James Bond in the ’70s: The Spy Who Loved Me

The best Bond villain wasn’t the primary villain in any movie. The best Bond villain was just a henchman, but he was a henchman for hire. Richard Kiel, a gigantic actor in his own right, played a character only known as “Jaws.” (He got this moniker, apparently, from the fact that his teeth had been replace by steel dentures, and he had a bite that could cut through steel cables and chains).

“Jaws” appeared in two Bond entries. His first appearance was as a henchman for Bond villain Karl Stromberg in The Spy Who Loved Me. Unlike most Bond villains and their henchmen, Jaws was virtually indestructible, and survived at the end of that entry. At the beginning of the next Bond entry, he is a henchman of an unnamed villain in the opening sequence of Moonraker (a review of which will be featured on MovieFanFare next week). Even falling without a parachute from an airplane does not kill him. (He fortuitously lands on a circus tent, which somehow, miraculously, softens his fall). Later in the film, he is hired by that movies villain, Hugo Drax, to continue to harass Bond.

Kiel had a career before and after Bond playing menacing people, most prominently as a henchman for Dr. Loveless in the 60’s TV show Wild Wild West. And later as some of the more memorable co-stars in such movies as the Burt Reynolds flick, The Longest Yard.

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

My Personal Ranking of the Movie: #8

My Personal Ranking of the Theme Song: #5

Best Bond Quote: “Can you play any other tune? (to Anya who seems to be having trouble getting their escape vehicle into the right gear)

Best Bond Villain Quote: Stromberg: “Well, well, a British agent in love with a Russian agent. Detente, indeed.”

Best Weapon: Who wouldn’t want a car that doubles as a submarine?

The pre-credits sequence involves a hijacking of a British nuclear submarine. At the same time, a Russian submarine is also hijacked. England calls in it’s best spy (“007” James Bond, of course). Russia calls in its best spy Agent XXX. Of course the surprise in the love scene where XXX is involved in a romantic tryst is that Anya Amasova (Catherine Bach) is the secret agent. A third scene involves Bond in a snow chase in which he kills one of the Russian agents chasing him.

Then we have the opening credits with a song by Carly Simon “Nobody Does It Better”. This is one of the better Bond themes. As a matter of fact, the song garnered a nomination for best song at the Oscars, but it lost to “You Light Up My Life”…(gak!!!!)

The scene then transfers to the Kremlin where Anya is informed that her lover has been killed (If you were paying attention, it is the guy Bond killed. She swears she will kill the agent when she discovers who he is. (We are left in suspense, of course, since if she knew right away, she probably wouldn’t work with Bond, and then we’d have no movie…)

At a secret location, Bond meets up with M and others where they discover that someone has copies of the (supposedly) top secret routes that the submarine takes. The scene switches to an underwater fortress, and we finally meet our villain, Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). He has his secretary fed to the sharks for smuggling out secret plans. He pays off two scientists who helped him develop the submarine tracking device which got him his two submarine prizes. Typically of these villains, however, he has their helicopter exploded as it leaves the fortress. He then sends Jaws and another henchman out to find the stolen plans and kill anyone who has seen them.

Meanwhile, both Bond and Anya are trying to recover the stolen plans for their respective governments. Thus they frequently encounter each other, which eventually leads to a cooperative liaison, in which the two work together, both in trying to achieve the stolen plans, bu also in avoiding being killed by Jaws, the indestructible “superman”.

Nothing deters Jaws. Not a collapsing archaeological dig, not being shoved out the window of a speeding train, not in a one-on-one battle with a shark. Those steel teeth of Jaws must also be running through his entire body. One thing I can say about Jaws is, he is not easily deterred from his mission.

Anya eventually discovers that Bond is the one who killed her lover, but she swears to postpone her revenge until after their mission is complete. (She is obviously the consummate dedicated patriot to he country, first).

They discover the secret to the disappearance of the subs; it’s a supertanker owned by Stromberg, capable of opening up and engulfing the submarines. Stromberg’s plan comes out, he wants to get a nuclear war started, one that will make the surface world uninhabitable. Thus his dream of a civilization of his own beneath the sea. (hey, at least its better than creating a new civilization on a space station…)

And if you want to know if Anya actually kills Bond after its all over, you are in the wrong theater…

Jim Brymer, AKA Quiggy, runs the movie blog The Midnite Drive-In, check it out for more insights on other classic films.