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The Spy Who Loved Me  rating

Review: written 2007

Moore finds his groove as Bond

By this 1977 movie, the Roger Moore era of movies had found their direction and formula. In the same that Goldfinger represented the coming together of ingredients for Connery, here Moore is at his most relaxed in the role, but still young enough to get away with it, and the sets, the villain, the set pieces, all create the mood for the definitive Moore Bond movie.

Alas, the definitive Bond movie has aged badly, unless you are able to relish the campness of the massive (and still impressive) sets and the script apparently written by a three year old (GIRL: `James, I need you!'... BOND: `..so does England!'). It's a miracle that medical attention was not required to remove tongues from cheeks...

Clearly, the mood of the times was for escapism and fantasy - and this movie fit the mould well. Barbara Bach is one of the most beautiful Bond girls, and actually plays quite a strong role, even though her acting lessons seem to have been taken at a carpentry school instead of a drama school. The signature stunt at the beginning of the movie, where Bond skis off a cliff and after a few heartstopping moments the parachute bursts open to reveal the Union Jack, is sublime lunacy that raised cheers in the cinema in 1977. Curt Jurgens is inspired casting to lend a degree of gravitas to the megalomaniac Stromberg. An additional bonus is the first appearance of Jaws, played by Richard Kiel - you can't help feeling that the scenes where he keeps trying and failing to get 007 leave you rooting for Jaws more than Bond. It's obvious why they brought him back in the next movie. The music has shifted in tone from John Barry's classic riffs and stringy feel, to an electronic mood, which again exaggerates the 70's feel of the movie... and let's not start on the ladies hairstyles... Even the character of Bond is changing.. more one liners than ever to be sure.. but compare Connery in the very similar action scene at the end of You Only Live Twice (same director) - there, Connery moves gracefully through the milieu almost like a dancer, dealing with the enemy only as and when he needs to in order to achieve his goal, leaving the fighting and blowing up to others. Here, Moore has to be at the centre of everything, and lead all the action scenes. It's a trend which takes the character into fantasy more than ever before.

This is a movie much parodied, and obviously camp and dated, and yet that is its whole appeal - it was at the time entirely original (well, except the plot elements stolen from other Bond movies) and full of iconic items and moments - the Lotus Esprit, the Pyramids light show, the first movie appearance of a jetski, Jaws... It is a movie which in no way tries to be timeless - it is very much of the time, and as such it's a small treasure.... as long as you know what you are letting yourself in for.

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