For Your Eyes Only’s 30th anniversary: 007 returns to earth

The James Bond film series ended the 1970s with one of its most extravagent entries, Moonraker, where James Bond went into outer space. For the first Bond film of a new decade, producer Albert R. Broccoli opted to bring the gentleman agent back down to earth in For Your Eyes Only.

Moonraker hadn’t used much of Ian Fleming. For Your Eyes Only would tap the plots of two Fleming short stories, For Your Eyes Only and Risico. Both had been published in the same 1960 collection of short stories by Fleming. Broccoli brought back screenwriter Richard Maibaum, who hadn’t been involved with Moonraker, to write the new movie. Broccoli collaborated with Broccoli’s stepson Michael G. Wilson on the script.

The pair invented a “McGuffin” to marry the two short story plots. A British submarine sinks equipped with a signaling device that, if it falls into the wrong hands, could be used to order U.K. submarines to attack U.K. cities. Naturally, KGB spymaster General Gogol covets the device and contacts “our usual friend in Greece” to secure it. As a result, For Your Eyes Only would have the strongest Cold War feel in the series since 1963’s From Russia With Love.

While Maibaum was back, other Bond crew veterans were not. John Barry didn’t score the film and Broccoli hired Bill Conti instead. The producer, instead of hiring a previous 007 film director, promoted second unit director/film editor John Glen. Ken Adam bid adieu to the series with Moonraker, so Broccoli promoted Peter Lamont as production designer.

With all the crew changes, though, Broccoli ended up bringing back Roger Moore to play Bond. By this time, Moore’s original Bond contract had expired and there were questions whether the actor would return for a fifth film. The film’s opening appears to have been written and shot to introduce a new Bond. 007 goes to visit the grave of his late wife Tracy from On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. We don’t see Bond’s face until after he’s laid flowers atop the grave.

The film very much had a “back to basics” feel. Moore/Bond even throws a hat on the coatrack of Miss Moneypenny’s office, similar to Sean Connery in the early Bond movies. The MI6 cover name of Universal Exports was revived. The movie ended up being a blend of the familiar and new. Besides the crew changes, title designer Maurice Binder changed things up by having singer Sheena Easton actually appear in the main titles.

The one constant: For Your Eyes Only did well enough at the box office to ensure future Bond film adventures. Here’s the trailer that audiences saw in the summer of 1981:

8 Responses

  1. It was a great & excellent James Bond movie. I glad Roger Moore did that as 007. It A classic 007 movie.

  2. Absolutely the best Moore film, though LALD runs a close second, too bad most of his were “musical theatre” Bonds. I remember seeing this with my Father, a Bond book purist, and him remarking, “It’s about bloody time!” Ha…………

  3. Having thought about the Roger Moore Bond films for, oh, I’d say five minutes, I think I’d have to say that this was his best Bond film. The only real flaw I can think of is that Roger Moore is crossing over into that too old to play Bond territory. It’s not my FAVORITE Roger Moore Bond, but it’s definitely up there with Spy, Moonraker and Octopussy (a film that I only just recently started to really like).

  4. one of the best Moore Bonds. The Spy Who Loved Me is Sir Roger’s best, though essentially a remake of You Only Live Twice, Spy is actually a better Bond film. For Your Eyes Only is a great 007 flick. The only negatives – and there are a few – are the ludicrous “delicatessan in stainless steel” (pardon my spelling) line- this must have been some in-joke between Cubby and Maibaum and Wilson -hope they got a laugh out of it as it pretty much evades everyone else’s sense of humor! Also annoying is the “hat-trick” hockey scene which would have worked in any other Moore Bond, but seems misplaced in FYEO. You can’t have it both ways and Cubby and company misfired on that one. Not a BIG deal, but annoying nonetheless. The silly car chase also annoys a bit, but the fact that they went WAY under the usual gadget/cool car is refreshing in it’s own way. The Bibi Dahl nympho scene is pretty funny and it’s refreshing that Bond doesn’t nail the hot young skater. Can’t imagine how Sean, George, Timothy, Pierce or Daniel would have handled the situation, but it’s a nice comment on Roger’s age compared to many of his leading ladies. It’s like EON is saying “yeah we know he’s a bit too old for some of these women, so let’s make a blatant joke out of it”. Very clever and funny. I’m sure Sean would have nailed her! Just a joke! The Bond/Countess Lisl scenes are really nicely handled, and are up there with Moore’s best scenes in the series. He really seems genuine with Pierce’s late wife Cassandra Harris. It’s a shame she exits the film so soon. There is a real chemistry with the two of them. It makes for the best “sacrificial lamb” of any Moore Bond. The use of three Fleming setpieces – the title story, Risico, and the Live and Let Die keelhauling sequence – brings a real Bond feel to the entire proceedings, and Columbo is a great “Kerim Bey” type buddy. The entire film feels right and it’s a proud addition to the Bond canon. All in all, a top-notch 007 film.

  5. “The use of three Fleming setpieces – the title story, Risico, and the Live and Let Die keelhauling sequence …”

    You mean four. How about the mountain climbing business from Fleming’s own short story “Octopussy”?

  6. As with most of the others this is my favourite Moore Bond film. It has all the qualities of the classic Bond films and the story is thourghly entertaining and believable. In this film Moore really becomes an equal to Connery as a Bond, still different but equal.

  7. […] FROM 2011: For Your Eyes Only’s 30th anniversary: 007 returns to earth […]

  8. […] FROM 2011: For Your Eyes Only’s 30th anniversary: 007 returns to earth […]

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