You Only Live Twice (1967)

116 mins | Melodrama | 13 June 1967

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HISTORY

According to the 16 Aug 1965 DV, You Only Live Twice (1964) was one of eight Ian Fleming novels considered for the fifth installment of Eon Productions’ “James Bond” film series. Although four-time Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum had already completed the script for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969, see entry), the 15 Dec 1965 DV reported that producers intended to move ahead with You Only Live Twice, likely without Maibaum’s participation. Several contemporary sources indicated that the new sequel represented an artistic departure from previous Bond entries, with the 2 Mar 1966 Var claiming the character would use “more brains and less gimmicks.” A 24 Feb 1966 DV article also noted producer Albert R. Broccoli’s willingness to expand the role of the usual “Bond girl” after audiences responded positively to the agent’s “warmer romantic attachment” to Daniela Bianchi’s character in From Russia With Love (1963, see entry). Harold Jack Bloom was attached as screenwriter until the fall of 1966, when the project was assumed by children’s book author Roald Dahl, who was also in talks with Broccoli to adapt Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968, see entry). You Only Live Twice marked Dahl’s first screenwriting effort, and Broccoli told the 20 Apr 1966 LAT that the author was charged with “thickening” the plot to create a more plausible scenario. Bloom is credited with “additional story material.” A 29 Dec 1965 Var item anticipated a shorter shooting schedule and smaller budget than the $7 million spent on Thunderball (1965, see entry).
       Despite these ... More Less

According to the 16 Aug 1965 DV, You Only Live Twice (1964) was one of eight Ian Fleming novels considered for the fifth installment of Eon Productions’ “James Bond” film series. Although four-time Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum had already completed the script for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969, see entry), the 15 Dec 1965 DV reported that producers intended to move ahead with You Only Live Twice, likely without Maibaum’s participation. Several contemporary sources indicated that the new sequel represented an artistic departure from previous Bond entries, with the 2 Mar 1966 Var claiming the character would use “more brains and less gimmicks.” A 24 Feb 1966 DV article also noted producer Albert R. Broccoli’s willingness to expand the role of the usual “Bond girl” after audiences responded positively to the agent’s “warmer romantic attachment” to Daniela Bianchi’s character in From Russia With Love (1963, see entry). Harold Jack Bloom was attached as screenwriter until the fall of 1966, when the project was assumed by children’s book author Roald Dahl, who was also in talks with Broccoli to adapt Fleming’s Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968, see entry). You Only Live Twice marked Dahl’s first screenwriting effort, and Broccoli told the 20 Apr 1966 LAT that the author was charged with “thickening” the plot to create a more plausible scenario. Bloom is credited with “additional story material.” A 29 Dec 1965 Var item anticipated a shorter shooting schedule and smaller budget than the $7 million spent on Thunderball (1965, see entry).
       Despite these changes, Broccoli and fellow producer Harry Saltzman struggled to appease star Sean Connery, who repeatedly voiced his reluctance to continue the franchise. A 2 Mar 1966 Var news story reported that Connery threatened to break his six-picture contract after completion of You Only Live Twice, as the 25 Feb 1966 DV indicated the commitment forced him to postpone his Broadway directorial debut, The Secret of the World. Although the 23 Jun 1966 LAT announced that You Only Live Twice would be his final Bond film, Connery negotiated a deal for a higher percentage of the profits, and went on to play “007” one more time in Diamonds Are Forever (1971, see entry). A 6 Nov 1966 NYT article stated that Toshiro Mifune passed on the role of karate expert “Tiger Tanaka,” which eventually went to Tetsuro Tamba.
       Meanwhile, the producers, director Lewis Gilbert, and members of the artistic team began scouting Japanese locations in early 1966. Principal photography commenced on 4 Jul 1966, as reported by a Var production chart two days later. The 4 Sep 1966 LAT stated that the unit filmed in Tokyo and Kobe, and consisted of roughly 150 British crewmembers and some Americans. Due to Japanese restrictions on firearms, scenes of a dockside shootout in Kobe were filmed using toy pistols, with insert shots of the props later added at Pinewood Studios in England. According to a 28 Sep 1966 LAT story, production ran into several minor complications: models and background actors hired to play Japanese amas were reluctant to wear the traditional “gauzy shifts” for their diving scenes in the Sea of Japan, and several could not swim; while Connery was unable to film scenes on the streets of Tokyo without being recognized by passersby. Additionally, a group of Japanese background actors accidentally damaged the walls of the fourteenth century Himeji Castle. According to the 23 Aug 1966 NYT, the incident led to the production being briefly suspended by the Japanese Cultural Assets Protection Committee. On 21 Sep 1966, DV stated that Connery had returned to London, England, after completing work in Japan two days earlier.
       Back in England, Pinewood became home to a $1 million “SPECTRE” headquarters set housed inside a model of Japan’s inactive volcano, Mt. Shinmoe, which the 23 Nov 1966 Var called one of the largest film interiors ever constructed in a European studio. A 15 Jan 1967 LAT article estimated the structure at 126 feet tall--big enough to conceal a sixty-six-foot rocket beneath the sliding roof while a helicopter circled overhead. Construction began 11 May 1966, and was completed 1 Nov 1966, with the set decoration unit working twelve-hour days, seven days a week. The 12 Jun 1967 DV claimed that the crew was paid maximum wages to compensate for the extended schedule. Despite Eon’s intention to economize, various sources estimated the total production cost at $8--$9 million, making it the most expensive Bond film to date.
       You Only Live Twice marked the first full onscreen appearance of villainous SPECTRE chief “Ernst Stavro Blofeld,” whose face remained obscured in From Russia With Love and Thunderball. A 7 Nov 1966 LAT item announced the hiring of Czech actor Jan Werich, but a few weeks later, the 29 Nov 1966 edition indicated the role had been re-cast with Donald Pleasence.
       As the film entered post-production, reports in the 7 Dec 1966 and 15 Mar 1967 Var pointed to the conflicting releases of You Only Live Twice and Casino Royale (see entry), Columbia Pictures’ comedic “sendoff” of the James Bond franchise, based on Fleming’s first book of the series. Although the 7 Dec 1966 item suggested United Artists (UA) would still be able to release Eon’s production as planned, Casino Royale opened in Apr 1967, preceding You Only Live Twice by just two months. Confident in their film’s box-office performance, UA humorously addressed the competition by running billboards and print advertisements with the tagline, “Sean Connery is James Bond.” According to a 5 Jun 1967 DV review, an hour-long television special, Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond, aired 2 Jun 1967 on NBC, featuring footage from You Only Live Twice and the four previous Bond films.
       The world premiere took place 12 Jun 1967 at London’s Odeon Leicester Square Theatre, as a royal benefit for the YMCA and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. The following day, NYT announced its U.S. debut at New York City’s Astor, Victoria, Baronet, and Loew’s Orpheum Theatres. The Los Angeles, CA, engagement began 14 Jun 1967 at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre, and on 10 Jul 1967, LAT reported that Connery had been invited to place his footprints in the forecourt outside the venue.
       By 5 Jul 1967, Var reported a gross of $3,007,007 from fifty-five screens to date, and the 25 Aug 1967 LAT indicated that more theaters would be added across Los Angeles by mid-week. Its success continued well into the new year, with the 3 Jan 1968 Var listing domestic rentals of $16.3 million, which reaffirmed the commercial viability of the franchise. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 Aug 1965
p. 4.
Daily Variety
15 Dec 1965
p. 2.
Daily Variety
24 Feb 1966
p. 4.
Daily Variety
25 Feb 1966
p. 2.
Daily Variety
6 Jul 1966
p. 17.
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1966
p. 10.
Daily Variety
7 Dec 1966
p. 3.
Daily Variety
5 Jun 1967
p. 12.
Daily Variety
12 Jun 1967
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
20 Apr 1966
Section D, p. 13.
Los Angeles Times
23 Jul 1966
p. 23.
Los Angeles Times
4 Sep 1966
Section I, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
28 Sep 1966
Section D, p. 11.
Los Angeles Times
7 Nov 1966
Section C, p. 27.
Los Angeles Times
29 Nov 1966
Section C, p. 20.
Los Angeles Times
15 Jan 1967
Section O, p. 14.
Los Angeles Times
20 May 1967
Section B, p. 6.
Los Angeles Times
16 Jun 1967
Section C, p. 10.
Los Angeles Times
10 Jul 1967
Section C, p. 17.
Los Angeles Times
25 Aug 1967
p. 97.
New York Times
23 Aug 1966
p. 32.
New York Times
6 Nov 1966
p. 149.
New York Times
13 Jun 1967
p. 53.
New York Times
14 Jun 1967
p. 40.
Variety
29 Dec 1965
p. 21.
Variety
2 Mar 1966
p. 22.
Variety
6 Jul 1966
p. 17.
Variety
28 Sep 1966
p. 26.
Variety
23 Nov 1966
p. 14.
Variety
7 Dec 1966
p. 3.
Variety
15 Mar 1967
p. 5.
Variety
29 Mar 1967
p. 7.
Variety
5 Jul 1967
p. 3.
Variety
3 Jan 1968
p. 21.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANIES
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Dir action seq
2nd unit dir
WRITERS
Addl story material
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
2nd unit photog
Aerial photog
Underwater photog
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp & cond & arr
SOUND
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Makeup
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Loc mgr
Tech adv
Main titles
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novel You Only Live Twice by Ian Fleming (London, 1964).
AUTHOR
SONGS
"You Only Live Twice," words and music by John Barry and Leslie Bricusse, performed by Nancy Sinatra.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 June 1967
Premiere Information:
London world premiere: 12 June 1967
New York opening: 13 June 1967
Los Angeles opening: 14 June 1967
Production Date:
4 July--December 1966
Copyright Claimant:
Eon Productions
Copyright Date:
13 June 1967
Copyright Number:
LP34526
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
116
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

While orbiting the earth, a U. S. space capsule is intercepted and drawn into the nose of a mammoth spaceship. The Russians are blamed for the incident, but the real culprit is SPECTRE, an international crime syndicate engaged in provoking a third world war. When Allied missile tracking stations reveal the ship has landed somewhere in Japan, secret agent James Bond is sent to investigate. To convince the enemy he is dead, an elaborate murder and sea burial are staged, enabling Bond to sneak into Japan; despite the precaution, however, Bond's Tokyo contact is killed. Aided by Tiger Tanaka's secret service, Bond learns that Osato Engineering is somehow involved and takes along Tanaka's beautiful secretary, Aki, to investigate the company's shipping enterprises. He is captured by Osato's sadistic but seductive accomplice, Helga Brandt, and left alone in an airborne, pilotless plane, which he somehow manages to land. Bond then surveys the Japanese coastline in his miniature helicopter and pinpoints the center of enemy operations in the vicinity of an extinct volcano. After Aki is murdered by a poison intended for Bond, a Russian space capsule disappears. With the world on the brink of nuclear war, Bond disguises himself as a native fisherman with a beautiful wife, Kissy Suzuki, and moves toward the volcano while Tanaka prepares his commandos for attack. As another U. S. spaceship is launched, Bond and Kissy make their way into the volcano and discover the gigantic headquarters of SPECTRE. Quickly freeing the captured American and Russian astronauts, Bond fights his way to SPECTRE mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who has just thrown Helga into a pool of piranhas for failing to kill the secret agent. As ... +


While orbiting the earth, a U. S. space capsule is intercepted and drawn into the nose of a mammoth spaceship. The Russians are blamed for the incident, but the real culprit is SPECTRE, an international crime syndicate engaged in provoking a third world war. When Allied missile tracking stations reveal the ship has landed somewhere in Japan, secret agent James Bond is sent to investigate. To convince the enemy he is dead, an elaborate murder and sea burial are staged, enabling Bond to sneak into Japan; despite the precaution, however, Bond's Tokyo contact is killed. Aided by Tiger Tanaka's secret service, Bond learns that Osato Engineering is somehow involved and takes along Tanaka's beautiful secretary, Aki, to investigate the company's shipping enterprises. He is captured by Osato's sadistic but seductive accomplice, Helga Brandt, and left alone in an airborne, pilotless plane, which he somehow manages to land. Bond then surveys the Japanese coastline in his miniature helicopter and pinpoints the center of enemy operations in the vicinity of an extinct volcano. After Aki is murdered by a poison intended for Bond, a Russian space capsule disappears. With the world on the brink of nuclear war, Bond disguises himself as a native fisherman with a beautiful wife, Kissy Suzuki, and moves toward the volcano while Tanaka prepares his commandos for attack. As another U. S. spaceship is launched, Bond and Kissy make their way into the volcano and discover the gigantic headquarters of SPECTRE. Quickly freeing the captured American and Russian astronauts, Bond fights his way to SPECTRE mastermind Ernst Stavro Blofeld, who has just thrown Helga into a pool of piranhas for failing to kill the secret agent. As Tanaka's commandos rush into the volcano, Blofeld sets off a series of tremendous explosions before being knocked into the pool and devoured. The crater and SPECTRE stronghold are destroyed, but Bond and Kissy escape by tunnel in a rubber dinghy and land atop a surfacing British submarine. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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