Bond Pretitle Sequences: For Your Eyes Only
Simon Pitt |
Saturday 27th July
I’m watching all of the Bond pre-credit teasers one after another.
For Your Eyes Only
There’s a surprisingly downbeat opening to this film. Bond is putting flowers on his wife’s grave. The whole film is more serious. After the massive silliness that was Moonraker, John Glenn wanted to return to Bond’s roots.
We had gone as far as we could into space. We needed a change of some sort, back to the grass roots of Bond. We wanted to make the new film more of a thriller than a romp, without losing sight of what made Bond famous – its humour.
You can see this in the first moments of this sequence. It all goes pear shaped as the sequence progresses though, and turns into silly nonsense.
Bond at Teresa’s grave is an important moment for series continuity. Teresa Bond is the woman Bond marries in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The film was released in 1969, the year on the gravestone. The only thing is, in that film Bond was played by George Lazenby. This gravestone implies we've been watching the same Bond all along.
This has confused some people, who theorised that “James Bond” was a codename, and the different actors were different agents. In particular, it confused Lee Tamahori, the director of Die Another Day. But then making a Bond film seemed to confuse him too.
A portly vicar runs up to Bond and tells him that his office is sending a helicopter for him. For once, Roger Moore is doing some actual acting. There’s a wistful look on his face that his one moment alone at his wife’s grave has been disturbed by his career; the very thing that led to her death.
A Universal Export helicopter lands; it’s a nice touch to see that logo again. You’d think, though, that MI6 would need to change their fake companies after a while. I mean, surely this cover has been blown by now (well, in fact, it has, as we find out).
In the distance, the vicar does the sign of the cross. This isn’t a particularly sinister thing for a vicar to do. I mean, making signs of the cross is what they do for a living. But it’s the first hint that something is up.
Of course, all is not as it seems. Watching this now, I don’t really get why the vicar is in on
Blofeld the bald man with a cat’s plan. All he had to do was go up to Bond and tell him “there’ a helicopter for you”. He didn’t actually need to know the helicopter was an assassination attempt. Where did they even find a vicar who they could corrupt enough to send a man to his death, but not enough so that he wouldn’t make the sign of the cross immediately afterwards. This is jeopardising the whole operation. If Bond had been on the ball, he could have jumped out of the helicopter at this point.
Elsewhere, an unnamed figure with a cat switches on his control panel. This definitely isn’t Blofeld. Director John Glenn said of the character:
We just let people use their imaginations and draw their own conclusions ... It's a legal thing
A line that referred to him as Blofeld has been cut out. Kevin McClory had won a court cases disputing the rights of SPECTRE and Blofeld. Eon disputed McClory's ownership of the character, but created this throwaway sequence as a public gesture to say they didn’t need this character. It’s essentially a massive middle finger to McClory.
This is a bit irritating. It has no connection to the rest of the story at all, and it’s only purpose is meta-textural; it’s to square some legal wrangling between studios, entirely outside of the story. To bring this into the story is petty. I’m sure they found it very satisfying, but, like celebrating anniversaries, it’s more for their benefit than ours. It’s like going to someone else’s birthday party.
Blofeld is more camp than usual. This is real Powers stuff; the character is closer to Dr Evil than he is to the Blofeld of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. “You are now flying remote control airways,” he says, taking over the helicopter and laughing manically.
He’s toying with Bond, but it’s more of a funfair ride than genuinely scary. As torturous deaths go, this one is a little weak. People pay for this sort of ride.
Bond manages to get out of the helicopter. He seems to struggle to get through the door, and then falls onto it and it accidentally opens. I don’t know why he doesn’t smash the internal glass in the cockpit. He doesn’t even try. Surely, it would be worth a kick.
Although the shots of Moore’s face are clearly in front of a screen, there are a couple of good shots of the stunt man hanging onto the outside of the helicopter as it flies above London. Despite that, there’s not much sense of risk here.
At one point Bond slips, but we don’t see that, or get much sense of what it must be like to cling on to the outside of a helicopter. Instead, in one shot Bond is against the cabin door, in the next he’s hanging off the bottom of the helicopter. There’s no music either, which reduces the tension. In Goldeneye, the moments without music particularly stand out, but that’s because they’re slow, tense moments. This is an action sequence, and it needs John Barry’s score.
To be honest, it’s not even that much of an action sequence. Near the end, the helicopter flies so low over the ground, Bond could probably jump off if he wanted, and just end up scuffing his knees. In Licence to Kill, Bond jumps from a helicopter much higher in the air than this. Maybe he’s trying to prove something, after his dismal failure here.
Eventually, Bond gets into the cockpit. Surely at this point, if you were Dr Evil, you’d get a bit worried at this point, and get on and crash the helicopter. I mean, you know your control is just one lead clipped into it and only needs to be pulled out. But no, he carries on with his needlessly drawn out plot. “I intend to enjoy it to the full,” he cackles. Even though that means he won’t actually get to the end. He’s like someone trying to enjoy a tuna sandwich while surrounded by cats. Just eat the damn thing, don’t slowly wave it in front of their noses.
Dr Evil makes an awful quip, “I trust you had a pleasant… fright”. Even Moore seems shocked by how bad this line is. He pulls a real “who is this guy?!” face. And that’s from Roger Moore. You know your quips are bad when Roger Moore is rolling his eyes.
After all this time, Bond quite easily takes control of the helicopter and turns it around. Some relatively naff music kicks in, and Dr Evil bangs his fists in impotent fury. They’ve really made this character into a camp bit of nonsense. There’s better hand acting in Thunderbids.
You have to wonder why Blofeld (or whatever he’s called) is on his own here with just his cat. Why not have at least a few henchmen with you? If just to go get you a coffee and clean up any cat vomit. This sequence is almost abstract. Considering the rest of For Your Eyes Only is serious and well-paced, this is just weird.
Bond flies his helicopter in low and prongs the wheelchair. “Mr Bond, Mr Bond,” Blofeld screams, banging on the window. He then utters what is perhaps the strangest line in the whole Bond franchise. “We can do a deal. I’ll buy you a delicatessen. In stainless steel!”
I thought I’d heard this wrong at first and it was one of those things where he actually said “I’ll have you killed by crocodiles,” and it came out as “I’ll buy you a delicatessen,” or something. But it’s not, that’s definitely the line.
When you listen to the whole sequence, it forms little poem:
Mr Bond… Mr Bond!
In his autobiography, Albert Broccoli (the man who previously hadn’t wanted Moore to drop a fish out of the car in The Spy Who Loved Me, because it made no sense!) says he came up with this line. In the late 1930s, he claims, New York mafia gangsters used to offer establishments like delicatessen as a bribe, and the highest value ones had stainless steel countertops.
We can do a deal!
I'll buy you a delicatessen
in stainless steel!
Bond flies up to the top of a big tower, and in a silly camp scene drops the wheelchair in. Moore is smiling throughout this sequence. “Oh, you want to get off?” he says, as if he’s talking to a child, before dropping him down. There’s a comedy wheeeee effect, an explosion. Why? What explodes?
This last bit is awful. Let’s not forget, this man killed Bond’s wife. That’s going to be on Bond’s mind, because he just came from her grave. For Bond, this is grudge kill that’s been decades in the coming. But instead of showing a darker side of Bond and his vengeance, we get this silly bit of camp nonsense. Absolutely awful. Shame on you, Eon.
Name Rank and Number
I think he got the Point
- Blofeld crackles over the radio and says: “Good afternoon Mr Bond”
- As Bond climbs out of the helicopter, he says: “Think twice 007, it’s a long way down”
Do all those vodka martinis silence the screams of all the men you've killed?
- This scene begins with rather a nice exchange with the vicar. “It’s some sort of emergency,” the vicar said. Bond gives a weary look, his one moment with his wife interrupted, “It normally is,” he says.
- After this it all gets a bit silly. Particularly from the cueball in a wheelchair. “You are now flying remote control airways,” he says. That’s not even funny. Funnily enough, in the original trailer, this line was “you are now flying under remote control,” which is better line, I think. The voice was a more serious voice as well.
- Perhaps the worst quip in the series, “I trust you had a pleasant… fright.” To be honest, it hasn’t even been that scary.
- After Bond spears Blofeld, he pats him on the head saying “Alright, keep your hair on”. It’s funny because he’s bald. Sigh, this is not good.
- “Put me down!” Blofeld screams. “Oh, you want to get off?” Bond says, as if he’s talking to a little child. He then drops the wheelchair bound cripple down a tower. Oh, what a wit this Bond is!
Listen Carefully 007
- Bond kills Blofeld. And nearly the whole Bond franchise.
Perfect for relaxing after a hard day at the office
- Universal Exports is still a cover company for MI6
- In big news, this is the same Bond as played by George Lazenby. Or at least, both actors are portraying the same platonic character. Even more, the date of death is the same as the date of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
SP will return…
- Bond doesn’t have any gadgets. Blofeld is the one with the remote control helicopter. It doesn’t have Q’s workman ship.