Tuesday, December 27, 2016
You Only Live Twice
Last of the initial run of Sean Connery Bond’s YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is one of the biggest Bond films ever. It certainly had a world record size set with the Spectre Volcano base being the biggest ever built. It’s so big that its understandable when the film when more character driven in the next film ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE
The plot of the film has Bond’s death being staged as he’s put on the trail of who is behind the theft of Soviet and American space capsules. Someone is trying to start a war and the superpowers think it’s the other guy. The British don’t and Bond ends up in Japan chasing down leads and finally meeting Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Quite possibly the last of the huge Bond films that work on every level (some that followed wobble in balancing the humor with the spectacle- though MAJESTY'S and FOR YOUR EYES ONLY maybe the only others to come closest to getting the balance right) YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE has spectacular set pieces, real characters and most importantly a sense of danger. Say what you will most Bond films after this until the later Daniel Craig films never really fear that Bond won’t be walking away from whatever happens. Bond will become invincible after this and caricature and not a person. Even in Majesty’s, which is one of the best in the series, there is a snideness that has us distanced.
With YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE everything is firing on all cylinders. You have in intriguing, premise, a great villain (this is the first of the so called Blofeld Trilogy), actual colorful locations, the right number of witty remarks and nicely handled action. Its a film you can get lost in and munch popcorn to and not really feel guilty doing it.
This is probably the last Connery outing as Bond that really works. Yes he played it two more times, In DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER, a desperate move on the part of the producers to save the franchise after MAJESTY'S bombed and star George Lazenby walked. Connery was happy to take the cash and he walked through the role in style similar to what Roger Moore would do in some of his outings. He also played it again in NEVER SAY NEVER, his thumb in the eye to the Broccoli's with whom he had been warring for many years. While both films are entertaining, neither is the best of the best of the series - even if DIAMONDS crematoria sequence still gives me nightmares some 45 years on.
I love this film and it's one of the few in the series that I would actually stop and watch when the Bonds get into the cable TV rotation and I get fed up with the series.