Bond, James Bond. He gets the gadgets and the girls but the bad guys get the swanky lairs and deadly creatures that they use to despatch staff who have outlived their usefulness. That range of creatures includes everything from tarantulas to crocodiles, to piranhas and of course, sharks.
Bond has been a cinematic staple since 1962 and over the year – and six 007s to date – sharks have swum into the series a total of five times, three times under the tenure of Roger Moore, who sadly passed away late last month after a short battle against cancer.
Moore is the longest serving Bond, from 1973 until 1985, and spanned an impressive seven films. For me he is the best Bond and this article is in tribute to him.
'Water' better way to make a splash in a James Bond film than one that spends 25% of its running time under the water.
There is a massive underwater battle featuring divers, submersibles and all sorts of underwater weaponry, and plenty of tiger sharks poking their noses around. They were easier to train, apparently.
But that isn’t the most memorable shark-related scene. Main villain, eye-patched Emile Largo, has a villa with a pool, a pool that is home to ‘pet’ sharks.
Of course there is a scene where a henchman is despatched and devoured in the pool (for which the stuntman was paid an extra $250) but the standout moment for the audience – and Sean Connery in the pool was this.
James was in the pool, which is linked to the villa by an underwater corridor, a corridor that is also frequented by sharks. Bond opens the hatch to swim through the corridor when both he and the audience is surprised by a shark.
That surprise on Connery’s face is very real as he was ‘safely’ screened from the sharks by 4x8 sheets of Perspex…apart from one 4ft gap that this shark managed to find. So, Connery is shaken and stirred for real. His face says it all.
That was the fifth Bond film but the second, From Russia With Love (1963) also deserves special mention. Not for its Sharks - it doesn't feature any - but it does feature a future shark hunter in the shape of Robert Shaw.
Shaw played Russian assassin Red Grant and has a belter of a fight - one the series keeps off paying homage to - on board the orient express. Being the villain of the piece Shaw needed have got a return ticket, what with this, trains again in The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Jaws the poor chap didn't have much luck with transport.
Thunderball was remade in 1983, as unofficial Bond film, Never Say Never Again, with Connery returning to the role. Alas it was sharkless. Connery was probably quite pleased.
And that was the only time sharks appeared in a Connery Bond, with Roger Moore at the helm though it was obviously a case of the ‘Moore’ the merrier.
Live and Let Die (1973)
Roger Moore’s debut is an action-packed affair that takes in New York, New Orleans and the Caribbean; the latter means plenty of sharks. Their fins are shown on a couple of occasions but they really come into play in the finale.
Villain, Dr Kananga, has an underground lair (naturally) and in in has sharks. In the final scene James Bond and Bond Girl, Solitaire, are tied together and suspended over a pool of water. Bond quips that it is an awful lot of effort to go to for a drowning and Kananga retorts “Drown, I doubt you’ll get chance.” With that he slits Bond’s arm so that fresh blood drops into the water and then the sharks are released to circle our protagonists.
Needless to say Bond gets out of his sticky situation but not before he and Kananga end up plunging into shark infested water. Involving a shark pellet it is certainly an explosive ending for one of the characters.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
The film turns 40 this year and is perhaps Moore’s greatest entry into the Bond series, packed to the brim with action, gadgets and spectacle. Oh, and sharks.
Main villain, Stromberg, has an underwater lair so he of course has been to the same pet store to get pet sharks to complete his whole aqua theme. All of which is rather unfortunate for one of his double crossing secretaries who has been selling some of his secret plans.
She takes the lift from his office when the bottom of the doors open sending her down a slide into the waiting jaws of sharks.
Spy though is of also of note due to the introduction of another character with plenty of bite, in the form of metal teeth. Whilst taking a dip in the world of James Bond, and this being a Jaws blog, it would of course be remiss of us to not mention the towering character of Jaws.
At 6’ 1” Moore is no slouch but looks small in comparison to the 7’ 2” Richard Kiel who brought the steel teethed henchman - with a penchant for wearing braces to hold his trousers up - to life.
Jaws , clearly named in homage to the Spielberg classic, was genuinely terrifying when I was little with his air of Dracula about him with delivery of death by metal teeth meets Frankenstein’s monster in his sheer size and strength.
The Jaws (the shark) link is underlined at end of Spy, as Jaws fins himself in the water after the villain’s lair has sunk, in the water with the shark. The shark goes in for the kill but Jaws kills a shark. Jaws beating Jaws if you will.
And Jaws would end up following James Bond into outer space, years before Sharknado, in 1979’s Moonraker where, after starting out with a menacing sky dive and Mardi Gras scene in an alley way – that still gives me nightmares – he ending up switching sides and even falls in love. Can’t see our Jaws (the shark) ever having a friendly drink with Ellen Brody.
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
For Your Eyes only features a great shark jump moment when Bond and this film’s Bond Girl, Melina, are investigating a shipwreck, still full of bodies. “I hope he was dining alone”, quips Moore in his wet suit.
Heading back to their ship the two find themselves bound together and are dragged off the back of the ship as it races at speed with the pair bouncing along at speed like a live chum line – Bond even sustaining injuries crashing against coral leaving that essential trail of blood for the sharks to home in on.
There is some great stunt work and underwater photography here as our heroes are dragged within inches of curious sharks as they travel through the water.
Eventually Bond tether the rope around a large piece of coral that makes the boat lurch and sends one of the henchmen crashing into the water he is quickly devoured by the already curious sharks. In the commotion Bond and Melena make their escape, their captors believing them to be shark food as well.
That scene is actually taken from the book version of Live and Let Die and translates really well to screen and is definitely one of the film’s most memorable moments.
Both The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only were chosen as two films to be screened across cinemas worldwide on May 31st to celebrate the life of Sir Roger Moore, half of the proceeds were donated to UNICEF, the children's charity that he was ambassador of. For me, nobody did it better.
LicenceTo Kill (1989)
Timothy Dalton's gritty second and last Bond film was the first to be granted a 15 certificate in the U.K. Due to its violence and blood quota.
One such scene involved bond's regular CIA pal, Felix Leiter, who was tethered by his hands and mauled by a shark as he dangled. He's then left for dead to be found by 007.
Originally such a scene also originally occurred in Ian Fleming Live and Let Die novel.
There's a tense scene later on as Bond, on the Revenge rampage, is almost taken out by a shark nudging the floor. Bond later sends a crooked DEA agent to sleep with the fishes, but not until said fish has torn a few strips off him.
And that's it; we've not even seen a dorsal fin in a Bond film since. That's 28 years without a shark trying to take a bite out of Bond.
Whether it is Daniel Craig (still Bond until we are told otherwise), or someone else taking up the 00 prefix, let's see Bond back not just in hot water but in shark infested ones…
By Dean Newman
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