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The Spy Who Loved Me

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4

All-Reviews.com Movie Review: The Spy Who Loved Me

Starring: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach
Director: Lewis Gilbert
Rated: PG
RunTime: 136 Minutes
Release Date: August 1977
Genres: 007, Action, Suspense


*Also starring: Curt Jurgens, Richard Kiel, Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell, Geoffrey Keen, Bernard Lee, Lois Maxwell, Desmond Llewelyn



Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

1977's THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, the tenth episode in the Bond saga, teaches us the universality of secret agent habits. As the show opens, a Russian and a British nuclear submarine disappear. On two sides of the globe the countries's best spies are interrupted from their trysts. Britain's 007 is in bed with his usual blonde bombshell and Russia's top agent, Triple X, is in bed with a good looking brunette. Just when some will assume that Triple X is the handsome guy in the bed, it turns out instead to be the gorgeous female beside him. More formally known as Major Anya Amasova, XXX is played with a fetching beauty by Barbara Bach.

In his third outing as Bond, Roger Moore becomes totally comfortable with his role and puts his own relaxed style into the part. His awkwardness from his first two episodes is now completely gone. His dark blue double breasted tuxedo fits so perfectly that he seems to have worn it and the Bond role since birth. (No one, of course, will ever equal Connery in the part.)

Is there no end to Bond's skills? In this movie he even shows off his dexterity in racing a camel through the desert. Q, too, comes through as always, this time with an unlikely gadget of a killer tea tray.

Always happy to do whatever is expedient, Bond kills villains with abandon. When a bullet is coming his way, he feels no remorse if he has to use his female companion as a human shield to take the bullet intended for him. Nothing PC about James, he does whatever he deems necessary to accomplish his mission.

Carl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), the story's megalomaniac, lives in a placid, but deadly, aquarium-style home. Decorated with large tapestries and looking inside like a palace, the home has piped-in classical music. What is his diabolical plan? Nothing less than Armageddon -- not to be confused with this coming summer's blockbuster movie, ARMAGEDDON, in which Bruce Willis will save planet. Bond films tend to be at their best when some nefarious eccentric has some cataclysmic plans for total annihilation.

Stromberg's henchman, a man appropriately named Jaws (Richard Kiel), has a strapping big mouthful of shiny, steel incisors, which come in handy when he has to bite through chains or the more mundane flesh of human necks. When Jaws isn't gnawing on his victims, he likes to crush their bodies against the ceiling, proving again that size does matter.

Continuing in the grand Bond tradition, much of the movie is filmed in exotic locals, this time amid the alabaster-colored stone of the Sphinx and other massive Egyptian monuments, as well as in the surrounding deserts.

The movie's theme song as well as Bond's famous theme add up to a musically pleasurable experience. And to remind us of another great film set in the desert, as 007 and XXX head off walking in the wilderness, the theme from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA comes up loudly.

Although Barbara Bach's acting as XXX may make you yearn for the tougher female leads like Honor Blackman as GOLDFINGER's Pussy Galore, you have to appreciate Bach's grace and beauty, especially in her seductive and low-cut, tight-fitting gowns.

When Triple X and 007 get stuck out in the cold, she assures him that "You don't have to worry. I went on a survival course in Siberia." It seems they taught her many techniques including, "share bodily warmth." To which she quickly adds, "when necessary." And be reassured that Barbara Bach is certainly someone whose body looks like it may generate some considerable heat.

The show's best chase scene has a helicopter, driven by a beautiful foe, chasing 007 and XXX in James's sleek, white sports car. How do they escape? Bond drives the car off a pier and pushes the button that neatly retracts the wheels and turns it into a sub, one which looks like it might be featured in the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalog for the superrich.

Ingenuity is one of the hallmarks of the Bond films. In this one, the way James figures a way into an impregnable control room is quite imaginative. Even better is his resolution of the international crisis through a secret retargeting of weapons.

In another variation on the traditional Bond ending, our hero and heroine end up conveniently in a floating circular bed with white cushions and a properly chilled bottle of 1952 Dom Perignon. Being international spies does have its rewards -- for men and women alike.

THE SPY WHO LOVED ME runs 2:05. It is rated PG for sexual innuendo and comic violence and would be fine for kids around nine and up.

My son Jeffrey, almost 9, liked it although he preferred Moore's previous Bond film, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. His favorite of the first ten Bond movies remains Thunderball. He didn't like the character Jaws in this one because he was too "undefeatable." His favorite part of the movie was the way 007 blasted open the control room and the car that morphed into a boat.

Copyright 1998 Steve Rhodes

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