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007: The Spy who Loved Me (1977)
The Spy Who Loved Me Ultimate Edition cover
Following the Lukewarm reception accorded The Man with the Golden Gun, Cubby Broccoli knew the stakes were high for this tenth James Bond thriller, and he had much to prove to the fans, to United Artists and ultimately to himself. Conventional wisdom said that the 007 franchise was on life-support. Broccoli made an all-out gamble to prove that theory wrong. Freed of the distraction of his rocky relationship with Harry Saltzman, Cubby re-energized himself and was determined to do the same with the series. He wisely took his time in bringing The Spy who loved me to the screen. Initial screenplays involved any number of diverse scenarios contributed by a host of well-known writers. The original intention was to revive SPECTRE but those plans were shelved due to a court injunction obtained by producer Kevin McClory, who was attempting to stage a remake of Thunderball with a script written by Sean Connery and Len Deighton.
Ultimately, the final script was approved, although for all the effort it bore a startlying resemblance to You Only Live Twice. Cubby was warned by production designer Ken Adam that no sound stage in the world was big enough to contain the massive sequences envisioned. 'Then build it,' was Cubby's simple command. Thus, Adam created the famed '007 Stage' at Pinewood Studios, the largest sound stage in the world. Cubby's go-for-broke gamble received full backing from United Artists, which willingly raised the budget to a then whopping $13.5 million. The results show on the screen.
With The Spy who loved me premiering a full two-and-a-half years after The Man with the Golden Gun, audiences were eager to experience Mr Bond once more. Broccoli gave them the biggest Bond epic yet produced, an eye-popping extravaganza that combined all the traditional elements which made the series so popular.
As a film The Spy who loved me is a success on almost every level. The humour is more controlled and mature and there are sequences featuring genuine suspense, something long absent from the franchise. The film also features a marvellous cast and the type of larger-than-life production values reminiscent of the earlier Bond movies. The Spy who loved me features at least two memorable components destined to rank among the most enduring images from the series: the introduction to the villainous Jaws and the gadget-equipped Lotus Esprit, which rivalled the classic Aston Martin DB5 in terms of its astically and the film fulfilled its boast that "This summer of '77 belongs to James Bond, 007"
Mission Assignment (may contain spoilers)
Allied and Soviet nuclear submarines are mysteriously disappearing and both M and his KGB counterpart General Golgol suspect a third party is responsible. They assign James Bond and top soviet spy Major Anya Amasova to work together to investigate the situation. The two form an uneasy alliance, but gain mutual respect as they hop the globe from Egypt to Sardinia tracing clues. Bond and Anya suspect reclusive billionaire shipping magnate Karl Stromberg is behind the crisis. The two agents discover that he has been using his gigantic cargo ship, the Liparus, to capture the submarines and imprison their crews. He plans to use the subs to launch nuclear misiles in the hope of destroying civilization and amphibious power base, Atlantis. In a fierce battle with Stromberg's forces, Bond and the freed crews from the submarines narrowly avert a nuclear holocaust. Bond kills Stromberg and escapes the exploding Atlantis with Anya.
The film-makers had truly to globetrot to exotic locations around the world. Major sequences were filmed in Egypt, Sardinia, Scotland and the Bahamas. Interiors were shot in England on the '007 stage' at Pinewood Studios. It's been said that audiences knew the old Bond formula still worked when 007 skied off a cliff in the famous pre-credits sequence, causing fans to erupt in applause. The stunt - one of the most notable in film history - was performed by Rick Sylvester and was shot by multiple cameras on location at Asgard in the remote Auquittuq National Park on Baffin Island in Canada.
Marketing & Merchandising
With The Spy Who Loved Me, Broccoli sensed he had a winner and launched a massive marketing campaign. Artist Bob Peak produced an unusual, somewhat avant-garde poster design that played down the 007 character and emphasized the epic feel of the film. In Britain, the Open University on the BBC broadcast a lengthy documentary on every aspect of the film's creation. The cast and crew travelled the world publicizing the film in every media outlet imaginable and Roger Moore filmed special unique introductions for the US television advertisements.
On the marchandising front, a wide array of products was released. After a six-year absence, Corgi Toys of England renewed their long standing association with the Bond franchise by producing the most comprehensive selection of die-cast toys ever tied-in with a specific 007 film. With their Aston Martin DB5 having been acclaimed as the biggest-selling toy car of all time, Corgi realized that Bond's latest vehicle - the amphibious Lotus Esprit - also had significant sales potential. Released in 1977, the James Bond Lotus Esprit became the single biggest-selling item in Corgi's range since 1973. During the first six months. some 660,000 cars were sold. By the time it was withdrawn in 1981, this figure totalled over 1.5 million units. (Such was the durability of its popularity that Corgi reissued the 007 Lotus Esprit as a twenty-first anniversary commemorative limited edition.) To accompany the Lotus, a die-cast model of Stromberg's Jet Ranger Helicopter was produced. Both the Lotus and helicopter were manufactured to a smaller scale, commonly known as Corgi Juniors. These two toys - along with a Mercedes car (complete with cement on its windscreen), a speedboat on a trailer and Jaws' telephone van - were packaged as part of 'The Spy Who Loved Me Gift Set'.
In Australia, bubble bath was packed in a Lotus-shaped bottle. In Japan, a highly detailed model of the car was availalbe. A battery-powered version of the Lotus which could operate in water was available in the USA. Other collectables included a US souvenir brochure and a series of children's puzzles in Canada.
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Writers: Ian Fleming, Christopher Wood, Richard Maibaum
Starring: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jurgens
Genre: Action, Adventure, Thriller
Release date: 07 July 1977 UK
Film number: 10
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Roger Moore - James Bond
Barbara Bach - Anya Amasova
Curt Jurgens - Karl Stromberg
Richard Kiel - Jaws
Caroline Munro - Naomi
Milton Reid - Sandor
Nadim Sawalha - Fekkesh
Vernon Dobtcheff - Max Kalba
Walter Gotell - General Gogol
Bernard Lee - M
Desmond Llewelyn - Q
Lois Maxwell - Miss Moneypenny
Geoffrey Keen - Frederick Gray
Shane Rimmer - Captain Carter
Top Secret dossiers
The Spy Who Loved Me Vehicle article
The Spy Who Loved Me Gadget article
The Spy Who Loved Me Music article
The Spy Who Loved Me Character article
The Spy Who Loved Me Trailer
The Spy Who Loved Me Opening titles
Continuity: The dirt on Major Amasova's dress suddenly appears in the middle of the scene by the ruins in Egypt.
Errors in geography: The ruins where Jaws tries to kill Bond are actually from two different locations on opposite sides of the Nile.
Revealing mistakes: In the car chase scene with the white Lotus (just before it runs into the ocean and transforms into a sub) the helicopter can be seen firing its machine guns directly into the ground, but there are no impact plumes or sound effects as in previous scenes.
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The Box Office
Any doubt that Bond was back in vogue with the public was quickly dispelled by the box-office results of The Spy Who Loved Me. It grossed a towering $186 million internationally, including $47 million from the US market (more than twice the US gross of The Man with the Golden Gun). For the film's release, United Artists reverted to a policy of showing the film in a limited number of selected cinemas in the USA instead of opening countrywide. The strategy worked and The Spy Who Loved Me was regarded as a major hit - despite the record-breaking grosses being accumulated by Star Wars, which had opened just weeks before. Critics were also kind to the film, apparently grateful that Broccoli had returned to the formula of old.
Date Published: 11 December 2010 Last Updated: 18 June 2011