007, 1960's, Akiko Wakabayashi, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Donald Pleasence, James Bond, Karin Dor, Lewis Gilbert, Lois Maxwell, Mie Hama, Sean Connery, Spy, Teru Shimada, Tetsurō Tamba, You Only Live Twice
You Only Live Twice
- Sean Connery as James Bond
- Tetsurō Tamba as Tiger Tanaka
- Akiko Wakabayashi as Aki
- Mie Hama as Kissy Suzuki
- Donald Pleasence as Blofeld
- Teru Shimada as Mr Osato
- Karin Dor as Helga Brandt
- Bernard Lee as M
- Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny
- Desmond Llewelyn as Q
The fifth film in the James Bond canon, You Only Live Twice is also one of the most well-known. With the iconic villain of Blofeld, stunning locations and action, it is a great addition to the franchise. Some of it may become a little ridiculous but overall You Only Live Twice is a strong, entertaining and memorable spy movie.
In the opening scenes, James Bond fakes his death while in Hong Kong so that his enemies are less suspecting. After a mock funeral at sea, Bond is informed of his next mission. The mission in question centres around American and Soviet spacecrafts that have disappeared in orbit under mysterious circumstances. With each nation blaming the other and tensions mounting, M dispatches Bond to Tokyo to find the cause of this potentially fatal situation. 007 soon uncovers that SPECTRE is behind this, with the nefarious head Blofeld at the heart of it. He plans to instigate a war between the countries and wreak havoc in the process, all from the security of his lair which is situated under a dormant volcano. Helped by the charming head of Japanese Secret Service Tiger Tanaka, female agent Aki and eventually a student of Tanaka’s Kissy, Bond dives into the sinister plan and hopes to stop nations coming to the brink of war.
You Only Live Twice features some of the best set design in the Bond movies. Under the skilful eye of Ken Adam, the volcano lair that houses Blofeld is amazing to look at and ingenious in its execution, with it still holding up even in today’s age of blockbusters. The same can be said about the beautiful Japanese locations, that paint a thrilling and adventurous picture of the Orient as Bond comes up against his many enemies amongst the blazing sun, mountains and rivers. Lewis Gilbert directs with finesse and makes the film memorable all round with its cocktail of action, scenery and intrigue. The final attack on the volcano lair is exciting and generates thrills and explosions a plenty. It’s also great to finally see Blofeld in person. In other films, he was just a voice, a pair of hands and a purring Persian cat. But in You Only Live Twice, we get a look at the evil mastermind for the very first time and it immediately becomes an iconic scene. Where You Only Live Twice stumbles is in the moments when it falls into the realms of ridiculousness. The main example is Bond being made to look Japanese as part of his cover. The whole idea is needless and doesn’t do anything for the plot as well as being supremely unconvincing. John Barry contributes one of his best scores to the series with a lush and romantic sound featuring prominently as well some suspenseful pieces of composition. Nancy Sinatra’s haunting title song perfectly compliments the beautiful title sequence of Maurice Binder, which incorporates spinning parasols, melancholy geishas and lava flowing.
Despite being disillusioned with the role at the time of filming, Sean Connery is still charming, virile and convincing as James Bond on yet another mission to stop worldwide war. Tetsurō Tamba is charismatic as Tiger Tanaka, Bond’s valuable ally in Japan. The scenes between Connery and Tamba are great as we see that both men are very similar in that they are there to do a dangerous job, but are not above refusing the advances of beautiful women. As the two Bond girls, Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama are beautiful and charming, even though neither is given much in the way of character development. Despite this, both girls are good as willing agents aiding Bond on his mission. Donald Pleasence is creepy and effective as the mastermind Blofeld, his scarred face and Persian cat becoming staples of evil and leading to many imitators. Teru Shimada and Karin Dor are used well enough as enemy agents, scared to fail their menacing boss for fear of a painful death. The MI6 regulars( Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyn) are all fine, with Llewelyn especially humorous as Q.
Despite the odd trip into ridiculous and needless strands that don’t make sense, You Only Live Twice is another exciting yarn in the James Bond universe.