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For Your Eyes Only (1981) is the twelfth spy film in the James Bond series, and the fifth to star Roger Moore as the fictional MI6marker agent James Bond. The screenplay takes its characters from and combines the plots of two short stories from Ian Fleming's collection For Your Eyes Only: the title story and "Risico". It also includes elements inspired by the novels Live and Let Die (the keelhauling sequence), Goldfinger (the identigraph sequence) and On Her Majesty's Secret Service (the opening at the graveyard). In the film, Bond and Melina Havelock become tangled in a web of deception spun by rival Greek businessmen against the backdrop of Cold War spy games. Bond is after a missile command system known as the ATAC (a MacGuffin introduced to tie together the original stories' plots), whilst Melina is out to avenge the murder of her parents. As well as seeing a conscious return to the style of the early Bond films and the works of 007 creator Fleming, and therefore a more gritty, realistic approach (following the science-fiction Bond film Moonraker), the film is perhaps unusual for the Bond series in having a strong narrative theme: revenge and its personal consequences. FYEO was also the first James Bond film to be directed by John Glen, who would then direct the following four Bond films after a span of eight years.

The film was released on both June 24 (in the United Kingdom) and June 26 (in the United States) of 1981 (two weeks after the release of blockbuster Raiders of the Lost Ark). Despite the film's mixed critical reception, the film was a monetary success, generating $195.3 million worldwide. The film's financial success helped save United Artists from bankruptcy after their 1980 box-office disaster Heaven's Gate by Michael Cimino. This is why For Your Eyes Only was the last James Bond movie to be distributed solely by United Artists; they merged with MGM soon after and began focusing on blockbusters rather than personal films.


In the pre-title sequence, Bond is picked up at his wife's gravesite by a helicopter; he escapes after being trapped in the aircraft. It is remotely controlled by someone who is presumed to be Blofeld - who was accomplice to Tracy's assassin Irma Bunt. Bond gains control of the helicopter and turns it on his enemy, who is in a motorized wheelchair; picking him up, Bond then drops him into a smokestack, presumably killing him.

The film then turns its focus to the fishing trawler St Georges of Valettamarker on the Ionian Seamarker, which is revealed to be a British spy ship equipped with Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator (ATAC), the system used by the Ministry of Defence to communicate with and co-ordinate the Royal Navy's fleet of Polaris submarines. The ship dramatically sinks when an old naval mine becomes entangled in the fishing nets and pulled into the hull, causing it to explode and flood the lower compartments of the ship.

Sir Timothy Havelock, a marine archaeologist based in Greecemarker, is contacted by the British government to secretly locate the St Georges. However, before he can give a report, he and his wife are shot down by a Cubanmarker hitman, Hector Gonzales, who passes their yacht in a machine-gun equipped floatplane. Havelock's daughter Melina survives and vows revenge. The British Minister of Defence and his Chief of Staff summon James Bond and assign him the task of recovering the ATAC. They explain that if the transmitter were retrieved underwater by another superpower the Polaris submarines' ballistic missiles could be used against major western cities. Bond is sent to Spainmarker after Gonzales to find out who hired him. Melina kills him before Bond can find out. Melina owns a Citroën 2CV which proves to be very resilient in the following car chase by two bigger and more powerful cars driven by Gonzales's henchmen.

After identifying a hitman in Gonzales's estate (Locque) who appeared to be paying him, Bond is led to a well-connected Greek businessman and intelligence informant, Aris Kristatos, in Cortina d'Ampezzomarker, a resort in northern Italy's Dolomites. He later tells Bond that the man he saw is employed by Milos Columbo, a Greekmarker smuggler. Kristatos's 15-year-old niece Bibi Dahl, a figure skating champion, attempts to seduce Bond who refuses acknowledging she is a minor. Bond is also forced to contend with Eric Kriegler, a German athlete. Kriegler attempts to kill Bond with a sniper rifle, and pursues him on a machine gun armed motorcycle, over a chalet balcony, bobsled track, and into a farm where Bond escapes.

When Bond eventually confronts Columbo it emerges that Locque is actually in the employ of Kristatos who himself is in the employ of the KGBmarker. Kristatos is attempting to recover the ATAC for the KGB, and had set up Columbo as the villain as the latter knew too much about Kristatos's KGB leanings. Columbo proves this connection to Bond by allowing Bond to take part in a raid on one of Kristatos' factories where they find Locque. In this factory, Bond discovers false rolls of paper containing poppy syrup, and additional naval mines similar to the one that sank the St. Georges, suggesting that her fate was not an accident. Locque places explosives to destroy this evidence and flees as the building explodes into a fierce inferno. He loses control of his car when Bond wounds him by shooting him through the cars windshield, and ultimately ends up teetering on the edge of a cliff. Bond approaches him there and gives the car a solid shove, sending Locque plunging to his death.

Bond and Melina later recover the ATAC from the wreckage of the St Georges, but Kristatos is waiting for them when they surface, and he takes the ATAC from them. He attempts to dispose of them by dragging them behind his yacht while sharks circle in the water; however, Bond affects their escape. They discover Kristato's rendezvous point when Melina's parrot repeats the phrase "ATAC to St. Cyril's".

With Columbo's help, Bond, Columbo's team, and Melina break into a mountaintop monastery, St. Cyril'smarker, being used by Kristatos to meet Gogol where he will turn over the ATAC. Bond climbs up the sheer face of the mountain and, upon reaching the top, gains control of the lift basket and brings the rest of the team up.

Bond eventually retrieves the ATAC system and talks Melina out of killing Kristatos after he surrenders. Kristatos tries to kill Bond with a hidden weapon, but Columbo throws a knife at him from behind and kills him. KGB chief General Gogol arrives by helicopter to collect the ATAC, but Bond throws it over the cliff and it is dashed to pieces on the rocks below, with the quip, "That's détente, comrade. You don't have it; I don't have it." General Gogol gives Bond an understanding smile and leaves. Bond and Melina later spend a romantic evening aboard her father's yacht. When a call from the office comes in (which is patched through to the home of prime minister Margaret Thatcher), Bond passes it along to the bird while persuading Melina to undress and join him for a night swim.
Kristatos surrendering to Bond and Melina.


Bob Simmons, who previously portrayed Bond in the gun barrel sequences in the first three films and SPECTRE agent Colonel Jacques Bouvar in Thunderball, cameos as another villain as Gonzales' henchman who falls victim to Bond's exploding Lotus.


For Your Eyes Only marked a creative change of direction for the Bond film series. John Glen was promoted from his duties as a film editor to director, a position he would occupy throughout the 1980s. A result of this was a harder-edged directorial style, with less emphasis on gadgetry and large action sequences in huge arenas (as was favoured by Lewis Gilbert). More emphasis on tension, plot, and character was also added in addition to a return to Bond's more serious roots.

In order to blend the plots of the two short stories, several changes were made for the film. Since the film is set in Greecemarker, closer to the location of "Risico" than to that of "For Your Eyes Only", the Havelocks were changed from being Jamaican, as in the short story, to an Anglo-Greek couple (Mr. Havelock being English and Mrs. Havelock being Greek). Havelock's daughter, "Judy," was also renamed "Melina" in the film, the Greek word for honey (a reference to the first screen Bond girl's name). The film also contains elements from several Ian Fleming stories: The warring smuggler characters Kristatos and Columbo come from "Risico". The keelhauling sequence comes from the novel Live and Let Die, a scene unused in the previous film adaptation. The Identigraph comes from the novel Goldfinger, where it was originally called the "Identicast". The film's opening, with Bond laying flowers at the grave of his wife, refers to both the film On Her Majesty's Secret Service and a scene in the novel where it is revealed that 007 visits annually the grave of Vesper Lynd (from Casino Royale).

Initially it seemed Roger Moore would not return as 007 for this outing, so interviews and screentests were held for a replacement. At the forefront were Lewis Collins, famous for his role as Bodie in The Professionals, Michael Billington, who previously appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me as Agent XXX's ill-fated lover and best known as Col. Paul Foster in Gerry Anderson's "UFO" and Ian Ogilvy, who like Moore had made his name playing Simon Templar in Return of the Saint. Eventually, however this came to nothing as Moore signed on to play the superspy once again.

For Your Eyes Only is noted for its pre-title sequence which sees the final comeuppance of the supervillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, Bond's enemy in five previous films. The sequence of the film was initially scripted to aid the introduction and establishment of a new actor to portray James Bond since Roger Moore, who had starred in four previous films as Bond, was reluctant to return. The sequence begins with Bond laying flowers at the grave of his wife, Tracy Bond, but ends with Blofeld attempting to get even with Bond for foiling his plans and for the downfall of his criminal organization SPECTRE. The industrial chimney in the opening scene was part of the North Thames gasworks in Londonmarker.

For this film, Blofeld is deliberately not named due to copyright restrictions with Kevin McClory, who owned the film rights to Thunderball, which supposedly includes the character Ernst Stavro Blofeld, the organization SPECTRE, and other material associated with the development of Thunderball. The demise of Blofeld was added to show that the James Bond series did not need Blofeld and was also done after a number of attempts by Kevin McClory to produce a rival Bond film based on his ownership of the screen rights to Thunderball. This includes a failed attempt in the late 1970s of an original Bond film that resulted in a lawsuit brought about by EON Productions and United Artists. Nevertheless McClory was able to film a remake of Thunderball entitled Never Say Never Again in 1983.

Overall, For Your Eyes Only accumulated a box office gross of $195,300,000, and became the second highest grossing Bond film after its predecessor, Moonraker. This was the last James Bond film to be solely released by United Artists. Following the MGM and United Artists merger, the films were released by "MGM/UA Distribution Co".

Caroline Cossey, who was used in a pool scene, turned out to have Klinefelter's Syndrome, an intersex condition. Urban legends about the incident greatly exaggerated Cossey's role, from a non-speaking "girl at pool" to someone who had "heavy love scenes" with Moore. In reality, Cossey appears only fleetingly and is only clearly visible in one or two shots.


The tombstone of James Bond´s wife, Teresa, which Bond visits. shown at a James Bond convention in 1992.
Many of the underwater scenes, especially involving close-ups of Bond and Melina, were actually faked on a dry soundstage. A combination of lighting effects, slow-motion photography, wind, and bubbles added in post-production, gave the illusion of the actors being underwater. Apparently, actress Carole Bouquet had a preexisting health condition that prevented her from actually attempting any underwater stuntwork.

The film was shot mainly in Greecemarker on locations such as Meteoramarker, Corfumarker, and the Achilleionmarker. Other locations included Englandmarker (Pinewood Studiosmarker with 007 Stagemarker), Italymarker, and The Bahamasmarker.

During filming of the escape on the bobsleigh track in Cortina d'Ampezzomarker, one of the stuntman driving a bobsleigh was killed during the first day of production.


Sheena Easton appears on screen singing the title song, the first artist ever to do so in a Bond film. The producers of the film wanted Blondie to perform the title song written by Bill Conti and Michael Leeson. Blondie declined, so a different song, also titled "For Your Eyes Only" was recorded by Sheena Easton instead. Blondie's version of "For Your Eyes Only", which is not the same song recorded by Sheena Easton, can be found on their 1982 album, The Hunter.

Release and reception

The respected and noted Bond historian, the late John Brosnan (who wrote James Bond in the Cinema) noted in his review for the magazine Starburst that the movie was similar to 1969's On Her Majesty's Secret Service with all the skiing action and 1973's Live and Let Die for essentially being one long chase. Brosnan also noted that the MacGuffin for the movie (the ATAC) had actually been added to the movie after the main plot had been written.

The film received mixed to positive reviews from critics and was seen as a significant improvement over the previous film. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 74% "fresh" rating. "There are exciting moments, but most of it is standard Bond fare," wrote Danny Peary, who went on to describe For Your Eyes Only as "an attempt to mix spectacle with [the] tough, believable storylines of early Bond films. Moore does a good job, coming through as a convincing action hero for a change. The film itself is great in comparison to the previous Bond film, Moonraker, and is enjoyable while you're watching it. Afterward, it's one of the most forgettable of the Bond series." IGN ranks For Your Eyes Only as the ninth-best James Bond movie, MSN ranks it as the sixth-best, and Entertainment Weekly ranks it as the eleventh-best.

IGN ranked Melina as 5th in a Top 10 Bond Babes list. Nevertheless, Entertainment Weekly ranks her as the worst babe of the Roger Moore James Bond films.

The original poster for the film featured a woman holding a crossbow. She was photographed from behind, and her outfit left the bottom half of her buttocks exposed. The effect was achieved by having the model (Joyce Bartle, of New York) wear a pair of bikini bottoms backwards, so that the part seen on her backside is actually the front of the suit. While the image is considered tame by today's standards, in 1981 it caused outrage. The studio was forced to create several versions of the poster with superimposed garments covering the offending area.

Comic book adaptation

Prior to the film's release, Marvel Comics was given permission to publish a two-issue comic book adaptation. The first issue was released in October 1981 and was soon followed by the second issue in November of the same year. It was also reprinted the same year in magazine and paperback book form. Both issues of the adaptation were written by Larry Hama and edited by Dennis O'Neil.

Two major differences in the comic book include the addition of M, who was technically in the initial drafts of the screenplay until Bernard Lee's death in early 1981, and the villain's given name, which for unknown reasons was "Ari Kristatos" instead of the film's "Aris Kristatos" (or "Aristotle Kristatos", although he is referred to as "Uncle Ari" both by Bond and Bibi Dahl in the film). The comic also includes additional suggestive dialogue from Bibi Dahl, aimed at Bond, that does not appear in the final film.


  1. For Your Eyes Only (1981) - Trivia
  2. Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986) p.157
  3. IGN: Top 10 Bond Babes
  4. Chris Nashawaty, "Moore...And Sometimes Less: A look at the most--and least--memorable bad guys, babes, and Bonds in Roger Moore's 007 oeuvre," Entertainment Weekly 1025 (December 12, 2008): 37.

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