I'm going to watch all of the James Bond Films

Yeah, when 007 is serving as the best man at Felix Leiter’s wedding, in LICENCE TO KILL.

I will be in the minority and say that I find “For Your Eyes Only” to be pretty bland (and that goes for “From Russia With Love” and “OHMSS”, too). I grew up thinking Bond is a ridiculous superhero, not a regular action movie character.

The only things I remember from this movie:

  • “It’s a nose, Q, not a banana”
  • Bond and the girl get thrown off a boat
  • Bond and the guy climb a mountain

There are other bits I get mixed up with other movies. For instance, I get the winter sports stuff mixed up with “OHMSS” and I get Topol’s character mixed up with Ali Kerim Bey in “From Russia With Love”.

As I’ve remarked before, I can’t help thinking that they cast Michael Lonsdale as Drax because of the way Ian Fleming described the character in the original novel Moonraker:

“He was a Lonsdale-type character…”

(Not describing the actor Michel/Michael, of course. Possibly playwright Fredrerick Lonsdale)

I have to disagree with hogarth - about all three movies, which I think are the best Bonds. For Your Eyes Only rescued the Bond series, I think. It had become too puerile, and this brought it back to its roots, with even the cute callback to Blofeld and his ambiguous fate in that opening sequence. The “Identigraph” (“Nose, not a banana.”) wasn’t far off – I had a friend working on a similar device at the time.

My only complaint was that it was, if anything, a little too “James Bond 101” – describing and pointing out The Facts of Life About Bond so that the audience wouldn’t miss them.

To me, the platonic ideal of a James Bond movie is “Goldfinger”. As I noted though, I am probably in the minority.

Yes, For Your Eyes Only is one of the best. A straightforward spy movie to cleanse the palate after the completely over the top Moonraker.

Bond had to rely on his inner strengths. I loved the climbing where he used his shoelaces to recover. How he got out of the boat-dragging was brilliant. A lesser man might have given up, but he’s like “I got this”. (even if “Chekov’s scuba tank” was necessary)

Fun fact: our cable company uses images (not unlike Windows) as screensavers when you pause live TV. One of the images was Aghia Triatha. I’m like, “I know what that is! St Cyrils!”

Definitely my first; I had just turned 9. My dad was a big Bond fan; we saw everything from The Spy Who Loved Me to The Living Daylights in a theater together.

Of course, in Goldfinger, Bond is nearly killed in the pre-title sequence after using a woman as a human shield, gets caught by Oddjob who knocks him out and kill Jill Masterson, is sent under cover to infiltrate Goldfinger’s smuggling operation but is more invested in proving he is the better golf cheat, ‘tracks’ Goldfinger to his metalwerks in Switzerland which he could have discovered just by looking it up in a directory, crashes his Aston Martin despite all of the gadgets and gets captured again getting the other Masterson sister killed (that poor family), is nearly eviscerated by Goldfinger and saves himself only through the dumb luck of hearing and repeating two words (“Grand Slam”) that Goldfinger correctly surmises that he doesn’t actually understand, is kidnapped and taken to Kentucky where he manages to escape only to be captured again (which is lucky for him because he would otherwise have been gassed with the gangsters), taken to the Gold Depository at Ft. Knox and chained to an atomic bomb that is halted only at the last minute by a technician who turns the “off” switch, is severely beaten by Oddjob (seriously, Connery injured his back in the fight and had chronic back problems throughout his life) and only kills the henchman through sheer luck, then gets on a plane where he is once again taken by Goldfinger and scarcely survives because the aircraft is depressurised and the voluminous Gert Frobe is somehow sucked through a tiny window, and then has to parachute to safety at the last moment.

The film establishes his repeated failure to follow orders and stay on track as he is easily distracted by sex, his severe alcoholism (Felix: “I told the stewardess liquor for three.”), his tactical ineptitude, and general unprofessionalism. In fact, the only thing that Bond does right in the entire film is raping Pussy Galore out of her lesbianism (implied in the film, explicit in the novel) and cheating at golf. So, I guess it is actually a pretty accurate if somewhat flamboyant portrayal of the operations of the British Special Intelligence Service. The film certainly provided the inspiration for Archer as much or more than any other Bond film so there is that.

My personal favorite Bond film is the 2006 Casino Royale followed closely by On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and the The Third Man-influenced The Living Daylights, so I clearly hew toward the more “realistic” end of the spectrum (for a narrow interpretation of “realistic”; rocket powered ski-cars and leaping from building cranes strain plausibility regardless of the attempt to ground the plot in real-world politics and bioterrorism), and of the Roger Moore films For Your Eyes Only is my pick even though I enjoyed the Lotus Espirit that converts to a submarine and the absurd space hijinks of Moonraker. Of the Brosnan-era films the less said the better although there is always a place in my cinematic heart for Michelle Yeoh in anything.

I’ve enjoyed reading the thread and the capsule reviews, and find it instructive to see different perspectives on the films and portrayals of the character.

Stranger

The movie does, at least, improve on Fleming’s novel. Most people know by now that the movie changed the plot from stealing the contents of Fort Knox to the more realistic plot to simply set poff a dirty bomb there.

But there’s another aspect that most people don’t seem to pick up on. What does Goldfinger do with Bond after liberating him from the “death trap” (which in the novel was a fiendish circular saw rather than a laser beam, as if Bond was a 19th century heroine at the mercy of a top-hatted and mustachioed Evil Villain)?

He puts him to work as a secretary, copying and filing and stapling reports for the upcoming “hoods convention” (I imagine him in the back with Rob Schneider as Richmeister calling out to him – “James Bond. Double Oh Seven. The Bondster. Makin’ copies…”). That’s a pretty depressing and degrading position for a tough-guy superspy to be in. So, of course, it’s not in the movie. Bond gets tossed into a subterranean prison cell from which he can escape using his Good Guy Skills and overhear the details of Operation Grand Slam.

Fleming must have realized what a gaffe this was. In his last novel, The Man with the Golden Gun, Bond gets close to Scaramanga by being a bodyguard, not a secretary. And manages to blow his cover, of course.

My favorites have always been Diamonds Are Forever and You Only Live Twice. DAF has that old-school Vegas vibe, Jill St. John and the climb up the outside of the Whyte House, done ever so nonchalantly. YOLT is embarrassingly racist, but it has Little Nellie and was the first Bond movie I ever saw.

James Bond: Weren’t you a blonde when I came in?

Tiffany Case: Could be.

James Bond: I tend to notice little things like that - whether a girl is a blonde or a brunette.

Tiffany Case: Which do you prefer?

James Bond: Well, as long as the collar and cuffs match.

You Only Live Twice at least has the grace to cast actual Japanese actors in Japanese roles (one of the first Western films to do so aside from House of Bamboo and the cringeworthy My Geisha) unlike, say, Dr. No (Joseph Wiseman as the titular half-Chinese gangster) or Octopussy (famous French actor Louis Jourdan as Afghan prince Kamal Khan). Trying to disguise Sean Connery as a Japanese fisherman is so risible it barely counts as ‘yellowface’, and at even it wasn’t as aggressively misogynistic as the treatment of Tatiana Romanova (Italian model and actress Daniela Bianchi) who is used by both sides as basically a sex lure. YOLO had ninjas and a monorail, as well as the fictional rocketship that inspired SpaceX (I’m morally certain Elon Musk has some plan to go capture other nation’s spacecraft and satellites and hold them for ransom), plus a Toyota 2000GT roadster, ‘Little Nellie’ (silly but very cool and far more functional than the jetpack from *Thunderball” even if it would have been far easier to take up Tanaka on his offer of a normal helicopter), and also a great haunting John Barry score.

Diamonds Are Forever, however, just feels tacky. I feel like I need to take a shower to wash off the smell of cigarette smoke and cheap booze, and Jill St. John may be the worst Bond girl bar none, even in comparison to Tanya Roberts and Britt Ekland. If you are watching them chronologically it just such a letdown in pretty much every way from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, It even has the worst Shirley Bassey song and most pointless pre-title sequence. Ugh!

Stranger

What? You overlook the wonder that was Jerry Lewis’ 1958 The Geisha Boy. Surprisingly (given Lewis’ earlier “impersonations” of Japanese people, this one is pretty decent towards Japan and the Japanese. Includes a cameo of Sessue Hayakawa building a bridge. “I was building bridges long before that actor was”

Was it filmed in Japan? The IMDb.com “Filming & Production” page shows only that the filming locations were Burbank Airport (now Bob Hope International Airport) and the Paramount Studio lot, and my memory is that it doesn’t have much in the way of exterior shots. It did cast Japanese and Japanese Americans in Japanese roles which was notable in a time that most actors of Japanese descent in American films were just cast as waiters and busboys in nonspeaking roles but You Only Live Twice actually celebrated Japanese culture (or, at least, Ian Fleming’s and Cubby Broccolli’s skewed Western view of it, anyway) and made Tanaka a significant supporting role to Bond at a time when the wartime public perception of the Japanese was still pretty negative.

Stranger

One of the jokes is an arc of stars suddenly appearing above Mt. Fuji, turning into the Paramount logo (Paramount made the film). There were LOTS of exterior shots, as I recall, including that one – which had the actors in the shot (it wasn’t a “cut to a postcard”).

They did do a lot of shots in the US (as both Wikipedia and IMDB state), but I figure they only filmed a limited number in Japan. Other sources say they used a lot of Japanese stock footage

In any event, there were quite a few Japanese people in it, as I recall. There was definitely a crowd of Japanese kids in one scene.