Napoleon Plural wrote:
His grey suit in the Crab Key Pussfella scenes is a bit loose fitting isn't it?
Napoleon Plural wrote:
Isn't that 'run along Miss Freelance' the photographer from the Daily Gleaner in Dr No as one of the gypsy girls in the fight?
caractacus potts wrote:
Napoleon Plural wrote:
Isn't that 'run along Miss Freelance' the photographer from the Daily Gleaner in Dr No as one of the gypsy girls in the fight?
One of the gypsy girls does have a larger role in another Bondfilm, but its not the photographer from Dr No
Annebel Chung, the freelance photographer, was played by Marguerite LeWars.
She doesn't seem to have any other acting credits but she was a Miss Jamaica.
The two gypsy girls in FRWL were played by Aliza Gur and Martine Beswick. Beswick was also Paula in Thunderball. Maybe she's the one you think looks familiar?
Kerim's ladyfriend was played by Nadja Regin, who was also the dancing girl in the precredits scene from Goldfinger.
Both Beswick and Regin were in plenty of episodes of Danger Man, The Saint, The Avengers and other such shows. Gur on the other hand must have been an American actress, and appeared in episodes of the Man from UNCLE and Get Smart.
Barbel said he'd be catching The Spy Who Loved Me at the cinema in Glasgow - I don't know if he made that showing but I said I'd record my latest thoughts on the film so here they are. After yet another TV reshowing I discovered it was brilliant. If that sort of insightful criticism floats your boat, read on.
Of course, in any game of Top Trumps, this film comes out… tops. Pre-credits, song, poster, actor in premium Bond mode, villain plot for worldwide domination, locations, iconic henchman, iconic car, Cold War and the Russians, gorgeous female lead, amazing sets… perhaps against so many competing elements Curt Jurgens can be forgiven for not quite making his mark .
That said, this is not usually a Top 5 Bond for me. I find it lacks the camp charm of Moore’s debut, Live And Let Die, or the easy warmth of his later outings, such as Moonraker or Octopussy.
When I saw it as a mega Bond fan kid in 1977 it didn’t quite work for me? Why? Well, my fandom was really based on just two Connery movies - Goldfinger and Thunderball on telly. The first two never seemed to be shown on TV. And You Only Live Twice was yet to be shown on UK telly - that would be later in the year. With this in mind, Moore’s The Spy Who Loved Me didn’t seem like the Bond I was used to - not just that it was Moore as Bond, but the whole world was different, more different than if I’d seen YOLT first. It seemed a bit of a con, Bond in name only.
This was echoed by the Corgi Bond car. For a year or more, I’d tried to obtain the cool Aston Martin DB5 Corgi toy with its myriad of gadgets - ejector seat, machine guns, bullet shield, tyre slashers and revolving numberplate. Along with the Batmobile, the best toy ever and unlike the Batmobile, discontinued. In a world before eBay there was no way of getting one from any top shop.
Then a toy shop in my nearby village called to say they had the James Bond car in! But it was of course the Lotus Esprit from The Spy Who Loved Me - a toy that never really quite worked because the fins went in, but there were never any wheels, understandably they couldn’t make it work as it seemed to in the film.
But even today, I feel there can be a hollow quality to the film.There’s almost something careful about some of it, as if it’s a checklist.
This may be because it was the first Bond film in three years - I’m showing my age here, aren’t I? I mean, in the last decade we’ve had just two
films but back in the fast-moving 70s this was like a pop band being out of the charts for any length of time, where upon your return you might not be able to resume your place at the table. With The Man With The Golden Gun being not a massive success, it seems that the next one was ‘everything or nothing’ and what’s more, they seem to rely on other genres a bit - Hammer Horror for instance, in the scene with the blonde receptionist and the shark pool. Even now, I find Kiel’s Jaws to be viscerally frightening in a way I don’t get in many Hammer movies.
And Jaws shouldn’t be much of a henchman, should he? He doesn’t move fast. You get the sense you could just run away from him. He doesn’t seem too smart. Point a gun at him and he’s dead. While Wint and Kidd didn’t seem to use a gun or be much good in a fight, they did blend in as innocent passers-by, beyond suspicion. You wouldn’t say Jaws was inconspicuous, either with his height or teeth. His main ability is to strike fear into opponents - and this adds to the sense that all this owes more to a Hammer movie than any conventional thriller.
There’s another unusual visceral sensation watching Barbara Bach as Major Anya Amasova. Yes, there are plenty of good-looking Bond women, but there is something about this particular one that lets slip a fellow’s moorings. While she’s meant to be a modern Bond woman who challenges and equals our hero that doesn’t stop her resembling a soft porn star than most. Again, it echoes the sort of thing you’d see in a Hammer movie, the only other contender of course copter pilot Naomi, played by Caroline Munro, who really was in a few Hammer films. (As was receptionist Valeria Leon). Maybe Britt Ekland who of course was in Hammer’s  The Wicker Man. Other than that I suppose Bibi in For Your Eyes Only awakens that sort of sex appeal that’s inappropriate for a Bond film - it just feels wrong.
Barbara Bach and Richard Kiel are huge assets for this film, which simply wouldn’t be as good with other actors in the roles. That said, I think they are too sexy and scary for a Bond film.
In the same way, there are many action scenes in the Bonds, but few in the classic era that were truly thrilling, edge-of-your-seat stuff. The car chase in Bullitt is superior to that of Diamonds are Forever, and does more with less. But many chase scenes in the Bonds exist purely as enjoyable spectacle. The primary emotion is one of enjoyment and laughter as we see Bond easily outwit his foes. It’s a modern day version of The Scarlet Pimpernel or Robin Hood. Baser emotions of fear or lust are rarely given their head in the Bond series, though there is a sense of greater jeopardy in the Craig movies. For many Bond fans however, there can be a sense of sometimes misplaced annoyance or frustration that similar scenes in other movies of the same era are more excitingly directed.
Another genre tapped in this 1977 film is the disaster movie, a big deal for Hollywood since Earthquake in 1975. This we see in the early scene in the submarine, when the glass of water starts shaking. (Jaws’ name is a nod to Speilberg’s smash hit watery thriller of the same year.)
Another film released with some uncertainty about the appeal of the Bond genre after some years absence was of course GoldenEye and that also leaned on other genres, not to my liking I must say. The helicopter ejector seat escape by Bond was similar to a scene in Die Hard 2. The trick by General Ouromov to gain access to the weapons plant by imposing an abrupt test owed something to a very nasty scene in the then-recent Schindler’s List, as did the gunning down by machine gun of countless innocents in a way I found tasteless - and the makers were ‘lucky’ with the timing of the film, which predated the notorious Dunblane massacre by but a few months.
Never Say Never Again is another movie unsure of its place in the world and its reception, and also borrowed references to other Bond films in a slightly self-conscious way. Of course, other action thrillers do this all the time, from Hugh Jackman’s vampire movie to Arnie’s True Lies and I understand the current Marvel blockbuster Black Widow.
Now we come to something highly unusual in a Bond film - its suspense. It’s easy to forget, with all these re-showings, that we know what is going on here, but cinema audiences wouldn’t. When the periscope comes down and the captain says ‘Good God!’ We have no idea what he’s looking at. It might be some giant kraken that’s wrapped its coils around the sub. It might be that the sub is now bizarrely on dry land, with enemy tanks bearing down on it. Or it might be Peter Cook picking lobsters out of Jayne Mansfield’s backside. We just don’t know.
And it takes over an hour or so of the film to find out.
I’m not sure there’s another Bond film that does that - where we have to wait to find out what has been set down in the opener. In some instances the issue may be better explained later - the space capsule swallowing enemy space ship in the pre-credits of YOLT - but the idea of what’s actually going on is not kept from us.
Of course, what is the sub captain seeing that makes him cry out? It can only be the inside of Stromberg’s supertanker - but why would that be so horrifying in itself? The director perhaps thinking that the reaction of head scratching and ‘Eh? Yer what?’ might not offer the reinvigorating relaunch this series needed.
Perhaps he saw the bodies of the Russian submarines hanging up and flayed - that would be horrifying and not even out of keeping with Christopher Wood’s more adult, sadistic novelisation. (in the opener, rather than the cheery, sabre rattling ‘So does England!’ Bond on a hunch checks out an overhead locker and makes a sick, gruesome discovery that points to his being framed by the Russians for murder…)
In fact, after many viewings I’ve never quite figured out what happened to the Russian crew of the Russian sub. We don’t see the sub being hijacked, only hear of it second hand. We don’t see any Russians team up with the Americans to storm the tanker at the end. Where did they go?
It’s also unclear how the tanker somehow got bumped up into the supertanker. We don’t see it happen, and they must be a dab at parking going by how they’re squeezed in like sardines. Not a prang in sight.
The other brilliant thing is the surprise of XXX’s introduction. Okay, it’s no surprise to us, but it would be big deal to audiences at the time and the smooth way it is filmed, as her lover sits forward and Barbara Bach leans into the mike to respond to her request is perfection.
It’s not really clear why her lover is trying to kill Bond. Cold War, innit? Likewise, it’s not clear why Brosnan’s Bond was trying to blow up a Soviet facility in the pre-credits of GoldenEye. It’s perhaps an attempt to re-establish the old traditional certainties after a time away from the cinema.
Other stuff impresses, namely the sets, even the lesser ones. Stromberg’s Atlantis rises from the water and we see sea water cascade down the windows of his drawing room. How was this done? With a 4K TV screen of water? Or was the actor in a set that allowed itself to be submerged and then risen up. I’ve never seen any account of how that was done, it’s simply incidental, in passing. Actually the interior of Atlantis doesn’t quite seem to match up to the model, and it’s hard to get a sense of its scale.
The whole thing is of course meant to represent the Spectre spider or something but as they couldn’t use Spectre… That also explains why Stromberg doesn’t have much of a backstory and is a bit thin. It was meant to be Blofeld, who generally doesn’t require it. That said, you wonder how the meeting with Bond undercover would have gone, again as with OHMSS wouldn’t they have recognised each other?
The presence of two Jewish businessmen who promptly get dispatched to a watery grave prompted thoughts about Jews in the Bond films that may be ill advised - but there don’t seem to be many of them, do they? This may follow the Hollywood adage that Jews should go behind the camera - producing - and not in front, though many Jewish actors Anglicised themselves including their names in the Golden Era - Leslie Howard and Lauren Bacall, for instance.
It also however suggests something about the Bond world that defies that traditional wise-guy Jewish take on stuff. The only one knocking stuff should be Bond, otherwise it takes the centre of gravity away from him. As it is, I can think of many different races and nationalities that pop up in Bond films, but not many Jews really, of course you get Diamonds’ Jill St John under her anglicised name and the usual Dr Metz type boffin but that’s about it. It’s not like Jewish-looking women aren’t hot, but I can’t think of many or any in the Bond series and it’s been over 50 years. While there have been a number of black women - Rosie Carver, May Day, Jinx - okay, not that many.
On a more prosaic note, Bond doesn't visit Israel much, does he? Tel Aviv for one unconvincing scene in Golden Gun - okay I guess the dancer who loses her charm is Jewish, all the way from Golders Green one suspects, and straight out of Carry On.
Is Stromberg Jewish? Is the suffix ‘berg’ always Jewish? If so, it’s odd to have him played by a German known for playing German war generals, most notably in The Longest Day. Again, no Jewish villains ever, perhaps they might begin to look like Mike Myer’s Dr Evil? It’s as if Bond occupies a Wasp like world where Jews don’t get much of a look in, though of course Jewish fans may prefer it that way. The humour does seem Jewish of course, so it’s similar perhaps to The Wizard of Oz with has a heart that is cornball but a script that is pure New York City, it’s The Big Bang Theory set in the dust bowl.
Perhaps the world of Bond is a fantasy one for many Jewish guys - I’m thinking of Bond nerd Seymour in The Cannonball Run, amusingly played by Roger Moore himself - who would not maybe want to see someone like him in a Bond film, just as I suspect that American Bond girls such as Case, Sutton and Jinx get a bad rap because many Americans don’t want to hear a voice like one they can hear down the mall. They want to escape from themselves. Similarly I’m not mad keen on English women such as Diana Ring or Rosumund Pike - the voices are associated with some measure of social rejection. (Below: A still from The Cannonball Run.)
I only watched the first half hour or so of this Bond film when I had this epiphany. The film was highly assured, far superior to its predecessor and largely unfussy. Class moments include Moore’s briefing where he is stalked by a submarine in the loch. Now, much as I admire the films’ pulling power it does reluctantly occur to me that this was a model for this particular shot and not a real sub booked for the day. Otherwise, can you imagine? ‘Yes, I’m afraid you have to reverse the sub again, or do another lap of the loch, Roger messed up his line that time, we’ll have to go again…’ Better to have a massive prop, one supposes.
Similarly, and maybe skip this paragraph if you want your fantasies to go unchallenged - but the scene where the Lotus dives into the water. Was that stunt really done with a car and not a model? Who was driving it? How did they get out of the submerged vehicle? How deep did it go? Why have we never heard about this particular stunt, unlike the equally famous ski jump? What happened if they messed up the shot - would they have a fleet of Lotus’s on standby for the one they got right? Did they fish the car out of the drink later, like Bond’s Aston in Spectre?
The success of The Spy Who Loved Me also relates to a theory I’ve been meaning to post on this site but never got around to - 'Thunderball and the Three-Card Trick'. Of course, The Spy Who Loved Me was devised to shoot Kevin McClory’s fox as in 1975 he regained the right to remake Thunderball which he intended to do under the name Warhead. Many of the underwater themes he mooted for this treatment are said to have been ‘borrowed’ for this film.
But having read a draft of Warhead, I have to say I think this film was always going to be better. Why? Well, understand that along with the main plot, you must then consider what the film is really about. Live And Let Die is not about cooking up drugs in the jungle, it’s about Bond and voodoo. You Only Live Twice is not really about the hijacking of a space capsule, it’s about Bond’s culture clash with the Far East. That’s the real theme. Likewise, the theme here is not so much submarines as Bond’s relationship with the Russian Soviet agent, that occupies the bulk of the narrative. Thunderball falls flat with some fans because it’s just about one thing - the hijacking of nuclear weapons. It’s okay as far as it goes, but as a narrative it’s a sitting duck. There’s no underlying theme to make it more interesting, ditto mostly with Never Say Never Again, though they do a bit with an older Bond at odds with the young management and changing times.
With The Spy Who Loved Me, if you take out the Soviet romance, the Cold War undercurrents, the unnatural locations for a water-based action thriller - the ski pre-credits, the Egyptian desert - then basically you have something similar to McClory’s Warhead, a movie that’s not that interesting, especially when - unlike with other thrillers - we always know that Bond is going to survive anyway, so no sense of jeapody.
Other Bond films that fail with fans tend to be ones where that subtext just doesn’t quite come through or, in the case of, say imo The Man With The Golden Gun - neither the main plot nor the subtext are really up to much. The main plot is Scaramanga trying to kill Bond - well, he isn’t it turns out. The sub-plot or alternative plot is the solar complex and the energy crisis - I’ve really no idea what is going on there, even now. Likewise the superior OHMSS fails for me because the official plot - Blofeld implausibly trying to pass himself off as a Count and win diplomatic immunity for past crimes - doesn’t work for me and nor does the sub-plot - an ageing Bond looking to settle down, because Lazenby is the youngest Bond yet and there’s not much chemistry between him and Rigg. There might be a sub plot about class and snobbery going on there - you’d think so with Rigg playing a ‘Countessa’ - but again, this is under-utilised.
Likewise, Licence to Kill is nominally about Sanchez’s drug operation - two a penny in the action genre - but it’s not bolstered by the meat of the story where Bond seeks to avenge his mate Felix Leiter, because he was only ever a cypher in the films anyway, and played by so many different actors that it’s hard to care - about either plots imo.
So not only does The Spy Who Loved Me have so many elements that would win a game of Top Trumps, it also consists of two plots - the official business on the tin, and the actual meat of the film, which is Bond’s culture clash and romantic friction with the Russian agent.
The moment one might get bored with one, they introduce the other and keep two balls up in the air. It does this more successfully than just about any other Bond film.
On a side note, I understand that The Spy Who Loved Me was the last film that Elvis Presley ever saw, in the week prior to his death.
That's a lot to take in, np, so here's just a few random responses-
Yes, Elvis did like this movie a lot.
"Wicker Man" wasn't a Hammer film (though with Lee and Pitt starring it could easily be thought one).
Love your thoughts on the themes of the films, or indeed the lack of same. The snobbery in OHMSS isn't so much of a sub-plot as you seem to think- it's right there as Fleming wrote it. There are 3 main characters in this story- a man who wants to be a Count, a woman who doesn't want to be a Countess, and Bond himself. I'd argue that it isn't under-utilised but subtle. So much of the plot depends on Blofeld wanting to be a Count that it isn't often mentioned that by marrying Bond Tracy ceases to be a Countess. In fact, "isn't often" isn't strong enough- "very rarely" would be better.
Loved the Lotus thoughts, both in the film and on the toy. I think I still have mine in the attic, next to a Moonraker and a helicopter or two.
Not once in all these years did I think the two scientists were Jewish, and not once have I given the presence/absence of Jewish people or references in the Bond films one thought.