Wednesday, May 23, 2012

50 Years of 007 - The Spy Who Loved Me


Cody agrees with Carly Simon, nobody does it better.



Due to several behind-the-scenes issues, there were almost three years between the releases of The Man with the Golden Gun and the next film in the series.

The first problem came when producer Harry Saltzman ran into financial troubles due to some bad investments and had to sell off his 50% of the James Bond film rights. TMWTGG was the end of an era. Along with Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, Saltzman had been producer on all of the movies. Now Broccoli would be producing the films by himself. Saltzman sold his rights to distributor United Artists, and production on the next movie had to be frozen while the legalities were worked out.

Once that deal was done and Broccoli could move forward, his focus was on getting a satisfactory original script written. It had already been announced in the end credits of TMWTGG that James Bond would return in The Spy Who Loved Me, a title taken from Ian Fleming's ninth Bond novel. But when Fleming had given the film rights to Broccoli and Saltzman, he had specified that the title was all they could use from that book.

The Spy Who Loved Me was a unique novel in the series, as James Bond was not the lead character in it. The story is told from the perspective of a girl named Vivienne Michel, who is working alone at the Dreamy Pines Motor Court in New York one night when two thugs named Sluggsy and Horror show up and start terrorizing her. The owner of the motel has hired them to kill her and burn the place down so that he can collect the insurance money while she takes the blame for the blaze. Luckily for her, James Bond has been driving through the area and gotten a flat tire, so he shows up at Dreamy Pines just in time to same Viv's life and stop this criminal plot. Sluggsy and Horror taken care of, Bond and Viv go to bed together, and for one night he is the spy who loves her.

Broccoli's idea was that the film would involve Bond crossing paths with a female Russian spy, but the story around that was up to the screenwriter(s) to work out. The number of different writers who worked on various drafts of scripts for the film is somewhere in the mid-teens. One element that ended up recurring throughout the process was the inclusion of nuclear submarines, but how they were used changed, as did the character of the female agent, the villains, and the villainous plot.

DC Comics writer Cary Bates had the odd idea of basing TSWLM on another Bond novel, Moonraker. In his draft, the Russian spy was Tatiana Romanova, returning from From Russia with Love and now a trained field agent. He had Moonraker villain Hugo Drax working for SPECTRE from a base in Loch Ness. A later writer, Anthony Barwick, replaced Drax and SPECTRE with a character called Zodiak, a crazed art collector who was willing to threaten the world just to get more art. John Landis, who was still a couple years from directing the films he's best known for, did some script work and claims he was removed from the project for including a scene where Bond hides behind a cross in a church by assuming the crucifixion position. Clockwork Orange novelist Anthony Burgess did a draft that went way over-the-top, featuring an organization called CHAOS (Consortium for the Hastening of the Annihilation of Organised Society), out to humiliate public figures through terroristic blackmail - they'll blow one place up if the Pope doesn't whitewash the Sistine Chapel, the Sydney Opera House will be destroyed if the Queen doesn't strip on live national television, etc. The bombs for CHAOS's plans were unknowingly planted in the scars of people who had gotten plastic surgery at a specific clinic.

Eventually, Broccoli turned to Richard Maibaum, writer on seven of the previous films, to come up with a script using any elements he liked from the existing drafts. Maibaum named his female Russian spy Anya Amasova and his story involved SPECTRE and nuclear submarines. Maibaum wasn't just repeating the Blofeld/SPECTRE plot, though. This time the organization would be taken over by a terrorist supergroup comprised of young radicals from around the world, with a plot to destroy oil fields. There is no blackmail or extortion, they don't want to make any deals, they want to wipe the world out and start it over.

Broccoli liked Maibaum's ideas, but felt that the terrorist angle was too close to real world politics. The series had always stayed away from that territory, as seen in the early films with SPECTRE being used in place of the Soviets and the countries that Goldfinger or Blofeld in You Only Live Twice were working with not being directly named. The young radicals were to be replaced with an old fashioned megalomaniacal supervillain.

For this supervillain, Maibaum brought back the shipping magnate with a supertanker that he had come up with for early drafts of Diamonds Are Forever. For DAF, he had intended that character to be Goldfinger's twin brother, but for this he removed the Goldfinger connection. Around this time, screenwriter Christopher Wood was brought on to help get the script into shooting shape.

Then more legal trouble arose. Kevin McClory, who had been a co-writer on the original treatment for Thunderball with Ian Fleming, still retained the film rights to that particular story, and had also been given the right to remake Thunderball once ten years had passed since the release of the 1965 movie. Ten years had passed, and McClory was developing his remake. He heard that Blofeld and SPECTRE were going to be in The Spy Who Loved Me and he was not pleased. He was also not happy there were similarities between his current remake script and TSWLM, both featuring villains who had underwater bases. Since Blofeld and SPECTRE had been created in the Thunderball treatment, McClory claimed that he alone had the rights to use them in a film, and they were not to appear in any more Eon Productions.

Broccoli agreed to remove all references to SPECTRE and Blofeld, and the villain's name was even changed from Stavros to Stromberg, since the former was too similar to Blofeld's middle name, Stavro. The underwater base would remain. With a rewrite and a polish, the script was finally ready to go.

Guy Hamilton had been attached to direct the film, which would've been his fifth in the series and his fourth in a row, but he left the project during development. He was replaced by another familiar name, Lewis Gilbert, who had directed 1967's You Only Live Twice.

Broccoli had gone through a lot of hassle getting this project together, and he had some things to prove - that he could produce Bond by himself, that the series could bounce back after TMWTGG had under-performed. He went all out. With $13 million, TSWLM would have the biggest budget yet, with $1 million of that going to production designer Ken Adam's sets. What Broccoli had in mind for this film is spelled out in the tagline: "It's the biggest. It's the best. It's Bond. And B-E-Y-O-N-D."


This was the first Roger Moore Bond film to be shot in the 2:35.1 aspect ratio, so it begins with a new gun barrel. This is the first time the actor playing Bond wore a tuxedo and bow tie in the gun barrel, a dress style that was repeated in the Dalton and Brosnan versions.

From there, we join the crew of Royal Navy nuclear submarine HMS Ranger, going through their routine on an average day. As we watch one sailor walk into a room, we get a glimpse of nudie picture cut-outs pasted to a wall, something that wouldn't have slipped past the ratings boards these days. Crew members are sitting around, drinking coffee, playing chess... Then the boat starts shaking, alarms go off, everyone is called to emergency stations, power is lost. The submarine surfaces. Looking through the periscope, the Captain gulps "Oh my God."

The Royal Navy is unable to make contact with Ranger after this incident. The submarine has been lost.

In Moscow, General Gogol, the head of the KGB, gets a phone call delivering similar news - Russian submarine Potemkin has disappeared without a trace. Gogol is played by Walter Gotell, who had previously appeared in From Russia with Love as a different character, a SPECTRE member named Morzeny. He'll go on to play Gogol in every Bond film for the next ten years.

Gogol promises to assign the KGB's best agent to the case of the missing submarine, then checks with his secretary to find out where Agent Triple X is.


Agent Triple X is on leave, and seems to be spending most of their weekend off in bed at a rest and recuperation center. That's where we find a man and woman, in a postcoital embrace. The woman is played by Barbara Bach, a model/actress who went on to marry Ringo Starr of The Beatles a few years after this movie. The man is Michael Billington, an English actor who was sort of Bond-in-reserve throughout the Roger Moore era. If Moore had left the role and no other suitable candidate could be found, it might have gone to Billington. It's said that he screen tested for Bond more than any other actor, the first time for Diamonds Are Forever after George Lazenby quit, then again for Live and Let Die, and a few more times through the late '70s and early '80s.

I would think that Billington being cast in The Spy Who Loved Me would've officially killed his Bond chances, having a Bond who had previously played another character in the series seems much more awkward than something like Walter Gotell playing both Morzeny and Gogol, but some of Billington's screen tests were done for films after this one.

Billington's character is a KGB agent, who must leave his lover because he's got a mission to do in Austria. A music box on the bedside table starts playing and he opens it to hear a voice ordering that Agent Triple X "acknowledge and verify." Is this an update for him? No. The man, Sergei Barsov, gets out of bed and the woman, Anya Amasova, slides over to push a button on the music box. "This is Triple X. Message received and understood."

In a mirroring scene to the one with Gogol in Moscow, MI6 head M has gotten a call from the Prime Minister and promises to assign his best man to the matter at hand. M then checks with his secretary Miss Moneypenny to find out where 007 is.


007 is on a mission in Austria, but is currently spending some time loving up a beautiful woman, lying on a rug in front of a fireplace in a small log cabin. Played by Sue Vanner, the woman is credited only as Log Cabin Girl, but screenwriter Christopher Wood did give her the name, or the alias, Martine Blanchaud. Since the film wasn't directly based on Fleming's novel, Wood was able to write a novelization of the screenplay, which was published under the title "James Bond, the Spy Who Loved Me" and somewhat reconciles the literary character with the more outlandish elements of the film. His book is where I'm getting the Blanchaud name from.


As Bond kisses Log Cabin Girl, a ticker tape message from MI6 starts pumping out of his watch, telling him to report immediately.

The log cabin is on a snowy mountainside, and while Bond gets up and puts on his yellow ski suit, a team of black-clad baddies are skiing up to the location. As soon as Bond has exited the cabin, the girl reports on a walkie talkie that he has just left. The report is received by Sergei, leader of the team of bad guys.

A ski chase ensues, the KGB agents firing guns at the seemingly unarmed Bond as they race down the mountain. Bond isn't as helpless as it appears - when Sergei is gaining on him, Bond flips a switch on one of his ski poles, turns and fires the bottom of the ski like a rocket-propelled spear. Sergei is hit in the chest and killed instantly.


The chase takes Bond to the edge of a cliff, which he skis right off. The music stops, the only sound is the wind. Bond is now falling thousands of feet toward the ground. It appears that he's not even going to live long enough to reach the title sequence of this movie. Then the pack he's wearing bursts open - it's a parachute with the design of the Union Jack on it. Audiences around the world cheer and the Bond theme kicks in.

The ski jump is probably the most famous stunt in the series and was performed by Rick Sylvester. This sequence was shot by second unit director and editor John Glen, who had previously worked on On Her Majesty's Secret Service and its snowy sequences, and would be staying on the series for quite a while from this point on.

Bond parachutes into the title sequence, which is some of Maurice Binder's best work. For the first time, the title song does not share its title with the film, although "the spy who loved me" is said in the lyrics. Sung by Carly Simon, "Nobody Does It Better" is one of the most popular songs from the series.

The pre-title and title sequence of The Spy Who Loved Me are referenced in a very funny scene of the TV show I'm Alan Patridge, when the title character (played by Steve Coogan) recounts every moment of it from memory for a group of friends.

Anya reports to Gogol's office, where she's given the assignment of finding out what happened to the missing submarine Potemkin. There is one lead, a connection in Cairo. Gogol then notifies her that Sergei Barsov was killed in action in Austria. He knows that Sergei and Anya have been more than friends, and he apologizes. He doesn't have all the details on Sergei's death, but it appears that he had become involved with a British secret service operation. Anya asks that she be kept informed, she would "very much like to meet whoever was responsible for his death."


Bond, in his Naval uniform, has a meeting at a Royal Navy base with a Captain Benson, Minister of Defence Sir Frederick Gray, and Admiral Hargreaves. Sir Frederick, played by Geoffrey Keen, will go on to appear in more Bond films. So will the actor who plays Hargreaves, Robert Brown, although there's uncertainty among fans whether or not he's still meant to be Hargreaves in the future films. Benson is played by George Baker, who had been in OHMSS as Sir Hilary Bray and dubbed George Lazenby for a portion of that film when Bond was disguised as his character. Also at the meeting from MI6 is Q.

Captain Benson shows the others a hi-tech map that has HMS Ranger's patrol course programmed into it. Only Benson, Ranger's Captain Talbot, and Admiral Hargreaves knew the submarine's course. But Sir Frederick is in possession of a clear plastic sheet with a line drawn on it that perfectly matches Ranger's course when put over the map. Someone has the ability to track their nuclear submarines underwater.

The Naval officers think this would be impossible, but Q interrupts and informs them that it would be quite simple. "Heat signature recognition, most likely." Like satellites can track missiles in flight by their tail fire, someone could track a submarine by its wake.

After the meeting, Sir Frederick tells Bond that the course tracing came from Cairo. Someone there has the plans of the tracking system and is trying to sell them. Here we're given an idea of the gravity of the situation - wherever the submarine is now, Ranger is armed with sixteen Polaris missiles.

While Bond and Anya are just starting their investigations, we're given an early introduction to the film's villain, Curt J├╝rgens as the very creepy Karl Stromberg. Stromberg is dining with his female assistant when Doctor Bechmann and Professor Markovitz are shown into the room. Bechmann and Markovitz are the men who developed the submarine tracking system, which Stromberg thanks them for. The first phase of the operation has been a success, and for their work the men will have $10 million each paid into their Swiss bank account. Then, the bad news: someone is trying to sell the plans of the tracking project to competing world powers. Stromberg excuses his assistant from the room so he can talk to the men in private.

The assistant steps into an elevator, and when the doors close Stromberg presses a button on a panel beside him. The floor of the elevator drops out, sending the woman sliding down a tube that drops her into a water tank occupied by a shark. While the shark proceeds to make a meal out of her, Stromberg watches on a monitor in the dining room and tells her over a P.A. system that he knows she betrayed him, she had access to everything.


Stromberg then excuses Bechmann and Markovitz. They hesitate getting on the elevator, which has a floor again. When they have left the room, Stromberg pushes more buttons. The large pictures on the walls slide up to reveal large windows, through which we can only see water.


Stromberg's base, Atlantis, begins to rise from under the sea. There's some wonderful effects work, miniatures by Derek Meddings, and designs by Ken Adam on display here.

While earlier drafts had henchmen named Pluto and Plato or triplets called Tic, Tac, and Toe, the finished film has Jaws and Sandor, a couple characters which seem to have been directly inspired by the descriptions of Sluggsy and Horror in Fleming's novel. Like Sluggsy, Sandor is short and bald. Like Horror, Jaws is tall and shows silver when he smiles. But Horror just had cheap caps on his teeth, Jaws has a mouth full of very powerful metal chompers.

7'2" Richard Kiel is Jaws, who may well be the most popular henchman in the entire series. I met Kiel at a recent Cinema Wasteland convention and was in the audience for a Q&A panel that he was on. He's a nice guy with some interesting stories to tell. I never knew until the Q&A that he has been blind in his right eye since birth.

Christoper Wood's novelization gives Jaws the real name Zbigniew Krycsiwiki and gives some backstory on him and how he came to have such interesting dental work. As Wood tells it, Zbigniew was always a violent man, and after he was arrested for participating in a riot, the police beat him with clubs until his jaw was pulverized. Zbigniew managed to get free of his cuffs and kill his way out of jail, hiding on one of Stromberg's ships to escape the area. When Stromberg was notified of the stowaway, he took this dangerous man under his wing and had a doctor who had done twisted experiments for the Nazis go to work making him an artificial jaw with steel teeth.

Stromberg gives Jaws and Sandor the task of finding the microfilm copy of the tracking system and killing everyone who has come in contact with it.


Bechmann and Markovitz take off from Atlantis in a helicopter, but they don't get very far. Stromberg orders that the transfer of $20 million be cancelled, then presses yet another button. This one causes the helicopter to explode while he watches on a monitor.

Stromberg's hands are shown several times throughout this sequence, yet it hardly comes across (at least on DVD and VHS) that he has webbed fingers. The webbing between his thumb and index fingers is noticeable a couple times.


Bond rides a camel across the desert to reach the encampment of his Egyptian contact, Sheik Hosein, who he went to school with at Cambridge. Hosein offers sheep's eyes, dates, vodka martini, but all Bond wants is information on the tracking system. Hosein tells him that he must visit the apartment of a man named Aziz Fekkesh, who will lead him to another man, Max Kalba. Hosein then asks Bond if he'd like a bed for the night, but Bond only accepts when he realizes that he's being offered a girl to go along with the bed. The girl is only credited as "Arab Beauty" and there are four possibilities for who she could be - Felicity York, Dawn Rodrigues, Anika Pavel, or Jill Goodall. A Google search causes me to lean toward this girl being Dawn Rodrigues.

Fekkesh isn't home when Bond arrives at his apartment the next day, but there is a girl named Felicca there, who says that Fekkesh asked her to entertain Bond until he returns. She attempts to seduce him, but Bond doesn't trust her. For good reason. When Bond kisses Felicca, an observing Sandor attempts to shoot him. Felicca breaks character and tries to stop Sandor, shouting "No!", which causes Bond to turn... and Felicca catches the bullet.


Bond pursues Sandor, leading to a fistfight on the roof of the building. The fight itself isn't very impressive, but it does end in an awesome way. Sandor is knocked back to the edge of the roof and manages to grab ahold of Bond's tie. Bond asks him, "Where's Fekkesh?" Sandor replies, "Pyramids." Bond swats his tie out of Sandor's grasp and lets the man fall to his death on the street below.

In the novelization, Bond's would-be assassin falls through a roof and lands on a piano someone is playing. That didn't make it into this movie, but a baddie will land on a piano in the next film.

A large crowd is gathered on the Plateau of Giza that night to learn more about the pyramids and the Sphinx. Among these tourists is a cameo by Michael G. Wilson, Albert R. Broccoli's stepson. Wilson had first worked on the Bond series as a third assistant director on Goldfinger, in which he made a cameo during the Fort Knox sequence. After doing legal work on Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, he moved up to "Assistant to Producer" on this movie and the ski jump opening was his idea. Wilson has been executive producer or producer on (and made a cameo in) every film that has followed this one.

Fekkesh is in the audience with Anya, but excuses himself when he spots Jaws nearby. Bond follows but keeps a cautious distance while Jaws closes in for the kill. Fekkesh locks himself behind a gate with a padlocked chain, and we get the first demonstration of the strength of Jaws's bite when he chews right through the chain. The next thing he chews into is Fekkesh's neck.

Jaws gets away when the lights from the pyramid show briefly go dark. Bond finds an appointment book in Fekkesh's pocket, written in it is "Max Kalba. Mujaba Club. 9:40 p.m." Anya confronts Bond as he walks away from the body and her cohorts Ivan and Boris attack him, but he makes quick work of them and continues on his way.

At the Mujaba Club, Bond finds that Anya also knows about the scheduled meeting with Kalba. Both agents know who the other is, so they sit down to have a drink together. Bond orders Anya a Bacardi on the rocks, she orders him a vodka martini. Shaken, not stirred. Anya then recites what she knows about Bond - that he was a Commander recruited to the secret service from the Royal Navy. He's licensed to kill, and has done so on numerous occasions. And finally, a film released after OHMSS directly acknowledges it: "Married only once. Wife killed --" Bond cuts her off. He is sensitive about certain things.

Bond walks away before their drinks are delivered, going off to find Max Kalba. Kalba is the owner of the club, and he's the one with the plans for sale. Anya catches up with Bond just as he's about to make an offer for the information, delivering his drink and informing Kalba that she's another potential customer. Kalba gives them visual confirmation that he has the microfilm, but then he's called away. There's an urgent phone call for him.

When Kalba goes to answer the phone, he's killed by Jaws. Bond goes to check on him and finds the body. The microfilm is gone. Going outside, Bond sees Jaws preparing to drive away in a van and he sneaks into the back. Anya joins him before the van pulls away.


As Bond and Anya talk in the back, everything they're saying is piped through a speaker into the cab. Jaws hears it all. But he keeps driving, all through the night, well past dawn, taking the van to some ruins out in the desert. If it was around 9:40 - 10 p.m. when Kalba was killed, then Jaws would have been driving for around eight or nine hours to get here at daylight...

Once their road trip has reached its end, Bond and Anya get out of the van to see what's going on. There's a bit of cat and mouse as Jaws leads them among the ruins, finishing in a physical confrontation. Anya forces Jaws to hand over the microfilm at gunpoint, then Bond manages to cause a pile of rubble to fall onto him. The average henchman would be taken out of the film by this, but Jaws is far from average. He climbs out from under it and does his best to stop the spies from making their escape in the van. He manages to tear pieces of the van off with his bare hands, but is ultimately unsuccessful.

The van drives off through the desert, but soon dies on them. "The cylinder head gasket." Bond and Anya are forced to continue their journey across the sand on foot. They eventually reach a dock on the Nile River and catch a ride on a boat back to Cairo.

During the boat ride, Bond's cigarette case and lighter turn out to be a gadget that he can use to view what's on the microfilm. That done, he attempts to cuddle up with Anya. She seems very receptive to his charms, but things go wrong when she pulls out her own cigarette case. She puts an unlit cigarette in her mouth and blows a puff of smoke into Bond's face that knocks him out.

Anya gets the microfilm away from the unconscious Bond, but it's not such a bad situation. When Bond reports to an MI6 station hidden deep within an ancient structure, he finds Gogol and Anya waiting for him along with M and Moneypenny. Russia and England have agreed to work together to find out what's going on with their submarines. M and Gogol are even on a first-name basis, Miles and Alexis.

Anya has brought the microfilm along with her, but Bond says that it's useless. It doesn't have the full information, all the vital technical information was removed. It's just a sample to show potential buyers. Still, they all want to give it another look together.

I'm not a fan of MI6 apparently having hidden field offices set up everywhere around the world in the Moore films. It started with the shipwreck in TMWTGG, which worked, but now this one is pushing it. Not only does M have an office set up here, there's also a fully functioning Q Branch lab that's testing gadgets. There are more like this to come.

The agents and their bosses look over the microfilm with Q, and spot something on the edge of a photograph of papers. A bit of something the paper was lying on top of when the picture was taken can be seen. The logo for the Stromberg Shipping Line is identified, above the partially obscured word "Laboratory". Stromberg has a marine research laboratory in Sardinia.

Bond and Anya are sent off to Sardinia, and part of their travel is done by train. The former rivals get along very well during the ride, but Anya turns down Bond's offer of a nightcap in his room. When he goes to bed, he still expects her to follow, and she is obviously giving it a lot of consideration.


Instead, Bond ends up going back into Anya's room when he hears sounds of a struggle. Jaws was waiting in her closet and attacks her. Barbara Bach is 5'7", but she looks very tiny when she's trying to fend off Jaws. For that matter, so does 6'1" Roger Moore. Richard Kiel has some massive hands.


After a struggle, Bond ends up knocking Jaws through a window and off the speeding train. This is another thing that would've been the end of the usual henchman, just ask Teehee from Live and Let Die, but Jaws shakes it off and watches the train roll on its away.

Bond should thank Jaws, because now that he's saved Anya's life from the toothy brute, she does go to bed with him.

Q (Major Boothroyd to Anya) is waiting for them in Sardinia, there to deliver Bond's car. A white 1976 Lotus Esprit with some special accessories.


Bond and Anya check into a hotel as a married couple, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Sterling. Moneypenny has made sure to book them a suite with two bedrooms. The hotel receptionist is played by Valerie Leon, who would appear in another Bond film six years later, when Kevin McClory's Thunderball remake was finally released as Never Say Never Again.

A message is waiting for the "Sterlings" at the front desk: Stromberg has agreed to meet with them. Stromberg sends three people to pick them up in a speedboat on the waterfront just outside the hotel - two henchmen in jumpsuits and a beautiful woman in a bikini. The woman is Naomi, played by Caroline Munro, but with her voice for some reason dubbed by Barbara Jeffords, who also provided the voices of Tatiana in From Russia with Love and Patricia Fearing in Thunderball.

 

For me, Caroline Munro is strong in the running for Most Beautiful Woman to ever appear in the series, and in my personal experience, she's also as nice as she is gorgeous. I've met her twice, at two separate Cinema Wasteland shows, and at both she was very friendly and very entertaining on Q&A panels. At the second show, she shared a panel with fellow Bond girl Martine Beswick (Zora in FRWL, Paula in Thunderball). Munro and Beswick are good friends and it was a lot of fun watching their banter, they should have a talk show together. I got my TSWLM DVD signed by Munro at the first of the two Wastelands. She told me she liked the name Cody. *swoon*

The Sterlings are taken out to Atlantis, where Bond leaves his "wife/assistant" to be shown around by Naomi while he goes in for his private meeting with Stromberg, who has agreed to see him because "Robert Sterling" is a marine biologist.

Bond enters Stromberg's office, which has views into large aquariums that surround the room, and notices something strange - a woman's severed arm lying on the bottom of the fish tank. Part of the assistant who was fed to the shark earlier. Stromberg then comes into the room and Bond has to divert his gaze. Hero and villain meet face-to-face. Bond introduces himself - "Sterling, Robert Sterling" - and offers a handshake, which Stromberg ignores. He does not shake hands.


The meeting between Stromberg and "Sterling" is brief and consists mainly of Stromberg talking about how much he likes aquatic life, the world under the sea is the only world he cares for. Conquering space is a waste when seven-tenths of the Earth's oceans have yet to be explored. In the office is a model for an underwater city, Atlantis towering above several small domes. Going underwater is the only hope for mankind, and soon this city will be a reality.

Naomi has shown Anya another model, this one of the Liparus, the latest addition to the Stromberg fleet and the largest tanker in the world. Or second largest. The Liparus was launched nine months ago.

When Bond and Anya have left, Stromberg confers with Jaws. Their cover is blown, Stromberg knows exactly who they are.

Back on shore, our spies are taking a drive in the Lotus when they find themselves pursued by a motorcycle with a sidecar that doubles as a rocket, a car full of goons (including Jaws) firing guns, and a machine gun-equipped helicopter flown by Naomi. The Lotus's special accessories come in handy throughout this sequence. The car full of goons ends up going over the side of a ravine and crashing into the roof of an old man's house. Jaws is the only henchman to walk away.

The Lotus's most special feature is revealed when it's driven off a dock and sinks into the ocean. Turns out that the car also operates as a submersible.


The underwater drive was always part of Bond's plan, he wants to get a closer look at Atlantis. Through one of the windows in the structure, Bond and Anya spy a bunch of Stromberg's men looking over a map of the world. When the Lotus (nicknamed Wet Nellie in its submersible form, a callback to the Little Nellie gyrocopter in You Only Live Twice) is attacked by some divers and a mini-sub, Anya proves to already know what some of the buttons in the vehicle do. She admits that she stole the blueprints for it two years earlier.


As the Lotus drives out of the water and up onto a crowded beach, we get the first appearance of Victor Tourjansky and a joke that will be repeated in the next couple movies - a man takes a drink from a bottle of alcohol, sees the car driving out of the ocean, and looks at his bottle in disbelief.

Back at the hotel, Bond gets word from M that Liparus has not put into port anywhere in the nine months since it was launched. Very odd. They need to get a look at the tanker.

Then, Bond and Anya's working relationship and burgeoning personal relationship falls apart. He lights a cigarette for her and she admires the lighter, which he says he bought in Austria. He was in Austria? When? Is he the man who killed Sergei? Bond admits that he killed Sergei, if he hadn't Sergei would have killed him. It's part of the business they're in. Anya responds with a promise, "when this mission is over, I will kill you."

Bond and Anya are welcomed aboard U.S. submarine Wayne by Commander Carter, the third and final character in the series to be played by Shane Rimmer. Rimmer previously appeared as control room operators in You Only Live Twice and Diamonds Are Forever, this time he gets a good-sized supporting role in the film's last third.

Carter is a bit weirded out to have a woman on board, and offers to let Anya use the private shower in his quarters. When a sailor brings Carter a report, he gawks an eyeful of sideboob through the shower curtains.


The Wayne soon runs into the same trouble that the Ranger did at the beginning of the film - the vessel shakes, power is lost, they're forced to surface. When they do, we finally find out what has been happening to the submarines. The supertanker Liparus approaches them, the bow opening and "swallowing" the Wayne within it. Just like Blofeld's rocket swallowed spacecraft in You Only Live Twice.

The Wayne slides right in between Ranger and Potemkin inside Liparus as the bow closes behind them. Through a P.A. system, Stromberg orders everyone in the submarine to exit or be gassed to death. Bond, Anya, and the sailors file out and are taken prisoner by Stromberg's men.


The interior of the Liparus is the largest set yet seen the series, and was the largest interior set ever built at the time. It was so big that a whole new sound stage had to be constructed at Pinewood Studios to fit it in, a sound stage named the 007 Stage. It was so long that cinematographer Claude Renoir couldn't even see to the end of it, and designer Ken Adam brought Stanley Kubrick over to look at things and help them figure out how to properly light it. Kubrick made Adam promise that no one would ever know that he was there, but everyone knows at this point. As usual, this villain's H.Q. does include a monorail.

Bond and Anya are recognized and split from the rest of the prisoners, taken to see Stromberg in person. Stromberg spills the details on what he has planned: he's going to use the missiles on the submarines to destroy New York City and Moscow, kicking off a nuclear war. Civilization is corrupt and decadent, he intends to wipe it off the face of the globe and create a new world beneath the sea. Much like the terrorists in Maibaum's first idea, Stromberg is not interested in blackmail or extortion, he doesn't want to make any deals, he wants to wipe the world out and start it over.

As the submarines depart the Liparus with Stromberg's men at the controls, he sends Bond off to be locked up with the other prisoners and takes Anya back to Atlantis with him.

Can Bond get free, rally his fellow prisoners into battle, dismantle a nuke, breach an impregnable operations room, thwart Stromberg's plans, rescue Anya, put Stromberg out of commission, and survive a final confrontation with Jaws? And if he does, will Anya go through with her promise to kill him when the mission is finished?

I'm not saying, but the fact that we're not even halfway through the series may be a tip-off.

Bond makes his way to the climax on a vehicle that Q had provided for him. It's a Wetbike, a type of jet ski which wouldn't be available in stores until the following year. Jet skis in general were new at this time, so to see Bond speeding along on one was something special.


Everything Broccoli put into this film paid off, he got this new era of Bond off to a perfect start. The Spy Who Loved Me is full of memorable moments and characters, and is one of the most beloved entries in the series. It's a favorite of many Bond fans and widely considered to be Roger Moore's best, even by Moore himself. It's a bit farther down my personal list and not my favorite Moore Bond, but it certainly is a great adventure, with a tone that's preferable over some of its recent predecessors and a refreshingly lower level of goofiness.

Lewis Gilbert had a knack for choosing some awesome cinematographers. You Only Live Twice was beautifully shot by Freddie Young, and this movie looks amazing thanks to Claude Renoir. This was the only Bond film for composer Marvin Hamlisch, and I quite like his work on it. The effects and sets are spectacular, as are the natural locations. Moore is great in it. I don't think Barbara Bach is all that good of an actress as Anya, but she is nice to look at, and at least convincing enough as a non-American character that I was surprised to find out she was originally from Queens, New York.

TSWLM had its premiere on 7/7/77 and went on to be hugely successful.

From Russia with Love had been the last movie JFK watched before his death, interestingly TSWLM was also the last movie seen by a public figure - Elvis Presley viewed the film at the General Cinema in Whitehaven, Tennessee on August 10th, 1977, just six days before his death.

While a lot of movie fans think of a certain space opera when the year 1977 is mentioned, The Spy Who Loved Me is the movie that comes to mind for me. My grandparents bought a house in 1977, and for years I've remembered that by "That was the year The Spy Who Loved Me came out." I never even thought of the fact that there was a very popular alternative until just recently.

The other movie I'm talking about is, of course, Star Wars, and it did have an affect on the Bond series. The end credits of this film tell the audience that James Bond will return in For Your Eyes Only, but FYEO did not end up being the next movie. After the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, also released in 1977, it was decided that it was time for Bond to get spacey.

3 comments:

  1. Another fine overview/review - you hit on a lot of the really cool trivial bits about this one - and I like that you've read Wood's novelization.

    A few other tidbits - I'm glad you pointed out the similarity of the Liparus swallowing submarines here and the rocket swallowing rockets in YOLT - an article in one of the Bond fan club magazines in the 70's or 80's found 23 distinct similarities (including the baddies hiding out in an "impregnable" war room, for example). Apparently this article was brought up in an interview or press conference with Cubby, and he professed confusion and didn't think the movies were similar at all!

    I love the Liparus - one of the larget movie "miniatures" ever constructed - 63 feet long - bigger than some pleasure boats called yachts! It had dispensers that leaked detergent at the waterline on the hull, so it had a foamy wake around it - so cool. When it goes down, the filmmakers left the hulk on the bottom in the Bahamas - and way back in the 80's, when it had only been down a few years, and I was a youthful teen, I kept hoping for a family vacation to the Bahamas, so I could learn scuba diving and go see it in the incredibly clear water out there. Now of course it has become a giant coral reef, so I doubt there'd be any hope of even identifying it.

    This isn't my favorite Roger Moore Bond - I'll identify it when it shows up...but this is a refreshing watch in between the low points of Golden Gun, and the silliness that besets Moonraker all too often...

    Oops, sorry! Getting ahead of myself there!

    Cheers!

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  2. Your leaning toward Dawn Rodrigues as the Arab Girl is correct. She was a girlfriend of my Uncle and I'm named after her:-)

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    1. That's awesome, thanks for commenting and clarifying!

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