DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
SPY WHO LOVED ME, THE (director: Lewis Gilbert; screenwriters: Richard Maibaum/Christopher Wood; cinematographer: Claude Renoir; editor: John Glen; music: Marvin Hamlisch; cast: Roger Moore (James Bond), Barbara Bach (Major Anya Amasova), Curt Jurgens (Sigmund Stromberg), Richard Kiel (Jaws), Caroline Munro (Naomi), Bernard Lee (M), Desmond Llewellyn (Q), Walter Gotell (General Gogil), Geoffrey Keen (Minister of Defense), George Baker (Captain Benson), Shane Rimmer (Commander Carter), Valerie Leon (Hotel Receptionist), Lois Maxwell (Miss Moneypenny), Sidney Tafler (Liparus Captain), Milton Reid (Sandor), Nadim Sawalha (Aziz Fekkesh), Vernon Dobtcheff (Max Kalba), Cyril Shaps (Dr. Bechmann), Milo Sperber (Prof. Markovitz); Runtime: 125; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: Albert R. Broccoli; United Artists; 1977-UK)

 
"Overwhelmed with its cartoonish absurdity."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It's the first Bond film not to be based on a Ian Fleming novel. This tenth Bond film (the third Roger Moore entry) began to move away from the previous inventive scripts to become a totally mindless gadget film filled with snappy one-liners, gorgeous but lifeless girls, the usual well-choreographed chases, tacky sexual innuendos and exotic locations. This was also the first time that a Bond girl was viewed on a more or less equal footing with 007 and her story told from her viewpoint. Director Lewis Gilbert ("Alfie"/"You Only Live Twice"/"Shirley Valentine") never gets more than a witless and mechanically acted escapist film out of it and it's overwhelmed with its cartoonish absurdity and not an ounce of reality (not even a little bit to keep it at least slightly honest). Nevertheless this lively crass artificial formula worked at the box office, as it became the biggest Bond film to date in ticket sales. 

Writers Richard Maibaum and Christopher Wood keep both the characters and story as plastic as possible, and make it more like a parody of an action film that is all about the props (like a Lotus car that converts to an underwater boat), the stunt men and the fancy set designs. It's a highly patriotic, flagwaving film, that lays on us some nifty British technological wizardry as the be all and end all in worldly affairs.

007 (Roger Moore) is pulled out of the sack with a hot babe in a ski lodge in the Swis Alps to investigate the disappearance of two nuclear submarines and has to fight his way out of danger as he's chased down the slopes by Russian agents firing at him. In his escape he kills the boyfriend agent of master Russian spy Triple X, Major Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach), who is also asked by her government to investigate the missing nuclear submarines. To complete his getaway, Bond makes a spectacular ski jump and is aided in landing safely by a Union Jack parachute.

The two master spies meet in Cairo, where they learn that microfilm of the tracking device responsible for the missing submarines is being sold to the highest bidder. The spies stop competing with each other as their governments have them now work as a team when it's learned that the men doing the bidding (Nadim Sawalha & Vernon Dobtcheff) are killed by a villain they have in common. 

The villain is a recluse megalomaniac shipping tycoon named Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), who lives in a high-tech underwater hideout in Sardinia and who uses the indestructible robotic-like 7-foot-2-inch, steel-toothed human monster called Jaws (Richard Kiel) to kill the agents and he is seen throughout chasing Bond down (which gave the film its most enjoyable nonsensical moments).

At the climax it's up to Bond to save the world, as Amasova is kidnapped by Stromberg. Meanwhile Bond is held prisoner by Stromberg's submarine-eating oil tanker, the Liparus. Bond now must use his wits to battle Stromberg's henchman and foil his plans to start WW III by nuking New York City and Moscow, as the madman believes civilization is too corrupt to be allowed to exist and he plans to start a New World undersea. After Bond re-targets the missiles to destroy each other, he daringly rescues Amasova from Stromberg's hideout. It ends with Bond in bed with the major in full view of their bosses and his schoolboy cheeky quip is "that he's holding up his end for England."

Carly Simon's rendition of "Nobody Does It Better" is one of the more memorable Bond theme songs. 

REVIEWED ON 2/10/2009       GRADE: C+

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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