The Spy Who Loved Me
30th Anniversary

30 years on, how do notes taken from advanced press screenings of The Spy Who Loved Me stack up against modern reviews?


Time Tunnel: Jottings From The Screening Room
22nd July 2007

In the pre-internet days, when leads times for publications were weeks rather than hours, movie critics had access to press screenings of "The Spy Who Loved Me" well before the tenth James Bond film opened in theatres on 07/07/77. MI6 has uncovered some of the screening-room notes taken by Time Magazine reporters. Looking back at these notes 30 years on from the film's release, some are still debated by fans, but others are notable by their absence. The plot of "Spy" is now seen as a remake of "You Only Live Twice" by most commentators, but back in '77 there was no mention of Sean Connery's romp in Japan...

"Giggles, Wiggles, Bubbles and Bond" - Jottings found on the screening-room floor after a critics' viewing of the new James Bond film...

They'll never top first stunt: skier hurtles off precipice. Long breathtaking plunge. Shucks off skis in midair, free-falls for a while, then opens parachute and floats earthward. Wow.

Does anybody know this flick has nothing to do with 1962 novel of same name, since Ian Fleming nixed sale of anything but title to movies? Does anybody care? All that's left of Bond formula here is 007 character, sexy starlets and gee-whiz gadgets.

(Question: What else did it ever consist of?)

Above: It's "détente indeed" when James Bond and Anya Amasova join forces

Plot seems snipped from previous installments. Bond tangles with female Russian spy: From Russia With Love. They team up against seagoing megalomaniac who captures nuclear subs belonging to both East and West and plans to destroy world: shades of Diamonds Are Forever. Lots of underwater stuff: Thunderball. Also skiing: On Her Majesty 's Secret Service.

Above: Caroline Munro as Naomi

(Think about: Curt Jurgens, as megalomaniac, pronounces 007's name Bund. This hint he's crypto-Nazi? Farfetched, but can anything be too farfetched in a film like this?)

Amphibian Bondmobile. Series getting awfully ingrown. Sexual innuendo coarser. In London HQ, Bond reported to be on assignment in Austria, meaning he's doing you-know-what in front of fireplace in Alpine hideaway. Thunders M: "Tell him to pull out—immediately!"

Only moment of real wit: amphibian Bondmobile drives into sea and becomes two-seater submarine; it veers to elude underwater pursuers, but only after flashing turn signal—for the wrong direction.

New Bond girl, Barbara Bach. Very pretty, especially as seen in cushioned escape bubble. But dewy as a debutante ("Oh! James!"). Hard to believe her as dangerous spy. Where are the Honor Blackmans and Diana Riggs of yesteryear? Roger Moore, as Bond, a road-company Sean Connery. At least he's improvement on that instant-trivia question, George Lazenby.

Good gadgets: wristwatch radio with tape printout of messages received. Hollow cigarette that blows knockout gas. Flying tea tray that decapitates human target.

Best gadget of all is human one — seven-foot thug with preternatural strength and steel teeth, which he uses to snap victims' spinal cords. Name: Jaws. Orthodontist's nightmare.

Running gag is that each time he is dispatched—trapped in building cave-in, flung from speeding train, tossed into shark tank, even torpedoed—Jaws (Richard Kiel) implacably reappears. In his silly, mechanical, likable way, a perfect symbol for Bond films. They're attacked, dismissed, put out of mind, but keep coming back and back and back.

(Nope. Never did top that first Stunt.)


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