Welcome to my April A-Z! This month I will be posting about James Bond 007 every day except Sunday, mostly focusing on the movies, not the books. Enjoy! We are almost at the end…
You Only Live Twice is a 1967 Eon-produced Bond film, the fifth in the series, and starring Sean Connery as 007. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert who also directed The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and Moonraker in 1979 (both are Roger Moore Bond films). Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay for YOLT (not as catchy as YOLO, unfortunately, but we are using it here), and it was based on Ian Fleming’s novel, though it’s entirely different. This began a new tradition of basically writing an entirely new story for Bond films, while keeping the name of the books. Dahl said that YOLT was Fleming’s worst book with no plot whatsoever, and he had six weeks to write the screenplay with no prior experience. He was told to create three female characters for Bond to seduce. LOL
Bond is sent to Japan to figure out why American and Soviet spacecraft have disappeared ~ and for the first time, Ernst Stavro Blofeld, SPECTRE’S chief baddie, appears on screen. He’s sequestered away on some remote Asian island plotting bad things and working for an unnamed Asian government, assumed to be China, to provoke war between the other superpowers. This film didn’t do as well as previous Bonds, and during filming Connery said he was retiring, though he was persuaded to return in Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and later in the non-Eon Never Say Never Again (1983).
In any case, I never understood the weirdness of why Bond had to fake his death in Hong Kong and then show up on a Japanese island, not even looking Asian or different in any way from his 007 face, to participate in a lengthy “marriage” ceremony with an Asian girl. It literally made no sense whatsoever and doesn’t fool the baddies either. Oddly, however, this section is straight from the book! The idea is that Bond will pose as an ordinary fisherman hubby who will row over to the baddies’ compound to see what’s up and infiltrate it. There are some cool special effects with the spacecraft and also a volcano where the baddies hid it. The escape from the volcano as Blofeld sets it to destruct is pretty exciting. But we never find out what Blofeld’s motivation is in helping (presumably) China begin a kerfuffle wherein the US and Russia will supposedly destroy each other. Not my favorite 007 flick, but still better than most other action movies.
Bit of trivia: Sean Connery’s wife at the time, Diane Cilento, performed many of the swimming scenes for the Japanese actresses. Also, Queen Elizabeth II attended the premiere in Leicester Square.
Bernard Lee plays M in YOLT, Lois Maxwell portrays Moneypenny, and Desmond Llewelyn is Q. Once again, Nikki van der Zyl is uncredited, this time as the voice of Kissy Suzuki, the local operative assigned to help Bond.
Tune in tomorrow for the final A-Z Bond!
Information and images from Wikipedia and Pinterest.
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