1977's THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, the tenth episode in the Bond saga,
teaches us the universality of secret agent habits. As the show opens,
a Russian and a British nuclear submarine disappear. On two sides of
the globe the countries's best spies are interrupted from their trysts.
Britain's 007 is in bed with his usual blonde bombshell and Russia's
top agent, Triple X, is in bed with a good looking brunette. Just when
some will assume that Triple X is the handsome guy in the bed, it turns
out instead to be the gorgeous female beside him. More formally known
as Major Anya Amasova, XXX is played with a fetching beauty by Barbara
In his third outing as Bond, Roger Moore becomes totally
comfortable with his role and puts his own relaxed style into the part.
His awkwardness from his first two episodes is now completely gone.
His dark blue double breasted tuxedo fits so perfectly that he seems to
have worn it and the Bond role since birth. (No one, of course, will
ever equal Connery in the part.)
Is there no end to Bond's skills? In this movie he even shows off
his dexterity in racing a camel through the desert. Q, too, comes
through as always, this time with an unlikely gadget of a killer tea
Always happy to do whatever is expedient, Bond kills villains with
abandon. When a bullet is coming his way, he feels no remorse if he
has to use his female companion as a human shield to take the bullet
intended for him. Nothing PC about James, he does whatever he deems
necessary to accomplish his mission.
Carl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), the story's megalomaniac, lives in
a placid, but deadly, aquarium-style home. Decorated with large
tapestries and looking inside like a palace, the home has piped-in
classical music. What is his diabolical plan? Nothing less than
Armageddon -- not to be confused with this coming summer's blockbuster
movie, ARMAGEDDON, in which Bruce Willis will save planet. Bond films
tend to be at their best when some nefarious eccentric has some
cataclysmic plans for total annihilation.
Stromberg's henchman, a man appropriately named Jaws (Richard
Kiel), has a strapping big mouthful of shiny, steel incisors, which
come in handy when he has to bite through chains or the more mundane
flesh of human necks. When Jaws isn't gnawing on his victims, he likes
to crush their bodies against the ceiling, proving again that size does
Continuing in the grand Bond tradition, much of the movie is
filmed in exotic locals, this time amid the alabaster-colored stone of
the Sphinx and other massive Egyptian monuments, as well as in the
The movie's theme song as well as Bond's famous theme add up to a
musically pleasurable experience. And to remind us of another great
film set in the desert, as 007 and XXX head off walking in the
wilderness, the theme from LAWRENCE OF ARABIA comes up loudly.
Although Barbara Bach's acting as XXX may make you yearn for the
tougher female leads like Honor Blackman as GOLDFINGER's Pussy Galore,
you have to appreciate Bach's grace and beauty, especially in her
seductive and low-cut, tight-fitting gowns.
When Triple X and 007 get stuck out in the cold, she assures him
that "You don't have to worry. I went on a survival course in
Siberia." It seems they taught her many techniques including, "share
bodily warmth." To which she quickly adds, "when necessary." And be
reassured that Barbara Bach is certainly someone whose body looks like
it may generate some considerable heat.
The show's best chase scene has a helicopter, driven by a
beautiful foe, chasing 007 and XXX in James's sleek, white sports car.
How do they escape? Bond drives the car off a pier and pushes the
button that neatly retracts the wheels and turns it into a sub, one
which looks like it might be featured in the Neiman Marcus Christmas
catalog for the superrich.
Ingenuity is one of the hallmarks of the Bond films. In this one,
the way James figures a way into an impregnable control room is quite
imaginative. Even better is his resolution of the international crisis
through a secret retargeting of weapons.
In another variation on the traditional Bond ending, our hero and
heroine end up conveniently in a floating circular bed with white
cushions and a properly chilled bottle of 1952 Dom Perignon. Being
international spies does have its rewards -- for men and women alike.
THE SPY WHO LOVED ME runs 2:05. It is rated PG for sexual
innuendo and comic violence and would be fine for kids around nine and
My son Jeffrey, almost 9, liked it although he preferred Moore's
previous Bond film, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN. His favorite of the
first ten Bond movies remains Thunderball. He didn't like the
character Jaws in this one because he was too "undefeatable." His
favorite part of the movie was the way 007 blasted open the control
room and the car that morphed into a boat.
Copyright © 1998 Steve Rhodes