I have fond memories of this Roger Moore outing and seem to recall it being one of my favourite Bond movies of all time. Perhaps its the haunting theme song “Nobody Does It Better” sung by Carly Simon, or the disco influenced musical soundtrack written for its chase scenes, and the exotic locales including the Pyramids of Egypt and the white snow capped mountains of Austria. The film’s opening gambit sets the tone right away for this episode with a ski chase ending with astounding ski jump stunt which then morphs to the opening credit theme song. The Spy Who Loved Me has firmly engraved the new standard for all future Bond movies to follow as they try to outdo itself with an opening gambit act that becomes increasingly complex and outlandish.
Watching this again some 40 plus years later, I can understand how this movie was so impressive to me at the time it was released. The movie has some very creative stunts this time around including a car that converts itself into a mini submarine, and a extended car chase sequence that involved motorbikes, helicopter and weaponised scuba divers! I also liked how the Pyramids where used as a backdrop in the sequence where Bond follows his lead and is counter followed by his Russian counterpart agent. The use of lights, music and clever editing made what would have been a routine cat and mouse sequence stand out. The steel teethed Jaws as played by Richard Kiel is an unforgettable nemesis and we can clearly see how Roger Moore struggled to keep up with him physically in his one on one with Jaws lending a bit of credibility to an otherwise tongue in cheek escapade.
American actress Barbara Bach plays the Russian super agent XXX who falls in love with James Bond, hence the title of the movie. While Barbara (famous also for being once married to the Beatles’ Ringo Starr) clearly commands a screen presence with her stunning beauty, her acting leaves a lot to be desired. She appears as amateurish at best and often seen as reciting her lines like a bad take of a scene. I guess acting capability was low on the priority list when casting any Bond girls at that time since male chauvinism and depiction of all women as sex objects and bimbo’s was still firmly rooted in the series. By today’s standard, I would assume all feminists would be up in arms and march on the streets to protest about how degrading the women were being portrayed in the movie.
I was enjoying every bit of nonsense and guilty pleasures that the movie had to offer until the final act. In typical boring fashion the climax is one noisy affair with lots of stuff blowing up and people running around shooting each other. The villain of the piece, Stromberg, a mad genius with plans to cause global havoc for some vague reasons, is typically menacing and cruel throughout the movie … until James Bond predictably outsmarts him and deposes of him with no problem. As played by Curt Jurgens, the German actor lends an air of danger with his deadly stare. Alas like his predecessors, he suffered from the habit of talking too much and letting James Bond escape defeat only to have himself be killed off all too easily in a rather unceremonious way.
Apart from the boring final act The Spy Who Loved Me would have been something to remember fondly. Now that I have rewatched this again, I find I liked the previous Bond entry, The Man With The Golden Gun better as that had a better and more even pacing and was less ambitious. A case of being less being actually more? So far as we finish #10 in the series of Bond movies, I personally find George Lazemby’s solo outing as James Bond in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service as my personal favourite Bond movie. I am eager to see what the next 24 movies are like as we approach the opening of Bond #25: No Time To Die slanted for an April 2020 worldwide opening.