Shame, I say, shame on you all for waltzing so snootily all around the greatest Bond film of all:
YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE
To begin with, Bond begins this caper by getting machine-gunned to death while trapped in a murphy bed!
(No exaggeration: his death is even confirmed on-screen, seconds later, by a Hong Kong Colonial Policeman!)
Segue immediately to those titles!
And who can sit through those titles and not feel the hook go in?! Semi-disrobed geisha chicks silhouetted against bubbling blacklight lava, and that beautifully orchestrated theme music, featuring the existentially erotic title song, warbled perfectly by (the otherwise dismissable) Nancy Sinatra . . forget 2001 (n.o.i.), this was the cinema that graphically imploded my adolescent brain!
Lingering a moment on that subject of music, I have to pause long enough to pinpoint that, great theme songs notwithstanding, the only other Bond soundtrack I've ever heard (and I've owned most of 'em) that holds up for listening enjoyment start to finish as well as that from "YOLT", is the elusive, mostly jazz score from On Her Majesty's Secret Service.
Now, the villain? How about Blofeld in his greatest personification by that most ambitious of all late British B-actors, Donald Pleasance? Not only is this the first time we see that enduring supercriminal's face, but it is also the dead-on, over-the-top performance that single-handedly births the possibility of Mike Myers' delightful Dr. Evil, albeit 33 years later.
The other heavies? Let's check the menu here: a Sumoesqe hitman that Bond counter-attacks with an entire couch; a bug-silent midnight assassin who attempts to slay 007 with a drizzle of poisoned honey; SPECTRE chopper pilots gunning for James in his miniscule gyrocopter; a mute Scandanavian henchman just begging for some well-done judo chops; an amorous redhead with quickly removable evening gowns (easily the coolest use of magnetics ever commited in a movie!) and a deadly pilot's license; 3 dozen pipe-wielding thugs from the Kobe dockworker's union . . . did I mention the booby-trapped piranha pool?
And then there's the real prize in this box o' Cracker Jacks: the sardonic, irrepresible, completely scrutable Tiger Tanaka!
Query me this: how often has James been awarded a companion that was at least almost his equal? Skinny list, ain't it? The novels seldom did justice to Felix Leiter, the movies even less so; other British agents? Typically, little more than plot devices! There was that Turkish spymaster from FRWL, but a tad much comic patter, overall, and too soon dead; some interesting glasnost colleagues but no-one really memorable . .
But ahh, Tiger-san! He had his own private train, airborne secret police, all the best gadget-toys, that hidden ninja academy (look fast to spot Bruce Lee, head-butting a melon!), and only the most "sexy-ful" speed-driving girl agents! Charmingly roguish, he found his friend, Bond-san, to be "most impressive", and also "so very amusing".
As for climaxes, I challenge anybody to find one that can rival Bond utilizing an exploding dart cigarette to engineer a jail break for American & Soviet astronauts, then Trojan-Horsing an army of Japanese SWAT-commando-ninjas into a fortified secret volcano launch pad.
Shades of Jonny Quest!
The exeunt? Perhaps the drollest of the "interrupted honeymoon" curtain calls in the history of 007 cinema, no hidden cameras needed.
So there's my diagnosis, Ladies & Gentleman; Bond is indeed back from the Land of the Dead, living twice & forever, and we should all plan to get infected by this highly contagious movie!