Lovin’ the Spy Who Loved Me

I’m having this great dialogue in comments with Butterfly on another post. So interesting that I thought I’d promote it to the top of the blog.

We’re discussing top five lists, which is a blog post in and of itself (and I’ll get there). But first, Butterfly sees my top five and asks

The more interesting question is why TSWLM so high?


First, let’s just say that TSWLM never collapses. A lot of Bond movies are absolutely great except. You know, DAF is great except the oil rig scene is a little flat and the mud bath scene is stupid. FYEO is great except for the stupid talking parrot. DAD is great except for the last forty minutes. TSWLM really doesn’t have an “except.”

The Spy Who Loved Me has one of the greatest opening stunts of all time; a stunt cited, not just by Bond fans, but by film fans as one of the greatest stunts in film (not Bond) history. The stuntwork throughout is fab, with that great car vs. helicopter chase and “Wet Nellie,” plus better fights than we normally see in a Moore movie.

Anya Amasova is a great Bond girl, and Barbara Bach is SO beautiful. Almost every Bond girl has been called a “new kind of” Bond girl or different or more modern, but it’s Agent XXX who really is new, and who really does represent the introduction of women as equal human beings. I mean, in MR, the very next movie, there’s this stupid dialogue between Bond and Holly Goodhead about how Amazing! it is that A Woman! can be a scientist. Irritating. But in TSWLM, Agent XXX simply is the top Soviet spy without ever remarking on her gender.

The movie introduces Jaws, who is so great and scary here. I mean, too bad he’s a clown in his return appearance, but that shouldn’t taint TSWLM.

I also absolutely adore the locations. Egypt is wonderfully exotic, and Sardinia is gorgeous. I also love the USSR/British rivalry, the little bits of oneupmanship, not just between Anya and Bond, but between M and Gogol. Very amusing.

AND Bond in Naval uniform. Love that.


8 Responses to “Lovin’ the Spy Who Loved Me”

  1. Butterfly Says:

    Looks like just you and I in here lately–agree with everything you say about TSWLM. For me its the most brutal of Sir Roger’s movies (doesn’t he use a woman as a shield in this one)? High body count, etc. Barbara Bach sizzles.
    For me, I agree its no 1 in the Moore movies…but to crack the top 5 some tough choices have to me made to accomodate CR–like to keep 2 Connerys you need to lose either GE or TLD. I drop the LTD under this scenario, although its close. I give GE the edge because it features the two best Bond girls since TB.

  2. Deborah Lipp Says:

    Yeah, he uses Fekish’s wife as a shield.

    Now, I think objectively that DAF is the worst movie on my list; mud bath, moon buggy, oil rig. So much wonderful great stuff in it, but more weaknesses than the other five. But it was the first Bond movie I saw first run in the theater, and I have such affection for it. Plus, I like having it in my top five, just because it’s such an iconoclastic opinion.

    TLD is the movie that made me a rabid Bond fan, and led to writing the book. Kara Milovy is the name I use on Bond message boards. So, hard to let that one go as well, even though the villains are weak.

  3. Interesting what gets one back into it. For you it was TLD; for me it was the holiday marathons on cable. I grew up with the movies, but drifted away at the end of the moore era. In fact I have never seen LTK, and only have seen the PBs once each, and at that DAD was a Spike TV commercially-marred 3 hours which I drifted in and out of.
    Thinking back on it, the more I reflect, the more I think TLD is a top 5. TD acts up a storm–he’s mad at times, happy at others, mischevious at others–good stuff, good plot, little or no silliness. At fist I thought Kara was weak, but that’s the point isn’t it? And TD seems to care, making it a relationship not a conquest. Whether or not thats a good thing is another question. So its FRWL vs GE?

  4. Deborah Lipp Says:

    For the bump, it’s TSWLM vs. DAF. DAF probably loses. It has the largest number of objective weaknesses. This is why I’m stalling.

  5. Joe Bond Says:

    TSWLM is in my top 3. As Deborah stated, it has no lulls. It a great movie-going film, and makes one excited about the franchise. I think it has great atmosphere beginning with the PTS, the naval scenes, egypt, corsica, and terrific chemistry between Bond and Anya (despite Bach’s lack of acting skills). This is Roger’s greates acting achievement — he is largely responsible for giving the impression of the good chemistry. He holds the fort so-to-speak. Many criticize the film for its lack of a strong villain (which is true). However, as Deborah’s book so astutely mentioned, the film is about the relationship between Bond and XXX. So the villain is really an after-thought.

  6. Deborah Lipp Says:

    Thanks Joe. I’ll also point out (as I think I did in the book) that Stromberg was as last-minute replacement for Blofeld in response to another threatened lawsuit. So perhaps he wasn’t given enough thought.

  7. wriggles Says:

    I agree I love the character of Anya Amasova. Ditto your comments about her being a genuine ‘new type’, I love the interplay between her and Bond how she is so often one step ahead of him only to be caught up rapidly, and vice versa. I also love Barbara Bach’s performance, it’s as if she is in some kind of hypnotic trance, I just adore it.

  8. Deborah Lipp Says:

    “Hypnotic trance” is a great description.

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