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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Spy Who Loved Me

My next Roger Moore James Bond film is The Spy Who Loved Me (inexplicably, Netflix does not have The Man With the Golden Gun), released in 1977. This is thought by many to be the best Moore Bond film, and it is certainly better than Live and Let Die. It also has many of the tropes we associate with Bond.

For one, the villain is a megalomaniacal shipping magnate who has a thing about living under the sea. He steals two nuclear submarines with the intent of blowing up New York and Moscow and starting a world war, with the intent of everyone living in a paradise under the sea. What his next step after the destruction is unclear. Of course, he relates all this to Bond, because no good Bond villain can keep his mouth shut.

The villain (played by Curt Jurgens) also lives in a fantastic lair. It's not underneath a volcano, but instead a crab-shaped structure that is out in the ocean. It is destroyed, of course, but we get a bonus with Jurgen's supertanker, which hides the subs, also being destroyed. He has lots of workers who wear red jumpsuits, and it brings to mind the Simpsons' episode where Homer unwittingly works for a Bond villain. Do they have health insurance? Did they answer an ad for the job? How many sick days do they get?

This film has nothing to do with the Ian Fleming novel except for the title, and that's how Fleming wanted it. The book isn't really a Bond novel--he only shows up two-thirds of the way through. So the titular "spy" who loves Bond is played by Barbara Bach, as the best Russian operative (Agent XXX, how original). They are antagonists but of course end up in bed, because no woman can resist Bond, even when she finds out that he killed her lover. She forgets this awfully easily.

The Spy Who Loved Me also introduced Jaws, played by Richard Kiel, one of the better henchman Bond faces. He's seven-feet-tall with metal teeth, and is one of the few henchman who reappears in another film (he's tough to kill).

The song, because a Bond film must have an opening credits song, is "Nobody Does It Better," by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, sung by Carly Simon, and it's a terrific one (it lost the Oscar to "You Light Up My Life," blecch!). Hamlisch also scored the film and cleverly includes themes from Doctor Zhivago and Lawrence of Arabia (the latter when Moore and Bach are walking across the Egyptian desert).

As Moore Bond films go, it is pretty good, with fine action, dry humor, and if not a plausible plot than at least one that fits the template. It also has a great moment for Brits. The pre-credit sequence has Bond on skis evading assassins. He jumps off a cliff, and deploys a parachute, which has a huge British flag on it. At the London premiere everyone cheered. It was said that even Prince Charles stood and cheered.

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