You Only Live Twice
|You Only Live Twice (1967) is the fifth spy film in the James Bond series, and the fifth to star Sean Connery as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond. The film’s screenplay was written by Roald Dahl, and loosely based on Ian Fleming’s 1964 novel of the same name. It is the first James Bond film to discard most of Fleming’s plot, using only a few characters and locations from the book as the background for an entirely new story.
In the film, Bond is dispatched to Japan after American and Soviet manned spacecraft disappear mysteriously in orbit. With each nation blaming the other amidst the Cold War, Bond travels secretly to a remote Japanese island in order to find the perpetrators and comes face to face with Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. The film reveals the appearance of Blofeld who was previously a partially unseen character. SPECTRE is both working on behalf of and extorting the government of an unnamed Asian power, implied to be Red China, in order to provoke war between the superpowers.
It was announced during the Japanese location filming that Sean Connery would retire from the role of Bond; but Connery returned, after a hiatus, in Diamonds Are Forever and the non-Eon Bond film Never Say Never Again. You Only Live Twice is the first Bond film to be directed by Lewis Gilbert, who later directed 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me and 1979’s Moonraker, both starring Roger Moore. These three Bond films are notable for being epic in scale.
The first Bond film to be released in the northern hemisphere summertime, the film was a great success, with positive reviews and over $111 million in worldwide box office and has been parodied most prominently by the Austin Powers series and its scar-faced, Nehru suit-wearing Dr. Evil.
An American spacecraft is hijacked by an unidentified spacecraft. The US suspect it was a work of the Soviets, but the British believe the spacecraft landed in the Sea of Japan, thus suspecting Japanese involvement. To investigate, MI6 operative, James Bond, agent 007, is sent to Tokyo.
Upon arrival, Bond is contacted by Aki, assistant to the Japanese secret service leader Tiger Tanaka, who introduces Bond to local MI6 operative, Dikko Henderson. Henderson claims to have critical evidence about the rogue craft but is killed before he can elaborate. Bond chases and kills the assailant, disguises himself and gets in the getaway car, which takes him to Osato Chemicals; once there, Bond subdues the driver and breaks into an office safe of president Mr. Osato. After stealing documents, Bond is chased out by armed security, eventually being picked up by Aki, who flees to a secluded subway station. Bond chases her, but falls down a trap door leading to Tanaka’s office. The stolen documents are examined, which includes a photograph of the cargo ship Ning-Po and a microdot message saying the tourist who took the photo was killed as a security precaution.
Bond goes to Osato Chemicals to meet Mr. Osato himself, masquerading as a potential new buyer. Osato humours Bond and after their meeting orders his secretary, Helga Brandt, to have Bond killed. Outside the building, assassins open fire on Bond before Aki rescues him and the assassins are disposed of via helicopter and a magnetic grab. Bond and Aki continue driving to Kobe, where the Ning-Po is docked. After being discovered by more SPECTRE henchmen, they give chase but Bond eludes them until Aki gets away and Bond is captured. He awakens tied up in Helga Brandt’s cabin on the Ning-Po: she interrogates Bond, who bribes his way out of imprisonment. Brandt then flies Bond to Tokyo, but en route she sets off a flare in the plane and bails out. Bond manages to land the crashing plane and escape. Bond then investigates the company’s dock facilities and discovers that the ship was delivering elements for rocket fuel. Bond and Tanaka learn that the true mastermind behind this is Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE.
After finding out where the Ning-Po unloaded, Bond investigates the area by a heavily armed autogyro, Little Nellie. Near a volcano Bond is attacked by helicopters, which he defeats, confirming his suspicions that SPECTRE’s base is nearby. A Soviet spacecraft is then captured by SPECTRE, heightening tensions between Russia and the US. Bond prepares to conduct a closer investigation of the island by training with Tanaka’s ninjas, during which an attempted assassination attempt on Bond kills Aki. Bond is disguised and stages a marriage to Tanaka’s student, Kissy Suzuki.
Acting on a lead from Suzuki, she and Bond set out on reconnaissance to the cave; they investigate the cave and the volcano above it, establishing that the mouth of the volcano is a disguised hatch to a secret rocket base; Bond slips in through the crater door, while Kissy returns to alert Tanaka. Bond locates and frees the captured astronauts and with their help, steals a spacesuit in attempt to infiltrate the SPECTRE craft “Bird One”. Before he can enter the craft, Blofeld notices Bond and he is detained while Bird One is launched.
Bird One closes in on the American space capsule and US forces prepare to launch a nuclear attack on the USSR. Meanwhile, the Japanese Secret Service ninjas climb the mountain to attempt to enter through the upper hatch, but are spotted by the base’s security and fired upon. Bond tricks Blofeld and manages to create a diversion that allows him to open the hatch, letting in the ninjas. During the battle, the control room is evacuated and Osato is killed by Blofeld. Bond escapes and fights his way to the control room where he defeats Blofeld’s bodyguard, Hans, Bond activates the spacecraft’s self-destruct before it reaches the American craft and the Americans stand down their weapons.
Blofeld activates the base’s self-destruct system and escapes. Bond, Kissy, Tanaka, and the surviving ninjas escape through the cave tunnel before it explodes, and are rescued by submarine.