to these words:

Which, in a way, is very much one of the themes of the movie.

The film then cuts to a long, scrolling shot of the Mexican Day of the Dead festival/parade in Mexico city. Bond-in a skull mask and top hat reminiscent of “Live and Let Die’s” immortal henchman, Baron Samedi. He’s tracking someone-Marco Sciarra. The long shot continues for a while, but with two ‘cheats’-when Bond enters the hotel I think, and when he exits to take a shot at Sciarra.

Bond appears to be with a woman who wants to take him back to her hotel room, but Bond really just needs the hotel balcony to get a proper angle on Sciarra.

He overhears something about a ‘pale king’ before taking out Sciarra, which unexpectedly has an explosive effect-and Sciarra escapes. Here we see a bit that the film seems to be more humorous, as Bond offers a bit of a quip and lands softly on a couch after the explosion.Bond follows him again as he runs to a helicopter, leading to a tense action scene with Bond wresting with him on-board a helicopter with civilians below, the most civilian-endangering Bond helicopter scene since Tomorrow Never Dies. 

Eventually Bond is able to kill Sciarra, but then wrests a ring from his hand, with a strange Octopus logo.

Which then changes to the opening credits, with Sam Smith’s “Writing on the Wall”. Like SKYFALL, it’s sort of a melancholy song, but not quite as catchy. The “Octopus” imagery seen in the opening has gotten some criticism, but the Octopus is pretty much the signal of SPECTRE, and in fact would also inspire various other criminal organizations in fiction, most notably “HYDRA” in Marvel comics. The opening also shows footage from previous Bond films of Vesper, Le Chiffre, Silva and M (No Quantum stuff though!), stating in a way that it’s tying them all together.

We then return to London. The new M Mallory is not too pleased with Bond’s behavior, as this was not sanctioned. He orders Bond to stay in London. Mallory is already under pressure from Max Denibh, who wants to create a new intelligence agency called “Nine eyes” which will not require the 00’s. Bond dubs him “C”.

Moneypenny of course grills Bond about why he went to Mexico city, and we get a posthumous cameo from Judi Dench’s M, ordering the hit on Sciarra and telling Bond not to miss the funeral in Rome. She also shows him an old photo and records recovered from Skyfall, showing a photo of young Bond with a man and a third figure wih his face burned out.

Bond also stops by Q’s office with Tanner, and it’s remarked that the old MI6 building is being demolished.

Here, we get the reveal of Bond’s new car, the DB10, as well as a new watch. Bond also asks for Q to make him ‘dissapear’, although Bond has tracers in his blood to make sure he doesn’t stray from London (Somewhat similar to Casino Royale’s device)

Following M’s orders he attends Sciarra’s funeral in Rome, talking to his widow (Monica Belluci). He also appears to almost catch the eye of a man in attendance.

After the funeral she follows her back to her villa, where in a nice scene with classical music in the background, he takes out two men sent to kill her and starts to put the moves on her, starting to learn that Sciarra was involved in some ‘organization’. It should be noted that Monica at age 50 when the film was made is one of the older Bond girls, but honestly it’s not noticeable at all.

Although after this scene, she doesn’t really show up in the rest of the film. Bond sees that she’ll make it out of Rome safe, with the film name-dropping Felix Leiter. So she’s one of the few Craig girls to survive.

Bond-using Sciarra’s ring-is able to sneak into the meeting, where the group are discussing human trafficking, the drug trade, and also getting rid of somebody called “The Pale King” much like Sciarra. While the scene is nice and atmospheric, the nostalgic Bond fan in me wishes the SPECTRE guys had a bit of a number naming system like in the novels and earlier films (Blofeld was No.1 in the films at least, with others like Largo being no.2, etc.)

One of SPECTRE’s agents make his claim for taking out the Pale King by killing another one by headbutting him, gouging his eyes out and breaking his neck. His name is Mr. Hinx (Played by John Bautista) and he’s pretty much in the mold of Oddjob and Jaws-the strong, silent type.

However, Bond is compromised-by the chairman no less-who knows who James is-and Bond recognizes him, with disbelief.

Oberhauser: All that excitement rang a distant bell. And now, suddenly this evening, it makes perfect sense. Welcome James….it’s been a long time….and finally here we are….Cuckoo!

As the title card said, “The Dead are alive….”

Bond in Review: For Your Eyes Only

tchOriginally, “For Your Eyes Only” was going to be the Bond film that would follow “The Spy Who Loved Me”-something made clear by the end credits of that movie. However, the success of “Star Wars” prompted them to (extremely loosely) adapt “Moonraker” instead. After that film was released, FYEO was back on the table. However, perhaps due to negative critical reaction to Moonraker (although it was a box office success), the producers decided to bring Bond back to earth-literally-with a more traditional story, and one heavily based on Fleming material, specifically, Fleming’s short stories For Your Eyes Only and Risico, as well as a sequence from Live and Let Die (I won’t go into details, since I already have in another article).

The film begins with Bond, visiting his wife’s grave, before being called back to MI6 but then his helicopter is commandeered via remote control by a bald guy with a cat-obviously meant to be Blofeld,  but due to rights issues he’s never named (Blofeld’s basic look and white cat however were never in the original books and are pretty much fair game, although I’m a bit unclear how that worked in reverse with “Never Say Never Again”), but with both Tracey’s grave, and Blofeld sporting injuries very similar to the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the callback is very clear.

The scene is merely played for camp, with Blofeld sporting a cartoony accent that sounds like an attempt to mix his original “From Russia With Love” voice with Donald Pleasence, but not quite making it. He’s also got some strange lines, most notably the infamous: “We can do a deal! I’ll buy you a delicatessen…in stainless steel!”

However, the opening is one of the few sequences in the film that’s comparable in tone to the campy nature of pretty much every other Roger Moore Bond film. We then come to one of the more unique Bond openings, as singer Sheena Easton actually physically appears and sings the song among the usual footage of Bond, guns and girls.

It’s a pretty decent song, sort of following the lead of Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker as having a love song as the main title, which would continue with “Octopussy”‘s “All Time High” before Bond returned to rock/pop with View To A Kill and Living Daylights.

The movie’s main plot begins with sort of a Bond trope of a British ship being compromised (although this time by accident, more or less). This kind of plot point is used in Thunderball, You Only Live Twice, Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker, and although taking a break for a bit, it returns with a vengeance in “Tomorrow Never Dies”. In this case, it’s the St. Georges, which contains the ATAC Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator, used to coordinate submarines….and this sets in motion the plot, as Bond-teaming up with this film’s “Bond girl” Melina Havelock (The daughter of an archaeologist killed in the search for the ship) and Greek smuggler Columbo (Topol)-races across the Mediterannan to uncover the wreck of the Georges and recover the ATAC before it falls into the hands of the KGB, who are being aided by the film’s villain, Kristatos (Julian Glover). It’s definitely a bit different from the plots of both “Spy” and “Moonraker”, where the villains hoped to create Armageddon so people could live in the sea, or repopulate Earth with “perfect” people.

Glover is an actor well-known for villanous roles in media-having played the AT-AT Commander General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back, the multiple incarnations of the masked alien Scaroth in the Doctor Who serial “City of Death” and also the main villain Donovan in Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade. Initially, we’re led to believe he’s actually a good guy, helping to sponsor a talented young skying girl in  the Winter Olympics and appearing to aid Bond in his search for the ATAC and the murderers of the Havelocks. However, he’s mainly trying to frame fellow smuggler Columbo, and his true, more sadistic side is unveiled in the film’s half-way point. Glover plays both sides of the character well.

Equally and entirely sadistic is Locque, his main henchman. Like a great deal of Bond henchmen, he’s rather quiet (although not mute). Although not quite a strongman like Jaws or Oddjob, he’s still an intimidating presence with his cold stares, only really smiling when he runs over Columbo’s mistress Lisl (played by the late Cassandra Harris).

He’s also the subject of one of the film’s best moments-and one of the coldest kills by Roger Moore’s Bond in any of his films-as Moore kicks his car off a cliff. 

However, we do have a somewhat more ‘strongman’ henchman in Eric Kreigler, a KGB agent assigned as the go-between the KGB and Kristatos. Bond’s main confrontation with him is a thrilling winter sports ski chase.

Future “Game of Thrones” star Charles Dance also has a small role as a minor henchman, Claus.

Girl-wise, we’ve got Carole Bouquet as the Bond girl. Her character is given better motivation-and acting I think as well-than Anya and Holly before her, and Carole Bouquet plays her as both really sympathetic but also a bit badass as well. She also doesn’t really fall for Bond until the end of the film either, which is a bit of a departure.

Speaking of falling for Bond, Kristatos’s ward Bibi-a kind of more bubbly, dumb Bond girl certainly does. Bond pretty much rebuffs her advances (and with good reason too-she’s in her late teens or early twenties and Roger Moore is in his mid 50s at this point, so that would just be weird). She’s kind of one of the goofier aspects of the film, but Moore’s reactions to her relentless flirting are some of the film’s best laughs, and she’s not quite annoying as Mary Goodnight a few films ago.

Finally Bond-girl wise we have Cassandra Harris in a small role as Countess Lisl, Columbo’s mistress and collaborator,  who has a brief fling with Bond before she’s murdered by Locque. Harris plays it pretty well, although we don’t see too much of her and it’s not quite clear why Lisl is faking an accent. Fun fact about Harris-before her death, she was married to future Bond Pierce Brosnan, and it was she who introduced him to the producers. This led to Brosnan eventually almost replacing Moore in 1986, however due to TV contract things Brosnan couldn’t play it at the time. He eventually of course got his chance in 1995.

Gadget-wise, the film is a bit light, especially compared to the previous two films. In fact, Bond’s original Lotus is taken out of action early on when the bad guys attempt to break in, triggering it’s self-destruct!

Apart from that, the ATAC itself and a radio watch which really isn’t used that much except for the film’s comic relief ending, we really just get the Identigraph which Bond uses to identify Locque. It’s used entirely in Q’s lab, which, like in many of the other films, shows off a large group of gadgets being developed, but not used by Bond in the field at all.

Speaking of that watch, it’s used in a pretty hilarious scene that closes the film, in which Margeret Thatcher-England’s PM at the time (played by a look-alike actress in this of course) congratulates Bond on the sucess of his mission, but ends up speaking with Melina’s parrot instead while she and Bond have a “moonlight swim.” It’s kind of interesting that the most serious of the Moore films is pretty much book-ended by goofy scenes-The Blofeld stuff at the beginning and then this.

Music-wise, like “Live and Let Die” and the “Spy Who Loved Me” For Your Eyes Only doesn’t have John Barry as composer, instead using the talents of “Rocky” and “Karate Kid” composer Bill Conti. Although a bit different than Barry’s talents, Conti’s music really kind of fits the “Winter sports” feel of the middle of the movie.

 

Overall, FYEO was a pretty good return to form for the series to it’s espionage roots and more serious tone, with Moore being able to adapt to it pretty well. Although by this point he’s aging and starting to lose some of his credibility as a convincing Bond, he still gives it his best in my opinion, proving that he’s got some dramatic teeth beyond the One liners. Next “Octopussy” would attempt to put a bit more comedy back into the series, while still having a semi-serious tone….