For Your Eyes Only (1981)

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edited July 2012 in Reviews Posts: 19,724
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  • edited July 2012 Posts: 5,745
    I'd like to open with comparing this, my favorite Moore outing, to Quantum of Solace. The two films share numerous similarities, and though I love them both, '81 beats '08.

    Flashback in the Foreshadow
    I was really surprised, not having seen FYEO in a long time, at how well the PTS was. Especially considering the time, and where this film is in the franchise, it was nice to see a nod to Tracy, and the final and permanent (well maybe not post-reboot) end to Blofeld. Plus the helicopter action is really rather well done. I'm glad they didn't have Bond quipping back to everything Blofeld said, but rather focused on.. you know.. not dying as he should be.

    A Vengeful Beauty
    Having not made it that far into Fleming's novels, I've only heard that FYEO (the book) follows the female character far more in detail than Bond's character. To this, I applaud Fleming. It was something likely out of his comfort zone and it created a very unique look on a Bond adventure. I'm glad the film also had Melina's story deeply woven in. Her parent's murder was very dark and gritty for a Bond film at the time, a theme that would continue throughout the story (thankfully). The crossbow has yet to return in a Bond adventure (as far as I remember) and that helps make Melina one of the more memorable Bond girls, and her back story makes her a memorable character over-all. I have to say the actress playing Melina was not to my liking however. Her parents die and there is almost no emotion in her face. Even when she talks about it later, she keeps the same 'dramatic' straight face. It's really rather boring considering the material there was to work with. Yes she's beautiful, but it seems someone gave her a two-minute acting class that essentially said 'play it straight and serious' and she did just that!

    A Man on the Edge of Retirement on the Edge of a Cliff
    As I said, I enjoyed the more focused, less quipy Bond in the PTS, and throughout the film. Most of the 'Rotten' reviews of the movie, and some of the 'Fresh' complain about Moore's age. Yes, it's noticeable, and according to Fleming ala his Moonraker novel, Moore would no longer be fit for the field. I have to argue that you can't complain about an actor's appearance if he plays it as it's meant. The story is obviously looking Moore's age in the face, and embracing it. I enjoy it for that. It's not the young Bond that thinks with his Roger and get's lucked out of every situation, it's the mature Bond that thinks things through and focuses on the task ahead; ala closer to NovelBond. Reviews often also complain about Moore's 'confused' look. In the story, Bond really has no lead to go off of. He starts with the bottom of the villain-pyramid and works his way up throughout the film. He's more a Columbo (pun intended) type investigator than suave psychic spy. We learn the plot as Bond does, and I enjoy that aspect as well. We're not waiting for the character to catch up as we usually are. Overall I applaud Moore's performance, but I regretfully wish this had been his swan-song. The grittiness, though Moore disapproved, truly made a unique and enjoyable dramatic Bond to contrast the latest entries in the series.

    Kerim Bay 2.0: The Rise of Columbo
    I love the fact that Bond and the audience are convinced from the beginning that Columbo is in fact the enemy Bond's been hunting, while really he's the man Bond needs to complete the mission. The little plots twists like this make the drawn out middle rather worth the wait, imo. I honestly believe the writers simply looked back to past Bond work, both the novels and films, and Columbo was the son of Kerim Bay from FRWL. The finishing action scenes were set up exactly like the battle scenes in FRWL, where Bond recruits a questionable man to provide information, men, and supplies and help him succeed at the mission. The 'I save you, you save me' where Bond shoots the guy behind Columbo and Columbo shoots the guy behind Bond did get rather annoyingly repeptitive, but at least it gave Columbo a purpose. Overall I enjoyed the character, though I could get the same enjoyment, refined and improved with Bay from FRWL if I so desired.

    De Ja Vu; This All Seems Rather Familiar
    I have to honestly say I love it when the films revert to the novels for substance. Fleming's brilliance has so far beat out all other imaginations that have been put to work on Bond. The fact that FYEO mixed it's title book of stories with elements (like Columbo, above) from FRWL in the battles, Live and Let Die with the dragging through the coral, and Thunderball with the under-water features truly makes this film a classic for me. It gives the Bond girl a purpose and a unique attitude, it provides purely tense moments of suspenseful action pieces, and most of all, provides the film with a truly Fleming polish. The mature, focused Bond in a down-to-Earth setting pulled from the novels is a sharp contrast from the previous film in the series, Moonraker. IMO, FYEO out-shines Moonraker into almost non-existence due to this. It's a classic blend of Fleming stories, and it works. It's also what makes (the films) FRWL, Dr. NO, and Casino Royale seemingly popular amongst fans: they actually use Bond's natural environment created by the best!

    On the Edge of My Cliff Seat
    The action pieces sprinkled throughout the film provide a thrilling, suspenseful, and truly nail-biting quality otherwise missing from Moore's set. The helicopter ride is enjoyable if only for maniacal return of Blofeld. When you think about hanging off of a helicopter as it dives 3ft above the roof, you truly bite your nails (if not for Bond, for the stunt guy!). The car chase is unique. Bond's not in his souped up, gadgeted Q-car from the non-existent future, but a yellow buggy that likes to roll. It's an enjoyable contract from the previous installments in the series, and even the ones that followed. The entire film seemed to focus on Bond out of his comfort zone. That's not something to be ashamed of and to scorn, either! It creates a truly unique look at Bond's adventure. The ski-chase is nicely paced, and drawn out but not too far, imo. The underwater sequence is also suspenseful. The ticking of the bomb on the bad-guy-diver adds a tension to the scene, and just when you think it's over here comes James Cameron in his deep-sea death machine. Followed by Bond being dragged through the water and scraping the coral was really rather violent and painful to experience as an audience. I enjoyed it in that odd, cynical way you can get away with from movies. Having just finished the novel LALD, from which that scene is pulled, it's striking how well my imagination matched what FYEO provided. Finally, the cliff scene. I love how during the entire quarter hour sequence, almost no music is played. It's almost as if the film is holding it's breath with Bond, his team, and the audience as Bond dangerously plays with death. The sharp *ping* of the villain trying to send Bond falling added to the intensity of the scene, and would have only been numbed by a musical attempt. Considering Bond nearly dies the same fate as his parents, it's truly a metaphoric, tense sequence to be respected! Overall the action is done very well.

    FINALLY! Some Directing
    John Glen's directing debut is a welcomed refreshment to the series. Though rare and subtle, FYEO has a taste of something new that Bond hasn't seen before. The dramatic stare into the camera from Melina as we see the anger build in her eyes just after the death of her parents, or the contrast between wide-shots and close ups that helps convince the audience Bond is truly in peril. It's all rather subtle but adds a dramatic tone to a dramatic Bond flick. A similar tone is blatant when Glen goes on to do License to Kill later, another film with multiple similarities to FYEO. However, there is still a 'boringness' to many of the shots. Moore couldn't escape tasteless cinematography, it would seem. But in FYEO, those boring shots only made the attitude of the rare close-ups, or wide shots that much better.

    Wait! I'm Not Done With That Yet
    The editing sucked. I'll leave it basically at that. A character would barely finish a sentence in the middle of a paragraph before crashing into a new scene, almost blindingly. I'm assuming, since the film is over two hours, that they felt the need to cut down a lot. I can understand that, but surely we didn't need to see BB's character, or her trainer. If they'd cut the few awkward minutes in Bond's bedroom, simply had him escort her (without only slight hints of flirting) to the ski competition, and then had him never see them again, It would have saved close to fifteen minutes of time. Cut the bedroom scene, the training scene where Bond fights the hockey team, and the pointless conversation Kristatos has with BB and her trainer on the mountain top and you'd have yourself a *better* story. And it's all something they could have done post-production. I know you spent money to film it, but if you want to save time, and the scenes aren't necessarily needed, then CUT THEM DAMMIT.

    Finally, Time to Kick the Car Can On This Review
    In conclusion,
    [] I like how Kristatos led Bond on to Columbo as a distraction, but overall the villain was weak. I did, however, enjoy the scene where Bond fights the Russian and Kristatos calmly walks around to collect his things and leave.
    [] I like how Bond doesn't fight the Russians for the Lektor Decoder, Er.. I mean thingy-ma-bob but rather destroys it. The moment between him and the General is humorous, but you can feel the tension.
    [] I like how it sacrificed many 'Bond' elements and went bare with Fleming's material instead of a hog-wash fantasy gadgent adventure.

    [] I'd give it a 8/10. The story was rather good, but it was a bit drawn out and long, the villain wasn't the best, and the editing and some cinematography just fell flat.

    Hm.. As far as 'realistic' goes for Bond:

    From Russia With Love
    For Your Eyes Only
    License To Kill
    Casino Royale
    Quantum of Solace

    Essentially rather bare-bones Bond films. When it comes to those, FYEO does it impeccably well.
  • BondJasonBond006BondJasonBond006 on fb and ajb
    Posts: 9,021
    For Your Eyes Only: a forunner of things to come, an almost Dalton-esque outing and TLD only being made 6 years after FYEO it's not a surprise.
    Moore showing his harder more serious side is a very good thing and I almost wish they had stayed with that concept for OP and AVTAK.


    PTS: That's the "weak" point of FYEO. It stands totally apart from the movie itself and I always feel a bit cheated of a proper PTS. Just judging the PTS by itself it is quite good, I like the obvious sequel character to OHMSS and the graveyard scene is quite touching.

    The assassination: This is so very well made. The sequence builds up nicely to maybe the most emotional and captivating scene ever in a Bond movie. The brutal murder of the Havelocks on their yacht. The look on Melina's face is one of the signature moments of this or any Bond movies.

    The car chase: FEYO already being the 12th movie one could think it is not possible anymore to have an original car chase in a Bond movie. And then comes along the lemon yellow Deux Chevaux 2CV sequence. Absolutely hilarious and so fun too watch!

    The relationship between Bond and Melina is very well developed and written. Carole Bouquet is not the usual bimbo Bond girl but a woman with a mission and a good match to Moore's Bond.

    Skiing in the alps: Another "must-have" for every Bond actor at least once! Skiing or chasing or being chased on snow in the mountains.
    I particularly like this very long sequence that not only contains the best ski chase action of all Bond movies (imo) but also the flower shop scene with the nasty attempt to kill Melina on the streets.

    Even Bibi who is quite a nuisance doesn't hurt the movie much. Because the writer's were wise enough not to make her a potential love interest for Moore.

    Locque who is one of the most impressive henchman ever gets his fitting death. Locque is particularly impressive because he doesn't say one word through the whole movie but still is so memorable.
    Moore pushing the car over the cliff with his foot is one of his signature moments.

    Altogether is this the most violent Moore Bond with many bloody graphic murders.

    Another typical Bond moment comes with a Casino scene. Afterwards the typical side-Bond girl for sexual purposes only happens in the form of Lisl who sadly gets murdered on the beach afterwards.

    And again another typical Bond theme: underwater action!
    It's not too long and features about everything you could wish for: explosives, sharks, fighting, a drive in a mini submarine boat, beautifully shot underwater sequences and the certain death of Bond and Melina only escaped by Bond's wit!

    From the sea to the mountains!
    Rock climbing with an endangered Bond on the mountain, falling, climbing up again and getting rid of his enemy.
    Together with Milos Columbo, one of the best side-kicks to Bond ever, James tries to get the ATAC system back from a quite bland villain named Kristatos.
    What follows is a nicely done team effort by Milos and his team, Melina and Bond fighting the baddies. Quite some action there with a good fight between Bond and the menacing henchman, blonde, tall and muscular. When Bond couldn't finish him off on the ski slopes he sure can now by throwing him out the window and down the mountain.

    In the end General Gogol shows up trying to get the ATAC but Bond can destroy it first.

    The end sequence with Thatcher, her husband Dennis and the parrot may be a bit too silly but after such a great movie experience that's a minor complaint.

    Astonishingly rich in variety and enjoyable I have to give For Your Eyes Only a resounding 9/10 because this movie works on every level.
  • royale65royale65 Caustic misanthrope reporting for duty.
    Posts: 4,372
    For Your Eyes Only

    In 1955, Ian Fleming published Moonraker, a terrific read, but it is somewhat atypical of Fleming's works. The entire story was set in the South East of England. A far cry from the globe hopping adventures that the cinematic Bond had established.

    The Bond Girl, Gala Brand, does not even end up with Bond. Soon after the Moonraker affair, she gets married. Which leads to a bittersweet ending that Fleming did so well -

    “And now what”, wondered Bond? He shrugged his shoulders to shift the pain of failure. He must get out of these two young lives and take his cold heart elsewhere. There must be no regrets. No false sentiment. He must play the role she expected of him... The man who was only a silhouette. Ian Fleming, Moonraker, 1955. Once again the hard man Bond, became sentimental over the girl.

    The literary Moonraker was vastly different to the Moonraker committed to film, both in tone and execution.

    The feeling during the 70's was that Fleming's novels were passé - none of them were faithfully translated, as the filmmakers thought that the novels were dated.

    During the 80's, the Bond of the books would have a mini revival, thanks mainly to Glidrose Publications, holder of the rights to the literary 007. After seeing the success of Christopher Wood's novelizations of The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Glidrose commissioned John Gardner to write Licence Renewed, the first of sixteen novels penned by Gardner. Licence Renewed was published just a few months before the release of For Your Eyes Only.

    As the character of James Bond entered his fourth decade, it was decided that the movies would go back to Ian Fleming. As the series got bloated and more hi-tech, the filmmakers would routinely revert back to Fleming, and the next picture in the series would be a return to the Flemingesque thrillers, in the vein of Dr No and From Russia With Love.

    One can see this example throughout the canon; You Only Live Twice followed by On Her Majesty's Secret Service; Moonraker succeeded by For Your Eyes Only, and most recently with Die Another Day and Casino Royale.

    It was a major turnaround for the filmmakers. For Your Eyes Only would be primarily about the characters and the spectacle would be secondary. They seemed to have realized that the Bond pictures did not have to compete with other franchises. But would audiences accept a Bond film without any of the pomp and gadgetry?

    The script would be furnished by Bond veteran, Richard Maibaum, and, making his début as screenwriter, Michael G. Wilson. The stepson to Cubby, Wilson had been of increasing importance to the Bond films. Wilson studied engineering and law, which proved invaluable to his work on the Bond movies – he gave background information on the Solex Agitator in The Man With The Golden Gun, and he was involved with the legal affairs surrounding The Spy Who Loved Me. With Moonraker, Wilson acquired an executive producer role.

    Together Maibaum and Wilson produced a very fine script, fusing two of Fleming's short stories: Risico and For Your Eyes Only, both from the short story collection under the umbrella title of For Your Eyes Only, 1960, plus the keel-haul segment from Live and Let Die.

    The plot has an air of simplicity, steeped in Cold War machinations. The British ATAC tracking system is missing, and it is up to Bond to prevent it falling into Russian hands. Bond is a Cold War warrior once again. But this time, his objective is to preserve détente. Throughout the 80's Bond's mission is too keep the status quo, as opposed to winning the Cold War for the West; a reflection of the times.

    Moreover, Maibaum and Wilson's screenplay featured the most Fleming material since Majesty's. Indeed, For Your Eyes Only can almost be seen as a sequel to Majesty's. On a purely cosmetic level, both are set in Europe and both pictures have snow bound escapades.

    On a deeper level, both have genuine characters, with real motivations. The Bond films of the 70's were fantastical, thus the characters have a heightened reality to them. It is a refreshing change to go back to real characters, caught up in a quasi bizarre plot.

    Coming off the back of an outlandish decade, and in particular the inane Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only is a welcome shift to a more grounded style. But is For Your Eyes Only's reputation as a marked change fully justified? Or compared to the decade that just preceded it, does For Your Eyes Only only seem so?

    Apart from the PTS and the conclusion with a Margaret Thatcher lookalike and a parrot, the comedic scenes that bookend the film, For Your Eyes Only is a worthy attempt at channelling the 60's Bond films and the Fleming novels to produce a hybrid of 60's sensibilities and 80's action, style, and conservatism.

    The two aforementioned scenes mar the tonal shift from 70's fantasy to 80's reserve. Indeed, they would be more at home in such films as Diamonds Are Forever and Moonraker.

    The PTS has Bond being menaced by a chap, who is “not Blofeld”. The filmmakers were wary of attracting another Kevin McClory lawsuit. Hence, like Bond, they dumped the character of Blofeld. Although Bond literally dumped Blofeld down a chimney stack.

    That demise of Blofeld is a sad way of saying goodbye to a worthy foe. It fitted in with the disrespect that the filmmakers had shown Blofeld, one of Fleming's greatest characters.

    The films conclusion sees Bond and Melina Havelock go on a midnight swim. Bond slips off his watch, and puts it on a parrot perch. The watch is also a radio transmitter, which leads to a painful denouement, whereby a parrot talks to Janet Brown's Thatcher, surely the most out of place scene in a Bond film.

    Still, For Your Eyes Only succeeds in bringing Commander Bond back down to Earth, by repositioning the character of 007; Bond is proactive in propelling the story along, rather than being the catalyst around which action rotates. This makes the film eminently more satisfying and more involving. One goes on a journey with Bond - as he gets bruised and battered and uses his wits and resourcefulness in order to complete the mission. Bond's inevitable triumph feels earned.

    To usher in the different approach, Cubby turned to John Glen to helm For Your Eyes Only. Glen was the second unit director on Majesty's, Spy, and Moonraker. Glen knew the Bond movies well, having served on two vastly disparate pictures such as Majesty's and Moonraker.

    Cubby was impressed with Glen and his work on several crucial action scenes, the most notable one being the awe inspiring cliff jump that concluded Spy's PTS. Cubby decided to recruit from within the Bond family, just like he and Harry had done with Peter Hunt, director of Majesty's and editor of the first five Sean Connery Bond films before it.

    In an ironic twist of fate, Cubby mooted bringing Hunt back for For Your Eyes Only. Hunt had been widely castigated, back in 1969, for humanizing Bond again in Majesty's - the same concept that the filmmakers were attempting to do with For Your Eyes Only.

    The main strength of For Your Eyes Only is from John Glen's earnest and unfussy direction. Glen was fortunate to have a great screenplay and plot to work from. When the story is this good, one does not need any extravagance from the director. Glen allows the story to shine through, letting the film breathe, with subtle character moments, building the tension, and the immersion of the locations.

    Alan Hume is cinematographer on For Your Eyes Only. He and Glen capture the locations well, be it Corfu, the Greek Islands or Cortina. Granted the cinematography does not have the grandeur of Moonraker - the budgets on the 80's Bond films would be tightly regulated - but the essence of the locales more than makes up for it.

    Glen is particularly good with the action scenes, although his insistence of having the audience laugh after the action scenes defuses some of the tension somewhat. The action sequences in the Glen era (he would go on to direct the five films in the 80's) is brisk and inventive. Plaudits have to go to the stunt team, headed by the ingenious Remy Julienne (car chase) and Willy Bogner (ski sequences).

    The most impressive of the myriad action scenes, has to be the ski chase. The scene escalates, until Bond, on skis, is pursued by motorcycles in a bob sleigh run. The sight of a bob sleigh, a skiing Bond and goons on motorcycles, is one to behold.

    The climatic assault is also rather novel. The filmmakers have Bond with only a small band of allies, instead of the usual massive armies, facing off against each other, which one would expect to find in a Bond film. The villain has his stronghold on top of a mountain, which makes sense on a narrative level, having Bond go in by stealth. The result being a much more intimate and taut experience.


    The scene in which Bond is mountaineering up the vertigo inspiring heights is nerve racking. Even more so when Bond, being menaced by a thug, falls, to be left dangling from his rope. The scene in which Bond falls was performed by Rik Sylvester; he from the cliff jump in Spy.

    The action scenes in For Your Eyes Only feel very real, be it Bond hanging from a rope or keel hauled through shark infested waters. For Your Eyes Only represents a more basic and grounded approach. The filmmakers were shying away from the stylised action.

    No better demonstration than this is the car chase. A villainous goon attempts to break into Bond's Lotus Esprit, making a welcome, if not short lived, return. The Lotus blows up, leaving Bond to use Melina's Citroen 2CV. Despite being out-horse-powered and out-gunned by the villains' cars, Bond uses his quick wit to out maneuver the heavies and make his escape. Right from the get go, For Your Eyes Only promises to be a different type of Bond movie.

    Glen devised a strong opening for For Your Eyes Only. The PTS opens on Bond visiting Tracy's gravesite. It is a well written scene, only lacking in execution. The humour is too broad, and the villain is too manic, although it does feature some terrific stunt work – the hallmark of the Glen era.

    Interestingly, the novel On Her Majesty's Secret Service has Bond visiting the gravesite of Vesper Lynd. Bond pays his respects to Vesper once a year, the only time of year that Bond allows himself to be maudlin.

    Timothy Dalton went to see Cubby at his home in L.A. As Cubby did not have a script, Dalton declined, fearing the new Bond film would be in the vein of Moonraker.

    The graveyard sequence was conceived for a new James Bond, as Roger Moore was hesitant to strap on Agent 007's shoulder holster for a fifth time. Having Bond visit Tracy's grave established continuity.

    Eventually Moore did sign on. It is a good job too, as For Your Eyes Only represents one of Moore's most satisfying and accomplished turns as 007. Moore's performance, full of his trademark charm and unflappable exterior, is undercut with a steely determination, as fitting with the tone of the film.

    It is particularly, and perversely, gratifying to see Moore's Bond sweat and fight. It makes victory for Bond entitled.

    For Your Eyes Only is still a Roger Moore era film; it's style is more akin to Goldfinger and You Only Live Twice say, with a flavouring of the Terence Young films. Certainly the plot of For Your Eyes Only is more basic – a return to the Cold War schemes of From Russia With Love, and its treatment of the Bond character, particularly Bond's licence to kill, harks back to the 60's.

    In a stand out scene, Bond kicks the henchman's car, with the henchman inside, off a cliff. The scene is rather surprising and quite brutal, especially coming off the back of the light-hearted romp that was Moonraker. It is a timely reminder that Bond has a licence to kill.

    Backing Moore up is an excellent primary cast, consisting of Carole Bouquet, Julian Glover, and Topol.

    Continuing on the resurgence of the Bond girl is Melina Havelock, portrayed by the sublime, exquisite French actress, Carole Bouquet.

    She of the striking green eyes, Bouquet is one of Bond's most proficient and memorable leading ladies. Bouquet plays the role with quiet conviction. She and Bond develop a genuine connection that is played to good effect throughout the picture.

    Adapted from Ian Fleming's For Your Eyes Only, Melina (changed from Judy to mirror the filmic Melina's Greek ancestry) is a woman out for revenge over her murdered parents – the marine archaeologist Timothy Havelock and Iona Havelock. They were, in fact, looking for the ATAC system on behalf of the British government.

    Bond sees Melina as an angel with a wing down over her parents, in classic Fleming style, and thus warns Melina from going after revenge. Some reviewers have pointed out that Bond is being hypocritical, over cautioning Melina on vengeance. However, Bond senses that Melina is a good person, although she won't be if she chooses to go down the wrong path. Bond knows what it is like to kill someone, and he desperately does not want Melina to carry that burden.

    Further evidence of Bond's burgeoning affections for Melina is that he does not sleep with her until the end of their adventure. Bond cares for this girl, and so resists treating Melina like any other other meaningless conquest. This results in them having a natural romance, even going through a courtship stage, when Bond accompanies Melina on her shopping trip. Bond and Melina have one of the most beautiful relationships in the series, heightened by Moore's and Bouquet's subtle dynamic.

    Although Bond's restraint when it comes to Melina is not shared with Bond's other conquest, Countess Lisl, portrayed by Pierce Brosnan's first wife, Cassandra Harris. (Tragically, Harris would die in December 1991, from ovarian cancer.)

    Julian Glover plays the duplicitous Aris Kristatos, a seemingly respectable ally of Britain. Kristatos is one of Mr. Bond's more sophisticated villains; his refinement extends to his sadistic nature – see Kristatos' keel hauling of Bond and Melina. Glover depicts Kristatos well, as debonair and menacing.

    As Milos Columbo, Topol is a throwback to Kerim Bey and Marc Ange Draco – a charismatic ally. The screen lights up whenever Topol appears. Topol is such an engaging actor. He and Moore share a wonderful chemistry, to boot.

    The subplot between Columbo and Kristatos is diverting. Kristatos is framing Columbo and wants Bond to take care of him. Kristatos and Columbo were once like brothers, fighting in the Greek resistance, against the Nazis. Now they are the bitterest of enemies.

    One important cast member is Lynn-Holly Johnson as the spoilt teenage ice skater, Bibi Dahl. She is important for eliciting reactions from Kristatos and Bond. For the former, when he gets teary eyed when describing his wish on hoping to see Dahl reach the gold medal, and for the latter when Bond refuses to sleep with her, despite her proximity to the villain. Although somewhat out of place in a Bond film, Dahl at least established a little humanity for Kristatos and Bond.

    At MI6 there is a void left by Bernard Lee's passing in the January of 1981, during shooting of For Your Eyes Only. The filmmakers left the role of M absent, as a mark of respect. Lee's dialogue would be spread around Tanner, M's Chief of Staff, Fredrick Gray, the Minister of Defence, and Q. In light of Lee's passing, Desmond Llewellyn and Lois Maxwell are reassuring presences, as Q and Moneypenny respectively.

    Once again John Barry was unavailable to score the new Bond film, and once again, his replacement, Bill Conti, produces an entertaining, if not dated, arrangement. Famed for his work on Rocky, Conti is adept at scoring action scenes and delivering great cues, although his synth heavy score is distracting. However, Conti's romantic music, his instrumental version of the main title theme in particular, is quite splendid.

    The more realistic style of For Your Eyes Only is reflected by Peter Lamont, as production designer, whose designs are both pragmatic and still having the typical Bond flourishes. (See the St. George's spy ship, for example.)

    For Your Eyes Only is a return to the more straight up action thriller, tempered with, or maybe that should read blighted with, comedic elements that have been prevalent since Diamonds Are Forever. Nevertheless, For Your Eyes Only represents the repositioning of the character of Bond to a more central figure.

    Moreover, For Your Eyes Only benefits from an assured directorial début from John Glen; a superb primary cast; an assertive portrayal by Roger Moore – one of his finest; a strong screenplay and plot; a touching romance between Bond and Melina; and plenty of Ian Fleming material.

    Released on the 24th of June, 1981, For Your Eyes Only's box office totals were $191 million. The shortfall of $11 million, compared to Moonraker – For Your Eyes Only was down in the U.S. - was more than compensated by For Your Eyes Only's stellar international performance. Which allayed the filmmakers fears about having a Bond film that wasn't hi-tech and fantasy derived. For Your Eyes Only also established the template for the rest of the Bond films in the 1980's - conservative, with the accent on believable thrills and strong characters.
  • DariusDarius UK
    edited November 2015 Posts: 354
    After the joke that was MR, I had feared that Bond movies had slipped into a repeating loop of self-parody. However, FYEO brings us quite literally down to earth after the orbital excesses of MR by giving us a good meaty Cold War movie. Gone are the super-rich megalomaniacs, the far-fetched lairs, and the ridiculous gadgets. In their place, we get countries trying to steal each other’s secrets, a beautiful woman wanting revenge, a good three-dimensional ally, and loads of excitement along the way.

    The script is nicely paced, well written and features some very smart dialogue. The humour is largely used for slight seasoning only, and the corny wisecracks of MR are replaced by witty dialogue. There was an overall theme of détente running through the plot that culminates in very Hitchock-esque climax when Bond sums it up by destroying the film’s MacGuffin and says: “That’s détente, Comrade.”

    Roger Moore comes into his own in this movie: he not only gives a good performance, but he also has enough maturity to be more than a pretty face; with age he finally looks sufficiently tough to handle a difficult situation. And there are plenty of those. There’s the best ski chase in the canon, a whodunit choice of two characters for the villain, plenty of fisticuffs, an excellent pitched battle, and loads of good old-fashioned character conflict.

    FYEO co-star Carole Bouquet gives a credible performance and makes a very good heroine who is most definitely not just clinging on to Bond’s shirttails. As a raven-haired beauty with flashing grey eyes and a crossbow, she makes a memorable ally as well as a good love interest. In addition, Topol’s Columbo is one of the series’ strongest ally characters. His pistachio eating wisdom and dry avuncular humour live on long after the movie has ended.

    Continuing in its tradition of good visuals, this Bond travelogue takes us to the ski slopes of the majestic Italian Dolomites and then off to the sun-drenched Greek islands with its bikini-clad women and twisting narrow streets – all filmed beautifully by Alan Hume. The sets are a little so-so, but the drama doesn’t really call for volcano rocket silos, undersea laboratories or grandiose space stations – and that is not a bad thing since in previous outings, the sets have often been known to upstage the drama itself.

    I don’t really have a problem with the Bill Conti score, although the wonderful haunting melodies and dramatic leitmotifs of John Barry are conspicuous by their absence. The title song was well done, but maybe not the best the canon has to offer. However, I did like the idea of the titles sequence featuring the singer Sheena Easton.

    I have to say that the opening to this movie left a lot to be desired. The pre-titles sequence had very little in common with the story’s main plot except to act as an objective correlative to OHMSS, which reminds us that Blofeld was responsible for Tracy’s death and also foreshadows the very similar ski chases later. The vision of a disabled Blofeld stuck on the side of a helicopter pleading with Bond is just all too ridiculous for me. I know this was a middle-digit salute to Kevin McClory, who won the rights to Blofeld, but was this really necessary?

    One can forgive the pre-titles sequence for its inanities, but the dénouement of the movie was a complete farce. A Margaret Thatcher spoof that could easily have come out of one of the Carry On movies involving a talking parrot and a sozzled Dennis was just not what I wanted to see at all, especially after such a good, down-to-earth and entertaining movie as this. I know that this scene was almost certainly done to amuse the children with its MR-like British picture postcard pantomime humour, but for me it was completely unnecessary.

    Niggles apart though, FYEO is a welcome return to form.

    Bond: 5/10
    Babes: 8/10
    Villains: 4/10
    Humour: 5/10
    Sadism: 7/10
    Snobbery: 8/10
    Action: 8/10
    Locations: 8/10
    Gadgets: 4/10
    Music: 6/10

    Overall: 7/10


    Best Bits:

    Most 'Bondian' moment: Bond meets Columbo
    Funniest scene: Bond first sees the 2CV
    Best line: “Now put your clothes back on, and I'll buy you an ice cream.”
    Best location: Cortina
    Best action sequence: Ski chase
    Best Bond girl: Melina Havelock
    Best overall performance: Topol as Columbo
  • ForYourEyesOnlyForYourEyesOnly In the untained cradle of the heavens
    edited November 2015 Posts: 1,984
    I actually think Glen took a darker approach to Moore's Bonds, whilst maintaining Moore's humour. That being said, there are definite flaws in his directing technique, and that prevents his films from being classics in the same sense as say, Terrence Young's films.

    A few notes:

    - Kristatos is a good villain in that he's different; he's not an overlord conniving in a giant, lush secret base with a host of burly henchmen to act as guards. He actually interacts with Bond several times earlier in the film, without Bond being captured or disguised. However, the biggest plus of all is the fact that we're lead to believe Kristatos is an ally at first. This red herring is very effective on the first viewing, since only very subtle hints are given in regards to Kristatos' allegiance until Bond meets Columbo. That being said, Kristatos is a weak villain in every other sense of the word. He is different, but never intimidating - he also has virtually no interaction with Bond in the finale, which is an immediate minus to the film. Neither Bond nor Melina get a chance to exact vengeance on the true mastermind, Kristatos, and instead he's knifed in the back by Columbo. A rather anti-climatic ending for a villain whose end could've been one of the most fulfilling.

    - Columbo is one of Bond's best allies. He's not just capable, but he has genuine characterization and is actually pivotal to the storyline.

    - The pre-title sequence is an automatic minus. I understand that it's basically EON giving the finger to Kevin McClory after losing the rights to Blofeld, but the turning of Blofeld into a practical joke is just as bad as how Charles Gray ruined the character in DAF. The difference is that Charles Gray is an established actor and can give a convincing performance. This Blofeld is pretty much a parody and ruins any satisfaction derived from the opening shot of Moore visiting Tracy's grave.

    - The ending with Margaret Thatcher is similarly bad. I don't think I need to explain why.

    - Bibi is a pretty useless character overall. She pretty much only exists to lure Bond to certain places and save Bond's life by knocking the gun out of Erich Kriegler's hand. She also has some presence in allowing Moore to create a scene where Bond rejects her, lol. That's about it.

    - Bill Conti's score is dated, not terrible, but it lacks the majesty and variety of themes and emotions that John Barry's scores evoke.

    - The stunts here are as good as ever. People tend to think of the "falling off the cliff" stunt when they think of FYEO, but to me, the entire ski chase, which is absolutely phenomenal, takes the cake. Speaking of skiing, the snowy areas (and most of the locations in the film, in fact) look spectacular.

    - There's a fair amount of darker scenes in this movie, like Ferrarra's death, Moore kicking Locque's car off the cliff, the death of Melina's parents, and the tension when Melina is about to kill Kristatos. This is balanced out by humour, and by that, I don't mean the pre-title or ending scenes. I'm referring to some slapstick humour in the chases, and a couple of Moore's lines. Still, Moore gives a very different but still impressive performance in this role - bringing genuine acting into the equation for once.

    - I have to take a moment to acknowledge the car kick, which is one of Moore's best moments (IMO, second only to the parachute opening in TSWLM). It's a tense and incredibly dark moment - easily the darkest of any of Moore's. It's also his most cold-blooded kill, and it's definitely a very refreshing element of Fleming-inspired coldness to see after the parodical Moonraker.
  • Posts: 264
    For Your Eyes Only Review

    It's an enjoyable action spy film, but I suspect many grade it on a curve due to the excesses of its predecessor, Moonraker. It has more in common with From Russia With Love than the standard Goldfinger formula, and it's strength is in making the little things matter. Vistas are beautiful and moments such as the mountain-climbing are very suspenseful in a slow but tense pace. Moore proves that he can play the classic serious Bond quite well. And I love the theme song.

    Classic Bond staples are absent. Kristatos is a boring villain, gadgets are gone and Carole Boquet has zero chemistry with Moore. But the problem is, it feels like this movie took those things away without adding much. Not a lot of depth is in the story, and not a lot of innovation exists otherwise. Overall, it's a good watch. It holds a meaningful place in the Bond timeline, but if it didn't have the Bond license, it wouldn't stand out too far beyond the average movie.

    6/10 (Good)

  • Daniel316Daniel316 United States
    Posts: 210
    That was For Your Eyes Only. Final Thoughts? Really dang great



    I'm excited to discuss the positive traits of this particular entry so let's get right into it shall we. To start off with yet another bloody amazing performance as Bond here by the Legendary Sir Roger Moore thus marking his 5th consecutive stellar performance and don't worry folks it wouldn't be his last. We also have imo one of the top 3 Bond allies in Columbo played by Chaim Topol and what an amazing ally he is, from his sheer cockiness and swagger, to his ass kicking ways and to his overall great dialogue and class, Columbo is certainly one of a kind.

    We also get a really good Bond girl in Melina who has more development than most Bond girls and actually has a large role in the plot and more than holds her own, proving that Bond girls aren't always just there to look pretty (though she ain't bad at that either). Imo We also get a pretty decent villain performance by Julian Glover as Kristatos who has that sneaky and asshole type villain personality about him and I generally liked him all around.

    I also much liked the serious tone here and it works very well, proving that Moore can do a serious Bond just as well as a Campy Bond. This film also is quite decently paced for the most part which is always a good thing to have. I also quite like Bill Conti's unique musical score here and it fits the scenes well enough imo. And last but not least, we have imo some top level action scenes in this film from the greatly satisfying revenge filled PTS with Bond killing Blofeld finally, the car chase, the ski chase and the Warehouse shootout.



    Now it sounds like this film is pretty much flawless thus far right? Well hate to be the bearer of bad news but there are some bad things here. To start off with I feel that bibi's character is entirely unnecessary and almost goes against the whole serious tone the movie is trying to convey, though Bond always rejecting her is an interesting dynamic that I did enjoy. While I did say I liked Kristatos and felt Julian Glover did really good given the material he had to work with, I do think the character still could have been a whole lot better than it was, he has the potential to be a really good villain but sadly doesn't reach the levels he's capable of imo.

    Speaking on the villains some more, I feel that the henchmen here are...very cookie cutter, bland and uninspired, frankly I did kinda like Loque and Eric wasn't to bad but they didn't exactly feel very special and didn't leave much impact, though the former does have one of the best deaths in the franchise history so there's that. Probably my last complaint I have is that some scenes just drag on for a bit longer than they should imo, mainly the underwater scenes. Oh and that Margaret Thatcher scene was awful


    But as a whole, Mannn does this film kick some ass. It may have some issues about it but I feel what's here makes up for what is missing, if you haven't seen this bond film and you're looking for a serious Classic Bond film or are a fan of Moore, or just are a fan of bond in general then I highly recommend this film


    My final Rating is an 8.5/10


  • LocqueLocque Escaped from a Namur prison
    Posts: 259
    After Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only feels like a penance: perhaps realising they had gone too far, the producers offer a film that is much more grounded, with a villain who has no interest in blowing up the world for once, and with scenes that see Bond in actual peril and not just smugly waiting to deploy some outlandish gadget to get out of trouble.
    It's the first Bond movie in a long, long time that feels like a genuine spy thriller and not an action fantasy.

    Solid throughout, though rarely inspired, it does leave some themes dangling: the pre-credit scene has Bond get revenge on the man who killed his wife (a six movie and two Bond actors ago throwback to On Her Majesty's Secret Service), but later tries to dissuade Carole Bouquet from avenging her parents by telling her "before setting off on revenge, you first dig two graves". What does that mean? Is he just a hypocrite? Does he feel (emotionally, spiritually) dead? Does he regret his actions? These would have been interesting questions to explore, but the movie never does.

    We'll have to wait for Daniel Craig before Bond gets an actual psyche.
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