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Film / You Only Live Twice

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One life for yourself, and one for your dreams...

"Me? I never take any risks."
James Bond

The one in Japan.

You Only Live Twice is the fifth James Bond film by Eon Productions, the first to be directed by Lewis Gilbert, and the fifth starring Sean Connery. It came out on June 13, 1967 in the UK. Nancy Sinatra performed the Title Theme Tune.

After Bond fakes his death to fall off the radar, he is sent to Japan to investigate SPECTRE's latest plot to spark a nuclear war by interfering in The Space Race. A little known fact about it is that the screenplay was written by children's book writer Roald Dahl, a good friend of Ian Fleming.

Notably, this was the first film to deviate significantly from the source novel, which has Bond, still reeling from the tragic events of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, being sent by M on an extremely tricky diplomatic mission to Japan in an attempt to shake him out of his Heroic BSoD. The novel was considered to be unfilmable, so they had to almost completely rewrite the plot. Apart from the Japanese setting, the basic characters of Tiger Tanaka and Dikko Henderson (both of whom were portrayed completely differently in the film), and Blofeld as the villain, it has little in common with its film adaptation.


Many of the most widely known and celebrated Bond tropes come from this movie, including Ken Adam's giant volcano set. Most famous, however, is the genre-defining performance from Donald Pleasence as Blofeld, complete with a fluffy white cat to stroke - many people are surprised to be told this is actually the only one Pleasence is in.

Preceded by Thunderball and followed by On Her Majesty's Secret Service with George Lazenby temporarily taking the role from Connery.


This film provides examples of:

  • Action Girl
    • Aki the Japanese spy is actually a pretty good example of the trope, since she's a Waif-Fu with downright mean driving skills.
    • Kissy isn't so bad either. Despite hiding behind Tanaka for most of it, she joins the assault on the SPECTRE volcano all while wearing a bikini, and even manages to get a few shots off.
  • Actor IS the Title Character: One poster design had "Sean Connery IS James Bond." Ironically it was this movie where Connery quit the role partially because he wanted to be known as something other than Bond.
  • Actor Allusion: Alexander Knox plays the U.S. President. If you look behind him, you can see a portrait of Woodrow Wilson. This is an in-joke, as Knox played the former President in Wilson (1944).
  • Adaptation Distillation
    • The producers tried to do as in the book and use a castle by the sea. However, they found out there's no such thing in Japan (they are built well into land because of typhoons). The solution they found? A volcano base!
    • Roald Dahl had to create a new plot as he considered that the book was more of a travelogue than a novel (see In Name Only, below).
  • Adaptational Nationality: Henderson was a boisterous Australian in the book, as opposed to an effeminate Englishman in the film.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: Henderson, unlike his book counterpart, is polite, mild-mannered and soft-spoken.
  • Adaptational Personality Change: In the book, Henderson is a boisterous, racist Australian. In the film, he's a pleasant, mild-mannered Englishman.
  • Agents Dating: Bond has a dinner with his "wife" Kissy (an agent who works for Tanaka) in which Kissy informs him that they're sleeping in separate beds. Bond protests "But we're supposed to be married. We're on our honeymoon!", but Kissy replies "Not honeymoon. This is business."
  • All There in the Script: Kissy Suzuki is not called or mentioned by name at all during the actual movie — which is otherwise filled with Say My Name.
  • America Saves the Day: Averted; Brits track the SPECTRE satellites to the Sea of Japan and the Japanese secret service, lead by its head honcho, Tiger Tanaka does much the grunt work of the case, including supplying its elite ninja unit for the assault on the secret base, while the US are all too willing to blame Russians.
  • Animal Motifs: Blofeld's famous white cat underlines his own cat-like qualities, such as his calm assurance, soft demeanor, and his habit of playing with his victims before killing them.
  • Artistic License – Geography: It's 1796 miles between Hong Kong to Tokyo. That means that James Bond would either spend several days on the submarine traveling between the two cities or try to get from Hong Kong (where he was publicly "murdered") to Tokyo, (by air) without being noticed.
  • Assassin Outclassin': Helga Brandt attempts to kill Bond by leaving him aboard a crashing plane. When that fails, Osato sends assassins into the ninja school, one using poison (who manages to kill Aki instead) and another using a knife concealed in a staff. These failures lead to Blofeld killing both of them.
  • Artificial Limbs: Henderson has an artificial leg from a war injury. Bond confirms it's him by smacking the leg hard with his cane. Henderson expresses relief that he'd chosen the correct leg.
  • Asshole Victim: Helga Brandt. Trying to make an excuse for failing to kill Bond is the worst thing any henchman can do in front of Blofeld, so it's unlikely anyone will feel sad for her when she's plunged into the piranha pool.
  • Badass Bystander: A random ninja takes out 4 or 5 mooks with guns at the climax.
  • Balls of Steel: A martial artist is hit in the testicles, but it's revealed he had drawn them into his body.
  • Between My Legs: A common shot in Bond films; this shot is taken of a girl at the bath house framing James.
  • Big Red Button: Two - one pushed by Bond to destroy the SPECTRE space ship, one a switch thrown by Blofeld to activate his base's Self-Destruct Mechanism.
  • Bilingual Bonus: When Bond is having his chest hair dyed to look more Japanese, there is the following exchange:
    Bond: Why don't you just dye the parts that show?
    Aki: (in Japanese, untranslated) That's a secret only we know!
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word: Blackmail may be an ugly word, but its closely related term, extortion, is fine with Blofeld. After all, Blofeld says upfront, "Extortion is my business." Of course, one of those words is in SPECTRE's acronym and the other isn't, which might explain the Insistent Terminology.
  • Blofeld Ploy: Done twice in this one, by you-know-who. First he uses it to kill Helga instead of Osato, and then later he hilariously points a gun at Bond and shoots Osato, only to attempt to kill Bond again mere seconds later in another location where he's conveniently subdued by one of Tiger's shurikens.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Rather a ridiculous example; not only can those piranha strip a person to the bone, they can do so without spilling a drop of blood.
  • Bond One-Liner:
    • "Bon appetit!" after Hans falls in the piranha pool.
    • Tanaka gets one after arranging Bond's pursuers to be dropped into the ocean by a helicopter: "How's that for Japanese efficiency?"
    Bond: Just a drop in the ocean.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity:
    • Blofeld actually calls his underlings out on this. Downplayed with Blofeld himself later in the movie; when he captures Bond himself, he shoots Osato first. He was about to shoot Bond next, but his delay in doing so ultimately allows Bond to escape.
    • Note that sending out their four attack helicopters to try and shoot down Bond was a pretty huge one. The whole point of the secret volcano base is that it is covert and hidden. Bond had made his sweep and found nothing and was about to head home ... when they tried to jump him. Which only confirmed that the base HAD to be somewhere here, leading to the Ninjas moving onto the island for the assault.
  • Bring Him to Me: Bond is captured while impersonating a SPECTRE astronaut and brought to the control center on Blofeld's orders.
  • The Brute: Osato's car driver. He can endure several hits of sofa and punching him in the face is quite ineffective (much like Oddjob).
  • Burial at Sea: Commander James Bond is buried at sea after being ambushed and killed in Hong Kong. Of course, what really happened was that MI-6 faked his death for SPECTRE's benefit, and his coffin, complete with breath mask and air tank, is picked up by a submarine.
  • Carpet of Virility: Lampshaded when the Japanese massage girls are giggling over Bond's hairy chest.
    Bond: Japanese proverb say, "Bird never make nest in bare tree".
  • Chekhov's Gun: The SPECTRE base is in an extinct volcano. At the end the Self-Destruct Mechanism causes an eruption.
  • China Takes Over the World: Blofeld is seen speaking to two sinister Asian types representing an unidentified government, in a plot to start World War III between Russia and America. The film is set in Japan but it is not them, as Japanese Secret Service helps Bond foil the plot.
  • Chronic Evidence Retention Syndrome: SPECTRE not only kept a photograph of their smuggling ship, but they helpfully annotated the fact that they killed the tourist for taking it, thus providing a clue for James Bond as to where to look.
  • Coitus Ensues: Subverted. Kissy emphatically insisted her fake marriage was strictly business and would not be consummated for their "honeymoon." This being a Bond movie, they still tried to do it, almost during a mission at that! Unfortunately M interrupted by surfacing a submarine directly beneath them while they were just getting started.
  • Collapsing Lair: After Blofeld activates a Self-Destruct Mechanism.
  • Come with Me If You Want to Live: Bond is escaping from the Osato Chemicals building when Aki drives up beside him and tells him to "Get in!"
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: The massive army of ninja is slaughtered when it initially attacks Blofeld's lair. They become incredibly effective after Bond opens the door for them.
  • Cool Car: Aki's Toyota 2000GT, widely regarded as Japan's first supercar. It wasn't supposed to be a convertible, but it got converted into one due to Sean Connery's height.
  • Cool Guns: The M1 Carbine and MP40 show up among the many guns used by SPECTRE mooks.
  • Cool Plane: "Little Nellie"; actually a gyrocopter.
  • Cool Train: Tanaka's private train.
  • Corporate Conspiracy: Mr. Osato, president of Osato Chemicals, is secretly allied with SPECTRE and allows them to use his company as a front for their Evil Plan to bring about World War III.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Apparently Bond carries around an electronic gadget to open safes everywhere he goes.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: In the film's Cold Open, an astronaut happens to be on a tether while Blofeld captures the spaceship he's attached to. In the capture the rope is severed, sending him floating into deep space.
  • Cunning Linguist: Bond took a first in Oriental languages at Cambridge, so he refuses the Japanese phrasebook Moneypenny offers him because he doesn't need it.
  • Death by Adaptation: Henderson gets this In the Back.
  • Death Trap: Brandt tries to kill Bond by holding him inside a crashing plane as she parachutes out the window. (don't ask how such a huge plank appears to trap Bond).
  • Death by Sex: Aki succumbs to Bond's charms, and while they're sleeping in the same bed afterwards she is killed by an assassination attempt meant for Bond.
  • Description Cut: The British ambassador assures his colleagues that their "Man in Hong Kong" is right on the job. Cut to Bond in bed with a gorgeous Chinese girl (though she does turn out to be an enemy agent, so maybe he really was working).
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Blofeld plots to start World War III so SPECTRE (or their shady foreign backers) can rule the post-apocalyptic aftermath.
  • Died Standing Up: Henderson dies from a dagger to the back as he stands next to a paper wall in mid-sentence.
  • Dies Wide Open: Aki, who is killed by a SPECTRE assassin who was trying to kill Bond.
  • Disposable Woman: When Roald Dahl was hired to write the screenplay, he was told that every Bond movie needs three Bond girls: one is pro-Bond and dies; another is anti-Bond but is won over by his charms; and the third, pro-Bond woman is the one he gets to bed at the end of the film. Dahl followed the template with Aki, Helga and Kissy respectively.
  • Double Entendre: Here's a real gem:
    Tiger Tanaka: I have much curiosity, Bond-san. What is "Little Nellie"?
    James Bond: Oh, she's a wonderful girl. Very small, quite fast, can do anything. Just your type.note 
    • The movie in fact begins with Bond getting machine-gunned in a girl's bed. The Hong Kong police remark "At least he died on the job...he would've wanted it that way."
    • The girl in question having previously promised (picking up on a food-based simile of Bond's) to "give him very best duck."
    • When a female spy is told she will be 007's assistant: "It will be a pleasure serving under you, Mr. Bond."
  • Double Take: When Osato sees Bond in the SPECTRE control room, he first turns back to his console and then turns slowly to look at him again with a stunned look on his face.
  • Dressing as the Enemy
    • The escaped astronauts/cosmonauts dress in white SPECTRE security uniforms.
    • Earlier Bond uses a smog mask used by Henderson's assassin to pretend to be him, as well as doubling over to hide his height, pretending to be injured.
  • Drugs Are Bad
    Blofeld: It won't be the nicotine that kills you, Mr. Bond.
    • Inverted with the rocket bullet cigarettes.
    Tanaka: It can save your life, this cigarette.
    Bond: You sound like an advertisement.
  • Dueling Scar: This version of Blofeld has one.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The SPECTRE launch facility. Entirely apart from all the side tunnels, the main set is staggeringly huge.
  • Embarrassing Password: The Trust Password that Bond is supposed to expect from his (as yet unknown to him) contact in the Japanese S.I.S. The contact turns out to be a Japanese man, leading to the trust password:
    Tiger Tanaka: I... love you.
    James Bond: I'm glad we got that out of the way.
  • Epic Tracking Shot: Bond fights his way across the bad guys' port, filmed by a helicopter very high above the action so it looks like a bunch of ants fighting. Combined with the jazzy instrumental of the theme song playing, it is awesome. It also makes it easier to conceal the fact Sean Connery is probably being doubled.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: When Blofeld has Helga Brandt executed (by being tossed into a piranha-infested water pool) for failing to kill 007, Osato and the two Chinese emissaries can only watch in horror as Helga gets devoured in seconds.
  • Evil Plan: Blofeld's is to start World War III by destroying American and Russian spacecraft and framing the other. Again, SPECTRE had been hired to do this by a hostile foreign power.
  • Explosive Cigar: Tanaka gives James Bond a case of cigarettes that shoots a projectile when lit. Bond ends up using them to foil Blofeld's plan to start World War III.
  • Faking the Dead: Bond in the beginning, complete with through-and-through bullet holes and fake blood.
  • False Flag Operation: SPECTRE does this to the U.S. and U.S.S.R. to make each think that the other is stealing its space capsules.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • My lifeline! It's cu-" Chris the astronaut, before being left to die in space.
    • "Oh it's not Russia, old boy, I'm sure of that. It's not Japan either. Although, a large Japanese industrial concern i-" Mr. Henderson, who gets backstabbed by an assassin.
    • "Osato! NEIIIN!" Helga Brandt, aka Number Eleven, falling into a pool of piranhas.
    • "I'm...I'm...I...I...I'm..." Aki, after getting poisoned in her bed.
  • Fanservice: Should go without saying in a Bond movie. Examples include Bond main girl, Kissy Suzuki, wearing a white bikini while hiking up the Big Bad's lair. Eventually she puts on a sort of small bathrobe-kimono only to get rid of it later. For pretty much the last quarter of the film she's in a bikini. Also Tanaka's bath servants. Later on when Bond takes a Japanese identity the female makeup artists apply the Japanese makeup to Bond in an operating theater wearing bikinis!
  • Far East: Blofeld's foreign partners are East Asians representing an unnamed country which is explicitly not Japan, but otherwise unspecified. Presumably, its identity is kept deliberately vague to avoid offending anyone—though it's fairly easy to guess who was its real-life inspiration.
  • Fast-Roping: This is how Tiger Tanaka's ninjas descend into Blofeld's volcano base, but with a special roller apparatus to allow them to descend as fast as safely possible.
  • Fed to the Beast: Blofeld drops Helga Brandt into a Piranha Pool.
  • Fiery Redhead: Helga Brandt (which makes her actress - who is a brunette - saying the producers were looking for a blue-eyed blonde kind of weird...).
  • Forklift Fu: One of the Mooks try run Bond over with a forklift at the Kobe docks.
  • Funny Background Event: When the rocket control room is under siege, Bond poses the question "Impregnable?" to Blofold. Meanwhile, his cat is completely freaked out and trying to escape.
  • Giant Mook: Hans and the Japanese driver who unknowingly picks Bond and takes him to Osato Industries.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: After having been The Faceless in previous films, Blofeld, is finally introduced being bald and having a long vertical scar which passes through his right eye.
  • Gratuitous Ninja: This exchange sums the whole movie up:
    Bond: Do you have any commandos here?
    Tanaka: I have much, much better. Ninjas.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: SPECTRE is working on behalf of an unnamed foreign power, who amongst other things are the ones who built the ship they use (as established in the "extortion" conversation they have). This is almost certainly Maoist China, but for obvious reasons, this isn't outright stated. Blofeld even bluntly reminds the emissaries of the unnamed foreign power as to who is Eviler Than Thou of the two.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: Blofeld tries to shoot Bond, and the gun gets knocked out of his hand with a ninja star, and goes off. The gun hits the ground, and goes off again. This is impossible for two reasons. The gun was never re-cocked, and the angle that the gun hit the floor would not have set the trigger off.
  • Hammerspace: Bond and Kissy climb the volcano and find Blofeld's lair - though Bond is wearing a simple Japanese fisherman's outfit, he suddenly has a second set of clothing underneath, along with wall-climbing suction cups, a gun, and cigarette case.
  • Hand Signals: Tiger Tanaka uses them twice with his ninja army: once he raises his arm to signal them to enter the crater and once he waves his arm to tell them to advance.
  • Highly Visible Ninja: The ninjas actually DO dress in appropriate camouflage. When infiltrating a rocky basin, they are all wearing grey outfits that let them blend in perfectly with the gray rocks. These are more "practical" modern ninjas, though; they use guns, for example.
    • Film critic Drew McWeeny of in his review of the movie:
    "Do ninjas typically drop into a location in plain view and then use machine guns and hand grenades? Because if so, I really misunderstood the point of ninjas."
    • Not only that, but in order to get near the volcano lair, they have to infiltrate the island first, which they do disguised as local fishermen. Presumably, more than a few of them might go even further and bring along fake wives, which Bond does.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Helga Brandt has Bond tied up in her cabin and, in fact, says "I've got you now." Bond quips "Well, enjoy yourself!"
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After taking out a henchman during the fight in Osato's office, Bond breaks into a cupboard and takes a drink. Unfortunately for him, the only thing available is Siamese vodka.
  • IKEA Weaponry: "Little Nellie" is always packed up in kit-form until needed.
  • I Minored in Tropology: Bond claims to have earned a first in Oriental languages from Cambridge. However, he only says this to Moneypenny and never demonstrates any great language skills, so it's possibly an exaggeration or joke.
  • Iaijutsu Practitioner: While James Bond is attending a ninja school we see a martial arts expert do a fast draw, pretend to slice up several students and then sheath his sword just as quickly.
  • Imposter Forgot One Detail: Bond disguises himself as an astronaut, but is spotted by Blofeld when he tries to carry his air conditioner unit onto the spacecraft he's boarding.
  • Infraction Distraction: Bond claims to be an industrial spy after being caught snooping around Osato Chemicals.
  • In Name Only: The movie has extremely little in common with the novel by Ian Fleming, as the producers considered the novel (which was about Bond taking a contract on Blofeld and shutting down his garden full of ways for visitors to commit suicide, in exchange for the take from one of Tanaka's intelligence sources) completely unfilmable. The producers allowed Roald Dahl to create a new plot, given he followed the formula by not derailing Bond's character and having him romance three women, so the writer added a space program story similar to Dr. No.
  • Island Base: Blofeld's Elaborate Underground Base is under an extinct volcano on the Japanese island of Matsu.
  • Just Desserts: Hans, The Dragon to Big Bad Blofeld, is devoured after Bond knocks him into the piranha pool Blofeld keeps for disposing of traitors and failures.
  • Just Plane Wrong: For an American Gemini rocket launch they used stock footage of an Atlas-Agena (probably carrying a weather satellite) despite having stock footage of a Gemini - which they used for a Soviet rocket launch.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: While the Ninja squad that rescues Bond near the end do use some more modern equipment, there are still plenty of shots of them using shuriken and ninja blades successfully against the SMG armed minions.
  • Kidnapped by an Ally: Tanaka feels a need to have Bond lured down a corridor so he can fall through a trapdoor and down a chute which dumps him in a chair in the director's office. One can't help feeling that giving Bond a quiet invitation and directions to the stairs would have been less of a bother for both parties.
  • Killed Mid-Sentence: MI6 agent Henderson is backstabbed (literally) by a SPECTRE assassin while talking to Bond.
  • Last Request: Bond asks for a last cigarette which he uses to kill the mook closest to the controls opening the sliding roof.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The British Hong Kong policeman who discovers Bond "dead" in the opening sequence, almost looking straight to the audience.
    Policeman: Well, at least he died on the job. He'd have wanted it this way.
  • Leitmotif: The rocket that SPECTRE uses is accompanied by a dramatic fanfare.
  • Lie Back and Think of England: Bond of all people mutters, "The things I do for England," while unzipping Helga's dress.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: The scene where "Little Nellie" gets assembled.
  • Luck-Based Search Technique: While Bond is brawling with a Giant Mook they knock open the panel covering a safe with crucial evidence, that Bond later sees reflected in a mirror when he pours himself a much-needed drink afterwards.
  • Made in Country X: After Bond breaks into the Osato offices, cracks a safe and kills the Mook who attacks him, he decides he needs to take a drink from Osato's bar. He takes a sip and notes with horror that he's drinking Siamese vodka.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Bond undergoes plastic surgery so that he can appear to be Japanese. It isn't very convincing.
  • Magical Security Cam: Viewers on the ground see one of the space capsule capture scenes from outside the spaceships - from the same angle as the audience see it. And earlier on, Tanaka's cameras record Bond pursuing Aki, and his helicopter towing away a carload of bad guys, with similar vantage points.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Helga Brandt gets Bond into a plane under the ruse that she is betraying her employer...then jumps out with a parachute after trapping him, leaving him to die in a plane crash.
  • Marriage of Convenience: Bond gets cosmetic surgery and marries Kissy to pose as a native pearl diver in order to get close to a dormant volcano where Bond suspects that SPECTRE has an Elaborate Underground Base. Lampshaded when Bond proposes sleeping together as a "honeymoon":
    Kissy: Honeymoon? This is business.
    [Bond pushes away a plate of oysters.]
    James Bond: Won't be needing these, then.
  • Mega-Maw Maneuver: Blofeld has one of these, which he uses in False Flag Operations to kidnap US and Soviet space capsules to start World War III between them.
  • Minor Crime Reveals Major Plot: American and Russian spacecraft are stolen → elaborate plan by SPECTRE to start a nuclear war between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.
  • Moment Killer:
    • A SPECTRE helicopter passing overhead interrupts Bond and Kissy Suzuki's romantic interlude on the island.
    • And of course what becomes a Running Gag of Bond's superiors interrupting (either before, during or after) sex with the Bond girl at the end of the movie.
  • Mugged for Disguise: Bond and some imprisoned astronauts take out several SPECTRE guards and steal their uniforms.
  • Murphy's Bed: Bond's death is faked in the opening by having him trapped in a fold-out bed in a hotel, which is then peppered with bullets by mooks.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Tiger Tanaka is a badass on the side of good.
  • Neck Snap: Bond uses it to kill the assassin who killed Henderson.
  • Never My Fault: When Blofeld reprimands Helga and Osato for failing to kill Bond in their first encounter, Helga attempts to put her failure solely on Osato when he reveals she didn't follow his orders. Blofeld doesn't take that well and has her fed to his piranhas shortly thereafter.
  • Non Violent Initial Confrontation: The "business meeting" at Osato's chemical company.
  • No Name Given: The Bond Girl is not even given a name during the film's duration. It's not until the credits that's she's listed as Kissy Suzuki.
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now!: Blofeld says "Interception will take place in eight minutes. Nothing can prevent that."
  • Obvious Stunt Double: When Bond is fighting Hans in Blofeld's quarters, he appears to be about the same height. When Bond back-drops him into the water, he appears to be about a foot shorter.
  • Oh, Crap!: Osato acts that way after he sees Blofeld's killing of his female underling after she failed him. Before he was calmly walking away, but after Blofeld's deed, after which the Big Bad roars, "Kill Bond, NOW!", Osato scampers up the stairs in fright at his truly crazy boss.
  • One Last Smoke: Bond uses this as a ploy to help out his allies in their assault on the volcano.
  • The Oner: An extended helicopter tracking shot as Bond runs across a roof fighting SPECTRE minions.
  • Organ Dodge: Played with. Bond meets contact Dikko Henderson, borrows his walking stick, and smacks him hard in the leg — which is wooden and proves it really is him. Henderson is just glad he got the correct leg.
  • Out with a Bang: With the usual Double Entendre when Bond is found 'dead' in bed thanks to a Chinese Femme Fatale.
    "Well at least he died on the job."
    "He'd have wanted it this way."
  • Overt Rendezvous: Bond meets with Aki at a sumo match.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: "Japanese Bond". It's a nod to the novel, where Bond really manages to look Japanese... somehow.
  • Perfect Poison: A SPECTRE mook, trying to kill Bond, accidentally poisons Aki with a drop of liquid on her lips that kills her in seconds.
  • Piranha Problem: Blofeld keeps a piranha pond in his underground lair - handy for getting rid of failed employees.
  • Playing Both Sides: SPECTRE is stealing American and Soviet spacecraft to provoke a war.
  • Premature Eulogy: The one for James Bond, delivered by the Royal Navy as he's a member of the Royal Navy (RNVR in the novels, besides his other job...), quoting 1 Corinthians 15. Divers retrieve the "corpse" and cut open the lining to reveal 007, reporting for duty.
  • Prosthetic Limb Reveal: James Bond meets with another operative in Japan who walks up to him with a limp. Bond borrows the man's cane and hits him in the leg with it to make sure he isn't faking. The man's only comment is to say he's glad Bond picked the correct leg.
  • Publicly Discussing the Secret: Invoked, both the book and film. Tiger Tanaka says it's a Japanese custom.
  • Quotes Fit for a Trailer: One trailer for an ITV broadcast ended with Blofeld's line "You can see it all on television."
  • Railing Kill: Happens a lot during the big battle at the end.
  • Rare Guns: Tiger Tanaka's army utilizes Gyrojet pistols and rifles, in what is one of the few times the Gyrojet is seen used on film. They also used them in the book. Justified; at the time the film was made, Gyrojets were still available for sale and weren't the absurdly rare weapons they are today.
  • Reality Has No Subtitles:
    • Tiger Tanaka speaks untranslated Japanese to his underlings several times.
    • The Soviet ground controllers and cosmonauts speak untranslated Russian during the launch and flight.
    • Bond is about to have his chest hair dyed black as part of his Japanese disguise. He says "Why don't you just dye the parts that show?" His first Bond Girl Aki repeats this in Japanese to the female Japanese attendants (who apparently don't speak English) and they all laugh.
    • When Bond and his second Bond Girl Kissy Suzuki arrive at the Ama village, she talks to several of the villagers in Japanese.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The volcano set is so immense it looks like it was all done with miniatures—but as the documentary featurette reveals, they actually built the whole huge set and flew real helicopters into it.
  • Recycled In Space: Inverted. This is the original attempt to trigger nuclear war between Russia and the US, but it has since spawned many imitators; the plot would be recycled in the series itself for the 10th Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, but it's this one that is actually based in space.
  • Red China: Heavily implied that they are the ones who hired Blofeld to do all this.
  • Red Right Hand: Blofeld has a massive facial scar.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Aki with Kissy (whose name isn't even mentioned in the film). In fact, Roald Dahl alleges that the producers gave him a formula mandating this when he first signed on.
  • Retcon:
  • Revealing Cover-Up: SPECTRE, repeatedly. SPECTRE's assassination of Henderson seemingly prevented him from giving Bond a lead, but it inadvertently allowed Bond to follow the assassin's trail right back to Osato Industries and leading to him uncovering Osato's role in the plot anyway: thus learning the very thing that Henderson's murder was intended to prevent. Moreover, Osato inexplicably kept photographic evidence of its secret activities (rather than destroying such obviously sensitive information), along with stating that it had murdered a tourist to keep it secret. This evidence in turn leads Bond to the island which conceals SPECTRE's hidden volcano base. But the most egregious example is when Bond is doing aerial recon of the island and finds nothing of interest... until he gets attacked by four SPECTRE helicopters, tipping him off that their base has to be in that general area. Had SPECTRE stayed put, Bond would have reported to his superiors that he found nothing and SPECTRE's secret would have remained safely intact. In summary, the SPECTRE plot likely would have succeeded and their secret lair gone undiscovered had they not repeatedly tipped their hand with clumsy attempts at a cover-up.
  • Right-Hand Cat: This is probably the Trope Maker, though Blofeld's cat had been featured before.
  • Ripped from the Headlines: Much of the plot was inspired by the Cold War related space race of the 1960s, which had captured much public attention. Ironically, this movie was released five months following the Apollo 1 launchpad fire, which resulted in the deaths of three U.S. astronauts and resulted in N.A.S.A.'s suspension of U.S. manned space flight for over a year, which included the time frame of this movie's theatrical showings.
  • Safecracking: Bond breaks into a safe at the Osato Chemical Company with a nifty spy gadget.
  • Same Language Dub:
    • Robert Rietti provided the voice for Tiger Tanaka, though Tetsurô Tanba's own voice is still heard for his Japanese dialogue.
    • Alexander Knox, who played the U.S. Secretary of Defense, was re-voiced by an unknown actor. Although Canadian by birth, Knox's natural speaking voice carried a strong English accent.
  • Scenery Porn: Spectacular aerial footage of Japan.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Blofeld's cat attempts this as the aforementioned Funny Background Eventnote ; eventually it does escape after Blofeld has to loosen his grip to shoot Osato.
  • Self-Destruct Mechanism:
    • The SPECTRE space ship has a built-in self destruct device that's activated by an "exploder button" in the SPECTRE base.
    • The SPECTRE base has one too. When it is stormed, Blofeld throws a switch that sets off explosions and a volcanic eruption.
  • Sentry Gun: The "crater guns" that Blofeld ordered to be used against Tiger Tanaka's ninja army. They're quite effective in holding them off until Bond and Tanaka succeed in opening the entrance to the volcano base.
  • Shark Pool: Instead of sharks, there are piranha.
  • Sic 'em: Osato tells Number 11 "Kill him!'' and Blofeld says "Kill Bond! Now!"
  • Sky Heist: In the scene that is the Trope Codifier (and inspiration for many other examples) Bond and Aki are being pursued by a carload of gun wielding thugs. Aki calls Tiger Tanaka for help. Straight after the call for help a large helicopter hovers over the gunmen's car and picked it up with a very large electromagnet, lifts the car into the sky and dumps it into the waters of Tokyo bay.
  • Slain in Their Sleep: Aki is murdered in her sleep by mistake (they were aiming for Bond). An assassin sneaks into the rafters of their bedroom and lowers a string, then puts a drop of poison on the string to drip down into Bond's mouth; but Bond and Aki both turn over, so poor Aki's mouth is where the string is.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Donald Pleasence's Blofeld has less than 30 minutes of screentime, but is easily the most memorable Bond villain of all.
  • Space Pirates: Blofeld's plan for triggering a world war involves stealing American and Soviet space ships.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Blofeld. In the book (which takes place after On Her Majesty's Secret Service) James Bond strangles him with his bare hands. In the movie he gets hit non-fatally with a ninja star but manages to escape)
  • The Speechless: Blofeld's bodyguard Hans never utters a word.
  • Spoiler Cover: The box art prominently shows the full likeness of Ernst Stavro Blofeld, which is shown in that movie for the first time. It isn't exactly a major plot twist, but it doesn't seem appropriate for a villain who famously spent at least two a half movies with his face just off-camera. To a lesser extent one of the VHS releases shows his face in one of the stills on the back of the box, although it's not super obvious it's him as you can't see his trademark cat.
  • Spot the Imposter: Blofeld sees through Bond's astronaut disguise when he attempts to enter the capsule while carrying his air conditioner unit in his hand, something a real astronaut would never do.
  • Spy Speak
    • When Bond meets with his Japanese contact he gives her the Sign "I love you" to identify himself to her. She doesn't give him a Countersign to verify that she is his contact, which causes him to be suspicious of her. Later on Tiger Tanaka gives him the Countersign, which causes Bond to trust him.
    • While Bond is flying "Little Nellie", he's attacked by four SPECTRE helicopters. After destroying them he calls Tiger Tanaka and tells him what happened in Metaphor form.
    Bond: Little Nellie got a hot reception. Four big shots made improper advances towards her. But she defended her honor with great success.
  • Standard Hollywood Strafing Procedure: Kissy is strafed by a SPECTRE helicopter while she's swimming back to the village to notify Tiger Tanaka about the SPECTRE base in the volcano.
  • Stock Footage
    • The American and Soviet space launches - although the latter is clearly using a clip of an American Gemini launch, as footage of a Soviet launch was probably unavailable due to the Soviets keeping such footage strictly classified so the Americans couldn't see what their rockets looked like.
    • There's also a lot of stock footage of B-52s taking off or in the air, to show American nuclear bombers heading to their fail-safe points.
  • Storming the Castle: The ninja attack on the volcanic hideout.
  • Stuka Scream: Used when Bond is trapped in a crashing plane.
  • Supervillain Lair
    • A hollowed out volcano that is also used as a rocket launch base. It's one of the most famous and recognizable lairs in any fiction. It probably inspired a lot of later such lairs.
    • It's certainly lovingly parodied in the second Austin Powers movie, with entire sets recreated very closely.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Two scenes (in Aki's car and Blofeld's lair) have filmed footage that just evokes Fridge Logic.
  • Talent Double: Akiko Wakabayashi could not drive, so all of her driving scenes were shot with stuntmen wearing wigs.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: Bond kills a mook and decides to raid Osato's drinks cabinet. Horrified at the taste of what he's poured himself, he exclaims "Siamese vodka!" before departing.
  • Tap on the Head:
    • A mook to Bond at the Kobe docks and Bond/astronauts to SPECTRE guards.
    • Bond and some captured astronauts take out several SPECTRE guards with punches.
  • Television Geography: As Helga flies Bond, we see the ground in the background is typical English farming countryside not Japanese.
  • Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo: Though filmed on-location in Japan with Japanese actors, the film has some funny ideas about the country. This includes (but is not limited to) Japan's single most famous castle being a "secret" Ninja training base. Well, what better way to learn stealth than to avoid those pesky tourists?
  • Throw-Away Guns: Kissy shoots a mook who's about to kill Tanaka, then throws away her revolver and doesn't pick up another weapon (despite a major firefight all around her) spending the rest of the time clinging to Tanaka.
  • Time Bomb: Subverted (somewhat) when Bond detonates the enemy spacecraft with five seconds left on the timer.
  • Title Drop: Given that the film starts with 007 faking his death, Blofeld says "You only live twice, Mr. Bond."
  • To the Pain: When Helga Brandt has James Bond tied to a chair in her cabin, she pulls open a drawer to display a set of cutting utensils, including a dermatologist's dermatome. She takes out the dermatome and threatens to use it on Bond unless he talks.
  • Tokyo Tower: It can be seen in a background shot when the helicopter picks up the car full of Evil Minions.
  • Trap Door: Blofeld has a bridge that collapses on command, dropping whatever is on it into the piranha-infested water. Also when Tanaka uses one of these (plus a slide) on Bond.
  • Trick-and-Follow Ploy: The villains give Bond the proof he needs that their secret base is nearby by attacking him.
  • Trust Password: Bond's password with the Japanese Secret Service is "I love you".
  • Tuxedo and Martini: Averted. This is the first film, the only one besides Live and Let Die, that Bond doesn't wear a tuxedo.
  • 21-Gun Salute: During the Burial at Sea of James Bond at the beginning of the movie, several sailors fire rifles as a salute.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: It seems that, in a time when the U.S.A. and the U.S.S.R. had a monopoly on space flight, the people of Japan thought nothing of a rocket launch from one of their islands.
  • Volcano Lair: The SPECTRE base is built inside a volcano. It predictably erupts in the climax.
  • War for Fun and Profit: Blofeld is being paid to start World War III between the U.S. and U.S.S.R., apparently by agents of Red China.
  • Weddings in Japan: A fake one between a Bond in Japanese disguise and Kissy Suzuki, but traditional nonetheless.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Say, did those American and Soviet astronauts ever made it back home?
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Donald Pleasance seems to be doing a sort of ambiguously-European thing as Blofeld.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: After the Americans move their launch up to midnight (Japan Standard Time), Bond has to move quickly find the SPECTRE base and stop their plot.
  • Yellowface: Mostly averted; set in Japan, the movie features many well-known Japanese actors and actresses (and a Chinese actress in the beginning). But in a rare in-universe example, Bond spends time disguised as a Japanese peasant.
  • You Have Failed Me: Blofeld does this to Helga Brandt (who's fed to Blofeld's piranhas), and Osato (who's shot).


Video Example(s):


Blofeld kills Helga

Blofeld sends Helga Brandt to her doom for her failure to kill Bond by opening a trap that tumbles her down the piranha pool.

How well does it match the trope?

4.4 (5 votes)

Example of:

Main / PiranhaProblem

Media sources:

Main / PiranhaProblem