After jetting off into space for the lame Sci-fi cash-in Moonraker, the silliness was scaled back for the relatively muted For Your Eyes Only. After a British submarine is sunk off the coast of Greece, Bond is tasked with finding its valuable cargo and stopping it falling into the wrong hands.
Arriving at the half-way mark of Bond’s current franchise output – we are now are movie number 12 of 23 – it’s fair to say that the series has up to this point been peppered with some great highs and some substantial lows. Sandwiched between Moonraker and the utterly farcical Octopussy, you’d be forgiven for assuming For Your Eyes Only would be one of the worse entries in the series. In fact upon re-examination, its actually one of Moore’s finest Bonds: an overlooked entry which sees Roger ditch the smug bastard routine and appear more human that he ever has, or indeed ever will during his run.
Aside from treating women (for the most part) as actual humans, a miracle in itself, he leaves behind the corny jokes and actually gets shit done in this film. Moving from one impressive set-piece to the next, he even manages to mildly satisy as a proper hard spy; from skiing down a bobsleigh track at break-neck speed, to getting dragged through a coral reef by a speed boat (ouch) and climbing a huge sheer cliff face, Moore has rarely seen so much action. If it wasn’t for his age, which is plain for all to see by this point, this could have been the high-point of his Bond career. It may seem laughably far-fetched at times that a man in his mid fifties is doing all this, but Moore has never been more tolerable.
Sadly the supporting cast aren’t very inspiring, which is perhaps why this is an entry that has largely been forgotten. Main Bond girl Melina is a bit dull, but at least she gets the chance to do stuff without Moore constantly leering over her like a perverted uncle. Bad guy Kristatos, played by Indiana Jones and Game of Thrones alumni Julian Glover isn’t particularly memorable either, although there is a notable early appearance from Charles Dance as one of his hitmen.
For Your Eyes Only may not be amongst the best, but it does the job admirably and with some genuinely impressive moments of action dotted throughout. If you can tolerate the incredibly cheesy disco inflected score, then this is one of Moore’s stronger efforts by far. It’s a shame that his tenure didn’t end here before it got considerably worse.
Bond theme: Scottish singer Sheena Easton was on vocal duties this time, with the opening credits being notable for being one of the first and only Bond films to actually feature the artist in person. The song itself isn’t one of the best, but in the great tradition of Bond themes it’s great to sing along to when drunk.
Best one liner: This is mercifully free of Moore’s usual smug quips, though as a consequence there are not really any one-liners to speak of, and the ones that surface aren’t very memorable.
Glamorous Locations: After the hideous pre-credit sequence in London, Bond heads to the Italian Alps for a spot of skiing (again) and heads to Greece via Corfu. Most memorable though are the monasteries atop the sheer cliff faces of Meteora on mainland Greece; a breathtaking location and suitably preposterous enough to house a Bond villain.
Girls: Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet) bears the brunt of Bond’s affections after she teams up with him to take down the man who killed her parents. Moore treats her like a person, rather than just a sex object, in this film which is a pleasant surprise though. Countess Lisl (Cassandra Harris) fares less better: after their one and only night together, she’s run over by a beach buggy outside her home. Young professional ice skater Bibi (Lynn-Holly Johnson) unfathomably falls head over heels for Moore’s leathery Bond, but in a rare moment of restraint he spurns her advances. For Your Eyes Only is also the first and only Bond to feature a trans woman (Caroline ‘Tula’ Cossey), who played an extra in the pool scene. She was shamelessly outed by the News of the World shortly after the film’s release, to much controversy and the near-end of her career. She devoted much of her time to fighting for trans rights thereafter.
Gadgets: None to speak of as such, however Q’s ‘high tech’ identograph allows Bond to create a bafflingly accurate composite of the bad guy by describing his face. His watch also doubles as a communication device, which he uses to facilitate a conversation between a parrot and Margaret Thatcher at the film’s conclusion. One of cinema’s finest moments, clearly.
Classic moment: Hanging from the side of a sheer cliff, Bond makes the brutal climb while a henchman slowly but surely knocks out his climbing pegs. Reaching the top just before the last peg is dislodged, Bond gets one of his handy throwing knives and chucks at his head, sending him tumbling to his death. It’s a brilliantly tense scene, and remains one of Moore’s finest moments as Bond.
Low point: After engaging in a bitter legal battle with Kevin McClory over the rights to Thunderball, Eon were unable to utilise Blofeld as a villain. In a show of contempt, the opening sequence shows Bond offing an ‘anonymous’ villain (quite clearly resembling Blofeld, complete with cat) by dropping him from a helicopter down a chimney stack. ‘We can do a deal!’ Blofeld cries as Bond flies him high above a London industrial estate; ‘I’ll buy you a delicatessen! In stainless steel!’. ‘Oh, do you want to get off?’ jests Bond before watching him plummet to his death to the horrendous, disco-funk inflected theme. Clearly the offer of a stainless steel delicatessen just wasn’t enticing enough.
TELSTAR’S BIG BOND COUNTDOWN WILL RETURN WITH… OCTOPUSSY