Year Released: 1981
Directed by: John Glen
Starring: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet, Julian Glover, Topol, Lyn-Holly Johnson
(PG, 127 min.)
Genre: Action and Adventure, Mystery and Suspense
“The Chinese have a saying: Before you set out on revenge, you first dig two graves.” James Bond
Each actor has put his own stamp on Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Roger Moore, my runner up best Bond, was 46 when he first played Bond in Live and Let Die. He knew that youthful vigor would not be his selling point and opted for charm, a cool head, and a raised eyebrow that was almost as lethal as a bullet.
His 1981 For Your Eyes Only is one of his best outings as 007. It marked a departure from the over the top films that had preceded it.
It was time to freshen the James Bond franchise by returning to the basics. Gone would be the incredible gadgets, visual effects, and megalomaniacs that had taken Bond from the plausible to the unbelievable. And back were the elements that had made 007 popular in the first place: a resourceful hero who relied on his wits and skills; imaginative, jaw-dropping action sequences performed by the best stuntmen in the world; and the cloak and dagger missions that were found in Ian Fleming’s source novels. –James Bond, Ultimate Edition
One of those megalomaniacs, Blofeld, is dispatched with Bond’s usual aplomb in the opening sequence with 007 trapped in a remote controlled helicopter on his way to dusty death. Of course, it is Blofeld who meets his all too well deserved demise.
The other set pieces are among the best, from the warm sparkling waters off the Greek Islands to the cold, snow covered mountains of Italy. One of the best is a ski motorcycle chase with Bond on skies somehow besting his motorized chasers at every turn. We even have a bit of a turn as he takes to a bobsled course to out maneuver the villains on his tail.
It’s all about a missile command system, ATAP, for Automatic, Targeting Attack Communicator that is submerged in the Ionian Sea. The English must retrieve it before it gets into the wrong hands, as the transmitter could order Polaris ballistic missile attacks.
Helping or distracting Bond along with way is Melina Havelock (a luminous Carole Bouquet) out to avenge the brutal death of her parents, who were gunned down on their ship right before her eyes. She’s a wiz with a cross bow, but her wheels leave something to be desired.
Unfortunately, Bond’s car Lotus Esprit has exploded, so he’s forced to make a quick getaway from a Spanish villa in her florescent yellow Citroen. This certainly isn’t his usual souped up Aston Martin with its turbo jets, defensive oil patches, and bulletproof armor.
“I’m afraid we’re being out-horse powered,” Bond quips. But this is just the return to basics the franchise desired. It is his driving skill and nothing else that allows the Bond to escape capture, even if there is hardly anything left of the diminutive French auto by the time it limps back to his hotel.
Another breath of fresh air is Bond’s deft handling of Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson) the Olympic ice skater being sponsored by a Greek magnate Aristotle Kristatos, a possible ally or adversary. Bibi is instantly smitten with Bond and not at all subtle in her attempts at seduction. Bond, for once, says no. "Get your clothes on and I’ll buy you an ice cream,” he tells her.
The final climax is atop a 15th century abandoned mountain top monastery. The filming is beautiful, from Bond’s climb up the sheer rock tower with a saboteur atop trying to cut his ropes, to the hand to hand combat on peak itself. One would never know the drama behind the scenes.
Despite Eon Production having paid the Orthodox Church for permission to shoot the film’s climxs the 15th century monastery of Hagla Triada, the local monks staged a demonstration, including hanging washing over their building to disrupt the shoot. –James Bond, Ultimate Edition
Oh, the wonders of modern cinema. Not a smidgeon of monkish underwear drying in the breeze made it to film.
With the latest Bond vehicles taking themselves oh so very seriously – a pinched faced 007 spending most of his time examining his own angst – Roger’s Moore’s self deprecating charm and humor are an even greater delight. His passing is that of a gentleman and an era that is sorely missed.
Travel back in time and revisit both.
Just to confirm that the actor himself was every bit as charming as the sophisticated spy he played, here is a true story from a journalist who met Moore when he was a wee lad, just a few years after For Your Eyes Only was released.
As a seven-year-old in about 1983, in the days before First Class Lounges at airports, I was with my grandad in Nice Airport and saw Roger Moore sitting at the departure gate, reading a paper. I told my granddad I'd just seen James Bond and asked if we could go over so I could get his autograph. My grandad had no idea who James Bond or Roger Moore were, so we walked over and he popped me in front of Roger Moore, with the words "my grandson says you're famous. Can you sign this?"
As charming as you'd expect, Roger asks my name and duly signs the back of my plane ticket, a fulsome note full of best wishes. I'm ecstatic, but as we head back to our seats, I glance down at the signature. It's hard to decipher it but it definitely doesn't say 'James Bond'. My grandad looks at it, half figures out it says 'Roger Moore' - I have absolutely no idea who that is, and my hearts sinks. I tell my grandad he's signed it wrong, that he's put someone else's name - so my grandad heads back to Roger Moore, holding the ticket which he's only just signed.
I remember staying by our seats and my grandad saying, "He says you've signed the wrong name. He says your name is James Bond." Roger Moore's face crinkled up with realisation and he beckoned me over. When I was by his knee, he leant over, looked from side to side, raised an eyebrow and in a hushed voice said to me, "I have to sign my name as 'Roger Moore' because otherwise...Blofeld might find out I was here." He asked me not to tell anyone that I'd just seen James Bond, and he thanked me for keeping his secret. I went back to our seats, my nerves absolutely jangling with delight. My grandad asked me if he'd signed 'James Bond.' No, I said. I'd got it wrong. I was working with James Bond now. –Mark Haynes
From The Gentleman's Journal
‘I take a ridiculous pleasure in what I eat and drink.’
It is in Casino Royale that we are introduced to James Bond’s refined drinking style. This is a man who knows what he wants, a man who has a habit of taking a lot of trouble over details.
Few stories worth reading have been written that did not contain a drink of some sort and Ian Fleming’s novels read like an extended lecture on the proper management of a drinking habit. Any evaluation of Bond would indicate serious alcohol and substance addiction – his average daily consumption of alcohol at one point is in the region of half a bottle of spirits. Not quite what you want from your top secret agent, but not to worry – as Bond reflects in Thunderball: ‘I can’t do my work on carrot juice… life’s too short’.
Although most famous for his vodka martinis, whilst on duty Bond consumes a wide variety of drinks, shaken or stirred. From champagne to beer, he has a propensity to down just about anything and everything. However, ever the gentleman, Bond always drinks to suit the occasion and location.
In for Your Eyes Only, while waiting in the Excelsior Bar in Rome, Bond orders an aperitif, the Negroni, specifying Gordon’s gin. When in Rome…
1 measure Gordon’s gin
1 measure Campari
1 measure Italian vermouth
Garnish with an orange half-wheel.
Serve in an Old Fashioned glass.