Countdown to Skyfall: You Only Live Twice (1967)

Countdown to Skyfall: You Only Live Twice (1967)

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (1967)

BOND: Sean Connery

DIRECTOR: Lewis Gilbert (Alfie)

BOND GIRL(S): Akiko Wakabayashi (Aki), Mie Hama (Kissy), Karin Dor (Helga Brandt)

COOL GADGETS: Little Nellie, a skeletal helicopter contraption that looks fake but really does exist.  Projectile cigarettes.

THEME SONG: "You Only Live Twice," sung by Nancy Sinatra.  I have a soft spot for this one, if only because I'm a big fan of Robbie Williams' "Millenium," which samples the key melodic hook.

IMDB PLOT SUMMARY: Agent 007 and the Japanese secret service ninja force must find and stop the true culprit of a series of spacejackings before nuclear war is provoked.

ICONIC MOMENTS: We finally get to see Blofeld's face (Donald Pleasance of Halloween fame).  Blofeld's hallowed-out volcano lair is legendary, and sets an almost impossibly high bar for every other villainous hideout to follow.  This line: "In Japan, men come first and women come second."  I keep thinking of Austin Powers and want to add the line, "Or sometimes not at all."

FUN FACTS: Roald Dahl (yes, that Roald Dahl, of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Witches) wrote the screenplay.

VERDICT: Of the five Connery Bonds we've seen so far, this is my favorite.  You Only Live Twice moves at a breakneck pace and proves consistently entertaining.  Lewis Gilbert may not have directed action before this film, but he proves to be really adept at it.  He puts the camera in interesting places and has a keen eye for detail and fluidity of movement.  There is a spectacular shot of a rooftop fight/escape that is all captured in one take from a moving helicopter.  The movie looks great.  Setting the movie in Japan is a nice change of pace from the tropical island locations we've gotten before.  The space heists look a bit dated, effects-wise, but it's still a cool idea and really broadens the scope of the picture.  The epic climax at Blofeld's volcano lair is impressive in scale.  Even by today's standards, the production design is top notch.  This is classic Bond - corny, over-the-top, exciting, funny, and imaginative.  Too bad Connery would leave the role after this.  Temporarily, that is.

GRADE: A-

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