The 007 Series: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Synopsis:

When a British sea ship carrying a top secret encryption device is sunk, agent James Bond (Roger Moore, The Sea Wolves) is sent to Greece to investigate. Bond has to find the device before the Soviets get their hands on it.

Reaction & Thoughts:

After out-of-this-world shenanigans, Bond “comes back to Earth.” Moonraker (1979) had been heavily criticized for its excesses and For Your Eyes Only was a conscious attempt to return the franchise to the minimalist days of Dr. No (1962) and From Russia with Love (1963); no other Bond has divided fans more. When it first came out, I remember the big arguments regarding the pros/cons of dialing back the series. Personally, I thought For Your Eyes Only was one of the strongest films in the series and this latest re-watch confirmed my initial reaction — it’s my favorite Moore/Bond film.

There are so many things I like about the movie. Firstly, there’s a nice sense of continuity. The pre-title sequence not only puts an end to an era, but also closes the last chapter on Bond’s deadliest nemesis, SPECTER’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld.

Although there is plenty of humor, this entry, for the most part, sports a decidedly serious tone. The screenplay, by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson, emphasizes Bond’s darker side. For example, Moore, who always tried to stay away from Sean Connery’s mean-spirited characterization, kills a man in cold blood, a moment of cruel revenge. You won’t see Moore act like that in any other Bond movie.

All that eye-catching, crazy-super-cool stuff from the previous films is nowhere to be found here. The villains are also surprisingly “human.” There is nothing here that suggests a desire for global domination — Bond is fighting old-fashioned greed. No henchmen with weird powers. No big lairs either — Peter Lamont’s sets are great, particularly a recreation of a monastery at Pinewood Studios, but they never look overdone. Alan Hume’s (Return of the Jedi) camera work is pretty straightforward too.

The supporting cast is good too. Carole Bouquet (That Obscure Object of Desire) is as tough as it gets. Topol (Fiddler on the Roof) plays the most interesting character in the film — a morally dubious man who saves the day. With Lynn-Holly Johnson (Ice Castles), Julian Glover (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), and Jill Bennett (The Nanny). Fans of HBO’s Game of Thrones will enjoy seeing Charles Dance as one of the main baddies.

Finally, “For Your Eyes Only” is probably my all-time favorite Bond song. It was written by Bill Conti (music) and Michael Leeson (lyrics), and sung by Sheena Easton. Conti’s music has dated a bit, but if you like the sounds of the ’80s you’ll love it. Bex, from Film Music Central, does a great job explaining the story behind the famous song.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

For Your Eyes Only marked John Glen’s directorial debut. He had worked as editor and second unit director in other Bond films. There is much to enjoy in For Your Eyes Only  the beautiful locales, the fabulous supporting cast, etc. The action sequences are excellent and yet there isn’t a single colossal action set-piece — it’s just solid fun from beginning to end. For Your Eyes Only is probably the Bond film that best balances the down-to-earth early sixties with the seventies glitz. It’s definitely worth watching. Color, 127 minutes, Rated PG.

James Bond will return
in
Octopussy (1983)

Advertisements

10 responses to “The 007 Series: For Your Eyes Only (1981)

  1. You are so right about this being a movie that is down to earth in more ways than one. I like the more serious tone to this one. It’s a very strong Bond movie that as you said feels human.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I agree it is the best Moore-Bond movie even with the ‘acting’ of Lynn-Holly. I worked with her on Ice Castles. Such a sweet girl. Such a good ice skater. Such a wooden actress.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Did you really meet Johnson? Wow! That’s cool. She was a childhood favorite. My generation loved Ice Castles & Watcher in the Woods. She was hot for a while, but you are right, you can’t coast on giddiness alone and her limitations as an actor became too obvious. A bit like Brooke Shields, whose charm didn’t last long. Anyhow, I’m glad to know that Johnson is as sweet as she appears to be.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The scene with Loque certainly makes an impact. Moore apparently had to be talked into it. But he did have his cruel moments before whether roughing up Maud Adams, aiming up on a man’s private ‘piece’ or asking where’s Feckish. I think The Spy Who Loved Me from beginning to end is a delight and Moonraker does sport a terribly witty villain but there’s no denying For Your Eyes Only holds up tremendously well to modern eyes. I am a fan of it. Who doesn’t love Topol and how about that Rick Sylvester stunt?!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I forgot about the Maud Adams scene. You are right, Moore didn’t like violence and cruelty. I think that’s why his Bond movies are more family-friendly. Rick Sylvester’s stunts in The Spy Who Loved Me & For Your Eyes Only are unforgettable!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I got here through Cindy’s blog, Eric. I should check out your blog more often, always nice to see a fellow Bond fan. For Your Eyes Only is one of my guilty pleasures, I have a soft spot for Moore and his whimsical style and the locations are simply gorgeous here. I like Carole Bouquet as the enigmatic and classy Bond girl, too.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s