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The Spy Who Loved Me(1977)
Roger Moore as agent 007 teams with a beautiful Soviet agent Triple-X to battle Stromberg in order to save the world from total annihilation and a 315-pound villian, "Jaws".
For more about The Spy Who Loved Me and the The Spy Who Loved Me Blu-ray release, see the The Spy Who Loved Me Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on October 22, 2012 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Richard Kiel, Curd Jürgens, Caroline Munro, Walter Gotell
Director: Lewis Gilbert
» See full cast & crew
The Spy Who Loved Me Blu-ray Review
Moore's best Bond outing.
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, October 22, 2012
The gadgets. The guns. The girls. The exotic locales and sexy cars. The white-knuckle action sequences. The suave flirting and cheeky double entendres. He's been played by six actors—Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig—but there's only one Bond, James Bond. Every man wants to be him, and every woman wants to be with him. (Some men too, I'm sure.) He's the epitome of super-spy cool, and for fifty years now—fifty years!—he's been an indelible part of our pop-culture consciousness. In terms of universal recognition, Bond is right up there with Mickey Mouse and Darth Vader and Superman. Everyone knows his name, knows he likes his martinis "shaken, not stirred," and knows his favorite pistol is the compact Walther PPK. You're probably even humming or whistling the iconic 007 theme song to yourself right now, and if you aren't, I guarantee it'll worm its way into your brain sometime in the next five minutes. Instantly, more like. Admit it, it's playing on a loop in your head right now. Bond isn't just a franchise, it's a revered institution. Yes, there have been a few duds along the way, but over the span of twenty-two films—soon to be twenty-three, with the upcoming Skyfall—the series has defined the international espionage sub- genre, all the while reflecting the cultural and political changes of its times. Sure, in one sense, these are just action movies—popcorn entertainments—but for their fans, these films are the height of cinematic escapism.
The tenth Bond film, and the third—and best—to star Roger Moore, 1977's The Spy Who Loved Me belongs in the franchise's top tier, with all the hallmarks of a classic 007 adventure. The film opens with Bond on a mission in the Austrian Alps, and by "mission," I mean "naked buxom blonde, laid on a rug by a roaring fire." However, when nuke-toting British and Soviet submarines mysteriously disappear, our suave secret agent is called in —"Tell him to pull out immediately," says M (Bernard Lee), unaware of the innuendo—to attend a briefing on the rising threat. Bond escapes his mountaintop chalet on skis, killing a Soviet agent in pursuit—an important plot point—and then flying off a cliff, deploying a Union Jack parachute in the nick of time. It's a killer stunt, and a great way to start the film, likely to elicit a "how the hell are they ever going to top that" response.
Truth be told, although the action is well-staged throughout, The Spy Who Loved Me never does have another stunt as spectacular as that lead-in, but it has elements that are even better—a plot with equal parts danger and glamor, a dead-sexy Bond girl, and one of the series' best villains since Blofeld. Perhaps the best way to describe the film is Lawrence of Arabia-meets-20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. The megalomaniacal baddie this time around is Karl Stromberg (Curd Jürgens), a Captain Nemo-style anarchist who lives in Atlantis, an enormous submersible palace—complete with a shark tank, where his enemies meet a Jaws-inspired end—and who conspires to unleash a nuclear holocaust on the surface of the planet, driving the survivors into a new underwater society that he controls. It's a ridiculous dream, sure, but in a charmingly over-the-top way that plays off the very real Cold War fears of the 1970s.
England and the Soviets actually team up here to track down their missing subs, sending 007 through ancient Egyptian ruins and into Sardinia with hot-but-chilly Russian spy Major Amasova—a.k.a. Agent XXX (Barbara Back), wink wink—in search of microfilm plans for a submarine tracking device. There are, of course, the inevitable complications en route to this MacGuffin: 1.) The Soviet agent Bond killed in his getaway was Amasova's lover, leaving her with a grudge she promises to avenge once their mission is over, and 2.) they're hounded at every turn by Stromberg's enormous henchman, Jaws (Richard Kiel), a seemingly indestructible hulk with steel teeth capable of biting through cable wires like they were licorice sticks.
The series' trademark wit and cheeky entendres are in place here—I love 007 and Agent XXX's spy-versus-spy flirting—and the pacing never slackens, building to a tense conclusion aboard Stromberg's sinking hideout. And if you're a fan of Bond's ubiquitous gadgets, you're in luck, as there are some great ones in The Spy Who Loved Me, including a flare-firing ski pole, a cigarette loaded with sleeping powder, and—best of all—a white Lotus Esprit sports car that transforms into a speedy rocket-armed submarine. With a story that mirrors certain plot turns from You Only Live Twice, The Spy Who Loved Me does evoke the best of the Sean Connery-era Bond films—which is a good thing—but we also see Moore really coming into his own here, as an older and slightly more sophisticated Bond than Connery's Scottish brawler.
The Spy Who Loved Me Blu-ray, Video Quality
Like the other Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me has been the recipient of a restoration from the good folks at Lowry Digital, and the results are stunning. The film's 1080p/AVC-encoded Blu-ray presentation is practically spotless—you'll see no specks, scratches, or other age-related damage here—and better yet, it looks entirely faithful to its 35mm source material. If any digital noise reduction has been used here, it's been done in careful moderation, as there's no sign of smearing, waxy-looking faces, frozen grain, or any of the usual DNR culprits. There's no apparent edge enhancement, either. The picture has a naturally filmic look, with a fine but visible grain structure, and clarity is exponentially improved from prior standard definition releases. Fine detail is apparent in nearly every frame, and especially visible in closeups, where skin textures and clothing fabrics are easily discerned. Unlike some of the later Moore films, which gave way to a more realistic, 1980s look, The Spy Who Loved Me still has a wonderfully stylized color palette, from the opening sequence in the Austrian Alps—see Moore in his yellow ski suit, with the crisp blue sky behind him — to the creamy, Lawrence of Arabia-inspired desert hues. Black levels are deep, contrast is on point, and there are no sudden color or brightness fluctuations. This is certainly one of the best transfers in this recent batch of Bond titles.
The Spy Who Loved Me Blu-ray, Audio Quality
The Spy Who Loved Me's original stereo sound design has been lightly and effectively expanded here into a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix. While not quite as sonically aggressive as the later Bond movies, there's still plenty of aural action here, emerging mostly from the front channels but with appreciable directional and ambient effects from the rear speakers. The Muslim call to prayer in Cairo. Gunshot blasts and whirring helicopter blades. Train clamor and cars zipping to and fro. It's all clean and suitably punchy. John Barry's iconic Bond theme is slightly disco-fied this time around, which certainly dates the film to the late '70s, and the repeated use of Carly Simon's "Nobody Does It Better" will probably cause the song to wedge itself semi-permanently in your brain, but the music sounds full and bright and immersive, broadcast equally from all channels. Dialogue is always well-balanced and understandable, and the disc includes a number of dub and subtitle options for those who might need or want them.
The Spy Who Loved Me Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
M16 Commentary: Featuring Director Lewis Gilbert, Production Designer Ken Adam, Co-Writer Christopher Wood, and Producer Michael G. Wilson.
Declassified: M16 Vault
The Spy Who Loved Me Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
The Spy Who Loved Me isn't just Roger Moore's best Bond film, it also unassailably belongs in the franchise's top ten entries, and it's arguably among the top five depending on your own personal tastes. It has everything you could ask from a 007 adventure—exotic locales, a diabolical villain, a sexy Bond girl costar, some cool gadgets, and a few memorable action set pieces. If you're a fan, and you've been snapping up the individual Bond releases—instead of opting for the magnificently comprehensive Bond 50 box set—you'll definitely want to add The Spy Who Loved Me to your collection. The film looks and sounds better than ever, and comes with the same great selection of special features from the previous DVD. Highly recommended! Do note that the film is currently a timed Best Buy exclusive.
The Spy Who Loved Me: Other Editions
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