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You Only Live Twice

You Only Live Twice (1967)

You Only Live Twice is a 1967 British spy film and the fifth in the James Bond series to be produced by Eon Productions, starring Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film’s screenplay was written by Roald Dahl, and loosely based on Ian Fleming’s 1964 novel of the same name. It is the first James Bond film to discard most of Fleming’s plot, using only a few characters and locations from the book as the background for an entirely new story.

In the film, Bond is dispatched to Japan after American and Soviet manned spacecraft disappear mysteriously in orbit. With each nation blaming the other amidst the Cold War, Bond travels secretly to a remote Japanese island to find the perpetrators and comes face to face with Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. The film reveals the appearance of Blofeld, who was previously a partially unseen character. SPECTRE is working for the government of an unnamed Asian power, implied to be the People’s Republic of China, to provoke war between the superpowers.[1][2]

During the filming in Japan, it was announced that Sean Connery would retire from the role of Bond, but after a hiatus, he returned in 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever and later 1983’s non-Eon Bond film Never Say Never Again. You Only Live Twice is the first Bond film to be directed by Lewis Gilbert, who later directed the 1977 film The Spy Who Loved Me and the 1979 film Moonraker, both starring Roger Moore.

You Only Live Twice was a great success, receiving positive reviews and grossing over $111 million in worldwide box office.

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Sayonara, 007:Connery Is at It Again as Whatshisname

Published: June 14, 1967

ALTHOUGH there’s a lot more science-fiction than there is first-vintage James Bond in “You Only Live Twice,” the fifth in a series of veritable Bond films with Sean Connery, there’s enough of the bright and bland bravado of the popular British super-sleuth mixed into this melee of rocket-launching to make it a bag of good Bond fun. And there’s so much of that scientific clatter — so much warring of super-capsules out in space and fussing with electronic gadgets in a great secret underground launching pad—that this wayout adventure picture should be the joy and delight of the youngsters and give pleasure to the reasonable adults who can find release in the majestically absurd.
Are your nerves frayed and mind bewildered by the war in the Middle East? Give them a rest via this violent excursion with Double-O Seven in Japan. Go with him on this crucial mission to find out whence come those cannibal capsules that move in to devour those American spaceships that are innocently orbiting the earth, and plunge with him into the strange crater of that dead volcano on the Japanese coast to discover it isn’t the Russians who are doing the mischief and save us by a hair’s breadth from World War III.
You may find the noise slightly deafening when the chasing autos scream around those Tokyo curves, or the four massive enemy helicopters loose their machineguns on the minicopter carrying Bond, or especially when the Japanese commandos rain down upon that secret launching pad and assist Bond in happily blasting this Spectral installation to smithereens.
This noisy and wildly violent picture, which opened yesterday at the Astor, the Victoria, the Baronet and Loew’s Orpheum, is evidently pegged to the notion that nothing succeeds like excess. And because it is shamelessly excessive, it is about a half-hour too long.
Probably its profligate producers. Harry Saltzman and Albert Broccoli, figured they had spent so much on it—on that fantastic launching pad set, which could be put down at Expo 67 and be a hit pavilion; on a sparkling color production and some beautiful location shooting in Japan—that they wanted Lewis Gilbert, the director, to keep it going as long as he could.
As a consequence, there is a lengthy build-up of tooling around Tokyo with Bond, buzzing through a wrestling arena, stealing secrets from a chemical company’s safe, firming a Japanese contact and trifling casually here and there with a few girls, before it gets to an even lengthier playout of the discovery and raid on the launching pad.
Through it all, Mr. Connery paces with his elegant nonchalance a little more non than usual (he is evidently getting slightly bored), but altogether able in the clinches and in tossing off the gags of Roald Dahl. Able as conspirators and scenery are several lovely Japanese girls whose names are so superfluous and difficult there is no point in spelling them out. A fellow named Tetsuro Tamba is dandy as a Japanese partner-spy, and Donald Pleasence is grandly grotesque as the evil genius who would rule the world.
It is notable that only Bond, the title and the location of an Ian Fleming book have been used by Mr. Dahl in writing his screenplay. The rest, with, just a Dahl touch here and there, is blueprint Bond stuff cum science-fiction. The sex is minimal. But, then, Bond is getting old. And so, I would guess, is anybody who can’t get a few giggles from this film.

My Review


The one with the hollowed-out volcano Yes, it's the one with the hollowed out volcano and what a fun ride it is too. It should come as no surprise to anyone that for me (who ranks the earily similar plot-wise TSWLM at #2 of Bond movies and is a fan of Roger Moore's portrayal) that "You Only Live Twice" is high on my list of favorite Connery movies. It's fun and zany and like a Godzilla movie on steroids Bond is plunged into a kinetic, energized Japan. A country that is reeling from an identity crisis following a humiliating defeat in WWII for the traditional nation and the onslaught of 1960s pop culture of which the Bond phenomenon was a major part. Connery for his part looks bored and tired with the role and so the film makers understandably have loaded this movie with special effects, martial arts fighting, gimmicks and yes, a hollowed out volcano. All in the hopes that Connery will get lost in the mix and his lack of enthusiasm for the part less evident as the viewers senses are assaulted by a vibrant concoction composed of all the spectacle and wonder that screenwriter Dahl and director Lewis Gilbert could conceive. The mission seems ripped from the headlines to use an old cliché. The time is the late 1960s and with the US and USSR locked in a race for the dominance of space, the two nations are both having capsules hijacked by some unknown power. Of course in the hyperactive paranoia of the Cold War - each blames the other. But Britain, in its infinite wisdom, stands by their claim that their tracking placed the object (that seized an American rocket) land somewhere in the sea of Japan. The movie begins with one of my all-time favorite pre-credits sequences. Bond is in bed with an attractive Chinese girl. In what appears to be a double-cross however she pushes a button that sends the bed into the wall before letting a couple of assassins in who pepper the bed with bullet holes. Having the hero "killed off" at the beginning of the movie is a gimmick that has been copied often (and in fact first echos the opening of "From Russia With Love." But Gilbert crafts it expertly. A solid entry in the Bond series - too light for some, but certainly a lot of fun throughout.

Bond girl Appeal

About The Author


Born on the English-Scottish border I emigrated to the US after graduating college in 1995 and became a U.S. citizen in 2007. I have served in the U.S. military and my past positions include as an Assistant Managing Editor of The Washington Post Company, a technical writer working on technical documentation for both a construction company and a large government contractor, a graphic designer creating graphics in support of government contract proposals, and as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy. which included being assigned as the official writer for the Navy and DoD on the assumption ceremony of a new Secretary of the Navy. I am currently a Web Services Writer for a large government contractor in the Washington, D.C. metro area.

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