Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Spy (Roger Moore) Who Loved Me (the movie)

In a recent interview, Roger Moore confided that The Spy Who Loved Me is his personal favorite. Most Bond addicts, even those who prefer Connery, will agree that this is one of the best of the franchise. After watching Moonraker last night, I must admit watching The Spy tonight is like eating a juicy Fatburger after taking a bite out of a shit sandwich. Exuberance. Joy. Relief.

What makes this episode so good? Here is the run down.

1. The cars. After the prodigious and legendary DB5, the Lotus-cum-submarine is the most famous 007 car. It was quick, nimble, and able to outrun a Kawasaki Z900 with a sidecar/rocket, a Ford Taunus full of gun-wielding goons, and a helicopter piloted by the lovely Naomi (more on her later). The chase scene was beautifully shot through the hills of Sardinia and expertly choreographed.

A much less appreciated car in this movie is the Leyland Sherpa. To those unfamiliar with British shit cans on wheels, it was the van Jaws ripped, tore, and punched apart with his bare hands. (I promise I will only use the word shit twice, maybe thrice, in this review.) That Barbara Bach's character was able to drive this sardine can through the Egyptian desert for so long after its mutilation is quite an achievement. It's the little van that could.

2. The bad guys. Much attention in other reviews focused on Karl Stromberg (played by Curt Jurgens). But the true Thespian genius was Richard "Jaws" Kiel. He and Moore make a perfect odd couple. Before every confrontation, Moore always gives Jaws the knowing, hello-ol'-chap nod. It's always professional, never personal. Neither hates the other. Moore will always try to hurt Jaws with a quick whack with a blunt instrument. Jaws will always grab Moore by the neck and push him against the nearest wall/ceiling. It's as routine and mundane as the mill worker punching in when he arrives for the graveyard shift or the mid-level executive filling out an expense report.

3. The Bond girls. At first, I did not know what to make of Barbara Bach, Soviet secret agent Triple X. Her accent was not Russian, or anything recognizable. Her speech was stunted, almost like an automaton. She has no inflection in her voice. Not when she is tied up in an underwater lair. Not when she is seducing Bond while floating on a dhow. Not when she finds out Bond killed her most recent love. She is an oddball.

What may be even more interesting is the actress' background. Born Barbara Goldbach to parents Howard and Marjorie in Queens, New York, she later wed (and is still married to) Ringo Starr. Who knew?


Another fabulous Bond girl is Stromberg's assistant/assassin, Naomi. She is very self-confident, whether stealing Moore's attention from his "wife" Mrs. Sterling (see photo, above) or when she is shooting at Moore's Espirit while skillfully piloting a helicopter.

4. The plot. Plot? What plot? The movie/screenplay was essentially created with Mad Libs precision. Mix one extreme skiing scene with nuclear subs gone awry with a dash of madman who wants to create a utopia after destroying the world. Voila! Writing a Bond film is not rocket science.

With this creative and cheeky mix of action, women, and antagonists, no wonder The Spy Who Loved Me is loved by Roger Moore. Cheers!


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