The Spy Who Loved Me – 3.5 stars

This is the second Bond film I saw in the theater, after Live and Let Die, and it is probably the last of the series that gave us a youthful Roger Moore.  By the next installment, Moonraker, the lines had gotten deeper, the hair higher yet thinner, and the bones creakier.

Billionaire Kurt Jurgens (Karl Stromberg) seeks to start a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States, so he can rule a post-apocalyptic world from the sea.  Jurgens steals a Russian and American nuclear submarine to his purpose, and Bond and his female Russian counterpart Anya Amasova (Ringo Starr’s gorgeous but not particularly talented Barbara Bach) are dispatched to get to the bottom if it.  Unbeknownst to Bond, in one of the few Bond ski sequences that work, he killed Amasova’s love, and she has vowed to kill Bond – when the mission is over.

Many of the hallmarks of a good Bond film are here – exotic locales (such as Asgard Peak in Austria; Egypt, including the Giza Necropolis, Great Pyramids and Great Sphinx; and the cliffs of Sardinia), a first-rate Bond song (“Nobody Does it Better”), and several beauties, including  a favorite, the lethal helicopter pilot Caroline Munro-

The film also has an interesting and grandiose villain and a serviceable script.  The action sequence when the Soviets and Americans join forces to take on Stromberg’s army is also very exciting and novel.

However, the warning signs for the series first appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me.  The pun and snappy rejoinder quotient increased markedly.  The use of the cheezy, roving sax to denote the funny or the fanny is prevalent.   The introduction of the villain Jaws (Richard Kiel) pushed the story further, into slapstick.

There is simply too much of that and not enough of this:

(though, even here, a meaner Bond is compelled to drop, “You shot your bolt” into the action)

The changes, however, could in no way be challenged at the time.  The film cost $14 million to make and grossed $185 million worldwide.

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