Tuesday, December 06, 2011

You STILL Only Live Twice

I loves me some James Bond, but especially You Only Live Twice. as this excerpt from my movie memoir In the Dark: A Life and Times in a Movie Theater (Special Edition) will explain:

Late in 1967 came the summer release of the next “official” 007 film and my sentimental favorite, You Only Live Twice.

Granted, From Russia with Love and Goldfinger are better films overall, but Twice is the one I could claim as my very own, mainly because I was allowed to see it all by my lonesome without parental supervision. It was a milestone in my movie-going career and I took full advantage of it. I felt like I had spent the entire summer at the Esquire Theater watching Twice, though the actual total came to 9 times. I became such a regular, the manager put me to work a few times, which I did gleefully, tearing ticket stubs and closing the auditorium at show time. He repaid me with free popcorn and a cardboard cutout of Connery as Bond holding a space helmet in one hand and a Walther PPK in the other, which was part of a lobby display (shades of Bambi!)Though only twelve years old at the time, I became friendly with the nineteen-year-old concession stand worker, a cute girl named Denise, who helped get me into her karate class, something I wanted to do as a result of seeing You Only Live Twice. The karate, that is, not the nineteen-year-old girl. I was twelve! If something had happened between the two of us, don’t you think I would have told you?)

You Only Live Twice had all the elements I wanted in a Bond movie. The then-exotic locale of Japan was fascinating. The women were all hot and, at twelve, I was really beginning to take notice (forget the nineteen-year-old already!) John Barry’s music is both exciting and romantic as only his can be. The final battle sequence set in the volcano rocket base, an outstanding production design by Ken Adam, is a jaw-dropping action sequence to this very day. Donald Pleasance is absolutely wonderful as Bond’s chief villain, Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Mike Myers must have thought so too since his character of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers series is undoubtedly a burlesque Blofeld. Then there was one of the high points of every young boy’s life when he discovers what a ninja is, introduced to the cinematic world in this film.

Since the introduction of Bond’s gadget laden Aston Martin in Goldfinger, each preceding film had a new vehicle for him to commandeer and Twice is no exception. This introduced a mini-helicopter named Little Nellie, complete with machine guns and other implements of destruction. Years later, I had a 1979 Honda Civic that had the color and near size of a cough drop. As a tribute, I named her…you guessed it, Little Nellie. Many a time, I wished Q were my mechanic.

One single camera shot in You Only Live Twice totally epitomized the entire James Bond persona to me. In the middle of the film, there is a long shot of Bond fighting the bad guys on a warehouse roof. The camera pulls back just as Barry’s theme music reprises. It is a moment frozen in my time and made me swell with an excitement I’d never felt before. Here in these few seconds is everything I felt a movie hero should be, one guy against ‘em all-and winning.

In the Dark: A Life and Times in a Movie Theater is available in paperback and Amazon Kindle

P.S. The title of this blog is intentionally lame. It's a reference to the sequel of I Know What You Did Last Summer, the insipidly named I Still Know What You Did Last Summer.

I know what I'm doing...some of the time.
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