While scouting locations in Japan, the chief production team narrowly escaped death. On March 5, 1966, Producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, Director Lewis Gilbert, Cinematographer Freddie Young, and Production Designer Ken Adam were booked to leave Japan on BOAC flight 911 departing Tokyo for Hong Kong and London. Two hours before their Boeing 707 flight departed, the team were invited to an unexpected ninja demonstration, and so missed their plane. Their flight took off as scheduled, and twenty-five minutes after take-off, the plane disintegrated over Mt. Fuji, killing all aboard. The incident lent an unsettling reality to the meaning of "You Only Live Twice".
Out of simple courtesy on Bond's part, this is the only movie in which he accepts a Martini (from Henderson) that is stirred, not shaken. This is an intentional joke by the producers, not a mistake by either of the actors.
While in Japan, Sir Sean Connery and his wife Diane Cilento were hounded by the international press. During news conferences, the press insisted on referring to Connery as James Bond. Local newsmen attempted to photograph him in a rest room. Thirty extra private security guards were hired to combat the excess noise and hindrance, but even the guards started to take photos. Connery was allegedly photographed on a toilet and the picture published in a Tokyo newspaper. Halfway through filming, Connery announced he would not be returning as James Bond. To ease the tension, the producers removed his contractual obligation to do one more 007 movie, despite being offered one million dollars. After this movie wrapped, Connery was reportedly asked whether he found Japanese women attractive, to which he allegedly replied, "No", causing many Japanese people to call him bad names. This faux pas turned out to be based on a mistranslation, on a day when Connery was exhausted after an intensive day's filming. Connery didn't go out of his way to be too personable with the interviewer who was aghast that the actor showed up in a casual t-shirt with baggy trousers and sandals, and not wearing a toupée. "Is this how James Bond dresses?" he asked, to which Connery replied tersely "I'm not James Bond, I'm Sean Connery, a man who likes to dress comfortably."
Reportedly, the noise made during the shooting of the grand finale on the volcano set scared Blofeld's white cat and it ran away. It wasn't found for several days, and it was eventually discovered hiding in some of the set's rafters. Footage of the scared cat wound up in the finished movie when Blofeld's security shutters are closed.
Last Bond movie to make extensive use of voice dubbing. In this movie, and most of those made previously, many of Bond's leading ladies and villains were dubbed by other actors and actresses. This practice rarely occurred in future Bond movies.
The rocket pistol and cigarette rocket were real-life weapons that were featured after the manufacturer paid for the product placement. It was hoped they would become standard military and intelligence equipment. However, they proved to be too expensive (ammunition cost three times as much as normal ammo), clumsy (useless at any distance under fifteen yards), and unreliable (horribly inaccurate and tended to start fires), and ceased production in 1969.
"Little Nellie" was based on the real-life Wallis Autogyro. Its inventor, Wing Commander K.H. Wallis, actually flew Little Nellie in this movie. The machine was incorporated into the plot after Production Designer Ken Adam heard Wallis in a radio interview discussing his invention. Wallis had to log eighty-five flights in total to film the sequence. It was filmed in the Japanese mountains except for one scene. The scene where the rockets were fired was filmed outside of Japan, because Japanese Law forbade the firing of rockets in the air.
Nancy Sinatra was the first non-British singer to perform a theme song for a James Bond movie. In The Nation's Favourite Bond Song (2015), shown in Britain, it was revealed that she was so nervous about doing it, that it took twenty-five different takes, and the final song used in the film was made up of the best parts from each recording.
In order to gain some measure of authenticity for the team of stuntmen who would double as Ninja in the climactic battle in the volcano, the producers enlisted the help of Japan's only practicing Ninja master, thirty-four-year-old Masaaki Hatsumi, who had inherited the tradition from his then retired teacher Toshitsugu Takamatsu. Takamatsu and Hatsumi had advised during the production of the first two of the Japanese "Shinobi No Mono" Ninja Assassins series of movies produced in Japan between 1962 and 1966, and not only did this movie provide an opportunity for Hatsumi to give more credibility to the Ninja characters, but also allowed him a few brief moments of screentime aboard Tiger Tanaka's private train, as he interrupts Bond and Tanaka's Sake discussion to announce that the photographs are ready for viewing.
As this was anticipated to be Sir Sean Connery's last appearance as James Bond, publicity material released in advance of the movie announced Bond would be killed, married, and become Japanese. While these events were portrayed in this movie, they were actually ruses as part of Bond's undercover activities.
In the novel, Ian Fleming describes Blofeld's hide-out as being a castle on the coast. Ken Adam discovered that this could never be constructed: the Japanese never built their castles directly on the coast for fear of typhoons, hence, the creation of the elaborate volcano set.
The atmosphere during the production was reportedly chilly. Sir Sean Connery had grown bored with the Bond role and frustrated with the public fascination with the franchise. The movie posters declaring that "Sean Connery IS James Bond" didn't help. Furthermore, Bernard Lee and Lois Maxwell were appearing in the James Bond knock-off Operation Kid Brother (1967) with Neil Connery, Sean's younger brother, and the elder Connery let them know he was not happy about it.
The face of Ernst Stavro Blofeld is shown for the first time in a movie. Of all the many actors who have played Blofeld, it is the interpretation by Donald Pleasence in this movie which is the source for the Mike Myers parody of the character as Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers film franchise. Blofeld appeared in later Bond movies, played by a different actor each time.
The Toyota 2000GTs used in this movie were not convertibles. They had no roofs at all. Sir Sean Connery would not have fit into any 2000GT with the roof up, so the roofs were removed entirely, and not replaced with soft tops.
The novel was the last Ian Fleming James Bond novel published during his lifetime. Released on March 16, 1964, it was the twelfth novel in the series. For the first time in the James Bond film franchise, the screen story bore little resemblance to the source novel. Some characters and the Japanese setting remain intact, as do several minor details (the oubliette, and the man wearing a face mask, et cetera), but the two stories are radically different.
Ken Adam's volcano set was constructed at Pinewood Studios and consisted of a movable helicopter platform, a working monorail system, a launch pad, and a full scale rocket mock-up that could simulate lift-off. Seven hundred metric tons of structural steel and two hundred miles of tubular steel were used. Adam once said that the set used more steel than that used for the London Hilton Hotel. The set also used two hundred metric tons of plaster, five hundred thousand tubular couplings, eight thousand railway ties for the monorail, and over two hundred fifty thousand square yards of canvas to protect the set from the weather, were all employed in the construction of the set, which cost just over one million dollars.
The "Little Nellie" gyrocopter shown being assembled is not the one that is shown flying. The "kit" machine was a mock-up made strictly for the assembly sequence. The WA-118 gyrocopter was flown by its owner Wing Commander K.H. Wallis during all the action sequences.
This movie was released two months after Casino Royale (1967). This was the first of two times that two "James Bond" movies were released in the same year. It occurred again sixteen years later with Octopussy (1983) and Never Say Never Again (1983).
Donald Pleasence's ideas for Blofeld's appearance included a hump, a limp, a beard, and a lame hand, before he settled on the scar. He found it uncomfortable, though, because of the glue that attached it to his eye.
After it was discovered that Mie Hama (Kissy Suzuki) couldn't swim, Sir Sean Connery's then-wife, actress Diane Cilento, doubled for her in her swimming scenes wearing a black wig. Some reports claims that Hama could not do them because of stomach cramps.
Before the title sequence, there is an outdoor shot of a Russian radar station where U.S. and Soviet leaders are having a crisis meeting. This was filmed at Mågerø in the Oslo fjord in Norway to add a Nordic winter feel to the footage. The dome-shaped radar station is still in operation today, run by the Norwegian military.
Mie Hama and Akiko Wakabayashi appeared in King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) (English title: King Kong vs. Godzilla), and Key of Keys (1965) (English title: What's Up, Tiger Lily? (1966)). The latter was a James Bond movie imitation which attracted them to the producers of genuine James Bond movies. A flaw was soon discovered: neither actress knew any English. Wakabayashi was cast as Kissy and Hama as Aki and both were tutored in English. Hama was having too much difficulty with English, so the two actresses swapped roles to give her the role of Kissy, which had fewer lines.
Actor and Stuntman Joe Robinson instructed Sir Sean Connery in the art of judo, for the scene where Bond has to fight with Blofeld's giant bodyguard Hans near the end of the movie. Robinson also doubled Ronald Rich, who portrayed Hans. He appeared as diamond smuggler Peter Franks in Diamonds Are Forever (1971).
Was promoted in America with an NBC television special titled Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond (1967), the title being taken from Tanaka's first line in this movie. The line was also a tagline for the movie. The special featured clips from the movie, behind-the-scenes footage, and interviews with the cast.
The primary reason for cutting the tops of the Toyota 2000GT coupes off was because of Sir Sean Connery's height. He was simply too tall to fit into the GT, which was notoriously too small for anyone over 5'8". Connery's height is 6'2".
Several actors were asked to play Blofeld before Donald Pleasence, but all had stage or television commitments which made them unable on accept the role. Producer Harry Saltzman, who had an eccentric choice for actors to play villains, had originally hired Jan Werich to play Blofeld. Werich was the personification of sophisticated intellectual humor in Czech theater and movies, and was known as the "Wise Clown". Casting a clown as a demonic villain backfired during production. It was felt that Werich looked too much like Father Christmas (Santa Claus) to be menacing, and he was released after a week's shooting.
The title comes from a poem included in the novel. It goes: "You only live twice. Once when you are born. And once when you look death in the face." In the novel, the poem was written by James Bond for his friend Tiger Tanaka. Due to a badlynworded attribution at the front of the novel, the poem is sometimes incorrectly believed to have been written by Japanese poet Bashô Matsuo. It is clarified in the novel, that it should not be considered a haiku at all, it is a poor attempt at writing poetry by Bond after being taught how to do so. The novel and its epigraph explain that the haiku is "after Bashô" (written in the style of the famous seventeenth century Japanese poet).
The ship, from which 007 was "buried" at sea, was the Royal Navy ship H.M.S. Tenby (F65). The scene was filmed in the winter, which didn't go over too well with the crew, who had to wear tropical gear for the scene. It was shot several times as the "body" didn't sink the first time.
Bond Producer Barbara Broccoli grew up in the behind-the-scenes world of James Bond, and as a child during location shooting in Japan for this movie, she caught a fever from the Japanese custom of sleeping on the floor. Sir Sean Connery's star status provided him with a comfortable bed, and he generously relinquished it, so she could properly fight her illness.
The Toyota 2000GT was a sports car produced between 1967 and 1970 in very limited numbers, (approximately three hundred fifty-one) by Toyota in Japan. The only "convertibles" ever built were for this movie. Toyota entered the 2000GT in competition at home, coming third in the 1966 Japanese Grand Prix and winning the Fuji 24-Hour Race in 1967. In addition, the car set several world records for speed and endurance in a seventy-two-hour test. The few surviving examples are very expensive collectibles.
The reason why this movie is so different from the book is that Roald Dahl hated the book. He called it Ian Fleming's worst book, comparing it to a travelogue. On creating the plot, Dahl said he "didn't know what the hell Bond was going to do" despite having to deliver the first draft in six weeks, and decided to do a basic plot similar to Dr. No (1962).
Footage of the U.S. Jupiter spacecraft in this movie, is actually film of the real Gemini spacecraft, which flew between 1965 and 1966. The Gemini spacecraft were used for testing of such activities as EVA, and docking for the Apollo space project which was to follow. Ironically, the Soviet spacecraft in this movie were called "Gemini" (the name of the real life U.S. spacecraft) and their designs were based on inaccurate UK perceptions of what the Russian Voskhod and Vostok spacecraft looked like, something which was not known until 1967, after this movie had wrapped.
James Bond participates in a Japanese wedding ceremony in this movie. Fortunately, he uses a false name, otherwise this would mean he would have been still married under Japanese law when he wed Tracy di Vincenzo in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
Director Lewis Gilbert's regular editor, Thelma Connell, was originally hired to edit this movie. However, after her initial, almost three-hour cut received a terrible response from test audiences, Peter R. Hunt was asked to re-edit the movie. Hunt's cut proved to be a much greater success, and he was awarded the director's chair on the next movie as a result.
The attempted killing of Bond by a ninja assassin is patterned after a real-life incident in which an Iga ninja attempted to assassinate the warlord Oda Nobunaga in sixteenth century Japan. The attempt failed when Nobunaga awakened.
The Gyrojet Rocket Guns had one major flaw: the projectile had to build velocity to be lethal. In tests, the projectile could not penetrate a sheet or ordinary cardboard, when pressed against the muzzle. The weapon was rejected by the military and soon discontinued.
John Barry reportedly cobbled together the eventual theme song out of up to twenty-five different takes. Nancy Sinatra's usual producer Lee Hazlewood produced a radio-friendly version, which double-tracked Sinatra's voice, and added back-up session singers to cover her vocal deficiencies.
Peter R. Hunt was not the original editor. The producers were not happy with the movie, and pleaded with Hunt to return as editor. He did this, on the condition, that he could direct the next Bond movie, On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
Product placements, brand integrations, and promotional tie-ins for this movie include Toyota, particularly the Toyota 2000GT; Stolichnaya Vodka; Sony Electronics, a Sony television is seen in the Toyota 2000GT; Jack Daniel's Whiskey; Suntory Old Whisky; Rolex Watches, James Bond wears a Rolex Submariner; Dom Perignon Champagne, particularly a Dom Perignon '59; and Martini & Rossi Vermouth.
Miss Moneypenny wears the uniform of a Second Officer in the Women's Royal Naval Service, similar to a Lieutenant in the Royal Navy, but with blue insignia instead of gold. The W.R.N.S. (known as the "Wrens") was disbanded in 1993, and all its female members went into the regular Royal Navy.
Akiko Wakabayashi could not drive a car, so six stuntmen created the illusion of her driving the white Toyota 2000GT convertible, by attaching a cable, and pulling it from outside of the frame. Stuntmen also substituted for her in long camera shots by donning black wigs.
The surname "Blofeld" was allegedly named after Thomas Blofeld, with whom Ian Fleming went to school, at Eton College. Also known as Tom Blofeld, he was a Norfolk farmer, a fellow member of Boodle's, and the Chairman of the Country Gentleman's Asssociation. His son is cricket commentator Henry Blofeld. Ernst Blofeld's date of birth in the literary stories is the same date as Fleming's birthday, which is May 28, 1908. Moreover, Ernest Cuneo was a friend of Fleming's. According to the book "Martinis, Girls and Guns: 50 Years of 007" (2003) by Martin Sterling and Gary Morecambe: "Cuneo may have also have inspired Blofeld's forenames. It is but a short leap from Ernest Cuneo to Ernst Stavro." According to the book "For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming + James Bond" (2009) by Ben Macintyre: "Alternatively, Blofeld may owe his name to China scholar John Blofeld, who was a member of Fleming's club Boodles, and whose father was named Ernst." In addition, the book "The Bond Code: The Dark World of Ian Fleming and James Bond" (2008) by Philip Gardner states: "The name is also revealing in a psychological way. Ernst is Teutonic for 'earnest', and Stavros is Greek for 'victor', and so he is the 'earnest victor'", and "the name Blofeld means 'blue field', a swipe at his own blue blood rampant in the field, like heraldry", and also, "As the creator of S.P.E.C.T.R.E., Blofeld is in reality the spectre of Ian Fleming that looms ever present within his divided mind."
Director Lewis Gilbert was mostly collaborative with Screenwriter Roald Dahl's work, as Dahl declared: "He not only helped in script conferences, but had some good ideas, and then left you alone, and when you produced the finished thing, he shot it. Other directors have such an ego, that they want to re-write it and put in their own dialogue, and it's usually disastrous. What I admired so much about Lewis Gilbert was that he just took the screenplay and shot it. That's the way to direct: You either trust your writer, or you don't."
Tanaka's ninja training grounds are near the famous Himeji Castle in western Japan. The original fortification dates back to 1333, and successive warlords built ever-larger castle complexes on the site.
Lewis Gilbert originally turned down the directing job on this movie. He accepted after Producer Albert R. Broccoli called him, saying: "You can't give up this job. It's the largest audience in the world."
In the German-dubbed version, S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is called "S.P.E.C.T.R.E." for the first time. It had the name "G.O.F.T.E.R (Geheimorganisation Für Terrorismus, Erpressung und Rache)" in Dr. No (1962), and P.H.A.N.T.O.M. in From Russia with Love (1963) and Thunderball (1965).
A cover version of the title song was recorded by Björk for David Arnold's Bond song compilation album, "Shaken and Stirred: The David Arnold James Bond Project". However, the song was not included on the compilation album.
The Royal World Premiere was held on June 12, 1967, at the Odeon Theatre, Leicester Square, London, and was attended by Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip. The Gala Charity Premiere Benefit was sponsored by the Variety Club of Great Britain, and was held in aid of two charities, the Y.M.C.A., and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund.
Adjusted for U.K. inflation, the volcanic interior set, built for one million pounds sterling in 1967, would cost approximately seventeen million two hundred fifty thousand pounds sterling in 2017, and likely much more, due to various later construction and health and safety regulations and criteria.
Despite Bond's legacy of travelling around the world to complete his missions, he only visits two locations in this movie, the fewest he does in the film franchise. They are the then-British territory of Hong Kong, and Japan, where Bond spends most of the movie. Thirty years after the release of this movie, Hong Kong was handed over to China. This was also the first time that Bond does not visit MI6 headquarters in London. M's offices are set up on a British Navy submarine off the coast of Hong Kong.
Vehicles featured included the Wallis WA-116 auto-gyro, affectionately known as the "Little Nellie" gyro-copter; Aki's white Toyota 2000 GT with gadget control panel and Sony television; Tiger Tanaka's Japanese edition of the Boeing-Vertol Sea Knight; a twin-blade Boeing Kawasaki-Vertol KV-107 11 tandem-rotor helicopter fitted with a super electromagnet; Tiger Tanaka's private underground train; a black Toyota Crown 2300, a Bond pursuing vehicle; the ship Ning-Po; a Toyota Crown S40; the U.S. Jupiter 16 two-man spacecraft; a 1964 Dodge Polara; four black Kawasaki/Bell 47G-3 helicopters that attack "Little Nellie"; a Japanese taxi; a single-engine Meyers 200A plane, in which Helga Brandt traps Bond; a Brantley B2; the two-man spacecraft Bird 1 S.P.E.C.T.R.E. two-stage space rocket; an Aerospatiale Alouette 316B helicopter that takes 007 to the ninja school; a monorail in Blofeld's volcano lair; an inflatable round yellow lifeboat; and an M1 British diesel-electric submarine for both Bond's "burial" and rescue at sea.
Two 2000GTs were chop-topped and featured in this movie. One is displayed at Toyota's headquarters, while the other is in the private collection of a Toyota executive. (When the Encore movie channel aired James Bond movies in early 2005, a 2000GT, which was located in South Africa, was in the process of restoration, as a replica convertible at Cars of the Stars Motor Museum, featuring the actual control panel used in this movie.)
According to Robbie Collin in the U.K. newspaper "The Telegraph", "Bond author Ian Fleming invented S.P.E.C.T.R.E. in 1959 to replace James Bond's usual, Soviet, enemies. Fleming believed the Cold War might be about to end and wanted to keep his spy thrillers relevant." Fleming's S.P.E.C.T.R.E. Executive Cabinet included "twenty-one people including former Gestapo members, Soviet spy group S.M.E.R.S.H., Josep Tito's (Josip Broz Tito's) secret police, Italian, Corsican, and Turkish organized crime gangs", its goals were "profiteering from conflict between the superpowers, eventual world domination", and its methods included "counter-intelligence, brainwashing, murder, extortion using weapons of mass destruction (nuclear, biological and orbital)."
The producers had Harold Jack Bloom come to Japan with them to write a screenplay. Bloom's work was ultimately rejected, but since several of his ideas were used in the final script, Bloom was given the credit of "Additional Story Material". Among the elements were the opening with Bond's fake death and burial at sea, and the ninja attack.
Roald Dahl was given free rein on his script, except for the character of Bond and "the girl formula", involving three women for Bond to seduce: an ally and a henchwoman who both get killed, and the main Bond Girl. While the third involved a character from the book, Kissy Suzuki, Dahl had to create Aki and Helga Brandt to fulfill the rest.
Mie Hama was originally intended for the larger role of Aki, but doubts over her mastering of English, meant that she was ineligible for the part. Hama's reported depression over losing the role, and the disgrace it would bring to her family, was instrumental in her taking the equally important, though less vocal part of Kissy Suzuki.
A song composed by Robbie Williams extensively sampled the title theme from this movie. The song called "Millenium" was composed, sampling the main string sample from the John Barry original theme. It was the first solo U.K. number one hit for Williams on September 19, 1998. Also, its music video included numerous James Bond 007 iconography and imagery.
Nancy Sinatra was reported to be very nervous while recording the title song. First she wanted to leave the studio, then she claimed to sometimes "sound like Minnie Mouse". John Barry declared that the final song used twenty-five different takes.
In March 2018, in the week that the real world exterior location of the Spectre lair volcano, Mount Shinmoedake, started having volcanic activity, the U.K.'s ITV4 went ahead with their scheduled broadcast. By coincidence, they showed the original Panavision widescreen aspect ratio version, which meant that viewers could see even more of the actual 1960s condition of the volcano, than the previous 16:9 cropped version. News reports were additionally referencing the Mount Shinmoedake volcano as the one featured in this movie during its march 2018 volcanic activity.
The character "Dr. Evil" in the Austin Powers film franchise is a parody of Donald Pleasence's Blofeld (bald pate, facial scar, pet cat, Nehru jacket), but Pleasence has less than ten minutes screentime overall (including scenes where Blofeld is heard, but not seen), so Mike Myers spent much more time parodying Pleasence's Blofeld than Pleasence did playing him.
In the article "The Oriental Beauties of You Only Live Twice", published, with a pictorial, in the June 1967 issue of Playboy Magazine, Roald Dahl claimed that he assembled his script to a formula, already established in the previous movies in the franchise, and that he never took the script seriously. In fact, he said that the formula was strictly enforced by the producers, who would broach no deviation. This was not the first connection of the movie with the magazine: An excerpt of the novel had appeared in the April 1964 issue of Playboy.
The literal translations of some of this movie's foreign language titles include One Doesn't Live More Than Twice (France); It Only Lives Twice (Latin America); 007 Dies Twice (Japan); One Only Lives Twice (Germany); James Bond In Japan (Norway and Greece); You Live Only Twice (Finland); With 007 You Only Live Twice (Brazil and Portugal), and 007 Seized The Rocket Base (China).
The CD soundtrack sleeve notes state that the "You Only Live Twice" song sung by Nancy Sinatra charted in the U.S. on June 24, 1967, and went to the number forty-four spot. In the U.K., it entered the charts on July 5, 1967, and peaked at number eleven. The soundtrack album debuted in the U.S. charts on July 15, 1967, where it peaked at the number twenty-seven spot.
Large crowds were present in Japan to see the shooting. A Japanese fan began following Sir Sean Connery with a camera and the police were called several times to prevent such intrusions during shooting.
According to the book "James Bond: A Celebration" (1987) by Peter Haining, who passed away in 2007, "Jules Verne's Captain Nemo was the inspiration for (Ian) Fleming's Ernst Stavro Blofeld." The book states that the character "has his origins in Captain Nemo, the hate-fuelled rebel of Jules Verne's classic novel Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea (1870)." Blofeld was originally intended to be the villain in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
Retired U.S. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Charles Russhon acted as a Technical Advisor and military liaison and helped set up a product-placement deal with Sony. He attended the location scout, assisted with obtaining important transportation means, and advised on the logistics for working in Japan.
Little Nellie's battle with helicopters proved to be difficult to film. The scenes were initially shot in Miyazaki, first with takes of the gyrocopter, with more than eighty-five take-offs, five hours of flight, and Ken Wallis nearly crashing into the camera several times. A scene filming the helicopters from above created a major downdraft, and cameraman John Jordan's foot was severed by the craft's rotor. The concluding shots involved explosions, which the Japanese government did not allow in a national park. So, the crew moved to Torremolinos, Spain, which was found to resemble the Japanese landscape.
The MB Associates Gyrojet pistols and carbines carried by the commandos during the final battle were cheaply acquired as props because their performance was so poor that the U.S. military cancelled an initial order intended for use in Vietnam. By 2018, however, they were highly sought-after collector's items, with a Gyrojet pistol selling for over two thousand dollars and a single bullet selling for one hundred dollars or more.
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.
Construction of the volcano base required two hundred miles of tubular steel, over seven hundred metric tons of industrial steel, two hundred tons of plasterwork, half a million tubular couplings, eight hundred railway sleepers for the monorail, and more than two hundred fifty thousand square yards of canvas.
The rocket guns were real weapons by the Gyrojet company, but they were never adopted by any real military force. Despite being depicted as wonder weapons in this movie, in reality, they were inaccurate and unreliable, and the ammunition prohibitively expensive.
The 2002 James Bond novel "The Man With The Red Tattoo" written by Raymond Benson is also set in Japan. Benson also wrote a direct sequel to the Ian Fleming "You Only Live Twice" novel titled "Blast From The Past". It's a short story which was first published in January 1997 in Playboy Magazine. This story was cut by about a third, and the uncut version was released for the first time in October 2008 in Pegasus Books' Benson omnibus "The Union Trilogy".
Richard Maibaum, who wrote the previous Bond movies, was unavailable to write this one. This was the first of three Bond movies that he didn't write, or co-write in his life. The others being Live and Let Die (1973) and Moonraker (1979).
Terence Stamp was considered by Producer Harry Saltzman as a replacement for Sir Sean Connery. He suggested to Saltzman that he play the role disguised as a Japanese warrior, revealing his identity at the end. Saltzman was not impressed.
This marks the fifth and final on-screen appearance together of Sir Sean Connery and Lois Maxwell. In Diamonds Are Forever (1971), the scene where the disguised Moneypenny gives Bond his travel documents at the port of Dover, Maxwell and Connery filmed their lines separately, and were not present together for the short scene.
In a rather curious train of events, Robbie Williams famously sampled the introduction to this movie's title song (as sung by Nancy Sinatra) for his number one hit song "Millennium" in 1998. After You Only Live Twice (1967) wrapped, Sinatra and father Frank duetted on the song "Somethin' Stupid" topping the U.S. and U.K. charts in April 1967. Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman duetted on the same song, topping the U.K. charts in 2001.
During location shooting in Japan, young Barbara Broccoli caught a fever from the Japanese custom of sleeping on the floor. Sir Sean Connery, whose star status provided him with a comfortable bed, generously relinquished it so Barbara could properly fight her illness.
The title of the later James Bond movie Spectre (2015) also lent its name to a trio of original Ian Fleming James Bond novels, which have also been anthologized, and published as "The Spectre Trilogy". The books, all featuring archvillain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, include Thunderball (1961), On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1963), and You Only Live Twice (1964), which were filmed in the 1960s, in a slightly different order than which they were originally published, this being: Thunderball (1965), this movie, and On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969).
In the Alex Rider series, where the character is like a teenage James Bond, there is an organization, S.C.O.R.P.I.A., which is akin to S.P.E.C.T.R.E., and its leader Zeljan Kurst is bald, like Blofeld. Their plans are always thwarted by Alex Rider/James Bond. S.C.O.R.P.I.A. is almost an acronym for what it does like S.P.E.C.T.R.E., but S.P.E.C.T.R.E. is made up of disillusioned former secret agents, who went into business for themselves.
At the time the volcano set was the largest interior set ever built in Europe at a cost of £350,000 with 250 workmen. It contained a working monorail,a heliport, a 66 foot tall rocket that fired 50 foot above the stage.
The film was the most difficult and imaginative of the films up til then with 45,000+ miles of air travel, for cast and crew with filming in Japan, Gibraltar, Spain and England. There were 3,000 miles for filming in Japan at 9 different sites. including Kagoshima, a seaport on the South China Sea, the fishing village of Akime, the inactive volcano of Mount Shinmoe in the Kirishima National Park, Kobe Docks, the main port of Western Japan, Himeji, the only remaining medieval castle which was used for the Japanese Secret service commando training school and Mt Nachi where the wedding of Bond and Kissy Suzuki takes place.
A handful of villains and henchmen in the James Bond universe have had a "Mr." title moniker. The Mr. Hinx henchman (Dave Bautista) and Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) characters appeared in Spectre (2015). Spectre (2015) also featured a henchman called Mr. Guerra (Benito Sagredo) resulting in the movie having three characters that have a "Mr." title moniker. Mr. White (Jesper Christensen) appeared in three Daniel Craig James Bond movies: Casino Royale (2006), Quantum of Solace (2008), and Spectre (2015), the most Bond movies for any henchman-type character after Jaws, who appeared in two Bond movies. In Dr. No (1962), there was a henchman called Mr. Jones (Reggie Carter); in Goldfinger (1964), there was a henchman called Mr. Ling (Burt Kwouk); in this movie, there was a villain called Mr. Osato (Teru Shimada); in The World Is Not Enough (1999), there were two: Mr. Bullion (Goldie) and Mr. Lachaise (Patrick Malahide); in Die Another Day (2002), there was a henchman called Mr. Kil (Lawrence Makoare); in Live and Let Die (1973), as with its source Ian Fleming novel of the same name, the archvillain was called Mr. Big, but in the movie version, he was also known as Dr. Kananga, with the character's real full name in the source book being Buonaparte Ignace Gallia; in Diamonds Are Forever (1971), there were two henchmen with a Mr. title moniker, Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover) and Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith), who functioned as a buddy-team henchmen double-act; in Ian Fleming's novel of "The Spy Who Loved Me" (1962), the villain's employer was Mr. Sanguinetti, but this character did not appear in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) movie. Also, a 1987 James Bond novel by John Gardner was titled "No Deals, Mr. Bond" which reflects how the iconic spy character himself can also be known using a "Mr." name moniker as well.
The Ernst Stavro Blofeld villain character returns to the official film franchise in Spectre (2015), but since Blofeld last appeared in the official series movies Diamonds Are Forever (1971) and informally in For Your Eyes Only (1981), and the unofficial entry Never Say Never Again (1983), Blofeld has appeared in three James Bond video games. Wikipedia.com states: "Blofeld appears in the 2004 video game GoldenEye: Rogue Agent, this time with the likeness of Donald Pleasence (from this movie), voiced by Gideon Emery. Blofeld is a playable multiplayer character in the 2010 video game GoldenEye 007 for the Wii, with the likeness of Charles Gray (from Diamonds Are Forever (1971)). Blofeld is one of the main characters in the 2012 video game 007 Legends, featured in the mission based on On Her Majesty's Secret Service, in which the character was an amalgamation of the three actors who had appeared in the official movie series (they being Telly Savalas, Charles Gray, and Donald Pleasence). Throughout the game, he is voiced by Glenn Wrage."