Now pay attention, 007. Thirty five years ago this summer Roger Moore’s fifth James Bond movie For Your Eyes Only was entertaining audiences in the UK’s cinemas, having just received its World Premiere (which took place on 24th June, 1981, at the Odeon Leicester Square, in central London).
To help celebrate well over 30 years of FYEO, the JBIFC recalls some key facts, some familiar and others less so, about EON’s twelfth smash-hit entry in the hugely popular James Bond franchise. Our brief retrospective celebration is arranged under (00)7 bullet-points.
007 and Counting…
001: Licence Renewed
For quite some time after the completion of Moonraker (1979), there were doubts that Roger Moore would continue as 007, and Roger himself had expressed some open reservations. While negotiations continued, Cubby Broccoli and director John Glen, in the meantime, were forced to have a ‘Plan B’ in place just in case: their list of possible replacement Bonds included James Brolin, Lambert Wilson, and Timothy Dalton, while the main studios were pressing for rising Australian star Mel Gibson to be considered. A strong candidate was Michael Jayston (who, ironically, did go on to play Bond later in his career in a BBC Radio version of You Only Live Twice in 1990). In the event, much to everyone’s relief, a deal was finally agreed with Roger Moore at the very last minute.
002: FYEO Pre-Credits
The initial question mark over Roger’s participation in FYEO was also one of the reasons why the pre-credits featured Bond visiting his late wife Tracy’s graveside: it was felt that, had there been a new James Bond actor, this scene would have provided an immediate continuity link for the audience. It was also possibly one of the reasons why an (un-named) Blofeld appeared in the pre-credits (played by John Hollis, and voiced by the distinctive tones of Robert Rietti), a scene that was shot at Becton Gas Works in East London. This sequence also included, of course, some astonishing stunt work by Roger’s stunt double Martin Grace, involving Martin clinging to the side of a helicopter flying high over the River Thames and also directly into buildings at the Gas Works.
003: FYEO Storyline
With an eventual running time of 127 minutes on screen, the basic storyline to For Your Eyes Only had been penned by Bond screen-writing veteran Richard Maibaum with the invaluable help of Michael G. Wilson. It was based on two Ian Fleming short stories, For Your Eyes Only and Risico. A shark keel-hauling scene from Fleming’s novel Live and Let Die was also worked into the screenplay, furnishing the plot with one of the most dramatic sequences in the movie. After the space-based themes of Moonraker had pushed the very boundaries of Bond’s world as far as they could possibly go, it was felt that Bond needed to come back down to earth (to terra firma so to speak), with a more authentic and grittier plot. As John Glen later recalled: ‘We had gone as far as we could… We needed a change of some sort, back to the grass-roots of Bond’. Thus, when British spy ship St. Georges, using the Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC), is sunk accidentally by a WWII mine off the coast of Albania, agent oo7 races against time to stop the ATAC falling into the hands of Russian agents. There was a deliberate attempt to inject some of the authenticity of the earlier Bond movies into the plotline, and perhaps also restore a more ‘Fleming’ feel to the character of Bond. The plotline also reminded audiences that James Bond has a licence to kill, which sometimes involves assassination.
004: Bond’s Women
There were three main women in the movie: Melina Havelock (played by Carole Bouquet), who was out to avenge the murder of her parents, the Havelocks; ‘Countess’ Lisl Baum (played by Cassandra Harris, who happened to be the wife of the then-relatively unknown actor Pierce Brosnan); and a young ice skater Bibi Dahl (played by Lynn-Holly Johnson). According to some reports, Cubby Broccoli had been impressed with Johnson’s performance in the hit ice-skating movie Ice Castles. A smaller, but arguably still important role, was also taken by the award-winning stage actress Jill Bennet as Jacoba Brink, a skating coach, who is clearly very protective of her student. Interestingly, a young Maryam D’Abo (who went on to win the role of Kara in The Living Daylights) was apparently one of the women who also auditioned for a role in FYEO. Even more ironic was the fact that Pierce Brosnan joined his wife Cassandra at the premiere of FYEO, and it was clear that Cubby Broccoli already viewed Pierce as a potential Bond candidate.
005: Key Cast Members
As noted earlier, there had been a strong feeling, after all the humour and the over-the-top escapism of Moonraker, that James Bond needed to persuade audiences again that his life could be genuinely in danger, and – to this end – FYEO had a rich range of adversaries for 007 to face:
- Aristotle Kristatos (played by Royal Shakespeare Company actor Julian Glover)
- Eric Kreigler (John Wyman)
- Emile Leopold Locque (Michael Gothard)
- Hector Gonzales (Stephen Kalipha)
- Claus (Charles Dance)
- Apositis (Jack Klaff)
- General Anatol Gogol (Walter Gotell)
- Bald-headed man with a white cat [Blofeld in all but name!] (John Holliss – uncredited).
Director John Glen, who had been awarded the full director’s role by Cubby Broccoli after some years of loyal service to the Bond team (as both an editor and second unit director), was able to draw out a suitably serious side to Roger Moore’s performance as 007, which many fans rate as one of his best. This was also undoubtedly helped by an excellent supporting cast, including:
- Milos Columbo (played by the award-winning veteran of stage and screen, Topol)
- Ferrara, the Italian MI6 agent (John Moreno)
- Jacoba Brink (Jill Bennett)
- Bill Tanner (James Villiers, who replaced the late Bernard ‘M’ Lee after he had become seriously ill and passed away before he could start his scenes)
- Sir Timothy Havelock (played by the popular TV actor Jack Hedley)
- Frederick Gray (Geoffrey Keen)
- Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell)
- ‘Q’ (Desmond Llewelyn)
- First Sea Lord (Graham Crowden) (interestingly, this was not Crowden’s first brush with the world of Bond – in 1973 he had briefly played Auric Goldfinger on TV for the BBC’s Omnibus arts programme)
006: Main Title Music
The beautiful and haunting song ‘For Your Eyes Only’ was sung by the young Scottish singer Sheena Easton, the only singer to appear in the opening credit titles up to that date. Veteran title designer Maurice Binder had taken the very bold decision to have Sheena appear in the main titles, and this proved to be an inspired move. In one sense, it was ground-breaking, as he was pioneering the idea of the ‘music video’ some time before the debut of MTV and the growth in popularity of such a medium. The song turned out to be a major hit on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching no. 8 in the UK singles chart, and no. 4 in the US equivalent version. It received two Grammy nominations, and was also nominated for an Academy Award. Although the expectation had been that John Barry would score the soundtrack, the veteran composer found that he had such a busy schedule that he was unable to commit to the movie. The main music score was thus by American composer Bill Conti, who had been strongly recommended by Barry. It was recorded over five days in May, 1981, in a studio in Wembley in London.
007: Filming Locations
As with previous entries in the series, FYEO made use of a wide range of locations, enhanced to great effect through the very able skills of director of cinematography Alan Hume. The main locations included:
- Pinewood Studios, London, England (including monastery interiors, MI6 HQ sequences, etc)
- Stoke Poges church graveyard, near Slough, England
- Achillion, Corfu, Greece (Casino Scene)
- Bahamas (underwater scenes)
- Bouas-Danilia Village, Corfu, Greece (Greek Wedding scene)
- Cortina d’Ampezzo, Belluno, Veneto, Italy
- Meteora, central Greece (for the beautiful but isolated Monastery of the Holy Trinity)
When filming moved to the Meteora area of Greece, where 007 scales the mountain to reach the monastery hideout used by villain Kristatos, the local monks strongly objected to the filming, and tried to disrupt the proceedings by hanging their washing out of the Holy Trinity Monastery windows! This was a surprise to EON as they had negotiated with the monks beforehand and thought everything would be O.K., but when the monks realised it was a Bond movie they were not too happy. The controversy even reached the Greek Courts. After a compromise legal ruling, and a charitable donation to the monks by Cubby Broccoli, the Bond crew were able to go ahead and complete the required sequences.
Did You Know?
Stage and screen actor Julian Glover, who played the main villain Kristatos in FYEO, revealed in later interviews that he was once under consideration by Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman for the role of James Bond, around the time of Live and Let Die. Roger Moore, of course, won the prized role.