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Old 08-17-2021, 08:00 PM   #1
zen007 zen007 is offline
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Oct 2019
Default The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
Director: Lewis Gilbert

In the James Bond universe when we talk about some of its greatest films, the following names are likely to be taken (in the order of release):
  • From Russia with Love (1963): If a period Bond film were to be made, it would be like FRWL. Released during Ian Fleming's lifetime (Goldfinger was released about a month after Fleming's demise), the film follows the book closely, capturing the spirit of that era. It also has a Hitchocokian flavor.
  • On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969): After You Only Live Twice (1967) had little in common with the Fleming book apart from the title, location, and the key characters, director Peter Hunt went back to following the book closely.
  • Casino Royale (2006): Again a film that goes back to the book while accounting for the period it is shot in.

Interestingly, if you look at the structure of OHMSS and CR, it works in opposite direction. In OHMSS, Love Story -> Detective Work -> Action. In CR, Action -> Detective Work -> Love Story.

There is one film that also achieves similar greatness but by breaking most of the previous rules. The Spy Who Loved Me has nothing in common with the book apart from the title. It takes its inspiration from YOLT , which was also directed by Gilbert and had only a few things in common with the book.

TSWLM brings in concepts such as 007 teaming up with a Russian agent. There is a brand new villain (not seen in the book), Stromberg, a big Bond villain who wants to change the world. The villain is not motivated by money and other such worldly matters.

In TSWLM, it appears as if the producers wanted to take the film to the next level, packaging it with one highlight after another. For example:
  • The pre-title sequence incorporates a major stunt where Bond parachutes off the cliff.
  • Introduces Jaws, a big favorite among fans now.
  • The car chases add dimensions like "underwater driving". Bond's vehicle is first chased by a motorcycle, followed by a car, and then a helicopter. When you wonder what is next, the car dives into the sea!
  • Most films would be happy with a big showdown between Bond and Stromberg on the Liparus, a ship that captures submarines, but not TSWLM. It adds the segment where Bond goes to Atlantis, an underwater hideout (yes, a lair also taken to the next level), to rescue the Russian agent.

The Bond role in this film is perfectly tailored for Sir Roger Moore. He balances his comic timing and seriousness to such an extent that it is difficult to imagine anyone else in the role of 007 in this film.

Talking more about breaking rules, the background score pays tribute to Lawrence of Arabia during one of the desert sequences - when Bond and Amasova stroll across the Egyptian desert after their van breaks down.

Various elements in the film, including Moore's performance, work in such a fashion that it would be difficult to remake TSWLM. Gilbert tried repeating the concept in Moonraker (1979), which was a big hit too on its release but lacks that perfect blend to stand the test of time like TSWLM relatively speaking.

The Spy Who Loved Me will continue to remain among the greatest Bond films of all time for not only breaking the rules but also creating a perfect blend for a big Bond villain film. As Carly Simon sang - "Nobody does it better".


What do you like the most about TSWLM?
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Thanks given by:
DrVenkman99 (08-18-2021), Dunemoon (08-18-2021), indisposed (08-23-2021), Mobe1969 (07-01-2022)
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