You Only Live Twice

dir. Lewis Gilbert

You Only Live Twice

dir. Lewis Gilbert

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

TIFF Cinematheque - Retrospective

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"Resurrected" after a faked assassination, Bond heads to Japan and finds that SPECTRE has been disrupting space launches from their base inside a giant volcano, where the suave secret agent finally comes face to face with his arch-nemesis, SPECTRE chief Ernst Stavro Blofeld (Donald Pleasence).

American and Soviet space capsules are disappearing on their orbital flights, and both sides are blaming each other and rattling their nuclear sabres. Suspecting that a third party is trying to precipitate a conflict between the two superpowers, MI6 sends Bond — "resurrected" after being apparently machine-gunned to death while in flagrante delicto in a Hong Kong hotel room — to Tokyo to investigate faint radar signals detected over the Sea of Japan. With the aid of Japanese Secret Service head Tiger Tanaka (Tetsuro Tamba), Bond discovers the real culprit: SPECTRE, natch, who have set up an enormous secret base inside a volcano. Undergoing a quick round of ninja training, Bond breaks into the base and finally comes face to face with "No. 1" himself: Ernst Stavro Blofeld, incarnated in his first full screen appearance by Donald Pleasence in bald cap, facial scar and Nehru jacket. (The obvious model for Austin Powers' "Dr. Evil.") Pushing the series to its self-spoofing limits, You Only Live Twice is massively produced, thoroughly outlandish and quite consciously ridiculous, from its autogyro dogfight, to Sean Connery's "Japanese" makeover, to the climactic, epic-scaled assault on the volcano headquarters by a ninja army.