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“See The World's Greatest Villains...”
For the exclusive West End Engagement United Artists programmed a season of all six Sean Connery James Bond films which played on double-bills for four-weeks at the London Pavilion from Thursday May 15 to Wednesday June 11, 1975. From Russia With Love/You Only Live Twice played on Thursday, Friday and Saturday (with an additional performance of each film on Saturdays only); Dr. No/Diamonds Are Forever played on Sunday and Monday, and Goldfinger/Thunderball on Tuesday and Wednesday. A quad-crown poster was created exclusively for this season (which mis-spelled Rosa Klebb) showing a graphic representation of 007 in the gun barrel sequence, although the figure used was a Roger Moore pose – not Sean Connery.

A Season of James Bond 007 - London Pavilion 1975

The season also played in selected cities where the pairings of films were different to the London release. Some cinemas played a different film each on day of the week; whilst others also included On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Live And Let Die as part of the season. The National Screen Service produced a set of black-and-white front-of-house stills which were made available to cinema managers who booked the films from May through to the end of 1975. Dr. No was dropped from distribution once it had premiered on UK TV.

The Man With The Golden Gun/O.H.M.S.S. Cinecenta 4/London Pavilion Season 1975

The week before the James Bond season opened at the London Pavilion, the Cinecenta Panton Street, just off Leicester Square and Haymarket, had shown The Man With The Golden Gun on the 145-seat screen 4 for seven-days from Thursday May 8, 1975. After four day break, The Man With The Golden Gun returned on Sunday May 18, 1975, but this time joined by On Her Majesty's Secret Service. One assumes that the enterprising manager of the Cinecenta realised these two films were not part of the revival playing at the Pavilion, and rebooked the pair to complement the Sean Connery season.

The Man With The Golden Gun/Lve And Let Die 1975

Following the 1975 season James Bond films at the London Pavilion, the first Roger Moore double-bill played at the Astoria, Charing Cross Road and Metropole Victoria for two weeks commencing Thursday November 13, 1975. The double-bill of The Man With The Golden Gun/Live And Let Die was promoted with a two-colour quad-crown poster that unusually does not include Roger Moore's name nor any credits other than the film titles. The double-bill was shown at many ODEON cinemas across the UK over the 1975 Christmas holiday period, and throughout 1976.

Although Roger Moore was the current James Bond, several other ODEON cinemas showed Diamonds Are Forever/Goldfinger or Diamonds Are Forever/You Only Live Twice instead. The Sean Connery films then became harder to see on the big screen in 1976.

The Man With the Golden Gun/Live And Let Die quad-crown poster 1975 release

The James Bond films were then absent from London's West end for most of 1976. From Russia With Love was shown for the first time on UK television, and ranked number one in the weeks TV ratings. Goldfinger then premiered on the ITV network on November 3, 1976, again topping the ratings for that week; with From Russia With Love broadcast again on December 28, just seven months after it TV premiere.

“Moore and Connery - Together at last...”
Although Roger Moore was now firmly established as James Bond, United Artists had not paired either of his outings on a double-bill with a Sean Connery film. Live And Let Die had been paired with On Her Majesty's Secret Service in 1974. In September 1976 it was announced that Moore and Connery would finally be together in ‘one terrific all-action programme!’ - the two films were Diamonds Are Forever and Gold (a 1974 action thriller directed by Peter Hunt). Advance publicity announced that the double-bill would play at the London Pavilion from October 21, 1976.  However, as the Pavilion had been operated by United Artists since 1934; and Gold was not a UA distributed film, the double-bill did not end up playing at their flagship venue. It was very unusual to see films from two different distributors on the same bill although the advertising campaign for this pairing was handled by both Hemdale and UA. The Diamonds Are Forever/Gold double-bill did play in North London cinemas from Sunday November 7, 1976; and in South London a week later.

Diamonds Are Forever /On Her Majesty's Secret Service London Pavilion 1976

Diamonds Are Forever therefore returned to the London Pavilion on a double-bill with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service for three weeks commencing Thursday October 21, 1976. The double-bill played concurrently at the 2,000-seat Metropole cinema opposite Victoria Station. Unusually the newspaper advert block pictured above showed Diamonds Are Forever with an ‘AA’ certificate, but the actual listing for the cinema, neon lettering and display outside the London Pavilion all showed the correct ‘A’ classification. Although the ‘AA’ rating could have been an error by whoever created the advert block, there had been some controversy over the awarding of the ‘A’ certificate when the film was first released in December 1971. Diamonds Are Forever was passed for public exhibition with minor cuts in order to achieve that rating, and never formally classified ‘AA’ by the BBFC. Chief Examiner and Secretary Stephen Murphy did have pause for thought and said in his notes: “I have no doubt that if we give this film an ‘AA’ we will be criticised because every child in the United Kingdom will see clips on television”. The case notes go on to say: “I am worried by the incidents of violence in the film, which although nowhere near the intensity of some films, are still vulnerable to public criticism and possibly even to imitation”. The Diamonds Are Forever/On Her Majesty's Secret Service double-bill was not released in provincial cinemas until January 1978.

Diamonds Are Forever ‘AA’ certificate quad poster

Local Government authorities in some towns and cities did choose to apply the ‘AA’ rating when Diamonds Are Forever was revived in the late-1970s. In addition to the re-releases with other ‘A’ rated James Bond films, Diamonds Are Forever was often double-billed with ‘AA’ rated films, but was always the ‘main feature’, being the newer of the two titles. In these instances no actual double-bill poster was produced, and cinemas would generally display just the Diamonds Are Forever poster outside, even though entry to the overall programme would be restricted to over 14's. Diamonds Are Forever was therefore only re-rated locally, which meant the quad-crown poster supplied by the National Screen Service needed changing, and many were overprinted (or hand lettered) with the new certificate, or had a small pasted snipe covering the amended area.

These instances were rare, but as local authorities had the final say on whether a film could be screened in a given town or city, they sometimes exercised their power in order to be seen bowing to public pressure in the wake of a larger number of films released in that period with violent subject matter. The ‘AA’ rating was also locally applied to late-night screenings of Diamonds Are Forever in order to restrict the audience to older cinemagoers. Diamonds Are Forever was re-submitted to the BBFC in its original uncut format for its 2012 Blu-ray and DVD release. It was evident that when viewed with contemporary guidelines (which had not existed in 1971) the film was now clearly not suitable for the equivalent ‘PG’ rating, and was re-classified as ‘12’ for home media.

Diamonds Are Forever/Gold publicity ad/The Spy Who Loved Me

“It's The Biggest. It's The Best. It's Bond. And Beyond”
The Spy Who Loved Me had been promoted as the next film in the series as early as May 1975 for a 1976 release, with Harry Saltzman & Albert R. Broccoli producing, and Guy Hamilton once again directing. Hamilton left when he was signed to direct Superman: The Movie; but later withdrew from that project and was replaced by Richard Donner. Harry Saltzman sold his share in the Bond films to United Artists in 1975 for £20-million, resulting in Roger Moore’s third outing as James Bond being produced solely by Albert R. Broccoli. A number of script problems and an injunction against EON Productions by Kevin McClory (if the organisation SPECTRE or main villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld were used) delayed production until August 1976.

The Spy Who Loved Me Odeon Leicester Square 1977
Roger Moore, Barbara Bach. Lewis Gilbert and Richard Kiel at the premiere of The Spy Who Loved Me Odeon Leicester Square 1977

ABOVE: (top left) Double-crown poster seen on London buses in the weeks before the opening of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). (top right) The ODEON Leicester Square hosts the Royal World Charity premiere on the evening of 7/7/77. (bottom left) Roger Moore, Barbara Bach and director Lewis Gilbert at the premiere of The Spy Who Loved Me (bottom right) Richard Kiel meets Princess Anne watched by production designer Ken Adam and Michael G. Wilson.

The Spy Who Loved Me had its press screening at the ODEON Leicester Square on the morning of Tuesday July 5, 1977; followed by a world premiere at the same cinema on the evening of Thursday July 7, 1977. The Royal Charity Premiere held in the presence of Princess Anne and Lord Mountbatten was attended by Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jurgens, Richard Kiel, Desmond Llewelyn, Walter Gotell and director Lewis Gilbert. Producer ‘Cubby’ Broccoli also attended with wife Dana and daughter Barbara. The Spy Who Loved Me broke the house record at the ODEON Leicester Square, taking a staggering £57,625 in its first seven days and continued to play at the flagship venue until September 15, 1977. For the first two weeks of September 1977 The Spy Who Loved Me was playing simultaneously at the ODEON Leicester Square, London Pavilion and the 2,172-seat Dominion Theatre, Tottenham Court Road. The Spy Who Loved Me continued to play at the Dominion until Saturday December 17, 1977; and at the Pavilion until Wednesday February 25, 1978. The Spy Who Loved Me was the first James Bond film not to have custom made artwork featured on the large neon exterior of the London Pavilion. By 1978 all films playing at the venue were only advertised on the exterior canopy and street-level facade of the building, and this would remain the case until the London Pavilion ceased operation as a cinema in April 1981 (although its exterior would still be used to advertise upcoming United Artists releases).

The Spy Who Loved Me London Pavilion

Following its huge success in the West End, The Spy Who Loved Me was pre-booked for a two-week engagement at North London cinemas from Sunday August 28, 1977; and in South London from Sunday September 4, 1977. The Spy Who Loved Me was the top box office attraction in the UK in 1977, and in the USA it was second only to George Lucas's record-breaking space opera Star Wars, which did not open in the UK until December 1977. Following its 25-week engagement at the London Pavilion The Spy Who Loved Me then played for two weeks from Thursday February 23, 1978 at the small 171-seat Times Centa 1 cinema situated inside the entrance to Baker Street underground station on Marylebone Road. Opened in 1938 as The Topical News Theatre, this venue originally had one 306-seat auditorium which showed newsreels, and was the only cinema to be built inside a London underground railway station. The Spy Who Loved Me also played for three weeks at the FilmCenta 2, Charing Cross Road from Thursday March 2, 1978.

The Man With The Golden Gun/Live And Let Die London Pavilion 1978

“007 X 2 = A licence To Thrill!”
As soon as The Spy Who Loved Me had ended its West End engagements United Artists then re-issued a double-bill of Roger Moore's first two James Bond films, this time with the tag-line “Nobody Does It Better” on the new quad-crown poster. The Man With The Golden Gun/Live And Let Die opened at the London Pavilion on Thursday March 23, 1978, where it played for four weeks before transferring to Studio One, Oxford Circus (the West End cinema that had debuted the original James Bond double-bill of Dr. No/From Russia With Love in 1965) from Thursday April 20, 1978. The venue had now been converted into a four-screen cinema with The Man With The Golden Gun/Live And Let Die playing for two weeks at the 200-seat Studio One, before moving to the smaller 88-seat Studio Three for its second week.

the Man With The Golden Gun/Live And Let Die Studio 1 1978

Live And Let Die was released once again at the London Pavilion on a double-bill with The Spy Who Loved Me for four weeks from Thursday February 1, 1979, and again for another four weeks from Friday March 9th at the Gala Royal, Marble Arch. The pair also played across the country in the months leading up to the release of the next film in the series.

The Spy Who Loved Me/Live And Let Die London Pavilion 1979

Unusually the quad-crown poster (pictured below) bore the credit ‘Ian Fleming's The Spy Who Loved Me’, and was the only advertising for the film ever to do so. Since the film was first released in July 1977, all advertising materials bore the revised credit ‘Albert R. Broccoli presents Roger Moore as Ian Fleming's James Bond 007 in...’. Even the tri-folded (14" X 9") sheet advertising the various sizes of composite materials available to newspapers showed a mockup of the poster with the correct credit!

The Spy Who Loved Me/Live And Let Die double-bill

The Spy Who Loved Me end credits

ABOVE: (left) Two-colour quad-crown poster that accompanied the release of The Spy Who Loved Me/Live And Let Die in 1979. (right)  For Your Eyes Only had been announced as the next film in the series and listed as such in the end credits of The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). However, EON Productions decided to film Ian Fleming's third novel Moonraker next due to the rise in popularity of the science fiction genre in the wake of the huge success of Star Wars (1977). This was not the first time the title of the next film in the series was changed. On Her Majesty's Secret Service was due to be filmed with Sean Connery in 1964 and Goldfinger's end credits were altered for general release prints as Thunderball was chosen instead. The original end credits for Thunderball also announced On Her Majesty's Secret Service as the next film, but this time the caption was removed before the film was released resulting in a clumsy optical wipe. The tradition of announcing the title of the next film continued up until 1983, when the end credits of Octopussy stated that James Bond would return in “From A View To A Kill”. This was the title of the first short story in Ian Fleming's FOR YOUR EYES ONLY anthology published in 1960.

“Outer space now belongs to 007”
Roger Moore's fourth James Bond film was first screened for the press on the morning of Monday June 25, 1979 at the ODEON Leicester Square. Moonraker then had its Royal World Charity Premiere on the evening of Tuesday June 26, 1979, and opened to the public the following day. The premiere was attended by Roger Moore with wife Luisa, Michael Lonsdale, Richard Kiel, Toshiro Suga, Corinne Clery, Producer Albert R. Broccoli with his wife Dana and daughter Barbara; and Desmond Llewelyn with his wife Pamela. Director Lewis Gilbert and former ‘Bond Girls’ Britt Ekland [Mary Goodnight in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)] and Shirley Eaton [Jill Masterson in Goldfinger(1964)], also attended along with Roger Moore's friend and actor David Hedison [Felix Leiter in Live And Let Die (1973) & Licence To Kill (1989)]. In its first seven days at the ODEON Leicester Square Moonraker had not surprisingly broken the all-time theatre box-office record held by The Spy Who Loved Me, and grossed £85,990.

Moonraker premiere ODEON Leicester Square |  Bernard Lee with his wife

Also attending the Moonraker premiere was Bernard Lee (pictured above with his wife Ursula) who had played ‘M’ in every Bond film since 1962. Lee later attempted to shoot his scenes on For Your Eyes Only with Lois Maxwell in November 1980, but it was evident he was too ill to continue. The 73 year-old actor died on January 16, 1981. Out of respect for the late actor, producer Albert R. Broccoli refused to recast the role in For Your Eyes Only (1981) and his lines were given to the recurring character Bill Tanner [played by English character actor James Villiers (1933-1998)], who explained that ‘M’ was ‘on leave’. The role of ‘M’ was then played by in the next four films in the series by Robert Brown (1921-2003), who had earlier appeared as Admiral Hargreaves in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Bernard Lee's portrait is seen in the Scottish castle headquarters of MI6 in The World Is Not Enough (1999); with Robert Brown's portrait making an appearance (along with that of Judi Dench) in the office of current ‘M’ Ralph Fiennes in No Time To Die (2021). Bernard Lee's portrait was also on set but ultimately omitted from the final edit. All three portraits were on display in the OMEGA store in London's Burlington Arcade in September 2021, as part of a 007 themed installation celebrating the release of the 25th James Bond film.

Moonraker Odeon Leicester Square
Moonraker premiere Odeon Leicester Square

Moonraker played simultaneously at the ODEON Marble Arch from Thursday July 26, 1979 before moving from the ODEON Leicester Square to the London Pavilion on Thursday September 5th, to make way for Ridley Scott’s Alien. Both films were nominated for an Oscar for their special effects with Alien winning. 007 would have to wait until Skyfall (2012) before the Academy awarded another golden statuette to the Bond series. Moonraker eventually finished its 20-week run at the ODEON Marble Arch on Wednesday December 12, 1979.

Moonraker Newspaper advertisement Marble Arch
Moonraker - Odeon Marble Arch 1979

Moonraker played at the London Pavilion for 18-weeks until Wednesday January 9, 1980; and then transferred to the smaller 222-seat Classic 3 Haymarket, where it played for three weeks until Wednesday January 30th. Moonraker had therefore played continuously in London’s West End for an astonishing seven months!

“James Bond on the South Bank”
In January 1980 the National Film Theatre on London's South Bank (just over a mile away from the West End) presented a season of all eleven James Bond films, marking the first time any of the series had played at the prestigious venue. The National Film Theatre opened in 1951 as part of the ‘Festival of Britain’ and moved to its present location in 1957. Capable of screening all formats of film from 16mm to 70mm, the venue showed a huge selection of classic and contemporary films each year, with new and re-releases, film seasons, and director and actor retrospectives. Although the screenings were open to the public, tickets were available to members as a priority and advertised via the NFT's monthly printed programme. The NFT was re-launched as a three-screen complex in 2007 and renamed BFI Southbank. The 1980 James Bond season opened in the 450-seat NFT1 4.15pm with a double-bill of Dr. No/From Russia With Love on Tuesday January 1st, with a second screening of Dr. No at 8.45pm. The double-bill was the first screening of the new decade, with Casablanca (1942) playing in the smaller 160-seat NFT2. 

National Film Theatre 1980 James Bond season

The season continued at 4.15pm on Saturday January 5, 1980 with a triple-bill of Goldfinger, Thunderball and You Only Live Twice. The trio screened again on Sunday 6th January this time in reverse order. A week later another triple-bill of On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever and Live And Let Die began at 3.45pm in NFT1, and was repeated on Sunday January 13th, again in reverse order. The final triple-bill of The Man With The Golden Gun, The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker played in NFT1 from 3.45 on Saturday January 19, 1980 with the films in reverse order on Sunday 20th. Coincidentally this day also saw the UK television premiere of Live And Let Die on the ITV network when the film was viewed by a staggering 23.50 million viewers (which was almost half of the entire population). Roger Moore's debut film as 007 still holds the record as the most-viewed film ever screened on UK television - an achievement likely never to be surpassed!

National Film Theatre 1980 James Bond season

In the programme notes Adrian Turner incorrectly stated that Goldfinger's main titles were designed by Maurice Binder, and commented that On Her Majesty's Secret Service was “Possibly a therapeutic film for EON; certainly a brave and successful one which deserves a new audience”. Although the film had not been seen on the big screen for several years, it was greeted with rapturous applause by the sell-out audience.

The season concluded in NFT1 on Thursday January 24, 1980 with a screening of several episodes from the 8-part 1977 Open University series focussing on the making of The Spy Who Loved Me. The documentaries were made as study material for the Open University course Mass Communication and Society, and originally screened every two-weeks in the early hours of the morning on BBC2 from July - October 1977. The series was repeated annually for six years on BBC Television, and remains one of the most in-depth insights into the making of a James Bond film ever produced. The full 184-minute series is available in poor quality on Youtube, and one episode was released as an extra on the original US MGM DVD of The Spy Who Loved Me in 1998.

“Bond meets the Panther”
Kenneth Rive’s La Continentale cinema on Tottenham Court Road finally closed its doors on Tuesday August 31, 1976 (the same day as the Berkeley) – the final film screened was The Return Of The Pink Panther. Its sequel The Pink Panther Strikes Again was released in December 1976, and later re-issued on a hugely successful double-bill with The Spy Who Loved Me which opened at the London Pavilion on Thursday March 2, 1980, where it played for four weeks.

The Spy Who Loved Me/The Pink Panther Strikes Again London Pavilion 1980

The James Bond films had been successfully paired with others from different franchises or genres for provincial releases throughout the 1960s and 1970s, so the 007/Pink Panther combination was not as unusual as one might initially expect. Peter Sellers had of course starred in the 1967 version of Casino Royale playing one of the many mock James Bonds, and even shot a spoof gun barrel sequence for teaser trailer for the next film in the series Revenge Of The Pink Panther (1978). A two-colour quad-crown poster was created for the release using a slightly altered version of Bob Peak's artwork from the original The Spy Who Loved Me poster in reverse. The unlikely double-bill was also very successful outside London, initially playing during the Easter school holidays.

The Spy Who Loved Me/The Pink Panther Strikes Again double-bill

Moonraker/The Man With The Golden Gun double-bill

The London Pavilion once again played host to the latest Bond double-bill of Moonraker/The Man With The Golden Gun for two weeks from Thursday July 3, 1980. The pair were still screening in London and provincially until November – only a month before the UK TV premiere of The Man With The Golden Gun on Christmas Day.

Moonraker/The Man With The Golden Gun London Pavilion 1980


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