In the 1970s the James Bond franchise went through some changes. The most obvious one was the face of James Bond changed from Sean Connery to Roger Moore. There was more action and special effects. The Bond women were still gorgeous but different. The adult situations, risqué in the early ‘60s, were tame by ’70s standards. This article contains spoilers and digressions.
Sean Connery’s last Bond movie, sort of.
Sean Connery played James Bond in Diamonds Are Forever. Roger Moore Bond movies are known for being more tongue in cheek than the Sean Connery Bond movies. Diamonds Are Forever indicates the franchise was going into the 1970s with the tongue in cheek approach.
James Bond is looking to avenge his wife’s murder. One lead is a bikini clad Marie (Denise Perrier). James Bond wraps Marie’s bikini top around her neck. The scene, which is shown in the trailer, is comical rather than menacing.
Another scene in the trailer is Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood) being tossed out a hotel window by a couple of stereotypical gangsters. After a long drop she lands in a pool. James Bond says, “Exceptionally fine shot.” A gangster (Marc Lawrence) retorts, “I didn’t know there was a pool down there.”[i]
There are two comical assassins, Mr. Kidd (Putter Smith) and Mr. Wint (Bruce Glover). As a sign of the times Mr. Kidd and Mr. Wint were the first openly gay Bond characters. While it was open it was also subtle. There was a hand holding clip and the remark, “…Miss Case seems quite attractive. For a lady.”
Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) is a diamond smuggler and the movie’s main Bond woman. She is good at making wisecracks but not much else. She is a comedic sidekick. This started a trend for the next two bond movies.
There are two tough women, Bambi (Lola Larson) and Thumper (Trina Paris). They engage 007 in a tag team type fight. The fight is one-sided in the women’s favor until Bond turns tables on them off camera. On camera Bond is dunking their heads underwater in a pool. The scene appears like pool party horseplay.
Bambi and Thumper were holding billionaire recluse Willard Whyte (Jimmy Dean) captive so Blofeld (Charles Gray) could run the Whyte business empire for his diabolical ends. The good guys kill Burt Saxby (Bruce Cabot) and Bond explains to Whyte Saxby was working for Blofeld. Whyte yells, “Burt Saxby. You’re fired!”.
[i] Marc Lawrence is billed as “Slumber Inc, Attendant”. Slumber Inc. is a funeral parlor. Another of his comical lines is “The stiff – the deceased back there. Your brother Mr. Franks?”
Moore, Roger Moore
Roger Moore, who first played James Bond in an episode of Mainly Millicent in 1964, started his run in James Bond movies with Live and Let Die (1973).[i] Live and Let Die could be considered a Blaxploitation version of James Bond.
An assassin kills the UK representative at the UN with a high-pitched sound. There is a New Orleans funeral procession. One man, Hamilton (Robert Dix), asks “Whose funeral is this?” another man (Alvin Alcorn) says “Yours” then stabs Hamilton. The pall bearers use the coffin to scoop up Hamilton. The funeral music switches from somber to joyous and those in the procession celebrate.[ii] There is a ritualistic assassination in the Caribbean.
James Bond is called in. He has a taxi follow a lead to Harlem. The cab driver (Arnold Williams), works for Mr. Big (Yaphet Kotto). Many people work for Mr. Big and they give real time reports on Bond’s position. Mr. Big is in the basement of a soul food restaurant. Bond meets Solitaire (Jane Seymour). She is a fortuneteller. Mr. Big orders Bond to be taken out and killed. Bond asks Solitaire about his future. She spreads out some tarot cards. Bond picks “The Lovers”. Solitaire’s clairvoyance is authentic. She will keep her clairvoyance as long as she remains a virgin.
After Bond deals with 2 henchmen then he’s on his way to New Orleans. There he meets CIA agent Rosie Carver (Gloria Hendry[iii]). This was her second assignment her first assignment, Baines (Dennis Edwards), was the victim in the ritualistic killing. Her entrance is suspicious so bond gave her a test. He failed to mention there was the carcass of a venomous snake in the bathroom. She was more than frightened enough to convince Bond she’s on the level. She’s also terrified by a voodoo death symbol. The next day Bond takes her on a boat with Quarrel Jr. (Roy Stewart). When she finds expensive equipment in a secret compartment of the cabin, she pulls a gun on Quarrel. Bond points out Quarrel is working for them. She says, “I might have shot you.” Quarrel retorts, “You might have even killed me if the safety wasn’t on.”
Bond and Rosie go onto the island where Baines was killed. The inconsistencies in Rosie’s story convince Bond she is working for Katanga (Yaphet Kotto), a Caribbean Prime Minister who is part of the drug conspiracy. Meanwhile Katanga is questioning Solitaire about the future. When Katanga asks if the situation will result in death she turns over “The Lovers” card. She tells him “yes”. She later blames the misinterpretation on Katanga’s nonspecific question. Bond meets Solitaire again and he has her pick a card from a forced deck.[iv] Solitaire loses her clairvoyance. This meant she has no value to Katanga and little value to Bond.
In this movie James Bond uses a hang glider. Hang gliders were the latest aeronautical novelty in the ‘70s. There is also a multiple car and boat chase on the Louisiana bayou. One of the characters involved in the chase is Sheriff Pepper (Clifton James). He is a stereotypical potbellied southern sheriff. The chase involved James Bond who is being chased by Katanga’s men and the police. When Sheriff Pepper is about to arrest James Bond, he is told they were going to let Bond go because he is a secret agent. The angry Sheriff Pepper asks, “on whose side?”. In the 1970s large scale car chases that involved a lot of crashed police cars were popular.
Another time capsule is when Katanga tells Bond his plan. Katanga plans to flood the heroin market with $2 billion worth of heroin. This would knock all other cartels out of the market. This would make him, “and the phone company”, the world’s only monopolies. At the time the phone company being a government-controlled monopoly was considered the only practical option for telecommunications. The 80s proved that claim to be nonsense.[v] Live and Let Die had foul language which is rarely used in Bond movie. It also had characters mouthing foul language. There were also incomplete obscene expressions.[vi]
[i] Roger Moore played Simon Templar in the long running TV series, “The Saint”.
[ii] The change in music and mood is traditional in New Orleans funerals.
[iii] While Grace Jones (May Day, A View to a Kill) has been billed as the first black bond woman Gloria Hendry has a valid claim to that title. Lola Larson (Bambi, Diamonds are Forever) can also make that claim.
[iv] A forced deck is a deck with only one type of card. In this case “The Lovers”.
[v] Katanga’s plan depended on a lot of honest thieves and junkies.
[vi] This was the same manner as the Isaac Hayes 1971 song “Shaft”.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) may be best remembered as a time capsule. All the cars in the movie were American Motors Corporation (AMC) cars. AMC and the 1970s brings memories of funny looking cars. Christopher Lee played the villain Francisco Scaramanga. In his guess appearance on Saturday Night Live on March 25, 1978 Christopher Lee joked that all his movies aren’t shown on late night television.[i] He mentioned The Man with the Golden Gun as one of his credits. This Bond movie has brief partial nudity.[ii]
Scaramanga is an assassin for hire. He uses a golden gun that fires golden bullets. His price is $1 million a hit. British Intelligence receives a golden bullet with “007” on it. The investigation takes Bond to Beirut where he finds the gold bullet used to kill 002 in a belly dancer’s belly button.[iii] He is attacked in the process of retrieving it and Bond swallows the bullet.
Andrea Anders (Maud Adams) is Scaramanga’s mistress. She sent the golden bullet. Her plan is to get James Bond to kill Scaramanga. Bond agrees to kill Scaramanga in exchange for the object of his mission, a solex.
James Bond is assisted by Hip (Soon-Tek Oh) and Miss Mary Goodnight (Britt Ekland). When Bond escapes from a martial arts school Hip shows up with his two nieces, dressed in school uniforms. Hip has to take them home from school. The martial arts students close in on the foursome from two sides. Hip deals with the ones on one side. Bond stands in front of the girls. The girls push in front of Bond and make karate stances. The girls promptly karate chop their way through the martial arts students.
Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) makes an appearance. He is in James Bond’s passenger seat during a car chase. Just before a jump and barrel roll stunt Bond puts on a faux southern accent. Scaramanga and his side kick Nick Nack (Herve Villechaize) get away from Bond by converting their car into an airplane and flying away.
Miss Goodnight is the main bond woman. They met on one of Bond’s previous assignments. It’s inconclusive how far their relationship went on the first assignment. Bond wasn’t impressed with her abilities as an agent. She admits she wasn’t good at playing hard to get. Andrea Anders drops by and Miss Goodnight has to spend a night in a closet. On the mission she gets possession of the solex. She attempts to place a tracking device in the trunk of Scaramanga’s Matador X. Scaramanga shoves her into the trunk. She manages to get the trunk opened but not until the car plane is airborne.
When she arrives on Scaramanga’s island he has her put on a bikini, so she can’t conceal any weapons, and gives her a free run of the place. She kills Kra (Sonny Caldinez), Scaramanga’s security and maintenance person. In doing so she equals Bond’s kill count for the movie. In the process Kra falls into a vat of liquid helium. This gives Bond and Miss Goodnight 5 minutes to find the solex and get off the island. While bond is trying to retrieve the solex Miss Goodnight arms the large laser it powers. Bond tries to talk Miss Goodnight through the power down procedure. Bond soon realizes Miss Goodnight has no idea what he’s talking about so he tells her the 3 Stooges method.[iv] Miss Goodnight and Bond think she powered down the laser. In fact, the laser just powered down because a cloud blocked the sun. Fortunately, Bond retrieves the Laser a second before the cloud gets out of the way.
The movie had less violence than previous Bond films. There were only 6 deaths. The martial arts school scene was added to play into the Kung Fu movies, which were popular at the time. The plot revolved around the energy crisis. Soon after the movie’s release the UK discovered a huge amount of oil in the North Sea. The discovery ended the UK’s petrol problems. The MI6 headquarters in Hong Kong, inside the hulk of the RMS Queen Elizabeth, dates the film as 1972-1975. The film grossed almost $98 million[v] but was considered a box office disappointment.
[i] Christopher Lee was alluding to the horror films produced by Hammer in the 60’s and early ‘70s.
[ii] Francoise Therry, who played Chew Mee.
[iii] This was before the Lebanon Civil war and Beirut was called “The Paris of the Middle East”.
[iv] The 3 Stooges method is to press buttons. Don’t knock it, this method tends to work.
[v] The Numbers, Where Data and the Movie Business Meet, James Bond Franchise Box Office History - The Numbers (the-numbers.com) last accessed, 12/10/20.
Bond back on track
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) had about twice the budget, $14 million, of The Man with the Golden Gun. It made of $185 million.[i] Barbara Bach, who was playing the top Bond woman in The Spy Who Loved Me, called previous Bond women “bimbos” in a Time Magazine story.[ii]
Within the first 10 minutes; a Royal Navy and a Soviet submarine have gone missing there are 2 bedroom-scenes and a running gunfight on skis. The action ends with James Bond skiing off a cliff and opening a parachute with a Union Jack on it.[iii] Bond kills Sergei (Michael Billington) in the gunfight. Sergei was Soviet Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), secret agent XXX’s lover.[iv] She intends to get revenge. There is also brief nudity, magazine pictures hung up on the RN submarine.
Soviet General Gogol (Walter Gotell) tells Major Amasova the details of Sergei’s death were sketchy. The woman Bond was with (Sue Vanner), apparently unknown to him, was a Soviet agent. Sergei and the woman were part of a plot to kill Bond. It could be a plot hole that Gogol didn’t know Bond killed Sergei. It could be Gogol knew Bond killed Sergei but didn’t want her to go after Bond, at that time.
Bond and Amasova are sent to retrieve the specifications of a submarine tracking device. The tracking device was developed by Mr. Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). The back story is Stromberg’s Assistant (Marilyn Galsworthy) photographed the plans for the device. Stromberg figures she was the culprit and feds to a shark. As with the two previous Bond movies, The Spy Who Loved Me borrowed from the popular genre started by the blockbuster movie Jaws.
Stromberg dispatches Sandor (Milton Reed) and Jaws (Richard Kiel) to kill whoever touched the microfilm with the plans. Sandor was easy enough for Bond to kill. A 2-story fall did the job, Jaws is another matter.
XXX watches as 007 beats up two Soviet agents. Later in a nightclub XXX and 007 show they know everything about each other. They are going to bid for the microfilm. Jaws kills the man with the microfilm (Vernon Dobtcheff) and makes off with the microfilm. This puts Amasova and Bond in a temporary alliance.
Jaws goes into some Egyptian ruins that are being excavated. After a little cat and mouse and a short fight between Bond and Jaws, Amasova gets the drop on Jaws. Jaws throws down the microfilm. Jaws kicks the gun out of her hand and round 2 of the Bond – Jaws fight begins. Amasova takes the microfilm and tries to make off with the vehicle. Bond had the foresight to take the keys.[v] The Bond – Jaws matchup is similar to the Kirk – Gorn matchup.[vi] After escaping Jaws in what is left of their vehicle, they find themselves floating down the Nile on a boat. XXX uses incapacitating gas from her cigarette to knock out 007 and take the microfilm.
An apparently defeated Bond comes to the local MI6 Headquarters. He finds Amasova and Gogol there. Gogol announces the British and Soviets will cooperate on this mission. Gogol hands over the microfilm as a gesture of goodwill. Amasova digs how she got it with great ease. Bond retorts it’s no good. The vital technical information is missing. Amasova and Bond continue to show off their knowledge and Amasova is at least Bond’s equal.
There is a meeting between Mr. Stromberg and James Bond. A bikini clad Naomi (Caroline Munro) escorts Bond and Amasova to Stromberg’s artificial island. It’s ambiguous if Amasova is jealous or disgusted. Naomi gives Bond a couple of flirty smiles.
The Stromberg meeting is short. As usual Bond’s cover is useless. Stromberg orders Jaws to let Bond return to the mainland then kill 007 and XXX. Bond and Amasova get into 007’s modified Lotus and the bad guys are in pursuit. A motorcycle uses a missile for a sidecar, it backfires. A bad guy car with Jaws, and 3 other bad guys, try to stop the Bond car with handguns. The bad guy car ends up over a cliff, crashing into a house and exploding. Jaws shakes it off. Then a helicopter with mounted machineguns makes a couple of strafing passes. The helicopter flies beside the Lotus. Naomi is flying the helicopter. She gives Bond a wink, smile, and wave. Then she resumes her attack. Bond drives off a pier. Bond converts the car into a submarine. This is the first woman James Bond kills in the franchise. Naomi is off camera when Bond dispatches her. Women had engaged Bond in armed combat in previous movies.[vii]
There is some underwater scenery footage, then the submarine is under attack. During the combat Amasova deploys a defensive and an offensive system. She tells Bond she had stolen the plans for the vehicle.
In their hotel room Amasove figures out Bond killed Sergei. Amasova tells Bond when the mission is over, she will kill him.
There is a battle with Bond; a US, a UK, and a USSR submarine crew on one side and Stomberg’s ship crew on the other side. After foiling Stromberg’s plot, the American submarine receives orders to destroy Stromberg’s artificial island. Amasova is on the island. Bond asks the submarine commander (Shane Rimmer) to delay the attack so he can rescue Amasova.
Bond uses a jet ski to reach Stronberg’s island. That 25 seconds on film was a big boost to the jet ski industry. Bond rescues Amasova and they escape in an escape pod while the island is sinking. The mission is over and Amasova has the drop on Bond. She decides against killing him. Jaws, who beat a shark in a biting contest, also survived the Island’s sinking. He is last seen swimming away from the scene. The movie ends with a whimsical version of the theme song.
[i] The Numbers, Where Data and the Movie Business Meet, James Bond Franchise Box Office History - The Numbers (the-numbers.com) last accessed, 12/10/20.
[ii] Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore) on a TV special about James Bond said the same thing about other Bond women. She based it on the fact Pussy Galore initially turned down Bond’s advances.
[iii] Technically it wasn’t a Union Jack.
[iv] At the time adult movies received an X-rating in America. Theaters that specialized in pornographic movies often advertised their movies as XXX. XXX is also a symbol for an alcoholic beverage.
[v] If she were C.I.A. she probably would have hot-wired the vehicle.
[vi] In the Star Trek episode Arena Captain Kirk was pitted against his Gorn counterpart. Kirk repeatedly attacked him in ways that would kill a human but the Gorn would just shrug it off.
[vii] The first time was in From Russia with Love.
Other movies where the bad woman dies off camera
|Is off camera||Is off camera||Goes off camera/switch scene|
Tarzan and the Leopard Woman
The Death of the Incredible Hulk*
Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
Wild Wild West
Plan 9 From Outer Space
The Dirty Dozen
Star Trek Generations
Gang of Roses
Devil Girl from Mars*
Die Hard With a Vengeance
XXX: Return of Xander Cage
Bond in Space
The closing credits in The Spy Who Loved Me indicated For Your Eyes Only would be the next James Bond movie. The franchise, trying to cash in on the Star Wars success, decided to produce Moonraker first. Moonraker came to theaters in 1979.
The opening scene shows a Space Shuttle Orbital, named “Moonraker”, flying piggyback on a modified Boeing 747. This was the standard way to transport Space Shuttle Orbitals. A pair of bad guys, hidden in the orbital, start its main engines and flies to Brazil, destroying the 747 in the process.[i]
M (Bernard Lee) gets word of it and Immediately asks Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell) where is James Bond. Bond is with a Hostess (Leila Shenna) on a private plane. She pulls a gun on him. The pilot (Jean-Pierre Castaldi) shoots up the control panel. The plan is the pilot and hostess bail out and leave Bond to crash to his death. In the fight Bond punches the pilot out of the plane. Jaws pushes Bond out of the plane then jumps out. Bond catches up with the pilot and takes his parachute. Jaws’ parachute malfunctions and Jaws lands on a circus big top.
The Moonraker’s are built by the Drax Corporation. This sets up a meeting with Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale). Corinne Dufour (Corinne Clery), a Drax helicopter pilot, flies Bond to Drax Corporation headquarters. After a short meeting Drax sends Bond to meet Dr. Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles). Drax tells Chang (Toshiro Suga) to “make sure much harm comes to” Bond.
Bond’s charms don’t seem to impress Dr. Goodhead. She talks Bond into getting into a centrifuge then leaves the area. Chang takes over the controls and attempts to kill Bond. Bond uses a Q Branch device to save himself. Corinne Dufour is impressed with Bond’s charms and helps Bond on his mission.
The next day Drax has his dogs chase down and kill Corinne in the woods. There is no indication Bond knew of Corinne’s death. This is a departure from the formula. Usually, the death of someone Bond knows is used to make his mission personal.
Bond’s next stop is Venice. There is a boat chase in the canals. Bond has a gondola that’s really a speedboat, that converts to a land vehicle. He meets Dr. Goodhead. She’s still not impressed with his charms. Bond sneaks into her room and some spy gadgets reveal she is a CIA agent. He spends most of the night with her. Bond kills Chang so Drax gets a replacement, Jaws.
Bond’s next stop is Rio de Janeiro. He meets Manuela (Emily Bolton). It’s carnival time in Rio de Janeiro. Jaws confronts and Manuela pulls a knife on him. Jaws quickly disarms her and is about to kill her when some revelers happen by. Bond takes on Jaws. Jaws has the advantage but a crowd of revelers force Jaws down the street. Not killing Manuela seems a critical scene.[ii]
Bond finds Dr. Goodhead at a sky tram. There is some back and forth about who left who. Bond repeats his offer they work together. Jaws makes an appearance. Jaws ends up trapped by a large sky tram gear. Dolly (Blanche Ravalec), an innocent bystander, help Jaws. Dolly is a plain woman with glasses. Jaws and Dolly are mutually smitten.
Bond and Dr. Goodhead’s escape is short lived. They are captured and driven in an ambulance. The Ambulance drive it a great example of product placement, a practice in its genesis. Bond escapes, Dr. Goodhead doesn’t. Bond stops at an MI6 headquarters then continues on his mission.
There is a boat chase on the Amazon that ends with Jaws going over a waterfall. A woman easily leads Bond into a trap. Drax puts Bond and Dr. Goodhead underneath a space shuttle. The plan is they get incinerated when the main engine’s start. Bond gets himself and Dr. Goodhead out just before the main engine’s start.[iii]
They knock out a space shuttle’s pilots and take their place. Nobody they pass along the way realizes the pilots are a man and a woman, not 2 men. The space shuttles fly to a large space station. Drax’s intention is to kill everybody on the planet. The only humans would be those on the shuttle. Drax chose only perfect human specimens for his crew. His master race is not based on race. Drax wants to be the biggest mass murderer in history but he’s not a bigot. Half his crew are women. Drax doesn’t have a mate for himself.
Dr. Goodhead gets to show off the martial arts she learned at Vassar College.[iv] Dr. Goodhead and Bond take out the radar jamming system on the space station. This sets up a fight in outer space. Jaws captures Bond and Dr. Goodhead. Jaws switches sides when he realizes he and Dolly don’t fit the bill for perfect human specimens.
A space shuttle filled with laser armed astronaut commandos in the cargo bay fight it out with the space station crew. The female half of the space station crew disappear just before the fighting. They are there one minute and are inexplicably gone the next. In the fight Dr. Goodhead shows her shooting and martial arts skills make her a good partner for Bond. The surviving astronaut commandos exit in their space shuttle. Jaws and Dolly have to ride a piece of the space station down. They survive. Dr. Goodhead and Bond take a laser cannon armed Moonraker and take out three nerve gas pods.
Moonraker has a $34 million budget and made over $210 million at the box office.[v] It was the pinnacle of special effects in the franchise.
[i] The orbital’s fuel was in an external fuel tank. The orbital could only glide to earth after being released from the 747. In the movie all the orbitals were named “Moonraker” and only distinguished by a number’ Moonraker 1, Moonraker 2, etc. This error was made a couple of times in the ‘70s. John W. Hackett’s book The Third World War: August 1985, first published in 1978, had all the orbiters named “Enterprise”. The 1983 TV Movie, Starflight: The Plane That Couldn’t Land, named all the orbiters “Columbia”.
[ii] Killing her would have put Jaws beyond redemption.
[iii] They get out right before “blastoff”. A Space Shuttle’s engines start 6 seconds before “blastoff”. Had they done it properly Bond would have gotten out at T – 007 seconds.
[iv] Vassar College is a liberal arts college. It was a woman’s college until it went coeducational in 1969.
[v] The Numbers, Where Data and the Movie Business Meet, James Bond Franchise Box Office History - The Numbers (the-numbers.com) last accessed, 12/10/20.
Movies where bad women disappear right before the fight
Highlander: The Source
Universal Soldier: The Return
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2020 Robert Sacchi
Robert Sacchi (author) on December 11, 2020:
Thank you for reading and commenting. I'm glad you found it interesting.
Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 11, 2020:
Well elaborated. Interesting reading.
Robert Sacchi (author) on December 10, 2020:
Thank you all for reading and commenting.
Chitrangada Sharan - Sean Connery seems to be the odds on favorite. He was a great actor and he really gave the franchise a great kick off.
MG Singh emge - James Bond is a great mixture of action, adventure, and yes romance.
Sankhajit Bhattacharjee - Glad you enjoyed the article.
Sankhajit Bhattacharjee from MILWAUKEE on December 10, 2020:
my favorite piece...
MG Singh emge from Singapore on December 10, 2020:
James bond is a character I love. I think I have seen all his movies as well as read all the books of Ian Fleming. Wonderful article.
Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 10, 2020:
Have been an admirer of James Bond movies, since my younger days.
Enjoyed reading your article, Sean Connery being my favorite Bond.
Well written and thanks for sharing.
Robert Sacchi (author) on December 10, 2020:
Thank you both for reading and commenting. The spoiler alert is pro forma. The reality is these movies have been on TV so many times if someone hasn't seen them it's because they're not interested in seeing them. I'm glad you liked the articles. These are entertaining movies.
Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 10, 2020:
This is one of my favorite James Bond movies, and I have seen them all I think. This is another excellent review. Thank you, Robert.
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 10, 2020:
We have seen all of these James Bond movies, so the spoiler alert was not important to me. In fact, it acted to resurrect the memories of seeing them again.