Monday, September 05, 2016

For Your Eyes Only

FOR YOUR EYES ONLY is James Bond getting back to basics after the outlandish outer space antics of MOONRAKER. It’s as close to Fleming that the series had gotten since FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE nearly twenty years earlier. Producer Albert R. Broccoli brought back Bond veteran Richard Maibaum to craft the screenplay with executive producer Michael G. Wilson (Broccoli’s stepson) and invited long-time Bond editor John Glen to direct for the first time. As an homage to ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY opens with 007 (Roger Moore for the fifth time) visiting his late wife Tracy’s grave.

Speaking of Moore, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY is his best performance as James Bond. He actually gets his hair mussed and is allowed a few moments of real emotion, as does French actress Carole Bouquet (NEW YORK STORIES) as the daughter of a marine biologist out to avenge the murder of her parents. Maibaum and Wilson cut way down on the gadgets and special effects, instead crafting a serious thriller with a hard-edged Bond who isn’t shy about using his license to kill.

The McGuffin is something called ATAC — Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator — basically a triggering device for nuclear submarines. It is lost in the Ionian Sea, and Bond is assigned to retrieve it before the Soviets, represented by smuggler Kristatos (Julian Glover), do. The parents of Melina Havelock (Bouquet) are murdered by a Cuban assassin who is ultimately discovered to be working for Kristatos, which is how she becomes involved in Bond’s mission.

Topol (FIDDLER ON THE ROOF) comes aboard FOR YOUR EYES ONLY as Kristatos’ former associate, now working with James Bond, and Lynn-Holly Johnson (ICE CASTLES) is miscast as an oversexed young figure skater with the hots for 007. Thankfully, Bond abstains. Sheena Easton also appears as the first Bond theme song performer to also appear in Maurice Binder’s opening title sequence. The Bill Conti/Michael Leeson composition was nominated for an Oscar and holds up better than Conti’s desperately ‘80s score. The music is more appropriate for HARDCASTLE & MCCORMICK than a hard-bitten Cold War spy thriller.

With Glen’s keen eye for action and sense of pacing behind the camera, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY really moves. The mountain climbing climax is terrific, and a central ski chase, in which Bond is pursued down a mountain by two motorcyclists, is one of the most exciting setpieces in any Bond movie. Stunts are first-rate down the line, and Alan Hume’s (SUPERGIRL) camerawork captures the most gorgeous aspects of Greece, Italy, and the Bahamas. Sadly, M doesn’t appear in the picture, because actor Bernard Lee died during production, though Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn are here as Moneypenny and Q, respectively. Glen went on to direct the next four Bond films, including both of Timothy Dalton’s.


Alan's World said...

Great Review, Marty but in reality Michael G. Wilson is Albert"Cubby" Broccoli's stepson and not his son in law since Broccoli married Wilson's mother Dana who was previously married to Wilson's father, Lewis Wilson who was cinema's first BATMAN in the 1943 Columbia serial.

Marty McKee said...

I stand corrected!

Grant said...
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