RETRO REVIEW: You Only Live Twice (1967)

James Bond (Sean Connery) watches a sumo wrestling match in Japan in YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE — Photo: United Artists / Eon Productions.

Directed by Lewis Gilbert — Screenplay by Roald Dahl.

After having released a Bond-film for every year from 1962 to 1965, Eon Productions and United Artists took a year-off before the next film in the franchise was released. Filmed mostly in Japan, You Only Live Twice was the second-to-last official Sean Connery Bond-film (and his last Bond-film before George Lazenby took over for one film). This fifth official Bond-film was the first Bond-picture to be directed by Lewis Gilbert who was hot off the heels after having won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival the year before for his film Alfie. Interestingly, 1967 also marked the first time that an unofficial/Non-Eon Bond-film, the David Niven-led Casino Royale, was released. Niven’s film was released a few months prior to the release of You Only Live Twice, and it may have had a negative impact on the box office potential of Connery’s fifth Bond-film.

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RETRO REVIEW: Goldfinger (1964)

Shirley Eaton as Jill Masterson in GOLDFINGER — Photo: United Artists / Eon Productions.

Directed by Guy Hamilton — Screenplay by Richard Maibaum and Paul Dehn.

Here we go. Goldfinger is the first major James Bond-film. This is arguably the most iconic film in the franchise. Following the commercial success of Terence Young’s Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the producers handed Guy Hamilton, who had turned down the directing duties on Dr. No, the reins to the film series and provided the production a sizable budget of $3 million (the previous two films’ budgets combined). This was the movie that changed everything for the franchise, and, looking at it today, it is easy to see why.

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RETRO REVIEW: From Russia With Love (1963)

Robert Shaw as Red Grant and Sean Connery as James Bond in FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE — Photo: United Artists / Eon Productions.

Directed by Terence Young — Screenplay by Richard Maibaum.

Dr. No was a huge financial success, so United Artists doubled the budget for its follow-up, From Russia With Love, which was allegedly the final film President John F. Kennedy screened at the White House. Though it is, naturally, a little bit dated, Terence Young’s From Russia With Love is a significant improvement on Dr. No. This feels much more ambitious and extravagant, even though it does suffer from some of the same issues that the first film did.

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