Hello everybody. Welcome back to the newest installment of the Bond vs Bond series. We are now in the second of three weeks dealing with a short story. Last week saw us dive into the short story From A View To A Kill, which had it’s name butchered to be pasted on to the final Roger Moore abortion A View To A Kill. In that one, it would be a stretch to say we dived into them, as there was nothing in common with them at all. A stroll in the shallow end of the pool is more like it. But this week we get into a second short story that has some actual connective tissue to the film that shares a namesake. Not too much, as again it’s a short story and there’s not too much meat on the bone to stretch out to a feature length movie of the typically bloated Bond movie run time. That story is For Your Eyes Only. Let’s get to it.
To see the write up on Casino Royale, click here.
To see the write up on Live and Let Die, click here.
To see the write up on Moonraker, click here.
To see the write up on Diamonds Are Forever, click here.
To see the write up on From Russia With Love, click here.
To see the write up on Dr. No, click here.
To see the write up on Goldfinger, click here.
To see the write up on From A View To A Kill vs A View To A Kill, click here.
For Your Eyes Only
As mentioned before, Fleming was working on a proposed TV series based on Bond in 1958 at the behest of CBS. That didn’t work out too well. It seems maybe for the best, as the movies have lasted a lot longer than any TV show could have. 53 years and counting is nothing to sneeze at. When that show fell apart, Fleming took some of his outlines and turned them into shorts. 3 of those shorts ended up having their titles used in the movies, all after his passing. 2 of the 3 were just the title being used, but one of them ended up being used in some sort of story sense. For Your Eyes Only, the name of the first collection that housed his short stories, as also the name of the second short. And the movie that took the name, Roger Moore’s 5th entry and the 12th Bond movie overall, actually used it in some way. Not too faithfully, but enough of an inkling as to be more interesting than the first one we talked about, From A View To A Kill.
The short story is a little longer than From A View To A Kill, but still suffers from the same problem of being too rushed. This time the shorter length feels more earned, but there’s still the sense of rushing going on. The story is as such. The Havelocks are murdered at their home in Jamaica for refusing to sell the house. Turns out that M was the best man at their wedding and has a serious personal stake in this matter. He has Bond come in to work the case. The man looking to buy the place was a man named Hammerstein, an ex Gestapo officer currently working for Cuban President Batista. Sensing that Castro is gonna successfully overthrow Batista, Hammerstein is buying up land to get the hell out of dodge. M needs Bond to make the decision on what to do as he is too close, and Bond chooses death for Hammerstein and the men that carried out the hit. Hammerstein is staying at a place in Vermont near the border of Canada, so Bond travels to Canada and makes his way on foot to the estate. His plan is to assassinate Hammerstein as a means to send a message to others for killing British citizens. But while there, the Havelocks daughter Judy is there to do the same. Judy forces Bond to let her to the job, and she does so. With Hammerstein dead, a shootout occurs between Bond and the three guards with Bond of course coming out on top. Judy took a bullet to the arm, but is fine overall. Bond then tells her they have a motel all to themselves before they head back to London, and Judy is all for that. Pretty much a simple story.
The movie is interesting in how it uses that short. The movie does get kicked off in a way, post cold open, with the Havelocks being killed. But the movie lacks the personal vendetta angle, with the Havelocks not having close ties to M. In the movie, the husband is an archaeologist who is tasked to do a job for MI6 to locate a sunken British Navy ship. They are killed and Bond is tasked with finding out who had them killed and why. In the short and the novel, they are killed by a Cuban hitman named Gonzales. But the how is very different in the two. The movie features a very twisty tale featuring KGB spies and a plot to steal the ship everyone is after for a piece of tech it is carrying. The movie gets very big and broad as compared to the short. The short is basically two tense set pieces (the Havelocks death and the assassination mission) with some backstory shoved in between. There’s a personal stake to it and it is very tense. The movie on the other hand is a bigger entity, going for a pretty typical spy story with twists and double crosses and gigantic set pieces.
The final big difference is the daughter character. The movie does have the Havelocks daughter attempting to seek revenge for her parents death, but within the change to make the story bigger, her story changes to. The details of the character are different as well, changing the name from Judy to Milena. In the books she’s a typical Bond hottie, blonde and ready to drop trou at the first sign of Bond. The movie makes her a Greek girl, with the mediterranean looks to make her stand out from past Bond girls. Both characters are resourceful and use arrows to kill, with Judy using a bow and Milena a crossbow. And at the end, when the villain has been thwarted, Milena goes to kill him and Bond stops her, saying it’s a heavy burden she doesn’t wanna put on her soul essentially. But someone else kills him, so they have their cake and eat it too. In the book he’s forced by circumstance to let he do it. She has the bow aimed at him and says she’ll stick one in his leg. If he shoots off his gun, the mission is pretty much screwed and it’s all for naught. So he let’s her do it. Overall there’s a similarity to the role of the Havelocks daughter, with both ending up sleeping with Bond. The romance feels more natural in the movie if only because there’s more time spent together.
This is a hard entry to have to make a decision on. Both the book and the movie are not the best in their series’ by a stretch. But they are very good and do some damn good work making a thrilling Bond story, especially with both coming after disappointing entries (the movie followed the abysmal Moonraker). If I had to make a choice I’m gonna have to go with the movie, if only by a hair. The short suffers from it’s length. I wanted more out of it and the characters to be a little more interesting. We get backstory on Hammerstein but never get to meet him, just seen him from a distance before death. The movie, while not perfect, is a fleshed out story and is one of only 2 good Roger Moore movies. And by good, I mean it’s surprisingly entertaining and well made. It was tough but a man’s gotta do what a mans gotta do, and this time that’s make a decision. What’s gonna be interesting is getting to the final post about the shorts with titles not used by the movies, is that I heard in my travels that one of them (Risico) features story elements heavily used in this movie. We will get to that then, but I’m very interested to see how much it is used since the movie also used an element from the novel Live and Let Die (tying Bond and the girl to a line connected to a boat and dragging them to let sharks eat them). Next week finished up the brief foray into short story territory with a movie that gets us into Daniel Craig territory for the final time. Quantum of Solace is on deck. I like it, much maligned as it is, but I doubt much of it has origins in the short outside of a title. See ya then.
Book Rankings: From Russia With Love, Diamonds Are Forever, Goldfinger, Moonraker, Casino Royale, For Your Eyes Only, From A View To A Kill, Dr. No, Live and Let Die.
Movie Rankings: Casino Royale, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, For Your Eyes Only, Dr. No, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die,Moonraker, A View To A Kill
Up Next: The Short Story, Quantum of Solace