Bond Pretitle Sequences: You Only Live Twice
Simon Pitt |
Friday 16th August
I’m watching all of the Bond pre-credit teasers one after another.
You Only Live Twice
Connery is Bond! Although, by the time You Only Live Twice came out, Connery was fed up being Bond. And fed up hearing people say, "Connery is Bond". The atmosphere on the film set was tense.
We open on a space ship, the rather extravagantly named "Jupiter 16". It’s only orbiting the Earth, so the name is a bit of a misnomer. It’s like calling the “Heathrow Express” train the “Africa 7”. I guess they have to call them something, and they couldn’t call them “Just Above the Earth 16”.
Quite a lot of Bond films have space ships in them. Moonraker, of course, begins with a space ship being stolen. But Diamonds are Forever is about a space laser too. As is Goldeneye. And Die Another Day.
It’s just another mundane day on this spaceship. The control room asks some boring questions about O2 pressure. The astronauts decide to pop out for a breath of fresh air. This is quite a dangerous thing to do, but of all the dangers, you’d think that getting hijacked wouldn’t be one of them.
“There’s an unidentified object closing on you fast,” control says, strangely calmly. You’d think they’d be a bit more worked up about this. It’s not like they’re trying to get a space in the car park and someone nips in and grabs it.
Eventually, they see the ship. “The front is opening up,” the astronaut says, “I repeat, the front is opening up!” Of all of the things to repeat! Is that really the most important detail here is?
There’s a terrifying moment, where the lifeline is cut. John Barry’s score comes to a shrieking climax and then silence as the man floats off into space. I’ve always been terrified of floating off into space. I listened to a 1950s radio drama called Journey Into Space a lot when I was little. The first episode ends with a cliff-hanger as one of the main characters floats off into space. It still haunts me now.
And then we see Scott Tracy from Thunderbirds (Shane Rimmer) again! In his second Bond pre-credit sequence, this time he appears as himself rather than voicing someone else. “We’ve lost all radio contact,” he says on the phone. I don’t quite know why they’ve switched to using phones now.
This is actually a who’s who of Gerry Anderson programmes. Captain Blue (Ed Bishop) is there as the Hawaii operator (who seems to be almost entirely on his own). And Shane Weston from Joe 90 (David Healy) is there in the next scene too.
We cut to some snowy hills with two large gold balls on top. Inside some bearded Russians are arguing with some angry Americans. They’ve set up tables for each other as if it’s an international summit. It’s all strangely civilised, considering how much they’re arguing. “The world knows we are a peace loving people,” the USSR representative jokes.
“May I ask what motive, our Russians friends would have?” the charming, debonair British Foreign Secretary says. The Americans are like over excited children, they believe the Russians want “Complete and absolute control of space itself”. The Russians are ruffians. But the Foreign Secretary is upper-middle class, suave and reserved. Oh, it makes me proud to be British. And it’s not often you hear me come out with that sort of nationalistic nonsense.
“We don’t agree,” he drawls, “her majesty’s government is not convinced.” Hurray for England. For stiff Brits and, most of all, hurray for “our man in Hong Kong.”
Of course, this is Bond. And of course, he’s “with a lady”.
Connery is a bit gruff here. “Why do Chinese girls taste different from all other girls?” Not better, he stresses, “just different, like Peking Duck is different from Russian caviar.” Is that racist?
“I give you very best duck,” Ling says. And no, filthy mind, she definitely say “duck”. However, she’s not going to order a takeaway, instead, she flicks a switch and the bed flies up into the wall. It’s a pattern we see repeated again and again in Bond pre-title sequences: Bond is with a lady who then betrays him. He really can pick them.
I always think of these beds as “boing-boing-whoosh” after the description in Stuart: A Life Backwards:
In return for a crate of Foster’s, Stuart explains from the kitchen, ‘the bloke upstairs has promised to make me a James Bond mattress base that folds up against the wall, which will give me more room. It’ll have big springs on either side what does the moving, and latches on the floor, because otherwise, it’s boing, boing, whoosh.’
The sub plot of the creation of this “James Bond bed” trundles along in the background for the rest of the book:
‘Boing, boing, whoosh?’
‘Well, a bird’s not going to be too happy if she suddenly finds her face squeezed against the plaster, is she?’
And the light came from outside, he saw that too. It pierced through the reflective sheeting on his window that the neighbour had put up for him to stop people looking in – the same neighbour who’d promised to make (but never had) the boing, boing, whoosh, folding James Bond bed.
Things are going equally as bad for Connery. Two men rush in and shoot at the bed. One thing I’ve always thought strange is that it sounds like they knock on the door before running in. Typical Chinese manners I suppose.
The police arrive, and seem to enter via the side door. They have a silly little walk too. “We’re too late,” the chief sighs. He doesn’t bother to check Bond’s pulse or any fancy medical stuff like that. He’s old school, and just assumes Bond’s dead.
“Well, at least he died on the job,” one of the policemen says. It seems a strange consolation. At least he died on the job? Is that how he always reacts? If a lifeguard jumped into the pool to save someone and drowned, would he just shrug and say “at least they died on the job.” It seems strangely heartless as well. I mean, a man has just died; been murdered no less.
It’s a shocking ending to the pre-credit teaser. It ends on a proper cliffhanger. There’s a cliffhanger of sorts in The Man with the Golden Gun. But this is a proper one. Or at least it would be if the film wasn’t called “You Only Live Twice”.
This is one of the “prologue” pre-title sequences again. Like The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker and Live and Let Die. It’s a rather extravagant event: someone stealing a space ship. But this seems to be the style of Bond pre-title sequences. If we have a sequence that doesn’t feature Bond, it does have to be cinematically extravagant in some other way.
Name Rank and Number
I think he got the Point
- The foreign secretary refers to Bond as “Our man in Hong Kong is working on it now”
- Bond’s name, however, is never mentioned. The police just refer to him as “he”.
Do all those vodka martinis silence the screams of all the men you've killed?
- “At least he died on the job,” the police chief says. It wasn’t really the job, though, was it?
- “I give you very best duck,” Ling says. Rude!
Listen Carefully 007
- Bond doesn’t kill anyone.
Perfect for relaxing after a hard day at the office
- Bond has been dispatched to Hong Kong to look into the disappearance of a space ship. And it probably wasn’t the Russians
SP will return…
- Bond doesn’t have any gadgets. The closest we get is a bed that flips up into a wall. Boing, boing, whoosh.