James Bond retrospective 010: ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ (1977)

Posted Filed under

The rushed Man with the Golden Gun was a financial and critical disappointment upon its release in 1974, so much so that production on the next adventure was delayed to ensure the team got the next one right.

Fortunately they came up with probably the quintessential Roger Moore Bond movie; 1977’s practically perfect The Spy Who Loved Me.

Buy the complete James Bond collection on Blu-ray here.


The plot

Proper madness, this one.

British and Soviet submarines are disappearing, as they do, and Bond is sent in to find out why. Along the way he meets up with Agent XXX, or Major Anya Amasova, his Russian counterpart with whom he must join forces against megalomaniac Karl Stromberg who is planning to destroy the world and start a new civilisation under the sea.

It’s all utter nonsense, of course, but the best kind: the Bond kind.


The good guys

Much like Sean Connery in Goldfinger, three films in and Roger Moore is firmly in the groove of his James Bond incarnation. His double entendres are getting filthier and verging on the obscene (‘Let me try and enlarge your vocabulary’) and his nonchalance in every situation is fast becoming a joy to watch.

Some of the steeliness from The Man with the Golden Gun, in particular towards women, thankfully, is gone, but he still has moments of ice cold viciousness: in particular when he dangles a hoodlum off a rooftop by his tie, and then let’s go.

As was inevitable, at some point in the series our favourite MI6 support team would fail to make much of an impression. Undoubtedly they were all various degrees of exasperated with Bond’s antics and not much else. That being said they do have an amazing Egyptian office hidden in the tombs.


The bad guys

Karl Stromberg is one of the oddest megalomaniacs to feature in a Bond film, but played to perfection by Curt Jürgens. His plan is insane and utterly illogical, but who cares because he has an underwater stronghold and a lift with a false floor to deliver his enemies to the shark tank.

He’d also rather destroy a helicopter with a bazooka than have more than one person in said shark tank at a time, presumably to prove that he can think outside the box if required.

If The Spy Who Loved Me gave us nothing else except the character of Jaws, we’d probably be just as happy. After the brief interlude of the diminutive Nick Nack in The Man with the Golden Gun we’re back to giant henchmen, this time with a set of amazing metal teeth that can bite through practically anything.

The dentures were so painful that Richard Kiel could only wear them for about 30 seconds at a time and as such spent most of his time having to act like he wasn’t in pain.


The girls

Otherwise known as Agent XXX, Barbara Bach’s Major Anya Amasova is supposedly Bond’s equivalent in Russia, but unsurprisingly doesn’t really get to prove her skills, with the notable exception of ‘pulling a Bond’ by seducing him in order to steal the microfiche maguffin.

Once that’s out of the way she manages to keep it professional pretty much until the end of their mission, at which point she has previously vowed to kill Bond for killing her lover earlier in the film. Of course, she gives in when confronted with a luxury escape pod, a bottle of champagne, and the allure of James Bond keeping ‘the British end up’.

Caroline Munro plays Naomi, a hench(wo)man who displays a lot of promise but ultimately doesn’t get a whole lot to do. She’s rudely dispatched by a torpedo shot from the submarine car whilst tying to shoot Bond from a helicopter, making Naomi the first female character to be killed by Bond on screen.


The best bits

  1. The Union Jack ski jump

There’s only one way to really jazz up Roger Moore’s dodgy back projection ski action and that’s to have yellow ski-suited stunt double ski right off a cliff, freefall for what feels like forever and then engage a parachute with the Union Jack on it. For a simpler gamble than skiing off a cliff, check out RealMoneySlotsOnline.com, where you’ll find the best source of information on playing slots online with real money.

  1. Lotus Esprit submarine

Not content to have one of the all time classic supercars in the Lotus Esprit, the Bond producers went one step further and made a car that converts into a submarine because they just knew that at some point Bond would need to drive a car off a pier and not drown, which is fair enough.

Decked out with all the bells and whistles, including torpedoes, the Esprit might just rival the Aston Martin DB5 as ultimate Bond car. And if it doesn’t we still have the scene of Bond driving out of the water and onto the beach, casually dropping a fish out of the window. Just don’t question how it got in there in the first place.

  1. Awkward jet ski

Maybe not a ‘best bit’ per se, but still worth mentioning. Because Bond films always like to be at the cutting edge of extreme sports there’s a really awkward scene featuring Bond on one of the first jet skis. It’s somewhat shoehorned in and probably looked a lot cooler back forty years ago.

  1. Bond v Jaws

Every time these two interact is a joy. Bond being blasé when Jaws is destroying a van in which he’s trying to escape? Check. (Just roll your eyes at Bond’s ‘women drivers’ gag and move swiftly on). Bond tricking Jaws into dropping a boulder on his own foot? Check. Bond shooting Jaws, a seven foot tall man, in his (metal) teeth? Check. Massive dust-up on a train, which as we know is the best place to have a fight in a Bond film, and electrocuting Jaws with a lamp? Check. Bond using the giant magnet that’s just casually hanging about over the shark pit in Stromberg’s lair and depositing Jaws into what he hopes is a watery grave? Check check check.

  1. Sidecar chicken

One of the weirder car chases in Bond history has the Lotus Espirt being pursued by an assailant on a motorbike complete with sidecar. Which makes no sense until it’s revealed that the sidecar houses a torpedo at which point you wonder why all henchmen on motorbikes don’t have one. Of course the torpedo misses, hits a van full of chickens and sends the would-be assassin off a cliff in a feathery fireball of doom.



On the condition of complete secrecy, Stanley Kubrick helped cinematographer Claude Renoir light the supertanker set as Renoir’s eyesight was failing.

The Union Jack parachute jump was originally suggested by George Lazenby during the filming of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. It wasn’t technically possible at the time but the producers kept the idea for future use.

The last film seen by Elvis Presley, who died six days after a special screening.

‘Nobody Does it Better’ was the first Bond theme to have a title different to its film, but it does contain the title within the lyrics.

General Gogol, as played by Walter Gotell, is the Russian equivalent of M and goes on to appear in Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, A View to a Kill and The Living Daylights. He also appeared in From Russia with Love as a completely different character.

The only Bond film until Skyfall to reveal M’s first name: Miles.

When Jaws bites through the chain it was really made of liquorice.

Received three Oscar nominations – the most to date for a Bond film – Best Art Direction – Set Direction, Best Score and Best Song – ‘Nobody Does it Better’.


The verdict

The Spy Who Loved Me is to Roger Moore as Goldfinger is to Sean Connery – peak Bond.

Some of their films were bigger, bolder, more bonkers or arguably were just plain better, but if you had to pick one film from each you’d be hard pressed to choose elsewhere. Between Jaws, Agent XXX and the submarine convertible Lotus Esprit, with a valuable assist from the magnificent Egyptian location and a typically nonsense plot, The Spy Who Loved Me truly is hard to beat.


James Bond will return in Moonraker.

Buy the complete James Bond collection on Blu-ray here.

What’s your favourite moment in The Spy Who Loved Me? Let us know below…