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The Spy
Who Loved Me
40th Anniversary 1977-2017


The Spy Who Loved Me poster art by Bob Peak

Nobody Does It Better
To celebrate the 40th Anniversary of The Spy Who Loved Me, KEVIN HARPER looks back at the production of the tenth James Bond adventure, one fraught with difficulties and which was the biggest gamble in the series’ history up to that point.

Although Roger Moore was well established as James Bond after the release of his second 007 adventure The Man With The Golden Gun in 1974, the box-office receipts were disappointing, making it the least successful film in the series since On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969). The end credits of The Man With The Golden Gun announced that the next film in the series would be The Spy Who Loved Me.

Trade advertisement for The Spy Who Loved Me 1975

The tenth film in the official series was promoted in the trade press in 1975 as being produced by Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli, and would be directed by Guy Hamilton for a 1976 release. Hamilton was at this point the director with the most Bond films to his credit.

1975 turned out to be a pivotal year in the cinematic James Bond's history. EON Productions had managed so far to resist selling the films to UK television, as ‘Cubby’ Broccoli believed there was still money to be made in re-releasing them in cinemas on double-bills throughout the 1970s. ABC-TV had premiered Goldfinger on US television in 1972, followed by From Russia With Love, Thunderball and Dr. No in 1974. In January 1974 United Artists announced that they had sold the UK television rights to screen the first six James Bond films to ITV in a record £850,000 deal. The sale proved very controversial and there was a fear that cinemas would be empty on the nights Bond films were on TV. One cinema owner commented that “Selling Bond to television is not only killing the golden goose, but also auctioning off the eggs.” There was a lot of coverage in the British press regarding the sale and cinema owners eventually got a brief reprieve as Dr. No, originally scheduled for transmission in September 1974, was pushed forward to September 1975.
Read the full story of the controversial sale of Bond to ITV

James Bond film co-producer Harry Saltzman had been facing serious financial difficulties throughout the early 1970s and the relationship with his partner Albert R. Broccoli was suffering as a result. In 1975, facing bankruptcy, Saltzman had no choice but to sell his shares in the company DANJAQ to United Artists for $20 million. It is ironic that the man who had acquired the rights to film the James Bond novels in 1961, now reluctantly handed over responsibility for their future production to his rival.

Now the sole producer of the James Bond franchise, ‘Cubby’ Broccoli forged ahead with the production of the tenth film in the series. Following the hostile reception afforded the release of Ian Fleming's original novel in 1962; the author subsequently requested there should be no reprints or paperback version of the book for the British market. No paperback version of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME appeared in the UK until 1967, three years after Fleming's death. The author also only gave permission for the title to be used when he sold the film rights. Although earlier Bond films had deviated from their source material to a large degree, The Spy Who Loved Me was the first film in the series to have a completely original plot (although very similar to You Only Live Twice, which was also substantially different to the novel), with only the character of James Bond linking the two. The new character of Jaws was loosely based on Sol “Horror” Horowitz from the novel, who has steel capped teeth.

Roger Moore, Richard Kiel and director Lewis Gilbert

With a completely blank canvas, Broccoli commissioned a number of screenwriters to work on the script, including Stirling Silliphant, John Landis, Ronald Hardy, Anthony Burgess, and Derek Marlowe. Eventually long-time collaborator Richard Maibaum provided the final screenplay, which was ultimately re-written by Christopher Wood who would then release a novelisation entitled JAMES BOND, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME to tie in with the final release of the film in 1977. The original script included SPECTRE and Blofeld (last seen in Diamonds Are Forever in 1971) as the protagonists, and further delays in production were created when Kevin McClory threatened to sue Broccoli for alleged copyright infringement, claiming that he had the sole right to use SPECTRE following his court battle with Ian Fleming over THUNDERBALL in 1963. In 1976 Kevin McClory was trying to get his own rival production underway with the then title of James Bond of The Secret Service, which would star Sean Connery, who had collaborated on a screenplay with Len Deighton. Not wishing to prolong the already ongoing legal dispute that could have delayed the production of The Spy Who Loved Me even further, Broccoli requested that Wood remove all references to Blofeld and SPECTRE from the script, and replace them with Karl Stromberg who was played by Curt Jurgens. A further uncredited rewrite by Tom Mankiewicz meant that the screenplay was finally ready to shoot by late 1976.

Guy Hamilton, who directed the previous three Bond films as well as Goldfinger in 1964, left the production after being offered the opportunity to direct Superman: The Movie. He would ultimately be replaced on this project by Richard Donner, who re-invented the superhero franchise assisted again by an uncredited Tom Mankiewicz. Broccoli then turned to Lewis Gilbert, who had successfully helmed 1967's You Only Live Twice. Even though the number of films in the official Bond series had now reached double figures, only four men had directed them. Former editor Peter Hunt was the only one of the quartet with a single title (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) to his credit.

Ken Adam and Albert R.Broccoli on the 007 Stage as it is constructed at Pinewood Studios in1976

With the script now in place, and featuring a super tanker that swallows nuclear submarines, the next hurdle was to find a soundstage big enough to house such a set. Producer Broccoli then turned to five-time 007 production designer Ken Adam, who returned to the series after a two-film break. In a huge gamble, $1 million of the $13.5 million budget was allocated to Ken Adam to design and build a permanent stage. The 334 x 136 x 40.6 foot structure was built in 13 weeks, and on 5 December 1976 was formally christened ‘The 007 Stage’ in a ceremony attended by recently resigned British Prime Minister Harold Wilson. In contrast to the volcano crater set Adam had built for You Only Live Twice in 1966, the 007 Stage was a permanent structure that was rented out to other productions in order to recoup its costs. The first film to use the 007 Stage after The Spy Who Loved Me was Superman: The Movie - the vast tank housed the Fortress of Solitude set, which also featured in the sequel Superman II (1980).

007 Sage - Pinewood Studios The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)



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