In early 1975, there was discord in the James Bond camp and EON Productions. The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) had received a lacklustre response from audiences (it eventually took $97.6m worldwide, following the $161.8m taken by Live And Let Die (1973)) leaving the producing team of Cubby Broccoli and Harry Saltzman trying to figure out what to do next. They decided to go big, doubling their efforts to produce an epic and with an agreed budget of $13m (making it the most expensive Bond film to date and almost double what Golden Gun had cost), The Spy Who Loved Me had to be a success.
The source novel itself, first published on 18th April 1962, was a problem. Ian Fleming himself was never happy with the plot - it’s told from the first-person point of view of a young Canadian woman and Bond doesn’t appear until two-thirds of the way through. Fleming permitted EON to use the name but nothing of the actual content (for this reason, for the first time, his name was moved in the credits to above ‘James Bond 007’ rather than the title) so Broccoli and Saltzman had to come up with their own story, making this the first wholly original Bond film. In the end, however, they did take an element from the story as it features two thugs named Sol Horror and Sluggsy Morant - Horror has steel-capped teeth and Sluggsy a bald head, matching the film characters of Jaws and Sandor.
|Cubby Broccoli, Roger Moore, Barbara Bach|
Three-time Bond director Guy Hamilton was invited back and he remained attached to the project for a while but left after being offered the chance to direct Superman (1978) - Richard Donner eventually directed it. Broccoli approached Steven Spielberg, then in post-production on Jaws, but he wanted to wait and see “how the fish picture turns out.” Wanting a safe pair of hands, Broccoli turned to Lewis Gilbert, who’d previously directed You Only Live Twice (1967) and he agreed to come onboard. With a director finally secured, Broccoli turned to getting the script sorted.
An American Werewolf In London) and Lewis Gilbert later brought Christopher Wood on board to complete the script. It was longtime Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum who provided the first screenplay and the initial villain was proposed to be Blofeld until Kevin McClory, who owned the film rights to Thunderball, brought an injunction on EON against using the character or his organisation, SPECTRE. As this added a further delay to the film, Broccoli told Wood to remove Blofeld altogether and he was replaced with Stomberg.
Gilbert and Wood, both fans of Fleming, were keen to get Bond the way he was in the books - “very English, very smooth, good sense of humour,” said Gilbert and he felt the previous Roger Moore films had made the mistake of trying to have him act tough like Sean Connery. To assist, Broccoli brought in Tom Mankiewicz, who’d worked on the previous three Bond films but he didn’t receive credit because of Eady Levy rules.
|Curt Jurgens with the delectable Caroline Munro|
Curt Jurgens, who Gilbert had worked with before, was brought in to play Stromberg and Caroline Munro was cast as Naomi after Broccoli saw her picture as part of the Lambs Navy Rum campaign. She has a small but pivotal role (I loved her in it then and still do today) and is the first woman to be killed by Bond in the series. Catherine Deneuve let it be known she was keen to play Anya Amasova (even willing to cut her normal fee of $400,000 to $250,000) but Broccoli was adamant he wouldn’t pay more than $80,000. She withdrew and Barbara Bach - who thought she was auditioning for a minor role - was cast with just weeks to go before principal photography began.
|Production design drawings by Ken Adam|
In the DVD documentary, Ken Adam mentions he was having trouble trying to figure out how to light the set and called on his old friend, Stanley Kubrick. “So I called Stanley up and asked him down to Pinewood to give me ideas. At first he said I was out of my mind but eventually he agreed to come on a Sunday when only security were around. He spent three or four hours with me telling me how he would light the stage. And of course the whole thing being in secret appealed to Stanley's sense of drama.”
|Ken Adam, Cubby Broccoli and Lewis Gilbert on the completed 007 Stage|
For the exterior of the Liparus, the production had been planning to use a real supertanker and Shell confirmed they would have one empty, on a return trip, that EON could have for free so long as they covered the cost of insurance, at $60k per day. The combination of cost and how dangerous the fumes on board could be led to the decision to have Derek Meddings and his team build their own tanker and film it in the Bahamas.
|Photocall at Pinewood with the Lotus Esprit|
Moving to Egypt, the sequence with Fekkesh at ‘The Sound And Light Show’ was originally intended to be filmed on location but, in the end, only the Sphinx could be lit sufficiently. The pyramids were filmed later, as a combination of miniatures and matte paintings, supervised by Alan Maley. During the sequence where Jaws is trying to find a hidden Bond, the optical effects team realised the first unit hadn’t filmed Roger Moore behind a wall. Maley advised Robin Browne, the cameraman, to find a still photograph of Moore in a suitable pose and that’s what was included in the final shot (and once you know, it’s very obvious).
A representative of the Egyptian government was on set throughout the shoot to ensure the country wasn’t portrayed in a negative light and for the scene where Jaws is buried under the collapsing scaffolding, Roger Moore mouthed “Egyptian builders” and dubbed it back in England.
|One of the fantastic shots from the chase sequence, the camera crew were in the boot space of the second Esprit|
|The Lotus was pulled out of the water by a hidden cable and wasn't watertight, hence Roger Moore "driving" without his shoes|
|Some of Derek Meddings' excellent work - large scale miniature Liparus and two miniature submarines, filmed on location|
For the sequences with the Esprit in the water, a combination of three elements were used - full-sized versions for various transformations (the production went through seven bodyshells), miniatures and a full-sized submarine.
The full-sized submarine, nicknamed ‘Wet Nellie’ after ‘Little Nellie’ from You Only Live Twice, was custom-built for the film by Perry Oceanographic Inc, in Florida. It was a ‘wet sub’ (ie, not sealed) and required a crew of two, with the interior of the bodyshell consisting of a platform for the divers and the equipment required for operation.
which I wrote about here) where he told the amusing anecdote, ending with “where most people have one hole, I had two.” With the 007 Stage now complete, work began on the Liparus interior - it was such a huge set, Claude Renoir, the director of photography, couldn’t see to the end of it due to his deteriorating eyesight. When principal photography ended, the 007 Stage was formally opened by former Prime Minister Harold Wilson on 5th December 1976.
|Filming on the 007 stage|
John Barry, the series regular composer, was unable to work in the UK for tax reasons and Marvin Hamlisch was approached in his place. His soundtrack was very contemporary (and included a disco-version of the theme called ‘Bond 77’ which is used in the chase scene) and also uses several pieces of classical music, which was a new approach. Bach’s Air On A G String plays whilst Stromberg’s secretary is fed to the shark while the opening section of the second movement, Adante, of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21, plays as Atlantis rises from the sea. Two pieces of film score (both by Maurice Jarre) are also used - the Doctor Zhivago theme plays on Anya’s music box and the theme from Lawrence Of Arabia soundtracks Bond and Anya as they walk across the desert.
The theme song, Nobody Does It Better, was composed by Hamlisch with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager and sung by Carly Simon. The first song in the series to not share a title with the film (though it’s mentioned in the lyrics), it was nominated for the Best Song Oscar and was very successful, going on to become the unofficial anthem for the series. It stayed on the US chart for twenty-five weeks (peaking at number 2 in July 1977), becoming a Gold-certified single in the process and hit the UK chart on 6th August, peaking at no. 7.
The gun-barrel opening sequence had to be re-shot for the film, to match the 2:35/1 aspect ratio and was the fifth version to be used overall (the second with Moore) and marked the first time Bond wore a tuxedo. The end credits state “James Bond Will Return In For Your Eyes Only” but another film launched in 1977 - Star Wars - soon put paid to that.
Critical reaction was generally positive and even though Janet Maslin, on the New York Times, felt it was “half an hour too long”, she praised Moore's performance and the film's “share of self-mockery”. Roger Moore said in numerous interviews it was his favourite of his own Bond films and Cubby Broccoli told the Hollywood Reporter in 1982 that it - along with From Russia With Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964) - made up his three favourites.
Since the screenplay had nothing to do with Fleming’s original novel, EON authorised Christopher Wood to write a novelisation based on the script (the first regular Bond novel to be published since Colonel Sun in 1968). Wood’s novelisation is quite different in places (it features the spy organisation SMERSH and has Bond suffering an unpleasant bit of torture) and creates a good backstory for Jaws, though he dies at the end.
Lotus also experienced an unprecedented demand for white Esprit's and new customers were placed on a three-year waiting list.
The film was nominated for the Best Art Direction Oscar (Ken Adam, Peter Lamont and Hugh Scaife) and the BAFTA for Best Production Design/Art Design. Marvin Hamlisch was nominated for the Best Song and Best Original Score Oscars, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, Grammy Award for Best Score for a Motion Picture and the BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music.
On its $14m budget it has, to date, grossed over £185.4m at the worldwide box-office, fully proving Cubby Broccoli’s faith in it and the series and garnering him respect in the film industry. He said, at the time, it “will be an impossible task to out-do the tenth Bond film, for sheer magnitude and roaring success.”
When the film was first broadcast on British Television - 28th March 1982 on ITV - it attracted 22.9m viewers, making it third most watched film ever.
|Doing the conga at Pinewood Studios (from left) - Bernard Lee (as M), Roger Moore, Walter Gotell (General Gogol) and Barbara Bach|
|The delectable Caroline Munro and that wink...|
|On the 007 Stage, Roger Moore with Curt Jurgens and his wife Margie Schmitz|
|"Keeping the British end up, sir..."|
Happy anniversary, The Spy Who Loved Me and may we share many more years of fantastic viewings!
James Bond wiki
Inside The Spy Who Loved Me - DVD documentary
MI6 - The Making Of The Spy Who Loved Me
Warped Factor - 10 Things You Might Not Know About The Spy Who Loved Me
MI6 - Sir Ken Adam
James Bond wiki - The 007 Stage
Pinewood - 007 Stage
My blog post on Derek Meddings and his Bond connection