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Old 08-17-2021, 08:00 PM   #1
zen007 zen007 is offline
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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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Old 08-17-2021, 08:40 PM   #2
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I realize this is supposed to be what we like most about the film, but I mostly like everything about it except for one thing. The 15 second song used at the end of the film before the theme song, directly after Roger Moore says "Keeping the British end up sir". That's about it, fantastic film.

Maybe I should have just said having Barbara Bach and Caroline Munro in the same movie.

Last edited by Mr. Entertainment; 08-17-2021 at 11:59 PM.
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Old 08-17-2021, 09:14 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Entertainment View Post
Maybe I should have just said having Barbara Bach and Caroline Munro in the same movie.
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Old 08-17-2021, 09:19 PM   #4
AKORIS AKORIS is offline
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I have great memories of seeing this film in the theater--- at the Cinerama in Seattle when I was about 13.

Everything about it I loved-- the opening sequence, the special effects, the gorgeous Barbara Bach and Caroline Munro, the soundtrack (which my mom bought an LP of for me quickly after), Richard "Jaws" Kiel, the Lotus, the spectacular finale sequence, and finally Roger Moore at the top of his game.

This is a top tier Bond film for sure
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Old 08-17-2021, 09:49 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr. Entertainment View Post
Maybe I should have just said having Barbara Bach and Caroline Munro in the same movie.
It's like one of those marvelous moments (called a selenelion, I believe) when both sun and moon are clearly visible at the same time.
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Old 08-17-2021, 09:57 PM   #6
CreasyBear CreasyBear is offline
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As a slice of blockbuster fun, it might be the best Bond film, overall. It has everything in spades.
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Old 08-17-2021, 10:24 PM   #7
Winslow Leach Winslow Leach is offline
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TSWLM is definitely one of my favorite Bonds, a top ten title for sure.
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Old 08-17-2021, 10:27 PM   #8
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Never liked Roger Moore as Bond. All I could think about was I was watching The Saint with lots of beautiful women, gadgets galore and comic book villians. IMO that formula cheapened the Bond franchaise.
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Old 08-18-2021, 01:22 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lee A Stewart View Post
Never liked Roger Moore as Bond. All I could think about was I was watching The Saint with lots of beautiful women, gadgets galore and comic book villians. IMO that formula cheapened the Bond franchaise.
None of those things were endemic to, or even began with, the Moore films.
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Old 08-18-2021, 02:26 AM   #10
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None of those things were endemic to, or even began with, the Moore films.
The execution on some of those aspects made it seem more formulaic and less just a matter of format, equaling for me a less compelling and often infuriating viewing.

I dislike MR and SPY almost equally (Meddings and Adam are the saving graces on SPY, and again on MR with Barry), but MR really crosses the uncrossable Bond line with the gadget he uses to escape the blastoff chamber, which we never even know about beforehand. That is a megacheat of the first order, but I guess anybody looking for screenwriting lessons would know better than to go to MR for them.
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Old 08-18-2021, 02:43 AM   #11
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The Spy Who Loved Me is actually my favorite 007 movie. It's got my favorite opening stunt in the parachute, my favorite Bond song Nobody Does it Better, my favorite Bond car, my 2nd favorite Bond girl in Barbara Bach. I also agree that it is Moore's best performance, mixing the seriousness and comedic timing perfectly. Love it!
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Old 08-18-2021, 02:44 AM   #12
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Quote:
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None of those things were endemic to, or even began with, the Moore films.
Really? JAWS!
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Old 08-18-2021, 03:00 AM   #13
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I don't see what Jaws being in SWLM has to do with his point, which is that the comic book hoo-hah was already bleeding into the franchise long before Roger Moore was even considered for the role.

Not the biggest fan of Bond in general but SWLM is definitely one of the high points in the entire franchise IMO and also IMO the only Roger Moore Bond that's a true classic.

Last edited by Shingster; 08-18-2021 at 03:22 AM.
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Old 08-18-2021, 03:07 AM   #14
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The 60s was the best period for Bond films as not only was the concept new but also the franchise had a variety of stories to pick and choose from.

The implied "campiness" can be said to be pioneered by Diamonds Are Forever in which Blofeld was dressed up as a woman for example.

I think Roger Moore's era did well to advance the series considering the challenges. Many of the Bond concepts including its best stories were already exhausted so they tried new stories as well while tweaking what worked.
  • Live and Let Die is a relatively tough book to bring to the screen. Result: Moore's biggest hit and among the mega-hits of the franchise.
  • The Man with the Golden Gun is considered a relatively weak book. Result: We saw one of the great Bond villains and one of the best climaxes where Moore flew over some of the most picturesque Islands and had a conversation over lunch with Scaramanga.
  • The Spy Who Loved Me. Discussed in the OP.
  • Moonraker. It is one of the best Bond books. Too bad that the filmmakers mostly only used the title and characters, while changing the story to cater to the market expectations following TSWLM. However, at the box office, the film was a big hit.
  • For Your Eyes Only and Octopussy had to rely on Fleming's short stories.
  • A View to a Kill was an attempt to remake Goldfinger.

Overall, with the best material used up, the changing tastes of audiences, and the desire to do something new/experiment, the Roger Moore era was still entertaining and memorable!

Last edited by zen007; 08-18-2021 at 03:23 AM.
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Old 08-18-2021, 03:29 AM   #15
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The best Roger Moore James Bond movie. I remember when ABC aired it in the late 80's
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Old 08-18-2021, 03:57 AM   #16
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It's probably the best of the Roger Moore-era James Bond films.

I saw the film three times in the cinema in 1977; and the film played to packed houses each time. I think the film reflects a real '70s sensibility that fans apparently wanted from a James Bond film at the time.
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Old 08-18-2021, 03:58 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trevanian View Post
The execution on some of those aspects made it seem more formulaic and less just a matter of format, equaling for me a less compelling and often infuriating viewing.

I dislike MR and SPY almost equally (Meddings and Adam are the saving graces on SPY, and again on MR with Barry), but MR really crosses the uncrossable Bond line with the gadget he uses to escape the blastoff chamber, which we never even know about beforehand. That is a megacheat of the first order, but I guess anybody looking for screenwriting lessons would know better than to go to MR for them.
But the Bond movies have always featured gadgets and variable features without previous introduction from Q. I'm just curious, did you also take a strong dislike to Bond's escape in Goldeneye when he used a laser in his watch to cut through the floor panel of Trevelyn's train?

Last edited by KrisTheMan; 08-18-2021 at 04:04 AM.
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Old 08-18-2021, 04:03 AM   #18
KrisTheMan KrisTheMan is offline
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Really? JAWS!
Oddjob and his decapitating bowler is arguably comic book as well. I guess it's different strokes for different folks.
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Old 08-18-2021, 06:23 AM   #19
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This was the first 007 film I saw at the theater, loved it, and it is still my overall favorite film in the franchise.

Why?
The opening ski chase and jump
The theme (and still my favorite out of all the films)
007 finally has to deal with a lady that is an elite spy herself
Jaws.
The Lotus.
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Old 08-18-2021, 06:33 AM   #20
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My second favourite Moore Bond, after For Your Eyes Only.
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