Saturday, March 3, 2018
Bond Ratings - You Only Live Twice!
I was very much surprised to discover that You Only Live Twice is my second favorite Bond movie. The movie itself is such a mess in terms of narrative and it's painful transformation of Sean Connery into an utterly unconvincing Japanese man is more than a little bit embarrassing. All that said, no Bond movie before or since has a more dynamic finale and the utterly awesome volcano secret rocket base is my favorite set in all the history of film. Roald Dahl is credited with the screenplay, but the haphazard nature of the story makes me imagine things were wildly off the original outline.
This movie is really what most people think of when they imagine the movies of super spies. We have a strong heroic lead who tumbles into a bizarre twisting impossible scheme to hold the world in fear and who by dint of strength, skill and a lot of luck defeats the villains in the most bombastic ways conceivable. That's what defines this movie, a series of strange and sometimes confusing set pieces which eventually add up to a plot to destroy the world. The villain too is a bit weak as we finally meet Blofeld, but as portrayed by Donald Pleasance is not as awesome as the character was in the shadows. Karin Dor is lovely and dies much too soon in this story, but then that's the way this unravels.
We get the ironic Bond in this one, the one who realizes there's some absurdity in all this mishegoss, but when the action starts it's full on and the tempo is wonderful. I realized watching it this time that the story itself makes almost no sense, but the pacing is so good that you have little time to realize it. The idea that SPECTRE could build an entire volcano facility with apparently no hint of it to people on the island is bewildering, but then the decision to invade the island by posing as fishermen is equally absurd. It serves to give the viewer glimpses of Japanese culture, but little beyond that.
And finally in a movie in which Bond is supposedly killed to make his secret agent status a bit more secret, he gets found out and attacked with regularity, though of course as usual others pay the freight. All that said, this one is a blockbuster which despite its myriad flaws offers up a thrill ride of a movie that pays off completely. Watching it now, I see the lines and shapes which informed Jim Steranko in his memorable SHIELD work.
More to come.