The film opens with 007 visiting the grave of his wife, tempting us with the possibility of an emotional performance by Rog. Unfortunately this thought is almost immediately dismissed by some silly shenanigans involving a remote controlled helicopter, and dispatching Blofeld, again! (though at least this time he doesn’t get glooped a la Fun House). Then the title music starts off, at first fairly meh before getting to a rousing chorus as Sheena Easton belts out the title.
The film gets going properly when we see a British ship carrying some fancy new gizmo: an Automatic Targeting and Attack Communicator (ATAC) sunk by a landmine. Evidently the Soviets are interested in the ATAC and have contracted out the task of recovering it to the usual crew of inept villains and henchmen. 007 must first track down the St. Georges (the ship that was carrying the ATAC) as MI6 don’t know precisely where it was sunk, and ultimately prevent the gadget from falling into enemy hands.
Sadly, Bernard Lee passed away the year that FYEO was made, so James Villiers was brought in as Tanner, to hold down the MI6 fort. Sadly the rapport between Lee and Llewelyn will never again be the highlight of the stuffy wood panelled London offices.
I think that there are two take-home factoids about FYEO. Firstly, it is fairly gadget-free; though having said that, we see almost immediately that Moneypenny has a gadget! Albeit it’s only a mirror in a filing cabinet! Clearly Q thought that it was important for Moneypenny to make sure her lippy was perfect as she searches for important documents. Possibly the only gadget that 007 uses is the watch that displays a digital message telling him to contact HQ. Of course he only “uses” it by giving it to a parrot, who then talks to Margaret Thatcher! *Head-desk*
The second noticeable thing is how great the stunts and action sequences are. Between second unit director Arthur Wooster, driving stunt arranger Rémy Julienne, and stunt arranger Bob Simmons, the action is full-on, magnificently cut together, and really puts the viewer in the heart of the action. First up there is a very enjoyable car chase involving a Citroen CV; Melina (Carole Bouquet) really looked as though she was enjoying herself, and the whole sequence was only slightly marred by the classic Roger Moore double-take and raised eye-brow!
The other highlight is the chase down the snow-clad Italian Alps, involving skiing, motorbikes, a ski jump and a bobsleigh/skiing/motorbike combo. It is really impressive; majestic scenery, all edited really well, and only very occasionally a blue screen superimposition shot. The action/stunt guys really did an amazing job. One other highlight was the rock climbing as 007 infiltrates St. Cyril's monastery, perched high on a precipitous cliff top (all a bit Where Eagles Dare). Rick Sylvester was the climber, and for the shot where 007 gets pushed off the top, he fell 300 ft! That’s a hell of a fall, one can only imagine how much his harness dug in as he reached the end of the fall!
Speaking of being uncomfortable; aspiring Olympic ice-skater Bibi Dahl (Lynn-Holly Johnson) is 22 when FYEO was released in 1981, Rog was 53! That’s all kinds of wrong. At least 007 does look uncomfortable as Bibi is throwing herself at him. A few other notes on the cast: Rog was Rog, Carole Bouquet was pretty good as Melina, I liked her. Julian Glover was alright as Aristotle Kristatos, but I couldn’t get past the fact that he is Donovan in Last Crusade; Topol was suitably mysterious as Columbo; and John Wynam as Eric Kriegler should not be allowed to wear these pornographic shorts!
Order of Preference so far: