Fan Reviews - The Spy Who Loved Me
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"The Spy Who Loved Me" by Overkill
By the mid-70's were not a happy time for James Bond.
The glory days of Goldfinger and Thunderball had made way for
years of indecision, lukewarm box office and general audience
apathy. This had reached its nadir with the release of TMWTGG
in 1974, a rushed affair that left many fans wanting. Worse was
Following TMWTGG's poor performance, and increasingly becoming
involved in interests outside Bond, Harry Saltzman decided to
sell his share of EON Productions to his partner Albert Broccoli.
The public was deserting, the producers in chaos and a world newly
in love with movies about killer sharks, demonic children and
charismatic gangsters. Surely this was, after many false alarms,
the end of Bond?
The teaser trailer for TSWLM thought otherwise. "It's
the biggest. It's the best. It's Bond… and beyond!"
With a three-year gap since the last movie, Broccoli took a huge
gamble. The public would either be so keen to see the movie that
they would be giddy with anticipation, or they may have completely
forgotten all about the debonair Brit spy they fell in love with
a decade earlier. But Cubby was determined to make sure his first
solo Bond effort would be the best yet.
A long pre-production period saw several writers submit script
ideas including Anthony Burgess and a then unknown John Landis.
Part of Fleming's contract stated that no elements of the
original novel could be used by the film-makers, bar the title,
as he was never satisfied with the finished book.
Eventually a rather generic story was conceived, with obvious
parallels to YOLT (of which more later), by Bond veteran Richard
Maibaum and Christopher Wood (then best known for the Confessions…
Further complications arose when mooted director Guy Hamilton
(who had lensed the previous three Bonds) left to direct the then
very hot Superman movie (where he was subsequently replaced by
Richard Donner following delays on that film). And yet somehow
it all comes together beautifully.
Lewis Gilbert returned to the fold for the first time since YOLT,
bringing back the HUGE look that Bond seemed have missing ever
since that film, only this time he had an entertaining script
to work with as well. Bond once again looked fabulous. There were
chilly snowscapes, David Lean-esque Saharan landscapes, beautiful
underwater photography, huge Ken Adam sets and wonderful Derek
Roger Moore, now very comfortable as Bond, gives perhaps his
definitive portrayal. He actually does some spying this time,
has a touch of class, a smidgen of Connery confidence (a la Thunderball)
and a streak of nastiness when necessary. His dispatch of a henchman
on an apartment building roof still rates as a classic Bond moment
("What a helpful chap.")
Barbara Bach, as Bond's sexy Soviet counterpart XXX, may
not be the greatest actress in the world, but she certainly looks
fabulous. Unfortunately, after setting her up as very much Bond's
equal (particularly in the amusing pre-credits scene where she
is introduced) she becomes another helpless Bond girl, although,
in fairness she doesn't scream "James!" every
five minutes as some others did. And the sub-plot surrounding
her vengeance for the death of her boyfriend is criminally wasted.
Stromberg is a particularly bland villain. He doesn't do
much expect push buttons and eat. Personally I like my villains
a bit more hands-on (webbed or otherwise).
In most people's mind the real villain of the film is the
wonderful Jaws, played by Richard Kiel. Although his legacy was
permanently damaged by his re-appearance in the Moonraker, in
TSWLM Jaws is truly terrifying. A relentless, unstoppable, if
slightly incompetent, killing machine. His stalking and murder
of Fekkesh around the pyramids has an intensity rarely seen in
Bond movies, and the character is better realised because of it.
And Cubby finally gave Shane Rimmer a worthy part in a Bond movie
after years of tireless service as Houston Control Operator #2,
or Scientist #4. Rimmer's chemistry with Moore in the second half
of the film is superb, right up there with Connery and Armendariz
The character of Jaws, and the general water-based story, unfortunately
showed a worrying continuation of the series' reliance of
aping successful movies and formulae, instead of being the trendsetter
(in the case the unbelievable, and unexpected, success of Spielberg's
Jaws). As is well known, this reaches its lowest ebb two years
later with Moonraker, and its seems disingenuous to dwell on it
here as it in no way reduces the impact of TSWLM, the way all
those karate scenes did in TMWTGG.
Two other things help TSWLM to stand out as a Bond classic. One
is the car. Ever since Goldfinger, fans had been waiting for Bond's
next gadget-filled vehicle. Finally it arrived in the shape of
the super sleek Lotus Esprit Sport. Many stuffy critics have claimed
that the Lotus is a poor relation to the classic DB5, but it's
just as iconic. Unfortunately, early 60's designs have been
a bit more hard wearing than their 70s counterparts. For a generation
of movie goers, the Lotus was about as sexy a car as you could
hope for. Oh, and it transformed into a submarine. The DB5 never
And finally, or rather firstly, there's the wonderful pre-credits
ski jump. Bond movies had always had relatively exciting pre-credits
sequences, usually involving Bond upsetting someone and having
a fight. But TSWLM raised the bar to heights that have rarely
been reached again.
As Bond careers away from KGB hit men "at 40MPH trying
to put a bullet in your back" he shoots XXX's bloke
with a handy ski-pole-gun, does a backflip-loop-the-loop, skis
off a cliff into a seemingly bottomless canyon, and survives,
all the while looking stunning in a banana-yellow ski-suit (yeah,
right!) and maintaining a fabulously British outlook on the whole
thing. It's impossible not to cheer when that parachute
TSWLM is tremendous fun. And that's good enough really.
Critics carp about how its just a remake of YOLT. So what? It's
far more entertaining than YOLT, it has a better script, a better
performance from the actor playing Bond, a better car, it looks
ten times better, and, despite what it cost, a much better set
for the finale.
As Mark Twain once said "The rumours have my death have
been greatly exaggerated". Who would have thought Mark Twain
and James Bond had anything in common.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" by Luds
TSWLM (The Spy Who Loved Me) is one of the most popular James
Bond movies along with Goldfinger and a few others. However, it
is a complete failure and a disgrace for the franchise.
The movie opens up with a bang, with one of the best opening
sequence in any Bond movie. The ski & parachute jump is a
real delight! Unfortunately, it is not until the middle of the
movie that viewers find anything else in TSWLM worthy of watching.
A very poor remake of an already poor movie (YOLT: You Only Live
Twice, 1969, also directed by Lewis Gilbert), TSWLM basically
copied every single element from the original movie in outer space
(YOLT) and set them up on water, without improving any of them.
The villain's plan is to destroy New York and Moscow (it
was to start Word War 3 in YOLT) with missiles stolen from submarines.
Those submarines were high jacked using a super tanker who opened
up and inhaled the submarines (it was a giant space ship who opened
up and inhaled smaller space ships in YOLT).
As if having a storyline so blatantly copied from another movie
wasn't enough, the movie's main set, the tanker named
Liparus, one of the largest sets in any Bond movies, was also
copied from YOLT. The entire final battle takes place on this
set, pinning the villain's army against the imprisoned submarine's
crews that Bond sets free (The main set was a Volcano super set
pinning the villain's army against an army of Ninja's
that Bond brings to the Volcano in YOLT).
The main villain, megalomaniac Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens)
is an absolute bore and possibly one of the Franchise's
most anaemic and worst villains. Not being Jurgens' fault,
the role was clearly written as a 2 dimensional "formula"
evil villain wanting to destroy the entire world. (YOLT had a
much superior villain in SPECTRE #1 Ernst Stavro Blofeld).
The movie's biggest flaw is the weakness or rather the
lack of believability in its leading lady or main "Bond
girl", KGB Major Anya Amasova (Agent XXX) poorly portrayed
by lifeless "beauty" Barbara Bach. The flaw wasn't
in the script this time as Major Amasova was meant to be James
Bond's counter part or equal in the KGB. It was Bach's
shameful performance that makes every viewer who isn't 100%
enamoured by her "looks" cringe every time she attempts
to delivers a line. Until Halle Berry's worthless performance
in Die Another Day (2002) as NSA agent Jinx, Barbara Bach without
a doubt delivered the very worst performance in a Bond movie for
a leading lady. Also linked to Bach's performance is Roger
Moore's outing as James Bond in his 3rd movie as Bond. Sadly,
given Bach's lack of presence and believability, Roger Moore
looks like a complete farce as the script was meant to show that
both characters (007 and XXX) are very much equal in strength.
Given Amasova's failure as XXX, Bond looked weak throughout
the first half of the movie when coming in second to Amasova in
various tasks. This movie would clearly get a much better ranking
with a decent actress as XXX.
There are very few redeeming features in TSWLM, but one aspect
could not be forgotten even in such a dreadful movie: the fantastic
Lotus Esprit. One of Bond's best cars, the Lotus could transform
into a mini-submarine, and was a pure joy to watch. Sexy Secondary
Bond girl Naomi (Caroline Munro)'s helicopter chase with
the Lotus was great while it lasted.
The introduction of henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel) was another
nice touch. Clearly better as a threat than as comic relief (in
Moonraker), the Jaws character remains one of the fans'
favourite henchmen with reason. Marvin Hamlisch's score,
placing Bond in the Disco era, and Carly Simon's theme song
"Nobody Does It Better" were also quite successful.
Sadly, it is still more pleasurable to listen to the TSWLM score
on CD without having to endure this terrible B movie.
Although quite successful at the Box Office in 1977 for fans
craving an action pack extravaganza Bond flick after the unpopular
Man With The Golden Gun (1974), TSWLM didn't bring anything new
to the Franchise and is now seen for what it is worth when compared
to all other Bond movies: a complete failure.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" by James Turner
It's The Biggest. It's the Best. It's Bond.
And BEYOND. So the slogan went. But they weren't kidding.
Bond WAS back in what was to be a lifesaver of the Bond franchise.
After the dire The Man with the Golden Gun, and the split between
the partnership of Broccoli and Saltzman, the series needed reviving
and the next film needed everything. The final product was The
Spy Who Loved Me.
TSWLM is a film that blends all the ingredients from the previous
Bond films into one. And it works. It works spectacularly. Barbara
Bach's character is suited to her perfectly, along with
every other character making the roles seem hard to imagine anyone
else in them.
The plot is simple. Submarines go missing. Bond has to find them.
But in this simple story are some lovely twists. An excellently
scripted example is that of Bond having to admit to the murder
of Amasova's lover, and it is superbly acted out by Moore
and making it, personally, one of his finest moments.
The humour is at the right balance ("Maybe I misjudged Stromberg.
Any man who drinks Dom Perignon '52 can't be all bad.") and
Roger Moore had made the role his own, and is out of the ghost
of Connery. Highlights are that of the wonderful sets of Ken Adam
which are, as always, used to their full potential; a great score
by Marvin Hamlisch, giving a worthy attempt to replace John Barry;
and there are some wonderful set-pieces.
The opening sequence leaves the audience breathless. It is of
course the superb ski chase, leading to the parachute jump. Back
in the 1970's this sort of stunt was more or less seen as
impossible, and CGI effects were not even heard of. Which is why
this stunt left audiences gob smacked, and is why it is now considered
one of the greatest Bond moments in the franchise.
But the two most memorable parts of TSWLM are clearly the introduction
of the submersible Lotus Esprit the ‘replacement'
for the Aston Martin DB5; and of course, Jaws. A clear inspiration
of the fantasy villain Oddjob, Richard Kiel portrays him faultlessly
and is a joy to see whenever he appears on the screen.
There are so many magnificent moments in the film it is hard
not to give it 10 out of 10. But this film is not a 10 out of
A mark out of ten means the movie is perfect. TSWLM has its flaws.
One main weakness is Stromberg. An incredibly dreary character
in the Bond rogues legacy, Curt Jurgens is just not exciting enough
to compare to the brilliant Christopher Lee, the only highlight
of The Man with the Golden Gun. Jurgens' contribution was
like a broken pencil….Pointless.
But although it is not perfect, TSWLM is one of the greatest
Bond movies in the franchise, with only the slightest problems
spoiling it. But it is a fun, exciting and tense film with the
right balance of humour in it. Bond was back and better than ever
for 1977 and he is to return in Moonraker next! What? Bond goes
into space???? Well, he was back…
"The Spy Who Loved Me" by NicNac
After the artistic and commercial disappointment of TMWTGG had
left a bitter taste in Cubby Broccoli's mouth, the Bond
producer saw a new opportunity to re-think and re-invent his cinematic
hero. Harry Saltzman had gone, keen to move on to pastures new,
and Cubby saw the ideal opportunity to take a Fleming title (TSWLM
was an inconsequential story hardly ripe for filming) and risk
money and reputation by throwing a massive budget at the screen
and either saving or sinking the franchise.
The unheard of two and a half year gap between Golden Gun and
Spy, was proof enough that Cubby meant business. And the emergence
of young Hollywood talent like Steven Spielberg (director of 75s
big hit 'Jaws') was further evidence that 70s audiences were ready
and waiting for multi-million dollar Summer blockbusters.
Cubby turned to YOLT director Lewis Gilbert, and set designer
Ken Adams, whose fantastic volcano interior for that film was
now legendary. Christopher Wood was signed up to write the script.
The huge, new 007 soundstage was opened and would create the interior
of villain Stromberg's super tanker.
If TMWTGG looked a little lame and cheap, TSWLM would be the
perfect antidote. The plot was nonsense about kidnapping nuclear
submarines to blow up major cities, in an effort to destroy the
world. Oh yes. Roger Moore was back for a third outing, and was
now quite comfortable in the role.
His supporting cast varied in quality. Curt Jurgens played Stromberg
the megalomaniac with a bonkers desire to return man to the sea
bed by simply destroying the world. Instead of the classic madman
antics of Blofeld, or the robotic nastiness of Dr No, we get a
rather flat, tired villain, which is hardly in line with his wild
and fanciful ideas.
Barbara Bach, as agent XXX gives one of the worst ever performances
by a leading lady in a big budget movie. Her limp, confused character
with the monotone voice does not conjure up sufficient belief
that this the best Russia has to offer. (Happily, Beatle Ringo
Starr saw more in her, married her and she gracefully, and thankfully
retired from acting).
Better is Richard Kiel as the 7 feet tall arch goon Jaws, an
indestructible, silent menace, shadowing Bond everywhere. The
locations, especially Egypt are used to full, satisfying effect
(the action in and around the Pyramids is tense and atmospheric).
The action comes thick and fast. Best of all are the train carriage
punch up, the car chase with Bond zipping around in his fancy
Lotus, which turns into a submarine, and of course the famous
ski jump come parachute dive that thrilled us all in the pre-title
teaser. The final, climatic battle in the tanker is YOLT all over
again, and not half bad for all that.
Whether the whole package works or not is debatable. To many
it's nothing more than a re-heated YOLT, all style and no substance,
but to an equal number it's Bond stripped down, rebuilt and repackaged
for a 70s audience.
What is undeniable is that without Spy, the franchise could very
well have wobbled gently out of existence. For that, if nothing
else, we should be grateful that this big, daft film exists.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" by James Clark
"Goodbye Mr Bond."
"Well let's say Au Revoir, I have the oddest feeling we'll be meeting again sometime."
Proving the theory that bigger is sometimes better and in particular that Cubby could work as sole producer on the biggest film series of all time, without the aid of his partner of the last 12 films, Harry Saltzman, the 10th Bond adventure was born. Fans would have to wait 2 and a half years after the release of The Man With The Golden Gun for Spy to premiere which, by today's standards, is fairly average but at the time was an agonising wait for fans of the series. Only the title of Fleming's novel was to be used which gave Broccoli and his writers an unenviable task of constructing a taut adventure story for Roger Moore's third outing as Bond. The majority of fans disappointed by Moore's previous film and its inability to take itself even remotely seriously could now rejoice, as The Spy Who Loved Me is big, bombastic and thoroughly entertaining. The elements gel brilliantly; there is just enough humour to distance Moore's Bond from Connery whilst there is also ample opportunity for Moore to perfect some excellent dialogue, particularly Anya's short and sharp reference to Bond's short term marriage in On Her Majesty's Secret Service which Moore responds to in a subtle but very effective fashion. The sets are incredible, the women are beautiful - some of the very best in the series - and the locations, especially Egypt, look stunning under the cinematographic eye of Claude Renoir. Just as it is easy to see why Connery favours the exciting, very Fleming-like From Russia With Love, so too it is easy to see why Moore clearly enjoyed working with director Lewis Gilbert on The Spy Who Loved Me. The film looks unlike any Bond film released up to that point. While some draw parallels to You Only Live Twice in terms of the enormous set pieces - volcano versus super tanker, Spy triumphs as a Bond film first and foremost because it is arguably more entertaining, the characters are more interesting and the film is simply more engrossing and engaging.
Broccoli's gamble to pay out the big bucks and put Bond back on the big screen with a bang paid dividends. Still one of the biggest box office successes in the series, The Spy Who Loved Me proves Carly Simon right - Nobody does it better. 7/7/77 could really have only belonged to one man.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" by FourDot
The Spy Who Loved Me is my second-favourite Bond film, with only The Living Daylights ranking above it in my books. It's also one of my favourite films of all time, and my second-favourite film of 1977 (the #1 there being Star Wars). I can remember fondly, as a lad growing up in Melbourne, when Channel Ten had a Bond film every Saturday night, in random order, and since my father had already introduced me to a couple of Bond films, I began watching them religiously. I can remember being at a party beforehand, and my best friend telling me that "they're playing the one with Jaws this weekend!" I had no idea what the hell Jaws was at the time. But by God, I loved the film the first time I saw it.
Enough reminiscing! The film itself is pure gold from start to finish, apart from a few little grievances here and there. It's a Bond film absolutely tailored to the Bond in question, and Moore plays it to perfection. The action sequences throughout are all enthralling, with the shining jewel being the escalating Lotus chase, scored superbly by the underrated (yes, I say underrated, Oscar nom and all) score by Marvin Hamlisch. I don't like his tinkering with the gun barrel music, but all is forgiven thanks to Bond 77, and the beautiful song, "Nobody Does it Better," which is without a doubt one of the best Bond standards ever. And Ken Adam's set design was never more awe-inspiring.
While Barbara Bach might not be the most exciting and dynamic actress ever, she is easy on the eyes. Basically, she should have spent the entire film in the Kalba Club dress, but I digress. Gotell is terrific as Gogol, matching Lee, who is consistently terrific as M. All the little references to the greater Bond canon (Miles, Boothroyd, Tracy) are much appreciated. Curt Jurgens doesn't exactly nail his role, but he has an evil voice, and sometimes that's all you really need. And Jaws is just plain iconic.
Apologies if I've gone over the word count here, but I'll just sum up these ramblings by saying that The Spy Who Loved Me is a Bond film I enjoy time and time again, and look forward to enjoying time and time again.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" by benny
After the rather half hearted and mediocre The Man With The Golden Gun, we didn't see Bond again for three years. At the time the longest gap between films. During this time alot of things changed. Harry Saltzman got into financial difficulties and subsequently lost his share in EON. This left Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli as the sole producer on the tenth James Bond film. It was win or lose, sink or swim for OO7.
Luckily Broccoli produced one of the series best entries with TSWLM, whilst it can be compared (alot) to YOLT, it is in my opinion the better of the two. Primarily in the performance of Roger Moore. After his first two films, Moore really finds his Bond in Spy. He's left the shadow of Connery behind him and delivers a wonderful performance.
A little more humour than we're used to at times, but all kept tongue in cheek. There are still moments when Moore plays it straight and these are often over looked. The scene in the club when Anya gives a case description of Bond is a scene in point. Bond is amused at her knowledge untill she mentions Tracy. It's the first time Tracy has been mentioned in the series after OHMSS, and Moore plays the scene well.
Later after Anya realises that it was Bond who killed her lover, Moore is highly effective. The kill or be killed scenario is very Bondian, and again Moore plays it straight.
But it's not only a leading actor who has found his place in the role, the locations are glorious. Bond travels first to Egypt for some lovely location work around the pyramids, and then to Sardinia. Both are well shot and look stunning. The big Ken Adam sets return, and like the volcanoe in YOLT, the villainous Strombergs supertanker is just as impressive. If that wasn't enough, the sets on Strombergs lair Atlantis are equally amazing. The score by Marvin Hamilisch is satisfactory and works, though I wish John Barry were available. Still nothing dire.
The villains are a mixed bag. The main villain in Stromberg seems underdeveloped. At times he's almost Blofeldesque, killing minions for failure or just to realise his own evil deeds. He has a private army of orange boilersuited men, and not one,but two huge lairs in which to cause havoc. He's just a bit bland. Though Curt Jurgens is not a problem in the role. The lack of any real menace from the lead baddie is made up for in the towering Jaws. As played by Richard Kiel, this is one of the infamous villains of the series. Whilst Oddjob used a hat to kill, Jaws uses his metal teeth to inflict harm. Though he's cartoonish, and humour seems to follow him, he's still threatening, dangerous and a joy to watch.
It would be impossible to write a review of Spy without including a note about the infamous pre titles sequence. Bond on a mission in Austria is chased by Russian gunmen on skis. Bond who is seemingly trapped skis off the edge of a mountain. Only to fall for what seems like an age, only to open a union jack emblazoned parachute.
To this day it still looks impressive, and is one of the signature stunts of the series. Nobody does it better.
A more self assured Moore gives his best performance as OO7. He's lost the shadow of Connery and makes the role his own. I love the scene in the back of the van, as he and Anya travel across egypt. She falls asleep on his shoulder only to be woken by a bump. She looks at him and pulls away, he casually readjusts himself. To me this is typical of the Moore Bond. Charming, debonair and at times mischevious. Whilst his style of humour is apparent, he's still for the most part playing it straight. Or as straight as Moores Bond can. An example of this is the killing of Stromberg. After Stromberg misses his chance to kill Bond at his dining table Bond fires not one, but four shots into the villain. A little excessive perhaps, but Moore is rarely this brutal.
Well I've always found the log cabin girl rather lovely. Though she turns out to be a bad girl. It does somewhat amuse me that her character hasn't got a name besides...log cabin girl. The Egyptian beauties are well...beauties and I'm sure Bond delved deeply into those treasures. Oh behave. Naomi, Strombergs murderous pilot is strikingly beautiful and fun. Then of course there's Anya Amasova, the Russian agent who's Bonds equal. A novel idea and one that would be replicated all to often in the series. Yet here its fun and original. It's true that at times that Ms Bach is a little wooden, but then this is a Bond film. We've had worse, and will have again in subsequent films. I do enjoy the way Bond amuses himself by flirting with Naomi, after he's spent the night with Anya. If looks could kill eh? Still an overall good group of babes.
Sergei, the lover of agent XXX, is seen only briefly, but gives it his best in trying to kill Bond. Sandor is similarly seen only briefly, though his fight with Bond is well staged. The grabbing of Bonds tie only to have Bond flick it out of his hands is a typically Bondian thing to do, and the pay off from Moore as he straightens his tie after Sandor has fallen to his death is nice.
The main villain in Stromberg is a little underdeveloped as I've mentioned, but Curt Jurgens is not bad in the role. Just a little bland. This may be because of his henchmen. The towering, steel toothed villain, Jaws. He's the real memorable edition to the villains of the film. Cartoonish and for my liking overly humourous, but altogether fun. In this film he at least has menace about him. In the follow up movie, all this would be lost. A mixed bag.
This has always been a Roger Moore forte, and in Spy he comes into his own with the humour. In his two previous films the humour was there, but in Spy it's as if Moore is given the reins. From the log cabin girls "But James I need you." and Bonds reply "So does England." to the ending with the heads of Mi6 and the KGB viewing Bond and Anya make love. Minister "Bond what do you think you're doing?" Bond "Keeping the British end up sir."
There are several humourous scenes like this, some of it good, some bad. Who else but Moore would put an 'Out of order' sign on a recently deceased man?
Or comment that a blade shooting up through a saddle would bring 'tears to your eyes.'
For me as a young boy viewing Spy for the first time, the film was funny in parts, some of which went over my head at the time. Today, it's still got that humour, and that's part of the overall appeal.
Well the already mentioned killing of Sandor and Stromberg would rank, but also the killing of Strombergs assistant in the shark pool as he watches is rather sadistic to say the least. Then Bonds use of the magnet on Jaws in the same shark pool (what was that magnet for btw?) in an attempt to rid himself of Jaws is using the same sadism in reverse.
Over the course of the series the snobbery of Bond goes up and down. In TSWLM Bond is not quite as snobby. We're not treated to him displaying his knowledge of fine food or wine, untill the end in the escape pod, but then it's only brief. A snob lite.
This in my mind is the first since OHMSS of the all out action Bond films. Something that would be reoccurring for a while. From the hugely entertaining pts, the fight with Sandor, the tussle with Jaws in Egypt, the car chase with the Lotus Espirit, and the all out battle on the Liparus, Spy has got plenty of action and then some. All of it looks good. To my mind it at least helps the story along, and doesn't appear to be tacked on for no reason. Aside from Bond and Anya tailing Jaws to have a fight at the pyramids. There really was no reason for that scene other than to show off the locale. But it's okay I can forgive that.
A snow filled Austria for some ski action, the wonderfully exotic looking Egypt, full of culture mystery, to the mediterranean and Sardinia. Bond goes to some lovely locales in Spy, we also given brief looks at a naval base and the KGB headquarters. All look suitably Bondian and lush.
The first gadget we see, we're not aware of, the ski pole gun. On first viewing it's a little confusing what happened, but that's a minor quibble, then later a tour of Q's workshop shows off some absurd devices. The piece de resistance then is surely the white Lotus Espirit? It looks fantastic, and the ensuing chase is something only the Bond films seem to do so well. Having a helicopter chase it off a pier and into the sea is well, Bondian. The transformation to a submarine seems almost logical, the car just lends itself to this convertion. No matter how silly that might seem. After an almost gadget free TMWTGG, Bond had plenty of toys in this outing
An funky update on the Bond theme and an altogether obviously 70s feel, make Spy a groovy and diso like entry in the Bond soundtrack. It's by far one of the better Bond scores outside of those of John Barry, and works well. The title song 'Nobody Does It Better' sung by Carly Simon is an utter classic and it's instrumental uses in the film are nice touches.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" by Sir Henry Lee Cha-Ching
"Then, when this mission is over, I will kill you"
After being treated to Bond movies in back to back years for the first time since 1964-1965, a three year hiatus ends in the summer of 1977 with the debut of Sir Roger Moore's third outing, The Spy Who Loved Me. My best recollections of being in the theater on it's debut weekend was that it was a grand adventure with spectacular sets that recalled the Connery days and it was very popular that summer with moviegoers.
The premise is also one lifted straight out of the Connery days. Instead of Ernst Stavro Blofeld and SPECTRE plotting to inaugurate a war for a very handsome price, this time we have a deranged gazillionaire named Karl Stromberg who has developed a system that tracks nuclear submarines and has built a special ship capable of swallowing them out of sight. After both the British and the Soviets lose subs armed with long range Polaris nuclear missiles, they assign their best agents to uncover who did it and recover both the subs and their deadly cargo before the unthinkable happens- and little do the respective governments realize that Stromberg is planning just that!
Sir Roger Moore's 3rd and admittedly favorite turn as the world's most famous secret agent shows a substantial growth in the role. The grittier, more workmanlike portrayal seen in his first two efforts gives way to a suave, relaxed, sophisticated character that separates himself from his predecessors. His performance is the best one of his "Bond lite" trio, but for my taste far from his best as Bond. 8/10
Are there ever, and every one of them is just smokin' hot The lead role of Russian Major Anya Amasova, or Soviet agent XXX if you will, is played by Barbara Bach, who is better known to the world-at-large as the wife of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. Bach is quite a beautiful woman, but not a very convincing "equal" to Bond due in part to a lack of acting skills and bad accent (see Famke Janssen). The Amasova character should have been stronger but it was a sign of the times and I've always wondered if the script had something to do with her controversial exit comments. My favorite Bond babe in this one was English stunner Caroline Munro as Stromberg crony Naomi. She probably had less than 10 lines but her facial expressions and pure sex appeal stole the movie from the other women. Wished she had a larger role but then, she holds the distinction of being the first woman Bond actually kills. Yugoslavian actress Olga Bisera also impresses as the beautiful, ill fated Felicca, there's Sue Wanner as the Russian "Cabin Girl", a spicy Sardinian hotel clerk, and a bevy of Egyptian harem girls. Again, these girls are as hot as any group you'll find in a Bond movie- but the acting isn't near what the women of Thunderball and Casino Royale bring to the table. 9/10
Veteran German actor Curt Jürgens shines as megalomaniac shipping magnate Karl Stromberg, who obsesses with creating an undersea civilization and is preparing to destroy mankind to achieve his dream. Stromberg I find to be one of the best villains in the series. He's not in it for the money. His menace is made perfectly clear when he coldly feeds his secretary to his killer shark, and then smiles happily while his two business associates all but wet their trousers His henchman is a paid killer called "Jaws", played by veteran American charactor actor and real life giant Richard Kiel. Jaws is different- he sports a pair of metal teeth that he uses to rip out jugular veins in vampire-like fashion. He's portrayed as indestructible and seemly impossible to kill. Unfortunately, the role becomes almost comedic. Other villain-types have minor roles, overall these were good villains. 9/10
Tons of witty one-liners that would come to define the Moore portrayal of Bond are present. This turned out to be his forte, and he is great at it. Some of the humor is unintentionally provided by Jaws, which wasn't necessarily a good thing. 9/10
Nevermind Jaws, the shark, the secretary's severed arm, the torn jugulars- anyone who is willing to nuke millions entirely deserves the maximum grade. 10/10
Some nice accomodations, a little Dom Perignon, just not enough to score very high. 4/10
Chock full of great action, but the Jaws fight scene at the Pyramids among other unrealistic sequences take this down a little.
The Alps, Egypt, Sardinia, and Ken Adam's magnificent designs- what's not to love?
Another category where the movie succeeds. The Connery Aston Martin is updated by the underwater capable Lotus, Q's Egyptian lab doesn't disappoint, even the villains have a few of their own. 10/10
The title song is a timeless classic, and Hamlisch does a fine job with a good bit of the movie. However, it is tempered with silliness and the action scenes are disco uncool. What I thought was unbelievably brilliant is the classical music playing during the shark kill, and later as Stromberg calmly returns to his meal after having murdered three people.
There is no denying that Spy was and is a crowd pleaser that scores well in many areas. Of all the Moore movies, this one would be my "guilty pleasure"- I love it despite my three issues with it. For one, it's obviously an updated You Only Live Twice with a different villain but essentially the same plot involving nuclear weapons. Second, I prefer Moore's tougher portrayals. Third, the movie gets a little silly which is OK here and there, but when you present a villain like Jaws who survives ridiculous situations without seemingly a scratch and then becomes likable to the audience, the concept fails. And it would only get worse.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" by Agent Leiter
When 1977 rolled around, for better or for worse Bond was about to change in a big way; Roger Moore's 3rd outing as the world's favorite spy was a different sort of Bond film from anything the public had yet seen. I have often heard The Spy Who Loved Me compared to Sean Connery's You Only Live Twice, but I find this comparison somewhat lacking to be honest. TSWLM works where YOLT fell short, and for my part I see it as the first time a Roger Moore Bond film actually surpassed one of Connery's entries to the Bond series. Spy is bigger and bolder than previous efforts, and somehow seems to work where previous films of similar intent had failed. The secret to success here? Roger Moore himself, in fact. TSWLM is tailor made to Roger's Bond, and it shows! Spy is unabashedly fanciful, and yet doesn't tend to keep its tongue too far in its cheek. It's not too serious, not overly farcical, and all around good fun so far as I am concerned. Moore plays it fairly straight, yet shows us he's having fun here.
But what about the other elements of the film? From Stromberg's Atlantis to Bond's own submersible Lotus Esprit, the sets and gadgets are utterly unforgettable. Jaws is memorable, providing the Roger Moore era with an iconic henchman of its own in answer to Connery's Oddjob. Stromberg himself is an interesting villain, although there could have perhaps been a bit more done with him. John Barry was sadly absent for this outing, leaving us instead with Marvin Hamlisch, who for his part presents us with a decidedly unique Bond score. Just to talk about the score for a moment, it is pretty dated for today's audiences... and yet I see that as being a good thing. TSWLM is a product of the 70's, and that is reflected well in a score that reminds is this is Bond's world circa 1977. From my perspective then, rather than make the film feel too dated, instead it almost feels like a sort of preservative... a time capsule effect that grabs me and transports me back to the mindset of the 70's.
I've certainly lavished a fair amount of praise on the film so far, so I suppose I ought to take a few moments to address the bad. To be honest I don't much care for the way agent XXX is characterized. It's nothing to do with the actress really (and it does seem people either love her or hate her), but something about the execution feels a little off to me. It seems as though the film wants her to be at once Bond's equal, and vulnerable damsel in distress... a mix that doesn't quite serve her as best it should. Jaws is another problem character for a few reasons. The film plays by the rules of a fanciful world and I have no objections to it going over the top, but in every other area it functions by a certain logic. Bond's car miraculously transforms into a submersible, yet it makes sense in light of the other fantastic devices we have seen displayed. Jaws on the other hand is never explained, nor is there anything to compare him too. He simply happens to be a man with superhuman strength, and copious amounts of metal in his body. No explanation is ever given, nor for that matter is one asked for; Jaws simply is. I find this somewhat problematic and more than a little distracting to be honest. That said, in spite of my gripes the character is fun in an escapist way.
All things considered, I had great fun watching this one again. The Spy Who Loved Me is a consistently entertaining movie, and a worthy entry into the Bond film series for its fun factor alone.