James Bond #10: “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977)
For this installment in the James Bond series, producer Albert R. Broccoli worked solo for the first time, as his longtime partner, Harry Saltzman, had to sell his half of the franchise. Re-teaming with the director of “You Only Live Twice” (1967), Lewis Gilbert, “The Spy Who Loved Me” brought together all the clichés for which Bond films are renowned. This film, perhaps more so than any of its predecessors, is complete over-the-top ridiculous fun, without ever trying to make the film feel realistic.
The plot of “The Spy Who Loved Me” finds Bond (Roger Moore) pulled from his mission in Switzerland to discover what happened to a British nuclear submarine that miraculously disappeared from the middle of the ocean. Bond’s superior, M (Bernard Lee), has joined forces with his Russian equivalent, Gogal (Walter Gotell), because they have also had a submarine go missing. Gogal has assigned his top agent, Anya Amasova, aka XXX (Barbara Bach), to work with Bond, in order to bring a swift solution to the situation.
Standing in their way is the villainous Karl Stromberg (Curt or Curd Jurgens), who lives a secluded life in an underwater oasis appropriately named Atlantis. His evil plot is to have both the Russian and British submarines fire nuclear missiles at the opposing country, thus starting a war, and forcing the survivors to move into an underwater city. Stromberg sends his henchman, Jaws (Richard Kiel), to stop Bond and XXX, and with his enormous seven-foot two-inch frame and a full set of metal teeth, Jaws proves to be quite the adversary.
“The Spy Who Loves Me” is an interesting film because even there isn’t anything wrong with the film, there isn’t anything too spectacular either. The plot, although somewhat insane by even Bond villain standards, is still easily enjoyable and quite relaxed. Because much of the film has Bond following a trail of bread crumbs around the world in search of Stromberg, location shooting was important, and the different notable countries where Bond travels make for a splendid backdrop. All of these location help to enhance the film, giving the production an added quality.
The music for “The Spy Who Loved Me” is much different from the other films in the series. The score was written by the talented Marvin Hamlisch, who despite being an accomplished composer, doesn’t seem suited for a James Bond film. He updated the typical Bond theme to give it more of a “70’s” feel, which doesn’t seem to work as well, but he also brought a classical music element by adding some source music from Bach and Mozart. Also, twice throughout the film Hamlisch managed to sneak in themes from David Lean movies, “Doctor Zhivago” (1965) and “Lawrence of Arabia” (1962), composed by Maurice Jarre. And then, of course, there is the film’s theme song, “Nobody Does it Better,” but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Here are the statistics from “The Spy Who Loved Me,” as well as a running total from the first ten films:
- Number of people James Bond kills: 33- I had a lot of trouble counting for this film because of the climactic fight scene. Bond is wielding a machine gun through most of the scene, and then he builds a bomb that gives him access to the control room. It, also, kills almost all of the henchmen in the room at that time. I have given Bond credit for 15 kills with the bomb. Total number killed through ten films: 127
- Number of times we hear “Bond, James Bond”: 1 Total thus far: 9 1/2
- Number of women who succumb to Bond: 3-In the opening scene in Switzerland, Bond has his way with “Log Cabin Girl” (Sue Vanner), in Egypt it is implied that he spends the night with “Arab Beauty #4” (I think it is Anika Pavel), and then, of course, there is Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach). Total women: 26
- “The Spy Who Loved Me” theme song, “Nobody Does it Better”: ★★★★ Composed by Marvin Hamlisch, with lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager, “Nobody Does it Better” is one of the most popular and successful Bond songs ever. For my money, it’s a better song than a Bond song because it lacks the excitement of the other films.
For more James Bond fun be sure to check out:
“Dr. No” (1962)
“From Russia with Love” (1963)
“You Only Live Twice” (1967)
“Diamonds Are Forever” (1971)
“Live and Let Die” (1973)
“For Your Eyes Only” (1981)
“Never Say Never Again” (1983)