You Only Live Twice (1967) Movie Review: In Japan; James Bond Comes first, Women second…

Drinking Game

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

Sexy Sexism...
Sexy Sexism…

Community Review

How many beers do you recommend for this movie?
1 Beer! A Toast! Great Movie!2 Beers! Good Movie!3 Beers! Okay Movie!4 Beers! Mediocre Movie!5 Beers! Awful Movie!6-Pack! Bad movie! Do not be Sober!

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Movie Review

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…

Ok... so he wastes a little time....
Ok… so he wastes a little time….

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!

Blofeld
What… you think Mike Myers invented me?

A Toast

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.

"You take that back, I wasn't even in that movie" "It was  a figure of speech Sean, please don't kill me..."
“You take that back, I wasn’t even in that movie”
“It was a figure of speech Sean, please don’t kill me…”

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.

Beer Two

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.

Japanese
“Pssst, what about when they make Connery dress Japanese?” “Ok, so not all of the make-up effects hold up…”

Beer Three

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.

"The Jews made me wear this Beard!" "Yes, grandpa, of course...."
“The Jews made me wear this Beard!”
“Yes, grandpa, of course….”

Verdict

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.

3beers1

About Oberst von Berauscht

Oberst Von Berauscht once retained the services of a Gypsy to imbue in him the ability to accurately describe the artistic qualities of a film up to seven decimal points. To maintain this unique skill, he must feast on the blood of a virgin every Harvest Moon, or failing that (and he usually does), he can also make a dog do that thing they do where they twist their heads slightly (you know, when they’re confused about something) at least a few times a week. I’ve gotten way off track here… The point is, Oberst is one of the website’s founders, so… yeah

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