Friday, October 06, 2006
For Your Eyes Only was the fifth James Bond film with Roger Moore in it. It came out in 1981. The title comes from a book of Ian Fleming short stories. The film uses elements from two of the stories, "For Your Eyes Only" and "Risico." And it also uses the ending of the book version of Live and Let Die, where Bond and Solitaire were tied together and dragged behind the boat and cut up by the reef. (It was supposed to draw sharks or something.)
The movie also has skiing (like On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and The Spy Who Loved Me) and underwater sequences (like Thunderball and The Spy Who Loved Me).
Before I continue, I want to say that I do like this movie. I saw it twice when it first came out. I was 17. I saw it with my mom and my brother. And I saw it again with some friends. And I enjoyed it when I watched it this morning.
But it is really average, without much going for it to make it a special James Bond film.
As a matter of fact, the best thing about For Your Eyes Only is Carole Bouquet's hair.
It opens with Roger Moore leaving flowers at Teresa Bond's grave. Then Blofeld tries to kill him with a remote control helicopter but Bond turns the table on him and drops him into a smokestack. (His Persian cat is shown jumping from his lap just before Bond gets him, which was a big relief. Whew! Can't have anything happen to the cat!)
(They don't actually call him Blofeld because there were legal problems. There was another producer who had the rights to make another version of Thunderball (which eventually came out as Never Say Never Again) and he claimed he had the rights to Blofeld. His case wasn't that good but the other producers were sick of his whining so they got around it by not using Blofeld by name and identifying him by his cat.)
It was about damn time they killed Blofeld! Sheesh!
A British sub goes down in the eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Brits have to find it because it has some magic computer whatchamajiggy called an ATAC that the Russkies can use to take control of all Britain's defense system or something. The Havelocks take their boat to the area to look for this ATAC thingie using their archaeological work as cover but they are murdered before they can retrieve the magical doodad.
Which brings us to Carole Bouquet as the revenge-seeking Melina Havelock, traveling all over the Mediterranean with her nasty crossbow and her totally cute determined look. She’s pretty awesome. And really beautiful. She makes the movie. She keeps mucking it up for Bond. Just when he is about to make his move and get the information, Melina shows up and shoots an arrow into somebody. He lectures her, he reassures her, he saves her, she saves him, they look at scenery in Greece, they ride a sleigh in the Italian Alps, they swim naked.
You know. The usual.
She has really great long, black hair. Her hair defines her, framing her face, blowing around as she shoots her crossbow at some villainous ass-wipe, or is getting thrown around or fed to sharks. Her facial expressions are great. For most of her screen time, she has just one expression: grim determination. The lady is hell bent on revenge on the people who killed her parents. She smiles and softens a bit at times because Roger Moore is so charming and witty, but her face is mostly unsmiling and determined.
There is also an Olympic skater named Bibi Dahl played by an Olympic skater named Lynn Holly Johnson. She is really cute but her character doesn't really add anything to the plot. And there's a mysterious countess who gets run over by a dune buggy. She didn't really have a whole lot to do with it either, but she was from the short story "Risico," so they had to put her in somewhere. Also, she was married to Pierce Brosnan at the time and she introduced her husband to the filmmakers.
Sheena Easton is in the credit sequences, singing "For Your Eyes Only." She's looking pretty nice, despite her stupid '80s hair.
This is also the James Bond film where one of the Bond girls turned out to be a Bond man. In the scene where Melina kills the assassin in the pool, there are a bunch of hot babes hanging out in bathing suits. It came out later that one of the chicks was a transgendered person who had once been a man. Her name was Caroline Cossey. She was apparently quite hot, hot enough to be a Bond girl. I had long assumed this was an urban legend, but they talked about it on the documentary on the Special Edition DVD of For Your Eyes Only. (Click here to see what snopes.com has to say about this.)
So, getting back to the plot, Bond and Melina travel all over the Mediterranean and meet a good guy who turns out to be a bad guy (Kristatos) and a bad guy who turns out to be a good guy (Colombo). (This is lifted from "Risico.") And they travel around and kill people and stuff and they finally get the magical ATAC thingamajiggy back and Melina sees that all the people involved in the killing of her parents are killed. The End.
The filmmakers took such a cookie-cutter approach to this movie that, while fun to watch, it unfortunately leaves little impression at the end of the day. They were also trying to tone down the super-heroics of Moonraker, to make it a little more "realistic," and it doesn't quite work. I love A View to a Kill for Grace Jones hang-gliding off the Eiffel Tower, Zorin's totally insane plan and the fire truck chase through San Francisco. And Octopussy has a tiger hunt, Octopussy's weird island palace and Bond dressed as a clown trying to defuse an atomic bomb. Wow!
For Your Eyes Only doesn't have anything that quite lives up to some of that madness. It's not lacking in exciting fights and chases – I like the forest chase in Melina's little car a lot, as well as the alpine pursuit with Bond on skis, a bob sled and a motorcycle – but none of the sequence has that extra mad spark that characterizes the best Bond films. (Note: Sometimes, they go a little too far and that mad spark becomes a conflagration. See: Die Another Day. Which was fun to write about at least.)
Not my favorite Bond film. It's passable. I've seen it three times. Mostly for Carole Bouquet's hair.
For more information on For Your Eyes Only, check out the wikipedia entry.
NEXT: LIVE AND LET DIE with Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.