20/10/2011

BlogalongaBond: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)



My limited Bond knowledge leads me to believe that every film in the franchise experiences production problems but The Spy Who Loved Me was in hell the moment producer Harry Saltzman buggered off. Possible directors were bandied around and the producers approached Steven Spielberg and Guy Hamilton before settling with Lewis Gilbert who'd previously directed You Only Live Twice (1967), so one would assume he'd know what he was doing and not turn this instalment into an odd comedy caper. Perhaps I missed this in The Man With The Golden Gun (1974) but several scenes are marred with such silliness it felt like an Austin Powers film instead of an official Bond.

As per usual the plot doesn't actually affect the viewing experience because it's pretty much the same as all the others: man in unflattering grey suit with an underground lair kills people at the push of a button and plans to steal nuclear weapons to blah blah blah I don't care I've fallen asleep. What makes The Spy Who Loved Me, despite its frequent moments of foolery, quite fun is Roger Moore's nonchalant approach to the role (and magic eyebrow that can cue music), a genuinely good Bond girl with a dodgy accent and limited acting skills, and one of the most famous and popular henchmen of the series who likes the odd game of peekaboo.


The Spy Who Loved Me is one of the reasons I find the Bond series so frustrating because even when I'm rolling my eyes at a ludicrous sequence in which the man with the golden gnashers tears apart a van and the woman has trouble starting the engine (HAHAHAHAHA! Vaginas can't drive!), I'm secretly giggling at Moore's sarky comments. Bastard. Bond purists aren't too fond of Moore's interpretation of the chauvinistic cuntbag their beloved hero but let's be honest, Bond is a stupid character anyway. The whole point of him being sent on this mission is to uncover some stolen submarines but all I remember is him making various comments about big breasted ladies and getting his end away. That may be a problem for you but I'd like see Daniel Craig say "When one is in Egypt, one should delve deeply into its treasures" with a straight face when referring to a lady's love tunnel. That takes talent!

Away from Moore's erect penis eyebrow lies an interesting character who is never allowed to develop past anything other than Bond's recent play thing. Barbara Bach is an Irish/Austrian model from Jackson Heights so naturally she was a perfect choice to play a Russian spy, and as she's introduced in bed having her post-coital rest interrupted by the call of duty, she immediately becomes the female equivalent of Bond. The slight moments of mothergoosery are heightened by their rom-com style annoyance with each other but we all know it's only a matter of time before she ends up being rogered by Roger. One of the interesting sub-plots (Bond killed her lover in the opening chase) is kept simmering underneath but when the penny finally drops, there's not much attention paid and they just continue as if nothing happened basically wasting the only opportunity to have add some real depth. Oh well, at least it has a swimming car.


That may teeter out like a wet fart but at least its beginning takes place in a bizarrely scored but nonetheless entertaining ski chase in Austria that culminates with a lovely stunt in 20 seconds of silence before Carly Simon starts warbling. Simon's classic theme song may be brilliant enough for certain Bond-obsessed bloggers to dance to at their wedding but the rest of the score is bat-crap crazy. A mish mash of 70s funk, classical music and a bit of Maurice Jarre's theme from Lawrence of Arabia made little sense to me and if it weren't for silly John Barry's tax problems, he would've come in and given Marvin Hamlisch a bloody good slap.

The Spy Who Loved Me is good fun scuppered by an ending that takes forever to arrive, a wasted sub-plot and a regulation villain but in comparison to Moore's other contributions, it's a bloody masterpiece.

Next Month: Mooonraker. Bond in outer space...bloody hell.