This Summer We’re Chanelling: Carole Bouquet in For Your Eyes Only

Carole Bouquet and Roger Moore in “For Your Eyes Only”, 1981 | Eon Productions

With For Your Eyes Only, the Bond franchise producers wanted to go back to more human and realistic values and focus upon character and story rather than the familiar, audience-pleasing action elements. The film came after Moonraker, who had put James Bond on the orbit and into the space age – bigger and more spectacular was the aim. For Your Eyes Only (1981) was shaped as a more serious and realistic spy thriller anchored on a young woman, Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), whose parents are killed by an assasin named Gonzalez. There is also Bond’s personal story that we are reminded of at the very beginning of the film when Bond goes to the grave of his wife – that was a first in the history of the Bond films, because “regardless of how attached any one woman is to Bond (or Bond to her), he almost never refers to her in a subsequent film or in his next mission”, as Christopher Lindner notes in the book Revisioning 007: James Bond and Casino Royale.

But what makes For Your Eyes Only stand out even more though is that there is also the tough side of Roger Moore’s Bond that is being explored more than in the other Bond films he appeared in. The director, John Glen, wanted to tap deep into the character, not just by showing his humane side (Glen had the idea with the grave scene), but also by revealing a hard edge that was characteristic more of Sean Connery’s Bond. “Although Roger is a completely different type of actor, I still felt that we needed to put a bit of edge in it,” Glen said.

Carole Bouquet’s Bond girl, Melina Havelock, has her own personal story and a family to revenge,
and she gives Bond a ride for his money in “For Your Eyes Only”, 1981 | Eon Productions

Roger himself was reluctant to this new approach, because “my Bond would not do that”. With his trademark single raised eyebrow, a twinkle of humour in his eye, a dry wit and tongue-in-cheek charm and class, Roger Moore was the James Bond who knew how to carry off by being himself. The secret agent who had the tough task to follow Sean Connery in the role, but who knew better than following on Sean Connery’s tough-guy James Bond. But Glen knew that they had to steer away from the much too gimmicky and fantastical scripts and to tone down the humour. After all, Fleming himself insisted that James Bond was “a skilled professional: ruthless and sardonic in his work; gentle, witty, and stylish off duty.”

So Glen stood his ground and had Roger play rough in a particular scene, when Bond is chasing Locque, the killer of Ferrara, an MI6 agent, and Countess Lisl. The Mercedes the villain is driving ends up on the edge of a cliff and Bond throws in the pin that belongs to Locque and which he had found on Ferrara’s body. Just the weight of the pin sends the car over the cliff, but Glen wanted Bond to be more ruthless and give it a push with his foot, too. Moore eventually agreed to it and afterwards he also agreed to the fact that the scene turned out to be an important part in the evolution of Bond on film. Indeed, Roger Moore’s complex Bond in For Your Eyes Only sits very well among the Bonds played by the other actors. In the book Revisionng 007, Lindner acknowledges once again the significance of Roger Moore’s role, writing that “Daniel Craig’s Bond is the most effective ‘serious Bond’ since For Your Eyes Only”. It is a part that also proved what a versatile actor Roger was and I can not help wondering how his Bond would have been depicted if the producers, screenwriters and directors had been willing to explore the character on more levels.

Carole Bouquet and Roger Moore in “For Your Eyes Only”, 1981 | Eon Productions

Another element that moved the Bond movies further, reinterpreting key features, was the Bond girl part. Following Barbara Bach in The Spy Who Loved Me, from 1977, Carole Bouquet’s Melina Havelock also played against type, even if, in time, the French actress would come to disconsider her part for being unsubstantial. Her role deserves much more credit than she gives it. There is much more to her character than what meets the eye. She is beautiful and she dresses the part, but she does not give it all away. She has a personal story to tell, driven by revenging her family, and she certainly gives 007 a run for his money.

In The James Bond Archives, director John Glen recounts how he cast Carole Bouquet in the role: “We flew into Rome and met Carole. She was absolutely gorgeous. The thing that impressed me most was her hair. She had the most gorgeous hair. I could immediately see the girl with the crossbow as Fleming had described her, which was really the only Fleming element that was in the movie.”

Carole Bouquet started her acting career with her role in Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire, 1977, and she would give one of her best performances in Claude Berri’s 1997 Lucie Aubrac, one of the best War World II political thrillers. Carole’s wardrobe in the film is classic, simple, and, almost forty years on, stands the test of time, much unlike Roger Moore’s Bond, whose look is undoubtedly the most ingrained in the period it was filmed in – that doesn’t mean however that Roger Moore’s Bond could not pull off a timeless look.

Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock in “For Your Eyes Only”, 1981 | Eon Productions

But what exactly does Carole’s look consist of that makes it a modern-day, summer destination-ready capsule wardrobe? A practical black dress for day – with straps and attached pockets and worn with a traditional Greek head-scarf (Melina is half Greek) and a bag in a very modern way, crossed-body. A gorgeous bareback red dress for the evening. White sleeveless top and white shorts for a boat travel. Black swimming suit and plain white t-shirt for a dive in the sea – she initially wears that under a yellow maritime suit and it comes in handy for a ride among sharks. One of the film’s locations was Corfu Island, which makes Carole’s stylish staples even more appropriate for a summer getaway.

That said, I believe that Melina’s style appeal has also to do with the fact that she is played by a French woman. And what we admire so much about the French is that they don’t take fashion seriously, but they know well crafted, classic pieces that add character to their style. Carole Bouquet defines Parisian style and she imbues her character in For Your Eyes Only with it. It’s easy to see why Melina Havelock is one of the alt Bond girls.

Alongside Melina, who’s wearing black bikini and a white t-shirt, Roger Moore’s 007
takes an unexpected dive style-wise: dark blue, fitted, V-neck t-shirt. | Eon Productions

Related content: Bond Style: From Connery to Craig / Bond Girl Style: Carey Lowell in Licence to Kill / Roger Moore’s James Bond: The Style, the Charm, the Humour


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