The Spy Who Loved Me was slightly more coherent in its storytelling than The Man With the Golden Gun – though it was still full of holes and unexplained threads (the microfilm story sort of fell apart, and what exactly did Stromberg have to gain from everyone having to live underwater?). However, I enjoyed this movie much more because of the landscapes, a much-improved Bond girl, a fantastic henchman in the character of Jaws, and shades of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service storytelling.
One thing I noticed – when Triple-X ran down her knowledge of Bond, she mentions he was married once. Again, we return to the eternal question – is Bond a pseudonym associated with the 007 identity (therefore the Bonds between the series are not necessarily connected), or is he a continuous character? My money is on the same dude.
Plot in twenty words or less: The villain plans to sink Earth’s continents as part of his maniacal vision to make everyone live under the sea.
How it’s aged: Although there were some seriously 70s aspects to this movie – the disco music while skiing and the Lotus Esprit – this Bond didn’t feel as dated as others. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this was the first Bond movie that felt like it could have plausibly been made very recently, save for some of the bad green screen effects, the portrait of Lenin in the Moscow office, and some of the clothing. My guess for this is based on several reasons.
The first is that even though James Bond still had his womanizing tendencies intact, there was much less overt misogyny than in recent Bond movies. Second, the scoring felt more contemporary – and I noticed a lot of classical music was used compared to previous Bonds. Third, as my friend Dominic noted, the film was very color-saturated and highly atmospheric. Did the departure of Harry Saltzman have anything to do with it? After reading Blog, James Blog’s review, I think Scott’s note about EON not being able to use much of Fleming’s story is a really good observation – this had to factor in as well. Scott’s brilliant retelling of the impact of Jaws on the movie industry may also explain why this Bond simply feels so different.
Something that was just weird and/or WTF y’all: I thought there were fewer WHAT?! moments in this movie compared to previous Bonds – maybe due to less overt racism and sexism? So that’s a good thing. I am still confused by how one takes a train from Egypt to Sardinia. Perhaps through the train ferries?
Obligatory feminist commentary: Agent Triple-X was his equal in many ways, and didn’t play second fiddle or a dumb bimbo the way several recent Bond girls did. One of my favorite Bond girls in a long time. Plus, her dresses were pretty damn fantastic. This movie did have some teenage boy moments, like when the guy on the submarine caught a glimpse of her taking a shower. However, this felt pretty benign compared to a lot of recent Bond shenanigans.
Completely hypothetical cultural reference points: Dominic called this one early on – the music box used by Agent Triple-X played Lara’s Theme from Dr Zhivago.
Superficial Thing that did not Amuse Me: I’m sort of getting tired of the very formulaic ending of many Bond movies up to this point – some big vessel/ship/thingamabob captures a smaller vessel. The passengers are taken prisoner in some isolated warehouse/nuclear reactor/factory and overseen by guys in orange/red/white uniforms (and they always have a monorail!) while they have 3/4/5 minutes to prevent final destruction of the US/UK/Russia. Meanwhile, the baddie is torturing/imprisoning Bond/the Bond girl in his evil mancave/lair/den while some other poor sucker gets eaten by piranhas/sharks.
On second thought, maybe I just need to get over my irritation and embrace it. I watched the Moonraker trailer and it seems like a snake gets introduced into the final sequence so, variety, I guess?
Superficial Thing that highly Amused Me: Let’s be honest, that hookah rifle was pretty awesome. So was the pocket microfilm reader, and Bond’s label-maker/telex watch. Glad to see some good gadgetry back in this movie, because it means I get to see more of Q, who I find adorably cranky.
Interesting and possibly dubious thing I learned from Wikipedia: Stanley Kubrick advised aspects of stage lighting during a secret visit to the set.
Administrative information concerning this viewing:
Drinks consumed: New Belgium 1554 & Leinenkugel’s Snowdrift Vanilla Porter
Food eaten: Vegetarian chili & cheese straws
Viewed on: October 27, 2013
Viewing Partner: Boyfriend, Cat, Sasha Holiday, Dominic LeFihre*
*Not her/his real name. All my viewing buddies are getting Bond-girl/Bond-baddie aliases.