James Bond: Classic, Cheese or Crap? – “For Your Eyes Only”

“For Your Eyes Only”

1981

Bond: Roger Moore

Classic, Cheese, or Crap?: CRAP

“For Your Eyes Only” is one of my least favorite Bond films of all time. I recognize that the public views it far more fondly than I, but I can’t get past the fact it commits the cardinal sin for Bond movies.

It’s boring.

Look, I can put up with a lot from the Bond franchise. Implausibility, silliness, camp, actresses who are hired for key roles and given large parts based on their looks alone… I could go on. There’s a lot that I choose to simply gloss over in a lot of these movies, and focus instead on their enjoyable aspects. But if the movie is boring? Then I do not forgive.

As with a lot of things in this franchise, I understand why the producers did what they did. I don’t always agree with it, but I usually understand it. In this particular case, the last two Bond movies released prior to this were “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker”, still to this day two of the most outlandish movies in the entire series. Its immediate predecessor, “Moonraker”, was a huge box-office success. It’s actually one of the most successful Bond films of all time. However, it was destroyed critically, and was already getting tagged derisively as “Bond in space”.

Thus “For Your Eyes Only” was grounded. Intentionally. They made sure there were no (or at least few) cheesy gags, they removed the ridiculous and far fetched elements (except for Bibi Dahl throwing herself at Roger Moore), and made the film as an entry into the “serious Bond” category.

The problem is, Roger Moore (to me) can’t carry a film like that. He’s not… appealing enough when he’s playing it straight. His strongest moments as Bond were when the films were tongue in cheek, he had a knack for that. Camp was his strongsuit, I still believe to this day that’s one of the reasons why the franchise veered in that direction during his reign. The producers, directors and hell, Moore himself were all trying to play to his strengths.

So by removing the camp, and the gadgets and the cartoonish characters, you’re not really left with much. Moore was in his 50s by this point, which helped to make the movie seem as if it were 50 as well. In terms of the WILD action in this film, Bond has a car chase (in a VW Bug, how awesome), a ski scene, a fight on a hockey rink, he gets dragged underwater behind a speedboat, and he joins in a raid on a warehouse. The high point of the film, literally and figuratively, is a rock climbing sequence at the end of the movie. When Bond going rock climbing is your most exciting sequence, you know you’re in trouble.

All of the sequences have a degree of realism to them, but that doesn’t necessarily lend to quality. If you’re going to ground the action in realism, but make them exciting, that’s fine. That’s the best, actually. But if the realism winds up equating to “plain”, you have a problem.

Carole Bouquet is one of my least favorite Bond girls of all time. She’s not a good enough actress to be a good actress, not bad enough to be a bad actress, and I don’t find her attractive, which is usually the minimum requirement for Bond girls who don’t bring anything else to the table. The plot was essentially one long Macguffin chase (a stolen code machine for British nuclear submarines). The villains aren’t notable in any way.

Probably the most notable elements of this sominex of a movie are the Pre-Title sequence and the theme song, which means the best parts of the flick are over in the first five minutes. The theme song never hit number one, but it was a top five single, and is memorable to this day. The pre-title sequence revolved around the producers settling all the family business. A lawsuit by Thunderball screenplay co-writer Kevin McClory precluded EON from using Blofeld or SPECTRE again, so the movie had Bond kiss his wife’s grave (she was killed by Blofeld), and then drop a bald man in a wheelchair (unnamed, but undeniably supposed to be Blofeld) down a smoke stack after a remote control helicopter fight scene. It’s not a GOOD sequence, just a notable one.

Détente, comrade.

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20 thoughts on “James Bond: Classic, Cheese or Crap? – “For Your Eyes Only”

  1. I’ll agree with you that there are other Roger Moore films that rank above this one. There wasn’t many Bond girls that could act, so I can’t blame them for snagging the first Greek goddess they could find. But to call it boring, I gotta disagree for all the reasons you mentioned “Bond has a car chase (in a VW Bug, how awesome), a ski scene, a fight on a hockey rink, he gets dragged underwater behind a speedboat, and he joins in a raid on a warehouse. The high point of the film, literally and figuratively, is a rock climbing sequence at the end of the movie.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CvJp1X3qiog Be tough to call this one “classic” but I definitely would not call it “crap.”

    • You know, watching that clip, it suddenly occurred to me that Cary Elwes has been doing a Roger Moore impression for years, but better than Roger Moore does it. lol

  2. From my earlier Bond comment, I am sure you could guess that this is one of my favorites. The opening scene is kind of lame, but other than that I don’t have any qualms with this movie. Is it the best Bond film? No. But it is still better than any of the Brosnan Bond movies in my book.

  3. Sticking by my guns, but I’m well aware that this is one of the Bonds that I have a contrarian opinion on.

    I did some research on the net and compiled all these rankings and scores in order to get a “consensus” of what the film world thought of the order these films should be ranked in, and this is top ten.

    Which I don’t get, personally in the least, but I recognize that I like it a lot less than most people do.

    Can’t help it. It puts me to sleep like a fist full of sominex.

  4. I pretty much dislike all the Moore Bond films, so I agree whole-heartedly with your review, except for the part where you imply there might actually be such a thing as a good Moore Bond film. I liked Moore fine as Simon Templar and Beauregarde Maverick. Hell, I even liked him in Ffolkes, but as Bond he was woefully ill suited to the role. OK, maybe he wasn’t too bad in Live and Let Die, but that movie had the awesomeness of the best Bond song ever and Yaphet Koto and Jane Seymore. I even read an interview with Moore where he said he hated the role because “They made him run around and jump up and down” and he didn’t care for that. That is not Bond.

    • Yeah, for the most part, we see eye to eye. I pretty much feel that the majority of the Moore era is cheese… and thus, only good if you’re laughing at it, which is one way to enjoy a movie but obvioulsy not a legitimately good way.

      I do think there’s a classic or two in there though… a couple that succeed in spite of Moore.

      But yeah, on the whole, I pretty much disdain they entire Moore era unless I’m giggling at how Cheesy it is.

  5. The Roger More Bond era is my least favourite I reckon. He turned Bond into more of a camp icon than ever, in my eyes. It just felt a little too nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Which is what happened to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond too.

    Aside from a few great stunts, nope… I vote crap.

  6. I saw this movie once, back in the 80′s, and remember nothing about it. It’s only one of maybe three Bond movies I have only seen once, and the only one that I haven’t watched in at least the last 10 years or so. So I actually remember next to nothing about it.

    So I guess all I have to say is that I think it’s one of the better Bond movie posters. Sorry for wasting your time! :)

      • Well, it kind of was… the movie is forgettable and not one that I’m in a hurry to reaquiant myself with. So I agree with you.

        But I also feel a little guilty that I can’t even give it a good quality thrashing because I have virtually no recollection of it.

        *explodes*

  7. I remember seeing “For Your Eyes Only” in the movies. I do remember the rock climbing scene when he fell and then took off his shoe laces in mid air to use them as a pulley system to make it back up to the top before the other guy could knoock out the spike that was holding the rope. I thought even James Bond could not pull that off.

  8. I love all the bond movies featuring Roger Moore, I guess it´s because I grew up in the eghties (born -74) and to me he is Bond. My second favorite Bond is Pierce Brosnan. So Im quite the opposite to this:

    “The Roger More Bond era is my least favourite I reckon. He turned Bond into more of a camp icon than ever, in my eyes. It just felt a little too nudge-nudge-wink-wink. Which is what happened
    to Pierce Brosnan’s Bond too.”

    For me Bond movies should be nostalgia, great sence of humor great music, connection with the past movies and bond-details. Im not overly impressed with the “cool” stuff tons of action and a hard cold mr Bond, that´s just silly.

    I´ll give this movie 8/10

    • I will grant you the Moore Bonds had the best music. I mean… hands down. I think every top theme song in my favorite Bond themes except for “Goldfinger” came from the Moore era.

      Hey, I grew up in the 70s too, so he was my Bond when he was young. So I appreciate when the series goes to that “great sense of humor”, I do… but my biggest problem was always that Moore seemed to old and too… upright to be Bond. I dont know.

      I will readily cede that, although personally I LIKE the “Cold” Bond… he really veered too far to that end of the spectrum in QoS, so I’m hoping… really hoping to see them infuse some Joy back into it in Skyfall. Being Bond should be FUN! I agree!

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