For Your Eyes Only

Rating:

BONDAGE

Main Cast: Roger Moore, Carole Bouquet

Director: John Glen

Mr. Jeffrey, my realtor, arrived bright and early at Casa Maine with a sheaf of papers describing a number of potentially suitable properties as I plan my downsizing into a luxurious penthouse suite, suitable to a more urban and urbane lifestyle in this time of kimono virus or whatever the disease that’s ruining all of our social and performance calendars is called. I got out my best magnifier and looked at floor plans and architectural photos but really wasn’t able to tell which of the properties might be best transformed by my exquisite taste so I called for a limo to come pick the two of us up and we set off to look at some of the more promising. The bar in the limo was not well stocked so I made sure we stopped at a convenient liquor store where I purchased the appropriate ingredients for Southern Comfort Manhattans and made us each a generous portion with a side car, along with the salted peanuts and Chex Mix I found in a convenient little cupboard behind the driver’s seat.

I’m picturing this…

Our first stop was the Hotel Cortez in downtown Los Angeles. The penthouse was occupied but the 13th floor had a large four-bedroom suite available for long term rental. The art deco style of the place was enchanting, but the fixtures really did need some updating and the manageress, a rather odd woman named Iris who seemed to spend entirely too much time ensconced in the New York Sunday Times crossword, gave me the willies. There were also a few too many unexplained stains on the carpet. I felt the need for a full misting with Lysol upon our exiting from the premises. We didn’t fare much better at the Hotel Earle down the block where the bell captain seemed to be all teeth and speech impediment. The man with the Groucho Marx hair who kept crowding into the elevator with us against all precepts of social distancing was also somewhat unnerving. The suite they were offering showed definite signs of scorch marks under a rather hasty paint job in a terribly unflattering shade of puce that would have clashed with most of my wardrobe.

…but we keep looking at this…

We made several more stops, each tackier than the last and not worth describing in any detail. At that point, my feet were killing me, my carefully chosen Chanel twinset was starting to smell of decayed glamor and I needed something more substantial than another drink. I dropped Mr. Jeffrey back at his office where he promised to find something more appropriate to my needs and I returned to Casa Maine, made myself a large ham sandwich and plunked down in the home theater to put my feet up and entertain myself with a film. As I had been on a never-ending adventure, I decided what better way to relax then with a chapter from the never-ending adventures of James Bond? My choice was For Your Eyes Only, one of the Roger Moore entries from the early 80s. Moore, at this point was in his early 50s and getting a little too old for Bond and, after the previous entry in the series, Moonraker, had become something of a sci-fi cartoon, the producers decided to rein things back a little and get back to basics by returning to the tone of the earlier Sean Connery films of the late sixties and early seventies. So, rather than excess gimmickry, screenwriter Richard Maibaum and director John Glen (promoted from long time editor for the series), crafted a story of cold war espionage.

After a prologue which involves a helicopter, references to Bond’s deceased wife Theresa, and a rather ridiculous cat and mouse game with a villain, strongly implied to be Blofeld but never named for copyright reasons, we settle in to a story in which a British spy ship has been sunk in the Mediterranean and a computer system, ATAC, which can seriously damage British defense forces, is lying there on the ocean bed for anyone to come along and pick up. Bond is assigned to retrieve it and teams up with a beautiful underwater archeologist (Carole Bouquet) whose parents, secretly working with the British government, have been offed by a slimy Cuban hitman. This leads to a chasing of various leads through gorgeous European locations including a chase in a yellow Citroen through a mountain side olive grove in Spain, various back and forths between Bond and villains over a selection of winter sports in Cortina (why it appears to be high summer in Spain and winter in Italy is not explained) and eventually, after some underwater hijinks, everyone gathers at a mountain top monastery and Greece where there is a showdown involving a nubile ice-skater (Lynn-Holly Johnston), her millionaire patron (Julian Glover), and his old World War II partisan compatriot, a somewhat disreputable Topol.

For Your Eyes Only tries to throw in all the usual Bond tropes. There’s the occasional quip, which tend to dribble down Moore’s tuxedoed shirt front. There’s a casino scene followed by a one-night stand with a lovely lady. There’s a car chase or two, an underwater battle, a ski chase, a break in to an impenetrable fortress, and nick of time escapes from various explosions. The plot doesn’t necessarily make a lot of sense and the ATAC ends up being a huge McGuffin and gives Walter Gotell, as General Gogol, one of his best moments in the entire series.

Moore, at this point in his Bond career, was pretty much phoning his For Your Eyes Only performance in, and the trick photography trying to make it look like he is even attempting any of his own stunts is at times laughable, but he eventually comes across as comfort food. You know exactly what he’s going to do and there’s not going to be any surprises moving forward. All the old standbys are on hand for their obligatory cameos with the exception of Bernard Lee as M. (Mr. Lee was ill and would shortly pass away from cancer). Desmond Llewellyn gets the best moments when introducing Bond to some new lethal gadgets and scolding him about bringing the Lotus back in one piece. The guest stars are a mixed bag. There are three Bond girls in For Your Eyes Only: Carole Bouquet (who can act but the authors forgot to create an actual character for her to portray), Lynn-Holly Johnson (who can ice skate, but can’t act), and Cassandra Harris (Mrs. Pierce Brosnan and through her, he met Cubby Broccoli and eventually took over the role) who can act but unfortunately is removed from the plot far too soon. The villains and quasi-villains are fun. Both Topol and Julian Glover are enjoying themselves enormously, especially in a final catfight. Most interesting, perhaps is Michael Gothard as a stoic assassin. Mr. Gothard had one of the most unique and interesting faces in films in the 70s and 80s and he almost always made a movie more interesting just by being on screen.

For Your Eyes Only, forty years on, feels a bit period. The appearance of Sheena Easton singing the title song in the opening credits would be enough for that alone, but with the stripping away of some of the excesses that have attached themselves to other Bond films over the years, it remains a fun watch.

Citroen rolling. Crossbow bolt to back. Gratuitous wheelchair down chimney stack. Three hockey goals. Tabletop skiing. Underwater temple. Villain kicked off cliff. Piton banging. Comic parrot. Gratuitous Margaret Thatcher.

To learn more about Mrs. Norman Maine, see our Movie Rewind introduction, visit her entire back catalog and follow her on Twitter at https://twitter.com/missvickilester

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