For Your Eyes Only
directed by John Glen
(United Artists/MGM, 1981)

The sinister Ernst Blofeld, nemesis so often to Sean Connery's James Bond, was dropped from the Bond mythos after a successful lawsuit by Kevin McClory, who claimed rights to the character and his criminal organization SPECTRE. It was probably a good idea to lose him anyway -- after all, he returned from the dead so often I was beginning to have doubts about Bond's abilities.

So I'm not sure why filmmakers decided to insert a Blofeld clone (an uncredited John Hollis) into the throwaway opening sequence of For Your Eyes Only. It serves no purpose other than to fill time before the opening credits, to bring back an overused character (unnamed, I assume, to avoid further litigation) and dispose of him once again. It was, I've heard, a deliberately slap at McClory, but it would have been better left out.

Fortunately, the rest of the movie picks up from there, successfully dusting off the ashes left by the Moonraker debacle and putting Bond (Roger Moore) back on an even keel. A British spyship carrying vital military technology is sunk in unfriendly waters, and the man hired to salvage the equipment is murdered. That sends his daughter, Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), off on a mission of vengeance, which brings her repeatedly into contact with Bond on his mission to uncover the villain and recover the missing technology.

Rather than settling for a single, obvious megalomaniacal villain, For Your Eyes Only gives us two suspicious rivals (Julian Glover as Aristotle Kristatos and Topol as Milos Colombo) and allows us to guess at which is really the bad guy. Add a sinister assassin (Michael Gothard as Emil Locque), a murderous skier (John Wyman as Erich Kriegler) and a sex-crazed American skater (Lynn-Holly Johnson as Bibi), who is too young for even Bond's broad tastes, and you have a cast who'll keep you watching and guessing throughout the film. Rather than hit us over the head again with plots to rule (or annihilate) the entire world, Eyes provides a more believable, realistic scenario which is a suspenseful pleasure to watch. This is Bond at his most basic, and it's nice to see him shine without the overuse of special effects.

Bernard Lee as M, who died while preparing for this movie, is sorely missed here; Geoffrey Kean as Minister of Defense Frederick Gray returns to act in his stead. The ever-present Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) is starting to show the wear of two decades of fruitless flirtations. But Moore accounts himself well in this one, matching his excellent performance in The Spy Who Loved Me and going far to make up for Moonraker. (Moore's hat-tossing entrance into Moneypenny's office is a nice tip of the hat to a discarded Connery tradition.)

This is another peak in the Roger Moore years. Watch it with pleasure.

[ by Tom Knapp ]

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