For Your Eyes Only following The Spy Who Loved Me

wetnellywetnelly Nearby
in Bond Movies Posts: 38
When the titles reveal at the end of TSWLM, that James Bond Will Return in For Your Eyes Only it always makes me smile for two reasons.

The first is that we all know that it was not to be the case, thanks to the global influence of Star Wars, but secondly because FYEO ( though widely regarded as a better and more realistic entry in the series) is still a very different entity, had it been released, as planned, after TSWLM.

TSWLM had often been criticised by senior Bond historians as a remake of YOLT, (white sports car, foreign spy team ups, plot device involving craft which swallows Russian and US vehicles, provoking WW3, hidden bases in ancient geological places etc) so I know I’m not alone when recognising that EON revisited a successful formula when looking for a stronger audience response after the weaker TMWTGG, as well as the separation of Broccoli and Harry Saltzmann.

If the film and screenplay which was eventually released in 1981 is in fact the film they had in mind for 1979, I genuinely believe it would have divided audiences for its approach. I shall try and explain why:

I think that after TSWLM, Cubby and the Eon team probably realised they had been outlandish enough given the magnificence of the ski jump parachute, underwater lair, submarine car, 7 ft henchman that bites a shark, near apocalyptic events, and globe trotting to beautiful sunny exotic cities and islands.

All of this was filmed in the Uber elite locations in the mid 70’s when the real world UK cinema audience lived in between strikes, power cuts and a 3 day week in Britain. EON totally delivered and the audience got would get exactly what they wanted.

Having surveyed the political landscape and world events I don’t think it’s an accident that, after all of that fantastical escapism, the perfect follow up was a more grounded, realistic adventure with a fine balance of stunts and a plot the audience could more relate to, with NATO and the Cold War.
It would have made perfect sense too, if you look at look at how FYEO is set up, and how the primary actions scenes involve a helicopter, a ski scene, a car chase, underwater scenes and a great mountain scaling finale, you see that everything is in place from the success they had on TSWLM.

The plot is fairly simplistic too, with a near perfect follow on military plot device, helps echo the military spy presence of the TSWLM, as well as a chance to let Roger jump back into the Lotus, and keep their demand high in the public conscious, as well as to cheer up the vast majority who had literally no chance of ever seeing sunny, exotic European scenery, except on the big screen in that decade.

Nothing complicated; a tested formula, and you imagine Cubby, Roger and co would have been ready to roll in early 1978, having enjoyed a bumper Xmas in ‘77 on the back of TSWLM and looking forward to it once the cast was agreed.

I would love to know from anyone on hear if FYEO was ever meant to look or feel any different from the final cut. It’s a Fleming feeling story from start to finish, and that scene where Roger kicks Locque’s car off the cliff is one of THE best in the entire 25 films to date.

I doubt that when they inserted that frame into the end titles of TSWLM against the lush cinematography of HMS Fearless steaming round the Mediterranean, nobody could have predicted the sea change that was incoming, from a galaxy, far, far away......

At the same time as TSWLM was released in July 77 in the Uk, the sci fi leviathan made just up the road, was already finding its audience in the US in its millions; forcing the entire cinematic universe into a gigantic rethink.

The mess that is Moonraker is possibly the ultimate example of a knee jerk reaction forced by the men in charge of the cheque books and studios back then.

You can see imagine the emergency like meetings which took place that over that Christmas; let alone what they were taking when brainstorming:

Bond in Outer Space, Space shuttles shooting out the jungle, space stations, Concorde, more parachute pre title stunts, a space battle, Jaws in space, Jaws jumping out of a plane, Jaws jumping over a cable car, Jaws physically battling Roger and trying to make Roger believable, whilst leaping about with a ray gun, a new OddJob like character, a Gondola speed boat hovercraft, more speed boats, and the Close Encounters & Magnificent Seven themes for comedy effect....the proverbial throwing of the kitchen sink and jumping the shark all delivered in 2 hours, all of which ended up in the final cut!

Whatever the suggestion, the outcome was clear; make sure they succeed in taking a market share from Lucasfilm’s juggernaut.

It’s no wonder that what was released is one the most critically derided films in the minds of the fans.

There is in my opinion very few watchable scenes and characters you can believe in; and the only scene which genuinely stands up with any degree of tension is the release of Corrine from her employer.

I think the real tragedy is that had they clearly had the basis of FYEO already underway, someone should have stood up to the studio execs and then taken the time to flesh out and deliver a well thought out and developed Moonraker screenplay which at the very least would have offered a better resistance (pardon the pun) against The Empire Strikes Back, widely regarded as the best sequel in cinematic history alongside the Godfather, part II.

Who knows what Moonraker could have been but one things for sure; no action figure and vehicles from MR or FYEO would ever give myself and my brother the decade of fun we enjoyed from Star Wars, which begs the question why even attempt it if you already have a loyal fan base?

I love FYEO for it is everything that MR isn’t, and can just about forgive the weird dialogue in the PTS, but you can’t help and wonder why they couldn’t wait and do a better job with Moonraker.

Comments

  • Posts: 219
    Actually, For Your Eyes Only, as the project was conceived in early 1978, was not that different from what Moonraker ultimately was and already involved space shuttles known as the Enterprise fleet. Tom Mankiewicz was the first screenwriter to work on the project, and it was from his second treatment that the film changed its title from FYEO to MR.

    Here's what Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury say about it in Some Kind of Hero:
    The story was partially set in the Himalayas and featured a bow-and-arrow wielding heroine called ‘The Archer’. Mankiewicz remembered scenes set at the Taj Mahal and Bombay. Cartlidge remembered scouting locations in Nepal and the Kashmir region looking for a monastery for the villain’s lair and snow for a ski sequence.

    It's easy to imagine that this archer character would have been none other than the Havelocks' daughter, Judy or Melina, depending on the first name they would have gave her.

    If you really like FYEO as it is, then I suppose you have to be thankful that it didn't directly follow TSWLM as it would have been a Star Wars-inspired movie.
  • Posts: 1,050
    I don't know the answer to your question about FYEO compared to the final cut. I also hear what you're saying about MR, and I'm sure others here have the backstory on MR production, which I don't. I'll just say I can't not like MR! Yes it's got some rather glaring flaws, and one could say cheesy in spots. But it's part of my Bond viewing history as a young man, I find it a fun ride, Roger Moore looked good and acquitted himself well, it moves along at a fairly good pace, with women I find hot, and they had the balls to go big with a global threat staged in space--I give extra marks for global scale. I also think Drax is a good villain. That said, given the 3 main films you mention, I rank TSWLM highest.
  • Posts: 1,328
    Enterprise fleet seems a little cute considering it takes the name of the most famous starship in pop culture history. Then again, Eon took the title of another blockbuster and gave it to a very popular villain and it worked fine.

    Something I've wondered is how much better TSWLM may have been received and how much more it may have done at the box office had Star Wars not preceded it in the summer of '77. It was still a blockbuster, but that could've been the defining film of that summer instead of Star Wars (I refuse to assign an episode number).
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 4,798
    Thrasos wrote: »
    I don't know the answer to your question about FYEO compared to the final cut. I also hear what you're saying about MR, and I'm sure others here have the backstory on MR production, which I don't. I'll just say I can't not like MR! Yes it's got some rather glaring flaws, and one could say cheesy in spots. But it's part of my Bond viewing history as a young man, I find it a fun ride, Roger Moore looked good and acquitted himself well, it moves along at a fairly good pace, with women I find hot, and they had the balls to go big with a global threat staged in space--I give extra marks for global scale. I also think Drax is a good villain. That said, given the 3 main films you mention, I rank TSWLM highest.

    I'm with you, I think Moonraker is great.
    I'm not really sure what the thrust of this thread is, to be honest! :)
  • echoecho 007 in New York
    Posts: 4,040
    I think it's a great idea for a thread, about the titles that were supposed to be next and the films that could have resulted (e.g. OHMSS throughout the '60s).
  • edited October 25 Posts: 499
    I don't remember where this bit of info originates -- it's not in Some Kind of Hero -- but I've read that John Hough was originally supposed to direct FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and got far enough along in pre-production to cast Lynn-Holly Johnson (who he worked with on THE WATCHER IN THE WOODS).

    I wonder how different the film would've looked with Hough at the helm. He did a great job with the action thriller DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY, which is why I think he was selected by EON.
  • Posts: 426
    It's funny isn't it how the history of the films panned out. Had FYEO followed Spy as planned it wouldn't have been the same film at all.
    So if you like FYEO, I very much do by the way, that works out well and vice versa.
    After the excess of Moonraker it was deemed the right time to re imagine and come back down to earth (literally), FYEO is a course correction of sorts. YOLT-OHMSS, DAD-CR similar examples of course.
    So I'm happy Moonraker happened because no Moonraker means no FYEO as we have it.
  • Posts: 219
    Escalus5 wrote: »
    I wonder how different the film would've looked with Hough at the helm. He did a great job with the action thriller DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY, which is why I think he was selected by EON.

    That would have been a pretty unusual but interesting choice for Eon, especially if the plot involved sequences taking place in space. I've only seen a few of his horror movies, so I don't know how he treated action on screen, but I guess it would have been a long way from Gilbert and Glen styles.

    echo wrote: »
    I think it's a great idea for a thread, about the titles that were supposed to be next and the films that could have resulted (e.g. OHMSS throughout the '60s).
    I would love to know more about the 1965 OHMSS scripts, featuring an amphibious Aston Martin and, in some drafts, a surviving Tracy.
  • MaxCasinoMaxCasino United States
    Posts: 1,505
    Escalus5 wrote: »
    I wonder how different the film would've looked with Hough at the helm. He did a great job with the action thriller DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY, which is why I think he was selected by EON.

    That would have been a pretty unusual but interesting choice for Eon, especially if the plot involved sequences taking place in space. I've only seen a few of his horror movies, so I don't know how he treated action on screen, but I guess it would have been a long way from Gilbert and Glen styles.

    echo wrote: »
    I think it's a great idea for a thread, about the titles that were supposed to be next and the films that could have resulted (e.g. OHMSS throughout the '60s).
    I would love to know more about the 1965 OHMSS scripts, featuring an amphibious Aston Martin and, in some drafts, a surviving Tracy.

    A great reference book for the 1965 scripts is The Making of OHMSS by Charles Helfenstein. Highly recommended, for everyone.
  • mtmmtm United Kingdom
    Posts: 4,798
    Escalus5 wrote: »
    I wonder how different the film would've looked with Hough at the helm. He did a great job with the action thriller DIRTY MARY, CRAZY LARRY, which is why I think he was selected by EON.

    That would have been a pretty unusual but interesting choice for Eon, especially if the plot involved sequences taking place in space. I've only seen a few of his horror movies, so I don't know how he treated action on screen, but I guess it would have been a long way from Gilbert and Glen styles.

    echo wrote: »
    I think it's a great idea for a thread, about the titles that were supposed to be next and the films that could have resulted (e.g. OHMSS throughout the '60s).
    I would love to know more about the 1965 OHMSS scripts, featuring an amphibious Aston Martin and, in some drafts, a surviving Tracy.

    That’s new on me, sounds very interesting.
  • Posts: 3,049
    Actually, For Your Eyes Only, as the project was conceived in early 1978, was not that different from what Moonraker ultimately was and already involved space shuttles known as the Enterprise fleet. Tom Mankiewicz was the first screenwriter to work on the project, and it was from his second treatment that the film changed its title from FYEO to MR.

    Here's what Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury say about it in Some Kind of Hero:
    The story was partially set in the Himalayas and featured a bow-and-arrow wielding heroine called ‘The Archer’. Mankiewicz remembered scenes set at the Taj Mahal and Bombay. Cartlidge remembered scouting locations in Nepal and the Kashmir region looking for a monastery for the villain’s lair and snow for a ski sequence.

    It's easy to imagine that this archer character would have been none other than the Havelocks' daughter, Judy or Melina, depending on the first name they would have gave her.

    If you really like FYEO as it is, then I suppose you have to be thankful that it didn't directly follow TSWLM as it would have been a Star Wars-inspired movie.
    The FYEO story line written by Mankiewicz that you highlighted did not feature space shuttles. That was an entirely different treatment he submitted when Cubby decided to change direction and go for MR when FYEO was postponed. As your quote by Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury demonstrates, the basic outline was pretty close to what we got with 1981 movie. You will find no existing material alluding to Mankiewicz having written space shuttles into the original FYEO treatment. I'm afraid that's just a whimsical invention on your part.
  • RoadphillRoadphill United Kingdom
    Posts: 902
    cwl007 wrote: »
    It's funny isn't it how the history of the films panned out. Had FYEO followed Spy as planned it wouldn't have been the same film at all.
    So if you like FYEO, I very much do by the way, that works out well and vice versa.
    After the excess of Moonraker it was deemed the right time to re imagine and come back down to earth (literally), FYEO is a course correction of sorts. YOLT-OHMSS, DAD-CR similar examples of course.
    So I'm happy Moonraker happened because no Moonraker means no FYEO as we have it.

    I'm with you on this.

    As much as TSWLM had some outlandish elements, it was a bloody good film, and there was certainly no cause for a course correction, like after MR.

    And FYEO is fine as it is. As much as I enjoyed Roger's more (pun intended) fun take on Bond, it was great to see him get at least one 'Fleming-esque' film.
  • edited October 26 Posts: 219
    bondsum wrote: »
    That was an entirely different treatment he submitted when Cubby decided to change direction and go for MR when FYEO was postponed. As your quote by Matthew Field and Ajay Chowdhury demonstrates, the basic outline was pretty close to what we got with 1981 movie. You will find no existing material alluding to Mankiewicz having written space shuttles into the original FYEO treatment. I'm afraid that's just a whimsical invention on your part.

    Still, the title change came at the whim of a revision of Mankiewicz's initial treatment for FYEO, not a whole new script. Here is a new quote from Some Kind of Hero:
    Mankiewicz delivered a revised treatment dated 8 May 1978, which would subsequently change the title from For Your Eyes Only to Moonraker. The treatment came with a note suggesting the space shuttle taskforce, which in the outline was known as the Enterprise fleet – the name of the first space shuttle – should be changed to the Moonraker fleet.

    So it's not a whimsical invention on my part, but a reality: the treatment originally planned for FYEO was retitled MR and the renaming of the space shuttles was made accordingly. By "outline" it is the initial draft that is suggested, subsequently revised, and not a whole new script that would have arisen from a turnaround of Broccoli.
  • JWPepperJWPepper You sit on it, but you can't take it with you.
    edited October 27 Posts: 488
    Roadphill wrote: »
    cwl007 wrote: »
    It's funny isn't it how the history of the films panned out. Had FYEO followed Spy as planned it wouldn't have been the same film at all.
    So if you like FYEO, I very much do by the way, that works out well and vice versa.
    After the excess of Moonraker it was deemed the right time to re imagine and come back down to earth (literally), FYEO is a course correction of sorts. YOLT-OHMSS, DAD-CR similar examples of course.
    So I'm happy Moonraker happened because no Moonraker means no FYEO as we have it.

    I'm with you on this.

    As much as TSWLM had some outlandish elements, it was a bloody good film, and there was certainly no cause for a course correction, like after MR.

    And FYEO is fine as it is. As much as I enjoyed Roger's more (pun intended) fun take on Bond, it was great to see him get at least one 'Fleming-esque' film.

    The producers were happy with MR, it did very well at the box-office. But the main reason to scale-down, is the failure of Heaven's Gate (1980). Studio's became reluctant to spend so much money on a film, because that film made UA bankrupt.
    Also, where to take Bond next? You can't go beyond space. And they wanted to start making lower-budget Fleming-inspired Spythrillers again ( a la FRWL) with a new (serious) Bondactor. These decisions were made not because they were unhappy by how MR turned out.
  • Junglist_1985Junglist_1985 Los Angeles
    Posts: 122
    TSWLM, MR, FYEO is Moore’s best run in my opinion. It’s his Bond’s golden age.
  • RoadphillRoadphill United Kingdom
    Posts: 902
    JWPepper wrote: »
    Roadphill wrote: »
    cwl007 wrote: »
    It's funny isn't it how the history of the films panned out. Had FYEO followed Spy as planned it wouldn't have been the same film at all.
    So if you like FYEO, I very much do by the way, that works out well and vice versa.
    After the excess of Moonraker it was deemed the right time to re imagine and come back down to earth (literally), FYEO is a course correction of sorts. YOLT-OHMSS, DAD-CR similar examples of course.
    So I'm happy Moonraker happened because no Moonraker means no FYEO as we have it.

    I'm with you on this.

    As much as TSWLM had some outlandish elements, it was a bloody good film, and there was certainly no cause for a course correction, like after MR.

    And FYEO is fine as it is. As much as I enjoyed Roger's more (pun intended) fun take on Bond, it was great to see him get at least one 'Fleming-esque' film.

    The producers were happy with MR, it did very well at the box-office. But the main reason to scale-down, is the failure of Heaven's Gate (1980). Studio's became reluctant to spend so much money on a film, because that film made UA bankrupt.
    Also, where to take Bond next? You can't go beyond space. And they wanted to start making lower-budget Fleming-inspired Spythrillers again ( a la FRWL) with a new (serious) Bondactor. These decisions were made not because they were unhappy by how MR turned out.

    No, I know it did big numbers, and it had its fans, but like you said, Bond can't go any further than outer space. Hence the course correction.
    If FYEO had followed TSWLM directly, I doubt very much that it would have been the grounded film it was.
Sign In or Register to comment.