Tuesday, October 13, 2020

The 007 Project: You Only Live Twice

Synopsis in 3 sentences or less:
Bond fakes his death to give himself room to operate more freely. He goes to Japan to investigate the source of a space launch where a capsule is pretending to be the USSR and kidnapping American astronauts, and vice versa. He discovers that SPECTRE is behind the plot, and he assumes the look of a Japanese ninja while invading their base. 

Memorable Quote:
You like Japanese sake, Mr. Bond, or would you prefer vodka martini?  ~Tanaka
Oh no, I like saki. Especially when it's served at the correct temperature: 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit, like this is.  ~Bond

I like the scene where Bond has the astronaut outfit on and is getting ready to climb into the space capsule. Cool music, and pretty ballsy of Bond for being ready and willing to go up in space as part of his seat-of-the-pants plan. 

While I like the concept of the fake death, it would have meant more if it actually affected the plot. The only time it came up was when Osato and Brandt were surprised to learn that Bond was alive, but that knowledge wouldn't have changed any of their actions up to that point. 

Most interesting piece of IMDB trivia:
While scouting locations in Japan, the chief production team narrowly escaped death. On March 5, 1966, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, director Lewis Gilbert, cinematographer Freddie Young, and production designer Ken Adam were booked to leave Japan on BOAC flight 911 departing Tokyo for Hong Kong and London. Two hours before their Boeing 707 flight departed, the team was invited to an unexpected ninja demonstration, and so missed their plane. Their flight took off as scheduled, and twenty-five minutes after take-off, the plane disintegrated over Mt. Fuji, killing all aboard.

Other thoughts, observations, and questions I didn’t ask when I was in fourth grade:
  • This screenplay was written by children's author Roald Dahl. I was a big Fantastic Mr. Fox fan back in the day. 
  • The first Bond movie where the plot from Fleming's book wasn't closely followed. In the book, Bond gets amnesia after killing Blofeld, and then he lives with Kissy Suzuki for a while and gets her pregnant. 
  • It's unclear how Bond doesn't die after getting shot in the murphy bed. 
  • Great opening song! It's sung by Nancy Sinatra, who was offered the song after her father Frank turned it down. 
  • I like the recreation of Moneypenny and M's offices on the sub. 
  • Bond puts on a Covid-style mask when he gets in the back of the car and pretends to be the hoodlum he just took out, and somehow the driver never realizes the deception, even as he gets Bond out of the car and carries him on his back. The driver is played by wrestler Peter Maivia, Dwayne Johnson's grandfather. 
  • "In Japan, men always come first. Women come second."  ~Osato right before he and Bond get undressed and bathed by four scantily clad Japanese ladies. Women's empowerment was never one the Bond series' greatest strengths. 
  • 42:20 mark -- The car chase moves very quickly from busy Tokyo to the countryside. 
  • The scene where Helga Brandt leaves Bond in the plane to die was silly -- why would she go through all that trouble instead of just trying to kill him on land? Also it's impressive how Bond is able to safely land the plane without the wheels. 
  • During the helicopter chase, a cameraman on a harness got his foot partially cut off by a blade and later had the foot amputated. Remind me of that the next time I complain about CGI. 
  • Connery wore a hairpiece in all the Bond movies, and it looks like they gave him a different one when he gets a Japanese makeover. 
  • Shouldn't the US and the Soviets have known that a third party was involved since neither of them were involved in the other's disappearing spacecraft? 
  • The construction of the impressive crater set cost more than making Dr. No
  • Blofeld's cat gets spooked at one point, but Blofeld keeps a solid hold on him. Also, the cat ran away and was missing for a few days during production. 
  • The biggest stretch of the movie is actually not the Pac Mac space capsule that eats the other spaceships -- it's how Bond is allowed to be unrestrained (i.e. not tied up or handcuffed) in the control room while the rocket is taking off. On top of that, they even let him have one of his own cigarettes -- did they miss the part in his file where he uses an occassional gadget? 
  • It wasn't clear at first why Kissy was involved in the volcano assault, but I read online that she was part of the ninja force, despite not being properly dressed for battle. Her character isn't necessary for the story, other than that it fulfills a requirement from the producers to Roald Dahl to have three women for Bond. Mie Hama, who played Kissy, struggled with learning English after getting the part, and the producers told her they were taking the part away from her. She then threatened to jump off a building (!!), and they gave her the part back.  

Final Analysis:
While this movie was fun to watch because I didn't remember it at all, and while I liked the mystery element (i.e. Bond having to do some investigation) and the Japanese locale, there weren't a lot of highlights for me, and it's not a movie that I'd be overly excited to rewatch any time soon. Ranking this 4th out of 5. 

And a quick word on Connery before we move to Lazenby (even though Connery will be back). My overall impression of him is that he's very cool with great stage presence and definitely the most charming of all the Bonds, but he also comes off a bit swarmy at times and more invested in the women than the mission. So overall I like him, but he's not my favorite. 


  1. I remember thinking this one was creative and clever....and that I liked the setting. I don't remember enough to give it a thorough review. Crazy story about so many heavy-hitters in the crew narrowly avoiding a plane crash.

  2. Very good review, and I didn't know about the plane crash. Otherwise for me, very good Bond, and Connery is the best James Bond for me ...