Bond: For Your Eyes Only

Although MOONRAKER had been a massive financial success, Bond producer Cubby Broccoli, must have realized that the series was quickly becoming a parody of itself. Serious measures had to be taken, and the decision was made to scale back the next Bond installment, once again bringing the super spy back to earth, in the most serious installment of the franchise since 1969’s ON HER MAJESTY’S SECRET SERVICE. Would an audience that had become accustomed to a lighthearted, fantastical Bond accept the franchise’s new direction?


PLOT: Bond is in a race against the Russians to recover a top secret communications device, the ATAC, which went down with a British spy ship.

REVIEW: After the MOONRAKER debacle, the franchise was in serious need of a reboot. Thankfully, the producers were all too aware of this fact, and the result is one of the highlights of the Roger Moore era.

I’ve always enjoyed this film. Granted- the plot is extremely convoluted (the ATAC is really just a big McGuffin- and serves no purpose but to drive the plot), but the film is extremely well crafted. The action scenes are excellent, boasting some of the best stunt work in the series- especially the sequence where Bond skies down a bobsled run (tragically, one of the stuntmen died filming this sequence). The cast is also top notch- although the villains are a tad bland. John Glen, who had previously edited, and been the second unit director on several previous Bond films, was finally promoted to the director’s chair on this outing, and would continue on in that capacity for the rest of the eighties.

Special note should also be made of the opening teaser- which features the long awaited demise of Blofeld (who is not named due to legal wrangling with Kevin McClory- more on that in my NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN entry). This immediately sets the serious tone of the film, as it opens with Bond visiting his late wife Tracy’s grave. The teaser is quite good, only marred by some silly dialogue from Blofeld, and the crappy score by Bill Conti (more on that in the music section).


Moore is absolutely terrific in this outing, which I believe contains his single best performance as Bond. By the time the film was released in 1981, Moore was 54, and his age is refreshingly not downplayed in the film. Unlike other installments, here Bond seems less interested in blowing things up, and nailing every woman he sees (for the first time in the series, he actually turns down sex!) Rather, he portrays the character as slightly world weary. Throughout the film, he’s alternately cold blooded, and compassionate. The sequences where he tries to dissuade his leading lady from taking vengeance on the men who killed her parents offer some of the best acting I’ve ever seen from Moore.


This is the weak link of the film- the villain. Julian Glover plays Aris Kristatos, who is one of the blandest Bond villains ever. His ploy to sell the ATAC to the Russians is pretty boring, but I think this was intentional, as the filmmakers wanted to steer the series away from megalomaniacal villains’ intent on taking over the world. Bond’s ally- Columbo (played by Topol) is actually the more interesting character, and I think they should have reversed the roles here- as Topol has way more presence than Glover.


French superstar Carol Bouquet plays Melina Havelock, who’s probably the toughest Bond girl in the series up to that point. Basically, Havelock is on her own mission of vengeance, killing all the men responsible for the brutal murder of her parents in the opening scene. Unlike a lot of the other Bond girls, there’s a vulnerability to the character that really sets her apart, and this is one of the few times in the series where it seems Bond actually really cares about his love interest.

Worth nothing is the fact that the film’s other Bond girl, Countess Lisl- is played by the late Cassandra Harris, who was married to Pierce Brosnan. Legend has it that Brosnan was spotted by Broccoli while visiting Harris on the set of this film, and that Broccoli made a note of the actor’s name for future consideration.

Another factoid about the Bond girls in this outing- one of the scantily clad extras during a pool scene in the first act was a transsexual named Tula. This became quite the scandal once the film came out, even though Tula was only featured fleetingly in two shots.

BOND MUSIC: John Barry was once again unavailable, so Broccoli hired Bill Conti- of ROCKY fame, to score the film. Conti’s music is actually pretty schlocky, and one of the few real problems with the movie. It’s not awful, but it really dates the film.

BODY COUNT: Bond takes out thirteen baddies in this film, including one of his most cold-blooded slayings ever- when he boots a car over a cliff, after the driver kills a couple of his allies.

NUMBER OF WOMEN BOND SLEEPS WITH: Bond is a little less randy in this film- and he only sleeps with two ladies in this go-round.

BEST ONE- LINER: [after a close call with a shark] “I hope he was dinning alone”.
Q also gets a good one- [Bond walks into a Greek Confessional Booth- where Q is disguised as a priest]
Bond: Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
Q: *That's* putting things *mildly*, 007!

BEST DOUBLE ENTENDRE: [Bond is actually pretty p.c in this one- but there’s a great exchange with Bibi- who’s a teenage ice skater that tries to seduce Bond. Supposedly the script called for Bond to oblige her- but Moore thought it was in bad taste as he actress was more than thirty years his junior].
Bibi: That's a laugh. Everyone knows it builds up muscle tone.
Bond: Well, how about you build up a little more muscle tone by putting on your clothes?
Bibi: [sadly] Don't you like me?
Bond: [Wearily] Why, I think you're wonderful, Bibi... But I don't think your uncle Aris would approve.
Bibi: Him? He thinks I'm still a virgin.
Bond: Yes, well...put your clothes on, and I’ll, uh...buy you some ice cream.

BEST GADGET: There’s not all that much in the way of gadgets here. The Lotus (now painted a disgusting shade of copper) is back, but Bond pretty much just uses it as a car, and doesn’t blow up any helicopters or anything.

RECEPTION: Despite being a more earthbound Bond, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY was almost as successful as MOONRAKER- grossing $195 million worldwide. The only place where the film slightly underperformed was the U.S, where it made $54 million- which was still a solid number, but $16 million less than MOONRAKER, probably due to heavy competition from RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, SUPERMAN 2, & STRIPES.

GRADE: 8.5/10- one of the more solid Moore outings.


Source: JoBlo.com



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