A Tribute to Roger Moore Pt. 1: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME
Without a doubt, the recent death of Roger Moore shocked film lovers around the world. Although he appeared in dozens of movies, we’ll always remember him in the iconic role of James Bond from 1973-1985. While he’s not my personal all-time favorite Bond (that spot belongs to Timothy Dalton), he’s prominent from other Bond actors since he’s regarded as the “comical Bond”. The tone of comedy in this era is less subtle than say Sean Connery’s original version and unfortunately that makes some of the fans take him less seriously than the others. This is half-true. Just look at The Man With The Golden Gun. It’s a film that many people like and it was shot in my home country (Thailand). I hated the over-the-top comedic style that works better for something like the 60s Batman TV series (which I like) than the 007 franchise. On the other hand, Roger saved Bond from extinction and being looked down as just a fad from the 60’s. It seems like I just lost one of my childhood friends since I grew up watching a lot of the Bond movies when I was 10-11 years old. One of my favorites is The Spy Who Loved Me. I consider this and For Your Eyes Only to be best of Roger’s Bond movies. Since I haven’t watched it for almost 10 years, it’s time to look back at why this is considered to be another classic adventure of 007.
Just like other Bond films from the same time period we have a Cold War-themed storyline here. After some British and Soviet submarines are disappearing in the sea, there’s speculation that this is a plan to start World War 3 by either England or the Soviet Union. Of course, that’s not the way it is. The main villain, Karl Stromberg (Curd Jurgens), tries to provoke nuclear annihilation so he can expand his underwater world and create a new civilization. So it’s time for our hero to stop him. At first, it seems like we have a competition since the USSR also sends their gorgeous agent Anya (Barbara Bach) to retrieve the blueprint for a submarine tracker, just like Bond. But as time goes on, it’s revealed that England and the Soviets are co-operating on plans to stop Karl, so this is going to be an epic battle against the evil organization as well as a not-so-romantic love story between Bond and Anya.
To tell you the truth, it blew my mind since I forgot how much I loved this film when I first saw it. There are many reasons why The Spy Who Loved Me stands the test of time. First, it represents the very best of Roger Moore’s interpretation on the James Bond character. Here, we have a smart protagonist who uses his wits to stop criminals, a gigantic collection of fancy gadgets that audiences (especially kids) love, and deadpan humor that’s not as goofy as The Man With The Golden Gun. There are several jokes that I liked due to their timing and subtlety. For instance, there’s a scene in which the owner of the microfilm of blueprints gets killed. After Bond sees him dead, he lays the “Out of order” sign on the man’s body. Or when Anya struggles to drive away from Jaws (we’ll talk about him soon), Bond says “Women drivers”. When I watched it again, I was surprised that our hero actually says this. I mean, it’s not that I find the joke to be offensive since our female hero is more clever that what Bond thinks and I laughed at this joke…I just think that there’s no way a 2017 Bond could say lines like this and not get attacked by modern feminists.
Speaking of females, the relationship between Anya and Bond is also another interesting part. They begin their relationship as two competitors who try to bid on the microfilm, but after lengthy adventures our two character fall in love with each other and they are impressed by the wits of each other. Remember that joke I just told you? Shortly after that bit of dialogue, Anya manages to drive away successfully and this shows Bond how much he has underestimated her. This is what makes Anya different from other Bond girls since she proves that while she is not only good looking, she also has strength, a mind to win against the villains and steal Bond’s heart as well.
Next, let’s take a look at bad guys. Karl Stromberg is basically playing Mr. Blofeld. In fact, the very first drafts of the script featured Blofeld and his SPECTRE organization, but due to a lawsuit between the owner of character and the studio, it was changed to Karl. And Karl does a pretty good job of being a Blofeld clone since he has TWO gigantic bases, an evil plan to start World War 3 (just like what Blofeld did in You Only Live Twice), and his merciless attitude. Here, he kills his beautiful secretary and two scientists who invented the submarine tracker technology. He can kill whoever and whenever he wants…and that’s how we best remember villains in the 007 franchise. Another villain that Bond fans love is Jaws. In case you don’t know, he’s not a shark, he’s the indestructible henchman with giant metal teeth. I nickname him Eegah! since it’s the role that the same actor, Richard Kiel, is well-known for and the name itself makes more sense than Jaws.
Finally, it’s time to talk about 007’s trusty gadgets. Not only do we have text receiver watch (which actually is real today thanks to Apple), a deadly tray that cuts victims’ heads off, and few other awesome tools. Above all is the white Lotus Esprit, which is a scene stealer. I consider this to be the best Bond car of all time. Sure, it looks more dated than the Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger, but this Lotus can turn into a submarine, spray cement onto other car’s windshields, and shoot missiles underwater! The 007 Lotus Esprit is one of my favorite cars in motion picture history, along with the V8 Interceptor from Mad Max and Kowalski’s white 1970 Dodge Challenger from Vanishing Point.
With its believable storyline within a fantasy universe, exotic locations, exciting action sequences, and charming characters, The Spy Who Loved Me sums up everything you need to know about Roger Moore’s period of playing 007. And since the ending credit says…
“The End Of The Spy Who Loved Me
James Bond Will Return In For Your Eyes Only”
Next time I’ll talk about one of my all time favorite Bond fi-….wait a minute, the next entry here isn’t For Your Eyes Only. There’s another Bond film that was made before it and came out in order to cash in on the success of Star Wars. We’ll talk about that one tomorrow.