Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, May 2, 2013


FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981). Director: John Glen.

For Your Eyes Only begins with Bond putting flowers on his late wife's grave [see On Her Majesty's Secret Service], a nice nod to 007 history. After that there's a semi-comical prologue with Bond caught in a helicopter remote-controlled by old foe Blofeld. After a credit sequence which almost functions as a music video [we see the singer of the title song, Sheena Easton, something that was never done for Shirley Bassey], the story really begins and it's a convoluted one. An important encryption device has been lost in a shipwreck. When a couple who are searching for it on behalf of the British government are assassinated, their daughter Melina (Carole Bouquet) wants vengeance on everyone in the chain of responsibility, to which end she teams up with a hesitant Bond, and uses her crossbow weapon on anyone who gets in her way. Bond winds up at the Olympics where there are a number of chase/battle scenes connected to various sports, including a brief one on a bobsled that doesn't compare well to the bobsled sequence in the aforementioned Majesty. There are no real "Bond girls" -- super sexy beauties -- as such in the movie, although that's not to say the women are not attractive. In addition to Melina, Bond has to fight off the advances of teenage skater Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson, a real-life skater who became an actress), and dallies erotically with Countess Lisl (Cassandra Harris). For Your Eyes Only has a handsome Bond-villain for a change instead of the usual plug-uglies, embodied by Julian Glover [Theatre of Death] in the role of Kristatos, Bibi's sponsor and a man who wants to sell the encryption device to the Russians. Topol is cast as a criminal, Columbo, who becomes one of Bond's allies after Kristatos' henchmen kill the countess [it is never recorded if Columbo knows that Bond slept with his girlfriend the night before!]. Jill Bennett of Hammer studio's The Nanny plays Bibi's guardian and coach.

The underwater photography in For Your Eyes Only is excellent, and figures in two memorable sequences, an eerie one when Bond and Melina dive into the shipwreck with its drowned corpses; and a splendid scene when Kristatos has the couple tied together and towed behind his ship through sharp coral not to mention the sharks attracted by their blood [this sequence actually comes from Ian Fleming's novel Live and Let Die, but was not used in the film version thereof]. However the movie's most outstanding sequence takes place when Bond climbs up to the abandoned monastery at St. Ciro's which Kristatos is using as his headquarters, especially a taut and beautifully-edited passage when Bond tries desperately to get to the top even as a man overhead keeps knocking out the pitons that hold his rope to the rock.

For Your Eyes Only was a deliberate and successful attempt for the popular 007 series to become a little more down to earth after what some saw as the absurd sci fi excesses of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. Although it's by no means a perfect Bond outing, and is a bit overlong with a few slack stretches and chase scenes that fall a bit flat, when it is good it is very good, and proof that an entertaining Bond movie could be made without Jaws and high-tech special effects in outer space. Bill Conti's theme song is not bad at all; otherwise this is definitely one of the lesser Bond movie scores.

Verdict: Flawed but often invigorating Bond adventure. ***.

No comments: