Bullet Points: For Your Eyes Only
As the 80’s started, the producers of the James Bond films were looking to change up the series and bring it back to the origins of the Ian Fleming hard uncompromising spy. They were looking to do this because 1979’s Moonraker included outer space, laser guns, and a 7 foot man with metal teeth who couldn’t talk falling in love with a pigtailed, bespectacled blonde. While Moonraker made a ton of money, the highest of any Bond to that point, it had garnered mixed reviews with critics.
The questions for the producers were 1) how to make the action more realistic after Moonraker and 2) how to make the aging Roger Moore, back for his 5th appearance as James Bond, grittier and more in line with how Ian Fleming wrote Bond. They were able to come up with two fairly easy answers, 1) no action taking place in outer space, and 2) have a supporting cast that will make Moore look as tough as possible. The producers had success with both answers. The action is all land and sea based and has a fairly simple but classic revenge theme. Of all available actors, they cast Topol as a former smuggler who teams up with Bond. Next to Chaim Topol, Roger Moore looks like the bad ass that is ready to kill the bad guys and seduce women.
For Your Eyes Only has all the elements that Bond films need to make it a worthy installment in the franchise. The villainous villains, exotic locales; cool gadgets, crazy action stunts, and beautiful Bond Girls add up to make an exciting film, but it still has the proper level of comedy that the Roger Moore Bond films are known for. Did I mention Topol is a former smuggler? Tradition!
- Villainous Villains: In order to make Moore seem young and heroic, a physically weaker but intellectual main villain was needed. Julian Glover playing Aristotle Kristatos fit the role perfectly. He plays a smuggler, but he comes across as an academic, just ask former Bond Sean Connery in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade with Glover as the American businessman Donovan who works with the Nazis. If you are a fan of the Last Crusade, you will recognize Stefan Kalipha playing the hitman Hector Gonazlaes. Locque (Michael Gothard) is an enforcer in the Brussels underworld that is working for Kristatos and attempts to kill Bond. Surprisingly, he fails and ends up going over a cliff when Bond mercilessly kicks his car over the edge. Game of Thrones fans can be on the lookout for Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) as the henchman Claus. In the “is he a villain or is he not a villain” category, General Gogol (Walter Gotell) returns as the head of the KGB. General Gogol has been in six Bond films, but in For Your Eyes Only he is more than the usual competitive adversary, so the answer is he is a villain.
- Goodbye Blofeld: The opening action sequence features a ceremonial and literal dumping of the historic Bond villain Blofeld. Due to the contractual rift between the EON producers and Kevin McClory’s alternate Bond series, SPECTRE and Blofeld could not be used by EON. However, they were able to use an exact look alike with no name that Bond drops into a smoke stack, but not before the not Blofeld offers the worst bribe in the history of bribes, “I’ll buy you a delicatessen in stainless steel!”
- Exotic Locales: For Your Eyes Only focuses Mediterranean smugglers and therefore many Mediterranean countries. From car chases in Spain, to scaling rock walls in Greece, and warehouse shootouts in Albania, Bond doesn’t stop and doesn’t forget his passport. Some of the more exciting adventure takes place in Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy, home of the 1956 Winter Olympics. Bond sees action at the ski jump, bobsled, downhill skiing, biathlon, ice skating, and hockey venues, not to mention in the town itself. Another staple of the Bond series is the incredible underwater footage of a shipwreck and underwater ruins. While it is beautiful, the film claims to have Bond diving below 500 feet, but it is hard to believe that is so light that deep, and all you need to wear is a yellow raincoat.
- Cool Gadgets: Every time the Bond films are supposed to come closer to reality, they minimize Q and For Your Eyes Only is no different. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t any cool gadgets, they just are not as out of this world like in Moonraker. The Lotus Esprit returns as the car of choice for Bond, but when a thug attempts to break in, the high tech security system, in what can only be seen as saying that Bond doesn’t need the high tech car, explodes. Bond then is forced to escape in an embarrassingly small and underpowered Citroën. When Bond visits Q Branch, we see a trick arm cast, a killer umbrella, and the piece de resistance, the identigraph. This magic device can take a few facial characteristics and search various law enforcement databases to identify a suspect and print in out on paper with the alternating green and white lines.
- Crazy Action Stunts: When you take away some of the outlandish gadgets, there better by stunts, crazy action stunts, and For Your Eyes Only does not disappoint. From the opening scene with the not Blofeld, there is a helicopter being flown by remote control in and out of buildings with Bond climbing on the outside to eventually take control and dump the wheelchair bound not Blofeld into the smoke stack. When Bond is forced to drive the Citroën, he is able to maneuver it off-road down the side of a mountain while being chased. When Bond is visiting the Olympic sites, he chooses to ski through the downhill, ski jump, bobsled track and biathlon course during actual competitions. In case you didn’t know, the biathlon involves a shooting competition, which provides a good excuse for henchman to carry guns. During the warehouse shootout, Topol uses pistachios to help foil the bad guys. Pistachios have never features so much in action stunts as in For Your Eyes Only.
- Beautiful Bond Girls: Melina Haverlock (Carol Bouquet) is the strong willed Bond girl that is look to avenge her parents’ death with or without Bond’s help. He, of course is willing to help, and luckily for Bond, she can help him with her expertise with the crossbow. Bouquet is known for her piercing eyes, which is convenient in a movie titled For Your Eyes Only. Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson) is the ice skating prodigy being sponsored by Kristatos, and luckily for the film, Johnson was an actual competitive skater before becoming an actor. Bibi has a crush on pretty much every man she meets, which make for an awkward and creepy scenes with Bond, who thankfully does not accept her advances. Bond does accept the advances of Countess Lisl von Schalf. The Countess was played by Cassandra Harris, whom you might recognize as the late wife of future James Bond Pierce Brosnan. Like many of the women who have been with Bond, the Countess comes to an early end, going out like I hope to one day, being chased down and run over on the beach by a dune buggy.
One final special recognition to a special Bond girl. Tula, aka Caroline Cossey, became the first transsexual Bond girl. It wasn’t until after the film’s release that is was revealed that Tula was born a man.