The Spy Who Loved Me
After all the articles I’ve done on bad Roger Moore films, I do have to say he has done one of the all-time great Bonds. The Spy Who Loved Me is so much fun…not only for introducing us to Jaws, not just because it follows up the two most boring Bond films in the series (Live & Let Die, Man with Golden Gun), and not only because it has one of the greatest Bond girls in Barbara Bach. No, this film actually has a lot going for it. It’s got Jaws, Barbara Bach, the car that can go underwater, that fantastic opening sequence, and my favorite Bond song ever – Nobody Does it Better.
It’s really too bad that Roger Moore got stuck with a handful of awful scripts and poor directors, because he is fantastic here. Director Lewis Gilbert stepped in for this entry, he also directed Moonraker and You Only Live Twice, and really has a good feel for the character. While the Bond films he directs are fairly goofy, I do believe they are some of the most fun in the franchise. With The Spy Who Loved Me, he gives us one of the best car chase sequences, skiing sequences, as well as one of the better climaxes when Bond raids Stromberg’s base. This film is literally a more down-to-Earth version of Moonraker. They are basically the exact same film, only underwater and not in space. The follow-up to this film was supposed to be For Your Eyes Only, but they rushed Moonraker into production after everyone went nuts for Star Wars. Both films start off with a parachuting Bond, both film’s villains want to create a “master race” (one in outer space, one underwater), they both involve substantial chase sequences (one gondola, one Lotus), both have a couple of great sequences with Jaws, and both have the climactic battle when Bond returns to the villain’s base to destroy him. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all, I am just pointing out the fact that the first time they did it, it was amazing…and they didn’t need a repeat.
One thing that bothered me about this movie the first few times I saw it was the overly 70s disco score (notably in the opening sequence). It felt very dated and not very Bond-like. However, I loved it this time around. It very much felt like the Bond theme for this particular film and it put a smile on my face each time I heard it. I could really go on and on about how much I love this one. It’s by far Roger Moore’s strongest entry, as well as his best performance. He’s very enjoyable to watch here and I like his chemistry with Barbara Bach. The main two reasons I love this one as much as I do is –
1) We get our first introduction to Bond’s greatest henchman, Jaws. He is such a classic and original villain. Jaws is the first villain that comes to mind when I think about Bond villains, which is saying quite a bit seeing as how he never speaks a word and only appears in two films (back to back). Every sequence with Jaws in this film is fantastic…I want to say especially the sequence in the desert where he literally tears apart that van, but that would lessen the degree to which I love the train fight and the final showdown between he and Bond. Just a fantastic character that really made the most out of so little.
2) The car chase sequence here is absolutely superb. It’s excitingly shot and you really feel the speed of that Lotus Bond is whipping around those roads. It really has a perfect finish as well as Bond drives the car off into the water, turning it into a submarine, and shooting a rocket out of the water to blow up the helicopter that was after them. It’s a fantastic sequence, one nearly unbeaten until #1 on my list.
Overall, this is a great film and it’s one of the franchise’s most entertaining entries. Moore is great, Barbara Bach is fantastic, Richard Kiel and Curt Jurgens as Jaws & Stromberg were memorable villains, and the action was spot-on. What more do you want from a Bond film?
Worst to Best so far:
24. Live & Let Die
23. The Man with the Golden Gun
22. A View to a Kill
21. Die Another Day
18. Diamonds are Forever
17. Quantum of Solace
16. Licence to Kill
15. The World is Not Enough
14. You Only Live Twice
13. For Your Eyes Only
12. The Living Daylights
10. Tomorrow Never Dies
8. The Spy Who Loved Me