You Only Live Twice

Sunday, September 28, 2008

I've seen You Only Live Twice countless times now, but the same question always pops in my head. How does a pudding bowl wig and a shave turn a burly six-foot Scotsman into a Japanese? And how come the indigenous population of the island he sneaks onto don't stand and stare at him? He doesn't look the slightest bit Asian – he looks like one of the Beatles in their Mop Top phase.

Ah, but I'm forgetting another two elements of Bond's ingenious disguise – a peasant hat and a stoop. Yep, that will fool everyone. Forget the fact that even while bending I'm still about a foot taller than everyone else and ignore the fact that the silly hat now disguises my ingenious syrup; no one will be able to tell that a stranger walks amongst them. I'm like a ghost.

Another part of Bond turning Japanese that amuses me is the fact that he also, apparently, has to have sex in the Japanese fashion. Quite what this entails, I'm not sure. However, you'll be sorely disappointed if, like me, you were expecting an impromptu bukkake scene.

But even for a Bond film, You Only Live Twice isn't half packed full of nonsense. A scene that immediately springs to mind is when a pervy ginger broad captures 007. She has him tied up, and she threatens to slice him to bits, but then she apparently has a change of heart and cuts Bond loose so he can have his way with her. But then in the next scene she traps him in a plane, jumps free and tries to make him plummet to his death. Of all the contrived ways to kill Bond this must be the worst. I mean, if she was so desperate to have sex with him, why not do the dirty and shoot him in the head afterwards? It would make more sense than going to all the trouble of pretending to be on his side and then trapping him in a plane.

Another piece of stupidity comes from Blofeld. He's got Bond in his evil clutches and he tells him that "this is the price of failure". To which he shoots one of his underlings in the face. But then he apparently spares Bond and leads him to his groovy monorail. However, once he's there, he goes to shoot Bond. Of course, someone prevents this from happening, but why didn't Blofeld just shoot his underling and then shoot Bond. Why go to the trouble of walking a few paces where some ninja can get in the way? I know Bond has to hold onto his life through a mixture of luck and stupidity from his nemesis, but in You Only Live Twice it gets taken a bit too far.

Not to say that You Only Live Twice is a poor Bond film. In fact, in many regards it's a superb one – the score is one of John Barry's best, the volcano lair is great fun and Donald Pleasance is a memorable villain – but there are many weak elements. For instance, many parts of the film feel like a travelogue – in one scene Bond goes to a sumo match, not because it furthers the plot but just to show something that, at the time, would have been unusual and exotic for the audience. Another weak element is the story; there hardly is one. And then you have strange little details that make no sense. How come Blofeld can watch the outside of his spacecraft in space – who's filming them? And in the scene where a helicopter dumps a car in Tokyo bay, who's filming that (Bond watches it on a monitor)? These moments of silliness are present in every Bond film, but here they stand out far too much.

However, if this becomes too troubling you can at least think of Donald Pleasance as Blofeld. Sure he's been ripped to shreds by Mike Myers, but he's still a lot of fun – any man who has a volcano lair with a piranha pool in it is fine by me. And it's quite amusing to think about Blofeld's psychology. Here's a man who endlessly strokes a white pussy while gazing at a huge metallic phallus – his rocket. He's surely compensating for his embarrassing impotence. And it's also worth noting that he has a huge bodyguard that he hides behind for most of the film – staring at his backside, no less. Indeed, his face even appears from out of his bodyguard's toned arse. What's going on with those two? It's probably best not to ask…

And I also love how petty and untrustworthy Blofeld is. He'll kill anyone. Which, of course, begs you to ask why anyone would work for him? But people do and he shoots them, feeds them to ravenous fish and blows them up. Wonderful.

Something else that pleases me a great deal about You Only Live Twice is that it features Bond's encyclopaedic knowledge of booze – a facet of Connery's Bond that always cracks me up. In a scene on a train with the Japanese head of intelligence he expresses his approval that his sake is served at the correct temperature (98.4 degrees Fahrenheit in case you were wondering). Splendid.

And there's a great little moment when Bond is talking to a couple of evil SPECTRE agents. An old geezer expresses his disapproval as regards smoking and then his pervy secretary, while bending over Bond to serve him a drink, and with her tits almost in his face, says that her boss believes in a healthy chest. To which Bond has a sly look and says, "Really?" Connery's delivery is perfect.

Too bad then that for a lot of the film Connery looks a bit bored. But you can more than understand his desire at the time to move on with his career. I just wish he would have stuck to his guns and kept this as his last Bond film.

You Might Also Like