James Bond movies are currently streaming on Hulu, where I obtained these screen shots. First, something about the Bond series. Ex spy Ian Fleming wrote a bunch of these stories in the 1950s before finishing up in the early 1960s and dying in 1964. MGM began to put out movie interpretations, beginning with Dr. No in 1962, and they generally followed Fleming’s plots. Then they got famous for their special effects, and eventually Bond movies became synonymous with sex, glitz, stunts, and special effects. Really quite boring. No story—sequences of episodes strung together, sometimes losing the central theme in the process. Fortunately for us, something like this one got made, and it has a real story with real plot development. It’s For Your Eyes Only, from 1981, by which time the Bond series was well into it’s plot-devoid era.
The problem is, the original Fleming plot takes up a few pages in a collection of short stories published under the same title. The movie uses the title and the names of a few of the characters and concocts an epic yarn. More later.
The opening scene has nothing to do with the plot. We see James Bond (Roger Moore) laying flowers at the grave of his wife, who was cruelly murdered in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Comes a call from headquarters, and a helicopter arrives to pick him up for an important assignment. Only it’s a fake. Once Bond is inside the helicopter, buckled in, and in the air, an unseen hand pushes a button on a remote control device and causes the pilot to be electrocuted. Bond is trapped inside the helicopter controlled by a vicious and sinister old man sitting in a wheel chair on top of a distant building. The man’s voice comes through the helicopter intercom telling Bond of the grisly fate that awaits him.
But Bond gains the upper hand. He climbs out a door and hangs on as the helicopter flies a torturous and frightening route among buildings and stacks in an industrial area of the city.
Finally he gets inside the pilot’s compartment, dumps the dead pilot, and takes control. He flies the helicopter up behind the sinister wheel chair and scoops it up with one of the craft’s skids. Then he dumps his nemesis, wheel chair and all, down a smoke stack, which you see just now coming up.
Then runs the film’s intro, and the movie starts for real. A British spy station is disguised as a fishing boat off the coast of Albania, and the “fishermen” catch a floating mine in their net. The mine explodes, sinking the vessel before the crew can activate the thermite destruction device to destroy the ultra-secret ATAC device, this plot’s MacGuffin. The race is on to recover the device before opposing forces can get at it.
Switch to the yacht of the Havelock family, husband and wife being oceanographic researchers, he being involved in helping recover the ATAC. Their glamorous daughter Melina (Carole Bouquet) comes to visit while the yacht is anchored in Greek waters. She arrives by a float plane, which lands close by and lets her off at the yacht.
The float plane takes off, but then it circles back, and the pilot opens up on the boat with machine guns concealed in the floats, killing the husband and wife.
Here is where the film and the Fleming story overlap. In the book Mr. Havelock is retired MI6 living on the family estate in Jamaica. Gangsters seeking to flee Cube before Castro comes to power (this sets the time about 1958) are looking for other places to park their wealth. One gangster seeks to purchase the Havelock property, and Mr. Havelock turns them down flat. The gangsters take the next logical step and murder the husband and wife, then they begin to put pressure on the heir, the daughter, named Judy in this case. She seeks revenge with an aim to track down and to kill the gang leader. At this point the two plots diverge, never to cross paths again.
In the book James Bond’s boss, “M.”, is a friend of the Havelocks, and he asks Bond to “take care of business.” He hands Bond a file and stamps it “FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.” Hence the title.
Here is a scene nearly straight out of the Fleming story. The gangster is holed up in a resort in Vermont near the Canadian border with a lake and hot and cold running bimbos. The movie somewhat duplicates the scene, only this may be on the island several thousand miles to the east.
In the book Bond goes in with a sniper’s rifle with intent to kill the gangster. There he meets Judy, who has arrived by a different route and with a crossbow. Judy tells Bond to stay out of this business and to let her do it. In the movie Bond is unaware of the girl until the gangster dives into the pool and floats to the surface with an arrow through his worthless torso, a scene from both plots.
But Bond has been surprised by guards and taken to the boss, who orders him disposed of. The arrow generates confusion, allowing Bond to escape, whereupon he meets Melina on the trail, where she saves him again with a well-placed arrow. They team up and escape in her little yellow car, since his tricked-out Lotus has exploded when one of the guards attempted to break in. Here begins the first of several stereotype Bond chases, as the little yellow car (a Yugo?) dashes madly along winding mountain roads and through villages, pursued by two cars full of gunmen. Of course Bond and the girl escape, as the gunmen meet ghastly ends.
Trust me. There is a plot in this movie. The story advances as Bond follows lead after lead to track down who is after the ATAC. In the meantime there is the requisite snow chase. Here motorcycles with ice racing tires (spikes) chase Bond, on skis, down the mountain.
And down a bobsled run.
But Bond finds out he has been chasing the wrong villain. A smuggler clues him in that a supposed Anglophile is the real mastermind, and Bond and the girl retrieve the ATAC from the sunken spy boat, only to be captured by the traitor. It is decided that rather than shooting the two and dumping them to the sharks, the mastermind will troll them behind his boat over some sharp coral and let the sharks do the rest.
This is a plot device out of Live And Let Die, and the same escape is employed. Bond and the girl catch some slack in the tow line when the boat reverses course, and they snag the line on some rocks. As the boat charges forward the line goes taut and snaps, allowing the two to escape.
They team up with the smuggler, Chaim Topol as Milos Columbo, and they form up a team of five to assault the villain’s stronghold atop a Greek mountain top.
Bond makes the climb using rope and pitons, but when he nears the top a guard confronts him.
To sum up, the gang of five defeat the villains in a fierce fight in the mountain fortress, right before the Soviet general arrives to take possession of the ATAC. Bond tosses the device off the mountain, where it explodes in a shower of particles, and everybody departs content.
Finally, Bond and Melina reconcile, and as she undoes the top of her clothing she tells him the scenery is “for your eyes only.”
Obviously there are plot defects. We are meant to believe the ATAC, a highly sensitive device aboard the spy boat. has been designed for destruction to avoid capture. The person chained to its console drowns before he can pull the lever to initiate the destruction, and the device sinks, intact, with the boat. And it was not designed to dissolve in salt water? It lies at a depth of over 400 feet for days (weeks?), and it’s still going to be functional? No. Just no.
It’s necessary to have the Havelocks killed. In the book the two gunmen who come around to make Mr. Havelock an offer he can’t refuse. When he refuses, they pull weapons out of their bags and shoot them down on the patio. In the movie they trick out a float plane by installing machine guns in the floats. Then they endeavor to have this be the plane that picks up the daughter and takes her to the yacht. A simple matter would have been for the pilot/assassin to come aboard at the time and gun down everybody and leave. In real life, nobody fits out a float plane with guns in the float pods.
Bond and the girl are captured, and the miscreant needs to get them out of the way. Does he have them shot and dumped overboard? No. He needs to come up with a plan to kill them creatively and also to give them an opportunity to escape. Movie plots seem
The story is one of five in a volume with this title. The first story in the book is From a View to a Kill, and yes, Hollywood made a movie using a similar title. The Fleming story has Bond tracking down a Russian spy ring engaged in murdering motorcycle couriers carrying secret NATO communications in France. As became typical, MGM threw away Flemming’s plot to make the movie, now streaming on Hulu. A review shortly.