The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
July 30, 2015 3:52 AM - Subscribe

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

This is the 10th James Bond film adventure.

The Wikipedia entry.
ShrunkenCinema.com reviews The Spy Who Loved Me.
The James Bonding podcast (Matt Mira, Matt Gourley and guest Dana Gould) covers The Spy Who Loved Me.
Alan Partridge acts out the opening of the film.

Some Top Critic reviews from Rotten Tomatoes:

TIME Magazine: "Never did top that first stunt."

Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader: "The ostensible hero is just a fleshy blur."

Variety: "As always, story and plastic character are in the service of comic strip parody."

Time Out: "The film has its moments -- Kiel's indestructible heavy racks up a good score -- but the rest is desperately weak."

Janet Maslin, New York Times: "The film moves along at a serviceable clip, but it seems half an hour too long."
posted by doctornecessiter (22 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
This one is pretty fun, though I agree with NYT that it drags a little bit at the end. Agent XXX is definitely my favorite Bond Girl so far; as someone I was watching this with pointed out, she's the first female agent that really seems competent, Bond's snarky comments about women drivers notwithstanding. Also, I feel like on some level I sympathize with Stromberg, because I too want an aquarium for a living room.
posted by capricorn at 6:16 AM on July 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


One of my favorites as a kid, but it's really not all that great. It coasts along on the strength of the locations and sets, and the theme song (one of the best)...But generally it's sort of blah. Following my childhood love, it's become a good-bad dumb cartoon Bond movie for me. (And the of course the next one takes the cartoonishness past what many consider to be an acceptable level, while telling virtually the same story as this.)

I just wish that Barbara Bach was a more compelling actress. She does change her facial expression once or twice, but you'll miss those if you're not really scanning for them.
posted by doctornecessiter at 6:42 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


The Spy Who Only Lived Twice.

For reasons of his own, Fleming insisted when he sold the rights that EON couldn't film the story of The Spy Who Loved Me, so they attached the title to what is, essentially, a "Never Say Never Again" style remake of You Only Live Twice, except with stolen submarines instead of spacecraft.
posted by Naberius at 6:51 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


James Bond: Stromberg, that's your solution to everything: to move under the sea! It's not gonna happen!
Stromberg: Not with that attitude.
posted by sobarel at 7:01 AM on July 30, 2015 [3 favorites]


I just wish that Barbara Bach was a more compelling actress.

Yeah, agreed. I came away from the movie wishing Caroline Munro (Naomi, Stromberg's helicopter pilot) and Bach would have switched parts.

Also, is this where I brag that we have a signed photo of Richard Kiel hidden in our Jaws (the shark) themed bathroom? If this isn't the place, then there isn't a place.
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:17 AM on July 30, 2015 [5 favorites]


the theme song (one of the best)

You mean the part at the end with the Broadway-style male chorus, right?
posted by everybody had matching towels at 7:20 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


You mean the part at the end with the Broadway-style male chorus, right?

Is there another version?? I can practically see the all-male kickline.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:38 AM on July 30, 2015


"For reasons of his own, Fleming insisted when he sold the rights that EON couldn't film the story of The Spy Who Loved Me"

Well, because it was basically not a James Bond story as much as it was a story that featured James Bond at the end. I actually like it from what little I remember of it. Maybe I'll reread it again soon.
posted by I-baLL at 7:42 AM on July 30, 2015


I like that even in the most current, cleaned-up blu-ray version of this, they still say "James Bond Will Return in For Your Eyes Only" at the end. Star Wars coming out the same year as this one -- and being a monster hit -- compelled them to turn to Moonraker next instead.

I know there were other end-credit announcements in the series that turned out to be inaccurate...Off the top of my head I can remember that they knocked the "From" off of the announced original title of "From A View To A Kill" when that movie eventually came out.
posted by doctornecessiter at 7:50 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


...a "Never Say Never Again" style remake of You Only Live Twice, except with stolen submarines instead of spacecraft.

I wonder how much say director Lewis Gilbert had in the storyline, since he directed three Bond movies (You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker) and they all had the same story. It was probably more like the producers figured he's done well enough with this story the last time they told it, might as well give him the same shot again.

Watching through them all these last several weeks, another directorial touchstone I noticed is Guy Hamilton's thing where the story ends, Bond has won, but then a bad guy that we'd forgotten about shows up for one last quick fight before the credits roll. He was 4 for 4 on those (Goldfinger, Diamonds Are Forever, Live & Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun).
posted by doctornecessiter at 10:09 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


Bond has won, but then a bad guy that we'd forgotten about shows up for one last quick fight before the credits roll.

Yeah, I really have to wonder about these, because it's boring for the viewers (sorry Shakespeare, the denouement is dead - go climax then give us a brief wrap-up and cut to credits) and it's also bad storytelling...a good writer takes the disparate elements and weaves them all together into a coherent story.
posted by capricorn at 10:45 AM on July 30, 2015


Watching them in close succession it's funny how much Roger Moore's Bond is kind of a nerd. Last week he would not shut up about the liquid nitrogen tanks or whatever, to the point where Scaramanga was actively blowing him off during their tour. Here, he's got the missile targeting computers to play with, and he did so with gusto. He also enjoys knowing trivia in a slightly smug way, like when Stromberg was quizzing him about fish.
posted by Copronymus at 10:55 AM on July 30, 2015 [6 favorites]


I wonder how much say director Lewis Gilbert had in the storyline, since he directed three Bond movies (You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me, and Moonraker) and they all had the same story.

The Man With the Golden Gun was as close to a flop as Bond movies get. (I don't know if those numbers are adjusted for inflation over time, probably not.) You have to go all the way back to From Russia With Love to find a Bond movie that made less.

So it wouldn't surprise me at all if they very deliberately decided to retreat to safe harbor and remake something they knew damn well worked.

EDIT - oops, actually On Her Majesty's Secret Service made less, but I don't think Broccoli ever really counted that one in his strategizing because Lazenby.
posted by Naberius at 10:56 AM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


I mean, Roger Moore: Kind of a Tool is not exactly a breaking news headline, but it's interesting that they chose those avenues for him to be unexpectedly proficient, whereas with Connery it's all knowing brandy vintages and, uh, punching people? Knowing how to drive an experimental moon buggy?
posted by Copronymus at 10:57 AM on July 30, 2015


Which was the pre-Moore one where Bond visits M at home, M is going over his butterfly collection and Bond drops butterfly-science knowledge on him? (Okay, looked it up, it was Lazenby. Slightly unexpected difficulty in the search what with "m butterfly" being part of my phrasing.) So it definitely was a thing before Moore. But I think the issue is that such things seem to flow more naturally from Moore's mouth than any other Bond's.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:23 AM on July 30, 2015


That's why I love the bond movies. James Bond is basically this magic genius who knows at least a little bit about everything and somehow never gets seriously injured. I want to be a magic genius and I also want to make cheesy puns wherever I go, no matter the danger.
posted by I-baLL at 12:07 PM on July 30, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah, Bond is a secondary character in the novel, which reads more like a Harlequin Romance set in a backwoods American motel. When they finished Octopussy and the Living Daylights (the last named "novels"), there was a tremendous worry they would have to start making up non-canon stories. It was a very strange time for anyone who had actually read the novels.

Speaking of which, shouldn't there be a "Books Included" version of these threads? It'd be interesting to (re-)read each novel and then watch the ostensible movie adaptation for comparison.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 12:20 PM on July 30, 2015 [1 favorite]


So does anyone know if the son et lumiere show at Giza was as cheesy as the one depicted in the movie? My mother and I still use that synth and brass line as shorthand for "wtf was that scene doing there."
posted by infinitewindow at 8:37 AM on July 31, 2015


So does anyone know if the son et lumiere show at Giza was as cheesy as the one depicted in the movie? My mother and I still use that synth and brass line as shorthand for "wtf was that scene doing there."

God, yeah! After the moon landings, the height of mankind's technological achievements in the 70s was successfully linking a slide projector and a tape recorder.
posted by Chitownfats at 10:27 AM on August 2, 2015


"God, yeah! After the moon landings, the height of mankind's technological achievements in the 70s was successfully linking a slide projector and a tape recorder."

Talkies were invented in the 70s?
posted by I-baLL at 10:10 AM on August 3, 2015


Pyewwwww DAH DAH DAH DAH DAH DAAAAAAH (Jaws shows his teeth but doesn't smile)
posted by infinitewindow at 12:39 PM on August 3, 2015


The tricky art of the James Bond theme song
The next great Bond song came just a few years later, shaking up the formula once again. Following the tepidly received "The Man with the Golden Gun," Carly Simon tossed out a new curveball for The Spy Who Loved Me: "Nobody Does It Better," a lovely smash-hit that offers a surprisingly apt encapsulation of the breezy Bond film that inspired it (while vaguely recalling Nancy Sinatra's underrated "You Only Live Twice").
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:14 PM on September 12, 2015


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