Archive for You Only Live Twice

Japan in You Only Live Twice

Posted in Ian Fleming with tags , , , on January 15, 2008 by Deborah Lipp

As I mentioned a few days ago, I just re-read Ian Fleming’s You Only Live Twice.

One thing that struck me during this reading was the view of Japan and the Japanese culture. I’d always thought of the novel as a kind of celebration, even fetishization, of everything Japanese. But on closer examination, Fleming is actually really hostile to Japan. The food is weird, sake is served in irritating little thimbles, the ninjas think they’re all that but the German SS would have wiped the floor with them, and the clothes are chintzy. They’re conformists, they’re obsessed with death, and they brought Doctor Shatterhand’s suicide garden on themselves. Barely a page turns without some dripping disdain pointed Japan’s way.

And what’s interesting is that YOLT is often described as a sort of loving travelogue, whereas it’s almost the opposite. Food for thought.

Lost in Translation

Posted in References, Roger Moore, Sean Connery with tags , , , , on January 4, 2008 by Deborah Lipp

The movie Lost in Translation, which I watched last night, has a lot of James Bond tie-in. First, Bill Murray’s character is filming a Suntory Whiskey commercial in Tokyo. Then he does a photo shoot for the product’s magazine ads. The photographer, whose English is minimal, asks Murray to assume various poses and suggests a James Bond pose (mimes shooting a gun) and says “Roger Moore! Roger Moore!” Murray says he prefers Connery, but the photographer says “No, no Connery. Roger Moore!”

Connery did a Suntory Whiskey ad.

At another point in the film, an American actress staying at the hotel sings in the hotel lounge (the lounge singer must be on break) and does an awful rendition of Nobody Does It Better.

Overall, the enormous anxiety of being a foreigner in Tokyo, expressed in the film, also seems to tie into You Only Live Twice.

James Bond enjoys the movies

Posted in Ian Fleming with tags , , on January 2, 2008 by Deborah Lipp

In the novel You Only Live Twice, Kissy Suzuki has a cormorant named David. In this conversation, Bond and Kissy discuss the bird:

‘So this is David?’

‘Yes. I named him after the only man I liked in Hollywood, an Englishman as it happens. He was called David Niven. He is a famous actor and producer. You have heard of him?’

‘Of course. I shall enjoy tossing him a scrap or two of fish in exchange for the pleasure he has given me in his other incarnation.’

This is Fleming being cute, of course. David Niven was his first choice to play Bond. (And did play Bond, after a fashion, in Casino Royale, three years after this novel was published.

But back to the fictional Bond. It strikes me so odd that James Bond has received pleasure from the movies. I seem to recall Bond saying in the novel Casino Royale that he has no time for theater or film. One can easily see him in a cultural vacuum, what with the sense of isolation and the constant travel. I can picture him turning on the TV, at home, resting, or in an anonymous hotel room. But going to the movies? It seems very not-Bond. Does he like comedies, like Niven’s My Man Godfrey? Or drama, like Niven’s Separate Tables? I can imagine him getting lost in gazing at a beautiful starlet and losing track of the plot.

Top Bond Films

Posted in Best & Worst with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

From my surveys of a few hundred hardcore Bond fans, asking for a top five, the top ten vote-getters are:
1. Casino Royale (2006)
2. From Russia With Love
3. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
4. The Living Daylights
5. Goldfinger
6. For Your Eyes Only
7. Thunderball
8. Licence to Kill/Dr. No (tie)
10. The Spy Who Loved Me

From the IMDb’s survey of over 11,000 users, asking only for one favorite Bond film back in December of 2006, the top ten vote-getters were:

1. Casino Royale (2006)
2. Goldfinger
3. GoldenEye
4. From Russia With Love
5. Dr. No
6. On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
7. The Spy Who Loved Me
8. Live and Let Die
9. You Only Live Twice
10. Thunderball

Could Blofeld Ever Return?

Posted in Ian Fleming, James Bond with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2007 by Deborah Lipp

In comments, Zippertuck asks:

I am a bit confused as to exactly when CR takes place and wondering, even though he was shoved down a smokestack in FYEO, if Blofeld could ever return for an more appropriate death? Never ever liked how Bond never truly got to avenge the death of his wife in true Bondian fashion as happened in the novel YOLT.

Great question. I’m going to deal with CR and chronology in a future post. For now, let’s talk about Blofeld.

In order to understand what happened to Blofeld in the films, you need a little bit of familiarity with the lawsuit over Thunderball. The short version is that Kevin McClory, Jack Whittingham, and Ian Fleming collaborated on a television screenplay, but it never went anywhere. Sometime later, Fleming used the abandoned screenplay as the basis for the novel Thunderball. McClory and Whittingham sued. As a result, McClory established ownership of the right to make movies out of Thunderball (which he exercised when he made Never Say Never Again; a remake of TB). (Whittingham signed over his rights to McClory.)

The settlement also gave McClory the rights to unique elements of the novel, including the character of Blofeld. When McClory couldn’t finance filming TB on his own, he made a deal with Eon to co-produce TB, and that deal prevented him from remaking the movie for twelve years. During those twelve years, Eon continued to use Blofeld and SPECTRE. Blofeld was slated to be the villain for TSWLM, which fell outside those years, and that was changed to Stromberg for legal reasons. That was the end of Blofeld in the Bond films.

When John Glenn directed his first Bond film, FYEO, he wanted to resolve the issue of Bond’s revenge upon Blofeld. Thus, the “Man in Wheelchair” character was introduced into the teaser, allowing Bond to kill an unnamed enemy clearly designed to be Blofeld. (Glenn’s memoir, For My Eyes Only, explains that Blofeld was in a wheelchair because he had been injured in OHMSS. I guess he forgot that Blofeld walked just fine in DAF. Maybe he doesn’t see the ones he doesn’t work on.)

Kevin McClory died last year. It is unclear where the rights now reside, but it seems unlikely that SPECTRE or Blofeld will ever return.