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You don't review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them
according to how well they meet expectations. There are certain things
one has come to expect, even demand of a Bond film and each individual
effort either delivers or it doesn't. So, here are ten elements that
make a Bond film a Bond film and how THE SPY WHO LOVED ME rates on a
scale of 1 to 10:
Title: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME: The title seems more appropriate for a Harlequin Romance novel, and if suitable at all for a Bond film, it would have been a better title for ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. Yet, it does finally work the word "spy" into the title of a Bond film. 7 points.
Pre-Credit Teaser: It's all very nicely done: Within a few minutes, we see a submarine stolen and its crew kidnapped; we meet the Soviet's top agent, who just happens to be -- surprise! -- a woman; and we get the added treat of one of Bond's greatest stunts, the great skiing-skydiving trick. A pretty cool way to kick off the film and set up the various story lines. 9 points.
Opening Credits: Arguably the silliest of all of Maurice Binder's efforts, the opening sequence finds 007 bouncing around on a trampoline while various miniature, and apparently naked, babes do gymnastics on the barrels of guns. (Pity he didn't come up with that idea for THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.) Bordering on self-parody, it is nonetheless naughty and fun and colorful and oh-so very James Bond. 9 points.
Theme Song: No beating around the bush here, the song gets right to the point: "Nobody does it half as good as you, Baby, you're the best." Just what Bond is best at is open to interpretation. The music by Marvin Hamlisch is swanky and matched by Carol Bayer Sager's dreamy and only slightly sarcastic lyrics. And Carly Simon's vocals bring it all home. Maybe not the best Bond song, but right up there. 9 points.
"Bond, James Bond": Moore finally makes the role his. The number of smug one-liners have been trimmed, yet he still invests the character with humor -- plus some warmth and charm, and unexpected sadness. And we get to see a bit of Bond's vanity as he matches wits with a female agent who is his equal and not impressed by his stock-and-trade flirtations. Moore's best appearance as Bond. 9 points.
Bond Babes: The prevailing notion has always been that "Bond Girl" equals "Bimbo," which is only partly true. Most of the women Bond encounters are highly skilled professionals -- as well as being bimbos. But Soviet agent Major Anya Amasova, a.k.a. XXX, is the first Bond Girl to give James a run for his money. She's smart, sexy, capable, resourceful and it takes her almost the whole movie to actually fall in love with Bond. What will power! As played by Barbara Bach (a.k.a., soon-to-be Mrs. Ringo Starr), Anya ranks as one of the best Bond Girls, easily worthy of 9 points.
Bond Villain: Karl Stromberg (nice villainous name, by the way) is one of those mad billionaires who hopes to create a new world order by mass genocide and building a new society, this time underwater. It is pretty much a cliché character and unfortunately Curt Jurgen plays the part like a grumpy old man and can't seem to muster up even a maniacal laugh. 5 points.
Bond Baddies: Oddjob look-a-like Sandor, played by Milton Reid, puts in an appearance long enough to die a memorable death, but it is Richard Kiel who steps into the limelight as Jaws, one of the great Bond villains. If being a hulking, seven-foot tall muscle man weren't enough, he also has steel teeth and an amazingly obsessive desire to kill 007. Playing Wile E. Coyote to Bond's Road Runner, Jaws earns 9 points.
Sinister Plot: Stromberg steals a Russian and a U.S. sub, as well as a British one, with the hopes of starting World War III and destroying the civilization as we know it today. Been there, done that. 4 points.
Production values: Romantic imagery, clever lighting effects and intriguing camera angles make this the most visually appealing Bond film. In the past, the emphasis was always on the most effective way to film action sequences, but here director Gilbert Lewis strives for that little bit extra as far as mood and romance. 9 points.
Bonus Points: Connery had his Astin Martin and Moore gets a Lotus Esprit. It is not nearly as snazzy, but it does turn into a submarine and you never know when that will come in handy. 5 points.
Summary: It had been hinted at in the three previous Bond adventures, but a new sense of style is fully apparent here. The roughness and grit that many of the purists loved about Connery's films are pretty much gone in favor of a polish and panache. Whether that is being suave or merely superficial is open to interpretation, but it does set the tone and the expectations for all future Bond adventures.
Bond-o-meter Rating: 84 points out of 100.
After the critical and commercial beating taken by THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN
GUN, producer Albert Broccoli, now solely in charge of the 007 franchise,
had to re-evaluate the series for the third time in less than ten years.
Certainly, Roger Moore would never be believable in a Sean Connery-type Bond
film, but couldn't some of the series' best elements be restored, and the
comedy reduced a bit, to make Moore's Bond a bit more believable?
The research, which became the basis of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, took over two years to complete, and the script went through many writers before the final draft, by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum. With a renewed emphasis on more realistic action, Broccoli brought back Lewis Gilbert to direct; his earlier Bond effort, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, while not a major 'hit', had featured the most spectacular action sequences of the series. With Gilbert on board, the production became very reminiscent of the Connery film (Even the concept of a supertanker 'swallowing' submarines echoed YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, and the spacecraft-'eating' SPECTRE capsule).
As the villain, esteemed German actor Curt Jurgens was cast as Karl Stromberg, an ideal choice, as the actor, with his bulging eyes, 'fit' the role of a fish-like megalomaniac. Playing his henchman, Jaws, in an inspired piece of casting, giant Richard Kiel, complete with 'bear-trap' steel teeth, would provide Moore with the greatest danger he'd ever face as Bond. Kiel was, in fact, so good in the role (possibly the most popular villain of the entire 007 franchise), that he would return in MOONRAKER, to bedevil Bond some more. Less successful, dramatically, but still astonishing to watch would be Stromberg's 'hit woman', Naomi, played by voluptuous Caroline Munro.
In an effort to 'update' Bond into an era of feminists, the strongest, most independent love interest to appear in at Bond film to that point was introduced. Major Anya Amasova, played by Ringo Starr's wife, the exotically beautiful Barbara Bach, was Bond's opposite number on the Russian side, an equal to 007 in every way. In a pivotal scene, she would display a knowledge of Bond's past that even included his dead wife, Tracy (the first time Bond's marriage had been mentioned since ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE). Moore's reaction to her comment would be both emotional and abrupt, and demonstrated that he could do far more than just deliver witty one-liners.
From the spectacular ski chase pre-title sequence, climaxing with a parachute free fall off a cliff (love that 'Union Jack'), to Bond and Anya's confrontations with Jaws, in Egypt (reminiscent of Bond's fights with Oddjob in GOLDFINGER and Tee Hee in LIVE AND LET DIE), to the amazing Lotus that would do service on land and in the ocean, to the massive tanker battle while Bond disarms a nuclear warhead (shades of GOLDFINGER), THE SPY WHO LOVED ME would do homage to 007's previous adventures, and utilize humor in support of the on-screen action, instead of spoofing it (other than the brief use of the LAWRENCE OF ARABIA theme...you'll spot it).
And to top things off, Carly Simon's rendition of the film's title tune, "Nobody Does It Better", would become a Top Ten hit, worldwide.
Critics and audiences loved THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, hailing it as Moore's best work, and one of the better Bonds of all time. Things were, again, looking up for 007...but STAR WARS was about to debut, and things would go dreadfully amiss, when Broccoli decided to send Bond into space, in MOONRAKER...
Just like the highly disappointing "Die another day" is a regrettable class
example of how to do everything in a James Bond film completely wrong,
legendary "The Spy who loved me" is a prototype of a perfect 007 adventure.
Everything seems to work here.
First of all this was the first Bond movie that really showed what a modern pre-credits sequence should look like. After all in Roger Moore's first two flicks "Live and let die" and "The Man with the golden gun" we don't even see 007 until after the credits.
From the opening ski chase to the underwater car, stunts are amazing. In many ways this has to be one of the most imaginative Bonds. Story is excellent, especially because it doesn't only deal with Stromberg's evil plot against the unaware world but because it has a pleasant little sideplot about 007's relationship with Major Anya Amasova.
Villains are of course splendid, why should I even bother to mention that (almost literally) larger-than-life character Jaws is perhaps the most beloved bad guy James Bond has ever been against with. Curd Jürgens also gives a magnificent performance as the insane mastermind Stromberg.
I'm one of the people who thinks that in the end Sean Connery is the one and only true James Bond. Nevertheless, "The Spy who loved me" is still better than some of Connery's Bond movies. At least it surpasses "From Russia with love", "Thunderball" and "Diamonds are forever" and I must admit these films are most terrific experiences too.
Everyone should see this film, not only the big Bond fanatics. Why? Simply because "The Spy who loved me" is not only a significant film in the movie series, it's much more than that. It's an important part of the pop culture.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In the 10th James Bond film, 007 does not always win and this makes him
more human... His relationship with a resourceful and beautiful Russian
agent is something new for the Bond films...
Lewis Gilbert's film provides direct allusion to David Lean's epic movies, bringing back a Blofeld-type character... His name is Karl Stromberg, a shipping tycoon who despises every aspect of terrestrial civilization...
Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) enjoys hearing classical music while plotting to decimate the human population... He hijacks atomic submarines belonging to the British and Soviet navies, and plans to use their nuclear missiles to destroy both New York and Moscow Stromberg's aquarium, of sharks and other deadly fish, is his pride and passion... 'For me this is all the world', he declares, 'There is beauty. There is ugliness. And there is death.'
Stromberg's three killers are Jaws, Sandor and Naomi
Jaws (Richard Kiel) steals the show as the most menacing and fearsome henchman Bond has ever faced since the mute Korean assassin Oddjob in 'Goldfinger.' Equipped with stainless steel teeth, Jaws is a giant of a killer on the loose who can't be stopped or killed
Sandor (Milton Reid) is the bald, muscle-bound assassin who tries to kill Bond at Aziz Fekkesh's apartment in Cairo
Naomi (Caroline Munro) is Stromberg's luscious assistant and helicopter pilot who shows her 'lovely lines,' giving Bond a lewd while trying to shoot him and Anya down from the air...
Bond and his very fine Russian ally Anya are sent to Egypt to identify the traitor who is putting the microfilm of the submarine tracking system on the open market... Each agent thinks the other is behind the hijacking... They play a game of spy versus spy in the land of the Pharaohs, until it is revealed that a third party has been playing them off against each other in typical SPECTRE style...
Bond is seen sensitive and a little bit incredulous about certain topics... He is waylaid in the Alps by a posse of Russians on skis... He shots a KGB agent using a ski-pole gun, and goes over a cliff and falls and falls and falls...
Roger Moore again adopts a naval commander's uniform... He orders a Baccardi on the rocks for Anya, and impresses her when describing her life story... He comments that he maybe has misjudged Stromberg referring that "Any man who drinks Dom Perignon '52 can't be all bad."
Barbara Bach had some unfinished business to settle with 007... Her role of Anya Amasova brings the feminine touch and talent to the action... Bach is attractive, classy, stylish, intelligent, confident, very sexy, and absolutely wonderful...
The film also marks the appearance of Walter Gottel as General Alexis Gogol, head of the KGB, who (unlike M) possesses somewhat of a sense of humor... Gogol has a deep attraction for beautiful women, and would become a regular character...
Edward De Souza proves to be wonderfully ironic as the Cambridge-educated Sheikh Hosein, whose harem includes a little treasure of whom our 'man of action' announces his intention to 'delve deeply into.
"The Spy Who Loved Me" deserves its popularity for its exquisite design for Atlantis, its lovely music score, and its humorous touches The real names of both M and Q are revealed in the movie
Undeniably one of the finest James Bond films to star Roger Moore, the film
has plenty of excess, top notch special effects (for 1977) anyway, the humor
less overt and left over for puns and one liners, and one of the first
strong and independent Bond women, paving the way for future love interests
like Jinx and Wai Lin. The Spy Who Loved Me scarcely puts a foot wrong. Sure
the plot is far fetched to the extreme (an underwater building and a villain
looking to repopulate the earth in his underwater city), but it has plenty
of charm and is frequently enjoyable. Moore looks very confident in his
performance as Bond, the one liners oozing effort and confidence, showing he
has hit his stride in this, his third appearance as the character. His
chemistry with Barbara Bach is in full swing, despite her odd Russian
accent, and the two of them make for a great on screen
This is a return to the values of many of the Bond films that were missing the last time around. The extravagant sets are back, the villain has plenty of henchman for Bond and the cavalry to fight and the gadgets are in full swing. Everything from a parachute with the Union Jack on it to the Lotus with just about every conceivable gadget at Bond's disposal. The emphasis on sight gags and overt comedy is gone and replaced with moments of genuine suspense, just check out Bond having to steal the detonator of a nuclear weapon, not to mention the superb theme tune Nobody Does it Better by Carly Simon.
It's an apt song for a series that found its footing and gave its lead actor his first classic Bond film.
Roger Moore has always maintained that The Spy Who Loved Me is the best
of his Bond films. Personally I prefer Octopussy and For Your Eyes
Only, but this one certainly has its moments. The original novel by Ian
Fleming was an odd-one-out in the book series, describing as it did how
an off-duty Bond saved a female hotelier from a couple of nasty
hoodlums. However, in this film adaptation the novel has been
completely jettisoned and replaced with a story about Bond thwarting a
megalomaniac from achieving world domination.
Bond (Moore) is partnered with Russian agent Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach - most beautiful of all the many Bond girls) to solve the mysterious disappearance of two nuclear submarines, one British the other Russian. They follow the clues to the underwater lair of Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), an elegant and educated psychopath with a plan to destroy the world in a nuclear holocaust and retreat to his undersea empire. To add to their complications, Anya learns that her recently killed boyfriend was eliminated by Bond during an assignment.
The pre-credit sequence is among the better pre-credit sequences in the series, involving an extraordinary ski stunt which many consider to be the most breathtaking stunt ever devised for a Bond film. Moore is good as Bond, Bach stunningly attractive as his partner (though not very convincing as an actress), and Jurgens provides a suitably over-confident villain. The location work in various locations, most notably Egypt, is nicely photographed. Marvin Hamlisch provides the music, marking a change from the usual composer John Barry, and Hamlisch's score is decent enough though it does have a dated '70s quality to it when listened to nowadays. The plot is totally implausible and self-parodic (if they'd stuck to the plot in the book though, it would've been almost impossible to make a Bond movie in the expected sense of the phrase), but director Lewis Gilbert cleverly plays it with tongue-in-cheek so that the absurdness of the on-screen events becomes curiously endearing. The Spy Who Loved Me is silly, entertaining and extravagantly spectacular.
This is one of Roger Moore's best turns as James Bond. It has one of the best plots, the best villians, and one of the best Bond girls...Barbara Bach as agent XXX. Submarines are being somehow hijacked and it is up to Bond to find out by whom. Meanwhile, Agent XXX must find out who stole a Russian sub. They start out working against each other, but after awhile they pull their resources and work together. This Bond flick features a great ski chase, a battle on a train, car chase and good finale. Also, Richard Kiel, plays the henchman Jaws and does a pretty good job considering he has no lines.
The Spy Who Loved Me put the 007 epic back on truly epic grounds after the
bitter disappointment of Diamonds Are Forever and the mixed measure of Live
and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun. Spy adds vast new spectacle to
the Bond epic along with strong interplay with some interesting new
characters and a major improvement in the series' production values.
The idea of Bond meeting his match is the starting point for The Man With The Golden Gun, but here the match is in a rival and ally from the Soviet secret service, Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach, who admittedly is over her head here but holds her own overall). We see in Anya the direct counterpart to HMSS, complete with omnipresent leader in General Gogol (Walter Gotell, who becomes one of the series' best supporting characters) and a pretty secretary.
The Bond series also revisits the SPECTRE days in a sense, in that the antagonist is a self-contained independent force, shipping magnate Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). Stromberg owns a vast experimental undersea headquarters, Atlantis, and the world's largest container ship, the Liparus. Stromberg becomes linked to the disappearence of several nuclear missile submarines, through a schematic of a submarine tracking system stored on microfilm. Just what Stromberg's role entails becomes the mission for both James and Anya, and both find allies in the US Navy attack boat USS Wayne, under the command of Captain Scott Carter - here is a rarity in film, a supporting character who steals the show, here thanks to the splendid performance of Thunderbirds' own Shane Rimmer.
Another supporting cast member steals the show as well, and would do so in the next Bond film. Richard Kiel joins Harold Sakata as the most memorable of James Bond's offbeat villainous henchmen - where Sakata's Oddjob killed with a rapier-sharp bowler hat, Richard Kiel's Jaws uses steel alloy teeth as well as his own gigantic height; Kiel even brings back memories of Robert Shaw's Donald "Red" Grant in one of the most memorable stages for a Bond fistfight - the Orient Express.
The film is scored by Marvin Hamlisch rather than John Barry, and Hamlisch adds a surprisingly effective disco touch to the Bond series, one that "modernizes" the series without disrupting the power of the tried-and-true music cues of before.
But the biggest quality in the film is the vastly improved production values. Shane Rimmer was not the only Thunderbirds alumni to work in the Bond universe - SFX master Derek Meddings had worked with John Stears on Man With The Golden Gun, but here he takes over the SFX unit and greatly improves the scope and quality of the effects work, aided greatly by enormous and effective sets at Pinewood Studios that combine the best of Dr. No, You Only Live Twice, and especially Thunderball.
The relationship between James and Anya is the primary drive in the tension of the film. At first both try to one-up each other, such as in decoding the microfilm, identifying an obscure logo on the microfilm, and in the famous Lotus chase sequence when she reveals she stole blueprints for the design years earlier.
But the real strain lies in the film's prologue, when Anya's lover, himself employed by Mother Russia's security service, crosses paths with James - a confrontation James may not live down now. His own feelings for Anya, however, put what is past fully in the past, and it leads to a showdown with Stromberg amid a threat of annihilation.
It all adds up to an enormously entertaining spectacle, a highlight of the Bond epic.
What a nice surprise this was, a change for me since re-viewing some of
these old Bond movies. With the exception of "Goldfinger," I've been
disappointed in the rest....but not this one. This film seemed far
better than I had remembered, one of the best James Bond movies I've
seen. My first look in over 30 years at this stunned me. I couldn't
believe how entertaining and fun it was to watch!
It's enjoyable right from the start and features my all-time favorite "Bond song" - "Nobody Does It Better," By Carly Simon. It's sung or palyd throughout the movie.
This was Roger Moore's third attempt at playing James Bond and he really hit his stride with this, being a natural as the suave spy. The action is plentiful but never seems too much or gets boring with an excess. It never quite crosses that line, although it comes close a few times.
Curt Jurgens is very low-key as the villain "Karl Stromberg." His role really isn't all that big. You don't see much of him until the end. Who you DO see is the seven-foot, two-inch giant "Jaws" (Richard Kiel) the main with the iron teeth. He is fun to watch, and is almost indestructible, like the evil cyborg in "Terminator 2." Jaws just keeps coming back no matter what you do to him.
Overall, this Bond film is attractive because it has just the right mixture of action, suspense and humor, and another pretty leading lady in Barbara Bach. I'm not sold on her Russian accent as "Major Anya Amasova" but she is nice the eyes. The accent made her appear sub- par as an actress. Otherwise, no complaints.
The cinematography in here, too, is above-average. There are very nicely-filmed scenes with interesting camera-work. Good work, all-around!
With Roger Moore making the part his own by this his third bond film, Albert
R. Broccoli had to come up with a strong action-packed epic, if they were to
attract audiences that had been spoilt rotten by 'Star Wars' the same
'The Spy Who Loved Me' offers no new scenarios, in fact you could easily dissect each key scene and match it to something that's been done before. There's an underwater battle like the one in 'Thunderball' a ski chase not too dissimilar to the one in 'Her Majesty's...' and even the final big shoot out is not unlike the one in 'You Only Live Twice' (which was also directed by Lewis Gilbert) but 'The Spy Who Loved me' is more than merely a sum of its parts, and when each part is handled as expertly as these, you don't seem to care if it has indeed been done before.
The film like Moore exudes a certain charm, and provides a certain amount of nostalgia looking back at it now, with it's lively 70's fashions, even Bond's theme gets the disco treatment quite superbly. Ken Adam's stunning larger than life sets fit the film's extravagant, big budget flavour perfectly. Appreciative nods must also go to some fantastically attractive women, Caroline Munro playing the enticing Naomi has to be one of the most seductive looking femme fatales to steam up a wide-screen, and more's the pity that she didn't grace it longer. Barbara Bach is equally alluring, and a fine match for Roger Moore in all sense of the word . The film also offers a wealth of laughs while not forgetting the chills and spills, Richard Keil providing all as the relentless and unforgettable Jaws. The scene where he tears open a Sherpa Van like a sardine can is particularly memorable, as is him brushing himself off after plummeting into a farmhouse from a flying Mercedes. Some fine touches of drama too, Bond's response to XXX's remarks about his career and wife are handled with compassion and reverence.
So in all everything is here you could possibly want in a 007 adventure; top stunts, beautiful women, cool villains, those gloriously huge Pinewood sets and THAT car, wrapped in an exciting globe-trotting story line where Bond has to save the world from certain destruction, accompanied by Carly Simon sveltely singing 'Nobody does it better' it's not surprising that the 'Spy Who Loved Me' is one of the most memorable of all Bond films.
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