By Marc S. Sanders
The Spy Who Loved Me remains as my most favorite movie going experience ever. It was the first Bond film I saw in a movie theatre. I was 5, accompanying mom and dad to a dinner party. Upon leaving the party close to midnight, dad says to mom “Linda, let’s go see James Bond.” Mom’s reply was “Walter, it’s midnight and we have Marc with us.” Dad won the argument by simply saying “C’mon Linda!” So he pulled into The Forum movie theatre located off Route 4 in Paramus, NJ.
At the time, my youth didn’t allow me to comprehend really what was going on, but I clearly remember being thrilled during the pre title sequence as Bond (Roger Moore) dons his yellow snow suit to evade KGB agents trying to kill him off while skiing in Austria. I’ll never forget the ski jump/parachute ski dive off the mountain to close out the scene. Still one of the greatest stunts ever performed in a Bond film.
Beyond that, I cherish the memory of mom covering my eyes each time the vicious henchman Jaws bared his metal teeth and the maze running through the Egyptian construction site. 007 in his tuxedo with Russian Agent Triple X (Barbara Bach, one the best Bond girls) in her navy evening gown. Bach was gorgeous, intelligent and perfect in the role.
The Spy Who Loved Me is superb in so many ways. It returns to the Cold War threats that a megalomaniac takes pleasure in. This time it’s Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) who manages to apprehend nuclear armed submarines from Russia, Great Britain and eventually the United States. His plan is to destroy the world and start a new civilization beneath the sea. Honestly, I think that might take a little more effort than the capabilities of three submarines.
Triple X must now form an alliance with 007, only she has vengeance on her mind following the loss of her lover during the earlier ski pursuit. Bond must survive Stromberg and Jaws, as well as his Russian partner.
There’s so much that Director Lewis Gilbert, with Producer Albert Broccoli (first time working without Harry Saltzman) offers here. Bond drives a Lotus Esprit turned submarine, while also outrunning helicopters, motorcycles and Jaws who seems invincible. He also gets a cool new gadget vehicle to play with-a put it together yourself Jet Ski. Who woulda thunk it?
Jaws (Richard Kiel) is menacing but he’s also a great running gag, almost like the Wile E. Coyote from Looney Tunes. Throw him off a train, drop a building on him or fly his car off a mountain and he’ll come out of it with just a dust off of his shoulders.
Gilbert gets great scenic footage of Cairo, Egypt, Sardinia, and the snowy mountains of Austria. Stromberg’s ocean base is really cool to see too. Just avoid the elevators if you can.
Again, The Spy Who Loved Me has some of the best of everything-Bond Girl, a terrific soundtrack from Marvin Hamlisch as well as his musical accompaniment on the film’s Oscar nominated song from Carly Simon (“Nobody Does It Better”), Jaws, and it’s arguably Roger Moore’s best work in the role.
I could watch The Spy Who Loved Me a hundred times and never get tired of it.
Nobody Does It Better.