MI6 trawls the archives to see how critics of the day received Roger Moore's down to earth outing as James Bond in the 1981 film "For Your Eyes Only"...

Time Tunnel: Review Rewind
7th June 2009

New York Times - June 26th, 1981
Forget about the relationship of this planet to the sun. Whenever possible, summer officially begins with the release of a new James Bond film - that is, today, with the opening at Loews State 1 and other theaters of ''For Your Eyes Only,'' the 12th in the phenomenally successful series of movies that was initiated almost 20 years ago with ''Dr. No.''

Nothing else in our popular culture has endured with such elan as Agent 007, whether played by Sean Connery, by George Lazenby (briefly, in ''On Her Majesty's Secret Service'') or by the incumbent, Roger Moore. Not the least of the feats of the Bond films is their having outlived all the imitations, particularly the Matt Helm and Flint pictures.

''For Your Eyes Only'' is not the best of the series by a long shot - that would be a choice between ''Goldfinger'' and ''Moonraker'' - but it's far from the worst. It has a structural problem in that it opens with a precredit helicopter chase - in, over, around and through London - which is so lunatic and inventive that the rest of the movie is hard-put to achieve such a fever-pitch again.

Though Mr. Moore shows no sign of tiring - his Bond retains an ageless cool that remains outside of time - the screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Michael Wilson is occasionally lazy, allowing us fleeting moments of introspection when logic raises its boring head. One of the secrets of the best of the Bonds is the manner in which we, in the audience, are made willing accomplices to illogic.

Above: Carole Bouquet and Roger Moore in "For Your Eyes Only".

''For Your Eyes Only'' is the first feature film to be directed by John Glen, who has been the editor and second-unit director on several earlier Bond pictures, including ''Moonraker,'' for which he directed the spectacular free-fall fight sequence that opened the movie. Considering Mr. Glen's experience as an editor, it's surprising that some of the action sequences in ''For Your Eyes Only,'' especially an underwater fight between Bond and a villain, both in diving suits, should be more confusing than suspenseful. In a James Bond movie, a little ambiguity of this sort is much too much.



Most of the time, though, ''For Your Eyes Only'' is a slick entertainment in which Bond's mission is to locate a sunken British spy ship, one that contains some potentially lethal equipment sought by the Russians and that went down perilously close to the coast of Albania. The film, which was shot on location in Greece, Corfu and the Italian Alps, contains a great deal of natural scenery in which Bond swims, dives, skis, drives, falls and flies, and from which he emerges never scratched so badly that he can't carry on.

''For Your Eyes Only'' is not the spaced-out fun that ''Moonraker'' was, but its tone is consistently comic even when the material is not. It has no villains to match Goldfinger or Jaws, but it has one of the most appealing leading ladies of any Bond picture. She is Carole Bouquet, the tall, dark-haired beauty who played one-half of the title role in Luis Bunuel's ''That Obscure Object of Desire.''

The supporting cast includes Topol, who still can't resist playing cute when straight would be better; Lynn-Holly Johnson as a champion ice skater, which she is; Julian Glover as the principal bad guy, and Michael Gotherd, who gives a new, evil connotation to the wearing of octagonal-shaped glasses.

The film's very funny postscript introduces one of Britain's most famous married couples, played wickedly by John Wells and Janet Brown. And Maurice Binder's opening titles, always one of the fancier features of the Bond movies, are still terrific.

Variety - June, 1981
For Your Eyes Only bears not the slightest resemblance to the Ian Fleming novel of the same title, but emerges as one of the most thoroughly enjoyable of the 12 Bond pix [to date] despite fact that many of the usual ingredients in the successful 007 formula are missing.

The film is probably the best-directed on all levels since On Her Majesty's Secret Service, as John Glen, moving into the director's chair after long service as second unit director and editor, displays a fine eye.

Story also benefits from presence of a truly sympathetic heroine, fetchingly portrayed by Carole Bouquet, who exhibits a humanity and emotionalism not frequently found in this sort of pop adventure and who takes a long time (the entire picture, in fact) to jump into the sack with him.

M is gone, due to Bernard Lee's death; Bond doesn't make his first feminine conquest until halfway through the picture; there's no technology introduced by Q which saves the hero in the end; no looming supervillain dominates the drama; Bond bon mots are surprisingly sparse, and the fate of the whole world isn't even hanging in the balance at the climax.


Time - June 29th, 1981
This is the age of the machine-made movie. Hollywood, once called the dream factory, is now in the recycling business. George Lucas compresses old movie serials into Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Brian De Palma and a dozen other directors pay homage to (read: steal shamelessly from) the films of Alfred Hitchcock. Albert R. Broccoli is the same but different: Since Dr. No, the producer's first James Bond movie, in 1962, he has remade his own picture eleven times. To evaluate For Your Eyes Only and the other Bond movies, it helps to think of them not as, say, different vintages of a fine Bordeaux but as successive models off the Pontiac assembly line. In one vehicle there may be an annoying ping in the engine of narrative; in another the dialogue may be as sleek as Genuine Corinthian Leather. But all meet the same standards of speed, styling and emotion control. If there is no Rolls-Royce in the Bond series, there is also no Pinto.


Once again Bond matches wits with nasty men and lips with shady ladies. Once again his work takes him to a bunch of tony vacation spots (the Dolomites, Corfu, Spain, Albania, Moscow in winter). Once again the fate of the world is threatened by—what is it this time?—a nuclear-sub tracking system that has fallen into enemy hands, and can be saved by one lone agent working for an empire over which the sun set long ago.

This is all standard equipment, but the technicians responsible for the Bond films' felicities—car chases, aerobatics, all the sophisticated paraphernalia of Saturday-matinee thrills—have devised some splendid optional features for For Your Eyes Only. There is a funny-brutal pentathlon of alpine sports: cross-country skiing with hired assassins; a two-man ski jump with the competitors gouging each other in midair; downhill racing at gunpoint; a bobsled run on skis; ice hockey using players as pucks. Director Glen has kept the plot moving briskly, and, in several action sequences, clipped a frame or two from within a shot to increase the impact.

With prominent display of Bond's Lotus Esprit Turbo, a Neptune two-man submarine and a "Jim" diving suit, For Your Eyes Only is an accumulation of gadgets and brand names—a Radio Shack of a boy wizard's dreams.

At the end one must remind oneself that human beings—actors, actually—are also involved in the enterprise. Carole Bouquet (23, long dark hair, Aegean-blue eyes, lissome frame) is the love interest, and more: a warrior goddess who saves Bond's life at least as often as he saves hers, and a welcome addition to this summer's gallery of can-do heroines. Topol, as the wily Greek smuggler Columbo, should be in the "Guinness Book of Word Wreckers"; he is perhaps the first performer to demonstrate the art of overacting by chewing pistachio nuts.

Then there is Roger Moore, haberdasher's delight and director's despair. Moore's mannequin good looks and waxed-fruit insouciance have brought him far in movies; this is his fifth Bond picture. He can crinkle up a smile, speak Received Standard English, negotiate a hairpin turn or a femme fatale's proposition—all the things real people do. But beneath his suave double-entendres and amplified body blows, one can hear the sound of expensive gears meshing—for Moore is merely the best-oiled cog in this perpetual motion machine.

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