Having watched Dr. No and Goldfinger this week and already writing about From Russia With Love and Thunderball, I feel pretty safe saying that You Only Live Twice might be my favorite early Bond flick. There’s just so much greatness all around in this movie starting off with that crazy space scene with one ship “eating” another one leaving an astronaut stranded in space to the final one of a submarine coming up underneath Bond’s rescue raft which he, of course, is sharing with a comely young lass. But, there’s also an incredibly elaborate fake death in the beginning (that must have messed with peoples’ minds as they sat in theaters in 1967), James Bond fighting to big bruisers–one with a sword and one who winds up getting eaten by piranha!–, several secret hideouts, slides leading directly into chairs, a hot red head, Donald Pleasance as Ernst Blofeld AND a final battle that involves a legion of ninjas attacking Blofeld’s color-coded red, white and yellow henchman with guns, grenades and swords. That’s just plain awesome.
Did you know that Charlie And The Chocolate Factory and James And The Giant Peach author Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay for this movie? I did not before reading this bit of trivia on IMDb that said he didn’t really take the script seriously and also stuck to a formula prescribed him by the producers. Cynics can probably see that in the movie, but I think it’s a testament to how much respect the filmmakers had for the character and property that the movie completely takes itself seriously. There’s a surprising amount of beauty and even some interesting camerwork in this movie. One scene I really loved was one where Bond is running across a rooftop both avoiding and fighting the occasional assailant. Instead of following him around with the camera on the roof, the shot goes really high via helicopter and stays on him while he bashes bad guys without cutting or really zooming in. I thought that was a really interesting style choice.
From here on out, I’ll be watching the Bond movies in order. I haven’t seen any of the other ones recently or written about them on the blog, so I’m really curious to see if my old feelings on the series hold up or change as I go. I do have a soft spot for the next installment On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (shouldn’t it be “in”?) because it’s such an underdog story, but it’s been years since I’ve actually seen it. Since tomorrow is not only the Superbowl but also my birthday, I’ll be writing about a few Bond video games instead of watching an actual movie. I’ll be back at it Monday though.