Director: John Glen
Cast: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Topol, Julian Glover, Lynn-Holly Johnson, Cassandra Harris, Michael Gothard, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, William Gotell
Film matched beverage: Zorbatini
Synopsis: A secret British decoding device is lost at sea, and Bond is sent to recover it. Demand for the device is high, with profiteers seeking it to sell to the Russians. After Sir Timothy Havelock and his wife are murdered searching for it, Bond teams up with their daughter Melina, whom like any good Greek woman seeks revenge…
Given that I considered Moonraker such a travesty, it is clear that perhaps I was not alone. For Your Eyes Only is a much more grounded feature than its predecessor. It is also somewhat more dramatic, and indeed an even darker film. Of course, this is still Moore, so the depths of darkness is more like a wading pool of darkness, but the film as a whole benefits from the refocus.
The pre-credits sequence itself seems to acknowledge this. Both this film and The Spy Who Loved Me indirectly reference the events of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, something that was actually avoided in Connery’s return for For Your Eyes Only. Indeed, if one wanted to focus on continuity, it would be easier to consider Diamonds Are Forever as a prequel to Lazenby’s effort. In the film now being discussed, Moore visits Tracy’s grave, before finally exacting revenge on neck-braced Blofeld. This almost states a mission of intent to make this a serious, dramatic film, and over all that is what is delivered.
This delivery is aided by both Topol and Glover, both of whose characters’ motives are ambiguous. They are two different personality types, yet they succeed in creating the audience guessing, and confirming that Bond is a man to uncover secrets and lies. Bouquet is also a superior Bond babe. She is a highly motivated character whom is also a force to be reckoned with. And unlike her immediate predecessor Lois Chiles, she has that certain undefinable spark which makes her scenes all the more spectacular.
The action as well is more serious in this film. Indeed, in one scene in particular, 007 can be accused of being very cold-blooded. Having read behind the scenes material on this, this was a conscious decision from director John Glen, though Bond’s actions here do still raise a debate among some fans.
All is not perfect with this film though, and it is not restricted to my opinion of Moore’s performance as Bond. The biggest mis-step in this movie is the character of Bibi Dahl, played by professional figure skater Johnson. Her character is played for comic relief, as an underage girl whom is attracted to Bond. For me though, the way the story plays out is very uncomfortable. Though Bond does not welcome her advances, the plot thread adds little and distracts way too much.
For Your Eyes Only is also interesting for the fact that it is the first 007 film not to feature Bernard Lee as M. Unfortunately, Mr. Lee had passed shortly prior to this film. For this film, Bond received his briefing from Chief of Staff Bill Tanner. Lee is replaced in the next film Octopussy by actor Robert Brown, whom previously appeared in The Spy Who Loved me as Admiral Hargreaves. This fact has often led fans to speculate that Hargreaves was promoted to the head of the secret service following Miles Messervy’s retirement.
Like all the other films from this era, the Blu-Ray upgrade is superb, and it is the best way to watch Bond. The spirit of the late seventies/early eighties is maintained but the detail is so much higher. Indeed, Bride of Film Nerd was convinced Bouquet had a moustache in one particularly close close-up. I must admit, I did not observe the same (or perhaps my brain chose not to see this!!
In the Moore era, for me this film is second only to The Spy Who Loved me, and very refreshing to watch again after Moonraker. It is not perfect, but the drama and entertainment are enough to hold my interest.
3.5 stars out of 5
2.5 parts vodka
Shaken over ice and served in a cocktail glass, garnished with a green olive.