Review: 'The Spy Who Loved Me' (1977) Dir. Lewis Gilbert
Updated: Aug 20
With production now resting on Albert R. Broccoli alone, James Bond began the transition from espionage thriller into action / adventure going bigger than ever before...
When a British and Russian nuclear submarine vanishes without a trace in the Atlantic, global intelligence agencies learn that a submarine tracking system has leaked onto the black market which puts national security in the hands of the highest bidder.
MI6 and the KGB send their best agents to recover the system; James Bond (Moore) and Anya Amasova (Bach). They travel from Egypt to Sardinia and are led to one Karl Stromberg (Jürgens), an eccentric marine industrialist.
Stromberg will stop at nothing to preserve his ultimate goal; global nuclear war forcing mankind to live under the sea. Facing the likes of metal-toothed henchman Jaws (Kiel) and pilot Naomi (Munro), Bond and Amasova must overcome their rivalries and stop Stromberg before it is too late...
Sean Connery had his peak with ‘Goldfinger’ and many say Roger Moore has his with this, ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’. Some say Daniel Craig had it ‘Skyfall’; the 3rd outing for a Bond that hits new highs for their portrayal. Same can’t be said for Pierce Brosnan in ‘The World Is Not Enough’ and George Lazenby or Timothy Dalton who never got a 3rd. But here, just like the tagline says, it’s certainly the (then) biggest, the (then) best, it’s Bond and beyond!
Moore is more than comfortable as James Bond now, and with the departure of ½ of the original producing duo Harry Saltzman leaving just Albert R Broccolli in charge, the Bond films started to change from espionage thrillers to big-budget action and adventure films.
This winning partnership between Moore and Broccolli gave us everything we expected from a 007 film with a mutual understanding of what audiences wanted.
Our villain in the likes of Curd Jürgens is out to cause a nuclear war and create an undersea civilisation. We have the most iconic of all henchman with the late Richard Kiel as metal-toothed mute Jaws who evokes everything we want to see in a memorable, dangerous and outrageous villain. We have a feisty, beautiful and ballsy Bond girl Barbara Bach. And as well as familiar faces Bernard Lee, Desmond Llewelyn and Lois Maxwell as M, Q and Miss Moneypenny respectively, we in in safe hands from the start.
The creativity and imagination here is on fine from the set design to the stunt coordination. From an opening pre-title sequence that features a literally life-or-death stunt and a huge slice of patriotism (just what we want from Her Majesty’s finest), to a huge action finale build in the world’s largest studio – 007 Stage at Pinewood – the practical aspects of this film remind us why James Bond really sets the bar for action and adventure spy thrills. Throw in some bone-crunching fights and hair-raising car chases, and you have that classic 007 excess that never lets you catch your breath for long before the next surprise.
From the mysterious and captivating introduction of many characters at Giza in Egypt, it’s great to see Bond and Amasova work together for the duration of this film with both being near equals and a constant battle of not just the sexes but of governments; MI6 working with the KGB never looked so good.
We have the iconic Lotus Esprit car-cum-submarine. We have the Carly Simon theme song ‘Nobody Does It Better’ that is timeless. We have memorable characters, a talented cast and a passionate crew to give us a new standard of 007 film to go forward with for audiences. To be honest, they give us Moore. Much Moore.
Roger Moore shows us how it’s done without the need for self –indulgent drama, an emotional crisis or overly long run times. They don’t make them like this anymore.
'The Spy Who Loved Me' is an EON Productions production