For Your Eyes Only

Title: For Your Eyes Only

Year: 1981. My nephew Otis is 5. Last Christmas he came up to me with his father’s phone and asked if I knew the game Angry Birds. No, I did not. We sat down on the couch and he explained, “The birds are angry because the pigs took their eggs, now you have to kill the pigs.” Sure enough, when the game started a crudely animated drawing showed various colored birds sitting in a nest, watching a group of green pigs swipe their eggs, making the birds rather angry. No further explanation was needed. Game on! Let’s get the filthy pigs! Thanks to its incredible simplicity, Angry Birds has become one of the biggest video game sensations of this, or any era. In 1981, Hollywood vet Ronald Reagan rode a white horse into the white house. All of his years playing cowboys and Indians on the silver screen taught Reagan that audiences liked things to be easy to understand and straight forward. Between inflation, lines at the gas pump, the Iran Hostage crisis and sky-rocking crime in our once proud cities, America of the late 70’s was complicated, fragmented, and kind of a bummer. Reagan saw an opening. The great communicator went forth to redefine how America felt about itself with a message that had two key ingredients; make em feel good, and keep it simple. While using phrases like “shining city on the hill” and “evil empire,” Reagan invoked the language of movies to suck all the ambiguities and complexities out of this messy world and broke it all down into terms that my five-year old nephew could understand; the good guys wear white, the bad guys wear black, and take a wild guess what side the good old U.S.A. was on. The Soviets were the green pigs, and they were trying to steal the Bald Eagles egg, known as freedom. Game on! On the other side of the pond, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher rode a similar wave of conservative nationalism into office and the U.S. and U.K. were once again powerful allies on the front lines of the cold war. The 12th Bond film fit perfectly into this simple black and white world. Us vs. them. All killer, no filler. Gone were the grand eccentric villains who would deliver monologs about high minded dreams of reinventing the human race. Here, we get the Brits, the Commies, and one amazing race to the finish. If the last couple Bond films were 18 minute prog-rock symphonies by the likes of The Alan Parsons Project, then For Your Eyes Only is a fast, tight Ramones tune. For this flick, I could picture replacing the lion roar that opens all Bond pictures with a shot of dear departed Dee Dee sticking his head through the MGM logo and shouting “1-2-3-4!” Game on.

The original Angry Bird

Film Length: 2 hours 8 minutes. OK, so the first four Ramones records combine clocked in under the running time of this film, but let’s go with the analogy anyway…

Bond Actor: “We haven’t been properly introduced, my name is Bond, James Bond” 007 tells his female companion early in the film to which I say, “Welcome back, where have you been?” After playing Bond stiffer than Bela Lugosi’s Dracula in the previous film, the loose, lovable, funny and fun Roger has returned for what I would wager is his most physically demanding Bond film yet. The Winter Olympic Games don’t have a decathlon but Bond makes a convincing argument to include such an event in future games. In an incredible mid-movie set piece the 54-years-old Moore (OK, OK. Moore’s countless stunt doubles…) kicks off the first ever Nordic 10 sport event starting with the down hill, seamlessly blending into the biathlon, flowed by the ski jump, then on to the Super G with a little X games hot dogging and even some motocross thrown in for good measure, then it’s the bobsled and he finishes the whole thing with a hat-trick on the hockey rink (literally, Bond puts three felled baddies into the back of the net.) In fact, the only thing double O athlete sat out was figure skating, which frankly is for the best; the last thing we want to see is Moore getting all Johnny Weir. But Bond did manage to watch young Bibi triple lutz and Salchow so close enough. These winter sport chase scenes are action packed in a cartoon kind of way and get plenty of laughs but make no mistake, this is by far the most violent of the Moore films to date which dovetails nicely with the punkier, harder boiled approach to Bond. The hand to hand fighting packs a harder punch, a woman witnesses both of her parents murdered in cold blood, and Bond and his lady friend are tortured in an extremely cruel and painfully way. But above all, there is one scene in particular that broadcasts where the folks at EON want the Bond character to go. About ¾ of the way through the film, a baddie is stuck in his car which is balanced on the edge of a cliff a la the bus at the end of The Italian Job (1969). Bond tosses the killers near weightless calling card, a dove lapel pin, through the open window of the car, shifting the balance ever so slightly. The car rocks and it appears as if it may go over the edge. Bond watches, waits a beat, then gives the car a good sold kick to send it hurling down the cliff. The car doesn’t exploded, as cliff diving cars in previous Bond film have, but crashes onto the rocks below as we see the passenger thrown from the auto and splayed out on the rocks. Bond’s reaction? “I guess he had no head for heights.” This is something you might expect from Sean Connery but to see Moore perform such a cruel, cold blooded act is quite shocking. In fact, Moore was against the kick, wanting the pin alone to send the car and its passenger to their doom but producers convinced him otherwise. This business is all the more interesting when you consider how outspoken Moore has been in recent years when it comes to decrying the violent turn Daniel Craig’s Bond films have taken. For my money, the kick works. It fits in the context of the film and considering the baddies sins, Bond is more than justified. Early in the film, Bond and a lovely woman are taking a morning stroll on the beach after a romantic evening together. This idyllic serenity is broken when several dune buggies burst onto the beach and the cliff diving baddie runs over the woman, killing her, while Bond is defenseless to stop it. This ladies death is given even more weight when you consider the opening shot of the film, Tracy Bond’s headstone inscribe with the last words she heard, “We have all the time in the world.” Remember, Bond witnessed her murder as well, and could do nothing save his bride. All of this had to be playing out in Bond’s head when he gave the final satisfactory kick. If I may return to the Ramones for a moment, one of the beautiful things about da bruthads was how they could blend humor and violence, often in the same breath. “Beat on the brat with a baseball bat” is funny the same way Bugs Bunny getting it over on Elmer Fudd is funny. For Your Eyes Only pulls off the same trick; even with Bonds harder edge, Moore’s trademark humor is not lost. In fact, it’s as sharp as ever and Sir Roger is even willing to make himself the butt of the joke. Moore is quoted as saying he felt was getting a “little long in the tooth” at this point and he was “embarrassed” to be on screen with his 23 year old co-star, Lynn-Holly Johnson. So, when she shows up in Bond’s bathtub (this guy has a habit of finding bathing women in his hotel rooms) and jumps into bed, 007 uncharacteristically declines. “Why don’t you get your clothes on and Ill buy you ice-cream.” Again, this is correct. I just can’t see Bond, at any age, hooking up with a girl who skis in a cowboy hat and pink ear muffs.

Director: John Glen. In Roger Ebert’s review of Sudden Impact (1983) he wrote in part

…there comes a moment about halfway through Sudden Impact, the new Dirty Harry movie, when you realize that Harry has achieved some kind of legitimate pop status …. We learned early to cheer when John Wayne shot the bad guys. We cheered when the Cavalry turned up, or the Yanks, or the SWAT Team. What Eastwood’s Dirty Harry movies do is very simple. They reduce the screen time between those cheers to the absolute minimum. Sudden Impact is a Dirty Harry movie with only the good parts left in. All the slow stuff, such as character, motivation, atmosphere and plot, has been pared to exactly the minimum necessary to hold together the violence. This movie has been edited with the economy of a 30-second commercial.

I’m sure Ebert had his tongue firmly in cheek when writing about the “boring stuff” but substitute Dirty Harry and Sudden Impact with James Bond and For Your Eyes Only and I think you have John Glen’s mission statement for his first Bond picture as a director. Glen, who edited and directed the second unit, which was responsible for the incredible opening action sequences in the two previous Bond pictures, knew his way around Bond, and he must have been over the moon to get his shot at the helm. George Harrison was a hell of a song writer, but he worked with two dudes who (A) could write a classic in their sleep and (B) had ego issues. So, while Paul and John argued about whose tune would kick-off the next record, George kept his songbook in his back pocket and kept writing. By the time the Beatles called it quits in 1970, Harrison had stockpiled enough songs that his solo debut “All Things Must Pass” was a double record bursting at the seams with one killer track after the next. Once he had his chance, the quite one wanted to get everything out, all at once. This movie has a very similar feel. It’s almost like Glen had a bunch of ideas for action sequences but he couldn’t fit them all into the first 10 minutes of a movie. So, when he finally landed in the drives seat, he strung together every single thing he ever wanted to see Bond do creating a movie that is essentially a two-hour wall-to-wall action sequence. In keeping the plot simple, he crafted a film that is a big old game of capture the flag with Bond movies’ trademark locations as the playing field. For Your Eyes Only gives us everything we love about Bond, but trims the fat so we see a man who is more reliant on his wits and fists than gadgets and tricks. It’s not quite a re-boot per se, but more of a re-imagining. The Bond of this film is less high flying superspy and more like a grizzled international cop.  This Bond gets his hands dirty by teaming up with smugglers on midnight raids; he is not eating cucumber sandwich and pheasant hunting with the villain. It’s a role you could see 1990’s era Bruce Willis or Harrison Ford playing. The upshot; twice during the film I felt like Bond was in real danger, something I haven’t felt since Connery’s heyday. But what Glen should get the biggest props for is pulling of a plot twist that is so simple, yet completely unexpected, because shockingly, it’s never been done in any of the previous 11 Bond films.

Reported Budget: $28,000,000 estimated. For all the credit I just heaped on Glen for his re-framing of our hero, the cold hard numbers necessitated, at least in part, that Bond be pulled back. After going to the stars, short of driving his Lotus to Venus, there was nowhere else for Bond to go but back to earth. The rookie director was told in no uncertain terms that he would not have the open checkbook that lead to the $34,000,000 budget for Moonraker (1979), a film that proved that too much money can be just that, too much money. If you’ve ever seen a movie with the words “Jerry” and “Bruckheimer” side by side in the credits, then you know exactly of what I speak.

Reported Box-office: $54,812,802 (USA) $194,900,000 (Worldwide) Short on both the US and worldwide side of things when compared with Moonraker, but as far as bang for the buck, I’ve got to imagine everyone at EON was pleased. So much so that I suspect a sequel maybe in order, no?

Theme Song: “For Your Eyes Only” performed by Sheena Easton. For the most part this tune is Adult Contemporary crap. I’ll give Easton credit for killing the vocals and part of me dug the very early 80’s subtle key board that launches into a heavy bah daa bad daa faux piano, but lyrics like “maybe I’m an open book because I know your mine (bah daa bad daa) but you don’t need to read between the lines” are simply dreadful. That said, 1981 radio listeners loved the tune which hit #4 in the US and #8 in the UK. Additionally, the folks at the Academy, never known for their ability to find quality in film, much less music, nominated the song for an Oscar. To prove my point about the Academy’s lack of good taste, the winner for “Best Original Song” in 1981 was Arthur for “Best That You Can Do” by Christopher Cross. “If you get caught between the moon and neeeew YORK ciiiiiiiiiiiity ….” Yah, that tune. By comparison “For Your Eyes Only” might as well be “Beat on the Brat.”

Opening Titles: The 1980’s and MTV are inseparable. So it’s appropriate that the first Bond movie of the music video decade is the first, and to my knowledge only, time the performer of the theme song appears in the opening credits. Easton, doing her best to look like Pat Benatar, sings directly to the camera with a strategically folded arm hiding her shirtless chest. Meanwhile, blue, underwater looking silhouettes of women do the normal jumping, tumbling and what have you. I know these sequences are iconic and part of what makes Bond “Bond” but frankly, they are getting a little stale at this point. I’d like to see some variation and no, making the open into an MTV video doesn’t count.

Opening Action Sequence: Loudly declaring this is not your fathers Bond from the get go, Glen uses the opening action sequence to both reference and break from 007’s past. The first shot shows Bond standing at his wives grave for a moment of quite reflection, a moment that is shattered by the sound of helicopter blades and a shouting priest. The padre informs Bond that the office has called, it’s urgent, and a helicopter is incoming to collect him. However, as soon as Bond is in the aircraft the priest’s face turns somber and he gives the sign of the cross to the departing spy. Uhhh oh. And why is Bond separated from the pilot by one of those Plexiglas partitions you find in taxi cabs? And who is the bald fellow cackling to himself? Could it be???? YES, it’s Blofeld. As I’ve said before, I know I saw all these films at one time or another but I only remember bits and pieces and they all kind of blend together in my memory. Since beginning this project I’ve gone through great pains to avoid any kind of looking forward and this is one of the reasons why; I was sincerely thrown for a loop at the sight of Bond’s old nemeses, banged up and confined to a wheelchair, no doubt thanks to that business on the oil tanker a full 10 years ago??? This guy takes longer to come off the DL than Carl Pavano. (You’re welcome Yankee fans.) Oh well, still quite a shock. Blofeld kills his pilot and takes over flying remote control airways as the London skyline becomes Pink Floyd’s Animals album cover, sans the pig.  Bond works his way outside the chopper and around into the cockpit to find wires with the red tape on em. What could those be for? F it, lets cut em. And not a moment to soon. Blofeld has flown the chopper into a warehouse where the chopper blades come with-in inches of hitting the ceiling and walls. The shots of a helicopter flying inside a building are some of the more impressive I’ve seen in film. Not to bore regular readers but this is just one more piece of film making that demonstrates things were better in the good old pre CGI days. There is simply no way anyone can convince me this open would look better/ be more exciting/ carry the same impact if it were done with the aid of CGI. (And don’t get me started on the newest trend in film. Let’s just say that if I’m required to put on additional eyewear to view new Bond flick, I’m official declaring jihad on 3D. I mean, what would they call it, Bond 23D? Oh Jesus, what have I done….) Now in control of the chopper and proving once again that man has yet to create a form of transportation that Bond can’t expertly drive, 007 flies out of the warehouse and chases Blofeld like he’s Cary Grant in North by Northwest (1959); that is if Cary Grant were bald, in a neck brace and had a cat on his lap while escaping in a motorized wheelchair which, come to think of it, is one of the few motorized contraption we have yet to see Bond’s skills at maneuvering. In a move that must of had the production crew in stitches, Bond mounts Blofeld’s wheelchair on one of the helicopter skids and flies off. This is one of the cooler and unpredictable turning of the tables I can think of in a movie as Blofeld suddenly goes from a scheming madman to a blathering baby, begging for mercy. Not happening. Jimmy B finally has the opportunity to avenge his wives murder and to do so all our hero needs to do is simply tip the chopper forward. Off slips Blofeld, plummeting into a 20 story smokestack while shouting his final words “Mr. Booooonnnnnnnnddddd…….” And with that one act James not only finally gets the one that always got away but he simultaneously kills of the “old” Bond. It’s the closing of a chapter and Bond can move on, unencumbered. The only loose end to tie up, what happened to Blofeld’s cat?

Bond’s Mission: John Glen knew the visual language of an action sequence IE how to get to the nut of the story using as economical of means as possible. By extension, when the script does require characters to speak, Glen didn’t want Shakespeare; let the folks on screen do enough to let the audience know what’s up and get on with it. As a result we get a plot that is so straight forward as to be almost non-existent. In fact, the dialogue setting up the stakes happens so quickly I must admit I didn’t quite understand who all the players were at points until my second viewing. It’s a problem, but one that could be overlooked since there is so much more going on. Regardless, Bond enters M’s office and is handed an envelope with “For Your Eyes Only” written across the front. Inside are the particulars of “Operation Undertow.” It appears that a secrete British intelligence ship has sunk off the coast of Albania. (A mine, which was captured in a fishing net, did the boat and her crew in. Was this a planed sabotage? Did they just pull up an old mine by mistake? Doesn’t matter.) On board this boat was a dingus called the Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator or A.T.A.C. This thing can send launch orders to all Brits submarines with nuclear warheads; picture the fabled nuke codes the President of the United States carries around with him and you get the idea. Needless to say, if the commies got a hold of this it would be disastrous. “How deep is the water there?” Bond asks about the sunken St. Georges. “Not deep enough.” And the game is afoot. The entire thing is set up with a sinking ship scene (well done) and this bit of business. By comparison, if this were Moonraker, we would get shots of British subs containing warheads and satellites twirling in space as they relay messages to each other and huge military war rooms with panicked general doing whatever it is panicked generals do. Here, not one shot of a military submarine even thought they are central to the plot. We don’t need it. We in fact don’t even really need to know about the subs at all. The Brits need to beat the Russians to the bottom of the ocean to get the McGuffin and Bond is on the case. Hey Ho, Lets Go. In fact, the A.T.A.C. itself is a hysterically low teck prop that looks like a Commodore 64 keyboard.  Even the climax of the film is broken down to its simplest notes. Gone is the need to blow up a space station or a castle or an island or whatever; a need that killed the otherwise nuts and bolts Man with the Golden Gun(1974). In this film we get a mini Mexican standoff on the side of a mountain. It still delivers on the drama and the grandness of Bond but in a much more personal way. We see almost all of the main characters in close-up, with weapons in each other faces.

The Dingus

Perfect, and much more dramatic than running out of an exploding building. This is not to say the tried and true blowing stuff up elements can’t work, as demonstrated in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) which was a big production with a huge budgets that delivered on its promise of big big big. But the bigger something gets, the easier it is to loose control, see Moonraker. Or, in the case of The Man with the Golden Gun, the finally act was shoehorned in because producers felt like they need to blow stuff up and it didn’t fit with the beginning of the film. For Glen’s first time out, EON followed the advice I heard so many times from Prof. Skitko back in school. K.I.S.S. or Keep It Simple Stupid.

Villain’s Name: We meet two Greek smugglers, Columbo and Kristatos which sounds like a Mediterranean comedy duo. Bond first encounters Ari Kristatos, his point man in the Greek underworld. Like most Bond contacts of the past, he is an elderly man of taste, low key in appearance but clearly with his finger on the pulse. He is also sponsoring a young figure skating protégé he hopes will win the gold, a noble cause indeed. Bond inquires about an assassin named Emile Leopold Locque (great handle) who has been tied to some murderous goings on surrounding the Commodore 64. Indeed, Kristatos knows him and who he works for, another smuggler named Columbo. Both men are in the same illegal business yes, but unlike Kristatos, Columbo is bad bad bad. What separates these two smugglers? Hows about the information that Columbo deals in “Drugs, white slavery (the worst kind) and contract murder. In the Greek underworld he is known as the dove.” Bond is given this bit of information as he dines in the casino owned by the very man of whom they speak, who also happens to be seated at a table just yards away. We as an audience know Columbo is bad because (A) Bonds contact said so (B) much like Nixon, has he own building bugged, (C) like every bad guy in every Bond he has a huge base of operation (the casino) (D) he is filthy rich to the point where money is no object and finally (F) he stages a fight with his woman in front of Bond so Bond will follow her. Sure as day follows night Bond beds the lady, and the next morning the lady is killed by the white dove assassin Locque and Bond is kidnapped and taken to the office of one Columbo, who is about to explain his diabolical scheme. This is all right out of the Bond bad guy handbook and we as an audience recognize all the signposts thanks to our long history with Jimmy B. For Your Eyes Only is able to take all this history and turn it on its ear. And in a very well acted scene (containing easily the most dialog in the film) this “simple” plot is able to pull a “simple” trick that in a non-Bond film would have been routine but here is a revelation. “What should I do with you?” Columbo asks Bond in perhaps the best accent I’ve heard on film in some time. He then tells Bond the fix is in and that H.M.S.S. has been duped. He, Columbo, is in fact the good guy, Locque works for Kristatos, and God only knows what’s up with that whole white salve thing. Bond must now make a choice; who to believe? This is the stuff of almost all good espionage stories but Bond has never encountered such a situation. Why trust Columbo? After all, he’s got the lair, he’s got lady, and he practically twirls his black mustache when he speaks. He fits the profile of every previous Bond villain and Kristatos on the other hand fits the profile of ever other Bond buddy. As a sign of good faith, the pistachio nut munching Columbo hands Bond his gun, and it is loaded. “Come to the docks with me tonight, I’ll show you.” Like any good gambler, Bond must make a decision based on all the info he’s gathered so far. Perhaps he remembers that Kristatos’ car gave him a ride to the countesses place last night and then lo and behold, come morning the beach is crawling with baddies. Perhaps 007 is also remembering even early in the evening he won a cool million at the Baccarat table by not playing the odds, but playing a hunch and riding a steak of good luck. Armed with this info, not to mention the gun in his hand, 007 correctly figures he is on a rush of good cards and decides to accept Columbo’s drink and invite for the midnight raid. It’s a thrilling change of pace to see Bond use his smarts and not just rely on his gun and gadgets galore. And wouldn’t you know it, Columbo is simply a sweetheart and that Ari Kristatos is not only working with the Soviets but he’s also trying to deflower that skater of his. White slavery indeed.

King Ralph stars John Goodman who was also in...

Villain Actor: Julian Glover. The man who plays Kristatos trained at the National Youth Theatre and performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company but what his will always be remembered for is pulling off the Geek Trifecta by appearing in a Bond film (this one), playing General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Walter “Germany just declared war on the Jones boys” Donovan in Indian Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). Of course, one of those Jones boys was Harrison Ford who was also in The Empire Strikes Back and the other Jones boy was Sean Connery who once played Bond. In fact, when Connery left 007 in 1971 Julian Glover was on the short list to play Bond but lost out to Roger Moore. Another guy who played Bond is Timothy Dalton who appeared in Flash Gordon (1980) in which Dr. Hans Zarkov was played by Julian Glover. In For Your Eyes Only, Julian Glover’s Ari Kristatos puts out a hit on the Countess Lisl who was played by Cassandra Harris. Harris, at the time of filming, was dating one Pierce Brosnan and the two later had a son together. Brosnan, as fate would have it, also played James Bond. But that’s all just nonsense. What I will always remember Julian Glover for is his fine performance as King Gustav in the classic film King Ralph (1991)

Villain’s Plot: Get the dingus. It turns out that despite winning the Kings Medal from England, Kristatos was with the Russians all along. General Gogol openly refers to him as “our usual friend in Greece” so quite frankly, The Queen has some egg on her face. Additionally, Kristatos figures if he can get the British to do his dirty work and take out Columbo, his main competitor in the smuggling racket, all the better. But he didn’t count on Bond! To quote our 43rd President “Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” Well said.

Villain’s Lair: Our villain doesn’t live in a mountain top ski chalet, a seaside mansion with sharks in the pool, a deep-sea oil rig, the penthouse of a Vegas casino, a private island, a dictator’s compound, an underwater hideout, a volcanic crater or a cloaked space station. Where does he live? We never find out. We know he has seaside warehouse he uses to smuggle heroin, but the scale is much more human. After all, this is used to smuggle, so the smaller and less conspicuous the better, no? He also sets up shop in an old cliff-side monetary, as fantastic a lair as any we have seen, but it is in fact real and fits into the plot. Also the rooms inside are on a human scale with real furnishings and a congruous feel; no medieval stone walls that slide open to reveal a 21st century chemical lab. This is correct in keeping with the more personal tone of the film. Be it in the interest of budget or perhaps in Ken Adams team’s absents, Glen decided to use what was naturally available and write around that. See the fantastic decathlon sequence or the car chase down the side of a mountain. By using “real” natural settings the film itself feels more real and lived in.

Villain’s Coolest Accessory/ Trait: One of the downsides to stripping the plot to its bare bones is little room if left to truly develop characters. While Columbo makes the most of his minimal screen time and fills out into an interesting person, Kristatos really is a blank slate defined only by his actions. But those actions, for the most part, are ruthless and quite badass.

Badassness of Villain: Indeed, he orders a lot of hits, including the cold blooded murder of the Bond girl’s parents, the assassination of Columbo’s lady friend the countess, and he even drops a white dove pin on the dead body of an Italian spy he had wacked to try and set up Columbo. He is also willing to do some dirty work himself, including getting all Tonya Harding and smacking around Bibi, the skater he is sponsoring. However, one move is so vicious it sent me to Wikipedia. Keelhauling is “a form of punishment meted out to sailors at sea.” If by punishment they mean torture resulting in certain death, then yah, I guess you could call it “punishment.” Bond and his lady friend are tied together face to face at the wrists and ankles. They are then tethered to a large boat and thrown over the side to be dragged behind like a water-skier, only minus the skis. As the boat reaches top speeds, the couple not only struggle to keep their head above water but are also raked over sharp corral and dragged like large bait past schools of sharks. After the first run, Kristatos then has the boat turn around and go again, and again. The shots of Bond’s head, underwater, zooming towards rock hard, razor sharp corral made me actually fear for the indestructible 007’s safety. Great filmmaking.

Villain’s Asides/ Henchmen: Like the third installment of a superhero trilogy, this flick has more bad guys than the FOX News studios. Blofeld and Kristatos are the top baddies and under them there’s a rogues gallery of second bananas that includes a KGB agent and not one but two deadly assassins. The first is Hector Gonzalez AKA the Hugh Hefner of the underworld. He enjoys wearing a blue banana sling and listening to disco while throwing stacks of money at the beauties who lounge around his pool at his Madrid Playboy Mansion. Truth be told, he looks and lives more like a coke kingpin than an assassin but hey, I’m not here to judge how a man spends his money. He also gets one of the better lines in the film. “007, license to kill or be killed.” And as a bonus, he goes out in spectacular fashion. While in mid-flight off his diving board Gonzalez gets an arrow in the back. His floating dead body empties the pool quicker than the Baby Ruth bar in Caddyshack(1980). Next up is Emile Leopold Locque who is a spitting image of 70’s era Warren Zevon.  We learn from his MI6 file that Locque “Escaped from prison by strangling his psychiatrist.” He also can turn a dune buggy into a deadly weapon and he takes out one of Italy’s elite operatives. Finally, there is the blond KGB baddie known as Kriegler, who is an

Send lawyers, guns, and money

Olympic biathlon competitor with anger issues. He gets so pissed at one point he literally lifts a motorcycle over his head and throws it in the direction of a fast escaping Bond. In a related note, the very next day the IOC tested the Russian biathlete for performance enhancing drugs. Results are still pending.

Bond Girl Actress: Carole Bouquet. She read for the role of Dr. Goodhead in Moonraker but landed the better, meatier Bond girl role in this film. A classic beauty, Glen never wastes an opportunity to feature Bouquet’s long flowing hair or striking deep eyes. She became the spokes model for Chanel in the 1990’s when she was well past the sell by date on most ladies who land such gigs. Unlike many Bond girls who disappear after their 007 appearance, Bouquet still works regularly today, mostly in French language roles. Bibi is played by Chicago native Lynn-Holly Johnson who placed 2nd at the 1974 U.S. Figure Skating Championships and does all the skating and trick skiing in the film herself. Not the strongest actress to grace the silver screen, she plays her one note quite well. The scenes between she and Moore a touching and humors, no small thing considering they could very easily have come off as creepy.

Bond Girl’s Name: Melina Havelock gets quite an entrance. We first see the Bond girl in a seaplane which lands and pulls up next to a yacht belonging to her Greek oceanographer parents. They seem to be lovely people who are promptly killed by the seaplane pilot leading to a slightly too dramatic zoom into Melina’s face. She then, “like Elektra,” vows to avenge her parent’s death which puts she and Bond on a crash course to take out the same target. Like many of the heroes of Greek and modern mythology, she becomes define by her weapon of choice. Poseidon has his trident, Capitan America has his shield, Indian Jones has his whip and Ash has his chainsaw hand.

Alright you primitive screwheads, listen up!

For Melina, it’s a crossbow, a weapon she yields with deadly accuracy, just ask Hector Gonzalez. She also is one hell of a driver, helping Bond escape in a yellow 2CV which is like a shittier Volkswagen Bug.

Bond Girl Sluttiness: During the 2010 Winter Olympics, Vancouver organizers stocked the Olympic Village, the area where all the athletes from all over the world are housed, with 100,000 condoms or 14 for every resident. This is another way of saying when you get the best of the best young athletes, all with incredible bodies and physical prowess, and stick them all in a confined area for 17 days…. well, there a whole lot of loven’ going on. Bibi, our Olympic figurer skater is no exception. She apparently has a thing for spies as she was hitting the slopes with KGB agent Kriegler and then shows up naked in Bonds bed. “What would your uncle think?” Bond asks. When Bibi replies “Oh him, he still thinks I’m a virgin” Moore flashes a perfectly timed double take and then does the gentlemanly thing. As for Melina, the Greek avenger has bigger things on her mind than bedding Bond making her perhaps the least amorous Bond girl yet. It isn’t until the very end of the film, once the whole bloody vengeance thing has been settled, that she finally gets down to getting Bond. When she does so, she lets him know he’s going where few, if any, have gone before; “For your eyes only, darling.”

Bond Girls Best Pick-up Line: Bond, having just escorted the countess to her beach bungalow via Kristatos’ limo is about to say goodnight. The Countess counters “I’m a night person. I have champagne and oysters in the fridge. Why don’t you come in for a bite?”

Bond’s Best Pick-up Line: The next morning, as the two stroll hand in hand on the beach, the Countess lets Bond know he can take her car back to the hotel. “Well that rather sounds like a dismissal; I was hoping to stay for breakfast.”

Number of Woman 007 Beds: Ahh hook ups in the back of limos that lead to oysters and champagne in the fridge, I remember those days. Of course, what I mean to say is I remember the days of drunken hook-ups in the back of taxi cabs and the midnight snacks of Pabst Blue Ribbon and pizza but on some level I can relate to Mr. Bond. Although the morning after wasn’t so much a saunter on the beach as much as a hung over walk of shame performed while digging in every pocket with the hopes of finding one last token while seeking out the nearest N train stop, but I digress. The only other lady would be Melina making a relatively low count of two. When you consider the movies kicked off with Bond standing at his wives grave, it seems appropriate.

Number of People 007 Kills: When the film opens with Jimmy B offing his long time nemeses in such a spectacular and unexpected way, you’ve got to figure the carnage in this film is going to be on the high side of things. Including good old Blofeld, Bond retires 12. Granted, not that high of a number by Bond standards but he gets mighty creative with some of em. Sure, during a warehouse raid he shoots two dudes, grenades another and violently tosses a forth into the sea. He also flips a dune buggy on top of a guy and throws another off a cliff after said guy tries to cut Bonds climbing line; all pretty standard. On the more creative front, Jimmy B attaches a detonator to the back of a diver’s helmet where he can’t possibly reach it. All the poor bastard can do is flap his arms about like the little brother in A Christmas Story (1983) and then boom. Speaking of boom, when a baddie breaks the window to Bond’s car, the thing instantly explodes in a moment that Glen claims had a 1981 New York City audience rolling in the allies. Auto theft was at an all time high in the city and I’m sure Gotham residents would have loved to have such an option on their cars. As for me, I was thinking what would Bond do if he lost his keys? After sticking a piece of lumber in the spokes of a motorcycle and sending the rider through a window, Bond is kind enough to place flowers on the corpse. To finish off the KGB baddie, Bond combines two of the above techniques; (A) throw the dude through a window after which he roles (B) off the cliff. In another surprise twist, Bond himself doesn’t finish off the head baddie, old man Kristatos. That honor goes to Columbo and his knife throwing skills.

Most Outrageous Death/s: I love zombies, and Zombieland (2009) was a fantastic take on the undead/flesh eating genre. The movie gets laughs out of the idea that anyone who digs zombie films has thought about what they would do when World War Z happens. (In my case, I’ve thought about it perhaps a little too much. Let’s just say I currently have bars over all the windows in my home…) Anyway, our hero in the film is Columbus, who has managed to stay alive during the zombie apocalypse thanks to a list of rules he follows religiously. Rule #1 is cardio. The zombies of Zombieland are the updated 28 Days Later (2002) speedy variety, not the slow shuffling George Romero breed so being able to run long distances is essential and hence, the #1 rule. Whelp, Bond is clearly keeping up on his cardio; check this out. Emile “Werewolves of London” Locque gets in his car and speeds up one of those twisty mountain roads. There is also a stair case that goes up the mountain in a much more direct route than the road but they are, you know, stairs. A lot of em, going up a step mountain. Bond takes off up said stairs and not only catches Locque’s car but PASSES it! Anyone else who got the top of this staircase as quickly would be doubled over and loosing their lunch. Bond on the other hand isn’t even out of breath and is able to stabilize himself to get off a perfect shot at the on coming Locque. The single shot sends Locque and his car to a teetering position on the side of the cliff. Bond then gets to do his dramatic dove pin toss/ kick of the car off the mountain. Cardio indeed.

Miss. Moneypenny:  In a film where Bond has minimal toys, Moneypenny gets a gadget. When we first see Moneypenny she is putting on her face using a make-up kit and mirror hidden in her filing cabinet. Cool. We also see Bond toss his hat onto the hat rack, a first for Moore if I’m not mistaken and another reference to the Connery days. It’s also a little odd considering we never see Bond wearing a cap.

M: Bernard Lee, who died in January of 1981, was too ill to reprise his role as M when the film was shot in 1980. Moneypenny explains M’s absents when she informs Bond that the boss man is out on leave. For this information Bond give her a rose. Bond then goes into M office to find Chief of Staff Bill Tanner sitting at M’s desk. This jerk couldn’t carry M’s luggage, and he sure as shit has no business sitting at the great man’s desk. James Villiers plays Tanner as a smug, pipe puffing, half wit. He’s also a little stiff. With apologies to Ferris Bueller, Chief of Staff Bill Tanner is so uptight that if you put a lump of coal in the guys ass, in two weeks it would be a diamond. When Bond plainly spells out his plan, Tanner responds with a terse “I don’t follow…” and in the same breath chides Bond for “mucking it all up.” He also throws around the threat of “contacting the Prime Minister” like a younger sibling threatens to “go tell mommy.” Speaking of the PM, For Your Eyes Only has one of the stranger endings to a Bond film. There has been a running joke in the past few 007 movies where the very last scene entails Bond somehow being put in touch with all the government big wigs at the precise moment he’s fornicating with the Bond girl. It’s cute and is a nice way for us to leave Bond on the shelf until the next adventure. However, this movie takes the joke one step further when we actually see the PM. Even more bizarre it’s not some fictional PM but then current office holder Margaret Thatcher. (Not the “real” Thatcher, but an actress who is a spitting image.) Thatcher is in the kitchen, preparing a meal when the red phone on her wall rings. It’s Tanner, who patches Bond though. Bond of course is getting down with Melina and puts a talking parrot on the line. (It makes sense in the context of the film) The joke, I guess, is that Margaret Thatcher doesn’t pick up on the fact that she is talking to a bird so when the parrot squawks “give us a kiss” Thatcher blushes and gives an “Ohhh Mr. Bond.” Meanwhile, her husband, who looks like a cross between the old man pervert on the park bench in a Benny Hill sketch and Mr. Rodgers on xanax stands by eating a sandwich. This may have been good satire in 1981 and British audience may have gotten a kick out of it but to me it made not-a-lick of sense and sucked me out of the movie completely. To think of it another way, Bond is England’s #1 export and other than footage of the Beatles, the way that most people outside England see England is through Bond films. I can’t picture a Hollywood action film in 1981 making a Ronald Reagan is senile joke. Maybe somewhere some films did, but in a Bond picture the Thatcher thing is just odd and frankly tone deaf. In other news, we may not have M but we do get his Soviet counterpart General Gogol who just continues to grow on me each film. I really love this guy. Here, we first see him in that mausoleum of an office that was introduced in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). He’s on the phone (the red one, of course) conducting some important state business while flirting with his hot secretary. At the end of the film he takes a helicopter to Greece to personally pick-up the dingus. I cracked up when I noticed he was wearing a red star pin on his lapel in much the same manner that every American politician has been required to wear a flag pin after 9/11. God bless HDTV. Anyway, the smartly dressed General makes the trip all the way to the Greek mountains only to fail in obtaining the prize when Bond throws the Commodore 64 over the cliff. Gogol’s response? Laugh his ass off, nod at Bond, and get back on the chopper, bound for a rendezvous with that secretary no doubt. I love how the character plays again the Stalinesque, tight lipped, humorless Russian military man shown in every other Hollywood flick produced at the time. I vote for good old Gogol for M’s successor, screw that Tanner guy.

Q: “Forgive me father for I have sinned” Bond says when he enter the confessional. “That’s putting it mildly 007” responds the preacher, AKA Q. I live in Astoria Queens, home to the largest population of Greeks outside of Greece and there are several Greek Orthodox churches just blocks from my place. And I must say, while Bond has sported some dodgy disguises in the past, Q’s Greek Orthodox priest is spot on. Despite the small number of gadgets, Q has quite a presence in the film. His lab is chuck full of the typical good stuff like an arm cast that smash like Hulk (that will come in handy,) a umbrella that when rained upon closes and sticks knifes into holders neck (stinging in the rain,) but the coolest new toy is the identigraph. One of the many things that we take for granted now with the World Wide Web and memory clouds and smart phones is that we can get to the information housed in computers anywhere at anytime. In the past, one had to go to the correct terminal to get desired information. I remember being in the library and having to look up the card catalog on one machine, typing on a word processor on a second, and finding articles in periodicals on a third terminal (which used microfiche, which for all you kids who have never had the pleasure, was a total nightmare.) All three of these machines were in the same building but you could only use them for their specific purpose. IE you had to go to the computer that did the task you needed. In movies, this meant the astronauts had to go to a physical HAL in 2001 (1969). Even better for cinematic purpose, people would go into huge rooms with blinking lights to interface with the all powerful computer, like the crew of the Nostromo had to do in Alien (1979) to talk to “mother.” The identigraph is housed in a similar room deep in Q’s lab and is equipped with, for no reason at all except it looks cool, red lighting. There are also racks and racks of data holding devices, in this case, large white spools containing all the information on all the known criminals in the world. Bond and Q go to work on putting together a police sketch of Locque. After what must have been a very long time (Q and Bond both removed their suit jackets, the universal shorthand for burning the midnight oil) the two come up with Locque’s mug shot and file. I liked the identigraph, it was far out enough to be Bond but also close enough to realty that I’m sure police stations of today use a similar (and at this point far more advanced) program to make sketches of wanted suspects.

List of Gadgets: Bond is driving what appears to be the tricked out white Lotus from the previous two films but outside of the thing exploding we see none of its cool features. This was very much intentional Glen says on the DVD extras. The idea was to make Bond reliant on his own wits and in fact the destruction of his car is yet another way to separate this meaner, leaner Bond from his past. The only true gadget is a communication device, not a weapon. In the finally moments of the movie, bond gets a twitter message on his watch which displays the text like the news ticker in Times Square.

Gadgets/British Government Property Bond Destroys: There is the Lotus which Bond didn’t directly destroy but it was blown up while signed out to him. He also dumps the above mentioned watch into the sea, which while it may have been waterproof, I’m sure was never recovered. Then there is the A.T.E.C. that is thrown over the cliff. When the thing hit the rocks it explodes in a way that sounds and looks more like the destruction of the first Death Star than say, a keyboard with three circuit boards inside. But oh it dramatic!

Other Property Destroyed: After the Lotus goes by-by, Bond finds himself in Melina’s yellow 2CV, the joke being Bond has to escape in a car that wouldn’t be fit to compete in a soapbox derby. Hey, speaking of soapbox derbies, have you seen The Raconteurs video for “Steady as she Goes”? It’s awesome.

 

Anyway, Bond goes barreling down the hillside, destroying many a fig grove and likely entire families’ livelihoods in the process. He also crushes the car. A flower shop will also loose some business when it shuts down to fix that front window Bond sends the motorcycle rider through and then there is stain glass window in the monastery. Separate incidences. Bond also causes all kinds of havoc to tables, chairs, and other furniture both while skiing and while brawling in the monastery. Again, separate incidences. And incidentally, I wouldn’t hold out much hope for the 2CV’s tape deck … or the Creedence.

Felix Leiter: The CIA sat this one out but the Italians sent their 2nd best man, Luigi. Things start of with great intrigue when Bond arrives at his hotel. He enters the bathroom and runs hot water in faucet, steaming up the mirror to reveal the meeting place with the Italian spy. Awesome! Low tech but all kinds of cloak and dagger. From there, things go down hill faster that Jack White in a soapbox derby car. When Bond meets the Italian, Luigi promptly hooks 007 up with Kristatos, the man working for the Russians. I mean, with his first move Luigi makes Felix look competent. The Italians do wish they could have sent their #1 man, but Mario was busy saving a princess from an angry monkey. Bond’s true ally in this film is Columbo, played by Topol, who has had perhaps just as interesting life as the Greek smuggler. Topol, which means “Tree of life,” was granted leave from the Israeli army so he could attend the Oscars in Hollywood when he was nominated for his role as Tevya in Fiddler on the Roof(1971). How cool is that?

The Italian secrete service

Columbo reminded me a lot of Kerim Bey in From Russia With Love (1963). Like Bey, Columbo is an older laid back European who has experienced much. You can read his history on his face; world weary and cynical, but able to laugh at the way things repeat themselves, just with different players. This is coupled with a crusty confidence which allows him to cut through the bullshit and get to the nut of the thing. 20 years down the road, I could picture Bond in a similar consultant type role. The semi-retired 007 would live on an estate in the UK somewhere, with a garden and a vineyard. When duty called, he would drive his Bentley into the nearby village, meeting his contacts at the local where he is known to regulars as the guy who lives in the big house on the hill. Only the bartender knows the score, and he never asks Bond to pay for a drink.

Best One Liners/Quips: Bond and Melina have located the sunken St. Georges, the boat that went down with the dingus on board. So deep is the resting place of the boat that divers must use a special mixture of oxygen that will only give them 17 minutes to get in, find the dingus, removes it, and get out. Bond wisely advises Melina that the air is precious so she should only speak “when necessary.” Clearly, one-liners about sharks fall into the category of “when necessary.” When one swims by, Bond quips “I hope he was dining alone.”

Bond Cars: 2 Lotuses, (Lodi?) red and white. I for one couldn’t be happier to see Bond back in a hot set of wheels. However, since the white one blows up before we really get to see Bond in it and the red one is in fact just a floor model in Q’s lab, I’ve sadly got nothing more on the subject. We do however see Bond in a horse drawn carriage, a sub named Neptune (more boats) and in that little yellow 2CV so maybe it’s not the return to Bond cars as the DVD cover promises. Baby steps.

Number of Drinks 007 Consumes: 4 and not a martini, or any vodka for that matter, among the sprits. Bond joins Kristatos for dinner at Columbo’s casino before he knows who’s on what side (After all, <sung> “how was he to know, he was with the Russians too HEY!”) They sit and Bond orders ouzo for his pre dinner cocktail. When in Greece… But when Kristatos, Bond’s host for the evening it should be pointed out, makes a suggestion for the dinner wine, things go sideways. “May I suggest a white Ribolo from Catalonia, my home place?” Bond’s nose wrinkles up just slightly before he attempts to recover. “Well, if you forgive me, I find that a little too scented for my palate … I prefer the Theotaki Aspero.” Boom bitch! That would be like me meeting Bond and suggesting a Brooklyn Lager. “Forgive me, I find it a bit hoppy, I prefer the Yuengling myself.” No wonder Kristatos tries to have Bond killed, you don’t just slam a man’s suggestion for a drink, much less one from the dudes hometown, and get away with it? Shortly after, Bond is kidnapped by Columbo who offers James a whisky. Bond turns him down; a way of showing his distrust for the man and his motives. Columbo sees this as temporary set back “by tomorrow we will be good friends, let us drink to it.” After Bond gets his gun back he decides waiting to tomorrow is not necessary. His trust now completely in Columbo’s corner, he chugs away; ahhhh alcohol and firearms, the source of many a healthy friendship. A much more agreeable drinking partner is the Countess Lisl with whom Bond shares a bottle of bubbly and oysters while the two lounge on the couch.

Bond Timepiece: I’m not even sure what to say here. My dismay with the Bond watches has reached a barley containable anger crossed with a healthy dose of confusion. This is a cat known for his impeccable taste. James Bond settles for nothing short of the best of the best. Look how he pissed on his host’s hometown wine for Christ sakes. I included this “Bond Timepiece” section on Blog James Blog with the hopes of exploring horology and discussing the finer timepieces of the past decades. Instead I get more digital shit. Note to Broccoli, Bond deserves a decent watch; get him one stat. I’m near my wits end with this category.

Other Notable Bond Accessories: With no parachute hidden under his jacket, Bond makes creative use of an umbrella when jump off a rather high wall. He also has some super fancy climbing gear. Most notable, he traded in his Rossignols for Olin Mark VI’s which seem to perform well on not just on the groomed slopes but also in the glades, on a bobsled track, on a picnic table and on a ski jump so yah, nice upgrade.

Bond’s Gambling Winnings: Skiing and gambling!! What a great debut Mr. Glen! Blog, James Blog salutes you sir. Bond finds himself in Gastouri’s Achillion Palace playing his game of choice, Baccarat. When we join Bond he has the shoe and is going head to head with a portly fellow we know only as “Bunkie.” Bunkie has just lost a stack of titles to Bond that looks to be in the neighborhood of half a million clams. Bunkie’s miffed, but not quite tilting. Enter the woman. The Countess, in her first scene in the film, places herself behind Bunkie’s chair. Bond in the meantime deals. Bunkie looks at his hand and pushes forward five hundred thousand. “Where’s your courage Bunkie?” the Countess taunts. Bond doesn’t miss a beat and wisely chides the meddling woman. “Courage is no match for an unfriendly shoe Countess.” Bunkie, in the meantime, is sweating like Charlie Sheen in a room full of coke and hookers. Unable to resist, he pushes forward an additional five hundred thousand for a healthy one million dollar bet. Bond is showing a Q-5 for a total of 5 out of a possible high score of 9. Now, it’s Kristatos turn to interfere and inform Bond what he surly already knows, “the odd favor standing pat.” Indeed, only and A-4 would improve Bond’s hand while all other cards will weaken it. Bond counters by saying “that is if you play the odds.” He then draws a 4 for the winning hand. The countess promptly splits, leaving Bunkie a million dollars poorer and with just a little bit of vomit in his mouth. Have I mentioned how much I love it when Bond plays cards?

Bonds Special Abilities Displayed: Let’s talk about skiing. Bond must have been born in bindings because this dude can do it all plus. Say he finds himself on a ski jump with downhill skis? No worries, strap in and bombs away. Have motorcycles with spiked tires and machine guns chasing you? Ski over tables and roofs, and then ski faster. Find a bobsled tube in your way? Make the thing your personal cross-park. Need to knock a gun out of a guys hand because he’s shooting at you while you’re shredding? Do a helicopter and knock the gun out of his hand. Speaking of helicopters, Bond can fly those. He can also drive a zamboni which damn near completes the list of vehicles 007 expertly navigate. Additionally, he can bomb down a mountain in a piece of shit proving it’s not the car, it’s the man behind the wheel. Another notable break from the past in this film is that at no point did Bond light up for a smoke. Clearly this helped when scaling shear cliffs or sprinting up stairs to beat a car to the top of the mountain. I won’t even get into his hand to hand skill as they are a given at this point, but I was quite impressed how he called the Countess out when she let the drink get the better of her ruse. “Me nightie is slipping” she confesses at one point. Without missing a beat Bond adds “and so is your accent countess. Manchester?” “Liverpool.” And the guy still scores. Now that is special abilities displayed.

List of Locations: Glen deserves high marks for delivering an amazing looking movie that not only makes the most of the locations, but manages to incorporate them as part of the film. Everywhere Bond goes feels real and lived in but exotic at the same time, not an easy needle to thread and Glen manages to make it look effortless. Take the sequence where Bond kicks the car over the cliff. At the top of the stairs Bond comes onto the mountain road under a stone bridge and is perfectly framed in the shot reminding me a little of John Wayne standing in the door in The Searchers (1956) in the way a blast of color and natural beauty in the background is framed by the dark, manmade structure in the margins. A few shots later when Bond kicks the car off the cliff, I suspect most directors would have kept the teetering car as the focal point of the shot. Glen however pulls the camera back and places it at an angel so we see the surround country side which gives the cliff context. We feel like we are there and it adds to the power of the moment. There are countless examples like the above; the opening which features the derelict Beckton Gas Works which may or may not be the cover of Pink Floyd Animals but is where Kubrick shot scenes for Full Metal Jacket (1987) is amazing in its scoop. The night raid on the heroin smuggling operation takes place in a seaside shack that I would wager is actually somewhere in Greece. The monastery, a 15th century structure known as Hagia Triada, actually rests on a “Wild E Coyote” precipice and holds all the mystery and glamour of a typical Bond bad guy hideout but not the goofy hi tech lab room populated by faceless jumpsuit wearing minions. Not to mention the way one gets to the joint, in the film and in real life, is in a basket that ascends into a wooden shack hanging over a cliff. That is freaking cool and Glen makes the most of this unique location. The alpine village is the best “mountain ski town” we’ve seen since On Her Majesties Secrete Service (1969) and all of the skiing and Olympic stuff, shot in the northern Italian town of Cortina d’Ampezzo and the Dolomites mountains which hosted the 1956 Winter Games, is all simply beautiful. The additional locations around the Greek Island of Corfu which also plays stand-in for Spanish locations complete what is one of the better Bond films when it comes to taking the audience on a journey they will not soon forget.

Thoughts on Film: “I’m afraid were being out horse powered” Bond says at one point, something For Your Eyes Only need not concern itself with. What maybe most impressive about this film is how it bends the Bond formula to give us new stuff, but it travels so fast and is so light on its feet, we hardly notice. In addition to the bad guy twist we get a Bond girl who is not a baddie yet sees Bond more as an inconvenience, not a romantic interest. Between Margaret Thatcher with a cupboard that contains “All Brand” cereal to General Gogol laughing off the destruction of a device that could win him the cold war, this maybe the most political Bond yet, but it treats all of it in a light, matter-of-fact way. It’s at points quite silly; Bond learns the location of the much sought after A.T.E.C. from a talking parrot and also quite violent; the sinking of the St. Georges features men screaming and drowning in quite horrific ways. Glen balances all these elements well while giving us some of the best action we’ve had in a Bond film to date. I must admit, I feared the departure of Ken Adams and crew would be felt in a negative way but in fact the opposite is true. And that’s not speaking ill of those guys, they made Bond capital “B” Bond and created the most memorable, iconic images of the franchise. It’s just that like everyone one else, when you do something long enough the ideas get stale and it’s time for new blood. This movie is what I wanted from The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) in terms of stripping Bond down but it reminded me most of another Bond film. From the nuts and blots idea of beating the baddies to the prize, to the tougher Bond thinking on his feet with the minimal gadgets, from the Columbo character to the locations being more natural and the action feeling like part of those locations, I found myself thinking of From Russia With Love (1962) several times while watching. At this point in the Blog James Blog project, I have more films behind me than ahead and I can really see the push/pull pattern these movies are taking on. I kind think of  From Russia With Love and Goldfinger (1964) as the gold standard (They are, after all, the only two movies so far to get the coveted seven martini glass rating.) Not only are they the best Bond movies, together they set off the pattern that has been repeating in one way or another since; the goofiness and gadgetry of Goldfinger was a reaction to offset the seriousness of From Russia With Love. All subsequent films have been some kind of attempt to mix and match what worked in those two very different ideas of what Bond should be. Some entries strike the balance expertly like The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and other end up a jumbled mess like Diamonds Are Forever (1971). And God only knows what they hell anyone was trying to do with You Only Live Twice (1967) but there you go. (The exception up to this point being On Her Majesties Secrete Service (1969) which just feels more and more like it was out of left field the further we go along, and I mean that in the best possible way.) For the first James Bond of the 80’s EON made a decidedly non-1980’s action film and came up with something closer to a gritty 70’s Dirty Harry film, ironic considering 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me provides the roadmap for glossy 80’s action heroes. Look, I love gadgets, I love the huge villain lairs, I love all the big stuff that is Bond, but I also love when the character can still be Bond while we get to see a different side of him. After Moonraker (1979) launched Bond into the wilderness, Glen and company took the reigns and put our beloved hero back on sold footing. For their first film, they put forth a clear vision of how they see James Bond and where they want him to go. While not a classic by any means, For Your Eye Only is a case study in how to keep a character that has been in 12 films in 19 years fresh without alienating long time fans.

Martini ratings:

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