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Cinemalphabet: Y is for You Only Live Twice (1967)

December 25, 2010

You Only Live Twice is a Bond film that oddly enough I’ve only seen once. This incarnation of Bond is played by Connery, who is arguably the only true Bond for many fans of the long running spy franchise. While I myself do not share this opinion, I understand the pathology. That said, I’m not sure either diehard Connery fans would claim this is his or the franchise’s better outings.

The title seems especially apt since every thing about the film feels second rate. Second rate plot – Bond joins forces with ‘the other’ in order to protect their mutual interests. The stirring theme – sung by Nancy Sinatra – feels too much like they arranged the song for Bassey, but somehow couldn’t get her to record it. Much more so than the often derided brassy Lulu sung theme, “The Man with the Golden Gun”. Even the villain seems like a retread and while I generally like Donald Pleasance, he wasn’t doing anything interesting (in my opinion) as Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, and was the third actor in the role, though the first time Blofeld’s face was shown. I didn’t care for the depiction of disability as the catalyst for evildoing nor the problematic notion that it’s “normal” for people to be frightened by folks with physical disabilities. Granted, Blofeld’s framing is not the total film, but 43 years has not been kind to the films casual racism, Orentialism or cheesy action sequences.

Critics really dig this film and it was a great success at the box office, however, Connery’s disillusion with the role that made him famous is palatable. It was hard to ignore his boredom with the role and sometimes it only reiterated the fatuousness of the film’s more spectacular action sequences. There is not much worse than an actor who is damn tired of playing a role. It nearly drags the entire film into the ground, for me anyway.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. s.e. smith permalink
    December 25, 2010 10:39 am

    This is perhaps the most blatantly Orientalist of the Bond films, as you point out. In fact, I often use it for Orientalism 101 because it is just so unabashedly, cheesily, shamelessly so.

    What I don’t get is, as you say, why critics are so in love with this Bond. -isms aside,, it’s just not very…good.

  2. arcane_scholar permalink
    December 26, 2010 11:19 am

    I have a really hard time with all the Bond films. They are racist, sexist, and boring to a point of incomprehension. I tried to watch them all a few months back and just couldn’t stomach it.

  3. hsofia permalink
    December 27, 2010 3:24 pm

    @arcane_scholar – You tried to watch all of the Bond films a few months ago? Whoa. How many did you make it through? (I have only seen 8 – 5 of them from the last 20 years.)

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