The Tiger Tanaka Show

You Only Live Twice, the fifth “official” James Bond film, generates mixed reaction among 007 fans. It was the first Bond “official” 007 film to completely dump an Ian Fleming plot. Still, it has its moments and actor Tetsuro Tamba, who played Tiger Tanaka, head of Japan’s Secret Service (aided by Robert Rietty doing the voiceover work), provided some of the highlights.

Well, one of our friends, James McMahon, pointed us to Key Hunter, a Japanese TV series that featured Tamba as the leader of a team of spies. It was produced around the time of You Only Live Twice. It also evokes (based on the main titles) the U.S. television series Mission: Impossible. And, another friend, chimed in that visually, Key Hunter is similar to the original Hawaii Five-O series, featuring freeze-frame shots of the leads of the series.

We’ll let you be the judge:

UPDATE: Here’s a YouTube video with some stills from the 1964 movie The 7th Dawn, directed by Lewis Gilbert, photographed by Freddie Young and with main titles by Maurice Binder, who’d perform the same tasks on You Only Live Twice. Tamba was in that movie also.

Questions about You Only Live Twice

While watching You Only Live Twice for the umteenth time on TCM, we starting stockpiling a few nagging questions about the movie’s plot. Yes, it’s not intended to hold up to such examination but what the heck. For example:

1. Bond trains to be a ninja at Tiger Tanaka’s top-secret ninja training facility. Yet, not one but two SPECTRE assassins infiltrate the place. Is it that top secret?

2. What happened to the two Soviet cosmonauts and one American astronauts that Bond freed? Did they slip into the same limbo the reformed scientist did when he fell off the Disco Volante in Thunderball?

3. A number of others have posed this question, so we’ll repeat it here. Japanese agent Aki tells Tiger to arrange “the usual reception please.” A helicopter with a giant magnet hauls a car of thugs and drops it into Tokyo Bay. Usual? How often the Japanese Secret Service do this? Weekly? Monthly? Quarterly?

4. Did screenwriter Roald Dahl screw up when Henderson hands Bond a stirred Martini? Or was Bond merely being polite and not commenting that Henderson got it wrong?

5. Another one we’ll have to credit to others but…when did Siberia (where the Soviets launch their spaceships) develop palm trees?

6. Just what was in all those barrels labeled “Osato Chemicals” on the floor of Blofeld’s volcano hideout? At one point, Bond shoots a thug standing right by one of those barrels. What would have happened if Bond had missed and hit the barrel instead? Looks like workplace safety wasn’t one of Blofeld’s strong points.

7. Is it really a full-time job for one guy to open and close the crater? It looks like only one SPECTRE guy is entrusted with the task. Yet after Bond kills him, he figures out pretty quickly which lever to pull. Perhaps workplace efficiency wasn’t one of Blofeld’s strong points, either.

8. Earlier in the movie, Bond is flying in the “Little Nelly” mini-copter over the volcano hideout. Suddenly, he’s being attacked by four SPECTRE helicopters. Had SPECTRE just done nothing, wouldn’t have Bond just flown by, never the wiser?

9. Again a question posed by others, but what camera is in outer space beaming back all those live pictures back to SPECTRE?

10. It seems to take Bond and Kissy all day to climb up to the top of volcano containing Blofeld’s hideout. In fact, it’s past midnight when they finally get down to the crater (the U.S. spacecraft has launched and we’re told that was happening at midnight Japan time). Bond tells Kissy to get Tanaka. Despite a long swim (and avoiding a helicopter firing at her), she seems to get back a lot faster. So: did Bond and Kissy walk up *really* slowly in the first place? Or did Kissy somehow bend the time-space continum? Or did Peter Hunt and his editing crew either not notice this or were unable to do anything about this?

11. Was anyone even slightly fooled by Bond being disguised as a Japanese man?