YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE

BY CHRISTOPHER HASKELL
DECEMBER 11, 2011

James Bond is dead. The first glimpse of Bond (Sean Connery) in “You Only Live Twice” is a familiar sight; Bond is in bed getting ready for a massage from a beautiful woman. Instead, someone tricks him, and he’s shot to death. It sounds like a short film.

Sean Connery returns for the role of James Bond, this time sent to Tokyo to investigate the disappearance of a spaceship. Considered the “Japanese Bond film,” 007 slides into his usual rigamarole, running from men with guns, getting involved with dangerous women, and using the gadgets provided. However, “You Only Live Twice” barely succeeds in entertaining on any different level than the first four films and becomes repetitious without developing any revolutionary factors to set this film apart. Disappearing spaceships, Bond learning the art of samurai, and many Japanese women set this film somewhat apart and cause minimal unique enjoyment.

The character of James Bond is an iconic figure, the definition of a man’s man. So any measures taken to emasculate Bond is a poor decision by the writers and director. Therefore, placing a silly helmet on Bond and positioning him in the tiny autogyro, Little Nellie, was a poor choice, even if he was still shooting down helicopters.

The Bond girls take a step down in this film as well. Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) is by far the closest to love that Bond has gotten in the five-film run thus far but is nothing compared to Pussy Galore or Honey Ryder. Kissy Suzuki (Mie Harna), Bond’s fake wife for the mission, has potential but is given little time to prove herself. Ultimately, the climatic volcano fortress battle scene overshadows her.

Poor gadgets like exploding cigarettes and mediocre Bond girls leave this fifth installment lacking. But revealing the face of supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasance) harms the franchise by ruining one of its great mysteries. Attempting to capitalize far too soon on the reveal of the cat-petting villain costs this film major points. Though all the same elements are there, the fact that they are just that, reproductions of the original concepts, makes this film somewhat watered-down. However, still a decent movie in its own right, “You Only Live Twice” carries on the Bond saga as best it can, considering.

RELEASE DATE
June 13, 1967

DIRECTOR
Lewis Gilbert

WRITTEN BY
Roald Dahl
Harold Jack Bloom (additional)

BASED ON
“You Only Live Twice”
by Ian Fleming

STUDIO
United Artists

PG

ACTION
ADVENTURE
THRILLER

117 minutes

CINEMATOGRAPHER
Freddie Young

COMPOSER
John Barry

EDITOR
Peter R. Hunt

CAST
Sean Connery
Akiko Wakabayashi
Mie Hama
Tetsurô Tanba
Teru Shimada
Karin Dor
Donald Pleasence
Bernard Lee
Lois Maxwell
Desmond Llewelyn
Charles Gray

PRODUCED BY
Harry Saltzman
Albert R. Broccoli

BUDGET
$9.5 million

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