Russian and British submarines with nuclear missiles on board both vanish from sight without a trace. England and Russia both blame each other as James Bond tries to solve the riddle of the disappearing ships. But the KGB also has an agent on the case.
Great Globe-Trotting, Spectacular Locations, thrilling action and fun vibe Roger Moore did more official James Bond films as secret agent 007 than any other actor. He started the role when he was almost 45 years-old and ended his 7-film stint at 57. His third Bond film was “The Spy Who Loved Me” released in 1977 and it’s one of the most entertaining movies in the series. The plot revolves around 007 teaming up with female Russian agent XXX (yeah right) to prevent world-hating Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens) from starting World War III by stealing nuclear subs. Stromberg doesn't care if the world kills itself because he lives as a mad recluse on a crab-like submersible dream home called "Atlantis." The giant steel-toothed Jaws assists Stromberg along with the beautiful raven-haired Naomi. The top item I demand in any Bond flick is exciting globe-trotting and, consequently, great locations. “The Spy Who Loved Me” delivers on this front in spades. Right out of the gate there’s a rousing ski chase that culminates in a spectacular jump from Baffin Island's Mt. Asgard (Canada), substituting for the Austrian Alps. It’s an incredible stunt and easily one of the best openings in the franchise. From there we get the Sahara desert, Cairo, the Nile River and the great pyramids of Giza, as well as the Italian Mediterranean island of Sardinia, Scotland (Royal Naval base) and the waters of the Bahamas. These are all fabulous locations to say the least. Richard Kiel as the 7’2” Jaws is both intimidating and amusing. The on-going joke is that NOTHING can stop or kill him. Barbara Bach is good as Agent XXX and certainly possesses an exotic beauty, similar to Britt Ekland from the previous movie, but watch her get blown out of the water by the stunning Caroline Munro when she’s introduced as Naomi. Many cite Ursula Andress' coming out of the water in a white bikini in “Dr. No” (1962) as the ultimate ‘Bond girl’ moment but Caroline's introduction here is a serious rival; it's, at least, the second best one. The only problem is that Caroline's role is too brief. Check her out in “The Golden Voyage of Sinbad” (1974) to see her in a more prominent part. Some editions of the DVD include an over 40-minute documentary that includes an interview with Ms. Munro. She was still beautiful over 25 years after the movie was released. Another great aspect of “The Spy Who Loved Me” is that the fun, adventurous vibe and globe-trotting sequences give it an undeniable Indiana Jones feel, even though it was made four years before the first Indiana Jones flick. WATCH OUT for the great sequence where Bond's car morphs into a submarine as he attempts to flee Naomi in a helicopter. Many compositions in Bond films are relatively timeless, like “For Your Eyes Only” from 1981, but the disco elements in the score for “The Spy Who Loved Me” are horribly dated. This doesn't bug me that much. I can live with it; others can't. As for Roger Moore's take on Bond, I guess you either like him or you don't. I do. Regardless of his age Moore always looked great and was perfectly convincing as 007 throughout his run. IMHO Moore's seven films are the most consistently entertaining. Yes, Sean Connery is great and his stint is generally more serious (albeit with the typical Bond cheese), but who can deny the color and vibrancy of the Moore films? All of his pictures are very entertaining and were hugely successful at the box office. Even the heavily maligned “Moonraker” (1979) and “A View to a Kill” (1985) are great. They may have more goofy or amusing elements, which are actually funny by the way, but they remain essentially serious stories; they rarely go overboard into the rut of parody or camp. Seriously, I weary of hearing all the complaints about Moore's stint in the series. All of his films are quality Bond adventures. There's not a dud in the bunch. The movie runs 2 hours, 5 minutes. GRADE: A-
Commander James Bond, recruited to the British Secret Service from the Royal Navy. License to kill and has done so on numerous occasions. The Spy Who Loved Me is directed by Lewis Gilbert and adapted to screenplay by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum from the novel written by Ian Fleming. It stars Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jurgens, Richard Kiel and Walter Gotell. Music is scored by Marvin Hamlisch and cinematography by Claude Renoir. Bond 10. Allied and Soviet nuclear submarines are mysteriously disappearing from the waters and causing friction between the nations. MI6 and the KGB have a notion that a third party is responsible and stirring up trouble for their own nefarious means. 007 is partnered with Soviet spy Major Anya Amasova (Agent XXX) and the pair are tasked with getting to the bottom of the plot before the crisis escalates. During the whole run of the James Bond franchise there have been a few occasions when it was felt it had run out of steam. 1977 and on the back of the mediocre reception and by Bond standards the poor box office return of The Man with the Golden Gun, now was one such time. With producer Albert Broccoli striking out on his own, the stakes were high, but with a determined vision forming in his head and a near $14 million budget to work from courtesy of United Artists, Broccoli went big, and it worked magnificently. The Spy Who Loved Me is Moore's best Bond film, not necessarily his best Bond performance, but as a movie it's near faultless, it gets all the main ingredients right. Gadgets and humour were previously uneasy accompaniments to James Bond as a man, but here they serve to enhance his persona, never taking away his tough bastard edge. The suspense and high drama is back, for the first time in a Roger Moore Bond film things are played right, we don't think we are watching an action comedy, but an action adventure movie, what little lines of humour are here are subtle, not overt and taking away from the dramatic thrust. For production value it's one of the best. Brocoli instructed the great Ken Adam to go build the 007 Stage at Pinewood so as to achieve their vision for The Spy Who Loved Me. At the time it became the biggest sound stage in the world. With such space to work from, Adam excels himself to produce the interior of the Liparus Supertanker, the home for a brilliant battle in the final quarter. Vehicles feature prominently, the amphibious Lotus Esprit moved quickly into Bond folklore, rocket firing bikes and mini-subs, helicopter, speedboat, escape pod, wet-bike and on it goes. Then there's Stromberg's Atlantis home, a wonderfully War of the Worlds type design for the outer, an underwater aquarium for the inner. Glorious locations are key, also, Egypt, Sardinia, Scotland and the Bahamas are colourful treats courtesy of Renoir's photography. Underwater scenes also grabbing the attention with some conviction. The film also features a great cast that are led by a handsome, and in great shape, Moore. Barbara Bach (Triple X) is not only one of the most beautiful Bond girls ever, she's expertly portraying a femme of substance, intelligent, brave and committed to the cause, she is very much an equal to Bond, and we like that. The accent may be a shaky, but it's forgivable when judging Bach's impact on the picture. Jurgens as Stromberg is a witty villain, but he oozes despotic badness, sitting there in his underwater lair deliciously planning to start a new underwater world. Kiel as Jaws, the man with metal teeth, he too moved into Bond folklore, a scary creation clinically realised by the hulking Kiel. Gotell as Gogol is a presence and Caroline Munro as Naomi is memorable, while Bernard Lee's M and Desmond Llewelyn's Q get wonderful scenes of worth. They forgot to give poor Moneypenney something to chew on, but in the main it comes over that the makers were reawakened to what made Bond films great in the first place. There's even a candidate for best title song as well, Nobody Does it Better, delivered so magically by Carly Simon. The grand vision paid off, handsomely. It raked in just over $185 million at the world box office, some $87 million more than The Man with the Golden Gun. Not bad considering it was up against a record breaking Star Wars. Critics and fans, too, were pleased. It's not perfect. It's ironic that director Lewis Gilbert returned for his second Bond assignment, because this does feel like a rehash of his first, You Only Live Twice, only bigger and better. Hamlisch underscores it at times and John Barry's absence is felt there. While if we are being particularly harsh? Then Stromberg could perhaps have been a more pro-active villain? He makes a telling mark, we know he's a mad dastard, but he only really sits around giving orders and pushing death dealing buttons. But small complaints that fail to stop this Bond from being one of the best. Hey, we even get an acknowledgement that Bond was once married, and the response from Bond is respectful to that dramatic part of his past. 9/10
Not my favourite outing for "James Bond" this one, perhaps because the opening snow-scape scenes rely too heavily on green screen - maybe Roger Moore didn't like skiing, or just couldn't get insured - but in any case he certainly never left Pinewood for the first ten minutes here. It then leads into one of the more preposterous stories in which he must team up with the glamorous Soviet agent "Amasova" (Barbara Bach) to track down what has happened to two nuclear submarines that have vanished. It's got the usual travelogue elements - we go via Austria, to Egypt before the high seas where we encounter a sort of ecological megalomaniac in "Stromberg" (Curt Jürgens) who is trying to initiate global armageddon so he can live in his city under the sea. To help him achieve his goals, he has engaged the services of toothy strongman "Jaws" (Richard Kiel) who soon presents the couple with some perilous scenarios as they, of course, start to fall for each other. There is a distinct paucity of gadgets in this film, save for the submersible Lotus; the humour is a bit on the tacky side and I felt that the whole thing dragged a bit towards the end. Jürgens does just enough to get by but is hardly menacing; quite how Bach remains contained in her frock towards the end is astonishing and the denouement, though offering plenty of pyrotechnics, was rather rushed and a bit flat. It's OK, this film - but, sadly, nothing more than that.