Anthony's Film Review
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Roger Moore's third Bond finally gets it right for him...
The Spy Who Loved Me and the first two Roger Moore films of the James Bond film series, Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun, follow a pattern similar to Connery's first three films. In both cases, the actor's third Bond film is the one that turns out to be much better than the previous two, if not his best. This is what I like to call the "Third Film Theory." Of course, Moore's first two aren't as good as Connery's first two, but for both of them, their third film is very memorable.
Like Goldfinger, The Spy Who Loved Me has all the Bond film elements and does them just right. The Bond girl, a Soviet spy named Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), is both sexy and able to take care of herself. The gadgets are nice, especially Bond's Lotus Esprit that is the most memorable Bond car since the Aston Martin DB5. The mastermind villain Karl Stromberg, with his misanthropic scheme, and Jaws, who is imposing and deadly like Goldfinger's Oddjob, are both great characters. The film takes these ingredients and mixes in some humor, action, and suspense. Throw in a nice title song by Carly Simon and you have the end result of a very exciting action film.
I should mention that the film is not anything like Dr. No and From Russia With Love, the first two Bond films before Goldfinger. By this time, the definition of a Bond movie was no longer a spy thriller and was instead a spy movie with humor, action, and suspense. The Spy Who Loved Me is like a pendulum that swings from one end of a spectrum to the other. The first half leans more towards humor, especially with action scenes in Egypt that, at one point, throws in music from Lawrence of Arabia. Later, there is excitement as the entire world hangs in the balance. This may sound like a film that cannot decide what it wants to be, but it's not. This is a James Bond movie that works in both elements and suits Roger Moore's style of portraying the secret agent.
What is also nice is how the British and Russian intelligence agencies are trying to form an alliance, while the same may not be happening in reality at the time. This is also the first film to feature General Gogol, a recurring minor character on the Soviet side up until The Living Daylights in 1987. The Anglo-Soviet relations, of course, also extend to the professional and romantic relationship between Bond and Amasova. That is, until Amasova finds out about the one who killed her former lover.
In order to truly appreciate the quality of the film, one must consider the challenges in the early 1970s. Roger Moore's first two Bond films had not done as well at the box office as previous Bond films. The Bond series could have ended right there. But Albert Broccoli and company did not give up. They dared to make a Bond movie that was bigger than what was seen before. This involved building the 007 Stage, which was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest soundstage. It was spacious enough to hold an entire body of water, enabling the crew to film the climactic scenes supposedly taking place in the Mediterranean Sea.
Overall, the production was worth it. The film works on just about every level because everything is executed very well. This is a film where every action scene is something worth seeing and every other scene advances the story. As I've implied already, The Spy Who Loved Me is Roger Moore's Goldfinger. It's a huge step up from the poor performance associated with Live and Let Die and The Man With the Golden Gun. It is also proof that the James Bond series can make a comeback if the formula is done just right. Just the movie's title song, nobody does it better than James Bond.
For more information about The Spy Who Loved Me, visit the Internet Movie Database.
In addition, check out my reviews of the following:
Official James Bond Films
Unofficial James Bond Films