Sean Connery
(James Bond)

Donald Pleasence
(Ernst Stavro Blofeld)

Akiko Wakabayashi

Tetsuro Tamba
(Tiger Tanaka)

Karin Dor
(Helga Brandt)

Lois Maxwell
(Miss Moneypenny)

Desmond Llewelyn

Charles Gray

Bernard Lee

Alexander Knox
(The President of the United States)



Lewis Gilbert

Roald Dahl

Based on the novel by:
Ian Fleming

Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli



Big James Bond production with first look at arch-nemesis Blofeld (Pleasence), Japanese locales, but plot (SPECTRE out to cause major powers to declare war on each other) and lack of convincing, clever crisis situations are liabilities film can't shake off.



Great location photography; theme sung by Nancy Sinatra. Implausible plot, however, is a handicap, even though this is Bond.




AMAZON.COM: Popular online seller offers the video in NTSC format. A DVD is also offered in Region 1 format.

BEST VIDEO: Rental service allows US customers to rent the NTSC video by mail.

BLACKSTAR UK: UK based seller offers the video in PAL format. A DVD is also offered in Region 2 format.



DANTE'S SEAN CONNERY HOMEPAGE: Dante's fan site devoted to actor Sean Connery, the original James Bond, with a filmography, photos, and more.

THE INTERNET MOVIE DATABASE: Cast and crew information is available at this popular film database.

JAMES BOND, AGENT 007 OHMSS: Kimberly Last's web site is arguably the most comprehensive James Bond resource online: updated news, articles, links, and more.

MR. KISS KISS BANG BANG: Organized by the Ian Fleming Foundation, this self-described "Premier James Bond web site" is an excellent stop for the latest series news.

THE OFFICIAL JAMES BOND WEBSITE: The "official" web site for the James Bond film series - sponsored by MGM/UA.

THE OFFICIAL ROALD DAHL WEB SITE: Fantasy author Roald Dahl's "official" web site - sponsored and maintained by the Roald Dahl Foundation.

ROALD DAHL FANS.COM: Kristine Howard's excellent fan resource for Dahl with information galore.

SALUTE TO JAMES BOND--SEAN CONNERY: Steven Birnbaum's shrine to Sean Connery's rendition of 007 with photos of the actor, his leading ladies, and his adversaries.



(1967 Action/Adventure)

YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE poster artwork



An article by David Stewart-Candy

In 1997, the hit movie Austin Powers: International Man Of Mystery YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE DVD artworkre-invented the famous silver screen image of the bald villain plotting diabolical schemes all the while calmly stroking his cat. In the creation of his 1960s retro spy spoof, Mike Myers chose Donald Pleasence's rendition of the James Bond series arch-nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld from You Only Live Twice for the basis of his own twisted version of the character, Dr. Evil.

Despite the enduring image he brought to the screen, Donald Pleasence was not originally cast for the part of Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice, the first installment of the series where the super villain's face would been seen by the viewer. That distinction goes to co-producer Harry Saltzman's own choice for the part, a Czech actor / playwright / Dadaist / comedian / artiste by the name of Jan Werich.

The usual 'official version' of events regarding Werich's brief involvement with You Only Live Twice is that he fell ill after less than two weeks of work on November 11, 1967 (Werich did later suffer from laryngeal cancer) and had to retire from the production after filming a few scenes and posing for some promotional stills.

An intriguing twist on the story though has now seen the light given the recent DVD release of You Only Live Twice. In the documentary featurette Inside You Only Live Twice, the film's director Lewis Gilbert tells a different version of the
Jan Werich as Blofeldstory, saying that Pleasence was brought into the production as a sudden replacement when it soon became clear that Werich did not fit the part.

According to Gilbert, he and producer Broccoli did not actually see Werich until the day they began filming on October 31, 1966. They soon realized that Werich looked too benign for the part and was severely miscast, looking more like Santa Claus rather than the evil mastermind bent on creating a new world order. Gilbert's story does sound intriguing but his memory must be hazy as to the exact events, considering there are publicity photographs shot in late October 1966 with the entire cast and crew (Gilbert, Broccoli and Werich included) inside Ken Adams' colossal volcano set.

Donald Pleasence was then brought in on very short notice as a replacement. Who Donald Pleasence as Blofeldactually suggested Pleasence for the role is unknown (also unknown is if Pleasence was their first choice or not), but Gilbert does say that he felt that Pleasence always had a sinister quality about his roles.

Pleasence himself said later: "They had already started work on the film, and the Blofeld character was still open. They said they wanted me to read the script and create a character totally different to anything that had been done before, and I think we achieved that." He experimented for about a week at Pinewood Studios with humps, lame hands, and a beard - not all at once, mind you - before it was decided the now-distinctive scar would best convey the character's almost Himmler-esque quality of villainy and thus born was one of the screen's most memorable villains.

As Pleasence claimed during filming: "I finally took the old French matron's advice to the young girl before she goes on a date: look in the mirror and take something off."

Gilbert recalled that Pleasence was a very professional actor for being so willing to put up with the discomforting facial make-up. Another discomfort that Pleasence put up with while on the set came in the form of his white Persian cat 'prop,' which did not take too well to all the explosions on the set and would relieve itself on Pleasence - resulting in the crew allowing the actor to get cleaned up and into a clean change of clothes.

Karin Dor and Pleasence on the setActor Burt Kwouk (SPECTRE No.3) recalls in Inside You Only Live Twice that one day they were filming with Werich in the control booth, and then the next day he turns around and there's a different actor sitting in Blofeld's chair.

Pleasence's own memories of You Only Live Twice are relatively brief. Due to his last minute recasting in the part and the hurried filming of his sequences, once his scenes were completed and promotional stills were shot, he took leave of the production. Pleasence was fully aware of Sean Connery's decision to leave the Bond series, but he never brought up the issue with Connery. Pleasence said "I did not discuss it with him at the time but I could tell it was a delicate issue. So I did my three weeks of intensive work, and took the money and ran, as it were."

Pleasence's restrained, monotone delivery and the character's calmness while under pressure harked many fans and critics back to the Bond series' first villain, Dr. No. Writers and movie critics, however, seem divided about Pleasence's portrayal of Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Granted, Pleasence certainly does not resemble any of the Blofeld characters as described in Ian Fleming's books - but then again, in the books, Blofeld never had the cat either.

Some critics disliked his portrayal, denouncing him for either being too wimpy or over-the-top - while others (some with hindsight) felt his restrained performance was the best of any actor to have played the part:


"Unspectacular but quietly sinister"

"Wimpy, shaky, personification of the slick, and devious SPECTRE mastermind"

"Donald Pleasence's Blofeld has a memorably creepy softness, but that's about it."

"Donald Pleasence is grandly grotesque as the evil genius who would rule the world."

"Bond finally meets Blofeld and - with his staccato snarl of 'Goodbye, Mister Bond!' - he doesn't disappoint."

"Blofeld is played with eerie, low-keyed menace by the distinguished British character actor Donald Pleasence... Both Telly Savalas and Charles Gray would portray Blofeld in the next two Bond films, but Pleasence remains the most memorable of the trio."

Pleasence was not brought back as Blofeld for the following film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). Apart from the re-occurring MI-6 staff, the ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE DVD artworkBond series have rarely seen the same supporting actors return to reprise roles. But there were other reasons as well. Harry Saltzman's producing partner Albert Broccoli suggested Telly Savalas to director Peter Hunt for the Blofeld role in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Hunt personally did not care much for how Pleasence slithered about in You Only Live Twice.

Also, in fairness, the Blofeld role had evolved into a more physical part in On Her Majesty's Secret Service. It is difficult to imagine Pleasence being a real physical threat to Bond, which was definitely required for the new movie. As The Essential Bond states, "Donald Pleasence had presented a far more menacing and intriguing Blofeld in the preceding film, but the thought of him battling with Bond in hand-to-hand combat would have been ludicrous." Also, " would be difficult to imagine Pleasence's Blofeld swooning like a love struck schoolboy as Tracy waxes lyrical with lines like 'Thy dawn, O Master of the world, they dawn...'"

Despite his brief association with the Bond series, Pleasence's enduring legacy as the Blofeld character among Bond fans still remains strong. In most Bond memorabilia, it is the Pleasence rendition of character most often shown as Blofeld. And, when Corgi Toys recently produced its line of collectible die-cast Bond figurines, it was clearly evident they used Pleasence's likeness as their model.

Article © 2001 David Stewart-Candy. All Rights Reserved.





Telly Savalas as Blofeld Charles Gray as Blofeld Max von Sydow as Blofeld

The following actors have also portrayed Blofeld
in the James Bond film series.

Left to right:

Charles Gray (DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER - 1971)
Max von Sydow (NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN - 1983)

Click on the photos for more information on each actor!

Note: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN is not considered an "official" Bond film,
because it was not produced by EON Productions.








Photos courtesy of Tim Murphy, John Ellis, and Tom Ericksen
Photos © 1967 EON PRODUCTIONS / UNITED ARTISTS. All Rights Reserved.
DVD artwork is the property of MGM/UA HOME VIDEO. All Rights Reserved.