Next up in our Big Bond countdown is the action-packed The Spy Who Loved Me, with Bond working alongside Russian spy Anya in an attempt to bring down a plot involving submarine eating ships, nuclear armageddon and even more crazy Euro-villains.
The film which Alan Partridge once proclaimed to be ‘the best film ever made’, The Spy who Loved Me is the quintessential Roger Moore Bond. Packed full with impressive set pieces, campy production and positively thousands of horrendous puns revolving around shagging, it just about strikes the right balance to be upbeat, daft fun while avoiding the lows of his embarrassing later instalments. With a disco-inflected score, a submarine car, an underwater lair and a seven foot tall henchman with a mouth full of metal, what’s not to love?
It’s also the last film where Moore just about gets away with his age. At 50, he is only barely convincing as a super-amazing secret agent. He’s always been awkward at the best of times -his fighting is all legs and judo chops- but he looks more out of place than ever chasing women half his age, and watching his stunt doubles perform crazy feats well beyond his capabilities. Performing a back-flip whilst skiiing? Sure, why not.
Perhaps most memorable about The Spy who Loved Me isn’t Bond himself, but rather Richard Kiel’s Jaws. An incredibly strong, mute henchman with a huge physique and sharp metal teeth, he recalls the likes of Lugosi’s Dracula and Karloff’s Frankenstein; capable of both silently stalking his victims and acts of brute strength. A scene where Barabara Bach’s Anya finds him hiding in her closet even garners a genuine scare. He eclipses the film’s actual villain Karl Stromberg; a thoroughly bizarre chap who insists on causing nuclear armageddon so that everyone will have to live in his ‘utopia’ beneath the sea. Quite how he has gotten anyone to join his cause is slightly unclear.
Moore’s Bond is his usual, insufferable self. Even his lover and comrade in arms Anya seems thoroughly depressed whenever he hits on her: she even gasses him at one point to avoid his advances. When he does finally manage to ‘charm’ her, it feels like a defeat rather than a victory; especially when she finds out that he killed her former lover. His one moment of humanity comes when Anya questions him about his past, and harks back to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service with the death of his wife Tracy. He stops her mid-sentence, and she asks if he is sensitive. ‘About some things’ he replies. This almost makes you believe that his smug bastard routine is a cover for his gaping emotional wound. Almost.
Bond theme: Carly Simon’s ‘Nobody does it Better’ is one of the most well-known and successful Bond themes of the series. The first theme not to be named after the feature, it was also the first to be nominated for an Oscar. A love letter to Bond himself, it’s fun, playful and full of innuendo. Obviously.
Best one liner: All of the one-liners in this are absolute howlers, usually revolving around Moore’s Bond being an unabashed and insufferable pervert. Most memorable is undoubtedly the film’s final line, as Bond replies ‘just keeping the British end up, sir!’ when he’s discovered shagging in his floating escape pod. Ugggh.
Glamorous locations: Beginning in the Austrian mountains, Bond moves onto Egypt, where he meets Triple X and encounters Jaws at the pyramids and the Valley of the Kings. Afterwards Bond moves on to Sardinia, the Italian island providing some great mountain roads for driving round his brand-new lotus, much to Q’s disapproval.
Girls: The Spy Who Loved Me is notable for the presence of Barbara Bach’s Anya Amasova, code name Triple X (sadly not Vin Diesel). She marks the first time that Bond’s love interest is an equal (of sorts), as they work together to take down aquatic nutter Karl Stromberg. His ridiculously gorgeous pilot and pseudo-assassin Naomi is the only other woman of note, however Bond doesn’t get intimate with her; rather just leers at her incessantly while Anya gets increasingly irate.
Gadgets: Aside from Bond’s slightly pathetic ticker-tape watch which we see at the beginning, the most exciting gadget is undoubtedly his super-stylish Lotus Esprit, which can transform into a submarine with the push of a button. Ridiculous, yes, but you can’t deny that the idea of a submarine sports car isn’t just a bit awesome.
Classic moment: The ski jump just before the opening credits has a slightly sour taste with his incredibly corny union jack parachute, but you can’t deny that it’s an impressive stunt.
Low Point: Any time Bond makes a ‘women drivers!’ joke, or asks ‘Is there anything I can do to… warm you up?’ Just shut it, Moore.
TELSTAR’S BIG BOND COUNTDOWN WILL RETURN WITH… MOONRAKER