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The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)



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A lot depended on this film being good. Harry Saltzman, who had co-produced the Bond series with Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli since its conception, had bailed out after The Man With the Golden Gun, box office receipts on the series were at a low, and Roger Moore, after two outings, still had yet to prove he could do Bond right. Conscious of the precariousness of the series' future, Cubby Broccoli took his time with the next entry -- three years -- to make sure the project was a success. Fortunately for us, it was, both commercially and critically. The film had a big budget, unlike the previous two, and used it to good advantage. The story, for the first time, is not based on an Ian Fleming story; Fleming disliked his novel of the same name and, when the rights were sold, ensured that only the title of the book would be used, not any of the actual content. The core plot is highly reminiscent of You Only Live Twice, but greatly improved upon. This time the badguy is Karl Stromberg, an ominous but rather generic (save for his webbed hands!) villain portrayed by distinguished actor Curt Jergens. The Bond girl this time around is Russian agent XXX, played by Barbara Bach who has a charismatic screen presence and just the right mystique and strength of character to play the role...but unfortunately can't act to save her life. Caroline Munro is the evil Naomi, reminiscent of Fiona Vulpe from Thunderball. Robert Brown, later to play 'M', appears briefly as Admiral Hargreaves. But the highlight of the cast is the first appearance of Jaws (Richard Kiel), perhaps the most infamous Bond henchman ever. Replacing the Aston Martin DB5 for the Bond car is the Lotus Esprit...with 'Q's convenient modifications, of course. Milestones include the series' best stunt and one of the best ski scenes, which all take place before the opening credits. Plot and character are given welcome attention, the goofy humor element is less frequent and imposing, and the suspense level is turned back up to the max. All in all, Spy is an immensely satisfying Bond film.

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