A few things best to forget about You Only Live Twice

You Only LIve Twice poster

You Only LIve Twice poster

The other night over at the MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. SPIES AND DETECTIVES FACEBOOK PAGE, a conversation broke out about implausibilities of various James Bond movies. You Only Live Twice came up quite a bit.

So, it got us to thinking about things that are best to forget or overlook about the 1967 James Bond film directed by Lewis Gilbert. For the purposes of this post, we won’t even go into things chewed over the years, such as Bond trying to impersonate a Japanese.

“Arrange usual reception, please.” In You Only Live Twice, Bond (Sean Connery) and Aki (Akiko Wakabayashi) are being followed and shot at by SPECTRE thugs.

No problem (as future 007 sacrificial lamb Vijay might say). Aki requests Japanese Secret Service chief Tanaka to, “Arrange usual reception, please.” A helicopter swoops down, extends a magnet, snares the thugs’ car, whisks it out over Tokyo Bay and drops it.

A few things (as noted in the Facebook conversation): Should Tanaka have maybe captured the thugs and interrogated them? And since this is the “usual reception,” how many times a year does the Japanese secret service dump cars full of thugs into the bay? It’s probably best not to think about any of this, or else you’ll be distracted by the Kobe docks chase that follows.

SPECTRE not exactly being inconspicuous: The criminal organization kills an American tourist because she happened to take a photo of the ship Ning Po (which, is connected to SPECTRE). As Bond remarks, the photo shows “a ship and a strip of land, it could be anywhere.” In effect, SPECTRE has announced its presence. Later, Bond flies over the volcanoes in Little Nelly. SPECTRE sends out four helicopters to try to shoot Bond down, confirming its presence in the area.

Of course, it’s best to forget all that because we wouldn’t have the helicopter battle that follows.

Bond’s magical ninja shirt: Bond and Kissy investigate a cave. But there’s poisonous gas, so they dive overboard and swim away. Bond is wearing a shirt and a white undershirt (see the 1:25:51 mark).

Much later, when he and Kissy have reached the top of volcano (and the metal roof that’s supposed to look like water), Bond has his gray ninja shirt on underneath (1:29:41 mark). It’s sort of like the DC Comics superhero Green Lantern who creates his costume using his power ring.

But it’s best to forget all that because the climax of the movie will be coming up shortly.

The film’s weird timeline: When Bond and Kissy reach the top of the volcano, it’s still daylight. The sun must have set pretty quickly because it’s night when they get to the metal door.

Meanwhile, the trek of Bond and Kissy up the mountain was depicted as long and arduous. The use of dissolves implies it took a long time. Some the shots show the walking isn’t easy. Also Bond said there were “miles” of cave tunnel leading to the top of the volcano.

Yet, Bond when sends Kissy “to get Tanaka,” she goes back down the mountain, swims across a bay, dodges bullets from a SPECTRE helicopter and brings Tanaka and his ninjas all in darkness. Maybe Bond misjudged the distance. Anyway, something else to ignore or else you’ll miss the big ninja raid on SPECTRE HQs.

7 Responses

  1. Hi. Love your blog.

    The other thing about YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE and the car/magnet/dropping scene is that they watch the process on their tv monitor in Aki’s car. What aircraft was filming the coverage that they were watching? Always drives me nuts.

    Take care.

    Jeff Smith in Michigan.


  2. At least some of that can be laid at the doorstep of the Bond neophyte director and his personal editor, who brought in a 3 hour cut of the movie that audiences hated. Second-unit director and renowned Bond editor Peter Hunt cut it down and tightened it up as best he could, but no matter how good an editor you are, you’re constrained by the limitations of the source material.

  3. I’m surprised that no one wrote a similar article about “GOLDFINGER”.

  4. Not to mention the camera in outer space that’s monitor the space ships progress…….. don’t get me started again.

  5. And one must not forget the amazing disguise that Bond is given as a Japanese fisherman. The tiny eye flaps and Moe Howard haircut completely makes him totally unrecognizable and allows him to fit into the village. Just like disguising Yao Ming as a horse jockey at Churchill Downs.

  6. Remember it’s not real it’s a movie. So you have to suspend logic.

  7. Curious that Sean Connery derided YOLT at the time … making Bond a superman. Yet in Never Say Never Again he plays Bond as, his usual superman. YOLT ages well as spectacle, as great fun, forget the plot holes. For ‘serious’ Bond OHMSS is fine, but YOLT has charm, a top foil in Tiger Tanaka, beautiful cinematography, and makes Japan Fleming’s Japan, bigger than life. If you’ve read the novel, a chapter is entitled ‘One Golden Day’ and that sums up the feel of this silly, endearing film…. plus the truly iconic score … best in ama girl scene and the wedding. My favorite Bond rendition is during the garden chase and stabbing and drive to Osato HQ. Plus, for ‘serious’ comment, the ubiquitous cameras foreshadows today’s many eyes in the sky; isn’t it strange that London is the most surveillance-camera mad city in the world?

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 )

Facebook photo

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

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: