Wednesday, November 26, 2014

James Bond 007: The Best Of Richard Kiel (Jaws)

As promised here, albeit later than anticipated (well, because it takes time taking your own pictures plus I ended up watching the films again), I return with an essential tribute to the late, great Richard Kiel (1939-2014) as the wonderfully memorable character villain Jaws in both the stunningly well-crafted The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and it's follow-up Moonraker (1979). Kiel was so good, so perfect and so loved he returned twice to the world of James Bond 007. Those were two near perfect films.

I cannot impress upon you enough what an impression the actor made upon me as child in the 1970s. He was one of the first super villains I really and truly loved.

Maybe it was that he was an incredibly sharp dresser in that striking blue suit fighting our equally beloved Roger Moore with his hand wrapped around his neck on that train. Or maybe it was the fact that underneath all of that villainous bluster, presence and super threat, he reminded us that he was an equally warm and fuzzy human being who could fall in love too by the time we reached Moonraker. Evil villains can fall in love too. Or maybe he was always a good guy that was just a bit misunderstood or misguided and ultimately played for the wrong team for a time.

He was a pure, brute, unstoppable Superman-like force crashing into houses and circus tents and walking away virtually unscathed, unaffected and essentially annoyed as he dusted off his suit jacket following one fight after another. We couldn't get enough of the human assassin that was Jaws.

He said so much with his face and commanding physical presence without speaking a word.

I wanted to present to you the many magnificent moments from these two films whereby Kiel offered a massive contribution in making those pictures so truly magnificent and unforgettably classic. For me, there has rarely been a Bond film whereby the hero and villain were so equally loved.

Moonraker and The Spy Who Loved Me easily rank among my favorite Bond films and perhaps my favorite films of the 1970s overall. Sure, they defy credibility at times. But the pictures are probably two of the best, most entertaining hero films made without borrowing from a comic book. They take the comic book adventure and epic styles of the things we loved as kids and bring them to miraculous life.

The work of Derek Meddings coupled with great direction, great performances from a great cast of characters make these two films instantly identifiable to me. For Your Eyes Only rounds out the trilogy without a doubt. Perhaps Jaws had married and had children by then. Maybe he opened a bakery in a small Italian village.

And although I could point to any number of equally wonderful and classic moments from my favorite Bond films, Richard Kiel really matched Roger Moore and maximized every ounce of his screen time. A touch of beauty was added with the immeasurably gorgeous Barabara Bach. But Kiel's input will never be underestimated.

As my son noted, who saw these films much later, "Jaws was awesome. He was definitely one of the best villains in those films." There you have it from the mouth of babes.

There are plenty of images on the web (and now there are more), but I wanted to capture all of the great moments that featured Kiel in two of my favorite Bond films. These images speak for themselves. I hope you enjoy the wonderful memories created by the late, great beloved Richard Kiel. Thanks for everything big guy.

The Spy Who Loved Me
The blue suit was perfect. It doesn't represent evil but it's not exactly right either.
Classic shot and sequence with Barbara Bach.
Look at those hands and the cool Roger Moore really sells the horror of those intense moments.
What are you looking at? I fell from the sky. Fix it yourself.
Jaws versus Jaws. You won't need a bigger boat. This is Richard Kiel.
Clowns are scary. Jaws is scary. Thus Kiel in a clown suit is one of the scarier moments in Moonraker (along with 007 in jeopardy in that gravity device).
Things take a more comic turn for the softening of Jaws in Moonraker.
You done good kid.
The moment Jaws contemplates right and wrong.
Jaws leaves the dark side.
Jaws definitely has something to live for.
And the moment you've all been waiting for from the silent and strong one...farewell.