Combustible Celluloid
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With: Sean Connery, Akiko Wakabayashi, Mie Hama, Tetsuro Tanba, Teru Shimada, Karin Dor, Donald Pleasence, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn, Charles Gray, Tsai Chin
Written by: Roald Dahl, Harold Jack Bloom, based on a novel by Ian Fleming
Directed by: Lewis Gilbert
MPAA Rating: PG
Running Time: 117
Date: 06/12/1967

You Only Live Twice (1967)

3 Stars (out of 4)

Kill Bond! Now!

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

You Only Live Twice was the fifth official James Bond film, and despite a screenplay by the dark, playful Roald Dahl, and a hip theme song by Nancy Sinatra, the series was beginning to grow a bit sluggish.

In orbit above the earth, a mysterious ship gobbles up an American spacecraft, leading to speculation as to who did it. Agent 007, James Bond (Sean Connery), after faking his own death, begins to investigate. He escapes a redheaded assassin (Karin Dor), then heads to Tokyo, where it is believed that the attacks originated from.

There, his contact, Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba) gives him a crash course in ninja training and fixes him up with a Japanese bride (Mie Hama) so that he can blend in. When Bond finally discovers the bad guys' secret hiding place, he meets the man who will become his most sinister nemesis: Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence).

The film is a bit culturally clueless -- Bond undergoes an operation to make him look Japanese -- and it has some odd choices, such as Blofeld not appearing until the final reel. Though the film is notable for casting the first Asian Bond girls, both Akiko Wakabayashi and Mie Hama are underused, mostly seen trailing after the hero.

Director Lewis Gilbert also wastes time on diversions like a dogfight in a funny little one-man helicopter. However, as the most beloved of all actors to play Bond, Sean Connery himself brings a great deal of charisma and class to the movie, and it eventually balances out as a fine minor entry in the series.

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