johnlink ranks THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977)

Watched this with my wife Monday night and she had a baby by Tuesday at noon. Maybe I can thank Roger Moore for putting my wife into labor. She’s always been a James Bond fan. Anyway, Wesley John Lincoln was born 9/15/15/. I’m sure I’ll be watching plenty of movies late at night with him over the next few months whenever he decides he doesn’t much feel like sleeping.

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I watched THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (1977) on 9.14.15. It was my second viewing of the film.

I first watched THE SPY WHO LOVED ME in 2005 or so when I went through a string of Bond movies over the course of a month. I remembered almost nothing at all about it when rewatched it a decade later. This is not one of the worst Bond films, but it isn’t particularly memorable. Sure there is plenty of stuff perhaps more noted now due to the fact that it was hijacked by AUSTIN POWERS (like the drop hatched which lead to tanks with friction sharks in them). But, really, this Roger Moore entry is sort of generic Bond stuff.

There are certainly some cool moments, starting off with a killer downhill skiing sequence which culminates in a parachute deployment. That opening sequence stands up just fine when compared to what has been done since. But there are whole sections of this movie – a lot of it spent in Egypt with lots of white people for some reason – which don’t stand out at all.

What is interesting to note, here, is that the humongous Jaws (Richard Kiel) is more villain that the traditional Bond bad guy, Stromberg (Curt Jurgens). The performance is fine, standard stuff. But the writing elevates Jaws to a near invisible monster who, even if he doesn’t really beat Bond, at least stands toe-to-toe with him better than anyone ever had in the history of the franchise. Kiel’s performance is not stellar, but he gives the role everything it could possibly need. Sometimes the writing puts him in a weird place, like when Bond and Agent XXX (Barbara Bach) are trying to escape in a van and Jaws rips it apart and lifts it off the ground in displays of strength, rather than actually doing anything menacing to the actual heroes. But, hey, this is a Bond movie after all (and, yes, there really is a female character named Agent XXX).

There’s stuff to not like about the music, such as the historically terrible main theme by Carly Simon. There’s stuff to like in this film about the music, like the opening Bond rift which sounds like they ran the famous James Bond theme through a 70s porn music generator. Wait, maybe both of those things are terrible. But, on the plus side, the rip off of the Lawrence of Arabia theme for one of the Egyptian scenes gives a chuckle, and the use of classical music as a motif for Stromberg is strong. This is also a movie which comes well before action movies were scoring everything, so many of the major fights take place with absolutely no accompanying music. It’s a bit jarring for a modern audience, but it is not without some charm.

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There’s an awesome bit where a car turns into a submarine, which is something I would want to buy if I could. And even if the 1976 Lotus Esprit itself predicts the rough era of boxy 80s muscle cars, it still is a scene which works after nearly 40 years. And later in the film we get to see Bond working as a guy leading troops into a fight, rather than a solo assassin doing it all himself. It’s kind of cool to see that perspective.

So yeah, this is an uneven Bond movie with some fun bits, some bits which are hindered by the rule of 70s movies (which states that GOOD 70s movies take their time and are a perfect length, where as LESS THAN GOOD 70s movies take their time and are 15-20% too long). I’m sure this won’t be the last time I see this one: Some day I’d like to sit down and watch all of them chronologically, but it is not a title I will be rushing to stuff in the Blu Ray player again any time soon.

SCORES

FILM: 5; MOVIE: 6; ACTING: 6; WRITING: 6

5+6+6+6+0=23

FINAL SCORE: 5.75 out of 10

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~ by johnlink00 on September 16, 2015.

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