Film Notes #9: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

* SPOILER WARNING: Details about the film will be revealed *

Lewis Gilbert’s 1977 Bond film is Number 9 in my 30 day Film Notes series.

For newcomers, this month-long series of posts involves me watching a film every day for 30 days.

The following rules apply:

  • It must be a film I have already seen.
  • I must make notes whilst I’m watching it.
  • Pauses are allowed but the viewing must all be one session.
  • It can’t be a cinema release.

The point is to capture my instant thoughts about a movie and my overall film diet for 30 days, as well as post interesting links to the film in question.

Here are my notes on The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) which I watched on ITV4 on Friday 23rd March.

  • Roger Moore’s third and best outing as Bond, even though LIVE AND LET DIE (1973) is more purely enjoyable.
  • The opening scene with the sub sinking is very similar to THE ABYSS (1989), only minus the aliens.
  • The theme on Triple XXX’s music box is Lara’s Theme from DR. ZHIVAGO (1964).
  • The other Lean film theme referenced in the desert sequences is LAWRENCE OF ARABIA (1964)
  • Subsequent stunt where Bond skis off a cliff is stunning – one of the best live action jumps ever.
  • Bond films provide an interesting gauge of the Cold War – the Russian characters are usually consistent with Moscow relations
  • The shark death at the beginning was surely a cash in on the success of JAWS (1975)? They even named one of the henchman after it!
  • Stunts are mostly impressive for the time, blending live action, rear projection and miniature work.
  • Marvin Hamlisch’s score is unusually funky for a Bond film.
  • All the stuff with the Pyramids creeped me out as a 6 year old watching this on TV.
  • The sexism of the era is apparent in the cheesy gags but the Bond girl is more integral to the story.
  • Lotus coming out of the sea features the obligatory scene where a drunk man does a double take at his bottle.
  • Some occasionally sloppy shots, such as Bond and Anya being lowered down to the US submarine.
  • Guessing this was shot on anamorphic, but why do ITV persist in cropping widescreen films to 1:85? Will the audience complain?
  • The miniature of the speed boat as Anya and Stromberg leave is woeful even by standards of the day.
  • Stanley Kubrick advised his old colleague Ken Adam – who designed the iconic War Room for DR STRANGELOVE (1964) – on the lighting for the enormous submarine set – at that time one of the largest ever built.
  • They must have needed a lot of orange boiler suits to film the climactic gun battle.
  • The climax of TOMORROW NEVER DIES (1997) references the climax of this film with the big fight on the sub.