May 3, 2014

Review: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

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.

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Genre: action, adventure, crime
Directed by: Lewis Gilbert
Produced by: Albert R. Broccoli, William P. Cartlidge
Written by: Christopher Wood, Richard Maibaum
Music by: Marvin Hamlisch
Running time: 125 minutes
Production company: Danjaq, Eon Productions
Distributed by: United Artists Corporation, Les Artistes Associés S.A.B., Kommunenes Filmcentral, etc.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $14,000,000
Box office: $185,400,000 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curd Jürgens, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell, Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn, Lois Maxwell, Geoffrey Keen, Milton Reid, Robert Brown, George Baker, Edward de Souza, Shane Rimmer, Bryan Marshall, Vernon Dobtcheff

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Synopsis


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.

Review


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.

In the end, 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 the right combination of ingredients.

Rating


8/10