3. October 2013 05:16
You may recall that when we took a look at the ABC Cut of the James Bond film, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, we described how, in 1975, the American TV network ABC had confusingly and needlessly re-edited the beginning of You Only Live Twice. We appealed to fans asking for any recordings of this edit, and our friends at 007homevideo.com recently informed us that, as it turns out, the same edit of the film that was shown on ABC was also used on the early RCA "SelectaVision" CED home video release.
If you have never heard of RCA "SelectaVision" CED discs you are not alone. After 17 years in development, the first Capacitance Electronic Disc (CED) player was finally released on March 22, 1981 but by then it was already too late. The age of VHS, Betamax and Laservision (laserdisc) was already upon us and CED sales were poor.
Unlike laserdiscs which were read optically with a laser beam, the CED system used a special needle and high-density groove system similar to gramophone records. Because the system used a stylus to read the discs, it was also necessary to regularly change the stylus in the player to avoid damage to the videodiscs. RCA estimated that the maximum number of times a CED could be played back, under ideal conditions, was 500. By comparison, a laserdisc could, at least in theory, be played an unlimited number of times.
By April 1984, after just three years on the market, the CED format was officially declared dead but in a strange twist, sales of the videodiscs themselves were twice the projected rate, and continued to be produced until 1986. Consequently, all James Bond titles up to and including A View To A Kill received a CED release with the majority sporting artwork unique to the format. Most are available on Ebay for about $5 to $15, and working RCA Selectavision CED Players are also available.
The ABC/CED version of You Only Live Twice begins, as it should, with the space capsule but eighteen seconds into the scene it cuts to Bond already dead in his bed and then the opening titles begin! What is even more peculiar is that after the title sequence, the movie restarts at the beginning, back in space for the full scene followed by Bond's "death" again (this time in full), after which it continues just the same as the theatrical version. Here is a capture from the 1979 ABC Broadcast of You Only Live Twice:
Strangely, this same edit also appeared on the CED:
Why the ABC edit was used on the RCA "SelectaVision" release, while VHS, Betamax and laserdisc all enjoyed the theatrical version remains a mystery. The theatrical version is under two hours (117 minutes) and should therefore have been able to fit on two sides of a single CED video disc without the need for editing or time compression.
For reference, here is how the movie should begin (from the Blu-ray Edition):
OHMSS The 1976 ABC TV Version