The spy who loved me is considered one of the best James Bond films of all time, with Roger Moore giving one of his best performances as 007. That said, fans of the novels are aware that the film is nothing like the novel in which is based.

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Ian Fleming’s most controversial novel by far, The spy who loved me Not only was he hated by fans, but Fleming wasn’t a fan of him either. There are many reasons why the book’s plot was stripped in favor of Bond’s aquatic adventure. In short, it is a miracle!

10 It was a writing experiment

Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, holding a comically large cigarette

As shown in Calvin Dyson’s excellent video analyzing the novel, The spy who loved me It has a lot of problems, but it was written with a somewhat interesting goal in mind. Ian Fleming was very distressed that young people were beginning to see James Bond as a hero, so he wanted to remedy that.

Fleming was tasked with proving that James Bond was actually a very dangerous man, a goal that ultimately failed. If someone were to read the novel, they would discover that Bond is the only man who is not reprehensible in history.

9 James Bond presence is minimal

James Bond smokes in a casino with a beautiful woman in Diamonds Are Forever

Roger Moore’s James Bond is the main character in the film version of The spy who loved me, with the charming actor’s screen presence making him one of the film’s highlights. So if a fan were looking for the same kind of Bond presence in the novel, they would be disappointed.

Not only does the Bond in the novel look nothing like Roger Moore’s, but Her Majesty’s favorite agent hardly appears in the novel. Like the shark in Jaws, he only really appears in the final act, with the reader following a different character.

8 Heroin

Viv Michel drinks and smokes alone in The Spy Who Loved Me

The novel follows Vivian Michel, a young Canadian who travels across North America on a motorcycle, but is now the caretaker of a hotel in northeast New York. If someone were to read that premise and say “Hey, that doesn’t sound like a James Bond story …” they would be right.

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Viv has a bad history with men, and the two men she had been in a relationship with before are deplorable in a way that feels too realistic. In fact, it’s interesting that Fleming chose to follow a woman as the main character even though he was never really good at writing them.

7 The story takes place in a single hotel

The Dreamy Pines Motor Court in The Spy Who Loved Me

James Bond is usually a member of the jet set. His adventures often take him to exotic locations around the globe, and novels are no exception to this rule. So it may come as a surprise to discover that The spy who loved me takes place in one place.

The novel takes place at The Dreamy Pines Motor Court, a hotel located in The Adirondack Mountains in New York. It’s very Hitchcockian in a way, as The Master of Suspense enjoyed putting his films in one place, but Fleming doesn’t capture the same aura.

6 Villains

Viv Michel confronted by Sluggsy and Horror gangsters in The Spy Who Loved Me

Stromberg from the film is the ordinary Bond villain, and the character ranks among the most forgettable baddies in the Bond lexicon. Meanwhile, the novel doesn’t have a traditional villain, but rather two thugs working for a small-scale jerk.

The villains, Sluggsy and Horror, are mobsters employed by Mr. Sanguinetti, the hotel’s owner, who wishes to set the hotel on fire to earn insurance money. Sluggsy and Horror are completely cartoonish, which clashes with their cruel actions towards Viv.

5 A petty spirit tone

Viv sits with James Bond as Sluggsy and Horror watch in The Spy Who Loved Me

The spy who loved me It feels braver and more real than most James Bond stories, but it comes at a pretty high cost. The tone of the novel is quite petty, and its content makes the reader uncomfortable and miserable in the end.

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The novel is particularly cruel to Viv as not only is her past sordid, but she is attacked and nearly raped by Sluggsy and Horror. The only two people who show him any real cuteness are Bond and a policeman at the end, but both are fleeting encounters.

4 The end

Viv Michel rides a motorcycle in The Spy Who Loved Me

At the end of the novel, Sluggsy and Horror die and Viv sleeps with Bond. She wakes up the next morning to find that Bond is gone, but left a note with an encouraging message. The police arrive, having been called by Bond, and a policeman tells Viv that she must be careful around people like 007.

The outcome sees Viv walk away from the hotel, her mind still focused on “the spy who loved her.” The ending is certainly a respite from the horrible preamble, but no one could argue that it’s totally satisfying.

3 Viv’s Ghastly Line

James Bond Aims On The Cover Of The Spy Who Loved Me

Not only are policies displayed in The spy who loved me they are now out of date, but they weren’t particularly current in 1962 either. Although Viv resists the forces conspiring against her, she says something utterly shocking.

That line is “All women love semi-rape.” It’s a line that not only shows that Fleming didn’t understand women at all, but also how inappropriate their views were, the line being particularly disgusting in the wake of the #MeToo movement.

two Ian Fleming wouldn’t allow him to adapt

Actors Roger Moore and Barbara Bach pose for the film The Spy Who Loved Me

As Ian Fleming put it in a letter to his editor, “… the experiment has obviously gone very wrong.” The spy who loved me was critically criticized, and critics disliked the lack of James Bond and the petty nature of the novel.

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Fleming was so displeased with the novel’s reception that he told EON Productions that they could only use the title. that’s if they were to make a movie of it. They ended up making one, with the movie version of The spy who loved me being a much more pleasant experience.

1 The novelization of the film is better

The cover of James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me by Christopher Wood

The movie The spy who loved me I had a related novel which is an interesting read, to say the least. Rather than directly adapting the film, author and screenwriter Christopher Wood takes the film’s plot and places it in Fleming’s universe.

Noble James Bond, the spy who loved me, Wood’s adaptation is a darker version of Roger Moore’s film that readers will get much more out of than Fleming’s novel. Fortunately, Fleming’s next novel was On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, a book that won back many of its fans.

NEXT: James Bond: From Russia With Love: The 10 Biggest Differences Between The Novel And The Movie


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