001. The story
Bond rips off his yellow ski-suit and is teamed up with a Russian agent – the beautiful KGB agent Triple X, whose lover he killed on a previous mission – to bring down a megalomaniac super villain holed out in a futuristic secret base staffed with an army of jump-suited minions, stealing nuclear submarines and planning to use their Polaris missiles to kick off World War 3. Oh, it’s just like old times, isn’t it?
002. The villains
Curt Jürgens is Carl Stromberg, a web-handed shipping-magnate with a fetish for all things marine: he’s Blofeld meets blowfish. Cold, calculating, and not afraid to wreck a perfectly good helicopter just to prove a point, Stromberg is a suitably uninterested villain, his megalomania and arrogance leading him to be actually bored with anyone who crosses his path. He should be more of a memorable villain, but he’s eclipsed by his own henchman…
Jaws (the concrete Richard Kiel) is so imposing, scary, and bizarrely charismatic (lovely smile, you see) that he steals the show and proved so popular that he returned in the next film, Moonraker.
003. The girls
Beautiful Barbara Bach smoulders onscreen as KGB agent Major Anya Amasova (aka Triple X), although she seems to have little to no chemistry with her leading man – the director’s habit of shooting almost all her dialogue in soft lighting and mood music, like they’re trying to make a Marks And Spencer’s food advert, doesn’t help.
Caroline Munro gives good value as a psychotic murderess, in a few minutes making a good template for a number of similar characters that would follow.
004. Best moments
Bond skiing off a cliff and opening his Union Flag parachute in a patriotic middle-finger to his pursuers, Jaws killing Fekkesh during the dramatic Pyramids light show, the Lotus Esprit turning into a submarine after a dramatic high-speed chase, and 007’s fight with Jaws onboard Atlantis.
» Keep an eye out for a near miss at the end of the pre-credits sequence, as one of Bond’s disengaged skis actually falls into shot and clips the opening parachute, which could have been very dangerous indeed for stuntman Rick Sylvester.
» The only Bond film where M’s real name is uttered. It’s Miles. It’s also only the second time Miles, sorry, M, calls Bond by his first name.
» Richard Kiel’s metal dentures were so incredibly painful to wear that he could only have them in his mouth for 30 seconds at a time. The cable he bites through using them was made of liquorice. Yummy.
» The monorail in Stromberg’s supertanker fortress, Liparus, was a genuine magnetic levitation device, just like the deadly Q-branch hover tea tray seen earlier in the film.
» Recognise the voice of Captain Carter but can’t quite place it? Carter is played by Shane Rimmer, who voiced Scott Tracy in Thunderbirds.
006. Best quotes
» Girl in the Log Cabin: “But James, I need you!”
Bond: “So does England.”
» Bond: “When one is in Egypt, one should delve deeply into its treasures.”
» Bond: “Mmm, maybe I misjudged Stromberg. Any man who drinks Dom Perignon ’52 can’t be all bad.”
» Bond: “The name’s Bond. James Bond.”
Max Kalba: “What of it?”
» Sir Frederick Gray: [catching James and Anya in a compromising position] “Bond! What do you think you’re doing?”
Bond: “Keeping the British end up sir.”
007. The verdict
The Spy Who Loved Me was Roger Moore’s favourite Bond film, and you can see why. He’s at his peak as Bond and everything just seems to gel together, from the chemistry between James and Anya, to the blend of action and humour that the Moore era never quite managed to balance again.
The pre-credits opener, with its action, innuendo, and cheeky patriotism, informs you exactly what kind of film TSWLM is going to be: escapist ‘Bank Holiday Bond’ fun.
That doesn’t mean it’s silly though. There’s an ambitiousness in all areas of production to out-do what’s come before: the enormous sets, the fantastic gadgets, the impressive locations, even the choice of Richard Kiel as henchman, all seem to say ‘bigger is better’. With everything pitching at a bombastic level of self confidence, Cubby Broccoli wanted TSWLM to be ‘so big it would be impossible to ignore’. Mission accomplished.
What do you think of The Spy Who Loved Me? Let us know below…