Essential: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977)
What I love about the Bond films– especially the ones with Roger Moore– is how the hero is presented in a fairly straightforward manner, despite all the elaborate plotting. At the risk of comparing him to the other actors in the role, Moore’s demeanor is predictably smooth and consistently stylish in all his scenes. And as Carly Simon declares with the theme song, nobody does it better.
James Bond seems to have an endless supply of energy, whether he’s jumping off an Austrian mountain on skis during the opening sequence or taking on his next assignment, which is to stop a villain name Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). Stromberg is intent on starting World War III, though we’re not exactly told why. As he seeks to destroy the world’s population and create his own new civilization underwater, we might assume that with a German surname, he’s a modern-day Nazi who wants to establish an improved, more advanced race of humans.
Since this film was made during the cold war, the British (and the Americans) are at odds with the Russians. This makes things tricky when Bond has to team up with an icy KGB agent (Bond girl Barbara Bach). Gradually she begins to thaw, and they become lovers as they unite to defeat Stromberg. Then she learns Bond was responsible for the death of her previous lover, and she contemplates getting rid of him as their mission ends. But her idea of betrayal will undoubtedly be offset by her attraction to Bond. And there would be no more fun or on-going adventure if she did away with him.
In the meantime they have numerous altercations with one of Stromberg’s henchmen. Based on a character in Ian Fleming’s novel, we have bad guy Jaws (Richard Kiel). He is so named, because he has metal teeth and is able to bite through almost anything, including predatory sharks. Jaws will carry over into the next Bond film, meaning he does not get killed off in this story and remains fairly indestructible. In some ways Jaws is kind of like a cross between a hulking Frankenstein and a metallic vampire, and he’s a lot of fun to watch on screen.
The second half of the film takes us to Stromberg’s undersea headquarters off the coast of Italy. At one point, a Lotus Esprit sports car Bond has been driving magically converts into a submarine. This allows him to navigate through dangerous waters and reach Stromberg.
Meanwhile, it has been revealed that Stromberg has captured submariners from other governments and is holding them on his supertanker. So it is up to Bond to free these men before he heads into a showdown with Stromberg. Eventually Stromberg is knocked off (where it hurts most); and as he takes his last breath, even Carly Simon would agree that nobody could have killed him better.
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME is directed by Lewis Gilbert and can be streamed on Dailymotion.