Friday, April 24, 2020

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

In the biggest Bond film up to that point, The Spy Who Loved Me riveted audiences with the impressive stunts, high production value, steel toothed villains, and even channeling the political zeitgeist with a detente themed plot. 

The year 1977 was dominated by Star Wars which marked a sea change in movie history, launching the age of the blockbuster (with many precursors including Jaws). George Lucas and Steven Spielberg would even create their own brand of Bond films with the Indiana Jones films. 

The Spy Who Loved Me marked a return to the large scale spectacles of the 1960s. In many ways the plot would resemble You Only Live Twice which was about orchestrating a war between the superpowers. Karl Stromberg (Curt Jergens) is the super-villain this time, a sort of Blofeld light.

The prologue remains one of the most memorable with its ski chase and parachute dive off a mountain, which apparently made audiences gasp at its premiere in London. When a submarine goes missing 007 teams with KGB agent Triple X (Barbara Bach) to unlock the mystery of the subs. 

They are pursued by Jaws, memorably played by Richard Kiel. He's a giant with steel teeth and apparently a mute. I remember he scared me as a kid - and he's still rather intimidating in the fight scenes. He's also used to great effect for a set piece shot at the pyramids.

Big battles and dramatic chases populate the film, including a dramatic climax. While I enjoy The Spy Who Loved Me, it never knocks me out like some of the others. Moore is so nonplussed and remote throughout, the stakes never feel that high despite the machinations of the plot.

The theme song is one of the best, written by Marvin Hamlisch and performed by Carly Simon is a highlight. 

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