2012 marks the 50th anniversary of James Bond on the big screen. To celebrate, SFX's Nick Setchfield revisits each and every 007 adventure in a week by week countdown to Skyfall ...
MISSION 10: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977)
THINKING BIG The Spy Who Loved Me finds the Bond movies dreaming on an unprecedented scale. There’s a brilliant, monstrous grandeur to production designer Ken Adam’s sets (he was forced to build a vast new soundstage in order to house his vision for Stromberg’s supertanker lair). It’s a world one step removed from reality, where a Soviet spymaster’s HQ is a Russian fairytale castle and a web-fingered shipping magnate’s base rises from the waves like some towering technological spider. Director Lewis Gilbert masterfully corrals the spectacle, placing Bond in equally breath-snatching true life locations, from the clear waters of the Bahamas to a ruined Egyptian temple. Alongside Moonraker , Spy’s unofficial sequel, this is the last gasp of Bond as marquee spectacle before the franchise’s ‘80s downsizing.
“THE THINGS I DO FOR ENGLAND…” It’s a stone cold showstopper, of course, the most audacious opener of any Bond film – and a cost of $500,000 made it the single priciest stunt at that point in cinema history. Stuntman Rick Sylvester pocketed $30,000 for his daredevil ski-jump, staged on the vertiginous peak of Mount Asgard on Baffin Island in the Northern Canadian territories (3000 feet and one take, no less). While Guy Hamilton dubbed a swanee whistle over Golden Gun ’s setpiece car stunt, Gilbert wisely frames this heart-stopping moment in absolute silence. But it’s 007’s slow-blooming Union Jack parachute that provides the killer punchline, a crowdpleasing act of flag-waving perfectly timed for the Silver Jubilee year of 1977. It’s an image stained with irony, of course, given Blighty’s economic decay, but in that one glorious, hilarious gag, our national hero keeps the British end up with style to spare.
TRIV AND LET DIE
John Landis was one of the screenwriters who pitched ideas for the film.
Spy is credited to Christopher Wood, who created the saucy Confessions series under the name Timothy Lea. Wood's original screenplay portrays Bond as a harder-edged character who threatens Fekesh's girlfriend with a gun rather than deploying Moore charm.
The production faced an injunction suit from Thunderball producer Kevin McClory, who felt plot elements strayed too close to his own attempt to remake that movie. The Bondmakers kept their underwater setting but all references to Blofeld and SPECTRE were excised.
Five cameras covered the ski jump. Only one caught the stunt.
Lewis Gilbert developed a crick in his neck from looking up at the towering Richard Kiel.
Legendary director Stanley Kubrick secretly advised Ken Adam on how best to light the mammoth supertanker set on the newly built 007 Stage.
Sandor is played by former wrestler Milton Reid, who was also one of the henchmen in Dr No .
JAMES BOND WILL RETURN IN MOONRAKER