A fake Fabergé egg and a fellow agent's death lead James Bond to uncover an international jewel-smuggling operation, headed by the mysterious Octopussy, being used to disguise a nuclear attack on N.A.T.O. forces.
James Bond is back again and his new mission is to find out how a Royal Navy Polaris submarine holding sixteen nuclear warheads simply disappears whilst on patrol. Bond joins Major Anya Amasova and takes on a a web-handed mastermind, known as Karl Stromberg, as well as his henchman Jaws, who has a mouthful of metal teeth. Bond must track down the location of the missing submarine before the warheads are fired. Written by
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
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