Friday, 28 October 2011

The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

With time running out for this month's Blogalongabond, I decided to type as I watched The Spy Who Loved Me. There are maybe a few post-viewing additions, but generally these are the thoughts that tumbled out of my noggin as I watched.

The pre-title sequence is fairly well done; a great double entendre from M; “Tell him to pull out”, a bit of nuclear submarine disappearance exposition, some well shot (apart from the close ups) skiing action, and some quality 70s wacka wacka music (that was a wah wah pedal btw). This is followed by the very understated but cool title song, Nobody does it better.

I do love the way that for all of the sophisticated technology on display, the route of the submarine is displayed on an etch-a-sketch map, and overlaid with tracing paper to show that someone is now able to track the route.

The Spy Who Loved Me introduces us to Jaws, perhaps (to me anyway), the most iconic of evil henchmen. Portrayed by the giant Richard Kiel, no metal bars or locks can contain him; though his vampiric way of dispatching people (and sharks) is rather unconvincing. Speaking of iconic, the car is that wonderful white lotus that I remember getting free with cornflakes or something; and it is quite a cool shot as it drives out of the water onto the beach.

The first half of the film is concerned with tracking down some microfilm McGuffin, as Jaws tried to bump off anyone connected to it. At least the search leads them to some tremendous locations including the Pyramids at Giza and Karnak. Though it’s quite a trek from Cairo to Karnak, only to then get a boat back to Cairo, but then end up in Abu Simbel which is in the opposite direction (if my geography and google maps research is right)! The second part of the story sees 007 and Vin Deisel agent XXX, tracking down the evil Karl Stromberg who is hiding out in his very own Atlantis, and ship courtesy of Ken Adam’s set design. The ship even comes complete with a set of red-shirts ripe for the killing; the whole battle towards the end is rather reminiscent of YOLT, though rather less haphazard.

Great score by Marvin Hamlisch, I liked the mysterious themes around Karnak, and then I suddenly realised the Lawrence of Arabia theme as 007 and XXX walk around the desert. Though I wasn’t sure about the French music in Sardinia. Some of the music sounds really quite 70s and dated, but it is still quite groovy and works well within the film.

Once again Roger seems to be enjoying himself, having a bit more spring in his step than in The Man with the Golden Gun, though his one-liners got cringeworthy quite quickly: “All those feathers and he still can’t fly!”. Though amazingly there is actually a reference to 007 being married before! Barbara Bach is reasonably alright as Major Anya Amasova (Agent XXX), she seems fairly strong headed and in control; that is until Roger flashes his huge nipples at her and suddenly her tit-tape is straining at all her skimpy tops! Curd Jürgens is good as the evil Karl Stromberg, a marine biologist with designs on starting a new world order. His gravely voice is the dominant force in every scene that he is in; though I was surprised how quickly he died. Obviously having being shot several times, he would die quickly; rather I am surprised that Bond just shot him, with no daft slapstick punch up and slow motion.

TSWLM is more of a return to the fun and intrigue of LALD after the rather more linear story of TMWTGG. Great locations, groovy music, iconic car and henchman, Roger seems to still be enjoying himself; the only fly in the ointment is perhaps the naff one-liners.

Order of Preference so far: (this is starting to get difficult)

You Only Live Twice, Goldfinger, On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Live and Let Die, The Spy Who Loved Me, From Russia with Love,  Dr No, The Man with the Golden Gun, Diamonds are Forever, Thunderball