2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen. To celebrate, SFX's Nick Setchfield revisits each and every 007 adventure in a week by week countdown to Skyfall ...
MISSION 12: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (1981)
FLOWERS FOR TRACY For Your Eyes Only immediately aims to erase the lingering smirk of Moonraker . Its mission to humanise Bond is established from the opening frames of the pre-titles, which place him by the grave of his late wife, Tracy. It’s hard to say what’s more jolting about this sight: Roger Moore in uncharacteristically sombre, reflective mood, the Betjemanesque location of the English churchyard (a reminder of how rarely we see Bond on home shores, and never in such an Avengers -friendly heritage setting) or the explicit continuity with 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service . An impressive helicopter sequence follows, thrusting Bond into the ugly heartland of industrial London. This feels like jarringly new territory too: spiritually, the pipes and chimneystacks of the abandoned Beckton gasworks surely belong to the relentlessly urban milieu of The Sweeney or The Professionals (this is certainly the only Bond movie to flaunt a deeply un-Fleming credit for “North Thames Gas Board”). The villain of this sequence is ultimately revealed as a bald, cat-stroking maniac in a wheelchair – a cheeky nod to Blofeld, a former cornerstone of the franchise now ensnared in an ongoing legal battle with rival filmmaker Kevin McClory. We’re still waiting for an explanation of his baffling declaration “I’ll buy you a delicatessen – in stainless steel!”
ENTER JOHN GLEN Eyes is the first 007 adventure by John Glen, the director who would come to define James Bond for the ‘80s with a decade-long, five-film sequence that still stands as the longest unbroken run of any helmer. As with most Broccoli-anointed talent he was promoted from within – he had served as action unit director on a number of previous Bonds, supervising the bobsleigh sequence in OHMSS and capturing the heart-stopping ski leap in The Spy Who Loved Me . Glen was a fan of the Fleming novels and in synch with the producers’ desire to root the series in a muscular sense of reality. There’s rust in the Bond universe now, from the gasworks smokestacks of the pre-titles sequence to the ocean-stained hulk of the St Georges, and this new sense of reality extends to the shocking smears of blood we glimpse on the corpses of the Havelocks, brutally slain on the deck of their ship. Glen has a journeyman rep but there are some striking visuals here (a claw-handed diving suit looks alien and monstrous in one of the film’s tensest scenes) and he also proves to have a fine eye for locations, from the shimmering Ionian to the rugged peaks of Greece. If Eyes lacks the velvet grandeur of classic Bond it does at least succeed as photogenic travel porn. Elsewhere, Glen’s touch is less sure. An inescapable hint of ‘80s wine bar haunts the film’s attempts at romantic sophistication while a comedy coda with a marigolds-clad Margaret Thatcher and sprout-stealing Denis Thatcher shamelessly plays to the cheap seats, distinctly at odds with the film’s quest to purge the kitschier elements of big screen Bond.
MOUNTAIN MAN Bond’s plummet from the edge of Kristatos’ mountaintop lair proves the film’s most memorable piece of stuntwork. For once the absence of music underscores the drama – all we hear is the ceaseless howl of the wind and the desperate chink of gunbarrel on grappling hooks as Bond fights to rescale the precipice. The fall from the rockface was enacted for real, with in-house daredevil Rick Sylvester (who had performed Spy ’s ski-jump) doubling for a vertigo-cursed Roger Moore who was mainlining valium and warm beer simply to perform on the mountain, let alone plunge from it. While Sylvester had agreed to the potentially fatal stunt he soon realised he had no real idea how to accomplish it. In a panic he sought out veteran FX man Derek Meddings, who knocked up a special rig and a landing trough with sandbags. When the day came to shoot the dizzying fall, a superstitious Sylvester did his best to avoid the unbeatable aerial view of the local cemetery…
TRIV AND LET DIE
Main villain Julian Glover was once considered for the role of Bond himself.
The monks of the Meteora monastery attempted to sabotage the location shoot. The filmmakers built their own monastery on a neighbouring rock.
Blondie had a stab at the title song. You can hear it here .
JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN OCTOPUSSY