Thursday, October 25, 2012

For Your Eyes Only - Back to Basics Bond

For Your Eyes Only - 1981

Bond:  Roger Moore
Directed by: John Glen
Produced by: Albert R. Broccoli
Theme: "For Your Eyes Only" performed by Sheena Easton

After taking Bond so ridiculously far that he was actually floating around in space shooting lasers, the producers and first-time director (long-time second unit director) John Glen made a conscious effort to pull back and tell a simpler story. The result is a lovely little character-driven Bond film that borrows elements from On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Goldfinger, and From Russia with Love.

Bond is going after a secret decoder - very FRWL. Bond-Girl Melina is on a vendetta to avenge the deaths of her parents - very Tilly Masterson from Goldfinger. Bond allies himself with an organized crime boss to lead an attack on a fortified mountain stronghold - very OHMSS. If you read the movie's Wikipedia page, a lot of plot elements were taken from several of Flemming's novels and short stories. For Your Eyes Only is actually a short story collection.

This is Moore's smallest and most personal Bond film. Connery had his with FRWL. Lazenby had his one and only OHMSS. The movie opens with only the second direct mention of Bond's deceased wife, as he lays flowers on her grave, which lends weight to his lectures to Melvina later about revenge. Carole Bouquet as Melina watches her parents get killed which then drives her the rest of the film. She's probably the strongest Bond-Girl since Diana Rigg in OHMSS, and she kicks ass with a crossbow.

The actors and characters in this film all work very well together. Moore and Bouquet have great chemistry. Moore and Topol as crime-lord Milos Columbo have a great bro-mance going on too. People in this movie seem to enjoy each other's company. Melvina actually laughs at one of Bond's quips. Bond and Columbo laugh when they nearly kill each other accidentally. It's refreshing.

Another highlight is the back-to-basics car chase. After having his Moore-era trademark Lotus destroyed, Bond and Melina have to flee in an old Citroën. It doesn't have missiles or a smoke screen or any sort of bells and whistles. They just have to evade their pursuers. Imagine that.

Bouquet and Moore were 30 years apart in age, because Roger Moore was old. Fortunately they had good chemistry in the film, as mentioned, but even so the scenes where Bond gets all romantic and sexy are kinda creepy... with anyone, let alone Bouquet. Still, they manage to pull off the age difference by doing something very clever. They included the character of Bibi, a teen-aged sex-obsessed figure skater who desperately wants to sleep with Bond, and everyone for that matter. Bond, aware of the inappropriate age difference, does the gentlemanly thing and spurns her advances. That makes the slightly less inappropriate age difference with Bouquet more palatable.

Not that this movie is perfect. It's enjoyable, but it's not non-stop excitement and thrills. The assault on St. Cyril's, is breathtaking but not particularly tense. The villain is evil, and played well by Julian Glover (who might recognize as the villain from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade or as General Veers in The Empire Strikes Back), but he's not out to destroy the world or anything. He's just selling a decoder to the Russians.

And the pre-title sequence is just weird. After placing flowers on the grave of his dead wife, Bond is trapped in an out of control helicopter by his old nemesis, and the killer of his wife, Blofeld. Except he's never named as Blofeld because Kevin McClory owned the rights that character. Bond turns the tables on Blofeld and while Blofeld is begging for his life utters the most inexplicable line all of Bond-dom "I'll buy you a delicatessen, in stainless steel". Then Bond kills Blofeld.

The line does have an explanation. The Italian mafia used to pay people off with delicatessen's made of stainless steal. This was considered a high tribute at one time. The line itself is directed at McClory, as is the unceremonious death of Blofeld. Basically Broccoli was saying, we paid you off, and we don't need your character anymore. Still, it's a ridiculous and strange line.

If you look closely, you'll notice Charles Dance as a henchman in one of his career's early roles. That's just a fun fact that didn't fit anywhere else in this post. Here's another one: Sheena Easton sang the title song and appeared in the title sequence, making her the only theme-song performer to do so. She's not the only theme-song performer to appear in a Bond film, however. Madonna sang the title song for and had a cameo in Die Another Day.

Personal Rankings: This one lands safely in the middle...
  1. Goldfinger
  2. From Russia With Love
  3. The Spy Who Loved Me
  4. Live and Let Die
  5. You Only Live Twice
  6. For Your Eyes Only
  7. Dr. No
  8. Diamonds Are Forever
  9. Thunderball
  10. The Man with the Golden Gun
  11. Moonraker

1981 Context
President: Ronald Reagan
Queen: Elizabeth II

Major League Baseball players went on strike causing the cancellation of over a third of the season.

Best Picture Nominees:


  1. that's what was meant by 'a delicatessen in stainless steel!'...I've often laughed at the seeming randomness and absurdity of that line without understanding it's origins. Another thing I've always found memorable about this movie is the 'shark' scene...the henchman's death always makes me wince whenever I see it.

    Excellent Bond related blog posts, by the way...I've recently been revisiting the series myself (via the Blu Ray box set) and thoroughly enjoyed reading through your short reviews and insights for each movie.

    1. Thanks! I'm glad your enjoying my posts. If you had to pick one or two of your favorites, what would they be?

  2. Your posts or Bond movies? All your posts have been good so can't really pick a favorite from them exactly....your post about The Man With The Golden Gun (especially the section about the 'writer's meeting') did make me laugh out loud though. Best Bond movie for me is, without question, Live And Let Die...I like pretty much everything about it from the excellent action scenes, the opening theme and the overall setting and atmosphere (seeing Baron Samedi keep returning after each 'death' is a little unsettling). Even Moore's portrayal of Bond was pretty much spot on before he started going a little overboard with the humor and one-liners in his later Bond movies. I'm also a fan of Brosnan's Bond movies (yes, even Die Another Day) but as you've touched upon, that's more because of the movies themselves rather than Brosnan being a particularly good Bond. The absolute worst for me is Moonraker (although strangely, I also think it's got one of the best opening themes) and I've never felt that Diamonds Are Forever really gelled together very well either. On saying that, they still entertain me on a level that only Bond movies can, so I've still watched them more times than they probably deserve.

    1. Ha! Thanks. I meant Bond movies, but I'm glad you liked The Man With The Golden Gun post. Live and Let Die is one of my favorites too, obviously. Great movie.


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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.