Sean Connery's disenchantment with his starring role is unmistakable in this, the fifth Bond spectacular. After turning in an enervated performance here, Connery refused to renew his contract with the profitable 007 franchise, although he was lured back for 1971's DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER and
1983's NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN.
When both Russian and American spaceships start disappearing, each country suspects the other is responsible, bringing the planet to the brink of WWIII--exactly what SPECTRE agent Ernst Blofeld (Donald Pleasence), the architect of this international crisis, had in mind. Connery is sent to Japan to
investigate. Hoping to give himself a little breathing room, he fakes his own death before exploring the volcano that houses Blofeld's own extraordinary spacecraft.
Limited by a Bond formula that demanded, among other things, that 007 be involved with at least three women, screenwriter Roald Dahl produced a contrived scenario that prevents YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE from ever really taking off. The film was also hampered by the last-minute casting of Pleasence to
replace Jan Werich. Pleasence experimented with a variety of disfigurements and disabilities--finally settling on a facial scar--but nothing made him look quite sinister enough. Despite its obvious shortcomings and $10 million budget (staggering by mid-1960s standards), YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE was a
tremendous commercial success. Nancy Sinatra sings the wistful title song, and the action scenes are enhanced by some of composer John Barry's best work for the Bond series.
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