The exciting cinema re-release of all the James Bond movies as part of the 60th Anniversary of the 007 movie franchise this year has been very popular with Bond fans, providing the fantastic opportunity to see the films on the big screen, where they well and truly belong. The third Roger Moore Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) has proved to be especially busy where it has been screened in cinemas in the UK, with some screenings packed out.
Viewed by many as one of Moore’s best performances as Bond, the movie was the first to be produced solo by Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli after his partnership with Harry Saltzman came to an end. After mixed reviews for The Man With The Golden Gun (1974), there was considerable pressure on Cubby to deliver something big in scale and spectacular in plot. He certainly delivered!
The JBIFC takes the opportunity to offer (00)7 bullet-points on some of the better known and less familar aspects of the 1977 film, which was directed by Lewis Gilbert.
007 and Counting…
001: After the ‘legal tangle’ with Harry Saltzman had been resolved, Cubby Broccoli felt he now had a clean sheet. As he put it later, ‘I felt good about it. Stand or fall, I was on my own, in full control of operations’. He clearly relished the challenge. And all the hard work paid off – it became a smash-hit film, and often features as a firm favourite in Bond movie polls.
002: The third Roger Moore Bond movie had originally been due to be directed by Guy Hamilton, who had even carried out some pre-production development work on the film, but as it had been delayed somewhat by the legal situation, Hamilton had left. Broccoli turned instead to the ever-reliable Lewis Gilbert, who had directed You Only Live Twice (1967).
003: An early screen treatment for the new movie had envisaged the return of Bond’s old enemy SP.E.C.T.R.E., led by a new head chair, named Stavros, but – with Irish producer Kevin McClory claiming ownership of the concept, and seemingly planning to try and make a rival Bond movie – Broccoli and his son Michael Wilson (a trained lawyer) decided to have a brand new villain in the shape of shipping magnate Carl Stromberg (who was played in the film by the well-known German stage and screen actor Curt Jurgens). If you look closely, Stromberg, who is obsessed with building an undersea Oceanic empire, also has webbed fingers.
004: Production on The Spy Who Loved Me began in 1976, and set designer Ken Adam (who had created the iconic volcano set for You Only Live Twice) was brought back to work his magic on the new movie. He did not disappoint. Villain Carl Stromberg’s supertanker, the Liparus, would have huge bows to swallow nuclear submarines, with a monorail, metal walkways and an operations room. Adam oversaw the design and construction of the new 336 feet long ‘007 Stage’ at Pinewood, built especially to accommodate all this. The new stage was officially opened by Prime Minister Harold Wilson, who was something of a keen movie buff himself.
005: The decision to have a Lotus Esprit as the new Bond car of the 1970s proved an inspired choice. Nicknamed ‘Wet Nellie’ by the film crew, as a kind of tribute to the autogyro ‘Little Nellie’ in Lewis Gilbert’s You Only Live Twice, the Lotus was equipped in the film’s plot with a range of Q-created gadgets and special features, and could even go under the water. At one point, as the Lotus emerged from the waves on to a beach, Roger’s 007 drops a small fish from the car! This was a joke put in by Roger himself. Audiences loved the new car, which also featured heavily in all the publicity for the movie.
006: In his memoirs, All My Flashbacks (2010), Lewis Gilbert commented: ‘Of the three Bond pictures I made, I think this one was the best… Bond purists were a bit nervous about it because of the comedy and lightness of touch. They hadn’t been used to it in the Connery Bond films. However, it was a big hit at the box office right round the world, so I suppose the risk had been worth it’.
007: The late Sir Roger Moore, recalling the movie in his book Bond on Bond (2012), noted that the film premiered on 7th July, 1977, and, as this was his first solo Bond production, Cubby was ‘obviously anxious’. But this anxiety was soon eased: ‘After Rick Sylvester… launched himself off the snowy cliff top to reveal a Union Jack parachute [in the pre-credits], the audience leapt to their feet and cheered – and Cubby smiled widely. 007 was back!’
Did You Know?
Milton Reid, who played the bald-headed toughman Sandor in the film and is killed by Bond, had appeared as one of Julius No’s henchmen in the very first EON Bond film, Dr. No (1962).