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 Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?

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KingCobra686
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sat Feb 11, 2017 3:55 pm

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I've long thought about this. As one of the Bond books notes, Stromberg seems to just sit around and push buttons all day long. If not doing that, he's issuing orders to his minions. He is an interesting villain - but his strangeness is underplayed. Christopher Wood's novel fillis in the details in Flemingesque style but he leaves this detail out of the film story. A little more motivation could have been shown - his webbed hands could have been made more of a plot-point than they were and his strange conception and upbringing too, but again all of this was passed up on in favour of the star villain attraction - Jaws. Kingsley Amis noted that he was the best thing in both film and book and boy was he right! One of the few cases where a henchman overshadows the main villain of the piece, I fear.

What are our thoughts on this one?

Hugo Drax was a much more interesting character and his actions, motivation and backstory were better explained in MR than Stromberg's were in TSWLM. Stromberg comes across as an oceanic nutter and little else, but then the film was more obsessed with action, stunts and spectacle and little else - a criticism that could be levelled against all of the Lewis Gilbert Bond films - but most especially this one. I've never understood all the love for this comic book Bond film, really.

Out of all the Bond villains, Stromberg is probably the least memorable. His base is cool, but all he does is sit around and eat dinner and watch sharks through his window. His personality didnt really go any deeper than "stern rich guy who likes the ocean and wants to take over the world."
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:42 pm

Kristatos and Greene probably fall into the 'serviceable but unmemorable' category ... as Julian Glover put it himself about the former 'He has no noticeable eccentricities, he doesn't live on a mountain eyrie or paint women all over in gold' (although considering where FYEO's climactic action takes place, I'm not sure he was entirely right about the 'mountain eyrie' bit).

And Greene is essentially an evil CEO.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:51 pm

Blunt Instrument wrote:
Kristatos and Greene probably fall into the 'serviceable but unmemorable' category ... as Julian Glover put it himself about the former 'He has no noticeable eccentricities, he doesn't live on a mountain eyrie or paint women all over in gold' (although considering where FYEO's climactic action takes place, I'm not sure he was entirely right about the 'mountain eyrie' bit).

And Greene is essentially an evil CEO.    

True, but I hold Stromberg to a much different standard than those guys. Stromberg is one of the true stereotypical Bond villains. Hes got the exotic evil lair, the world domination plan, the ridiculous henchmen, and the seductive female accomplices. The only thing hes missing is himself. Did we ever even see him leave that damn chair at his table? Drax a couple years later was just as cheesy and ridiculous, but at least we saw him in a multitude of different scenarios that built up his character.

With Stromberg we saw him:
1) Sit in his chair and kill off a couple of his cronies
2) Sit in his chair and order Jaws to go kill Bond
3) Sit in his chair and meet Bond
4) Sit in his chair and get killed by Bond

To me, Stromberg is by far the weakest of the set of ridiculous Bond villains that we saw.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sun Feb 12, 2017 9:24 pm

Stromberg does the job for me, but he's not a particular favourite. He's got a great presence, but compared to the likes of Goldfinger, Zorin and Carver, he just doesn't compare.

I actually prefer Greene and Kristatos. They feel a little more complex and are hence, more interesting. Particularly Kristatos. He's got a great backstory and strained personal relationships which was refreshing after the 70s Bond films.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sun Feb 12, 2017 10:37 pm

The size of that gun underneath Stromberg's table; far be it from me to suggest he was compensating for something, but ...
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Mon Feb 13, 2017 7:31 pm

The problem with Stromberg was that he was always fishing for a compliment...
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Tue Feb 14, 2017 6:11 am

Indeed. His insecurity was a pain in the bass.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Feb 15, 2017 1:46 am

Maybe once they saw Jurgen's performance they ripped most of his scene's out ......less Stromberg more Naomi ^^
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sun Jul 23, 2017 6:38 am

As I'm researching on the character of Karl Stromberg again I thought that I would revive this thread to see if we can come up with any fresh insights on him and Curt Jurgens in The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), in this the 40th anniversary month of the film that helped ensure the continuation of the Bond series.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sun Jul 23, 2017 10:35 am

I don't think there is a lot to dig up, to be honest. I recently watched an X-Men interview with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, and they talk about how the film isn't there to change the world - just to entertain. TSWLM fits that mould. Same goes for Stromberg in that if the series ever had a stereotypical Bond villain, it would be Stromberg.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sun Jul 23, 2017 4:13 pm

FieldsMan wrote:
I don't think there is a lot to dig up, to be honest. I recently watched an X-Men interview with James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender, and they talk about how the film isn't there to change the world - just to entertain. TSWLM fits that mould. Same goes for Stromberg in that if the series ever had a stereotypical Bond villain, it would be Stromberg.

In the pantheon of great Bond villains, he certainly ranks among the least memorable. And at his age at the time, sitting in a chair killing people was probably easier. In fact, TSWLM was a deliberate attempt to go back to some of the things that had worked earlier in the series with Connery (big set pieces; battle royale at the end between different forces; exotic lair; exotic henchmen). Stomberg was essentially background wallpaper, with all the truly heavy lifting being performed by Roger Moore and Richard Kiel.

Of the Moore villains, I'd rank them in this order in terms of interest:
#1 Max Zorin
#2 Kamal Khan
#3 Kananga/Mr.Big
#4 Kristatos
#5 Scaramanga
#6 Drax
#7 Stromberg
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Sun Jul 23, 2017 8:15 pm

I'd probably go:

1. Zorin (Probably my favourite since it's a combination of below)
2. Kristatos (Intriguing backstory, achievable plot)
3. Drax (devastating plot with some science behind it, chillingly droll performance)
4. Scaramanga (excellent performance)
5. Kamal Khan (Love the snobbery and some great lines)
6. Kananga (excellent performance)
7. Stromberg (Great presence)
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:10 am

A lot of people say he was under-utilized, but I don't know if I agree.  Having a mysterious villain that stays in the shadows of the plot, makes the villain more mysterious.  I mean it's how the villain in a movie like Seven for example, is used, where less is more, if that makes sense? Blofeld in YOLT was used the same way, right?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 5:30 am

ironpony wrote:
A lot of people say he was under-utilized, but I don't know if I agree.  Having a mysterious villain that stays in the shadows of the plot, makes the villain more mysterious.  I mean it's how the villain in a movie like Seven for example, is used, where less is more, if that makes sense?  Blofeld in YOLT was used the same way, right?

And the first Bond film villain, Dr No, of course too.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:49 am

The interesting thing about Dr No is that he remains unseen until three quarters into the movie. And is given a great entrance. It's one of the things I love about Dr No: the mystery. The build up to learning who he is - the fact the film is named after him, the Three Blind Mice pull out his file, the local superstitions around the dragon, his booming voice when talking to Dent, his silhouette when visiting Bond in his room, etc. Of course, we learn a great deal about Dr No later in the film, and Joseph Wiseman delivers on all counts. Comparatively, we know nothing of Stromberg's background or motive, nor is there a build up to revealing his character. Perhaps this is why he ranks a step below the rest in my eyes. 

And the difference between Stromberg and Blofeld is immeasurable. Blofeld has been shrouded in mystery since FRWL, and we know of his organisation since DN. Blofeld is generally in the business of terrorism, revenge, extortion and counter-intelligence. There is, to an extent, politics involved. Stromberg's goal is, well, this:

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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:06 am

That's true, you have a point there about Blofeld having more of a build up.

I don't know if I would say that Blofeld had a better motivation than Stromberg though. Stromberg wanting to live under the sea, and wanting to destroy humanity at least was different, I will give it that. Where as Blofeld just wants money all the time, or at least in YOLT, OHMSS, TB, and DAF he did.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 10:26 am

Greed is a much more universal, identifiable and understandable motivation than wanting to live under the sea. But I feel Blofeld and SPECTRE are much more than that anyway. In OHMSS, Blofeld is concerned with his genealogy, an egotist looking for validation. He develops a biological weapon to hold the world ransom so he can extort enough money to live off, and clemency/pardoned for his crimes to do so. It's this same self importance that drives him to manufacture a war between the superpowers so SPECTRE can emerge as a stateless superpower as well. 

As for DAF and SP, I wouldn't look too closely at those versions of Blofeld for character references.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:01 am

But in the case of OHMSS that's just it though. Even if Blofeld is concerned with genealogy and all that, in the end, he still wanted money as his main threat to world.

If he and SPECTRE are much more than that, the movies before Stromberg came along never really show any other sides of SPECTRE than wanting money and the Lector from FRWL.

So because of that I thought that Stromberg was more different compared to Blofeld. I guess I just got bored with monetary greed being a villain motivation in movies a lot of the time, so Stromberg and Drax and villains like that, are more fresh for me perhaps.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:29 am

His wanting of money isn't the threat to the world. It's his motivation. The money would also be channeled back into his activity, to fund their terrorism. His threats have been ransom and extortion (through space, nuclear and biological weapons, DAF/TB/OHMSS), revenge (FRWL) and sabotage (DN/YOLT), amongst other, sometimes smaller threats.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:31 am

But we don't really see what their big terrorism plan is though.  All we see is the funding for the plan.  At least with Stromberg, we get the big plan.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:43 am

Terrorism doesn't stop after one job. As a stateless organisation they need sources of finance. If sabotaging missile launches or holding the world at ransom with nuclear and biological weapons doesn't constitute a "big plan" I don't know what would. 

Stromberg wants an underwater world. Great. He managed to start nuclear war between the superpowers. Who's going to build the world "beneazth da zea?" Who's going to populate it after the armageddon? Everyone's dead - even Naomi and his blonde PA if he decided he was to be the father of the new world. Drax thought it through a little better.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 11:49 am

Yeah that's true, but I guess I just feel I'm not seeing as much terrorism from SPECTRE as I could.  They are always wanting money, but if they were to blow up some buildings full of people, or actually assassinate a world leader or something like that, it would feel more potent for me for a villain.

Stromberg actually attempts a nuclear holocaust and no amount of money will pay him to stop him and that is just more villainous to me, or at least more different than usual.  I agree that Drax thought it through better though.  Perhaps TSWLM would have been better if they had the Bond and XXX story, but with Drax as the villain, with his plan.

As for SPECTRE I still like their plans and think their plans are big. The plan from OHMSS is entertainingly bizarre. I just feel that Stromberg is thought of as maybe too under-utilized sometimes, when perhaps he is not.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 6:49 pm

Thing is with Stromberg, he could just go and live under the sea like a big aquatic weirdo and leave the rest of us surface-dwellers to our 'decadent corruption'. No real need to reduce it to rubble, is there?
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 7:05 pm

But Stromberg hates the world and that is why he wants to reduce, cause he feels it needs to be quashed and replenished. At least that's how I bought him.
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PostSubject: Re: Is Karl Stromberg under-utilised in The Spy Who Loved Me?    Wed Dec 06, 2017 9:23 pm

ironpony wrote:
But Stromberg hates the world and that is why he wants to reduce, cause he feels it needs to be quashed and replenished.  

laugh

Unfortunately that's not a strong enough reason.
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