Ranking the Bond Movies: #8 – You Only Live Twice (1967)
Or so it seems.
How can this not be a top ten film for the franchise? Not even mentioning the fact that this is the film where we meet Blofeld (and so clearly was the basis for half the first Austin Powers movie — a franchise I did my best to avoid until now, and will continue to do so henceforth), this film is filled with things and moments that are iconic within the franchise. Blofeld’s volcano lair — the scene of Bond meeting Mr. Osato in that building, and the fight scene the night before and the assassination attempt after — it’s just a solid film all the way through.
It does have some questionable elements, don’t get me wrong (Bond “turning Japanese” immediately springs to mind), but a lot of that stuff is minor and doesn’t really lessen the rest of the film for me. (Then again, I’m not someone who is crazy into Japan and lives there, so it might just be me.) This was close with Thunderball for me for this spot or #9, and at almost the last minute, I decided to swap the two and put this higher, mostly because there aren’t as many scenes in this one that make me go, “Ehh… all right.” Since I’m gonna go along with them, I just — they’re not the best moments of the franchise. This one feels more solid throughout than that one does.
Either way, though, I think we can all agree both are top ten, so there’s really nothing else that matters.
The cold opening begins in space, as an American spaceship is captured by an unidentified craft.
60s sets win every time. We’re just gonna have our big summit meeting in a huge, faceted egg thing in the middle of the wilderness. No biggie.
Then we see the Americans and the Russians arguing over who was responsible for what happened and about to start World War III. Which is when the cool-headed Brits come in and say they got intel that the craft came from Japan. They also say, “Our man in Hong Kong is working on it now.”
There’s Bond. Doing work. As ever.
There’s a little exchange where Bond compares Chinese girls to Chinese food.
(Mike Note: He orders them on weekends.)
Only the chick he’s with fucks him over. (After fucking him under.)
This actress reappears some 39 years later in Casino Royale as a guest on Le Chiffre’s yacht.
(Mike Note: And she’s in the final poker game at Casino Royale.)
Calvin Coolidge went the same way.
And that’s the end of the movie.
Oh, wait. Twice. It’s You Only Live TWICE. My bad.
We then go right into the credits – set to Nancy Sinatra’s “You Only Live Twice.”
This one isn’t very screenshot heavy, since it’s mostly shots of lava, and the credits are fixed over almost all the images.
But there is one curious title most people would do a double take for:
Yeah. That Roald Dahl. James Bond and the Jap Factory.
Oompa Loompa doopa dee doo, octopus porn is something we view.
Anyway, after the credits, a funeral is being held for Bond out at sea.
His body is dumped overboard. (Just like Osama’s. Or Megatron. Or – Ned. For those of you who get that reference.)
The 30 Century Man.
And it’s almost immediately absconded with by some nautical grave robbers. Aquatic necrophiliacs is my guess.
And it’s taken to a submarine. Das Body.
And the body bag is ripped open to reveal – Frank Stallone.
No, you idiot. It’s Bond. James Bond. Alive. (And with a very bad hairpiece.)
And just so we know it’s him, he tosses his hat on the coat rack. (Not a euphemism.)
He then flirts with Moneypenny, who has a makeshift office aboard the sub. (I love that they have makeshift offices everywhere they go. If I were writing a Bond parody film, I’d have a makeshift office in a bathroom stall.) And then goes into see M.
It’s nice to see her in uniform here, because we’re on a naval vessel, and Moneypenny is actually a Second Officer in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.
We find out that the reason they had him “killed” was to give him some more room to operate without all the people who want him dead looking for him. (Uhh…okay. He’s not exactly Mr. Incon-fucking-spicuous most of the time. What makes you think this will change anything?) We also find out that Bond needs to find the rocket or else the whole situation could escalate into war. (Just once I’d like to see it escalate into Parcheesi.)
He then goes back out to Moneypenny, who tries to get him to say, “I love you.” (And what happens if he does? She’s gonna break three knuckles masturbating?) She also gives him a Japanese to English dictionary, which he doesn’t need, reminding her, “You forget I took a first in Oriental languages at Cambridge.” (Because he’s a badass. Man knows his foreign tongues. Boom! Nailed it! … just like him.)
This is funny to me. This means he got top honors at Cambridge in Oriental languages? He totally doesn’t use it, either. I like the idea of Bond before he became an agent, studying languages and plants and butterflies and shit. He spent so many years learning all the stuff he knows now that he has to sleep with all these women now just to catch up to everyone else who had sex all through college.
Bond is then shot out of the sub like a torpedo (ejaculation) and is washed ashore outside Tokyo.
He then is taken to his contact, who of course is a sumo wrestler. (Note: This is the contact who will bring him to the contact that will take him to his contact. Right.)
The Japanese are an indirect people. The last visa I applied for required me to petition to petition to apply for a document needed to apply for the visa. Couldn’t even use the magic dick cause I’m not Bond and the bureaucrats were all dudes.
He is then taken to see the matches, and while he’s watching them, Aki – more on her in literally one sentence – comes and meets Bond to take him to his actual contact.
Aki — whose name means ‘autumn’ — will always have a special place in my heart for being a Japanese Bond girl and for the car she drives, which we’ll get to soon. The actress Akiko Wakabayashi was a big Toho studio actress in the 60s (you may recognize her from sci fi classics like Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster) —
(Mike Note: Of course!)
— and was originally supposed to play Kissy Suzuki. When Mie Hama had trouble learning the English lines, they switched roles. Aki is Bond’s companion in Japan for much of this film. She’s an agent working for Tiger Tanaka, and she turns out to be pretty competent. At the same time, she’s a Japanese woman in the 60s, which means she’s pretty receptive to male commands. Don’t have to tell Connery twice.
Bond is then taken to his contact, Mr. Henderson (you’ll recognize him in about four years as Blofeld), who briefs him about Japan and tells him his main contact will be Tiger Tanaka, head of the Japanese Secret Service (and apparent professional wrestler in his spare time. Pretty sure he teamed up with Superfly Snuka against Koko B. Ware and the Macho Man Randy Savage once), whose identity is the most closely guarded secret in Japan. (More on him in a bit, but – how awesome is that, to have your identity a secret from everyone? And here I thought secret service was “don’t tell anyone we fucked.”)
Henderson also fucks up Bond’s drink, stirring it and not shaking it. This pretty much makes what happens next acceptable.
As a foreigner who lives in Japan, allow me to say that I hate this kind of foreigner living in Japan.
While discussing his theories with Bond, Henderson suddenly stops talking and looks surprised.
He looks surprised because he’s been stabbed.
And Bond reacts the way any of us would react in Japan –
FUCK THESE WALLS!
That reminds me, I gotta go to Japanese Staples to buy a new ream of wall.
And he engages in a good old-fashioned Bond chase, where Bond is only about seven steps behind the assailant the entire time.
And then he just fucking tackles him to the ground.
Bond kills the dude (who is wearing a SARS mask, which I guess is the Japanese version of the ski mask. Do they really all look alike to each other, too?), and sees there’s another guy waiting for the dead in a getaway car. So he puts on the dental dam and pretends to be the dead guy.
Somehow this works and Bond is taken to a chemical engineering plant. (Those chemical engineers… always knifing people. Incorrigible!) And then the guy figures out he’s not the real guy and they fight.
Lotta crashing through walls in this one.
Look at this set! Totally Le Courbusier, who was really popular in Japan at the time. It’s decidedly modern, but incorporates traditional Japanese and organic elements.
What follows is actually one of the better hand-to-hand combat fight scenes in the series. Very visceral, no score or anything. Just fighting I like it a lot. Plus you actually get the sense that Bond might actually be in a little bit of danger here. That’s nice.
Bond fucks the guy’s day up real good and then hides the body.
Then what does he do? Makes himself a drink, of course.
This is a Bond milestone! The first time he belittles Thailand — or any other small Asian nation. It returns several times, and it’s never not hilarious to me.
Oh, but there’s a safe. And there’s a thrilling little moment where Bond has to crack it and get whatever’s inside before two security officers show up. Only they don’t come inside the office and the whole thing turns out to be fucking pointless. But the safe does set off the alarm anyway, so they do end up coming. (Okay…)
Silly Japanese people.
There’s actually a great long shot here where Bond runs up the hallway and into the elevator as the guards come out and shoot at him. I really like the camera placement and the fact that they let the take develop in a single shot.
What is this, Tokyo Drifter? With the red gun flashes.
Oh, they’re shooting up the sign for the executive board room. We’ll see a better shot of this building later, which isn’t actually an office building. It’s the Hotel New Otani, which is a gorgeous hotel a few minutes from my office in Tokyo.
Anyway, Bond is rescued by Aki, who is driving a pretty nice car.
I love Japan and I love cars, but this is the only Japanese car I really love. Aki drives a 1967 Toyota 2000GT, of which only 337 were ever made. It’s Japan’s first supercar, with a limited slip differential coupled to a 150hp 2.0L straight-six. Only two convertibles were ever made — both for the movie — because Connery was too tall for the 45 in roofline. The design details are fascinating, with pop-up headlamps, a rosewood dashboard, ventilation louvers over the front fenders and almost no bumper at all. And it’s drop dead beautiful.
I feel bad for saying this because Bond never actually drives it, but I can’t see how this wouldn’t be a top five Bond car of all time. We’ll see how it turns out when I rank that stuff. I’d love one of these, but nice examples go for well upwards of $300,000 these days.
Aki doesn’t really tell Bond what’s going on, is pretty vague about everything and then suddenly gets out of the car and runs away. And Bond has to chase after her. (I think it’s a rape fantasy thing.)
OH SHIT IT’S JUST LIKE AUDITION!
Seriously, who develops hideouts like this? I want my boss to have a secret chute that leads to his office.
Bond ends up at the headquarters of Tiger Tanaka.
I need this place. Chute access to a super modern, underground hideout? Hell yeah.
A word on Tiger.
Tiger Tanaka is the director of the Japanese secret service. He’s one of the best Bond allies for a number of reasons, one of which is his baller ass pad that Bond just fell into. His identity is secret, he has a sweet villa full of girls just to bathe and massage him, and he’s the administrator of a facility we’ll see later, which — awesome. He’s also very Japanese, and introduces Bond to some of the finer pleasures. Normally, I’d object to the name “Tiger” but the character is based on a newspaper editor that Ian Fleming met in Tokyo, named Torao Saito. His nickname was Tora, which is Japanese for “Tiger.”
(Mike Note: Tiger, Tiger, Tiger.)
Dude’s got a private train. Choo choo, motherfucker. (Choo Choo is his cousin.)
I need this train. And the kimono-clad stewardess. Only, Bond’s about to comment on how he likes sake served at the “correct” temperature of 98.4 degrees Fahrenheit, which is bullshit. It depends on the variety, and I’d say that most finer sakes are better served chilled to between 40 and 50 degrees. OH, I KNOW MORE ABOUT SOMETHING THAN BOND. WHAT UP BITCHES.
Tanaka then shows Bond his home movies. (Then he put his hand on his lap and things get weird.)
I like how Tanaka explains to Bond what the text says. I thought you took a first in Oriental languages, motherfucker. But anyway, they find some leads (I love how no one ever figures out shit until Bond gets there. Like – ”Xoom in on that photo. Check out that ship name. Go investigate it.” Well wouldn’t you have done that when you found the photo? Why does he have to tell you how to conduct basic forensic research?)
Anyway, Tanaka then takes Bond to his Geisha house. (Basically.)
He says Bond has full access to his house and all of his possessions.
He then teaches Bond the golden rules of Japan. First, “Never do anything for yourself when someone else can do it for you,” (Note: Ironically, this is a motto I too live by.) and second, “In Japan, men always come first, women come second.”
That rule doesn’t always apply in the bedroom, but that can’t be helped.
“I may just retire to here.”
“Japanese proverb say: Bird never make nest in bare tree.”
That’s not a Japanese pro– never mind. Not gonna even try.
Best shot ever.
This bugs me. You’ve got sexy Japanese girls around and you feel the need to give him the white chick who’s just wearing a black wig? We get a white chick in the movie, and we’re okay with the Japanese Bond girls…was this necessary to keep the Western audiences happy?
Then Bond goes to get a massage.
This is what it looks like when your psycho ex randomly shows up behind you when you’re not expecting it.
Most Japanese girls do this as a cutesy thing, but you can’t help but think about that one girl in ten million (one hopes) that cuts off your feet with a wire and ties you up in a burlap sack.
(Mike Note: Just like Lana Turner.)
So Bond and Aki go to fuck. She says she’s going to “enjoy very much serving under you.” Oh, I know you will, you dirty bitch.
The next day, Bond goes back to the chemical plant he broke into the night before. Of course under a fake identity, which of course is well known to the person he’s meeting with. (Nice touch: the dude greeting him tells him he’s “three and a half minutes early.” Fucking Japan.)
It’s amazing how often this happens to me here.
So Bond ends up in the office he trashed the night before, which is back in pristine condition. (Imagine he was blackout drunk the night before and that happened. That’s the kind of shit that makes you question your identity. Some fucking changeling shit. But it’s rich people, so we just assume they had the little indentured children take care of it.)
The motherfucker he’s supposed to meet choppers in on the roof like a badass.
And here we have a better shot of the Hotel New Otani in Chiyoda, Tokyo.
OH IT’S MR. OSATO, BITCHES!
AND I GOT A WHITE BITCH WITH ME!
It’s funny because she’s taller than him. (Also, she’s a “confidential secretary.” Oh, you know he make her do some nasty ass shit.)
It’s funny, since, like all encounters with Bond and a fake identity, the person knows he’s full of shit, and he knows the other person knows he’s full of shit, and yet the meeting is perfectly cordial.
I also love how he always drinks everything without question. (And I like how they made him pay for this in Casino Royale.)
He tries to turn this one down by suggesting that it’s early in the morning and that it’s bad for your liver, but Osato insists that it gives a sparkle to the day. I’ll also note that this is a Bond movie in which he drinks Dom Perignon (a ’59, if memory serves) instead of Bollinger.
Not sure if people caught on this, but Bond’s posing as a chemical company rep who wants to produce two formulas under license. One is ascorbic acid and the other is monosodium glutamate — MSG. Hah. Cause we’re in Asia.
So Bond leaves (after conveniently saying which hotel he’s staying at – you get that down, white lady?), and Osato sends people to have Bond killed.
Somehow he doesn’t see the dudes following behind him at two miles an hour with automatic weapons sticking out the windows. (P.S. HOW DO YOU MISS?)
Aki then picks him up and the chase is on.
There’s a nice chase through the streets, and then they call in help from Tanaka, who has his own way of dealing with these things.
Aw. I wish there were more shots of this chase, cause it’s done pretty well and the car is so good to look at. Whatever, just go watch the chase. It’s probably on YouTube.
(Mike Note: We’ll blame that on my inexperience. This was, I believe, the second film I watched for these articles, or the third. One or the other. At that point, the idea was just to write a synopsis and throw up some screenshots. By the time I got to films four and five, I was taking screenshots of everything and having fun with the synopses. Because that’s what happens when I get involved with something. I go all out with it. That’s really where you want to catch me. In the middle of something. At the beginning, I try to take it easy and not overwhelm myself, then my perfectionist and completist nature takes over and you get most of the articles that are on this countdown, and then I hit the point where I’m like, “Fuck it, I just want to be done,” and then I completely give up and go through the motions for the rest of it. Fortunately, I didn’t go through the motions with these because they were so fun. I hope that one day I’ll go back and fix those few articles that are lacking, of which this is definitely one (and sadly, the other big one is coming tomorrow), but for now, I’m leaving it. If anything it’ll be a good representation of how I do shit. This is how these articles were originally planned as being (which are perfectly suitable), and then the rest of them are what happened when I decided to have fun with them. The key is to just leave me on my own, and then I end up making it better and better because I start coming up with stuff and it soon becomes standard operating procedure. Remember, this blog started because one day I decided I should watch just the Best Picture winners.)
I just had a Brave Little Toaster flashback.
I’ve done this in Grand Theft Auto so many times.
Bond then tells Tanaka to send “Little Nellie,” which one has to figure is some kind of weird sex thing. And then he sends for “her father,” too, which – don’t ask. And then he and Aki go and check out that ship from Tanaka’s home movies.
They just drove from Tokyo to Kobe during the cut. That’s 330 miles, like just popping down to Philly from Boston. But this is movie magic, so they just get there like it’s two blocks over.
I think it’s a self-esteem thing.
OH NO FORKLIFT OUT OF NOWHERE!
You came to the wrong neighborhood, motherfucker!
DOCK WORKER FRED wants to battle!
I’ve done this in Grand Theft Auto a bunch too.
Bond movies always have the best stuntmen falls.
Bond then sends Aki out of there (P.S. I love how the dude he killed disappears. This is like Grand Theft Auto), and she somehow gets like fifty feet in the span of about five seconds.
Her run is also hilarious.
Really, though – Grand Theft Auto.
Seriously, how do you fuck that up? YOU HAVE GUNS!
Nice camerawork, though.
Bond thinks he got out of there, then he gets KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT! (Seriously, what kind of agent gets captured this much?)
“What should we do with him?”
“Let’s rape him!”
“Steve, I really don’t know why we let you hang around here. That’s some fucked up, repugnant shit. Go wait in the car. I said GO WAIT IN THE CAR, STEVE!”
Bond then wakes up, tied to a chair in a white woman’s cabin, a situation that’s probably not wholly unfamiliar to him.
I guess now would be a good time to talk about white chick – who is our Bond Villain Chick for the film – Helga Brandt.
Never much liked Helga. Maybe it’s cause I don’t find her particularly attractive or that she has to compete with a bunch of Japanese women, which is a fight she’s just not gonna win with me. Ms. Brandt, as she’s called in the film, is SPECTRE #11, an Osato’s secretary. She has a lot more in common with Fiona Volpe than she does with Pussy Galore, but she also continues the tradition of bad guys having female pilots. Not a particularly great character, which made her ending a lot easier to…swallow?
She ties to get information out of him, and then says she’s gonna torture him.
He then uses the power of the magic dick to get her from torture to sex in about three point eight seconds. (I timed it.)
And then he tells her he’s a spy, and she’s like, “I know that,” proving all she really wanted all along was the dick. He then bribes his way out of there by offering her the magic dick. (She already turned down 300k. That’s one priceless dick you got there, James. “I can’t accept the money, Osato would kill me. What? Dick? *snip* Let’s get out of here!”)
“Oh, the things I do for England.”
Though, we find out in the next scene – she wasn’t really after the magic dick. She just wanted to kill him.
She bails out and leaves him trapped in the plane to die. Though it’s cool, since he lands it all right. (Check out the obvious dummy in the cockpit. If you pause at the right moment in all of these movies, you see that.)
Then “Little Nellie” and “her father” show up. Turns out Little Nellie is an autogyro, and her father is Q. (Fingers were crossed it was a giant squid that rapes people for like, no reason.)
Oh…oh no. I don’t like you, Little Nellie.
I just found out that this volcano and the fishing village are each like 20 minutes from where I went on vacation back in May. Son of a bitch.
(Mike Note: I would say “… and there’s the whale,” but there’s a distinct lack of squid in this movie.)
So Bond flies over the island, not noticing anything out of the ordinary, when he ends up being attacked by some helicopters.
But don’t worry – Little Nellie has some… adjustments… on her. (Fake tits.) And Bond takes care of them and heads back to the Tiger Den. (He must call it that.)
I’m really glad you glossed over that scene, because it’s one of my least favorite in the film. Too bad a cameraman lost a leg in a rotor during filming.
Meanwhile, the Russians send up another spaceship, which gets fucking eaten by the other one. And that one comes back down to that island in Japan, where a secret base is hidden inside a volcano. Seems like someone is playing the Americans and Russians against one another. But who?
Well – it seems as if it’s all the villains we’ve meet so far – Mr. Osato and his freaky white bitch assistant. Only –
SPECTRE’s up in this bitch. (Of course it is. Who has that many random henchmen?)
I like that they kept who the villain was quiet from us for this long. Normally it’s like, “It’s this person. We know it but nobody agrees/knows about it.” And then it is that person, and by the midway point we know they’re the villain and they’ve had a face to face meeting with Bond. This is just sort of like, “This person is evil, but I don’t quite know it’s them.” It’s a nice little departure.
They also have a monorail inside a volcano. Movies need those.
He also has piranha.
Great lair. Reminiscent of Dr. No’s apartment.
Number One (remember, he doesn’t have a name yet) calls Brandt and Osato into his office. He tells them Bond is alive and asks why they didn’t kill him.
See how he shows them the gun? And THAT’S how they recognize Bond? I never got this. And in GoldenEye, Zukovsky hears it and remarks that only three people he knows use that gun. I guess that could be the case in 1995, but only FIVE YEARS before this movie, we have a scene were the MI6 quartermaster (it’s not Llewelyn, so I refuse to call him Q) introduces the Walther PPK and says that the CIA “swears by them.” So you get a picture of a gun that the whole fucking CIA uses, and THAT’S how you tell that it’s Bond? How about all the security footage you have of him during the meeting? This guy seems to know enough to pick out his face.
Brandt is then fed to the piranha (those piranha only eat the finest white bitches) and Number One demands that Osato “Kill Bond!”
Bond then arrives at Tanaka’s – wait for it – NINJA TRAINING SCHOOL.
This is made even better by the fact that the scenes were shot at Himeji Castle, which is pretty much the best castle in the world. It’s the largest in Japan, around 700 years old, no biggie.
And then what might be my favorite cut in the film, when Tanaka says, “Now we will see some modern ninjas.”
They have ROCKET GUNS.
The plan is that Tanaka sends a hundred of his ninjas in secret to the island to set up a base. Oh, and Bond is going to train as a ninja. And “become a Japanese” too. (Apparently that’s the easy part. The ninja training is the hard part.) Oh, and he has to take a wife.
Bond’s so ready for this, as is Aki, but Tanaka won’t allow it. Damn, though, she looks even better in that kimono.
But first – they ACUTALLY have to make Bond Japanese.
Nothing like a bunch of chicks in bikinis to do a comical operation in a state of the art laboratory.
Look at that goofy fuck. (Note: Struggled real hard with not making that a k.)
And then, while he’s sleeping (with Aki, of course) –
Ninja’s in the house! (Man, I can’t believe that ninja broke in and robbed me again! These ninjas be wildin’! Buncha filthy ninjas in this town!)
(Oh, this racism is killin’ me inside.)
So the ninja tries to skeet some poison down a string into Bond’s mouth. (Not a euphemism.)
Only – naturally Bond moves out of the way and Aki moves in the way. (It’s kind of a perfect representation of Bond and women. Even while asleep, it happens.)
I guess in Japan, sometimes the women do come first.
I also like how, the second she starts coughing on her own mortality, Bond snaps up with his fucking gun and fires. Just wakes up and the gun is already out. “A cough? What? SHOOT THAT MOTHERFUCKER!! BLAT BLAT BLAT!! Oh shit, she dead?”
Aww, James – you don’t have to do that. Her eyes are already pretty much closed.
Tiger tells him it’ll take two more days’ training before he can go to the island. So – for those keeping score – day 1: become a Japanese. Days 2 and 3: ninja training. Day 4: Congratulations, you’re a ninja. And the wife part? Who gives a fuck? We’ll fucking find one on the side of the road. #Japan
Here’s the part during training where Bond kills a bad guy that has infiltrated the school posing as a ninja.
More like “nonja”.
So Bond has his ninja training (they left out the part where Ra’s al-Ghul gives him the angel dust) and he takes a wife. And here’s our Bond girl (with only like, 40 minutes left in the film).
This is Kissy Suzuki, our second Bond girl. Other than her first name, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this character. Mie Hama, who played Suzuki, is great to look at (you can see both her and Akiko Wakabayashi in the June, 1967 issue of Playboy) and she spends pretty much the whole rest of the movie in a bikini. She’s another agent for Tanaka, and sees a little bit of action later on.
In the novel, Bond suffers amnesia following the events of the story and lives with Kissy for several months — by the time he leaves, she’s pregnant. But none of that happens here, so don’t worry. All the same, Mie Hama did have some kind words for Connery: “I like Connery. I don’t like James Bond. Bond is always a playboy with many playgirls. Connery is a warm heart.” Yes, Sean, you are a warm heart.
I love how Bond is like, “Oh I can fucks with this.”
So they get married and go back to her village. Now would be a good time to mention the amount of gorgeous shots of the Japanese landscape.
Anyway, they find out the Americans are planning to send another ship into space sooner than expected and hurry to find out where the fuck the rockets are coming from.
I love rear projection.
Kissy says a girl rowed her boat into a cave the previous day and ended up dead, so they go and check out the cave. (You’d think she’d have mentioned this earlier.)
How is that hairpiece staying on underwater?
Isn’t that not Connery? You’ll notice that it’s not Mie Hama, anyway; she was sick during the shoots, so the diving scenes were done by Connery’s wife, Diane Cilento.
(Mike Note: Academy Award nominee Diane Cilento. What? I might as well spout all this useless trivia I have. She got nominated for Supporting Actress for Tom Jones in ’63. She plays the chick Finney likes to fuck on the side. She’s very fiery in the role. Though she lost to Margaret Rutherford for The V.I.P.s. She never really had a chance, since she was one of three nominees in the category for her movie. Hey, me and the Oscars is like him and cars. We know what we know.)
They go and investigate the volcano, but –
Well, they have to stop and fuck along the way.
Or at least they’re going to, until Bond spots a helicopter going inside the volcano. (Before he can put his helicopter inside her volcano.)
He sends Kissy to get Tanaka and his ninjas and goes inside.
He pulls some Les Vampires shit to rappel down the side of the hideout, too.
He also frees the captured astronauts, and they go – honestly, I have no idea what the fuck happens to the astronauts. They’re just sort of never mentioned again. But Bond tries to board the spaceship as one of SPECRE’s men. Only Number One spots him and tells the men to bring Bond to him.
And that’s where we meet Ernst Stavro Blofeld.
Before now, we never knew the identity of Blofeld. He was just “Number One” in From Russia with Love and never mentioned by name before now. He’d appeared in that and Thunderball, and only in shots of his hand petting the cat or from behind. We never saw his face.
Do I really have to talk about Blofeld? If you don’t know who this guy is, I can’t really help you. He shows up in six Eon films (though technically just five because the Blofeld-like character in For Your Eyes Only isn’t officially him) and is basically Bond’s number one nemesis. This is the first time we’ve seen him, and the Donald Pleasence Blofeld also serves as the basis for most Bond villain spoofs. He’ll be back a few times over the next several films we cover, so there’ll be more to say then, but all you really need to know is that he’s a criminal mastermind who founded and runs SPECTRE: SPecial Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion.
(Mike Note: Yeah, this probably wasn’t necessary. But this was my first Blofeld film, so I probably didn’t set up my criteria for notes and shit at the time. Whatever. It’s there. Now the people who didn’t know won’t have to feel like idiots.)
The rocket is then launched, which is when Blofeld, like all villains, explains his plan. (Sure it feels safe inside, but what about all those ninjas waitin’ outside with guns?)
Then Tanaka shows up with all of his ninjas.
And Bond escapes, naturally, and the ninjas get in, and there’s an action scene.
And Blofeld shoots Osato (he doesn’t take failure well) and goes to shoot Bond, but Tanaka throws a throwing star (that’s usually how one uses those) at Blofeld’s arm. And he rides away on his monorail. (Beep beep! Out of the way, cunts!)
I miss Thomas the Tank Engine.
Bond, Tanaka and Kissy (who I’m pretty sure isn’t actually mentioned by name in the entire film) make their way up to the control room (and along the way, random barrels of chemicals are just sitting in the middle of the hideout. Tacky, SPECTRE. Real tacky), and like always, the henchmen can’t shoot worth a damn. (Shoot the barrels, you fucks!)
We don’t even get the name “Suzuki” in the credits. People just know her as a character and use her full name, which is from the novels.
(Mike Note: It’s the opposite of Strawberry Fields.)
Before the control room, though, Bond encounters Blofeld’s bodyguard – Gogo.
Look at this set! So good!
I’m sorry — Hans. You can’t blame me for that one. Motherfucker walks down some steps swinging a watch chain and everything. You know Tarantino stole that shit.
So, they fight. But whatever. I don’t care about the fight. Because look at this fucking apartment!
Oh, yeah – Bond drops Hans in the piranha tank, because why else would you introduce piranha?
And inside the control room, Bond hits the random emergency explode button (that the spaceship randomly has for like, no reason), and the spaceship randomly explodes. (Only you’d think an explosion that close would blow up the other one too.)
Oh, but Blofeld’s back, and he’s got a self-destruct button on the entire hideout. (Seriously, what’s with all the self-destruct buttons? Fear of success?)
So Bond and Kissy and Tanaka and their ninjas have to get the fuck out of there. Which they do. Very easily.
Oh, and the explosion makes the volcano erupt.
But it’s cool, since they get life rafts from the Air Force, who show up out of nowhere.
And the film ends with Bond and Kissy fucking inside the life raft.
I’m just surprised you didn’t call it a “rife laft”.
(Mike Note: I had to show some lestlaint.)
Land of the rising DICK!
Oh, but then they get picked up by M’s submarine. (Which is funny, since Bond is always like, “Nah, don’t worry, baby, we’ll stay together, they won’t find us.” Then he fucks her and they’re found so he’s like, “I’m sorry, I can’t do anything about it. Have fun living in shame!”)
Final Thoughts on You Only Live Twice:
I’m really torn on this one, as I said in the Thunderball article. I think I’m just going to say that they’re both awesome, which we can all agree on, I think. I’ll think about it some more. I don’t want to default rank this one higher just because I live in Japan and everyone expects me to love this one. But you saw — ninjas.
My Final Thoughts:
I originally had this at #9 and Thunderball at #8, but honestly — I like this one better. This one has less moments where I go, “That’s not so great.” This one is consistently good throughout, and the only moments that I have some issues with are minor ones, or fall under the heading of, “Well every film in the franchise has one.” Like Little Nellie. You’re willing to allow the franchise one of those moments per film. Like the moon buggy chase in Diamonds Are Forever, or the plane sequence in Quantum of Solace — every film has one moment that’s questionable where you go, “All right, I’ll let it slide because the rest of the film works.” To me, Thunderball has a few of those, and this one really only has the one. Everything else works for me. Plus, meeting Blofeld, and that sequence with Bond at the shipping warehouse, and his assassination, plus all the great sets (and those scenes of him fighting inside Osato’s place and then going back there the next day) — I like this one more than Thunderball. It’s close, and they’re both Connery, so it’s not like there’s really a difference, but since I had to rank them, this one definitely goes higher.
– – – – –
Official Bond Number: #5
Release Date: June 13, 1967
Run Time: 117 minutes
Budget: $9.5 million
Box Office: $43.1 million domestically, $111.6 million worldwide
Title Song: “You Only Live Twice,” by Nancy Sinatra
Music By: John Barry
Based On: “You Only Live Twice,” by Ian Fleming
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Writer: Roald Dahl
First Lines: “Calling CapCom. CapCom, this is Jupiter 16. Do you give a go for fourth orbit.”
Last Lines: “Tell him to come below and report.” “It’ll be a pleasure, sir.”
– – – – –
– – – – –
- Ernst Stavro Blofeld
- Kissy Suzuki
Secondary Bond Girl:
Bond Villain Chick:
- Helga Brandt
- Mr. Osato
- Tiger Tanaka
Other Important Characters:
– – – – –
- Hong Kong
- And I think there’s supposed to be a scene set in the U.S., right? At the beginning?
– – – – –
- Toyota 2000GT
- Dodge Polara
– – – – –
- The cigarette that shoots a projectile.
- Everything on Little Nellie. Th guns, the flamethrower, etc.
- Osato’s x-ray desk.
– – – – –
- Roald Dahl wrote the screenplay for this. Roald Dahl. I’m sorry, is there any piece of trivia more important than this?
- The producers originally intended to do On Her Majesty’s Secret Service next, but they didn’t want to search for snowy locations, so they did this instead. (Man… imagine how good that would have been with Connery in that role.)
- I love that someone figured this out — because Bond uses a false name when he marries Kissy in Japan, he’s not legally still married to her, therefore not making him a bigot for marrying Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. (Or, at least, making that marriage valid, for all thirty minutes of it.)
- This is the only Bond film in which Bond doesn’t drive a car.
- Title translations: (France) One Doesn’t Live More Than Twice, (Latin America) It Only Lives Twice, (Japan) 007 Dies Twice, (Germany) A Man Doesn’t Live More Than Twice, (Norway & Greece) James Bond in Japan, (Brazil & Portugal) With 007 You Only Live Twice, (China) 007 Seized the Rocket Base.
- This is the first Bond film in which Bond isn’t in London at all. This is also one of the times M’s office is in a different location.
- This is the first film where we find out Bond is a Commander in the Royal Navy.
- This is the first film in the series where Bond doesn’t where his usual dinner jacket.