You Only Live Twice

 Release Details - Credits - Music - Cast - Notes

release details
Date of release: 12 June 1967 (UK), 13 June 1967 (US)
Running time: 116 mins
Aspect ratio: 2.35 : 1
Classification: PG (UK), PG (US)

Alternative titles: A Man Lives Only Twice (Germany), One Doesn't Live More Than Twice (France), 007 Dies Twice (Japan), It Only Lives Twice (Latin America).

Directed by: Lewis Gilbert
Produced by: Harry Saltzman and Albert R Broccoli
Screenplay by: Roald Dahl
Additional story material by: Harold Jack Bloom
Production designed by: Ken Adam
Director of photography: Freddie Young BSC
Second unit director and supervising editor: Peter Hunt
Special effects: John Stears
Action sequences by: Bob Simmons
Main title designed by: Maurice Binder

Music composed and conducted by: John Barry

Main theme: "You Only Live Twice"
Sung by: Nancy Sinatra
Lyrics by: Leslie Bricusse
Highest chart position: 11 (UK)

Musical notes: The secondary Bond theme known as "007" is used for the sequence when Bond flies Little Nellie; it was previously heard in From Russia With Love and Thunderball.
The string section from the main theme was heavily sampled in a song called by "Millennium" by Robbie Williams that reached number 1 in the UK charts in 1998.

James Bond: Sean Connery
Aki: Akiko Wakabayashi
Kissy: Mia Hama
Tiger Tanaka: Tetsuro Tamba (dubbed by Robert Rietty)
Mr Osato: Terli Shimada
Helga Brandt: Karin Dor
Ernst Stavro Blofeld: Donald Pleasence
M: Bernard Lee
Miss Moneypenny: Lois Maxwell
Q: Desmond Llewelyn
Dikko Henderson: Charles Gray
Chinese Girl in Hong Kong (Ling): Tsai Chin
Car Driver: Peter Fanene Maivia
SPECTRE Number 3: Burt Kwouk
SPECTRE Number 4: Michael Chow
Blofeld's Bodyguard (Hans): Ronald Rich
Bond's Masseuse: Jeanne Roland
Bedroom Assassin: David Toguri
Submarine Captain: John Stone
Astronauts (1st American spacecraft): Norman Jones, Paul Carson
Astronauts (Russian spacecraft): Laurence Herder, Richard Graydon
Astronauts (2nd American spacecraft): Bill Mitchell, George Roubicek.

Hong Kong Policeman: Anthony Ainley, Patrick Jordan
Russian Ambassador: George Murcell
British Foreign Secretary: Robin Bailey
British Diplomat: Edward Mulhare
President's Aide: Robert Hutton
US President: Alexander Knox
US Diplomat: David Bauer
US General: Bill Nagy
SPECTRE Guard: Anthony Chin
Hawaii Control Room Technicians: Ed Bishop, Shane Rimmer
Houston Radar Operator: David Healy
Pentagon Official: William Sylvester
Russian Radio Operator: Richard Marner
Bath Girls: Mai Ling, Yasuko Nagazumi, Yee-Wah Yang
Control Room Technicians: Cecil Cheng, Hans De Vries, Moris Farhi, Jonathan Hanson, Andu Ho, Stephen Hubay, Kristopher Kum, Peter Taylor, Zsolt Vadaszffy, Tommy Yapp

The gunbarrel: The footage introduced in Thunderball is reused, although it is in black and white. The arrangement of the music is faster than in that film and uses a regular guitar instead of electric. The theme is also in the key of f minor, rather of e minor as most of the other films.

Using the title: The title is justified by the faking of Bond's death at the start of the film. The title is then used explicitly later in an exchange between Blofeld and Bond:
"They told me you were assassinated in Hong Kong."
"Yes, this my second life."
"You only live twice, Mr Bond".

The novel approach: You Only Live Twice was the first film to radically depart from its source novel. Fleming's version of the story is a brooding affair exploring the aftermath of the death of Bond's wife in the previous book, "On Her Majesty's Secret Service". Since this had not happened within the chronology of the movies, it was necessary for the adaptation of "You Only Live Twice" to jettison most of the plot. It only retained the Japanese setting, various characters (Tiger Tanaka, Henderson and the presence of Blofeld) and Bond going undercover as a Japanese fisherman, involving his marriage to Kissy.

On Her Majesty's Secret Service: For the first time there are no scenes at the Secret Service headquarters. Instead M is operating from a submarine ("M1") due to the seriousness of the situation. M is seen in naval uniform, indicating that he is an admiral (a reference to the M of Fleming's novels, who was named as Admiral Sir Miles Messervy). Moneypenny is also wearing uniform. She is referred to as "Penny" by Bond, but it is unclear whether this is just a nickname or actually her first name.
The Secret Service has a man in Tokyo, Henderson, although they are mainly supported by the Japanese Secret Intelligence Service, headed by one Tiger Tanaka. The code phrase for use between MI6 and the Japanese SIS is "I love you".

Locations: The main action starts off in Hong Kong, before moving to various locations in Japan, including Tokyo and the island of Matsu. There are also brief scenes in outer space, Cape Cod US mission control, a tracking station in Hawaii, the Pentagon, a Russian launch site, and a conference centre in an unidentified (but snowy) location.

The villain: After the build-up in From Russia With Love and Thunderball we finally get to meet Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the head of SPECTRE. In a nice touch, Blofeld is shown as a shadowy figure as in the earlier films up until the point where Bond meets him. Blofeld is revealed to be bald and to have a nasty scar over his eye, although no reason for this is given.
Blofeld is operating from a base within a dormant volcano in a plan that involves hijacking American and Russian spacecraft in an attempt to trigger a war between the two superpowers, in exchange for a fee of 100 million dollars by from an un-named foreign power (although it is implied it's the Chinese). Of course, Bond foils the plot and the volcano base goes up in flames, but Blofeld himself escapes.
There are a number of minor villains supporting Blofeld, principally Mr Osato, head of Osato Chemicals and Engineering Co. Ltd, ostensibly a legitimate Tokyo businessman, and Helga Brandt, supposedly Osato's secretary and pilot, but actually SPECTRE Number 11. Both are killed by Blofeld for their failures. Blofeld also has his own bodyguard, Hans, who Bond feeds to his master's pet piranhas.

The girl: You Only Live Twice is unusual in that the role of the Bond girl is split between two characters. The first is Aki, a Japanese SIS agent who is Bond's contact in Tokyo. We don't find out much about her, other than that she drives a neat white Toyota sports car, but Bond seems very taken with her and keen to marry her as part of his fisherman's cover. However, she doesn't make it to the end of the film since she is killed by a SPECTRE assassin with poison intended for Bond.
The final part of the film then introduces another female agent who poses as Bond's wife when he is disguised as a simple Japanese fisherman. She is not actually named in the film, but is credited as Kissy (the character in the novel is called Kissy Suzuki). We learn little about Kissy other than the fact that her parents are dead.

Bond's conquests: Three - Aki, Helga Brandt and Kissy (assuming that he wasn't interrupted too soon by Moneypenny at the end of the film). He appears to start early in the film, with Ling, the girl in Hong Kong, but he is interrupted by machine gun fire before he has the chance to sample her "Peking duck".

Gadgets: The main gadget used by Bond is Little Nellie, an autogyro that can be transported in four large suitcases and then assembled into a formidable aircraft. She is equipped with two fixed machine guns (synchronised to a range of 100 yards), smoke emitters, air-to-air missiles, a flame thrower (with a range of 80 yards) and aerial mines. Bond has clearly used Little Nellie before, although that was before Q had fitted some of the armaments.
Bond also uses some other gadgets in the shape of a safe-cracking device and some climbing suckers that attach to his hands and knees. Tanaka also supplies Bond with a case of cigarettes that each contain a miniature rocket launcher.

Recurring characters: As mentioned above, Blofeld is finally revealed as the main villain of the movie after previously featuring as a supporting character in From Russia With Love and Thunderball. In a neat continuity touch Blofeld wears an octopus ring as he did in those two films. Donald Pleasence was a late choice for the role when the original actor, Jan Werich, fell ill.

Continuity: The main element of continuity is of course the presence of SPECTRE. Bond is clearly suspecting to become involved with them again since he suggests that they are behind the plot to abduct spacecraft on the basis of little evidence.
It is mentioned that Bond has not visited Japan before. However, in From Russia Wih Love he told Tanya Romanova about the time that he was in Tokyo with M.

I didn't catch the name?: Bond doesn't give his trademark introduction. This is understandable given the fact that he is operating undercover following his supposed death.

Vodka Martinis: Henderson provides Bond with Russian vodka, "stirred not shaken". Bond comments that it is perfect, but seems to be humouring him. Later, 007 samples some bad Siamese vodka when searching Osato's office. He also drinks some Dom Perignon during his official visit to Osato, plus Saki with Tanaka (served at the correct temperature of 98.4 degrees Farenheit).

Gambling: None.

Bond bits: Bond tells Moneypenny that he took a first in Oriental languages at Cambridge. This is contrary to what we know about Bond from the novels and Raymond Benson's novelisation of Tomorrow Never Dies suggests that he was lying to impress Moneypenny. However, the fact that Bond was at Cambridge was confirmed in The Spy Who Loved Me, and Bond does indeed speak Japanese in You Only Live Twice.
Following his apparent death, Bond is provided with a cover by M, although we don't hear what it is. In order to visit Osato, he later poses as Mr Fisher, the new managing director of Empire Chemicals.
Bond undergoes a marriage ceremony to Kissy. However, it is made clear that as part of his cover he gave a false name to the priest so this marriage is not legally binding. As in Thunderball, Bond sleeps with a gun by his bedside.

Other trivia: The narrative of the film takes place over the course of 20 days (the time between the two American space missions).
MI6's man in Tokyo is Henderson, an Englishman who has lived there for 28 years. He has a false leg following an incident in Singapore in 1942.
Tiger Tanaka, the head of Japanese SIS is supposed to be a shadowy character; he travels on a personal underground train and Henderson doesn't know what he looks like. However, it seems that Tanaka very much leads from the front in a way that one can't imagine M doing!.
SPECTRE has a bank account in Buenos Aires.

The Bond Film Informant was compiled by Matthew Newton. © Copyright MJ Newton. No part of this site may be reproduced without permission unless otherwise stated.

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