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The Spy Who Loved Me (film)

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Title: The Spy Who Loved Me (film)  
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Subject: Moonraker (film), For Your Eyes Only (film), List of highest-grossing films in the United Kingdom, BASE jumping, Q (James Bond)
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The Spy Who Loved Me (film)

The Spy Who Loved Me
British cinema poster for The Spy Who Loved Me, illustrated by Bob Peak
Directed by Lewis Gilbert
Produced by Albert R. Broccoli
Screenplay by Christopher Wood
Richard Maibaum
Based on James Bond 
by Ian Fleming
Starring Roger Moore
Barbara Bach
Curd Jürgens
Music by Marvin Hamlisch
Cinematography Claude Renoir
Edited by John Glen
Distributed by United Artists
Release dates
  • 7 July 1977 (1977-07-07) (London, premiere)
Running time
125 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Budget $14 million
Box office $185.4 million

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) is the tenth spy film in the James Bond series, and the third to star Roger Moore as the fictional secret agent James Bond. It was directed by Lewis Gilbert and the screenplay was written by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum.

The film takes its title from Ian Fleming's novel The Spy Who Loved Me, the tenth book in the James Bond series, though it does not contain any elements of the novel's plot. The storyline involves a reclusive megalomaniac named Karl Stromberg, who plans to destroy the world and create a new civilisation under the sea. Bond teams up with a Russian agent, Anya Amasova, to stop Stromberg. Curd Jürgens and Barbara Bach co-star.

It was shot on location in Egypt and Italy, with underwater scenes filmed at the Bahamas, and a new soundstage being built at Pinewood Studios for a massive set which depicted the interior of a supertanker. The Spy Who Loved Me was well-received by critics. The soundtrack composed by Marvin Hamlisch also met with success. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards amid many other nominations and novelized in 1977 by Christopher Wood as James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me.


British and Soviet ballistic-missile submarines mysteriously disappear. James Bond—MI6 agent 007—is summoned to investigate. On the way he escapes an ambush by Soviet agents in Austria, killing one during a downhill ski chase, and escaping via a Union Flag parachute. Bond learns that the plans for a highly advanced submarine tracking system are on the market in Egypt. There, he encounters Major Anya Amasova—KGB agent Triple X—his rival for the plans. They travel across Egypt together, tracking the microfilm plans, meeting Jaws—a tall assassin with steel teeth—along the way. Bond and Amasova later team up through a truce agreed by their respective superiors and identify the person responsible for the thefts as the shipping tycoon, scientist, and anarchist Karl Stromberg.

While travelling by train to Stromberg's base in Sardinia, Bond saves Amasova from being killed by Jaws, and their cooling rivalry becomes affection. Posing as a marine biologist and his wife, they visit Stromberg's base and discover that he launched a mysterious new supertanker, the Liparus, nine months previously. After they leave the base, Jaws and other armed personnel, including a helicopter pilot named Naomi, chase them, but all attempts fail due to Bond's driving skills and the fact that his car – a Lotus Esprit from Q Branch – can convert into a submarine. Jaws retreats once again while Naomi and her other allies are killed. Bond later finds out that the Liparus has never visited any known port or harbour. Amasova discovers that Bond killed her lover in Austria and she vows to Bond that she will kill him once their mission ends.

Stromberg's hideout, Atlantis.
Later, while aboard an American submarine, Bond and Amasova examine Stromberg's underwater Atlantis base and confirm that he is operating the tracking system. The Liparus then captures the submarine, just as it captured the others. Stromberg sets his plan in motion: the launching of nuclear missiles from the submarines, to destroy Moscow and New York City. This would trigger a global nuclear war, which Stromberg would survive in Atlantis, and subsequently a new civilisation would be established. He leaves for Atlantis with Amasova. Bond frees the captured British, Russian and American submariners and they battle the Liparus‍ '​s crew. Bond reprograms the British and Soviet submarines to destroy each other, saving Moscow and New York. The victorious submariners escape the sinking Liparus on the American submarine.

Bond insists on rescuing Amasova before the submarine has to follow its orders and destroy Atlantis. Bond confronts and kills Stromberg but again encounters Jaws, whom he drops into a shark tank. Jaws fatally bites the shark and swims to freedom. Bond and Amasova flee in an

Roger Moore as Bond fighting Richard Kiel as Jaws inside Atlantis.

The assistant director for the Italian locations, Victor Tourjansky, had a cameo as a man drinking his wine as Bond's Lotus emerges from the beach. As an in-joke, he would return in similar appearances in another two Bond films shot in Italy, Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only.[1]


The Spy Who Loved Me in many ways was a pivotal film for the Bond franchise, and was plagued since its conception by many problems. The first was the departure of Bond producer Harry Saltzman, who was forced to sell his half of the Bond film franchise in 1975 for £20 million. Saltzman had branched out into several other ventures of dubious promise and consequently was struggling through personal financial reversals unrelated to Bond. This was exacerbated by the twin personal tragedies of his wife's terminal cancer and many of the symptoms of clinical depression in himself.[2]

Another troubling aspect of the production was the difficulty in obtaining a director. The producers approached Steven Spielberg, who was in post-production of Jaws, but ultimately decided to wait to see "how the fish picture turns out". The first director attached to the film was Guy Hamilton, who directed the previous three Bond films as well as Goldfinger, but he left after being offered the opportunity to direct the 1978 film Superman, although Richard Donner took over the project.[3] Eon Productions would later turn to Lewis Gilbert, who had directed the earlier Bond film You Only Live Twice.

With a director finally secured, the next hurdle was finishing the script, which had gone through several revisions by numerous writers. The initial villain of the film was SPECTRE, which delayed production of the film further. The villain would later be changed from Blofeld to Stromberg so that the injunction would not interfere with the production. Christopher Wood was later brought in by Lewis Gilbert to complete the script. Although Fleming had requested that no elements from his original book be used, the novel features two thugs named Sol Horror and Sluggsy Morent. Horror is described as having steel-capped teeth, while Sluggsy had a clear bald head. These characters would be the basis for the characters of Jaws and Sandor, respectively.

Since Ian Fleming permitted Eon to use only the name of his novel and not the actual novel, Fleming's name was moved for the first time from above the film's title to above "James Bond 007". His name reverted to the traditional location for Moonraker, the last Eon Bond film based on a Fleming novel before 2006's Casino Royale. However, the credit style first used in The Spy Who Loved Me has been used on all Eon Bond films since For Your Eyes Only, including Casino Royale.


Broccoli commissioned a number of writers to work on the script, including Stirling Silliphant, John Landis, Ronald Hardy, Anthony Burgess, and Derek Marlowe. In the second volume of his autobiography, Burgess claims to have worked on an early treatment for the movie. The British television producer Gerry Anderson also stated that he provided a film treatment (although originally planned to be Moonraker) much similar to what ended up as The Spy Who Loved Me.[4]

Eventually, Richard Maibaum provided the screenplay, and at first he tried to incorporate ideas from all of the other writers into his script. Maibaum's original script featured an alliance of international terrorists attacking SPECTRE's headquarters and deposing Blofeld, before trying to destroy the world for themselves to make way for a New World Order. However, this was shelved.

After Gilbert was reinstated as director, he decided to bring in another writer, Christopher Wood. Gilbert also decided to fix what he felt the previous Roger Moore films were doing wrong, which was writing the Bond character too much the way Sean Connery played him, and instead portray Bond closer to the books — "very English, very smooth, good sense of humour". Broccoli asked Wood to create a villain with metal teeth, Jaws, inspired by a brace-wearing henchman named Horror in Fleming's novel.[1]

Broccoli agreed to Wood's proposed changes, but before he could set to work there were more legal complications. In the years since legal dispute that could have delayed the production of The Spy Who Loved Me, Broccoli requested Wood remove all references to Blofeld and SPECTRE from the script.[5]

In the film, Stromberg's scheme to destroy civilisation by capturing Soviet and British nuclear submarines and have them fire intercontinental ballistic missiles at two major cities is actually a recycled plot from Gilbert's previous Bond film, You Only Live Twice, which involved stealing space capsules to start a war between the Soviets and the Americans. The similarity was apparent in the climax; both films involved an assault on a heavily fortified enemy that had taken refuge behind steel shutters.

The scheme in which the villain wishes to destroy mankind to create a new race or new civilisation was also used in Moonraker, the next film after The Spy Who Loved Me. In Moonraker, the villain Hugo Drax had an obsession with starting human civilisation over again on Earth, using specially chosen "superior human specimens" based in space. The film Moonraker was also written by Christopher Wood.

Tom Mankiewicz, who worked on the three preceding Bond films, claims he was called in to do an extensive rewrite of the script. Mankiewicz says he did not receive credit, because Broccoli was limited to the number of non-English in key positions he could employ on the films in order to obtain Eady Levy assistance.[6]


The Lotus Esprit as seen falling into the sea and then in submarine mode.

Tom Mankiewicz claims that Catherine Deneuve wanted to play the female lead and was willing to cut her normal rate from $400,000 per picture to $250,000, but Broccoli would not pay above $80,000.[6]

The film was shot at the Pinewood Studios in London, Porto Cervo in Sardinia (Hotel Cala di Volpe), Egypt (Karnak, Mosque of Ibn Tulun, Gayer-Anderson Museum, Abu Simbel temples), Malta, Scotland, Hayling Island UK, Okinawa, Switzerland and Mount Asgard on Baffin Island in the then northern Canadian territory of Northwest Territories (now located in Nunavut).[7]

As no studio was big enough for the interior of Stromberg's supertanker, and set designer Ken Adam did not want to repeat what he had done with SPECTRE's volcano base in You Only Live Twice — "a workable but ultimately wasteful set" — construction began in March 1976 of a new sound stage at Pinewood, the 007 Stage, at a cost of $1.8 million.[8] To complement this stage, Eon also paid for building a water tank capable of storing approximately 1,200,000 gallons (4,500,000 litres). The soundstage was so huge that Stanley Kubrick visited the production, in secret, to advise on how to light the stage. For the exterior, while Shell was willing to lend an abandoned tanker to the production, the elevated insurance and safety risks caused it to be replaced with miniatures built by Derek Meddings' team and shot in the Bahamas.[1] Stromberg's shark tank was also filmed in the Bahamas, using a live shark in a saltwater swimming pool.[9] Adam decided to do experiments with curved shapes for the scenery, as he felt all his previous setpieces were "too linear". This was demonstrated with the Atlantis, which is a dome and curved surfaces outside, and many curved objects in Stromberg's office inside.[1] For Gogol's offices, Adam wanted an open space to contrast M's enclosed headquarters, and drew inspiration from Sergei Eisenstein to do a "Russian crypt-like" set.[10]

The main unit began its work in August 1976 in Sardinia. Don McLaughlan, then head of public relations at Lotus Cars, heard that Eon were shopping for a new Bond car. He drove a prototype Lotus Esprit with all Lotus branding taped over, and parked it outside the Eon offices at Pinewood studios; on seeing the car Eon asked Lotus to borrow both of the prototypes for filming. Initial filming of the car chase sequence resulted in disappointing action sequences. While moving the car between shoots, Lotus test driver Roger Becker impressed with his handling of the car and for the rest of filming on Sardinia, Becker became the stunt driver.[1][11]

In October, the second unit travelled to Nassau to film the underwater sequences. To perform the car becoming a submarine, seven different models were used, one for each step of the transformation. One of the models was a fully mobile submarine equipped with an engine built by Miami-based Perry Submarines. The car seen entering the sea was a mock-up shell, propelled off the jetty by a compressed air cannon. During the model sequences, the air bubbles seen appearing from the vehicle were created by Alka-Seltzer tablets.[1]

In September, production moved to Egypt. While the Great Sphinx of Giza was shot on the location, lighting problems caused the pyramids to be replaced with miniatures.[1] While construction of the Liparus set continued, the second unit headed by John Glen departed for Mount Asgard, where in July 1976 they staged the film's pre-credits sequence. Bond film veteran Willy Bogner captured the action, staged by stuntman Rick Sylvester, who earned $30,000 for the stunt.[12] This stunt cost $500,000 – the most expensive single movie stunt at that time.

The production team returned briefly to the UK to shoot at the Faslane submarine base before setting off to Spain, Portugal and the Bay of Biscay where the supertanker exteriors were filmed. On 5 December 1976, with principal photography finished, the 007 Stage was formally opened by former Prime Minister Harold Wilson.[13]


The theme song "Nobody Does It Better" was composed by Marvin Hamlisch, written by Carole Bayer Sager, and performed by Carly Simon. It was the first theme song in the series to be titled differently from the name of the film,[14] although the title is in the lyrics.

The song met immediate success and is featured in numerous films, including Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Little Black Book, Lost in Translation, and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). In 2004, it was honoured by the American Film Institute as the 67th greatest song as part of their 100 Years Series.

The soundtrack to the film was composed by Marvin Hamlisch, who filled in for veteran John Barry, who was unavailable to work in the United Kingdom because of tax reasons.[15] The soundtrack, in comparison to other Bond films of the time, is more disco-oriented and included a new disco rendition of "The James Bond Theme" titled "Bond 77"; several pieces of classical music were also included in the score. For instance, while feeding a duplicitous secretary to a shark, Stromberg plays Bach's "Air on the G String", which was famous for accompanying disaster-prone characters. He then plays the opening string section of the second movement, Andante, of Mozart's Piano Concerto No. 21 as his hideout Atlantis rises from the sea. The score also includes a piece of popular film music, as Maurice Jarre's theme from Lawrence of Arabia is played during a desert sequence.

Release and reception

The Spy Who Loved Me opened with a Royal Premiere attended by Princess Anne at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on 7 July 1977. It grossed $185.4 million worldwide,[16] with $46 million in the United States alone.[17] On 25 August 2006, the film was re-released at the Empire Leicester Square Cinema for one week.[18] It was again shown at the Empire Leicester Square 20 April 2008 when Director Lewis Gilbert attended the first digital screening of the film.

Eon executive Charles Juroe said that at a screening attended by Charles, Prince of Wales, during the Union Jack-parachute scene "I have never seen a reaction in the cinema as there was that night. You couldn't help it. You could not help but stand up. Even Prince Charles stood up."[19] It is Roger Moore's favourite Bond film,[1] and many reviewers consider it the best installment to star the actor.[20][21][22] Christopher Null praised the gadgets, particularly the Lotus Esprit car.[23] James Berardinelli of Reelviews said that the film is "suave and sophisticated", and Barbara Bach proves to be an ideal Bond girl – "attractive, smart, sexy, and dangerous".[21] Brian Webster stated the special effects were "good for a 1979 [sic] film", and Marvin Hamlisch's music, "memorable".[24] Danny Peary described The Spy Who Loved Me as "exceptional ... For once, the big budget was not wasted. Interestingly, while the sets and gimmicks were the most spectacular to date, Bond and the other characters are toned down (there's a minimum of slapstick humour) so that they are more realistic than in other Roger Moore films. Moore gives his best performance in the series ... [Bond and Anya Amasova] are an appealing couple, equal in every way. Film is a real treat – a well acted, smartly cast, sexy, visually impressive, lavishly produced, powerfully directed mix of a spy romance and a war-mission film."[25] Janet Maslin of The New York Times considered the film formulaic and "half an hour too long, thanks to the obligatory shoot-'em-up conclusion, ... nevertheless the dullest sequence here" but praised Moore's performance and the film's "share of self-mockery", which she found refreshing.[26]

The Times placed Jaws and Stromberg as the sixth and seventh best Bond villains (respectively) in the series in 2008,[27] and also named the Esprit as the second best car in the series (behind the Aston Martin DB5).[28]

Marvin Hamlisch was nominated for several awards such as the Academy Award for Best Song, Original Music Score, 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 ("Nobody Does It Better") in 1978. The film was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Art Direction (Ken Adam, Peter Lamont and Hugh Scaife)[29] and a BAFTA for Best Production Design/Art Direction

The end credits state "James Bond Will Return in For Your Eyes Only", but following the success of Star Wars, the originally planned For Your Eyes Only was dropped in favour of the space-themed Moonraker for the next film. Most critics received the film positively: Rotten Tomatoes sampled 47 reviewers and judged 79% of the reviews to be positive.[30]


When Ian Fleming sold the film rights to the James Bond novels to Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli, he gave permission only for the title The Spy Who Loved Me to be used. Since the screenplay for the film had nothing to do with Fleming's original novel, Eon Productions, for the first time, authorised a novelization based upon the script. This would also be the first regular Bond novel published since Colonel Sun nearly a decade earlier. Christopher Wood, who co-authored the screenplay, was commissioned to write the book titled James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me.

The novelization and the screenplay, although both written by Wood, are somewhat different. In the novelization, SMERSH is still active and after James Bond. Their role begins during the pre-title. After the mysterious death of Fekkish, SMERSH appears yet again, this time capturing and torturing Bond for the whereabouts of the microfilm that retains plans for a submarine tracking system (Bond escapes after killing two of the interrogators). The appearance of SMERSH conflicts with a number of Bond stories, including the film The Living Daylights (1987), in which a character remarks that SMERSH has been defunct for over 20 years. It also differs from the latter half of Fleming's Bond novels in which SMERSH is said to have been put out of operation. Members of SMERSH from the novelization include Amasova and her lover Sergei Borzov as well as Colonel-General Niktin, a character from Fleming's novel From Russia, with Love who has since become the head of SMERSH. In the book, Jaws remains attached to the magnet that Bond dips into the tank, as opposed to the film where Bond releases Jaws into the water.[31]

Sale of props

The Lotus Esprit—capable of transforming from car to submarine in the movie—was purchased for £616,000 at a London auction in October 2013 by Elon Musk, who plans to rebuild the vehicle and attempt to make the fictional dual-purpose car be an actual dual-purpose car (underwater and on land).[32]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Inside the Spy Who Loved Me. The Spy Who Loved Me Ultimate Edition DVD, Disk 2
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Ken Adam: Designing Bond. The Spy Who Loved Me: Ultimate Edition, Disk 2
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^
  26. ^
  27. ^ (subscription required)
  28. ^
  29. ^
  30. ^
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^

Further reading

External links

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