"Try to keep it up, and ease it in" — looking back on For Your Eyes Only
After the outlandishness of Moonraker, it was time to rein it in. The result was For Your Eyes Only (FYEO). It's one of the elite films in the James Bond series and, arguably, Roger's most fantastic outing as 007.
By the 1980s, Roger was playing hardball over money and only committing to one-picture contracts. Other actors were screen-tested. Hence, Bond visits his wife's grave in the pre-titles sequence (PTS) to establish continuity for Roger's replacement.
The graveyard visit and killing of the 'Wheelchair Villain' — who couldn't be named Blofeld for legal reasons — assured the audience it's the same man throughout — despite four different actors. Roger did return, of course, and the scene was kept in.
It's also two fingers up to Kevin McClory before he got to use the character of Blofeld in the non-Eon Bond film: Never Say Never Again.
With so many jarring discontinuity holes in the series, this attempt at continuity was something the producers wouldn't give much attention to until the Daniel Craig era. He isn't the same man the other five actors portrayed.
FYEO is wall-to-wall breath-taking stunts directed by the Don of action: Glen. Despite being an action-heavy film, the rest of the film's elements suffer at no point.
The supporting performances are exquisite, with rich characterisation. There's no dodgy Bond girl performance from Carole Bouquet. The death of her parents is one of the many hard-hitting violent scenes. Countess Lisl von Schlaf's at the hands of Emile Locque is also brutal.
There's plenty of Ian Fleming throughout. One thing that does stray from Ian Fleming is the portrayal of Bill Tanner. He's supposed to be Bond's closest friend in the series, but James Villiers plays him as the opposite. Still, Villiers is magnificent. If I could've brought back any actors from the series who only made one appearance, it would've been him.
The plot and main villain are extraordinarily ordinary. Aris Kristatos has no desire for world domination or to start WWIII. He's simply a selfish crook who steals and sells. With a colossal cohort of thuggish and psychotic killers who work for him, he gets others to do his dirty work while slipping off in the background.
We also see some different elements of Roger's Bond. He's heavily bashed around and doesn't rely on gadgets or buttons. Despite being well into his 50s, Roger doesn't look too old to play 007. You really do believe that is Roger's Bond who can drive, ski, shoot, jump, fight, climb, outthink and outsmart others better than anyone else.
There's no attempt to hide Bond's advancing years. 007 seems more world-weary and father-like. He even resists Bibi Dahl's sexual advances. A 1970s Roger Moore Bond would've undoubtedly jumped into bed with her.
When Claus and Locque stalk Bond up and down the ski jump, Bond genuinely looks frightened. It seems there's no way out, and the Grim Reaper is finally closing in on him. Roger conveyed fear wonderfully. The silent stares by Charles Dance and Michal Gothard are superb.
We even hear Roger's Bond panting and wheezing as he chases Locque's car up the stone steps — a sign that age is catching up with him.
The Maggie and Denis finale is a guilty pleasure, and we also get to hear possibly the rudest song ever recorded. The Bill Conti-penned Make It Last All Night, performed by Rage, makes Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax sound like a nursery rhyme. Whatever happened to Rage? Not even a Wiki page.
Conti's super score underpins what would've been a high for Roger Moore to bow out on. Yet we'd see him in two more films. There were no more attempts to play on Bond's advancing years, but instead, cover it up.
Copyright © 2022 J W Emery Ltd. All rights reserved.
Joe is Editor of For Bond Fans Only and a writer by trade. When he's not watching Bond, he can be found listening to The Beatles and worrying about West Ham. You can find him on Twitter @JWEmeryLtd