“The Spy Who Loved Me”
Bond: Roger Moore
Classic, Cheese, or Crap?: CLASSIC
“The Spy Who Loved Me” was Roger Moore’s third film as James Bond. After the decent “Live and Let Die”, and the abysmal “The Man With the Golden Gun”, the Moore era knocked one out of the park.
It kicks off with the most famed intro sequence in series history. The introduction of Agent Triple X, the ski chase/shootout, then the jump off of a seemingly bottomless cliff… until the Union Jack parachute unfurls and “Nobody Does It Better” begins to play.
It’s the greatest Bond theme song ever, and perfectly suited for the movie. Its gentle piano riff intro is a sweet segue into the title card sequence from the action packed intro. Composed by Marvin Hamlisch, with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, and performed by the incomparable Carly Simon, the song was a hit on both the US and UK charts and was nominated for an Academy Award (it lost to “You Light Up My Life” – seriously). It clocks in at #67 on AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Songs.
Moore is at his best as Bond here. Suave and funny, but not yet overly comical, he owns the role here. In the physical scenes he’s holding his own (as opposed to later films where stunt doubles were over-used), and when the time comes to deliver a quip, he’s at the peak of his glib powers.
He’s given a great Bond girl to work alongside, the gorgeous Barbara Bach. Attractive and intelligent, Agent Triple X is Bond’s Soviet alter ego. She’s also given a deeper “backstory” than most, with her ex-lover having been killed by Bond in the line of duty – a fact which complicates their relationship. It’s far more than the average Bond Girl brings to the table. Thus, to me, Barbara Bach should definitely be near the top of any serious “Best Bond Girl” list.
But perhaps the biggest selling point of “The Spy Who Loved Me” is the introduction of one of the series most iconic villains – the metal-toothed, unstoppable henchman, Jaws. Played by 7′ 1″ actor Richard Kiel, Jaws survives an unbelievable string of events in this film. An initial rough cut test screening actually had Jaws dying, but he proved so popular that the final film was changed. He proved so popular upon release that he was brought back for a second consecutive film (“Moonraker”). He undeniably left his mark on the franchise. It’s hard to think of Bond Villains and NOT think of the gleaming, metallic, menacing smile of Jaws.
The movie itself is the perfect balance of world threatening plot, great action sequences, and great gadgets. The villain himself, Stromberg, is actually one of the “droll” Bond Villain varieties. He’s upstaged by his own henchman, in my opinion. But he does sport an underwater lair. Which is a great excuse for Bond to bust out the ultimate Bond gadget of all – the white Lotus Espirit with fully functional submarine mode. Yes, in an unforgettable sequence, Bond drives his car underwater, evading capture and performing reconnaissance on Stromberg’s Legion of Doom-esque Lair.
“The Spy Who Loved Me” is certainly the high point of the Moore era. It’s inarguably one of the most classic entries in the entire franchise. It’s one of those moments where everything was firing on all cylinders – the song, the girl, the gadgets, the villains…
“The Spy Who Loved Me”?
Nobody Does It Better.