Enormous, apparently invulnerable, steel-toothed assassin portrayed by Richard Kiel in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker. In Spy, Jaws is introduced in the employ of fanatical billionaire shipping magnate Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). His mission is to retrieve a microfilm copy of the nuclear submarine tracking system that Stromberg is using to capture enemy subs. Partnered initially with bald Sandor (Milton Reid, a veteran of Dr. No), Jaws continues solo when Sandor is killed by Bond (Roger Moore) in Cairo. Huge but clumsy, Jaws battles Bond, losing each contest, including a fight at an Egyptian tomb, where he’s buried under a mountain of rubble; in a train compartment, where his steel teeth are electrocuted and he’s tossed through the compartment window; on the Sardinia roadway, where his car goes off a cliff and into the roof of a peasant’s house; and in Stromberg’s Atlantis lair, where he’s fastened to the plate of an electromagnet and thrown into the shark pen.
At first glance, the Jaws character seemed to take the Bond series across the thin line between plausibility and fantasy. Up until The Spy Who Loved Me, the films had prided themselves on presenting flesh-and-blood heroes and villains. No matter how wild the story lines became, villains were eventually eliminated for good—except Blofeld, who had a strange habit of reappearing in successive films—and peace was somehow restored to the world. Jaws, on the other hand, was a character right out of the comic books: a killer on the loose who can’t be stopped or killed, with a touch of Wile E. Coyote from the Road Runner cartoons.
Yet, in retrospect, Jaws was a very shrewd addition to the series at the time. By the mid-1970s, most of the people who had grown up with Bond were growing out of the core movie audience of twelve- to twenty-four-year-olds. In other words, they were getting too old to be considered guaranteed ticket buyers. Producer Albert R. Broccoli needed to freshen up the series to appeal to the new generation of filmgoers that would soon turn fantasy adventures like Star Wars and E.T. into megahits. Bigger-than-life characters like Jaws were the answer. His appearance in The Spy Who Loved Me certainly helped revive the series’ sagging box office numbers.
Eager to capitalize on the character’s huge popularity, Broccoli asked screenwriter Christopher Wood to revive Jaws as one of the assassins working for Drax (Michael Lonsdale) in Moonraker. In that film, Jaws appears in the amazing pre-credits teaser, in which he throws James Bond (Roger Moore) out of an airplane without a parachute. Unfortunately, his own ripcord malfunctions, and Jaws lands on top of a huge circus tent, which, of course, collapses. Later, he masquerades as a Mardi Gras mummer in Rio, where he’s whisked away by revelers before he can deal with Bond. An amazing fight erupts between Bond, CIA agent Holly Goodhead (Lois Chiles), and Jaws atop two cable cars high above the Rio harbor. Once again, Jaws is revealed as huge but clumsy and surrounded by incompetence. As the two secret agents jump to safety, the assassin’s cable car loses its braking capability and crashes into the wheelhouse. He survives, of course, dusts himself off, and meets his first girlfriend, buxom Dolly (Blanche Ravalec).
Later, all four characters become passengers on one of the space shuttles carrying Drax’s master race to his radar-proof space station. But Jaws soon realizes that he and his girlfriend are not to be included in Drax’s mad scheme. At the last minute, he joins Bond in the furious assault on the space station. Victorious, Bond and Holly leave Jaws and Dolly to ride home with the US space troopers. Opening a bottle of champagne, Jaws proposes a toast to Dolly, uttering his only dialogue in the series, “Well, here’s to us.”
Jaws was also the name of the surf break on the north shore of Maui, Hawaii, where filmmakers shot James Bond (Pierce Brosnan) riding a massive wave onto a North Korean military base for the pre-credits teaser of Die Another Day. In real life, the wave was ridden by expert surfer/stuntman Laird Hamilton.