You Only Live Twice
To the Orient for you Mr. Bond ...
You Only Live Twice(1967)
Distributed by MGM/UA Home Video
The fifth instalment of the Bond series has US and Russia blaming each other for disappearing space capsules. The pre-action switches to Bond in bed ( where else ! ) tasting a lady of the Orient and then being shot to threads with one of the best one-liners delivered not by 007 but a Hong Kong Policeman "At least he died on the job".
Opening titles and Nancy Sinatra's vocals with Barry's score sets the scene for the locations to follow. After his Navy funeral, Bernard M Lee instructs 007 that "This is the Big One" and You Only Live Twice is BIG with big characters, big musical score and big sets. Connery's back again in great form as super smooth James Bond 007 on a mission to avert World War Three. Much was made about the £400,000 ( $1million ) spent on the volcano but the other Ken Adam's sets are outstanding ( i.e. Henderson's home and Tenaka's underground hideaway ).
No Aston Martin this time but dear old Desmond Q Llewelyn turns up with Little Nellie which gives 007 the chance to dispose of some 'aggressive' helicopters making advances on her.
It's one of the most colourful Bond movies due to its Japan story back-drop. This is typified when James has to marry a Japanese girl "with the face of a pig" at a formal Shinto wedding. Luckily she turns out to be the lovely Kissy Suzuki who aids 007 in the 2nd half of his adventure.
When 007 discovers the SPECTRE hideout, we finally get to see Ernst Stavro Blofeld played menacingly by Donald Pleasence with a slightly high pitched voice. His disposal of his No.11 - Helga Brandt played by Karin Dor is most memorable. The second of James' love conquests coming to a deadly end, the other being Japanese Agent Aki who takes the poison for our super hero.
Watch out for Charles Gray ( later to become Blofeld in DAF ) as Henderson who gets the point and for the face of Burt Pink Panther's Cato Kwouk as Spectre 3 to follow his small role in GF. Also Gerry Anderson tv regulars: Ed UFO Bishop as the first Hawaii Space Tracker and Shane Thunderbirds Rimmer as the second one. Both have later roles in Bond movies, Bishop as a technician in DAF and Rimmer as a US Sub Captain in TSWLM. While on small parts, the guy who gets 'smoked' by 007 turns up getting 'dropped off' by May Day in AVTAK and also sat to the right of DN in the final scenes of the first 007 adventure. A busy guy - who is his agent ?
A Big Bond Epic when released and was best on wide screen - still not to be missed.
First released in 2006 MGM Home Entertainment brought us James Bond Ultimate Edition 2-Disc DVD set of each of the 20 movies, now in 2008 Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment repackage the same 2 MGM discs with a cardboard copy cover ( this one with Connery & Hama - passable like the whole golden theme series ) and minus the interesting eight page booklet. The format remains the same with disc one having the digitally restored movie and disc two with the extras - Declassified: MI6 Vault, 007 Mission Control, Mission Dossier, Ministry of Propaganda & Image Database. Each menu has a Bond lookalike silhouette, shooting girls, casino chips & cards and gun barrels incorporating photos ( using Connery's gun pose photo from NSNA ? ) & music from the movie. There is a section called Exotic Locations tucked away in 007 Mission Control with movie snips and Maud Octopussy Adams narrating about the filming locations & their history.
For this disc movie audio commentary comes from director Lewis Gilbert & cast quotes. Another movie helped by the restoration process at its best with vast improvements to colour & imagery ( e.g. the Japanese landscape ). Documentaries include the regular Inside .. documentary made in 2000 reveals more about the making of this classic movie along with another interesting one about the Bond Titles and the life of designer Maurice Binder. From the tv archives is a Wicker's World special and some home movie footage shot by set designer Ken Adam in Japan. There are the usual trailers ( including when double billed in US with Thunderball again ), short tv spots and radio adverts.
Overall a must for your Bond DVD collection.