Tuesday, December 26, 2006

You Only Live Twice

1967, UK, directed by Lewis Gilbert

Watching the Bond films in order of release, it's not really surprising that Sean Connery took a break from Bond after You Only Live Twice: he seems less than inspired in this outing, something which I'm sure contributed to the film's relatively limited commercial success notwithstanding the exotic Japanese location. The film is also considerably less jokey in tone than its immediate predecessor, Thunderball, a film absolutely riddled with throwaway one-liners and a massive box-office hit to boot (the attitude towards women, though, is if anything more unreconstructed here).

You Only Live Twice was one of Roald Dahl's only screenwriting forays, and the results aren't especially happy (though Dahl claimed that much of his work was discarded): the closing stages, though they provided great materials for the Austin Powers spoofs, have a few too many holes even by Bond standards. It's a shame, really, because there are some interesting possibilities: when the film slows down occasionally and pays attention to the details of Japan it's really quite absorbing, while I've always preferred Bond when he reins in the punchlines and tones up the fighting skills (the ninja sequences are especially fun, and notable in that martial arts films had not yet made it big in the West).

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States