The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
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The Spy Who Loved Me is almost universally regarded as the best Roger Moore James Bond film and I share this opinion. Compared to Moore's prior efforts, it's a much more lavish production with grand sets, great stunts, lots of explosions and gadgets to satisfy all. It combines action and humour to great effect and Barbara Bach as the Bond girl is superb.
The story is about James Bond hunting down the person responsible for stealing submarines from the English and the Russians to stockpile nuclear missiles. The submarines just disappeared without a trace and obviously this is something that could lead to war so it's crucial that James figure it out before more damage can be done. Bond teams up with Russian spy, Anya Amasova or very fittingly, Agent XXX. Moore and Bach have great chemistry as allies while still being rivals.
The set design for The Spy Who Loved Me is really great. Stromberg's marine biology facility is beautiful and I honestly wish I could live there. The locations are interesting with places like Sardinia and Cairo for a visit at the pyramids but what's even more impressive here is the use of miniatures. The work that goes into miniatures is mind blowing and The Spy Who Loved Me is a good example of that. Scenes with submarines and tankers are done in this way and I don't believe CGI would have looked as good.
Roger Moore's take on James Bond in this edition is the version to be remembered. You would think he were born in a suit spouting one liners. It's a very lighthearted portrayal and that's fine with me. It's great fun watching Moore sneaking around or engaging evil henchmen.
Speaking of which, Jaws who is a henchman of the main villain is unbelievably awesome. Richard Kiel plays the role and does it perfectly. Jaws is a giant of a man with some devilish metal teeth in his mouth that leads to some pretty unpleasant scenes. He's completely silent besides a few grunts and his smile is wicked as it is sharp. Seeing him engage James Bond is pretty comical but it makes for some great fun. In my opinion, he completely overshadows the main villain even though Jaws is used sparingly. That's fine with me though because any time he trots out you know going to be fun to watch.
Like I said, there are some great stunts in The Spy Who Loved Me. The best one occurs in the opener during a ski chase down a mountain. It is an absolutely glorious moment that will send shivers down your spine every single time. At the time it was the most expensive stunt ever executed for a movie at $500,000. There are also some pretty good chases underwater and on the road. I definitely got to mention the awesomness that is the Lotus Esprit that was used for these scenes.
The last thing I want to give praise to is the score. Marvin Hamlisch brings his talents this time around in the place of John Barry and really does a fantastic job. He injects a bit of disco which maybe sounds stupid if you don't listen to it yourself. The title song is also one of my personal favourites with Carly Simon singing it. It's a beautiful song that works without it even being part of a James Bond movie.
The Spy Who Loved Me is one part goofy, one part spy movie and two parts action movie. All combined together, it makes for a great romp in the world of Bond. This is a huge victory for producer Albert R. Broccoli who lost his partner Harry Saltzman to financial difficulties. Not only that, a director was difficult to come by with Lewis Gilbert reventually returning into the fold from having previously directed You Only Live Twice.
When I think of Roger Moore Bond, I think of The Spy Who Loved Me. It's one of the funnest entries in the entire series due to all the right ingredients.
The Spy Who Loved Me is Moore's first incontestably good Bond film, in large part because of its Greatest Hits selection of set pieces, none of them going on too long (except for the tedious explosions in the climax) as they might have under Young or Hamilton. Lewis Gilbert runs a tighter ship, but not a wholly original one. There's a ski sequence (On Her Majesty's Secret Service) with an amazing stunt, an underwater mini-sub battle (Thunderball) with an awesome vehicle (that Lotus sub was one of the few toy cars I had as a kid), an off-shore HQ for the villain (Dr. No, but am I the only one who thinks it looks like the Legion of Doom's?), a giant exploding set (You Ony Live Twice), a love affair with a KGB agent (From Russian with Love) that includes a fight aboard a train (same, and Live and Let Die), and a monstrous henchman (like Oddjob and Tee-Hee) in Jaws. It's everything you like about Bond films distilled into one. So it's a bit by the numbers - the mad villain trying to create Atlantis is particularly thinly sketched, and the Bond girl is an example of the Soviet Robot who can't emote, if I'm being kind to Barbara Bach's performance - but it's one that works. Good pace, a light touch punctuated by moments of seriousness (triple-X mentions Bond's wife - oh no you didn't!), and some great locations (Egypt is particularly well-used and memorable). I'm also happy to see the USSR get back in the game, detente or not. In my mind, I thought the Cold War featured more heavily in the Bond stories, and I'm more than glad to get away from the inherent silliness of SPECTRE. A complete entertainment.
Spectaculair Bond movie, one of the best. Exciting story (although a rehash of YOLT), great action, sets, stunts and fun. Jaws is a great henchman. After a couple of lesser movies this film showed that nobody does it better....
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In 2 official lists
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This movie ranks #21 in Action! The Action Movie A-Z
This movie ranks #849 in The Guardian's 1000 Films to See Before You Die