Far-fetched from the beginning (with Blofeld kidnapping a space shuttle to rile up US vs. Soviet space race tensions), You Only Live Twice is Connery’s Moonraker. Sean is even close to commandeering a space shuttle at one point, until the keen-eyed Blofeld rumbles his astronaut disguise. Roald Dahl called the film “the biggest load of bull—- I’ve ever put my hand to”.
Premiering on June 12, 1967, it was the first Bond film to decline at the box office. In their book on the Bond series, Some Kind of Hero, Ajay Chowdhury and Matthew Field suggested it was fatigue from Bondmania and the Sixties spy craze, which included the David Niven-starring spoof, Casino Royale. But with You Only Live Twice, Bond had unwittingly spoofed himself.
Connery didn’t return for the sixth film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (as Connery famously informed Her actual Majesty at the You Only Live Twice premiere. He told Ma’am straight-up that he wasn’t making another Bond).
Interestingly, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, with George Lazenby, was the first Bond film to break the mould set by Goldfinger. Lazenby’s Bond gets married, only for Blofeld to kill his wife minutes later. Consequently, OHMSS remains a contender for the best film.
This was hopefully a lesson for the team when making No Time To Die. Daniel Craig’s tenure already edged towards self-parody with Spectre. Craig’s first three films – Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, and Skyfall – played with, tossed out, and reassembled the pieces of the Bond formula, finding an introspective depth that powered the Bond mythology forward. Spectre was a disappointing regression.