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On Site: Inside Stage 007!

In 1976, EON (Everything or Nothing) Productions began work on the tenth James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me, their most ambitious effort to that date (estimated budget: $30 million).

No strangers to inventing wholly new exploits for the seemingly invincible 007, EON would this time do so at the behest of Bond`s creator, Ian Fleming; sensing that the source novel was not his best, Fleming licensed only the title and characters.

Borrowing heavily from You Only Live Twice [1967]–indeed, central villain Sigmund Stromberg [Curt Jurgens] was originally scripted as S.P.E.C.T.R.E. chieftain Ernst Stavro Blofeld–the resulting globe-trotting tale also tapped into the prevailing détente of the time as it follows Britain`s MI5 super-agent, James Bond (“Saintly” Roger Moore), and Russia`s seductive KGB operative, Anya Amasova (sensational Barbara Bach), as they cooperate to investigate the separate disappearances of their countries` respective nuclear submarines, Ranger and Potemkin.

Inspired by media revelations regarding the Howard Hughes-sponsored Glomar Explorer–outwardly a marine research vessel later revealed to conceal apparatus designed expressly for the covert recovery of a downed Soviet nuclear sub–Stromberg`s base of operations would be the Liparus, at first glance one of the largest oil tankers in the world (“After the Karl Marx, of course,” interjects Agent XXX.), but in reality housing a labyrinth of quays, holding cells, arsenal, control center and more, all conveniently traversed by dual elevators and twin, superconductive monorails.

Responsibility for both the concept and design fell upon renowned production designer Ken Adam. The clarity and single-mindedness of Adam`s vision is readily apparent; with the exception of the huge, illuminated control room globe, the set as realized is nearly identical to even his earliest sketches. Like his design for the Fort Knox bullion vaults of Goldfinger [1964], (for which Adam would receive his second BAFTA nomination), the Liparus seems wholly convincing no matter how impractical the reality of such a space–as evidenced by the near swamping of the sixty-three foot, twelve-ton “miniature” tanker on its shakedown cruise. As a nod to the unique look of … Spy … , Adam garnered a third Academy Award® nomination.

Having no desire to duplicate the impressive but decidedly wasteful effort required for a free-standing set along the lines of the volcano showcased in …Twice –the obvious progenitor of the submarine pens–there was nonetheless just one problem with Adam`s vision: no existing facility–aircraft hangars and warehouses included–could contain it. Producer Albert R. (“Cubby”) Broccoli`s solution: Build one. Thus ground was broken by Michael Brown–an architect with the Delta Doric Company–at famed Pinewood Studios in Iver Heath just outside London, England, in April 1976 for what came to be called the “007 Stage.” While others may make similar claims (for example, Streets of Fire [1982] boasted the largest “covered” set), the 007 Stage remains the largest fully enclosed, “silent” soundstage in the world, so big, in fact, fans must be employed to clear the fog that sometimes forms at its center.

German-born Adam, then 55, later observed:

The volcano was easier for me in a way because it was a completely imaginary concept. Nobody has seen the inside of a volcano. But here I was stuck with a supertanker. Basically that is very dull. *1

But he approached the job with fresh, unbiased thinking, choosing not to base his ideation on any existing maritime architecture plans.

I prefer to go that way. I know quite a lot about boats. These gigantic tankers are divided into individual compartments–bulkheads–where they store the fuel. I almost counter-designed against the hold of a tanker. *2

In order to meet the film`s deadline, the set and stage would be built almost simultaneously, with construction crews from Specialist Builders enclosing each section of the outer shell only after major corresponding components of the Liparus were in place. In some ways the Liparus was little more than a dressing applied to the interior walls of the stage and for this reason the one-time Klaus Adam focused on structural elements that could remain in place once filming ended. Final cost of the soundstage alone: approximately £600,000 (slightly more than one million in 1976 dollars).

A star in its own right, shooting on the “Jonah” set–the biblical nickname proffered by cast and crew–commenced in November, 1976. (On 5 December, then Prime Minister Sir Harold Lloyd conducted a ribbon-cutting for the press.) Though the submarine pens clearly made good use of a pre-existing 1.2 million-gallon tank, a newly added secondary tank allowed for full-size sinkings and other large-scale water effects. A mobile out-building at the north end of the stage allowed the Liparus bow doors to swing open while artful camera angles prevented audiences from seeing nearby Black Park and the otherwise landlocked truth of the locale.

Wishing to avoid the flat, harsh appearance of …Twice`s volcano, Ken Adam sought-out … Spy`s … cinematographer, Claude Renoir, grandson of famed impressionist Pierre Auguste Renoir. Privately, Renoir made a sad confession: his eyesight failing, he could not make out the farther reaches of the set. Rather than further embarrass Renoir, the infamous director of another of Adam`s award-winning efforts, Dr.Strangelove [1963], was quietly consulted. Though the late Stanley Kubrick employed specialists on his own films, he was widely regarded as a master technician himself, having devised a variety of new methods for such landmark efforts as 2001:a space odyssey [1968] (on which Adam had declined the production designer`s post). Kubrick`s suggestion upon spending a long Sunday afternoon on the set? Incorporate functional lighting directly into the Liparus, greatly reducing the need for the enormous, glaring arc lights normally associated with filming in a large space. (Some twenty years later, Kubrick would embark on a more protracted stay in Stage 007 while directing Eyes Wide Shut.)

As luck would have it, that winter was one of the coldest on record in the UK, forcing cast and crew to don parkas and anoraks whenever the cameras weren`t actually rolling; in many scenes the actors` breath is clearly visible. Beyond near-freezing temperatures, on many days the production also had to contend with food, costumes, and make-up for nearly 600 extras. Further, any players issued fire arms were subject to strict safety regulations, notably the surrendering and inspection of hundreds of blank-firing–and, therefore, hazardous–Sten guns at every break in filming, including meals.

One final concession to reality was both budgetary and aesthetic: while a modern supertanker could indeed conceal a nuclear submarine averaging 600 feet in length, the resulting set would have rendered the actors and extras mere flyspecks. Adam instead reduced the subs to five-eighths scale, making the set more manageable both visually and financially.

Filming proceeded smoothly into the new year with only one serious mishap: during the climactic battle sequence, pyrotechnics accidentally ignited a portion of the control room. Only Adam`s precious fiberglass globe was significantly damaged though, despite heavy security, uniformed extras apparently made-off with a number of television monitors and other bits of set dressing during the evacuation procedure. The Liparus interiors ultimately wrapped on 26 January 1977.

While industry wags questioned the necessity of such a space, the 007 Stage has been in constant use since its completion, playing host to both the Superman and Indiana Jones series as well as later Bond entries. One of many advantages to utilizing the 007 Stage is that large scale “exteriors” (such as Batman`s [1989] Gotham City) can be built without thought to weather or the other uncertainties usually associated with filming on an outdoor lot or location.

As director Ridley Scottfilmed Legend, a far more calamitous fire erupted during the lunch hour on 27 June 1984, this time burning the stage to the ground. Rechristened the “Albert R. Broccoli Stage” on 7 January 1985 at the suggestion of Pinewood general manager Cyril Howard, the entire structure was miraculously rebuilt–with added fire safety features and additional square footage, again under the supervision of Michael Brown–in under five months, just in time for “Operation Main Strike” sequences of A View to a Kill [1985], the fourteenth Bond epic. New price tag: £1,000,000.

**The model of the Liparus shown in cutaway and revealing its superstructure was one hit of the Bond Weekend `99 in Las Vegas. Alan explains this collectible`s provenance–Matt Sherman

“The model was obtained by proxy at the Christie`s South Kensington [London] auction of James Bond memorabilia in September 1998, given a custom-fitted shipping crate by the neighboring firm of Cadagon-Tate, and delivered to the United States in mid-October by Federal Express.

The exact purpose of the miniature (Lot #95) is unknown. From footage included in the Mass Communications & Society film study series, director Lewis Gilbert can be seen with production designer Ken Adam discussing the various camera positions and cast movements using a somewhat larger though less detailed mock-up.

Christie`s claim that the model is a fan effort seems unfounded; a Bond devotee would likely havebeen more careful with the finish and added greater detail. The replica`s quality is closer to that which you would expect from an architectural firm. The probable explanation, then, is that the diorama was created by either EON, Pinewood, or both for the purposes of promoting The Spy Who Loved Me to potential exhibitors. That is, it was an expensive means of saying, “Look, look at what we`ve done here! How could you not want to show a film for which we`ve gone to such lengths?!”

The model was put-up for auction by a Mark Bamford having originally obtained it from a colleague who dealt directly with Pinewood Studios about 1977. Regrettably, said colleague passed away in 1988, thus no further information is available.

Contact with Bamford was coordinated by Sarah Hodgson of Christie`s South Kensington.

The miniature furnishings–such as Stromberg`s custom chair and console–as well as the over 100 figures–each taking approximately one hour to prepare (including, in many cases, sculpting their beret) and paint–were added in Winter 2000.

The sequence being filmed in the control room–Bond`s confrontation of Stromberg; their second such meeting–was shot on 13 December 1976, Curt Jurgen`s birthday.”

1* “Ken Adam: 007`s Designer,” Starlog, 9 (October 1977), p. 22. 2* Ibid.

–Alan D. Stephenson is one host of the annual Bond Collectors` Weekends, meeting this year in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is one of the leading 007 memorabilia collectors worldwide, and has been building his collection for 30 years. His 1998 museum show in California featured outstanding examples from his treasure trove…one of the largest 007 collections in the world.

James Bond and the Oscars

1964 Goldfinger- Winner of Best Sound Effects (Norman Wanstall )

1965 Thunderball- Winner of Best Visual Effects (John Stear)

1971 Diamonds Are Forever – Nominated for Best Sound

1973 Live And Let Die – Nominated for Best Song (Lyrics by Linda and Paul McCartney; Sung by Paul McCartney and Wings)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me – Nominated for Best Song (Music by M. Hamlisch; Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager; Sung by Carly Simon)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me- Nominated for Best Score (Music by Marvin Hamlisch)

1977 The Spy Who Loved Me -Nominated for Best Art Direction/ Set Decoration (Ken Adam, Peter Lamont, Hugh Scaife)

1979 Moonraker – Nominated for Best Visual Effects (Derek Meddings; P Wilson; J. Evans)

1981 – For Your Eyes Only Nominated for Best Song (Lyrics by Mick Leeson; Music by Bill Conti; Sung by Sheena Easton)

1982 Irving G. Thalberg Lifetime Achievement Award- Albert R. Broccoli

James Bond and The Golden Globes

1970 George Lazenby nominated Most Promising Male Newcomer for On Her Majesty`s Secret Service

1978 The Spy Who Loved Me nominated for Best Original Score
Marvin Hamlisch Nominated for Best Original Song “Nobody Does It Better”.

1985/86 Duran Duran and John Barry nominated for Best Original Song: “A View To A Kill”

1998 Sheryl Crow nominated for Best Song in “Tomorrow Never Dies”

The Spy Who Loved Me

The Hero: James Bond; The Bond Girl: Vivienne Michel; The Villain: Sluggsy; Locations Covered: Toronto, Adirondacks; First Published: 1962

PLOT: Destroy a motel for insurance and take out Viviene Michel in the process. Novel presented from Michel`s point of view.

REVIEW: This is Fleming`s most experimental Bond novel. The novel`s heroine, Vivienne Michel, narrates the novel in the first person and the first 36% is about her childhood, her background, her first sexual experiences, two unhappy love affairs and an abortion. The villains only appear 46% of the way through the story, and Bond at the 61% mark. However, it`s arguably one of Fleming`s best novels and a fast and exciting read: it`s much better paced than most of his other works.

Fleming`s characters tended to be cardboard cutouts, but not here; the characters are almost all three-dimensional. Chapters 8 through 10 are possibly Fleming`s best sustained, most exciting bits of writing; there are so many great moments – the whole section is brilliantly thought-out. Bond`s entrance is one of these great moments; it`s an exhilarating audience-pleaser that also emphasizes the book`s fairy-tale aspects.

Fleming sets it up well. Chapter 9 ends on a high point with Vivienne pinned down. Deciding where to begin a chapter matters; not only does ending in mid-beat make a difference but moving to a new part enhances it. The reader knows that a new beginning is around the corner, which makes it even more exciting; also, the title “Him” suggests intrigue and mystery.

So too is Horror and Sluggsy`s arrival: compare the contrasts. The two gangsters are caught in the middle of the rain and Horror politely asks to come in. He plays on her sympathy; they`re soft, quiet, though Sluggsy giggles. They take their rain jackets off and Vivienne knows she`s in danger. The elegance of Horror`s clothes, not at all an expendable detail, adds to the tension and characterization. Horror and Sluggsy are great villains. They`re living, breathing people. Horror is as subdued as Sluggsy is hyper. There are many subtle, but crucial touches and Fleming deftly mixes the quiet with the sinister. Notice Horror`s indifference, how blase he is. Horror isn`t interested in Sluggsy`s sexual interests, telling him to lay off. Think how less effective it would have been had both men been sexually interested in Vivienne.

Bond is much better drawn here than in any of Fleming`s other novels. He`s more elegant, more fastidious, and even has a sense of humour. It`s easily Fleming`s strongest portrayal of Bond, and oddly, more like the Bond in the films: “He turned to the Englishman. “Hey, limey. What`s your name?”

“Bond. James Bond.”

“That`s a pretty chump name. From England, huh?”

“That`s right. Where`s the registry? I`ll spell it out for you.”

“Wise guy, huh?””

He`s also much smarter, perhaps because Fleming wasn`t burdened trying to reveal Bond`s thoughts – which arguably weakened Bond into a cardboard dummy – instead portraying him objectively (compare how badly drawn and dopey Bond is in the next novel, the extremely flawed “On Her Majesty`s Secret Service”).

He`s also more human. Count how many times he smiles – at least 16 times in Chapters 10, 11 and 12 – approximately once every other page, and these aren`t “smiles” for the sake of it, like some annoying Gardner tic, but are dramatically relevant and they shade his character, such as when he`s reassuring Vivienne. Some of the writing is brilliant – I`d forgotten just how vibrant Fleming`s writing could be. In Chapter 12, Vivienne notices the red fleck in Horror`s eyes that she had seen once before – Fleming is clever and doesn`t say where (in Chapter 9, when Horror beat her).

Horror tries to be friendly about breaking it up for the night. Bond asks about the motel`s viability; Horror is on the defensive wanting to know where`s that pal of mine, trying to put the attention elsewhere. Consider this passage from Chapter 15: “Those were the last words he spoke to me. When I woke up the next morning he was gone. There was only the dent down the bed where he had lain, and the smell of him on the pillow. To make sure, I jumped out of bed and ran to see if the grey car was still there. It wasn`t. It was a beautiful day and there was heavy dew on the ground, and in the dew I could see the single track of his footprints leading to where the car had been. […]

The ruins of the motel were black and hideous and a ghostly wisp of smoke rose straight up into the still air from the remains of the lobby block. I went back into the cabin and had a shower and began briskly to pack my things into my saddle-bags. Then I saw the letter on the dressing table and I went and sat on the bed and read it. It was written on motel paper from the writing desk. The writing was very clear and even and he had used a real pen and not a ball point.”

This is an excellent detail, and not detail for the sake of detail (which Fleming was sometimes guilty of). The following passage later in the chapter is breathtaking: “I watched the wreck of the black sedan, that had by now been hauled up the cliff, being towed over the lawn to the road. There the ambulance was driven over beside it, and I turned away as a wet bundle was carefully lifted out on to the grass. Horror! I remembered again those cold, red-flecked eyes. I felt his hands on me. Could it have happened?”

It`s brilliant. It has the same hypnotic quality that slow motion sometimes does in movies, and the paragraph is cinematic. (Fleming also accurately captures how a person might act under the circumstances.) Fleming is often psychologically skilful: Vivienne doesn`t want to get too close to Kurt (because she`s still wounded from Derek? Because it doesn`t pay to sleep with your boss?) so she invents friends, but this means sitting in some lonely cinema after a lonely meal with all the nuisance of men trying to pick her up. But Kurt remains so *korrekt* and their relationship on such a straightforward and even highminded level that her apprehensions come to seem idiotic and more and more she accepts a comradely way of life that seems not only totally respectable but also adult in the modern fashion. (In Chapter 8, Vivienne eats alone out of tins, creating an untenable situation). Her reasons for becoming involved with Kurt (Chapter 5) are well thought out.

Involved with Kurt, Vivienne realizes that, for women, where there exists intimacy, attachment then follows. She considers it inevitable that they become lovers after growing so close. She listens for the sound of his steps on the stairs, worships the warmth and authority of his body, and is happy at all times to cook and mend and work for him, and envisions herself six paces behind him on the street like some native bearer.

The Phanceys are cold to her until they hatch their plan. They`re nice until the last day when Mr Phancey grabs at her and uses coarse language even when his wife is within earshot; this reflects on Mrs Phancey as it raises interesting questions about her, her feelings towards sex – it`s not surprising that they`re childless. The entire sequence is excellent psychology since people do act this way in real life, though it`s marred by Fleming`s “gee-whiz” writing style. After Sluggsy finds her in the woods, Vivienne reflects how minor her past troubles really were. Later, Horror`s beating relaxes her; the pain being so much greater than the tension of waiting for it, unravels her nerves and puts her at ease and she also realizes how much the simple pleasures of life mean at such times. In Chapter 9, Sluggsy reprimands her like he`s the stern parent, and she`s the bad child. Later in the chapter Sluggsy lectures her, shaming her about his hair condition and how it also kills the hairs inside his nose.

Now that Bond`s with her, she becomes bolder with Sluggsy and Horror (when deciding which cabin Bond will have) – she`s no longer the centre of attraction and finds safety in numbers. Bond prepares her for the worst and gives her his code number; she rationalizes why he invoked bad luck – it`s excellent neurotic psychology. Moreover, her former life and its troubles seem almost years away – the here and now is all there is and all that matters (which is excellent when considering how long ago and far away her past troubles are – the here and now is all there is).

There are also so many wonderful human moments and sensitive details. In Chapter 4, Len Holbrook tells Vivienne that above all she must write about people, something Fleming does. Wallace Stevens wrote in his preface to William Carlos Williams`s “Collected Poems 1921-1931” (1934) that “Something of the unreal is necessary to fecundate the real.” The reverse is also true – and was crucial to Fleming`s success. Umberto Eco once wondered aloud why Fleming spent so many pages on realism in the novels. It wasn`t, as Kingsley Amis also agreed, to give the reader a break from fantasy; the reader gets that by putting the book down. It was to give the fantasy a basis in reality and make it resonate. As the critic Martin Seymour-Smith once remarked, no writer who cannot convey a sense of the real can be major. In Chapter 14, after sex, Bond tells Vivienne that she screamed when she climaxed – she hadn`t known; it`s an excellent detail. Fleming could be a sensationalist, but not here.

His handling is sensitive and realistic. Later, Vivienne thinks, “I suddenly had an impulse to wake him up and ask him: “Can you be nice? Can you be kind?” Vivienne watches Bond naked and contemplates that people should be nudists. Until they`re forty. Then asks him never to get fat. Later, she asks him “what`s a bimbo?” It might have been bad – in John Gardner`s hands it probably would have – but here it isn`t. The details, the sensitivity (“Now, that`s enough questions. Go to sleep.”) make it work.

At the end of Chapter 13, Bond and Vivienne gradually come to a consensus about sleeping together. It`s good (though not great) writing because it`s so simple – they don`t discuss the problem, instead, the conversation gradually works around it. Bond`s letter (Chapter 15) has so many wonderful touches; his occasional formality (since others will see the letter) makes it even more affectionate: leaving a c/o address, the sense of camaraderie, the PS. about her trye pressures being too high for the South. Try Guerlain`s “Fleurs des Alpes” instead of Camay! His making sure that Vivienne gets treated like a princess: “The lieutenant took off his cap and produced a notebook and pencil and pretended to go through his notes to give me a chance to get started on a doughnut. […]

“But what`s worrying me is that radio just hasn`t left me alone since then. Had to cut down my speed the whole way here from Route 9 to keep on listening to instructions from the station – that Albany was interested in the case, that even the top brass in Washington was breathing down our necks. Never head such a load coming over the air. Now, miss, can you tell me how it`s come about that Washington`s mixed up in this, and within a bare couple of hours of Glens Falls getting the first report?”

I couldn`t help smiling at his earnestness. I could almost hear him calling over to O`Donnell as they roared along, “Hell, we`ll have Jack Kennedy on our tails any moment now!” […] “But that`s more or less all I know abut him, except that – except that he seemed a wonderful guy.”

“So he was a commander. It was the only rank I liked the name of.”

The fairy tale story Bond tells Vivienne makes the novel even more cohesive; Bond asking that Vivienne promise to forget his involvement is a wonderful human moment and makes Bond a three-dimensional person. There are other wonderful details: Bond and Vivienne agreeing about the idiocy of espionage (though he doesn`t want her to spread her ideas too widely or he`ll find himself out of a job, which is phrased so exactly that Bond sounds sympathetic, he doesn`t mean it seriously, but he wants to draw her in); Bond asking if he`s boring her, wouldn`t she wouldn`t rather switch on the tv, he smiles, oh no, go on – this is clever writing and shows that she`s interested. The bedtime story ends on a special note: it`s clear that the odds were monumentally stacked against Bond ever appearing at the motel, which makes the reader contemplate what would have happened if Bond hadn`t: “good that I came something told me you were at the end of the road.” The way Bond discusses Horror and Sluggsy: “how did you get mixed up with those two?” is soft, sympathetic and human; like a warm man, reassuring her. Unfortunately the “bedtime” story slows the book down and the novel never achieves the same high peak of tension. The pace deteriorates in the last third, and there`s some soggy writing in these sections, (e.g. Stonor`s speech in Chapter 15). Bond`s inability to kill in cold blood was always a soggy concept in Fleming, but here it weakens the story; it`s not clear why Bond doesn`t kill Horror and Sluggsy first chance he gets – especially since the story slows down – instead of waiting until later that night. Why don`t they kill Bond the first chance they get? Likewise, why do Sluggsy and Horror let Bond and Vivienne go out together to the car? Why were they prepared to give Bond a hand with the car, wouldn`t that have allowed Vivienne to escape, or did they intend to kill Bond then and there? Such logic loopholes weaken the novel.

However, the childish writing style mars the book and prevents it from being a minor literary classic. It`s like an out-of-tune piece of music, though so consistently out-of-tune so that the reader eventually adjusts. The breathless “girl`s-own-adventure” writing style makes Vivienne sound like a dingbat; in Chapter 2, she mentions that her hair is “a dark brown with a natural wave and my ambition is one day to give it a lion`s streak to make me look older and more dashing” which makes her sound stupid, vapid, like a 9 year old girl (though it`s conceivable that in real life she`d be this way). This sentence says it all about the book`s writing:

“WOKO announced forty minutes of `Music to Kiss By` and suddenly there were the Ink Spots singing `Someone`s Rockin` my Dream Boat` and I was back on the River Thames and it was five summers ago and we were drifting down past Kings Eyot in a punt and there was Windsor Castle in the distance and Derek was paddling while I worked the portable.”

(Chapter 2)

Six “and”s in a 64 word sentence; for those who care this has some of Fleming`s longest sentences, the passage in the same chapter where Vivienne tells about the “idiotic joint dance” runs 97 words.

James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me

The Hero: James Bond
The Villain: Sigmund Stromberg
The Bond Girl: Anya Amasova
Supporting Characters: Jaws (Zbigniew Krycsiwiki); General Nikitin; Kate Chapman; Fekkesh; Kalba; Martine Blanchaud; Captain Carter; Talbot; May (Bond`s housekeeper)
Locations: Switzerland, Russia, England, Egypt, Sardinia, North Atlantic

This was the first Bond film that was novelized, and Christopher Wood, who co-wrote the film, is also the novelist. In many ways his achievement is astonishing. It is one of the best Bond novels, but more importantly, it`s a rich and allusive novel. A proper review would require a page-by-page, sometimes even a line-by-line analysis; a thumbnail sketch must suffice.

Wood duplicates Fleming`s mannerisms and even makes nods to the original novels. He includes the background information on Smersh (in “From Russia, With Love”), carefully updated in Chapter 3. Anya`s superior, General Nikitin, was one of the plotters in “From Russia, With Love”. We learn in Chapter 10 that another of the plotters, Lieutenant-General Vozdvishensky of RUMID, has since defected and that Bond`s time for a diploma at his language symposium for Ministry of Defence employees broke all records. There are references to other Fleming novels: “Moonraker” (the time it takes Bond to draw a gun), “Dr No” (Boothroyd deep-sixing Bond`s Beretta – which is now Anya`s choice of weapons; the rain details in Chapter 4). Stromberg and Nikitin`s eyes become pinpoints of red, a nod at Fleming`s “glint of red”. May still has that tick about calling people “Sir”. And there are more references to Bond`s late wife than in any other post-Fleming Bond novel. There are also Fleming sounding details: Chapter 2 has a Casino scene (Bond loses badly at roulette), and he chides himself for letting the soft life catch up to him. Bond`s torture in Chapter 10 alludes to “Casino Royale”. Anya stings Bond with her ring a la Rosa Klebb in Chapter 12. Only someone who respected his source material could be so meticulous.

The novelization is also much darker and more interesting than the film. Consider how Wood describes Stromberg`s background:

“This he immediately began to do with great vigour, and for a young man he showed a remarkable conversance with death, and what he described as its `packaging`. Cremation was what he advocated as the cleanest, purest and most ecologically satisfactory way to go and as business prospered he built his own private crematorium. He had to wait rather longer than anticipated for this because the firm contracted to do the business were at that time engaged in building similar, but rather larger, installations in Nazi Germany.” (Chapter 5)

Few writers are this nimble.

There are other clever touches. In Chapter 2, Sergei`s dying thoughts – Anya, the hotel, the children playing by the beach – are sensitively handled and reiterate the Greta Garbo detail in Chapter 1 (i.e. “consigning”, since nothing can ever be the same between them). At the end of Chapter 21, Bond wonders what`s become of Anya. Wood slowly and discreetly reveals her predicament, which is both horrifying and darkly funny (here, “in medias res” dialogue contributes to the effect, and is appropriate and brilliant).

Wood loves getting into the character`s heads and deserves credit for injecting so many human moments into the book. Ultimately, he`s written a novel about people, about adults. The chapters where he delves into the character`s backgrounds are remarkable (Anya in Chapter 3, Stromberg in Chapter 5, and Jaws in Chapter 12).

Bond is smarter, more fastidious, and human than Fleming`s Bond. He`s also occasionally clumsy, which is more realistic and endearing. He`s an intelligent man in an insane world who struggles against fate, but when the chips are down has that famous “Nelson touch”.

Anya is unusually complex and one of the best drawn women in the series (though she`s inconsistent and two dimensional during the middle when she`s not sure whether Bond is appealing or annoying. By this stage, she should have felt some grudging admiration for Bond; instead her thoughts are flat). She`s a professional – in Chapter 15, she leans out the window and fires two shots at a pursuing car, destroying it. She says nothing. Wood`s prose is as efficient as her trade-craft. Other subtle details shade her: in Chapter 14, she makes her bed every morning (and wonders if Bond has noticed) because she doesn`t want the maids to think that Bond doesn`t sleep with her, not that she would sleep with him. She`s also vulnerable – Wood shrewdly uses details to emphasize her childlike innocence. Almost everyone preys on her: Nikitin wants to ride her like a cossack, Jaws falls in love with her, and Stromberg sees her as the beginning of a new civilization, plucked from nothing to be the womb that furnishes an original species.

Bond and Anya`s relationship is the novel`s focal point. Discussing her Bulgarian minders, Bond says, “You must be lonely without your boyfriends.” She replies, “They are easily replaced.” This can also be taken to mean Sergei, and foreshadows her decision in Chapter 24. In Chapter 13, M orders them to go as man and wife. This has other considerations. In a nod to Fleming`s originals, Anya reminds Bond of Tracy (Chapters 11 and 17); in the latter chapter Anya even utters Bond`s last words to Tracy. It`s not all one way, either. In Chapter 11, Bond reminds Anya of her late lover Sergei (we`re meant to think that she`s with Bond in the rather overwritten first chapter; Bond and Sergei somewhat resemble each other).

Chapter 17 has many brilliant touches and is one of the book`s best chapters. The brisk, opening paragraphs, are cleverly written from a group perspective; the detail about the roses, seemingly sweet, has horrifying consequences later on. Bond and Anya limp back to the hotel – which is realistic – and fall into each other`s arms, which is psychologically accurate; danger brings people together. Wood is clever enough not to reveal the message until the chapter`s last paragraph, so that we see Anya`s reactions objectively. She looks up at the vase in Bond`s hands as though momentarily wondering why he has it – an excellent touch. She smiles and nods apologetically when she remembers that Bond is a commander in the navy and doesn`t need to be told about ships. Her tone is businesslike. She squeezes Bond`s hand: “I do not have to say anything, do I?” The humanity is unexpected and overwhelming. “This is why we are here. This is the most important thing. We can wait.” Nothing can ever be the same between them. Wood is clever in other ways; Bond and Anya discuss business (the shape of the Lepadus), which increases the tension, and more importantly is realistic and adult. Bond traces a circle on her wrist and discusses an Italian dinner – he knows something is wrong; this detail is sensitive and one of many examples where Bond becomes three-dimensional; it also properly integrates his designer goods tastes into the book (e.g. when he contemplates Anya`s clothes in Chapter 14, or helps the stewardess through his drink in Chapter 7 – so often one detail enhances other aspects).

There are nice details in Chapter 18, (though the actual confrontation is poor): Anya wriggling like a child into Bond`s arms, her head turned; the Paul Jones observation; Bond`s feelings about Russian women`s emotions. Moreover Stromberg`s intentions as revealed in Chapter 20 are crucial because they nudge her back in Bond`s direction.

The last chapter (25) is appropriately sombre: Anya appears unexpectedly on Bond`s doorstep. Is she defecting? What did Stromberg do to her on board Atlantis? She is – in Ian Fleming`s words – a bird with a wing down. But Wood is clever. Bond collapses after rescuing her from Atlantis and is sent home to recuperate. In the following scene, which also shows how different the novelization and the film are, neither character is stronger than the other:

“Carter accepted Bond`s outstretched hand and grasped it warmly. “Thanks. I hope we work together again sometime. Oh, by the way” – his eye twinkled – “there was some girl hanging around on the front doorstep when I arrived. I think she wants to see you.”

“Do you think I`d want to see her?” asked Bond.

Carter pretended to consider the question and then nodded his head. “I think you might.” He raised a hand to his temple and was gone.*

“Bond stood up, feeling a mounting sense of excitement spread through him. Was he being stupid? Could it be possible? Somebody came into the room behind him and he turned, expecting to see May.”

It was Anya. She wore a black woollen coat down to her ankles and carried a large, soft leather grip. Her face was as beautiful as he had dared to remember it. Perhaps more so. She put down her bag and faced him squarely. “I have come to look after you.”

Bond looked at her lovingly. “But I don`t need looking after. I`m perfectly fit. Right at this moment I feel better than I have ever done. Anyway, I have a housekeeper to look after me”

“The woman with the stern black uniform who was putting on her hat to shopping when I arrived?” Bond smiled and nodded. “Does she hold a State Nursing Certificate, first class?”

Bond rested his hands on either side of Anya`s slim shoulders. “Now you come to mention it, I rather think she does. Sweet, darling Anya. What are you doing here? What about Russia? What about your job?”

She looked up at him and her lips trembled. “Let us say I am on holiday. I will tell you all later – much later.” She began to unbutton her coat.

The other characters are well sketched. In a major departure from the film, Wood exploits the sexual predator element present in Jaws. Stromberg is a monster even in childhood, born grossly deformed. He`s a great villain, though he`s underused – an inherent story flaw that the novelization can`t get around. In Chapter 20, Stromberg checks his wet mouth into a semblance of a smile because Anya knows what he`s talking about – Wood knows how to write moments for his characters. Nikitin – originally a Fleming character – is also wonderfully drawn (Chapters 3 and 13). Wood avoids rhetoric and lets action speak for the characters, which is more effective: Nikitin`s hand burrows up Anya`s skirt (this detail and “the scent of roses” are throwbacks to similar details in Fleming`s “From Russia, With Love”; “face of the moon” recalls a similar detail about Red Grant).

Wood uses irony effectively. Just before he`s killed, Fekkesh thinks of Felicca waiting for him at the flat, unaware that she`s dead (Chapter 9; Wood doesn`t botch it by adding, “little did he know that she was already dead”). Kalba is pleased that Fekkesh has been killed; now he just has to eliminate Kate Chapman (Stromberg`s secretary), unaware that she too is dead (Chapter 11). What does he care if she put her life on the line stealing the tracking device for him? Bond notes that Talbot`s face is unmarked by any contact with the unpleasant realities of life and imagines the teacups at the vicarage trembling when Talbot returns on leave. Moments later, Talbot is torched, and collapses on his own grenade (Chapter 21). In Chapter 18, Bond hopes that Anya doesn`t have a gun in her hand when she divulges her feelings, foreshadowing Chapter 24 (the comment about Russian women shades Anya). Nikitin intentionally withholds the news that Bond killed Sergei (Chapter 13). In Chapter 3, Anya compares the Communist faith to the Christian with horrifying consequences in Chapter 21: Stromberg selects her to be the initiator of a new civilization, akin to Mary in the Christian dogma.

There are flaws, though. Wood can`t seem to cut free from the mechanical story and this prevents the book from being more cohesive. At times he overwrites and gets bogged down in minutia: e.g. Chapter 1 (though the Greta Garbo detail is nice, as is the way that we`re led to believe that it`s Bond); ditto the beginning of Chapter 14, and most of 16 (compare Chapter 17`s sprightly beginning). His prose also has an unrefined quality; though clever, the Chapter 5 quote above is somewhat stilted (compare his prose to John Pearson`s). He likes similes – perhaps too much – they can be very useful, but are essentially static and generally unnecessary (his earliest novels overdo them). The descriptive action passages are tedious – fluid writing would have helped here; it also undercuts the impact the human moments would otherwise have. But it is one of the best books in the series, and like “Colonel Sun”, a serious novel, one that should and can be appreciated for it`s literary merit. Unfortunately, the novel is out of print – an unfortunate oversight that should be rectified.

The Spy Who Loved Me: David Prowse and Will Sampson

(David Prowse was a costumed Darth Vader in the original “Star Wars” Trilogy) Was cast as `Jaws` by director Terence Young for “The Spy Who Loved Me”. When Young jumped ship and went on to try for `Superman`, Prowse went with him and Lewis Gilbert cast Richard Kiel instead.

Will Sampson was a 7 foot tall Native American actor who also was approached to play “Jaws” in The Spy Who Loved Me. He is perhaps best known for a role in “One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest”. He also starred opposite Chuck Norris in “Firestarter”.

A Look Back: The Spy Who Loved Me with Robert Baum

v1Following a near three-year absence from the screen, James Bond returns to cinematic service for the Queen. The Spy Who Loved Me firmly establishes Roger Moore as the suave operative and pits him against a malevolent marine magnate (Curt Jurgens) with designs on destroying the world. This entry marks a first in the series as producer Albert R. Broccoli has parted ways with partner Harry Saltzman. Which accounts for the approach to Bond who, in Moore’s first two efforts seemed more like Michael Caine in Get Carter (1971)–which Saltzman produced. Caine’s Jack Carter was influenced by Sean Connery’s 007. Here Moore gets to show his knack for humor while on his new mission.

Two submarines–one British, one Russian–somehow disappear. MI6 recalls Bond from Austria to search for their country’s vessel. Shortly thereafter, the KGB contacts one of their own (Barbara Bach) to get their boat back to the USSR. They both wind up meeting, unexpectedly, in Cairo. As both the UK and the USSR are each a craft short, an Anglo/ Soviet partnership is formed by 007 and Major Anya Amasova (Bach) and their respective superiors: M (Bernard Lee) and General Gogol (Walter Gotell, who previously appeared in the second Bond film–albeit in a different role–From Russia with Love). They head to Italy by train to investigate the operations of Karl Stromberg (Jurgens) but the mission is nearly derailed due to the unwelcome visit by an assassin in Stromberg’s employ: a steel-toothed giant named Jaws (Richard Kiel, last seen making travel tough for Gene Wilder in Silver Streak).

Later the pair are received by Stromberg aboard his impressive aquatic citadel and later utilize the latest marvel created by Q (Desmond Llewelyn): a Lotus capable of traveling the roads and underwater. The car also sports an array of options which Bond employs to escape pursuit by Jaws, Stromberg’s pilot (alluring Brit genre actress Caroline Munro), along with a few unnamed henchmen. Then comes a bit of news which threatens to put a chill on the relationship between Bond and Amasova both personally and professionally.

Lewis Gilbert, director of Connery’s next-to-last Bond appearance You Only Live Twice (1967), returns with a recycling of that film. The screenplay exchanges the hijacked rockets for shanghaied submarines and a secret base inside a volcano for an underwater one. Jurgens makes for an uncharismatic nemesis for Moore. He almost seems to be like an adversary which David Hedison and Richard Basehart might have encountered on the old series “Voyage to the bottom of the Sea.”

Marvin Hamlisch, substituting for usual 007 composer John Barry, crafts a score which lacks the excitement of prior Bond film scores. “The James Bond Theme” sounds rather dull and unimpressive when heard in the pre-credit sequence. Such an amazing feat performed by Rick Sylvester certainly deserves better. It’s really a shame that Barry didn’t compose a work to complement the efforts of John Glen’s second unit work. The score and Jurgens are about the only flaws in an otherwise solid adventure that should hopefully get the series back on its feet. Hopefully the next installment–the end credits note the upcoming one will be For Your Eyes Only–will be here sooner than the nearly three year gap between Guy Hamilton’s lackluster The Man with the Golden Gun and Gilbert’s The Spy Who Loved Me.

Roger Moore’s humor helps him put his own stamp on Bond’s passport to adventure. After starting up with Hamilton putting him through his paces on his first two cinematic missions for British Intelligence (Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun), Moore and Gilbert click and the third time is the charm for the actor’s presence to completely differentiate his 007 from Connery’s hard-edged approach.