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The Spy Who Loved Me Review

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by Casimir Harlow Nov 27, 2012

    The Spy Who Loved Me Review

    “Nobody does it better...”

    We all have our favourite Bond films – the obvious choice is Connery’s Goldfinger, but Lazenby’s OHMSS is an underdog contender, and nobody can dismiss Craig’s superb Casino Royale reboot either. For me, it’s always been The Spy Who Loved Me. Dalton’s Living Daylights may have been the first Bond I saw at the cinemas, but I’d been brought up on Connery and Moore, and the latter always appealed to me more. Nobody can knock Connery’s suave Scottish super-spy brawler; his classic Aston Martin DB5; his tussles with Blofeld; and his gorgeous girls – but Moore would bring a fresh new vitality to the 70s Bonds, after Connery had long grown bored in the role.

    With his third outing we reached the pinnacle of Moore’s reign, offering the best the series had to offer in terms of girls, cars and villains: Barbara Bach giving us one of the first truly well-developed female counterparts; the underwater Lotus topping the gadgets on even the DB5, and Jaws becoming the best Bond villain of all time. For many it was certainly the best Moore outing, but, for some, it was simply the best Bond film.

    From the opening ski-chase and jaw-dropping parachute stunt to the closing confrontation in the villain’s underwater lair; from the distinctive Egyptian locales to the innovative magnificence of Ken Adams’ elaborate water-based sets; from the double-crossing arms of femme fatale and opposing secret agent Major Anya Amasova to the deadly clutches of the steel-toothed assassin Jaws; from the Lotus Esprit chase, both above-ground and then under-water, to the massive military assault inside the converted oil tanker – The Spy Who Loved Me managed to combine a well-constructed plot featuring globally-catastrophic machinations with cleverly developed character design too, making this Bond outing not only bigger than ever before, but better too.

    “Why do we seek to conquer space when seven tenths of our universe remains to be explored? The world beneath the sea.”

    When two inter-continental-ballistic-missile submarines go missing – one British and one Soviet – the two countries send their best agents to investigate the matter: from Russia, Major Amasova, codenamed ‘Triple X’ and from England, James Bond 007. Tracking a stolen microfilm to Cairo, Bond and Amasova clash repeatedly, but are compelled to join forces in order to defeat the assassins sent to prevent their respective missions. Their reluctant partnership sees them uncover a connection to a rich shipping tycoon and marine scientist, Karl Stromberg, who has dreams of creating an underwater civilisation pure and free of the pollution and corruption that plagues the known world.

    In order to see his plans through to fruition, he has stolen the two nuclear submarines and intends to have them fire on their opposing countries – the Soviet submarine to launch an attack on New York and the British submarine to launch an attack on Moscow, thereby instigating a nuclear Third World War between the superpowers. Finally working together to take down their joint enemy, Major Amasova discovers that Bond was actually behind the death of her lover, a fellow Soviet Agent, and pledges to kill Bond when their mission is over. Will they be able to put aside their differences for the greater good and stop Armageddon?

    “I’m not interested in extortion. I intend to change the face of history.”
    “By destroying the world?!”
    “By creating a world. A new and beautiful world beneath the sea. Today’s civilisation, as we know it, is decadent and corrupt. Inevitably it will destroy itself. I’m merely accelerating the process.”

    The Spy Who Loved Me almost didn’t get made. The previous entry – Moore’s second outing, The Man with the Golden Gun, had not done as well as his debut Live and Let Die, and had put the producers on the back-foot. They needed to make Moore’s third shot count, otherwise this might have been the end of the series. However 1975 was something of a stumbling block for the franchise, seeing the departure of series producer Harry Saltzman – who had worked on the previous nine films – as a result of debts that he was compelled to pay with his shares in Bond. Saltzman was suffering from depression; his wife was dying of cancer, and he lost everything in those intervening years between The Man with the Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me; the tables turned on the massively successful long-shot bet that all started when he put a then-unprecedented sum of $50,000 down on a short 6-month option to make a Bond film in 1961.

    Beyond the sad departure of Saltzman, which damaged the morale of the crew, there were other ongoing difficulties which plagued the pre-production phase – finding a director and finalising a script both proved to be almost impossible feats, mainly due to outside forces. A certain Steven Spielberg was originally in the running for director, but he wasn’t a sure thing yet, and the producers wanted to see how Jaws turned out before signing him up for something so big, so instead they brought back in Guy Hamilton, who had not only done the last three films (Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun) but also Connery’s best, Goldfinger.

    For the first time in the series, the story was a completely original one. Bond author Ian Fleming had given permission to use just the name only of his book, and so, unlike every single previous Bond adaptation – most of which varied dramatically from their book equivalents – The Spy Who Loved Me would need to be started afresh completely from scratch.

    Over half a dozen writers were commissioned to work on the script, including Gerry “Thunderbirds” Anderson, who offered a film treatment of Fleming’s Moonraker novel, ideas from which actually made it into The Spy Who Loved Me (hence the inadvertent similarities between the Moonraker book and the film adaptation of The Spy Who Loved Me, including a madman who intends to blow up the West with stolen missiles, and whose plan is foiled when Bond reprograms the coordinates to send the missile back to the villain’s own sub).

    The various different versions were collated by regular Bond screenwriter Richard Maibaum (the only writer to be involved in every single Bond script from Dr. No through to Licence to Kill). The end result was a story that saw Bond’s age-old nemesis Blofeld – who had not been seen since the unsatisfactorily ambiguous end to Diamonds Are Forever – make his entrance into Moore’s era of the series, only to be deposed by an alliance of international terrorists who attack Blofeld’s SPECTRE headquarters and, from there, hatch their own plans for destroying the world structure as we know it, and replacing it with their own New World Order regime.

    “You ever get the feeling that somebody doesn’t like you?”

    Then Kevin McClory entered the picture. Don’t recognise the name? Well he was the man who went on to make the unofficial Thunderball remake in 1983, Never Say Never Again, with Sean Connery reprising his role. Before the first Bond film was produced, McClory had worked closely with author Ian Fleming on transforming his stories into material suitable for cinematic interpretation. Amidst the ideas that he is said to have co-founded was the character of Blofeld and the organisation known as SPECTRE (in the novels, it was predominantly SMERSH). When McClory started throwing lawsuits around – many of which were successful – it directly affected the plight of The Spy Who Loved Me, at least in its original form.

    McClory instigated an injunction against EON productions using either the character of Blofeld, or the SPECTRE organisation, and the ensuing delays had a knock-on effect on the director. Hamilton was offered a shot at the 1978 Superman adaptation (although, ironically, he would be succeeded by Richard Donner) and left the project. EON replaced him Lewis Gilbert, who had previously done You Only Live Twice and would go on to direct the subsequent instalment, Moonraker. It was no coincidence that all three would boast very similar action finales – epic battles between military forces in increasingly elaborate locations.

    Gilbert would hire writer Christopher Wood to write a fresh draft of the screenplay, again incorporating elements from all of the previous treatments, but also bringing a fresh angle on the material. Wood would re-work the script to erase all references to Blofeld and SPECTRE, instead establishing a new villain, one intent on similar world destruction, and one with his own agenda about a New World Order – namely, an underwater civilisation which he would rule. There would be several parallels with Gilbert’s earlier movie, You Only Live Twice – not least the premise of stealing military vessels from both Russia and the West in order to start World War 3 between the two – but the new angle Wood provided would still make this feel like a fresh and original Bond chapter, reminiscent of others only when the parallels are drawn and pointed out (similarly Wood would go on to work on Moonraker, taking several elements from the original treatments for The Spy Who Loved Me, and also revealing several parallels with both that film and You Only Live Twice).

    As it turns out, the story to The Spy Who Loved Me would end up being one of the most satisfying, well-plotted and cohesive of all the Bond outings, offering up multiple narrative- and character- arcs and tying them all together efficiently. From the pre-credits sequence (which would not only involve the death of an opponent which would have ramifications for Bond later, but also involved the recovery of information by Bond pertaining to the rest of the main story – how often were pre-credits sequences this integral?) to the closing confrontation, everything was meticulously plotted out, and the natural progression of Bond’s investigations would see him travelling from location to location, highlighting the strength of the writing (compare that with later chapters where it appeared like Bond was jumping from set-piece to set-piece with the story struggling to keep up).

    Wood was a great fan of the Bond novels, but he felt that the movies had taken the wrong direction with The Man with the Golden Gun, by attempting to make Moore’s Bond do things that you would expect from Connery’s Bond – a tougher, colder and more sadistic interpretation of the character. Even if it was closer to Fleming’s original character, Fleming himself was aware that his character – as written – was not suitable for cinematic adaptation, and needed refinements (indeed Fleming’s first choice for Bond had always been Moore).

    Wood thought that trying to make Moore tougher and more brutal was something which simply did not work. And he was right (as it turns out, sadism – particularly towards women – is one of the elements that most damages the old Connery films, and, conversely, makes the Moore entries a much more pleasant watch). Wood felt that Moore should play to his strengths instead, bringing his character back to being effortlessly cool under fire, smoothly assured and sharply witty – the dapper English gentlemen with a superior sense of humour. It would work a treat.

    I doubt many would be able to tell that Moore was pushing 50 when he made this movie. In fact I doubt many would be able to tell Moore was any older than Connery was during his prime (i.e. in his thirties). Turning 49 before principal photography would be completed, Moore was at the peak of his Bond reign, looking fresher and fitter than Connery had done for either of his last two outings, and finally – perhaps thanks to Wood’s writing – capable of truly forging his own iconic depiction of the legendary 007 character.

    Still capable of those colder touches – like when he slaps away a thug’s hand, as he’s dangling off a building holding onto Bond’s tie; of more direct action – like fighting off the thugs at the Pyramids (with moves that Connery had never really perfected); and of even leading armed forces into battle (and rocking those Navy dress-blues as his rank of Commander denotes, something rare for other Bond actors to showcase), he was always the consummate professional whatever the circumstances.

    “You’re very suspicious, Mr. Bond.”
    “I find I live much longer that way.”

    Even the tricky femme fatales he got involved with seldom gained the upper hand; he always had a hidden agenda or a back-up plan. Whether it was cunningly avoiding the death-trap set by Stromberg in his lift (which led straight into a shark tank) or facing off against a man-mountain assassin with metal teeth, Moore’s Bond was the epitome of calm under fire; smart and resourceful, with steely determination and a biting wit. This wasn’t just Moore at his best, this was Bond at his best.

    Moore’s Bond was also far more refined than previous interpretations, and even those since. Sure, he was easily written off for being just that bit too dapper – the posh British playboy who only does this Bond gig for a laugh – but few remember the refinement he brought along with the smart suits: now Bond could speak numerous foreign languages; now he could pull off early-era martial arts (mock him you may, but I’d like to be able to kick that high when I’m pushing 50 – check out the Pyramids fight to see what I mean); and, most importantly, Moore looked genuinely committed to the role, something which was certainly visibly lacking in at least the last couple of Connery adaptations. Connery may have gone on to become known for far more than just Bond, but Moore embraced the part for 12 years at the peak of his career – he put everything into that role, and deserves as much credit as the man who kick-started the iconic portrayal, especially since he was the guy who not only brought the dying franchise back to life but actually kept it massively popular across the best part of two decades.

    There’s no doubt that he would start to get (too) old towards the end, but back in The Spy Who Loved Me he was in his Bond prime, and this was not just determined by age, but also by experience, confidence, commitment and characterisation. Here the mixture was just right. You see, here the writers were still interested in developing the character; Moore might have finally felt in his comfort zone in the role, but that did not mean the writers weren’t prepared to risk taking him out of it and rounding out the edges of the mold-defined icon.

    “Commander James Bond, recruited to the British Secret Service from the Royal Navy. License to Kill and has done so on numerous occasions. Many lady friends but married only once. Wife killed-”
    “All right, you’ve made your point.”
    “You’re sensitive, Mr. Bond?”
    “About certain things, yes.”

    Key to crafting a more interesting take on Bond, the writers determined to allow us further insight into Bond, allowing us to understand him a little better, to get a brief glimpse of what made him tick. Primarily they established the fact that his humour was clearly a clever defence mechanism. This was highlighted mainly through showing us that it was not always that effective; in turn done by introducing us to a person who could see right through those classic defences – Barbara Bach’s Agent Amasova, the Soviet equivalent to James Bond 007.

    Barbara Bach may not have been the first person to spring to mind when considering the best Bond girl – Ursula Andress had that iconic pose; Jane Seymour had her innate beauty; and nobody could beat Britt Ekland in the cute-and-sexy ranks – but, in my opinion, Bach was precisely that: the best all-round Bond girl. Perhaps the first of her kind, she was got to play one of those rare Bond girls who combined beauty, seductiveness and brimming sexuality with combat and weapons skills and military training, as well as passion, intelligence, strength of character and a hint of only-human vulnerability. It was the perfect mix.

    Times had changed since Bond had been established, over a decade-and-a-half earlier, and, although not all of the subsequent Bond girls would follow suit, this kind of characterisation set a new precedent. Gone were the days where Bond would physically throw himself at a woman until they submitted (i.e. the Connery days) and gone too were the days when a Bond girl was good for little more than looking pretty and screaming for help whilst acting like a ditzy-schoolgirl damsel-in-distress (a trend which ran up to and included even the earlier Moore films, culminating in The Man with the Golden Gun, which tragically ruined one of Fleming’s strongest recurring female characters, Agent Goodnight, by having Britt Ekland run around literally setting off bombs with her ass).

    Bach’s Amasova would usher in a new era of stronger female co-stars, although I don’t think a single one of her successors managed to pull it off quite so perfectly. In almost every way Amasova was Bond’s equal – intelligence, cunning, skills and even gadgetry – and yet she also still plays to her strengths: she won’t resort to hand-to-hand-combat when her disarming looks can buy her the time to pull out a concealed gun.

    “When someone’s behind you on skis at forty miles an hour trying to put a bullet in your back, you don’t waste your time trying to remember a face.”

    Even more interestingly, though, she knew all about Bond’s notorious background (she’d read his file) and she knew just how to get under his skin. It was a twist that had only one been even hinted at before – in OHMSS, with Diana Rigg, the only other true contender for top Bond girl – and it shifted the entire dynamic of the Bond persona. All of a sudden that trademark innuendo-laced wit was rendered ineffective; Amasova was not in the least bit impressed with his words or his see-it-coming-a-mile-off seduction techniques.

    Indeed the only thing that does win her over is his saving her life and, even then, she still only sleeps with him when it’s on her own terms: wounded after ejecting the assassin Jaws from their train compartment, she shows concern over his injuries only to find herself confronted by his standard defence mechanism: humour and verbal foreplay. Yet, even now, when she is starting to fall for him, she isn’t fooled by his bravado and dismisses it without a second thought. She’s one of those rare Bond girls who comes close to seeing the man behind the persona, and it’s a template which paved the way for Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale reboot – where a similar relationship is established – only here it was further bolstered by superb chemistry between Moore and Bach.

    Yet even that would not be the end to her character arc. When she discovers that Bond was actually the man who killed her loved – another Soviet agent who tried to kill Bond during the pre-credits ski-chase – the dynamic shifts once again: she vows to kill him once their mission is over. And, refreshingly, we actually believe her intent.

    “In our business, Anya, people get killed. We both know that. It was either him, or me. The answer to your question is yes. I did kill him”
    “Then when this mission is over, I will kill you.”

    The interplay between these two makes for scenes which are amidst the all-time-highs of the entire series: their playfully competitive antics in the Egyptian ruins; the verbal banter in front of their superiors; and even the way she uses some of the gadgets in the Lotus (“I stole the blueprints to this car two years ago”) – and even the more serious, dramatic moments where Bond reacts to the mention of his wife, or where he succinctly defends the actions he took which results in the death of her lover. If this was the pinnacle of Moore’s reign as Bond, it was in no small part thanks to his playing opposite Bach.

    Of course it helped no end to have great Bond villains too. Curd Jurgens’s megalomaniacal Stromberg is certainly one of the best. Sure, it would have been interesting to see how they brought Blofeld to life for the Moore era, but not if it meant that we missed out on all the insane world-destroying scheme that Stromberg had in mind. Third World War? Nuclear holocaust? New World Order established within underwater civilisations? It was absolutely mental, but still an undeniably beautiful plan (one which was so good, in fact, that it would go on to be reworked and refined for the next chapter, Moonraker, where the villain there would figure out a way to destroy only human life and leave the rest of the world untouched – although he was equally bonkers, substituting underwater civilisation for a “space ark”).

    Jurgens has a strong presence, undercutting ever single scene that he is in with a foreboding sense of dread. Just his guttural tones alone could send shivers down your spine – especially when sitting across a long table from him in an ornately decorated room in a giant octopus-shaped underwater lair. Surround the room with a huge shark tank and start playing classical music over the top and everything’s set for one of the most memorable Bond villains of all-time; a grand, eccentric visionary who would pave the way for Moonraker’s even-more-decadent Drax (who had even more great lines).

    “Farewell, Mr. Bond. That word has, I must admit, a welcome ring of permanency about it.”

    As it turned out, however, Stromberg would not end up being the most memorable villain of the piece – that honour would actually fall to one of his henchmen. Although the producers appeared to be obsessed with referencing the Connery’s classic Goldfinger opponent, Oddjob – here, as Sandor, the first of Stromberg’s main assassins, but previously in The Man with the Golden Gun, with the midget Nik Nak actually supposedly dressed to reference and resemble a miniature Oddjob, complete with bowler hat – the choice of very distinctive henchmen here was actually as a direct result of producer Cubby Broccoli’s idea to incorporate two villains from the original Fleming novel. Although they would not (and were perhaps not permitted to) refer to them by the same names as in the book, the characters were easily recognisable: “Sluggsy” Morent, a short, stocky, bald-headed thug; and Sol “Horror” Horowitz, a huge villain with steel-capped teeth.

    Of course the latter would, from this point on and forevermore, be known as Jaws, as brought to life by the unmistakable 7’ 2” Richard Kiel. Although his shifting allegiances in Moonraker would actually damage some of that pure menace behind his character, his early scenes in The Spy Who Loved Me are still brimming with palpable tension. After having been given his orders by Stromberg – who ominously commands the second assassin, the bald-headed Sandor to ‘obey’ Jaws – his first reveal at the pyramids, hiding in the shadows only to be illuminated by the spotlights of the exhibition tour was wonderfully menacing, cut to striking chords from the soundtrack and a look of pure terror in the eyes of his target when the poor guy spots the towering assassin looming in the shadows. Similarly there was a brilliant shock moment as the train whistle howls and Amasova shrieks at the discovery of Jaws hiding in her train compartment.

    Jaws’s method of assassinating people was also quite nasty – he would use his metal teeth to rip out their jugular vein. That’s pretty extreme, especially for a Bond movie! Jaws would get about half a dozen scenes in The Spy who Loved Me – arguably more than even many of the primary Bond villains themselves – with an unprecedented three distinct confrontations with Bond himself (not to mention an even bigger returning role in Moonraker). He’s got to be a contender for the title of best Bond villain of all time.

    “What happened?”
    “He just dropped in for a quick bite.”

    As to the sets, stunts, score and special gadgets, well these were also departments where the film would excel, raking in several accolades including three Academy Award Nominations. Regular Bond set designer Ken Adam – who had created the wonderfully extravagant volcano base set of You Only Live Twice and would go on to take things to the next level in the following Moore entry, Moonraker – would come up with the key sets for The Spy Who Loved Me, arguably the best in his entire career. From the expansive interior of Stromberg’s modified supertanker (although Shell was prepared to lend the Studios an abandoned tanker, exteriors were largely shot using fairly effective miniatures built by Derek Meddings) to the insanely imaginative Atlantis: the villain’s submersible super-lair, a domed and arched brush steel megastructure which looked like a giant metal Kraken poised in the middle of the Ocean, Adam’s ideas were grander than ever seen before in the franchise.

    In fact, at the time, no studio was big enough to house the Adams’s interior design of the supertanker base – a set which needed to look like it could house three nuclear submarines – and so an entirely new sound stage had to be built at Pinewood Studios, reportedly at a cost of $1.8 million. The sound stage was so huge that they even called in director Stanley Kubrick to ask his advice on how to light the set. Not stopping there, a giant water tank was also constructed, capable of holding well over a million gallons of water. The end results you can see for yourself: an impressive assault set-piece with hundreds of extras running around a genuinely huge, expansive set.

    As to Stromberg’s Kraken lair, Atlantis, miniature shots were cleverly blended with real exterior sets to give a genuine sense that this beast was real. Adams cleverly added little touches – like glass domes housing helicopters – which further gave viewers a sense of scale on the massive megastructure, so that when you saw close-ups of the helicopters landing and the guards patrolling, it truly felt enormous. Of course there’s no way they could build anything that size which could actually submerge, so miniatures were used, but the gushing water and accompanying sound effects helped convince that this beast was genuinely rearing up out of the ocean.

    “Observe, Mr. Bond, the instruments of Armageddon.”

    The Spy Who Loved Me was also packed with memorable, iconic stunts which are amidst the all-time best moments in the entire franchise. Reportedly the audience cheered like they were in a football stadium during the movie’s original 1977 London premiere, as Bond, hot off a superb little ski-chase – itself peppered with some outstanding, impressive ski stunts – skis right off a cliff, only to pop a Union Jack-flavoured parachute, all cut to the classic Bond theme. Nobody does it better, indeed.

    Shot by second-unit director, John Glen (who would go on to helm every single Bond movie from For Your Eyes Only through to Licence to Kill), it was, at the time, the most expensive single movie stunt ever commissioned – the parachute jump itself costing half a million dollars.

    Then there was the car. Sure, this Bond outing may not have included many personal items for Bond to utilise, but arguably that only added to the genuine spy thrills – resisting the urge to go beyond a portable microfilm viewer and a watch-built telegraph messaging device – and, besides, they more than made up for any shortfall with the classic white Lotus Esprit Turbo. Everybody loves the Aston Martin DB5 just like they love Connery, but Moore and his Lotus Esprit Turbo defined Bond for me – it was more than just a cool sports car, it was a freaking submersible! Sorry, but you can forget that bulletproof machine-gunning silver DB5, however suave it was, or the gunmetal V8 Vantage from Dalton’s Living Daylights – complete with skis and rockets – or any of those damn BMWs from the Brosnan era, the white Lotus (dubbed ‘Wet Nellie’ by the crew, after Connery’s ‘Little Nellie’ mini-copter from You Only Live Twice) was the best.

    “Can you swim?!”

    Boasting an array of defences – oil slick, mines, rockets and surface-to-air missiles (all functional above-ground or underwater) – it was brought to life in multiple stages: two limited edition Lotus cars, a scale version, a shell which was ejected off the pier, and a functional submersible which was manned by two divers. It also made for one of the most effective underwater sequences – because you could actually see Bond piloting the damn thing (unlike all those underwater skirmishes in full scuba gear where you can’t tell who is who). Cue several nods to Spielberg’s Jaws – by then a hit – as the Lotus emerges from the water to a shocked set of beach-bathers, and you have another top memorable scene right there!

    One thing that few Bond fans could argue with – even if they didn’t agree with Moore as Bond, or like some of the more outlandish outings he went on – was the fact that, during the Moore era, they knew just when to use the Bond theme. It sounds like a trivial thing but, particularly when looking back at both early Connery and early Brosnan-era Bonds, the lack of well-placed musical motifs was noticeable. Brosnan’s GoldenEye suffers almost fatally due to its near-complete acknowledgment of the classic Bond themes. Conversely, across the Moore entries – and, in particular, for The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker – they knew precisely when to kick in with those Bond melodies.

    “At noon today, New York and Moscow will cease to exist. Global destruction will follow, the new era will begin.”

    Of course this was another one of those (then relatively rare) Bond outings where veteran Bond composer John Barry would be unavailable to provide one of his trademark scores and, instead, we had Marvin Hamlisch giving us a more disco-orientated mix. Honestly, I think it works extremely well (and hasn’t dated anywhere near as badly as the similarly disco outing for For Your Eyes Only, which gets a lot more criticism than it deserves) and, furthermore, is expertly orchestrated to precisely match up to every single on-screen event. From the biggest stunts to the smallest nuances, Hamlisch’s score is the perfect accompaniment to this movie, enhancing the experience no end.

    Take, for example, the pre-credits sequence, where the disco theme kicks in as Bond is escaping his gun-toting attackers. The Bond theme is perfectly overlayed in the background precisely when Bond starts skiing backwards to shoot one of his pursuers – and the kill-shot, which will be of significance later, is given the tiniest of extra notes on the score just to hammer home the fact that you should remember the moment. Of course as soon as Bond skis off the cliff the soundtrack drops to scary silence, as he plummets potentially to his death, and then kicks right back in when his Union Jack parachute opens up, exploding out with the Bond theme in all its glory. Sheer perfection.

    Hamlisch’s score would allow for specific themes for each individual element of the piece – from the Pyramids to the Egyptian ruins (accentuating the terror of seeing Jaws in action for the first time); from the Lotus chase to Stromberg’s underwater lair. Furthermore, it cleverly incorporated other pieces of music into the proceedings, from a sample from Maurice Jarre’s theme to Lawrence of Arabia to a couple of classical pieces: Bach’s Air on the G String and Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 21. These latter two, in particular, gave the character of Stromberg that added aura of prestige and even menace, especially when juxtaposed with the sight of a shark devouring a duplicitous young secretary. Even Carly Simon’s classic Bond song, Nobody Does It Better, would be cleverly used throughout the piece, slowed down to play out against the on-off relationship between Bond and Amasova. And the words couldn’t have been any more appropriate: “nobody does it better; it makes me feel sad for the rest”. The Spy Who Loved Me was simply the perfect confluence of ingredients, and the perfect Bond movie.

    “Well, well... a British agent in love with a Russian agent. Détente, indeed.”

    Remember The Spy Who Loved Me for being the absolute best of Bond, and undoubtedly the best Roger Moore outing; for the impressive ski-chase pre-credits sequence that culminates in that classic Union Jack parachute stunt; for the excellent interplay between Moore and Barbara Bach’s undeniably sexy but irrepressibly feisty Russian superspy counterpart – every bit his equal and seemingly immune to his charms; for being the introduction to one of the best Bond villains, and certainly the most memorable Bond henchman, Richard Kiel’s menacing and near-indestructible Jaws; for the exotic Egyptian set-pieces and the superb underwater stunts – for once paying off; for the best Bond car – the Lotus Esprit – with all its superb gadgets; for the perfect blend of Cold War spy-vs-spy conflict and grand-scale villain-with-a-lair global terror; for the massive hundred-man tanker assault set-piece, the memorable face off at the villain’s submersible fortress, and the ‘magnetic’ denouement that leads to Jaws taking on his namesake – a shark!; for one of the best Bond songs – Carly Simon’s Nobody Does it Better – and one of the best Bond scores, and for basically being one of the absolute best Bond films, up there with Connery’s own best, Goldfinger. My personal favourite, it simply doesn’t get any better than this.