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Watch The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Sep 18, 2022
Watch The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

Watch The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Story, Stars, Reviews & All You Want To Know About A Great Movie

 

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

James Bond investigates the hijacking of British and Russian submarines carrying nuclear warheads, with the help of a K.G.B. agent whose lover he killed.

The Spy Who Loved Me is a 1977 British[2] spy film, the tenth in the James Bond series produced by Eon Productions. It is the third to star Roger Moore as the fictional secret agent James Bond. The film co-stars Barbara Bach and Curt Jürgens and was directed by Lewis Gilbert. The screenplay was by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum, with an uncredited rewrite by Tom Mankiewicz.

The film takes its title from Ian Fleming’s 1962 novel The Spy Who Loved Me, the tenth book in the James Bond series, though it does not contain any elements of the novel’s plot. The storyline involves a reclusive megalomaniac named Karl Stromberg, who plans to destroy the world and create a new civilisation under the sea. Bond teams up with a Soviet agent, Anya Amasova, to stop the plans, all while being hunted by Stromberg’s powerful henchman, Jaws.

It was shot on location in Egypt (Cairo and Luxor) and Italy (Costa Smeralda, Sardinia), with underwater scenes filmed at the Bahamas (Nassau), and a new soundstage built at Pinewood Studios for a massive set which depicted the interior of a supertanker. The Spy Who Loved Me was well received by critics, who saw the film as a return to form for the franchise and praised Moore’s performance.

Moore himself called the film his personal favourite of his tenure as Bond.[4] The soundtrack composed by Marvin Hamlisch also met with success. The film was nominated for three Academy Awards amid many other nominations and novelised in 1977 by Christopher Wood as James Bond, The Spy Who Loved Me.

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Trailer

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Reviews

“The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977) is among the most outlandish James Bond movies, not exactly a staple of cinema realism to begin with. None of its characters can be described as three-dimensional, nor their relationships particularly meaningful. It also happens to be a rather dated Bond entry, with the 1970s hairdos, fads and the Marvin Hamlisch soundtrack that’s more than a bit on the side of disco.The film stars Roger Moore who’s hardly anyone’s idea of a ruthless assassin and it was directed by Lewis Gilbert, the infamous “Friends” (1971) director whose two other 007 entries are among the series’ bottom-dwellers (“You Only Live Twice” and “Moonraker”) and yet, the end result is unquestionably one of the Bond series’ brightest spots, and includes a good deal of its finest moments.

The film deals with Carl Stromberg (Curd Jurgens), the ocean-infatuated villain and his attempts to replace the “decadent civilization” of the time with underwater cities by hijacking American and Russian submarines, and attempting to use their warheads to start a nuclear Armageddon.

This forces the British Secret Service and the KGB to compromise and put the Cold War on hiatus, an arrangement that “unwillingly” places 007 alongside the remarkably capable but not too expressive Agent XXX, also known as Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), whose boyfriend was killed by Bond in the pre-credit scene.

This means 007 will have to spend a good deal of the time rescuing the one person in the movie who most wants to get rid of him (though hardly the only), a terrific subtext to the main plot and about as complex a human relationship as we ever got in the dozen years of the Moore Bonds.

What “The Spy Who Loved Me” lacks when it comes to establishing the atmosphere of danger present in some the best Bond movies (“From Russia with Love”, “Skyfall”) it makes up in spades in the creation of one apparently-impossible situation for the protagonist after the other, the kind that other entries would have been lucky to include a single example.

The Moore Bonds often went overboard when aiming to thrill their audience, and for every memorable sequence like the crocodile escape from “Live and Let Die,” we had our share of head-shaking cases like the Tarzan vine-swinging chase in “Octopussy” and the “California Girls” snow surfboard one in “A View to a Kill”. “TSWL” took as many chances as any Bond film in memory and still has one of the series’ highest batting averages, so to speak.

It includes one of the all-time great car chases, starting on dry ground and ending with 007’s Lotus Esprit submerged in the water, the only other Bond vehicle that gives the Aston Martin DB5 a run for its money.

This scene perfectly illustrates its knack for progressively escalating the fun in the action scenes and pushing them further just when one would expect them to be winding down, facing Bond against a motorcycle with a rocket passenger annex a car with a shooting giant and a helicopter piloted by the very bombshell who just managed to infuriate Amasova by flirting blatantly with her undercover “husband” (Bond) a few minutes before.

There are surely a few “futuristic” contraptions in “TSWL” that seemed amazing when it first opened but are now laughably dated. Think of the water-bike used by Bond to rescue XXX and the Casio watch (from pre-texting times) that receives M’s messages via “Dymo tape” (readers who actually know what we are talking about here might not be too young anymore).

Still, many of the picture’s sequences are among the best in the series, including what’s surely the most exciting ski chase ever filmed, in which Bond slides backwards, forwards, does back-flips and caps it all with a stunt for the ages where the possibility of death can be felt all over, escaping from his enemies by jumping from the side of a mountain in one of those rare occasions of my movie going life where I can recall a whole theater bursting into spontaneous applause.

This has become one of 007’s signature moments (alongside perhaps the discovery of the golden girl in “Goldfinger”) and the song that follows has turned into his personal, unofficial anthem (“Nobody does it better…”). It has also derived into endless variations (many in other Bond films), to the point where watching any cinematic escape that’s capped by a opening parachute or any item displaying the Union Jack isn’t all that interesting anymore.

Ernst Stavro Blofeld was originally scheduled to be the villain here again but legal problems forced the producers to instead introduce a character named Karl Stromberg. He’s basically a cat-less Blofeld replica with hair and deformed Donald Duck type hands (believe it or not), a trademark similar to Dr. No’s that in some silly way is supposed to help explain his affinity to water, something that went unnoticed to must audiences anyway as it served no real purpose within the plot.Jurgens’ Stromberg seldom appears in any list of the best Bond villains but his scheme is intriguing enough and the standard Bond sequence where opposite teams of distinctly dressed soldiers fight each other is perhaps one of the few examples in the series that managed to be exciting, thanks to the incredible tanker sets and some very suspenseful situations, as when two nuclear warheads come close to colliding in mid-air.

Whatever Stromberg’s place in the Bond villain canon, any evil-doer who’s introduced while emerging from the ocean depths in a Ken Adam-designed lair, and whose first on-screen act is throwing his assistant into the tank of a hungry shark, can’t be all that bad.

The Moore Bonds always focused more on their plot’s proceedings than on any kind of character development. They were filled with juvenile humor, which was fine when the jokes actually worked as they do in here when 007 smilingly nods to the gorgeous helicopter pilot while she’s trying to blow him away or when he’s seen activating his car’s blinkers, underwater!

During his tenure as Bond, Moore sometimes went into auto-pilot and let his performance be dictated solely by the movement of his eyebrows, but, curiously enough, when he was pressed to show a rougher side here (as when he rewards a henchman’s confession by releasing him from the roof of a building), he came out remarkably well.

“Moonraker” came up next and it was basically a carbon copy of “The Spy Who Loved Me”, trading the ocean for outer space, and proving that such preposterous material can only work so many times. Take for instance the subplot involving the giant henchman Jaws (Richard Kiel), whose presence was increasingly hilarious in “TSWL” when the gags related to his invulnerability kept escalating,

until the point arrived in the following movie where we came to realize he could never be hurt no matter how many times Bond (unwisely) punched him in the mouth  The filmmakers would have done him a favor by cutting him lose when he was on the brink of ridicule (perhaps letting him fall to his death in the pre-credit scene of “Moonraker”), and this would have allowed for him to be remembered much more fondly in the future.

The same insistence of going mindlessly for broke prevails throughout the latter film and it proves that line between excellence and embarrassment in a Bond film can be rather thin.

Another way to understand what best defines the Roger Moore era is “The Man with the Golden Gun,” a mostly enjoyable entry that greatly resembles “Skyfall” to the point that the Craig film almost feels like a remake. Both deal with assassins living in mysterious islands off Macau, and the women who try to free themselves from them by seducing 007 and getting him to do their dirty work.The first example is a middle-of-the-list travelogue of exotic locations that’s not really very suspenseful while the second became a full-blooded entry in the spirit of the early Connerys, and to which future Bonds will forever be measured. Most of the early scripts in the series were more than adequately written, but behind the delay in this achievement are the forty plus years it took the producers to realize the savvy of investing a significant portion of their budget into hiring a first rate writer like a Paul Haggis or a John Logan,

but “The Spy Who Loved Me” is one of the rare cases where this didn’t matter all that much, giving Moore one of the top five James Bond movies and a good deal of validation for his often maligned era of the series.

  • Gerardo Valero  –  Roger Ebert
  • Gerardo Valero is lives in Mexico City with his wife Monica. Since 2011 he’s been writing a daily blog about film clichés and flubs (in Spanish) on Mexico’s Cine-Premiere Magazine. His contributions to “Ebert’s Little Movie Glossary” were included in the last twelve editions of “Roger Ebert’s Movie Yearbook.”

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Credits

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Plot

A British and a Soviet ballistic-missile submarine suddenly disappear. James Bond – MI6 agent 007 – is summoned to investigate. On the way to his briefing, Bond escapes an ambush by a squad of Soviet agents in Austria, killing one during a downhill ski chase and evading the others. The plans for a highly advanced submarine tracking system are being offered in Egypt.

There, Bond encounters Major Anya Amasova – KGB agent Triple X – as a rival for the microfilm plans. They travel across Egypt together, encountering Jaws – a tall assassin with razor-sharp steel teeth – along the way. Bond and Amasova reluctantly join forces after a truce is agreed by their respective British and Soviet superiors. They identify the person responsible for the thefts as the shipping tycoon and scientist Karl Stromberg.

While travelling by train to Stromberg’s base in Sardinia, Bond saves Amasova from Jaws, and their cooling rivalry turns to affection. Posing as a marine biologist and his wife, they visit Stromberg’s base and discover that he had launched a mysterious new supertanker, the Liparus, nine months previously.

As they leave the base, a henchman on a motorcycle featuring a rocket sidecar, Jaws in a car, and Naomi, an assistant/pilot of Stromberg in an attack helicopter, chase them, but Bond and Amasova escape underwater when his car – a Lotus Esprit from Q Branch – converts into a submarine. Jaws survives a car crash, and Naomi is killed when Bond fires a sea-air missile from his car which destroys her helicopter.

While examining Stromberg’s underwater Atlantis base, the pair confirms that he is operating the stolen tracking system and evade an attack by a group of Stromberg’s minisubs. Back on land, Bond finds out that the Liparus has never visited any known port or harbour. Amasova discovers that Bond killed her lover Sergei Barsov (as shown at the beginning of the movie), and she vows to kill Bond as soon as their mission is complete.

Bond and Amasova board an American submarine to examine the Liparus, but the submarine is captured by the tanker, which is revealed to be a floating submarine dock. Stromberg sets his plan in motion: the simultaneous launching of nuclear missiles from the captured British and Soviet submarines to obliterate Moscow and New York City. This would trigger a global nuclear war, which Stromberg would survive in Atlantis, and subsequently a new civilization would be established underwater.

He leaves for Atlantis with Amasova, but Bond escapes and frees the captured British, Russian, and American sailors. They battle the Liparus crew and eventually breach the control room, only to learn from the dying captain of the Liparus that the commandeered British and Soviet submarines are primed to fire their missiles in only a few minutes. Bond tricks the submarines into firing the nukes at each other, destroying the subs and Stromberg’s crews. The victorious submariners escape the sinking Liparus on the American submarine.

The submarine is ordered by the Pentagon to destroy Atlantis but Bond insists on rescuing Amasova first. He confronts and kills Stromberg but again encounters Jaws, whom he drops into a shark tank. However, Jaws kills the tiger shark and escapes. Bond and Amasova flee in an escape pod as Atlantis is sunk by torpedoes. Amasova picks up Bond’s gun and points it at him, but then chooses not to kill him and the two embrace. The Royal Navy recovers the pod and the two spies are seen in an intimate embrace through its port window, to the astonishment of their superiors on the ship.

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Box office

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Critical Response

On top of the production budget, $7.5 million was spent on advertising, prints and parties for The Spy Who Loved Me.[3] On 20 May 1977, Roger Moore and Barbara Bach attended the Cannes Film Festival to promote the film’s upcoming release.[44] It opened with a Royal Premiere attended by Princess Anne at the Odeon Leicester Square in London on 7 July 1977.

It grossed $185.4 million worldwide,[45] with $46 million in the United States and Canada.[46] It was United Artist’s highest-grossing film at the time.[47] It grossed £10 million in the United Kingdom.[48] On 25 August 2006, the film was re-released at the Empire, Leicester Square for one week.[49] It was again shown at the Empire Leicester Square on 20 April 2008 when Lewis Gilbert attended the first digital screening of the film.

Eon executive Charles Juroe said that at a screening attended by Charles, Prince of Wales, during the Union Jack-parachute scene: “I have never seen a reaction in the cinema as there was that night. You couldn’t help it. You could not help but stand up.

Even Prince Charles stood up.”[50] This scene came in second place in a 2013 Sky Movies poll for greatest moment of the James Bond film franchise, beaten only by the “No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to die!” sequence from Goldfinger.[51] It was Roger Moore’s favourite Bond film,[5] and many reviewers consider it the best instalment to star the actor.

 

Contemporary reviews

Janet Maslin of The New York Times considered the film formulaic and “half an hour too long, thanks to the obligatory shoot-’em-up conclusion, … nevertheless the dullest sequence here” but praised Moore’s performance and the film’s “share of self-mockery”, which she found refreshing.

Charles Champlin of the Los Angeles Times felt “The Spy Who Loved Me is an extravagant silliness, a high-cost undertaking in let’s pretend which delivers a perfect formula. It may not be everyone’s tonic, but it is what it says it is, rousingly.” Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune praised the ski jump stunt in which he wrote that “you begin to think Spy may turn out to be as good as From Russia with Love, the best Bond of all. No such luck.

True, opening pace of Spy is impossible to sustain, but the rest of the picture is merely good, not great.” He also found Stromberg to be less memorable than previous Bond villains, even noting that “Jaws is far more entertaining than his master.”[57] Variety remarked the film “is unoriginal and mild on suspense as these capers go. But the gimmick-laden action is bountiful and eye-ravishing, and will compensate most audiences.”[58]

Christopher Porterfield, reviewing for Time magazine, was complimentary of the pre-titles sequence and Richard Kiel’s performance as Jaws. However, he criticised the film for being too similar to previous instalments, remarking “[a]ll that’s left of Bond formula here is 007 character, sexy starlets and gee-whiz gadgets. (Question: What else did it ever consist of?)” Similarly, Maureen Orth of Newsweek wrote:

“After the opening sequence, much of the action in The Spy Who Loved Me, the tenth James Bond screen epic and the third starring Roger Moore as Bond, is somewhat downhill. But the film, shot in seven countries, is so rich in fantasy, so filled with beautiful scenery, gorgeous women, preposterous villains and impossible situations that’s it easier to suspend disbelief entirely and escape inside the gadgetry and glamour.”[60]

John Simon, writing in his book Reverse Angle, stated “There is a kind of film that can get away with everything, and deserves to. The latest James Bond, Spy Who Loved Me, belongs in that class.”[61] Gary Arnold of The Washington Post dismissed the film as “a tolerable disappointment.

The Bond movies have been so successful that it may be commercially impossible to terminate the series. However, it’s been quite a while since a Bond adventure appeared to set fashions in escapist, glamorous entertainment. Once widely imitated and parodied by other producers, Bond films are now more likely to imitate themselves with decreasing effectiveness.”

 

Retrospective reviews

On the website FilmCritic.com, Christopher Null awarded the film 3+12 stars out of 5, in which he praised the gadgets, particularly the Lotus Esprit car.[63] James Berardinelli of Reelviews wrote that the film is “suave and sophisticated”, and Barbara Bach proves to be an ideal Bond girl – “attractive, smart, sexy, and dangerous”. Brian Webster stated the special effects were “good for a 1979 [sic] film”, and Marvin Hamlisch’s music, “memorable”.

Danny Peary described The Spy Who Loved Me as “exceptional … For once, the big budget was not wasted. Interestingly, while the sets and gimmicks were the most spectacular to date, Bond and the other characters are toned down (there’s a minimum of slapstick humour) so that they are more realistic than in other Roger Moore films. Moore gives his best performance in the series … [Bond and Anya Amasova] are an appealing couple, equal in every way.

Film is a real treat – a well acted, smartly cast, sexy, visually impressive, lavishly produced, powerfully directed mix of a spy romance and a war-mission film.”[65]

The Times placed Jaws and Stromberg as the sixth and seventh best Bond villains (respectively) in the series in 2008,[66] and also named the Esprit as the second best car in the series (behind the Aston Martin DB5).[67] On the review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 81% based on 57 reviews with an average rating of 7.20/10.

The website’s critical consensus reads: “Though it hints at the absurdity to come in later installments, The Spy Who Loved Me‘s sleek style, menacing villains, and sly wit make it the best of the Roger Moore era.”[68] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 55 based on 12 reviews, indicating “mixed or average reviews”.

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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Accolades

Award Category Recipients Result
Academy Awards[70] Best Art Direction Art Direction: Ken Adam and Peter Lamont;
Set Decoration: Hugh Scaife
Nominated
Best Original Score Marvin Hamlisch
Best Original Song “Nobody Does It Better”
Music by Marvin Hamlisch;
Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager
British Academy Film Awards[71] Best Original Film Music Marvin Hamlisch
Best Production Design Ken Adam
Golden Globe Awards[72] Best Original Score Marvin Hamlisch
Best Original Song “Nobody Does It Better”
Music by Marvin Hamlisch;
Lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager
Grammy Awards[73] Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture or a Television Special Marvin Hamlisch

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Movie Info

In a globe-trotting assignment that has him skiing off the edges of cliffs and driving a car deep underwater, British super-spy James Bond (Roger Moore) unites with sexy Russian agent Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach) to defeat megalomaniac shipping magnate Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), who is threatening to destroy New York City with nuclear weapons. Bond’s most deadly adversary on the case is Stromberg’s henchman, Jaws (Richard Kiel), a seven-foot giant with terrifying steel teeth.

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