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The Giant James Bond Rewatch – For Your Eyes Only (1981)

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I don’t think it is any secret that, in my ever so humble opinion, Roger Moore was the worst Bond ever. Hell’s teeth, I even think Woody Allen and Daliah Lavi made a better fist of the job. But I know that there are fans of the Moore-era, as will be seen when my editor Jill posts her articles. She snapped up the other six of the seven films in our Bond Rewatch Review Draft Picks — in which raising an eyebrow was, fortunately, all that was needed to convey a panoply of emotions.

Actually, I may be being a bit harsh. I do remember Moore as Simon Templar in The Saint and he carried it off reasonably well, but he was a reasonably young man then. He was getting a bit creaky when he made The Persuaders! but he was teamed with an even older Tony Curtis.

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And, perhaps, there’s the rub… he is, to date, the oldest actor to debut as James Bond. Apart, of course, from David Niven, but he was playing a retired Bond.

In other respects, he should have been a good Bond. During his National Service, he served in Military Intelligence, so he had real-world experience of the role. In 1954 he was offered contracts with the RSC and MGM. Noel Coward advised him to go for the money, but an offer from the RSC must say something about his acting chops. And Moore earned his tough-guy stripes after beating up Lee Marvin during the filming of Shout At The Devil. He was in consideration for Dr. No but lost out to Sean Connery… I wonder how the franchise would have turned out with a younger, fitter Moore as the original Bond…

Secret Agent?

I have to admit that I had to check whether or not this was Moore’s first outing as Bond because of the pre-opening scene, which has a throwback to the George Lazenby outing On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and, in particular, the marriage of Bond to Teresa Draco. This scene has Bond visiting his wife’s grave before being kidnapped by an unnamed bald man with a white cat…let’s call him Flobeld, Sterne Rostav Flobeld. The reason why the name wasn’t used was, as often seems to happen in Bond-World, an argument over the rights.

Kevin McClory managed to have disputes with Ian Fleming, United Artists, MGM, and Eon, but had won a court case granting him the right to the use of “S.P.E.C.T.R.E.”, and “Ernst Stavro Blofeld” and, presumably, he was hoping to parley the use of those names into a big payday. Instead, Cubby Broccoli raised two fingers to McClory and got rid of Blofeld before the titles rolled.

McClory produced and released the unofficial Bond movie, Never Say Never Again, in which Blofeld was played by Max von Sydow. Blofeld did not appear in an EON Bond movie again until Christoph Waltz played him in Spectre, following the matter of the rights being settled in 2013.

On Whose Side?

The previous Bond outing was Moonraker, which was a huge financial success but panned critically over comments that the film franchise had become too focused on wild gadgets, outlandish plots, over-the-top villains, and screwball comedy. [Jill here — yes, and that’s why I like it.]

As a result, producers decided to return to a more realistic storyline in this film, using From Russia with Love and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as a template. Therefore, this film contains many story elements that may seem similar; the A.T.A.C. is similar to the Lektor, Kriegler is similar to Grant, Columbo is similar to Kerim Bey, and the winter activities sequences are similar to those in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.

One sad omission is that this is the first official Bond film not to feature M in the shape of Bernard Lee. Lee played the role in all the previous eleven films in the franchise. He died of stomach cancer on January 16, 1981, after the filming of For Your Eyes Only started, but before his scenes were shot. Out of respect to Lee, M is said to be on leave, rather than having the character recast. His lines were left in the film but delivered by other cast members; the confessional scene featuring Q was originally going to be M. One other way in which Bernard Lee can be remembered…he is the grandfather of the marvelous Jonny Lee Miller.

Movie Grade: B

Plot (Spoilers)
After disposing of a familiar-looking face, Bond is sent to recover a communication device, known as an ATAC, which went down with a British Spy ship as it sunk. Bond must hurry though, as the Russians are also out for this device. On his travels, he also meets Melina Havelock, whose parents were brutally murdered. Bond also encounters both Aristotle Kristatos and Milos Colombo. Each of them accuses the other of having links with the Russian’s. Bond must team up with Melina, solve who the true ally is, and find the ATAC before it’s too late.

About The Peetimes:

There are no extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of For Your Eyes Only. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated: (PG) NA
Genres: Action, Adventure, Thriller, Bond 007, Spy
Starring: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson
Director: John Glen
Writer(s): Richard Maibaum (screenplay by), Michael G. Wilson (screenplay by)
Language: Spanish, English, Greek, Italian
Country: UK

Remembering James Bond — Seeing Goldfinger live in the theater

The Giant James Bond Rewatch – Casino Royale (1967)

James Bond Rewatch – Live and Let Die (1973)

 

 

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