Other than the title and Japanese locale, Roald Dahl's screenplay for "You Only Live Twice" completely disregards the novel, surprising since it was Ian Fleming's second to last effort and a best-seller only two years before. Everything about the film is big, from the huge set constructed for the volcano that is the setting for a memorable climax, to the plot which finds James Bond in Japan where SPECTRE is slyly attempting to incite the major world powers to declare war on each other by kidnapping their spacecraft.
The film, directed by Lewis Gilbert of "Alfie" fame, is a delight to the eyes and ears, with Ken Adam's sets among the most amazing yet constructed, and John Barry's haunting score, topped by Nancy Sinatra's rendition of the bittersweet title song, tied with his work for "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" as the best of the series.
Unfortunately, the celebrated Dahl lets us down with a script lacking the imagination to which we have become accustomed. 007 relies on pure luck one time too many when finding himself in a bind, and the most publicized aspect of the film, the first appearance of arch-nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld, is anti-climactic thanks to the miscasting of Donald Pleasance (a last minute substitute for an ailing actor).
But "You Only Live Twice" is still fun. Sean Connery, in what was supposed to be his last go-round as Bond, still looks engaged by the character, and since this film entered release only two months after the disastrous "Casino Royale," the black sheep Bond film made from the one title not owned by Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman's EON productions, in which everyone but Connery played 007, that was enough to make "You Only Live Twice" the second biggest hit of 1967 (trailing "The Dirty Dozen" by a half million or so).