For Your Eyes Only is perhaps most notable for its pre-title sequence which shows the final comeuppance of the supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond's enemy in five previous films (although the character here is unnamed due to legal issues). The opening of the film revisits many older elements of the Bond character, beginning with Bond laying flowers at the grave of his wife, Tracy Bond (one of the few times she is mentioned in the series after On Her Majesty's Secret Service), and culminating in Blofeld's attempt to exact revenge on Bond for foiling his plans and for the downfall of his criminal organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E.. The whole sequence was initially scripted to aid the introduction and establishment of a new actor to portray James Bond since Roger Moore, who had starred in four previous films, was reluctant to return - Timothy Dalton is often cited as the planned replacement, and indeed the film overall features many darker moments and a more down-to-earth feel more suited to Dalton's portrayal than to Moore's. The industrial chimney used in the opening scene was part of the North Thames gasworks in London.
The reason the appearance of the Blofeld character remains somewhat ambiguous here (he is not explicitly named, despite his demise clearly being of huge importance to the series) relate to a legal battle dating back to the publication of the James Bond novel Thunderball in 1961. At that time, Kevin McClory claimed that Ian Fleming had adapted the novel from a screenplay for a proposed film adaptation of the Bond character that the two had worked on together, and that he, not Fleming, had come up with the S.P.E.C.T.R.E. organisation and the character of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. As the legal dispute had left McClory with the rights to the Blofeld character, the studio was forced to leave Blofeld's appearance in For Your Eyes Only ambiguous (while at the same time using many of the character's well-known traits from earlier movies - bald head, white cat - to convey the message of who he really was). The demise of Blofeld finally tied up the plot hole of his disappearance in Diamonds Are Forever, and was added by the production staff to show that the James Bond series did not need Blofeld and was content to move on after a number of attempts by Kevin McClory to produce a rival Bond film based on his ownership of the character. This includes a failed attempt in the late 1970s of an original Bond film that resulted in a lawsuit brought about by EON and United Artists. Nevertheless McClory was able to film a remake of Thunderball entitled Never Say Never Again which was released opposite Octopussy in 1983.
Two other controversial incidents also occurred with the release of For Your Eyes Only. The first involving the film's teaser poster artwork, which showcased a model in thong-like shorts holding a crossbow with Bond framed between her long legs. This was deemed in some U.S. states as indecent exposure. A later version of the teaser was released with a superimposed pair of shorts painted over the original artwork. The other controversial incident wasn't revealed until some time after the release, in which it was discovered that one girl, Caroline Cossey (aka Tula), that was used in a pool scene turned out to be a transsexual. (Urban legends about the incident greatly exaggerated Cossey's role, from a non-speaking "girl at pool" to someone who had "heavy love scenes" with Moore.)
For Your Eyes Only marked a creative change of direction for the Bond film series. John Glen was promoted from his duties as a film editor to director, a position he would occupy throughout the 1980s. A result of this being a harder-edged directorial style, with less emphasis on gadgetry and large action sequences in huge arenas (as was favoured by Lewis Gilbert). More emphasis on tension, plot, and character was also added in addition to a return to Bond's more serious roots.
A good example of this is a scene in which Bond kicks a car with a villain inside over a cliff, essentially murdering him in cold blood. This was, and still is to this day controversial amongst fans to whether Ian Fleming's James Bond would do such an act. Roger Moore was also strongly opposed to the aforementioned scene in which Bond kills the villain Locque, claiming his Bond wouldn't do such a thing. This, however, contradicts the fact that his Bond kills at least two, possibly three people in cold blood in the earlier film, The Spy Who Loved Me (namely, a thug Bond lets fall off a roof, the villain Karl Stromberg who Bond executes after he's been disarmed, and possibly a woman who Bond may or may not intentionally use as a human shield). Nonetheless, this scene was the strongest display of Bond exercising his licence to kill since the killing of Dr. Dent by Sean Connery's Bond in Dr. No.
Throughout the entire James Bond series of films, this is the only movie where M is absent. Bernard Lee had died while preparing for the film, and instead of recasting, the role was left vacant out of respect. Miss Moneypenny, M's personal secretary claims that he is on leave, and his chair is filled by his 'Chief of Staff', Bill Tanner, with M's lines being shared between Tanner and the Minister of Defence. The role was recast for Octopussy.
Today For Your Eyes Only is often cited as one of the strongest films of the series and is usually considered a contender alongside The Spy Who Loved Me as Moore's best Bond film. Overall, For Your Eyes Only accumulated a box office gross of $195,300,000, which at the time was the second highest grossing Bond film after its previous entry Moonraker.
The film focuses on the recovery of the vital Automatic Targeting and Attack Communicator (ATAC), which is lost in the Ionian Sea after the British spy ship St. Georges is sunk by an old mine hauled up in its fishing nets. The ATAC system is used by the Ministry of Defence to communicate and co-ordinate the Royal Navy's fleet of Polaris submarines. Sir Timothy Havelock, a marine archaeologist and MI6 agent, and his wife are murdered by a Cuban hitman, Hector Gonzales, while he is searching for the wreck of the St Georges. Bond is sent after Gonzales to find out who hired him, but is beaten to it by Havelock's daughter, Melina, who kills him before Bond can find out. After identifying a man in Gonzales' estate who appeared to be paying him, Bond is led to a well connected Greek businessman and intelligence informant, Aristotle Kristatos, who tells Bond that the man he saw is employed by Milos Columbo, a Greek smuggler. However, when Bond confronts Columbo, it emerges that Kristatos is actually in the employ of the KGB to recover the ATAC, and had set up Columbo as the villain as he knew too much about Kristatos' KGB leanings. Bond is aided in his pursuit of Kristatos and the ATAC by Melina and Columbo. In the film's climax, Bond throws the ATAC system over a cliff rather than hand it to the KGB chief General Gogol, with the quip "That's détente, comrade. I don't have it, you don't have it."
As mentioned earlier, this movie turned from deux ex machina gadgets and wide-open action sequences to smaller and more "personal" scenes. The resulting sequences are arguably some of the best of the series, and are generally extremely well filmed.
One example of the change in thinking is the simple scene in which Bond confronts the killer Locque. Locque is attempting to escape in a car, but is forced to drive up a steep hill along a road containing a number of sharp switchback curves. Bond follows on foot, running up a set of stairways bisecting the road. When the race first starts, Locque is far ahead of Bond, but as Bond reaches the next section of the road after climbing one section it is clear he is gaining on him. The scene ends with Bond climbing the last remaining flight, quite out of breath, with the camera positioned to show him reaching the road slightly ahead of Locque. The entire scene is perhaps 30 seconds, and is extremely suspenseful.
A more famous scene occurs late in the movie when Bond's team attempts to break into a mountaintop monastery being used by Kristatos to meet Gogol and turn over the ATAC. In order to gain access to the mountaintop one would normally use a cablecar, but this is being guarded. Instead Bond climbs up the sheer face of the mountain, out of sight of the guards. As he climbs he has to knock pitons into the rock face, and eventually one of the guards hears him and investigates. He sees Bond, who hides, and instead climbs down a rope of his own to start knocking out the pitons. The scene continues with Bond attempting to climb back onto the rock face, but falling further as each piton is knocked out. He eventually reaches a safe position just as the guard is in the process of knocking out the last piton, potentially sending Bond falling to the rock far below. Bond then whistles to attract the guard's attention, and uses a piton as a throwing knife to kill him, using the guard's rope to climb the rest of the way.
Cast & characters
- James Bond - Roger Moore
- Miss Moneypenny - Lois Maxwell
- Q - Desmond Llewelyn
- Chief of Staff Bill Tanner - James Villiers
- Melina Havelock - Carole Bouquet
- Milos Columbo - Topol
- Bibi Dahl - Lynn-Holly Johnson
- Aris Kristatos - Julian Glover
- Countess Lisl von Schlaf - Cassandra Harris
- Jacoba Brink - Jill Bennett
- Emile Leopold Locque - Michael Gothard
- Erich Kriegler - John Wyman
- Sir Fredrick Gray (Minister of Defence) — Geoffrey Keen
- General Gogol — Walter Gotell
- Rubelvitch (Gogol's Assistant) - Eva Rueber-Staier
- Directed by: John Glen
- Produced by: Albert R. Broccoli
- Written by: Ian Fleming
- Screenplay by: Richard Maibaum, Michael G. Wilson
- Composed by: Bill Conti
- Cinematography by: Alan Hume
- Production design: Peter Lamont
Many of the "underwater" scenes, especially involving closeups of Bond and Melina, were actually faked on a dry soundstage. A combination of lighting effects, slow-motion photography, wind, and "bubbles" added in post-production, gave the illusion of the actors being underwater. Apparently actress Carole Bouquet had a preexisting health condition that prevented her from actually attempting any underwater stuntwork.
Vehicles & gadgetsAfter the ever-more outlandish plots of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker - the latter film literally taking Bond out of this world - it was decided that the James Bond series needed to return to reality. For Your Eyes Only attempts to go back to the more basic style of Dr. No and From Russia with Love. One of the most famous sequences of the film is when Bond's venerable Lotus Esprit is destroyed after a henchman working for Gonzales attempts to break into the car, which in turn activated the car's self-destruct function that was built into its security system. The destruction of his car forces Bond and Melina to make an escape in a Citroën 2CV, which was considered symbolic of Bond turning away from the more extreme gadgets of the past. Bond later acquires another car, a red Lotus Esprit Turbo from Q-Branch when he arrives in Cortina.
- Stuntman Paolo Rigon was killed during filming of the bobsled track portion of the ski chase. During the sequence Rigon's sleigh overturned with Rigon trapped beneath. He later died due to the injuries he sustained.
- The scene in which Melina and Bond are dragged across a coral reef for the sharks to eat was a sequence originally appearing in the novel Live and Let Die.
- The "Burglar Protected" stickers on Bond's Lotus came from a car alarm company called Autosafe.
- In the end credits of The Spy Who Loved Me it says "James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only, however after the tremendous box office success of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in 1977 the producers decided they wanted to cash in on the subsequent science fiction craze and make Moonraker instead, thus For Your Eyes Only was held back to become the next Bond film after Moonraker.
- Cassandra Harris was married to future Bond actor Pierce Brosnan.
Comic book adaptation
Prior to the film being released Marvel Comics was given permission to publish a two-issue comic book adaptation of the movie, For Your Eyes Only. The first issue was released in October 1981 and was soon followed by the second issue in November of the same year. It was also reprinted the same year in magazine and paperback book form.
Two major differences in the comic book include the addition of M, who was technically in the initial drafts of the screenplay until Bernard Lee's death in early 1981 and the villain's given name, which for unknown reasons was "Ari Kristatos" instead of the film version's "Aris Kristatos." The comic also includes additional suggestive dialogue by Bibi Dahl (aimed at Bond) that was never used (or was perhaps edited from) the film.
Credits for both issues of the comic book adaptation include:
- Written by Larry Hama
- Penciller: Howard Chaykin
- Inker: Vince Colletta
- Letterer: Jean Simek
- Colorist: Christie Scheele
- Editor: Dennis O'Neil
|James Bond films|
Dr. No (1962) - From Russia with Love (1963) - Goldfinger (1964) - Thunderball (1965) - You Only Live Twice (1967) - Diamonds Are Forever (1971)
| George Lazenby |
On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969)
Live and Let Die (1973) - The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) - The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) - Moonraker (1979) - For Your Eyes Only (1981) - Octopussy (1983) - A View to a Kill (1985)
The Living Daylights (1987) - Licence to Kill (1989)
GoldenEye (1995) - Tomorrow Never Dies (1998) - The World Is Not Enough (1999) - Die Another Day (2002)
Casino Royale (2006) - Quantum of Solace (2008) - Skyfall (2012) - Spectre (2015) - Bond 25
Casino Royale (1954) - Casino Royale (1967) - Never Say Never Again (1983)