In the fifth feature of the popular Bond series, the action-packed espionage adventure “You Only Live Twice,” James Bond heads East to save the world.
Previous James Bond reviews:
Dr. No (1962): www.emanuellevy.com/review/dr-no-first-james-bond/
From Russia With Love (1963): www.emanuellevy.com/review/from-russia-with-love-1963/
Goldfinger (1964): www.emanuellevy.com/review/goldfinger-6/
Thunderball (1965): www.emanuellevy.com/review/thunderball/
When an American spacecraft disappears during a mission, it's believed to have been intercepted by the Soviet Union. After a Soviet space capsule similarly goes missing, most consider it to be an act of American retaliation. Soon the two nations are at the brink of war, but British intelligence discovers that some sort of UFO has crashed into the Sea of Japan.
Agent 007 is sent in to investigate. After staging his own death to avoid being followed, Bond, disguised as a Japanese civilian, teams up with agent Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba) and his beautiful associate Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi). With their help, Bond learns that both the American and Soviet space missions were actually scuttled by supercriminal Ernst Blofeld (Donald Pleasance) in another effort by the evil empire SPECTRE to take over the world.
As he battles the bad guys, Bond still finds time to romance both Kissy Suziki (Mie Hama) and Helga Brandt (Karin Dor).
The impressive pre-credit sequence depicts an American space ship hijacked by a mysterious space vehicle of unknown origins, which swallows it with huge metal jaws before disappearing off the radar.
At a top-secret conference of the world powers, including the U.S. and the U.K. the Soviets are accused of stealing the ship in order to dominate the world. Convinced that the vehicle landed in Japan, they assign the “Man in Hong Kong,” James Bond.
Bond is first seen in bed with a Chinese girl, who betrays him, when gunmen riddle the bed with bullets. Maurice Binder’s titles roll on screen, while Nancy Sinatra sings the popular title song, whose lyrics were written by Leslie Bricusse.
The film is directed by Lewis Gilbert, who scored a big success with “Alfie,” in 1966, the movie that made Michael Caine a star. Gilbert will direct two more Bond films, “The Spy Who Loved Me,” in 1977, and “Moonraker,” in 1979.
The brilliant designer Ken Adams created one of the most impressive and most expensive set pieces in the Bond series, Blofeld’s volcano.
Among the striking set pieces are the pitched battle in the volcano base during the climax, and the fight on Kobe docks, shot from the air and reportedly done in one long take.
The dialogue contains some memorable (and sexist) dialogue. When Bond asks, “Why do Chinese girls taste different from all other girls?” Bing replies: “You think we better?” Bond then says: “No, just different, like Peking duck is different from Russian caviar but I love them both.” Bing wants to please: “Darling, I give you very best duck.”
There are also jokes about the lack of hair of Japanese men. Tanaka tells Bond: “You know what they’re fascinated by? It’s the hair on your chest. All Japanese men have beautiful bare skin.” Bond then quips: “Japanese proverb say, “Bird never make nest in bare chests.”
“You Only Live Twice” was Sean Connery's next to last outings as James Bond. The next Bond film, “On Her Majesty's Secret Service,” stared George Lazenby as 007. Connery returned to the series for the last time in “Diamonds Are Forever.” In 1973, Roger Moore took over the role, which he successfully played for over decade. Connery played Bond one last time, in 1983's “Never Say Never Again,” which, like the 1967 “Casino Royale,” was produced outside the official series.)
Running time: 125 Minutes.
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Written By Harold Jack Bloom, Roald Dahl
Released: June 13, 1967.
DVD: October 17, 2000
Sean Connery as James Bond
Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki
Tetsuro Tamba as Tiger Tanaka
Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki
Donald Pleasence as Ernst Stavros Blofeld
Teru Shimada as Mr. Osato