The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

<strong class="MovieTitle">The Spy Who Loved Me</strong> (1977)

(Second viewing, On Blu-ray, September 2018) Now that’s more like it. The Spy Who Loved Me, third Roger Moore outing as James Bond, finally puts all of the elements of Moore’s sub-formula together: Good action sequences, interesting plot (even if reprised from You Only Live Twice), a strong Bond Girl and, perhaps more than everything else, Moore’s debonair charm used to good purposes. His Bond here is far funnier, much less violent (although there’s one execution-by-tie that still rankles), better behaved around women (not by much, but the pairing with an almost-equal works in favour of a more balanced relationship) and unflappable in the face of crises. The globetrotting takes us to Egypt and the Mediterranean, while the gadgets include the classic submarine car, Union-jack parachute and personal Jet Ski. The film manages to hit just the right balance between a simplistic but not completely stupid plot and the silliness that we’ve come to expect from the Moore years. It’s not fancy, but it works. The villain’s lair is truly spectacular (in fact, there are two of them) and the action sequences have some kick—the car chase is particularly enjoyable. I won’t pretend that it’s a perfect film: The Bond girl is still used as a plot device to be rescued at the end, the Bond seduction shtick has worn thin, and there are more than a few instances of villain stupidity. Still, it works surprisingly well and presents a sharp return to form for the series after a lengthy fallow period—it’s probably the best Bond since On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. I saw the film as a boy (I was introduced to Bond between Moonraker and For Your Eyes Only) and had forgotten much of the details—it’s fascinating to see what sticks in mind and what doesn’t, and how I was sometimes able to anticipate the gist of the next thirty seconds of the film without quite knowing exactly why.

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