WHAT WITH STARRING IN THE NEW JAMES BOND MOVIE AND EVERYTHING, THE BEAUTIFUL MISS BACH FINDS HERSELF PRETTY MUCH TIED UP THESE DAYS pictorial essay By BRUCE WILLIAMSON, PHOTOGRAPHY BY DAVID BAILEY.
In The Spy Who Loved Me, the unquenchable 007, James Bond, again played by Roger Moore, joins forces with Russian agent Major Anya Asamova, portrayed by Barbara Bach. Bond temporarily overlooks the major's obvious assets (right) while trying to learn the whereabouts of two nuclear submarines—British and Russian—that have mysteriously disappeared.
What's going on in the off-the-screen (and off-the-wall) pictures below and opposite? "I'm not sure," says Barbara. "The photographer just told me he wanted to do something kinky in the Bondish vein. Actually, the pictures are not at all related to what I do in the film." At any rate, we're sure the movies will have Barbara all tied up for some time to come.
Walk through the MGM commissary beside Barbara Bach and you sense immediately that you’re in the right place at the right time with the right girl. People don’t faze easily here in one of Lotusland's historic eateries—where Garbo, Crawford, Harlow, Hepburn and other fabled images have grabbed a quick lunch between takes—yet the commissary's jaded clientele pauses to note Barbara's passage as if she were trailing the same brand of indefinable star dust that made Hollywood what it used to be. Matter of fact, she is James Bond’s brand-new leading lady, co-starring with Roger Moore in The Spy Who Loved Me, which more or less adds up to playing the title role. While waiting for the big Bond epic to open with a splash this summer, she has been biding her time, as a luscious, vaguely Bondian secret agent in a TV pilot film titled The Mash of Alexander.
Diligently attacking her fruit salad, Barbara is seemingly oblivious to the fact that every male in the room is ogling her. Oncamera, 15 or 20 minutes earlier, she had stepped through a cloud of smoke in a blasted-out brick wall, taken careful aim and shot Lloyd Nolan in the back. "I didn’t enjoy that,” she remarks pleasantly, with an undertone of stiff conviction. "I don’t like firearms."
Nevertheless, while making the Bond film—a six-month gig that took her from London to Egypt and Sardinia—she was armed to the teeth. “They taught me a bit of karate and how to handle a gun." They also subjected her to a series of hairbreadth escapes that make The Perils of Pauline sound like sissy stuff. Aboard a train, she (concluded on page 218)
The perils of espionage can turn into pleasures, at least in the fertile imagination of photographer David Bailey, who dreamed up these pictures. The danger, even to a blase Bond prototype, lies in forgetting that a counterspy, however attractive, is always capable of counterattack—turning the tables, not ta mention her back, on the luckless hero.
“ ‘If someone tells me I must not do a thing, that's exactly the thing I’ll have to rush out and do' ”
Bonded Barbara (continued from page 105) is KOed by a hulking villain known as Jaws, who is outfitted with stainless-steel teeth. In Egypt, she is the target for a huge boulder dropped from one of the ancient temples at Karnak. In an underwater lair in which Curt Jurgens plots nefarious schemes, she is sluiced through a tunnel by an onrushing wall of water— a stunt sequence so wet and wild that Barbara wasn’t entirely sure she would survive it. "Electricity and water is a little risky, you know, with all those cables. Even Roger got nervous. But I said, 'Well, I'll do it if you'll do it.' So we did. In one take, we were all carried away— including the camera and cameraman."
How does a nice girl from Manhasset, Long Island, wind up on a sound stage at London’s Pinewood Studios, soaked to the skin and playing a plum role as a gorgeous Russian spy named Anya—a female counterpart of 007, a part touted as the most important ever created for one of Bond's attractive adversaries? Well, Barbara has a lot going for her. The daughter of a costume jeweler, she's beautiful, gifted and sure of herself on any turf from Beverly Hills to the plush playgrounds of Roman high society. She became a Ford model while still in her teens and succeeded beyond the wildest dreams of the folks back home. "1 was a skinny little kid, and such a tomboy as a child. Having one brother a year older and one a year younger, I'd always been just one of the boys. When I got to be about 15 or 16, it came as a surprise to me that I was actually a girl."
She can still pronounce Long Island as Lawn Guyland. though her cultural roots were abruptly loosened when she began jetting to and from those exotic places where top models look ultrachic against backdrops of postcard scenery. On one such airborne junket across the Atlantic, at the age of I9, she met a magnetic Italian industrialist. Three months later, she married him and moved to Rome. Looking back. Barbara remarks cryptically: "Nowadays I don't talk to anyone on planes. I mind my own business. Legally. I’m still married, of course, because it takes five years to get a divorce in Italy. And I love my husband dearly. We're very good friends, which is fortunate, considering we have two children."
Francesca, eight, and Gian Andrea, four and a half, travel with her whenever possible or stay at home with a nurse and Barbara's 20-year-old kid sister, who's in her third year of college abroad. Home, for the moment, is "a fantastic house in old Rome, the Trastevere section, a building that was first a church, then a theater. It's beautiful, with four floors-—lots of climbing up and down—and a garden.”
Would she marry again if she were free? "For me, marriage didn't work out in the long run. I love independence. Marriage may be necessary-, but I guess I feel negative toward it as an institution. There's a kind of authority in it that gives a person the right to say: 'Do this' or 'Don't do that.' And if someone tells me I must not do a thing, that's exactly the thing I'll have to rush out and do. I'm not living with anyone or really romantically involved with anyone now, though I can imagine living with a man— even having a child with a man—I wasn't married to. It would be nice to have someone, to be with someone equally independent, to live in the same place and enjoy each other without giving up so much of oneself. Is that possible?"
There is something about Barbara that's strongly reminiscent of another BB. Brigitte Bardot. "I've been told so more than once." Barbara acknowledges, looking heavenward for relief. "I'm also supposed to resemble Britt Ekland, Senta Berger, I don’t know who else. I prefer just looking like Barbara Bach."
Ask about actresses she might hope to emulate and Barbara reels off a list headed by Liv Ullmann, Ingrid Bergman and Faye Dunaway. "Did you see Faye Dunaway in Network? I don't know her at all, but that was an amazing performance. Playing a powerful woman in a man's world, sustaining such energy and stride for two full hours. I'm not concerned about stardom per se. What I want is to be a working actress and to work with the best.”
With several Italian-made films behind her when she vaulted into the international spotlight opposite 007, Barbara had appeared onscreen with Ursula Andress, Eli Wallach. Giaucarlo Giamiini and Chuck Connors and was a local celebrity even before that—as the comely bilingual hostess of an Italian TV series, Cordialmente. She has turned down several good roles because she objected to gratuitous nude scenes "stuck into the film to enhance its commercial prospects." Yet. Barbara didn't hesitate to disrobe for English director Tony Richardson, a year or two ago, as part of her screen test for a projected film called Body Guard. Although the movie was never made, the test—undoubtedly a collector's item today—jogged the memory of producer Albert R. “Cubby” Broccoli when The Spy Who Loved Me needed a spectacular Kremlin spychick.
Now home again in every sense. Barbara plans to resettle in either L.A. or New York after the picture opens. "I could live anywhere." says she. "But all those years in Italy merely reminded me that I was American and I suppose you never change. I'm kind of excited about coming back.” So are we, Barbara.
[Source: Playboy Magazine, June 1977, P.106-109, 218. Copyright © 1977 Playboy. All rights reserved.]