Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Favorite Era: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

While Roger Moore's first two outings as James Bond were decent enough in terms of his acting (though neither one is anywhere near the top of my list), his third turn is where he really made the role his own.  This, along with a larger than life script pitting Bond against a Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), a deranged nut hoping to set off World War III and some great f/x (to say nothing of one iconic villain) makes the 10th 007 epic one of the very best.  Let's take a look...
  • Love the score by Marvin Hamlisch, it's very 70's but not in an obnoxious way.
  • Great pre-title sequence as Russian baddies (one of whom is the Bond Girl's lover) chase Bond in a ski chase that is capped off by one of the most amazing stunts I have ever seen.  The fact that a guy did a ski jump off a mountain for real just makes it even more impressive.
  • I also like how the general setup for the plot is also laid out, introducing us to our Bond Girl Anya (Barbara Bach) as well.
  • Bach is pretty good in the role though she only uses her Russian accent about half of the time.
  • Carly Simon's man title song "Nobody Does it Better" is another great aspect of the film.
  • Moore is fantastic here, as I said.  While he was a little too forced in the nastier scenes in his first two efforts, his third film allowed him to relax into a suave, classy yet quite lethal interpretation of Bond.  He may be a lighter Bond than Sean Connery, but that doesn't make him any less of a killer as we will see.
  • Stomberg's first scene is a nice bit of villainy, the only thing that would have is better is if the filmmakers could have used Blofeld and SPECTRE as the bad guys.  Thanks to a lawsuit, they were unable to which has an effect in one crucial moment but for the most part doesn't affect things too harshly.
  • The intro scene is also notable for the introduction of Richard Kiel sad the hulking steel-toothed henchman Jaws into the franchise,.  Kiel is quite good, using his sheer mass to intimidate and he makes for a very effective villain.
  •  I would also be an unconscionable turd if I didn't mention Caroline Munro in her small role as helicopter pilot Naomi.  She's sexy as hell (as usual) and it twill almost be a shame when she leaves the movie.
  • One of my favorite small moments in the franchise comes when Bond is in Cairo to meet with a man who can introduce Bond to the holder of a microfilm relating to the sub disappearance that kicks off the film.  He is seen in silhouette in an archway and it is simply one of the coolest shots I've ever seen, just pure Bond.
  • The ensuing fist fight with one of Stromberg's goons is equally cool, as is the wonderfully cold way Bond dispatches him after he give our hero the information he needs.
  • There is a nice eerie quality to the sequence at the pyramids, helped by the bit with Jaws showing what he's all about.  It's bad enough the guy is freaking huge, but the fact that he dispatches his victims Dracula style just makes him extra freaky.
  • Bond and Anya meeting up and bantering back and forth as they track Jaws is very entertaining as the two actors have good chemistry together.  Her briefly ditching him is also great, as is the M meeting where they are teamed up about an hour in.
  • The next awesome bit is the fight between 007 and Jaws on the train.  Bond had always has good fights on trains and this one is just great as he just barely manages to stave off the beast before tossing out of a window.  I always got a kick out of how Jaws just brushes off whatever horrific injury he suffers and keeps going.  It's funny (and overdone in the next film) and also a little creepy.
  • The coolness keeps going as Bond is given his new car, a tricked-out Lotus Esprit that can turn into a mini-submarine.  The huge car chase later on between the Lotus, a few enemy cars and Naomi in a helicopter is just stunning.
  • The meeting with Bond and Stromberg is a good one and one can only imagine how great it could have been if it was Bond vs. Blofeld instead given that in the sixth film Blofeld kills Bond's new bride on their wedding day.
  • Now is as good a time as any to mention the fantastic set design.  Stromberg's home base and super tanker are simply astounding.  I can only imagine how great they must have looked on the big screen.
  • As I said, the car chase is good and so is the underwater action that ensues to round the sequence off.
  • The reveal that Bond killed Anya's lover is a pretty damn good scene, though Moore's acting is a little more spot-on than Bach's.  It's a nice dramatic scene that give some nice insight into Moore's portrayal of the character.  He accepts murder as part of the job and makes no apologies for it.  The tension between the two for a while after this works rather well.
  • Stromberg's plan is appropriately grand, as is the rest of the movie.
  • There are few things that bring a smile to my face faster than seeing Bond spring into action and create utter havoc in the bad guy's lair.  The orgy of violence Bond kicks off to begin the last act action is a marvel as I'm pretty sure he racks up a body count here along the lines of the average Stallone movie.  My favorite bit is when he shoots two guys with one harpoon.
  • The big gun battle in the tanker is wonderfully over the top with huge explosions and some of the most enthusiastic stuntmen you are likely to find anywhere.
  • Bond's final confrontation with Stromberg is great as he ruthlessly dispatches the guy in about as nasty a manner as you could get away with in a PG movie at the time.  As with a few other moments, having the baddie be Blofeld would have made the scene ever better.  Put it this way, blowing a guy's balls out his ass and then putting two in his chest for good measure is not how one usually offs a random nut job.  But the man who killed your wife?  I rest my case.
After the massive letdown that was The Man with the Golden Gun, the franchise needed a big hit which they got.  The Spy Who Loved Me was released in August of 1977 and was one of the big hits that summer, along with a little sci-fi flick directed by some guy named George something-or-other.  It's one of the best Bond films of all time and still holds up today as an awesome action film.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

I've been a huge fan of action, horror and comedy for as long as I can remember.