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Spy Who Loved Me, The (1977)

Main image of Spy Who Loved Me, The (1977)
35mm, colour, Panavision, 125 mins
DirectorLewis Gilbert
ProductionDanjaq LLC
CompaniesEon Productions
ProducerAlbert R. Broccoli
ScreenplayChristopher Wood
 Richard Maibaum
Original novelIan Fleming
PhotographyClaude Renoir
MusicMarvin Hamlisch

Cast: Roger Moore (James Bond); Barbara Bach (Major Anya Amasova); Curd Jürgens (Karl Stromberg); Richard Kiel (Jaws); Caroline Munro (Naomi); Walter Gotell (General Gogol); Bernard Lee (M)

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James Bond is called back for duty when a British nuclear submarine vanishes.

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Usually considered the best of the Roger Moore Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me (d. Lewis Gilbert, 1977), is a confident and stylish addition to the series.

Ian Fleming insisted that his book The Spy Who Loved Me should not be filmed. Consequently, an original story was written under the title, owing a good deal to Lewis Gilbert's previous Bond film You Only Live Twice (1967). The villain's motivation is different but his methods are much the same, and the action sequences set in the Liparus are highly reminiscent of those in the SPECTRE volcano in the earlier film.

A piquant edge is added with the introduction of an East/West détente, a theme to which the series would later return. This allows for much comedy as the two spies compete for status and their superiors make the best of the new situation. It also means that the 'Bond Girl' is a considerably stronger character than had been the case in recent years. Her spying ability and her position in the KGB are generally respected and only some embarrassing jokes about women drivers weaken this strand. The position of Britain as a world power is commonly referred to (possibly because the film was made in the year of the Silver Jubilee) and bolstered by jokes such as the Union Jack parachute which saves Bond in the opening sequence.

Roger Moore has stated that this was his favourite Bond film, and he gives an excellent performance, full of charm and humour, turning Bond into something of a Victorian gentleman-adventurer. His treatment of women is typically cavalier but he does evince a certain respect for Anya, even if in the end he has to rescue her at the last minute. Barbara Bach makes a strong impression as one of the best-characterised Bond heroines. Richard Kiel is memorably sinister as Jaws, the only henchman to be granted a second appearance, and atones for the surprisingly low-key performance of Curt Jurgens as Stromberg.

The production is a lavish showcase for Ken Adam's art direction. The huge sets are typical of Adam's style, especially Stromberg's dining room and the vast Liparus set which was built on a new soundstage at Pinewood, subsequently known as the 007 Stage. Marvin Hamlisch's score is also noteworthy, suiting the lighthearted tone of the film and featuring the Oscar-winning title song, 'Nobody Does It Better'.

Mike Sutton

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Video Clips
Adam, Ken (1921-)
Binder, Maurice (1925-1991)
Gilbert, Lewis (1920-)
Lamont, Peter (1929-)
Lee, Bernard (1908-1981)
Llewelyn, Desmond (1914-1999)
Moore, Roger (1927-)
Tafler, Sydney (1916-79)