Website last updated: 17-7-2024

50th Anniversary of You Only Live Twice (the 1967 film)

By: Anders Frejdh
You Only Live Twice poster
On this day in Bond history, You Only Live Twice (1967), Sean Connery's fifth film as Ian Fleming's James Bond, premiered at cinemas 50 years ago. The film was first released in the UK on 12th June 1967 and then in USA on 13th June. The Swedish premiere took place on 15th September 1967.

SPECTRE hijacks American and Russian space capsules in a bid to start World War III for their clients, the Red Chinese.

Directed by Englishman Lewis Gilbert, who later directed The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979), this film was mainly shot on location in Japan and on various sound stages at Pinewood Studios located west of London, England.
The budget was on a high level (9.5 Million USD) enabling the film makers to accept outrageous requests from the production office compared with the financial restraints that they had constantly encountered on Dr. No (1962).

Norman Wanstall gave us as an example with the scene involving a small aircraft in which Bond is trapped and abandoned by Helga Brandt (Karin Dor). The exterior shot of the plane dropping to earth out of control was shot without sound, so with tongue firmly in cheek Norman asked the production office for a pilot who could take a plane up to a great height and drop it out of the sky. To this day he remembers his amazement when the reply came back......."OK, when do you want it?"

Production notes from You Only Live Twice: (Source: MGM / Eon Productions)

• 4 Jul 1966: Shooting began with the opening scene of Bond and the flip-up bed
• 12 Jul 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot the scene in which Bond discovers Mr Osato is a member of SPECTRE
• 25 Jul 1966: The cast and crew moved to Japan for several weeks of location shooting
• 31 Jul 1966: Shooting scenes in Japan with Bond, Tanaka and Kissy on the shore
• 25 Aug 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot Bond’s wedding to Kissy Suzuki
• 22 Sep 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot scenes on Tanaka’s underground train
• 24 Sep 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot Bond & Tiger Tanaka with the bathing girls
• 30 Sep 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot the scene in which Q gives Bond 'Little Nellie'
• 4 Oct 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot the scene in which Aki is killed by an assassin
• 17 Oct 1966: Sean Connery spent his first day shooting scenes of Little Nellie ‘in flight’
• 31 Oct 1966: Shooting took place on the rocket launching sequence at the climax
• 18 Nov 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot Bond sneaking into the Volcano
• 21 Nov 1966: Donald Pleasence had his first day shooting as Blofeld
• 24 Nov 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot the scene in which a throwing star narrowly stops Blofeld killing Bond
• 28 Nov 1966: Lewis Gilbert filmed the ninjas coming to the rescue
• 2 Dec 1966: Sean Connery completed his shooting with a scene in Blofeld’s apartment
• 10 Dec 1966: Donald Pleasence spent his last day as Blofeld, shooting a scene in the control room
• 15 Dec 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot Tiger Tanaka and Kissy Suzuki arriving at the volcano
• 20 Dec 1966: Lewis Gilbert shot the Secretary of Defence and military chiefs in the underground war room
• 23 Dec 1966: Principal photography was completed with a shot of the ninjas
• 29 Dec 1966: 12 days of additional shooting began on E Stage at Pinewood

A selection of the filming locations for You Only Live Twice:

• Akasaka, Minato, Japan (Bond and Aki car chase in Tokyo)
• Akime Village Environs, Akime, Kagoshima, Japan (environs of the Ama fishing village)
• Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan
• Ebino, Miyazaki, Japan (aerial Scenes - 'Little Nellie' helicopter chase and battle)
• Ganzin-so Inn, Akime (a restaurant the crew relaxed in during production)
• Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo, Japan
Himeji Castle, Himeji, Japan (Ninja training camp and centre for the development of rocket weapons)
Hotel New Otani, 4-1 Kioi-cho, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo, Japan (exteriors: Osato Chemicals HQ)
Hotel Shiroyama, 41-1 Shinshoincho, Kagoshima 890-8586, Japan (crew hotel)
• Mount Shinmu-dake, Kirishima-Yaku National Park, Kagoshima, Japan (exterior for Blofeld's Volcano Lair)
• Nachisan, Nachikatsuura, Higashimuro District, Wakayama prefektur 649-5301, Japan (Bond and Kissy's wedding)
• Nakano Shimbashi station, Marunouchi Line, Nakano-ku, Tokyo, Japan (Entrance to Tiger Tanaka's HQ)
Pinewood Studios, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England (studio)
• Sakurajima Volcano, Kagoshima, Japan (Little Nellie flight)
• Shigetomi-So, Kagoshima, Japan (Tiger’s home, in reality now a restaurant)
• Tokyo Tower - 4-2-8, Shiba-Koen, Minato, Tokyo, Japan (Bond and Aki car chase in Tokyo)
• Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo, Japan (Bond and Aki car chase in Tokyo)

Vehicles used during the filming: (Source: BMT 216A: The James Bond Vehicle Library)

• Aero Commander (Meyers) 200D
• Aerospatiale Alouette 316B
• Astronaut transporter
• Brantley B2
• British submarine M1
• Cargo mono rail
• Dodge Polara - 1964
• HMS Tenby
• Japanese taxi - Prince Gloria
• Kawasaki/Bell 47G-3
• Kawasaki/Boing KV-107II
• Subway train
• Toyota 2000 GT
• Toyota Crown 2300
• Wallis WA-116 autogyro

Over the years, FSWL has been fortunate to meet some of the cast and crew from You Only Live Twice:

>Albert R. Broccoli (producer)
>Bill Weston (stuntman)
>Burt Kwouk (actor)
>Charles Gray (actor)
>Desmond Llewelyn (actor)
>Doug Robinson (stuntman)
>Francesca Tu (actress)
>George Leech (stuntman)
>Harry Saltzman (producer)
>John Barry (soundtrack composer)
>John Stears (special effects)
>Karin Dor (actress)
>Ken Adam (production designer)
>Ken Wallis (Little Nellie pilot)
>Leslie Bricusse (lyricist of "You Only Live Twice")
>Lewis Gilbert (director)
>Lois Maxwell (actress)
>Mickey Baker (stuntman)
>Mie Hama (actress)
>Monty Norman (composer of the James Bond theme)
>Norman Wanstall (dubbing editor)
>Nosher Powell (stuntman)
>Peter Hunt (editor)
>Rocky Taylor (stuntman)
>Sean Connery (actor)
>Vic Armstrong (stuntman)

United Artists, Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli present Ian Fleming's James Bond in You Only Live Twice:

Other special articles about the 50th Anniversary of You Only Live Twice:

>YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE celebrates its 50th Anniversary (Official 007 website)
>James and the Rocket Factory: Remembering YOLT on its 50th Anniversary (Digital Bits)
>YOLT at 50: Expert Intel on James Bond’s Japanese Mission (RealClearLife)

Photo above:
The original Swedish film poster for You Only Live Twice (1967) from FSWL's private collection.

Read more about the film You Only Live Twice on MGM's official website.



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Founder & Managing Editor: Anders Frejdh