Today is the 50th anniversary of the release of Dr. No, the first Bond film. And besides having tons of sex (and probably contracting an equal number of STDs) over his now 50 year career, Bond has been responsible for some of the greatest car chases in movie history.
But if you like Lotuses, submarines, sexy women, harpoons, and Italian wine, then you know which chase stands out above the rest.
The year was 1977. The car was the Lotus Esprit S1. The actor was Roger Moore. And the movie was The Spy Who Loved Me. For the car chase lover, it had absolutely everything and more. It's even better than having all the chases in one place at one time.
Rocket powered motorcycle sidecars? Yep. Gadgets that make cars fly off cliffs? Heck yes. A sexy passenger that is now married to Ringo Starr? You better believe it. An even sexier pilot of a helicopter gunship? Uh huh. A car turning into a submarine? This isn't amateur hour.
The chase was filmed on the island of Sardinia off the coast of Italy. Lotus supplied the Bond crew with two Esprits, and sent along their head of chassis development, Roger Becker, to look after the cars. But the movie's stunt drivers couldn't get the car to perform the way the staff wanted.
That's when Becker was drafted in to perform the stunt driving since he knew what the car could actually do.
And he did a damn good job. He drifted around corners, drove under helicopters, and made hair raising passes.
But more than that, the chase had a little bit of everything. Bond used gadgets on the car like in Goldfinger to deter his enemies. There was comic relief with Jaws walking away from a crash. There were guns, crashes, helicopters, sharks, and women. And perhaps most amazingly, a British car went underwater and didn't immediately flood, although it did have a few leaks.
In terms of Bond movies, this chase is the iPhone while others are Android. They're good, but they aren't the real deal.
And it's this movie that I use every time I defend Roger Moore as a good Bond. Sure, he was a bit of a pretty boy and perhaps a bit too comical, but he also was in the greatest car chase in Bond movie history. That says a lot.
Think there's a better one? Let me know what it is in Kinja below. I'll defend The Spy Who Loved Me to the death.