Watch For Your Eyes Only (1981), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
James Bond is assigned to find a missing British vessel, equipped with a weapons encryption device and prevent it from falling into enemy hands.
For Your Eyes Only is a 1981 British spy film directed by John Glen (in his feature directorial debut) and produced by Albert R. Broccoli. The film stars Roger Moore as the fictional MI6 agent James Bond, and co-stars Carole Bouquet, Chaim Topol, Lynn-Holly Johnson, and Julian Glover.
The twelfth film in the James Bond franchise produced by Eon Productions, For Your Eyes Only was written by Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson, based on two Ian Fleming short stories “For Your Eyes Only” and “Risico”. In the plot, Bond attempts to locate a missile command system while becoming tangled in a web of deception spun by rival Greek businessmen along with Melina Havelock, a woman seeking to avenge the murder of her parents. Some writing elements were inspired by the novels Live and Let Die, Goldfinger, and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
After the science fiction-focused Moonraker, the producers wanted a return to the style of the early Bond films and the works of 007 creator Fleming. For Your Eyes Only followed a grittier, more realistic approach and a narrative theme of revenge and its consequences rather than the fantasy narrative of Moonraker. Filming locations included Greece, Italy and England, while underwater footage was shot in The Bahamas. Scottish pop star Sheena Easton performed the title theme song.
For Your Eyes Only was released in the UK on 24 June 1981 and in the US two days later; it received a mixed to positive critical reception. The film’s reputation has improved over time, with reviewers praising the more serious tone in comparison to previous entries in the series. The film was a financial success, generating $195.3 million worldwide. This was the final Bond film to be distributed solely by United Artists; the company was absorbed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer soon after this film’s release.
For Your Eyes Only (1981) Trailer
For Your Eyes Only (1981) Reviews
The movie opens with James Bond trapped inside a remote-controlled helicopter being guided by a bald sadist in a wheelchair. After Bond triumphs, the incident is never referred to again. This movie involves the loss of the secret British code controlling submarine-based missiles. The Russians would like to have it. Bond’s mission: Retrieve the control console from a ship sunk in the Aegean.
The movie breaks down into a series of set pieces. Bond and his latest Bondgirl (long-haired, undemonstrative Carole Bouquet) dive in a mini-sub, engage in a complicated chase through the back roads of Greece, crawl through the sunken wreck in wet suits, are nearly drowned and blown up, etc. For variety, Bond and Bouquet are dragged behind a powerboat as shark bait, and then Bond scales the fortress mountain.
A fortress guard spots Bond dangling from a rope thousands of feet in the air. What does he do? Does he just cut the rope? No, sir, the guard descends part way to tantalize Bond by letting him drop a little at a time. The rest is predictable.
In a movie of respectable craftsmanship and moderate pleasures, there’s one obvious disappointment. The relationship between Roger Moore and Carole Bouquet is never worked out in an interesting way. Since the days when he was played by Sean Connery, agent 007 has always had a dry, quiet, humorous way with women. Roger Moore has risen to the same challenge, notably opposite Barbara Bach in “The Spy Who Loved Me.” But Moore and Bouquet have no real chemistry in “For Your Eyes Only.” There’s none of that kidding byplay. It’s too routine. The whole movie is too routine.
For Your Eyes Only (1981) Credits
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
For Your Eyes Only (1981) Plot
The British information gathering vessel St Georges, which holds the Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC), the system used by the Ministry of Defence to co-ordinate the Royal Navy’s fleet of Polaris submarines, is sunk after accidentally trawling an old naval mine in the Ionian Sea. A marine archaeologist, Sir Timothy Havelock, is asked by the British to secretly locate the St Georges. However, he and his wife are murdered by a Cuban hitman, Hector Gonzales. His daughter, Melina Havelock, witnesses the murder and vows revenge.
The head of the KGB, General Gogol, has also learned of the fate of the St Georges and already notified his contact in Greece. MI6 agent James Bond is ordered by the Minister of Defence, Sir Frederick Gray, and MI6 Chief of Staff Bill Tanner to retrieve the ATAC before the Soviets since the transmitter could order attacks by the submarines’ Polaris ballistic missiles. Bond goes to Spain to find out who hired Gonzales.
While spying on Gonzales’s villa, Bond is captured by his men, but escapes as Gonzales is killed by a crossbow bolt. Outside, he finds the assassin was Melina and the two escape. With the help of Bond, Q uses computerised technology to identify the man Bond saw paying off Gonzales as Emile Leopold Locque, and then goes to Locque’s possible base in Cortina, Italy.
There Bond meets his contact, Luigi Ferrara, and a well-connected Greek businessman and intelligence informant, Aris Kristatos, who tells Bond that Locque is employed by Milos Columbo, known as “the Dove” in the Greek underworld, Kristatos’s former resistance partner during the Second World War.
After Bond goes with Kristatos’s protégée, figure skater Bibi Dahl, to a biathlon course, a group of three men, which includes East German biathlete Eric Kriegler, chases Bond, trying to kill him. Bond escapes and then goes with Ferrara to bid Bibi farewell in an ice rink, where he fends off another attempt on his life by men in ice hockey gear. Ferrara is killed in Bond’s car, with a dove pin in his hand. Bond then travels to Corfu in pursuit of Columbo.
There, at the casino, Bond meets Kristatos and asks how to meet Columbo, not knowing that Columbo’s men are secretly recording their conversation. After Columbo and his mistress, Countess Lisl von Schlaf, argue, Bond offers to escort her home with Kristatos’s car and driver. The two then spend the night together. In the morning, Lisl and Bond are ambushed by Locque and Lisl is killed.
Bond is captured by Columbo’s men before Locque can kill him; Columbo then tells Bond that Locque was actually hired by Kristatos, who is working for the KGB to retrieve the ATAC. Bond accompanies Columbo and his crew on a raid on one of Kristatos’s opium-processing warehouses in Albania, where Bond uncovers naval mines similar to the one that sank the St Georges, suggesting it was not an accident. After the base is destroyed, Bond chases Locque and kills him.
Afterwards, Bond meets Melina, and they recover the ATAC from the wreckage of the St Georges, but Kristatos is waiting for them when they surface and he takes the ATAC. After the two escape an assassination attempt, they discover Kristatos’s rendezvous point when Melina’s parrot repeats the phrase “ATAC to St Cyril’s”. With the help of Columbo and his men, Bond and Melina break into St Cyril’s, an abandoned mountaintop monastery. As Columbo confronts Kristatos, Bond kills Kriegler.
Bond retrieves the ATAC system and stops Melina from killing Kristatos after he surrenders. Kristatos tries to kill Bond with a hidden flick knife, but is killed by a knife thrown by Columbo; Gogol arrives by helicopter to collect the ATAC, but Bond throws it off the cliff. Bond and Melina later spend a romantic evening aboard her father’s yacht while Melina’s parrot fields a call from MI6 and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
For Your Eyes Only (1981) Box office
For Your Eyes Only (1981) Critical Response
For Your Eyes Only was premiered at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on 24 June 1981, setting an all-time opening-day record for any film at any cinema in the UK with a gross of £14,998 (£61,158 in 2021 pounds). The film entered general release in the UK the same day. It went on to gross £10.4 million in the UK.
For Your Eyes Only had its North American premiere in Canada and the US on Friday 26 June, at approximately 1,100 cinemas.
The film grossed $54.8 million in the United States and Canada, (equivalent to $101.5 million at 2011 ticket prices or $163 million in 2021 dollars, adjusted for general inflation) and $195.3 million worldwide, becoming the second highest grossing Bond film after its predecessor, Moonraker.
This was the last James Bond film to be solely released by United Artists, as by this time its owner, Transamerica Corporation, finalized the sale of the company to MGM. Following the MGM and United Artists merger, later runs including future entries were released under “MGM/UA Distribution Co”.
The promotional cinema poster for the film featured a woman holding a crossbow; she was photographed from behind, and her outfit left the bottom half of her buttocks exposed. The effect was achieved by having the model wear a pair of bikini bottoms backwards, so that the part seen on her backside is the front of the suit.
The poster caused some furor—largely in the US—with The Boston Globe and the Los Angeles Times considering the poster so unsuitable they edited out everything above the knee, whilst the Pittsburgh Press editors painted a pair of shorts over the legs.
There was significant speculation as to the identity of the model before photographer Morgan Kane identified her as Joyce Bartle.
A number of items of merchandising were issued to coincide with the film, including a 007 digital watch and a copy of Melina’s Citroën 2CV by Corgi Toys. Citroën itself produced a special “007” edition of the 2CV, which even had decorative bullet holes on the door. Marvel Comics also did a comic book adaptation (see section below).
Derek Malcolm in The Guardian disliked the film, saying it was “too long … and pretty boring between the stunts”, although he admitted that the stunts were of a high quality. According to Malcolm, Bond “inhabits a fantasy-land of more or less bloodless violence, groinless sex and naivety masked as superior sophistication”, with Moore playing him as if in a “nicely lubricated daze”.
Although Malcolm tipped the film for international box office success, he observed that he “can’t quite see why the series has lasted so long and so strong in people’s affections.” Writing in The Observer, Philip French commented that “not for the first time the pre-credits sequence is the best thing about the film.” French was dismissive of Moore’s Bond, saying that Bond was “impersonated by Moore” and referred to Moore’s advancing years.
David Robinson, writing in The Times bemoaned the fact that the “dramatic bits between the set pieces don’t count for much.” Like other critics at the time his praise was more directed towards the stunt crews; they were “better than ever in this one.” The film critic for the magazine Time Out was brief and pithy: “no plot and poor dialogue, and Moore really is old enough to be the uncle of those girls.”
For the US press, Gary Arnold in The Washington Post thought the film was “undeniably easy on the eyes”, and further added “maybe too easy to prevent the mind from wandering and the lids from drooping.” Arnold was also critical of the large set pieces, calling them “more ponderous than sensational” and that there was “no equivalent of the classic action highlights that can be recalled readily from From Russia with Love or You Only Live Twice or The Spy Who Loved Me or Moonraker.
This is a Bond waiting for something inspired to push it over the top.” The New York Times critic Vincent Canby said that “For Your Eyes Only is not the best of the series by a long shot” although he did say that the film is “slick entertainment” with a tone that is “consistently comic even when the material is not.”
Jack Kroll in Newsweek dismissed the film, saying it was “an anthology of action episodes held together by the thinnest of plot lines”, although he did concede that these set pieces are “terrific in their exhilaratingly absurd energy.”
For Time magazine, Richard Corliss concentrated on the stunts, saying the team “have devised some splendid optional features for For Your Eyes Only” whilst also commenting on Roger Moore, saying that his “mannequin good looks and waxed-fruit insouciance” show him to be “the best-oiled cog in this perpetual motion machine.” Jay Scott of The Globe and Mail included it on his list of the year’s worst films, calling it “repellant” and “ambitiously bad”.
French filmmaker Robert Bresson admired the film: “It filled me with wonder because of its cinematographic writing … if I could have seen it twice in a row and again the next day, I would have done.” Elsewhere Bresson said he also loved the film’s ski chase.
Opinion on For Your Eyes Only has improved with the passing of time, though some reviews are still mixed to positive: as of January 2019, the film holds a 73% ‘fresh’ rating from Rotten Tomatoes, being ranked eleventh among the 24 Bond films. Ian Nathan of Empire gives the film only two of a possible five stars, observing that the film “still ranks as one of the most forgettable Bonds on record.”
In 2006, IGN chose For Your Eyes Only as the sixth best Bond film, claiming it is “a good old-fashioned espionage tale”, a placement shared by Norman Wilner of MSN, who considered it “the one Moore film that seems to reach back to Connery’s heyday”, and Entertainment Weekly chose it as the tenth best in 2008, saying it was a “return to low-tech, low-key Bond [with] … some of the best stunts since the early days”.
In October 2008 Time Out re-issued a review of For Your Eyes Only and observed that the film is “admirable in intent” but that it “feels a little spare”, largely because the plot has been “divested of the bells and whistles that hallmark the franchise”.
James Berardinelli wrote that the film was “a solid adventure, although it could have been better”, while Danny Peary thought “There are exciting moments, but most of it is standard Bond fare,” going on to describe For Your Eyes Only as “an attempt to mix spectacle with [the] tough, believable storylines of early Bond films … [it] is enjoyable while you’re watching it. Afterward, it’s one of the most forgettable of the Bond series.” Raymond Benson, the author of nine Bond novels, thought For Your Eyes Only was Roger Moore’s best Bond film.
Although Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly ranks Carole Bouquet playing Melina as the “worst babe” of the seven Roger Moore James Bond films, his colleague, Joshua Rich disagreed, putting her tenth in the overall 10 Best Bond Girls listing from the 21 films released up to that point.
Entertainment Weekly also ranked Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi Dahl as ninth on their list of the 10 worst Bond girls from the 21 films that had been released. After 20 films had been released, IGN ranked Bouquet as fifth in their ‘top 10 Bond Babes’ list, and The Times thought she was sixth on their list of the Top 10 most fashionable Bond girls after 21 films had been released.
For Your Eyes Only (1981) Accolades
|Academy Awards||Best Original Song||“For Your Eyes Only”
Music by Bill Conti;
Lyrics by Mick Leeson
|Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award||Albert R. Broccoli||Honored|
|ASCAP Film and Television Music Awards||Most Performed Feature Film Standards||“For Your Eyes Only”
Music by Bill Conti;
Lyrics by Mick Leeson
|Golden Globe Awards||Best Original Song||Nominated|
|Golden Screen Awards||Won|
|Satellite Awards||Best Classic DVD Release||The James Bond DVD Collection (Volumes: 2 and 3)||Nominated|
|Stinkers Bad Movie Awards||Worst Supporting Actress||Lynn-Holly Johnson||Nominated|
|Writers Guild of America Awards||Best Comedy – Adapted from Another Medium||Richard Maibaum and Michael G. Wilson||Nominated|
In 2004 the American Film Institute nominated the song “For Your Eyes Only” from the film for AFI’s 100 Years…100 Songs.
For Your Eyes Only (1981) Movie Info
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