Bond Meets Blofeld: “You Only Live Twice” (1967)

During the height of the Cold War, the US and the Soviet Union lose one spacecraft each, after they are both seemingly swallowed whole by a large UFO. The two superpowers are quick to blame one another, causing tensions to skyrocket. The UK has an alternate theory re: the disappearances; they send top spy- James Bond (Sean Connery)- to investigate in Japan. With the help of the Japanese Secret Service, Bond uncovers a plot more sinister than anyone could’ve imagined.

[James is in bed with a Ling, a Chinese woman]

Bond: Why do Chinese girls taste different from all other girls?

In the pre-credits scene, we hear one of the MOST cringe-worthy lines ever spoken in a movie! FYI: Ling is played by Tsai Chin, who had a long career in both Chinese/English language films (thus avoiding the Bond girl curse). I liked the stuff about Bond pretending to die. Henderson (Charles Gary), the British agent in Japan, has a small role (but was interesting). I learned that Blofeld’s impressive volcano lair cost $1M to create- wow! We (finally) see the super-villain Blofeld (Donald Pleasance) who has a prominent scar on his face. As even some long-time fans have said, this movie hasn’t aged well. Connery looks and sounds bored/tired; he even walks in a different way (sometimes slouching). His hairpiece doesn’t even look good! As one critic commented: “Connery is phoning it in.”

Tiger Tanaka: I must say I am disappointed with the ease with which I could pull you in. The one thing my honourable mother taught me long ago was never to get into a car with a strange girl. But you, I’m afraid, will get into anything. With any girl.

I liked the setting and scenery; also, the mini-helicopter (Little Nellie) was pretty cool. the Japanese Secret Service members are portrayed in a (mostly) positive manner. Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tanba) is in charge; he’s affable and professional. Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) is the agent who falls for Bond; she has a (very cool) death scene. Too bad that Bond doesn’t even have a minute to mourn her though-ugh! Helga Brandt (Karin Dor) is the assassin who captured Bond for a time, but he (of course) managed to disarm her. Kissy Suzuki (Mia Hama) is the agent posing as a village woman who Bond pretends to be married to. In the last act, Kissy is ONLY wearing a small white bikini. He also pretends to be Japanese for a time and trains to be a ninja- part of Tanaka’s plan.

Blofeld: James Bond. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Ernst Stavro Blofeld. They told me you were assassinated in Hong Kong.

Bond: Yes, this is my second life.

Blofeld: You only live twice, Mr. Bond.

[1] While I grudgingly will admit that the Roald Dahl (yes, THAT Dahl–the “Willie Wonka” guy) script is very exciting and high on the “cool factor”, it is also silly and ridiculous throughout.

[2] This time out, perennial Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld is portrayed by Donald Pleasence in a spirited performance that would provide the inspiration for Dr. Evil in “The Spy Who Shagged Me”, courtesy of Mike Myers. Some of the antics in this picture are pretty ridiculous, like Little Nellie with Bond at the controls taking out four attack helicopters, and James Bond (Sean Connery) himself becoming a Ninja master after three days of training!

[3] Ever since Mike Myers mercilessly mocked You Only Live Twice in Austin Powers, International Man of Mystery, it’s been impossible to take this particular Bond adventure seriously; but to be honest, the film was always pretty ridiculous in the first place, stretching plausibility further than ever before in an effort to up the ante in terms of crowd-pleasing spectacle.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

5 thoughts on “Bond Meets Blofeld: “You Only Live Twice” (1967)

  1. I was chatting with some people about the new Bond film elsewhere, and the consensus was that they are entertaining but you don’t remember anything about them fifteen minutes after you leave the theatre (or in my case, almost nothing — the aesthetic sticks with me, I think).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, I’m sure that’s how it is (unless ppl are diehard fans)! There are a FEW podcasts that focus on Bond- I was surprised. It’s the “popcorn” type of movie, which I generally avoided (before quarantine).

      Liked by 1 person

      • My viewing tastes have changed a bit, too — I don’t want to watch anything challenging or upsetting (which is a pretty big switch for me). I’m hoping my taste for difficult film will revive a bit now. Eventually I will get tired of the sugary stuff. I’ve watched so much Star Trek and so many cooking shows …

        Like

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