Thursday, 31 May 2012



Well, it's a very slight improvement on Moonraker and a definite improvement on The Spy Who Loved Me, but Roger Moore's fifth Bond, the twelfth in the series, still suffers from alarming shifts in tone as it veers from straight-ahead nastiness to knockabout slapstick to impressive action sequences to hideously misjudged comedy to all-out nonsense. Yet for much of the time it's actually one of the better films in the series and probably Roger's best, despite his age: there are moments when he really looks decrepit and there are still two more of his films to come.

For Your Eyes Only is also a film on a much smaller scale to Moonraker: rather than gallivanting around the world from California to Venice to the Upper Amazon and then into outer space, the bulk of it takes place around the Adriatic and the villains are no longer interested in exterminating the entire human race but merely trading a lump of hi-tech defence equipment to the Russians. It's a welcome (literal) comedown from sci-fi idiocy to middle-aged blokes beating each other up in a monastery. The Royal Navy's submarine control system is sunk in the Adriatic and our man seeking to salvage it (Jack Hedley, who of course I cannot see in anything without thinking of The New York Ripper) is murdered; Bond has to follow the trail to locate the wreck, retrieve the ATAC wotsit and see it doesn't fall into the hands of the evil Commies.

For the first half it looks like the villain's going to be Topol but then it switches and he's the secondary hero, and it turns out to be Julian Glover instead, which is fine. Glamour is provided by Carole Bouquet, Cassandra Harris and, most uncomfortably, Lynn-Holly Johnson as an ice-skating nymphomaniac. The action and stunt sequences are generally pretty good - mainly the early car chase with a Citroen 2CV, a long chase on ski and motorbike and some armrest-grabbing mountaineering towards the end. Most of it's fine and exactly what you expect from a Bond movie: the card games, the tuxedos, Q in a silly disguise, the awful one-liners and even the evil foreigner with a swimming pool surrounded by girls in bikinis.

However, the movie desperately needs an absolutely enormous axe taking to it and the principal casualties should be the pre-credits sequence (Bond trapped in a remote-controlled helicopter) which starts well but then turns into a silly private joke between Cubby Broccoli and Kevin McClory, the Unofficial Bond producer, and the hideous comedy sign-off in which Margaret Thatcher is chatted up by a parrot: you'll chew your fist so much you'll crap your own knuckles for a week. Every time I see this movie I cannot stay for those last few minutes (according to the IMDb Roger Moore hated this sequence as well, and he's dead right) and I have to go and boil a kettle or something. There's also an entirely unnecessary bit where some ice-hockey goons attack Bond on an ice rink; it's easily lost and the film wouldn't be any the worse for its excision.

Generally though it's okay. It doesn't even suffer from not having a John Barry score (the way The Spy Who Loved Me suffered from having a Marvin Hamlisch one); Bill Conti does a perfectly decent job and the soundtrack album still gets its fair share of play. Watching it again tonight it's a scratch better than I remembered (those aforementioned sequences apart) and it's probably the highlight of the Moore years.


And 007: try not to muck it up again:

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