Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Not quite the clinch he was expecting! James Bond (Roger Moore) takes on Jaws (Richard Kiel) in The Spy Who Loved Me. Images: MGM/EON.
Regardless of whether or not you're a fan of Ian Fleming's superior hero turned movie icon, you never truly forget you're first big screen cinematic encounter with James Bond 007. For me, that virgin experience/encounter with Britain's greatest secret agent, the man with the universal license to kill, was back in Summer 1977 and Roger Moore's eyebrow raising, good humoured but action packed, occasionally steel-eyed portrayal in The Spy Who Loved Me. Thirty five years on, everyone remembers its now legendary and spectacular opening sequence: the ice chase in which our hero, perilously pursued through the snow-capped Austrian mountains by a team of Russian assassins (led by the late Michael Billington: a British TV actor of charisma with a long association to Bond on and off screen, having almost inherited the role several times due to his deserved popularity with the producers), makes an incredible death-defying leap over a mountain cliff and into the unknown and seeming unceasing abyss below, of which the frightening view brings audible gasps of shock and surprise from the audience, then humour, relief and excitement for what's to come, as Bond, just in the nick of time, opens up a parachute bearing the indomitable and patriotic spirit of the Union Jack's red, white and blues. It's a sequence that truly proves that Nobody Does It Better!

"The Spy Who Loved Me" Opening Credit Sequence - YouTube
The Spy Who Loved Me - Austria Ski Chase - YouTube
"The Spy Who Loved Me" Theatrical Trailer Original 1977 - YouTube

A welcome case of detente for Bond and Major Anya Amasove (Barbara Bach).

Believe it or not, though, with the exception of the parachute opening, I pretty much missed all of that opening excitement, and didn't get to see the complete pre-titles of the film until 1984 (don't forget, this was a time before mass-market commercial major VHS sell through releases- there weren't many Bond movies available for rental, and on TV there were only three channels showing movie premieres: four years after their original release!): due to the fact that my seven year old self and accompanying enthusiastic mum entered the large but grubby confines of the Odeon Streatham that fateful afternoon late, owing to the stupidity of a traffic jam entangling our bus whilst going up Brixton Hill!  Still, despite this frustration, within moments of sitting down we were quickly caught up in the stirringly clever main titles familiar to the series, always so well handled by the assured and striking talent of Maurice Binder, what with their glimpses of Roger Moore in action and several naked women strutting about alongside him. Then there was the charming and beautiful voice of Carly Simon as she bought the late Marvin Hamlisch's talented music writing skills to lush reality. As that particular fantasy opening gently eased us into the the main story, this pre-STAR WARS kid was drinking his coca cola and thoroughly enjoying the action antics playing out around him: the colourful and slightly out there world of Bond in his trail of the hijacked British and Russian nuclear submarines, the Portugal set, unforgettable helicopter chase against the underwater traversing Lotus Esprit, and the big finale explosions and machine gun battle inside the huge Liparus supertanker (such amazing model work from Derek Meddings and his effects team!). There were the terrific baddies causing mayhem: the assassin with the big silver teeth, Jaws (Richard Kiel), like a vampire descending on his victims jugular veins, and the creepy antics of his aquatic kingdom paymaster, the webbed (look carefully and you'll see them!) hands of Carl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), who you could never sit down to dinner with, for fear of losing your testicles! And talking of below the waist stirrings, I might not have entered puberty yet, but I was certainly starting to show interest in the Bond Girls coming into my visual radar, certainly two of the most beautiful women ever to appear in the series: Barbara Bach as the cool and reserved Russian spy, also revenge seeking on 007, Major Anya Amasova, and the unbeatable charms of the stunning figured Caroline Munro, the then (and now) darling of the British and Italian sci-fi/fantasy adventure realm, looking the sun drenched bikini goddess as Stromberg's henchwoman, Naomi, who later, sadly, faced an explosive death from the rockets of Bond's Lotus. What a waste!

The gorgeous Caroline Munro as Naomi.

BOND 50 IN BABES | Flaunt Magazine

Until the end of the seventies and the emerging eighties, Roger Moore would remain my Bond, thanks to the UK ITV premiere of his ultimately first adventure Live and Let Die in 1980: a spectacular ratings success for the channel with nearly twenty million viewers tuning in for this well-crafted but bonkers tale of voodoo, blaxploitation and alligator hopping: likely more than the amount of people that actually saw the film in cinemas during its original UK 1973 release! (Plus, as a side note, I finally got the chance to see Spy again, in all its remastered and complete glory on the big screen, in 2008). But it would ultimately be that "other fella", Sean Connery, who would take over my addiction to all things Bond and prove my favourite by the time of Xmas 1983 and into 1984. I had seen magazine images of him in the role growing up, and he certainly showed a certain aura about him-dangerous and brutal, yet with a hint of charm. I also knew of him as an actor in other films, but by that first time I had actually seen him in action, even in the confines of the small screen, during the bloated but fascinating Thunderball, I was hooked on his portrayal: the first and best Bond by miles. And then came the other films to catch up with, notably From Russia With Love and You Only Live Twice. By then, it was firmly a case of No offence Roger, you were great, but this guy is better! From 1962 to 1971, I finally discovered how Sean Connery had conquered the world as 007!

Six of the best! The acting legacy of James Bond.
James Bond(007) 50 YEARS--Official Trailer and Skyfall On Set Interviews - YouTube

So, there's my early memory's and favourite immersed DNA moments from watching Bond as a youngster. And into my adulthood there would be more many more tremendous times to come. But what about your favourite films and classic moments? Tonight, in this truly Happy New Year for James Bond, the UK's SKY MOVIES 007 CHANNEL are dedicating an evening in celebration to the hero on his recent Fiftieth Anniversary entertaining cinemas audiences around the world, showcasing a special programme of clips that British viewers have chosen as their favourite moments from 22 movies and counting, alongside contributions from celebrities and Bond stars, including the cast of Bond adventure 23: SKYFALL, and a talk with the iconic legend that is Sir Roger Moore. Find out what made the grade, and whether your own personal favourites were included...

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