James Bond needed a boost. While audiences seemed to be agreeable to Roger Moore in the role, the first two films of his tenure were not well regarded. The creative forces behind the franchise knew something needed to be done, and quickly. It became an all or nothing gamble. 1977 was going to showcase the biggest James Bond film yet. If it didn’t work with audiences, than it was time to throw in the towel. But if it did work… well James Bond would return.
British Secret Agent James Bond (Roger Moore) is put on his most vital case yet. A British submarine literally vanished. MI6 discovers that someone has figured out a way to track submarines, and is willing sell the technology to the highest bidder. Bond makes his way to Cairo, Egypt to find out more. When he gets there he meets the lovely Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), a Soviet secret agent who is also in Cairo to buy the plans for this technology. You see the Russians have lost a sub too.
There is a third party involved in this, a super-rich eccentric named Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). He dreams of a world without war and torment: a world completely under the oceans. To accomplish this, he will use the nuclear submarines to start World War III, while he sits in his underwater laboratory of Atlantis and watching the world burn. Of course he can’t have Bond or Anya messing up his plans so he dispatches his deadly henchman, a hulking brute with metal teeth called Jaws (Richard Kiel). The hunt is on, as Bond and Anya put together the sinister plot, battle Jaws among the ruins of Egypt, drive a car that turns into a submarine and face the villain in not one, but two huge lairs! But things take a final turn for the worse, when Anya discovers that Bond killed her lover. Once the mission is over, she will save one bullet – for Bond… James Bond.
- Goes back to the huge scale and scope of the biggest Bond films
- Balances humor and action almost perfectly
- Anya and Jaws are two of the best characters of the Moore era
- This plot should sound awfully familiar
- Hate disco? Then you’ll hate the disco-tastic score by Marvin Hamlisch
- Bond is pretty much a superman in this movie
If you don’t mind your James Bond films to be filled to the brim with fun, then you’ll enjoy this film. The writers finally found the sweet spot, providing Moore with a part he can really get into. Lots of great stunts, visuals and one of the most iconic henchmen of the franchise, The Spy who Loved Me is certainly the best Bond film of the 1970s.
Scores (out of 5)
In Depth Review
|Bringing a whole new meaning to detante.|
|One of the largest and most complex sets ever|
made for a James Bond film.
With these new elements in place, The Spy Who Loved Me was ready to roll with an immense budget. For Broccoli, this was the big gamble and in a lot of ways this would be the turning point for James Bond. If the character and concept could become a huge hit again, then they knew the franchise was unstoppable. If it failed here, well, folks would be shaken and stirred.
|Ken Adam's futuristic design is all over this set.|
Ken Adam’s production design was a perfect example of this. Yes the scope to the film was huge, and set elements like the enormous cargo bay in the mega-tanker (that fit three submarines inside it) reminded folks of the volcano base in You Only Live Twice. But Atlantis’ extremely mod design could only have come from the 70s. The interiors of that laboratory just look like they came from the disco era, but still have that clean look we associate with 007 mega-villains.
|Egypt gets a chance to show off in this film.|
|Bond car vs. helicopter? I think we all know who|
is gonna win this one.
|Jaws closes in for his final confrontation with|
All this action requires a lot of solid sound effect work. The sound team delivers with one of the most action packed tracks yet. But things go a bit differently on the music front. Instead of turning to John Barry, the man who provided James Bond with his signature sound and who worked on most of the previous 007 films, the producers turned to a composer with a more modern approach. Marvin Hamlisch took Monty Norman’s James Bond theme and made it boogie. You heard that right, Disco Bond, or Bond 77 fits the movie like a glove. It is a ton of kitschy fun, and certainly told moviegoers that stuffy old 60s 007 was in the rear view mirror. Hamlisch also composed some solid action and suspense music, not mention some interesting source music for the Egyptian scenes.
|Bond races to the rescue.|
The script to The Spy Who Loved Me was really tailor made for Roger Moore, so it really isn’t a surprise that we get one of Moore’s best performances in this movie. This is the script where they finally adjusted the humor and style of Bond to fit Moore. Yes, he still gets in those one-liners, but he has this smooth charm without the blunt edges of Connery. It is this element and the dash of dry humor to his reactions to situations that just clicks. No matter how outlandish the film gets, Moore’s Bond takes it all in stride. He’s James Bond, he’s pretty much seen it all. Not to say that all the edge is gone, but it is toned way down. We do see him get a bit grim during the battle aboard the supertanker as the tide turns against his side. But all in all, Moore’s Bond is a lover with a dry wit more than a fighter.
|Looks like the cold war is freezing over again.|
The main villain is the nefarious Stromberg played by Curt Jurgens. It is actually not a very interesting part. He is basically Captain Nemo taken to further extremes, but lacking the dynamic personality. He’s obviously determined and obsessed with creating his undersea kingdom. But he doesn’t really have much screen time. Jurgens’ performance works well, but he actually pales a bit compared to the similar character of Drax in the next film Moonraker.
|Naomi makes one fine welcoming committee.|
|Stromberg monologues his evil plan.|
|Yeah, the Lotus is one cool car/sub.|
Lewis Gilbert injects the whole movie with a fun spirit and plenty of momentum. Unlike the previous films helmed by Hamilton, this movie never feels bloated, or over-long. It slows a bit during the big battle scene, but it is nothing compared to the dreary boat chase of Live and Let Die or the dull car chase of Diamonds are Forever. Gilbert makes sure everything stays fun, humorous and engaging. In so many ways, he got to remake You Only Live Twice and improve the whole thing. When you run into fans of Roger Moore’s take on 007, this is usually the movie that made them fans. It is not hard to see why.
|Naomi waves bye, and then tries to blow you away.|