Take a Drink: any time someone points out something that is uniquely “Japanese”
Take a Drink: when the bad guys kill their own employees
Do a Shot: when Bond uses a gadget he is given by Q
Do a Shot: for not-so classy 60s sexism
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
In his fifth film adventure, British Super-spy James Bond (Sean Connery) goes to Asia, where he is assigned to look into the disappearance of an American space capsule, which was captured by an unknown space probe. Bond wastes no time investigating…
The Americans blame the Russians, the Russians claim to have nothing to do with it, and the British navy believes they detected an unknown signal coming from Japan. It seems S.P.E.C.T.R.E is back to its old tricks of playing the Americans and Russians off of each other for their own benefit. Their leader; Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasance) has plans of world domination, and only Bond can save the day!
Modern viewers not familiar with the Bond films will recognize You Only Live Twice as “The movie that Austin Powers ripped so much out of”. And while it is true that this film contains more 60s kitsch in 5 minutes than all 7 season of Mad Men put together, it also is one of the most entertaining Bond films. While Thunderball’s focus on submarine thrills left the audience feeling a bit waterlogged, You Only Live Twice throws just about every type of action scene at the wall, and a lot of it sticks. In this film, Bond takes Ninja training, flies a heavily-armed Gyrocopter, and assaults a volcano fortress with the previously-referenced Ninjas.
This is James Bond filmmaking at its most eccentric, taking cues more from Goldfinger than From Russia with Love. Sean Connery continues to prove through his use of suave good looks, clever sarcasm, and a sociopathic tendency to violence that he is the best equipped spy On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Donald Pleasence is the first actor to portray Blofeld in person, with his face shown. And strangely the filmmakers would never cast the same actor twice in the role. Pleasence is the best-remembered iteration of Blofeld, and is my personal favorite depiction, as he is the only actor to play the character with the gravitas that befits a true super-villain.
The film uses a large amount of special effects tricks. Some things, like miniature shots and composites, work well. But the rear-screen projection shots are simply terrible, and particularly obvious on Blu-Ray. How the filmmakers thought they would be able to get away with some of these shots is baffling. Granted, technology was more limited at the time, and films that made heavy use of actual driving footage with the lead actors were still a year or two away in development. On the plus-side, the film does also make very effective use of miniature shots, pyrotechnics, and makeup effects, which fare far better in terms of believability.
As with all the Sean Connery-led films in the series, You Only Live Twice is a relic of the past in terms of how it treats its female characters. What used to define Bond as a work of domineering manliness to aspire to, now feels hilariously archaic. Viewers are encouraged to laugh openly at the stupidity of the sexist moments in the film, while you also dismiss them in the same way you dismiss your racist Grandpa’s opinion.
You Only Live Twice injects new life and energy into the Bond franchise. In doing so, it also establishes and refines numerous tropes which the series continues to this day. This my not be the”best” Sean Connery-era Bond film, but it is definitely the most representative.