Well, well... a British agent in love with a Russian agent. Détente, indeed.
The One Withthat underwater Lotus.A pair of nuclear missile submarines go missing. Independently, our British secret agent and a Soviet agent are assigned to find them. Thing is, the former just shot the latter's boyfriend dead.This 1977 entry is the tenth James Bond film, and the third with Roger Moore, and it is regarded by many as Moore's best and quite possibly one of the best in the series, as well as Moore's personal favourite of his own batch. Ian Fleming had written the namesake novel much differently than the other Bond books, but was so embarrassed by the results that he only sold the rights to the title, refusing to license the plot with it.Nobody expected The Spy Who Loved Me to do well after the rather poor The Man with the Golden Gun. Its three... four chief weapons were...
The Teaser. At the end of the sequence, Bond skis off a cliff. He falls for several heart-stopping seconds, then a parachute opens. In the colours of the Union Jack. As the Bond theme kicks in. There are several reported cases of audiences breaking into applause at this moment. This stunt was done for real and you can see one of the skis hit the stuntman's chute, which could have been pretty nasty.
The Lotus Esprit. Driving off a pier into the sea. Where it turns into a submarine.
The 007 Stage, built for the massive battle scene in a supertanker. It has been made available for filming other movies and remains the second largest stage in the worldnote Or rather, its successors do. The original stage burned down during the filming of Legend, and the second version was destroyed by an explosion shortly after filming of, ironically enough, Casino Royale. It is actually a silent stage, not a sound stage. But the size makes it ideal for big action sequences, which almost always requires doing the sound in post anyway.
Jaws. the 7'4" henchmen with the metal teeth who is so unstoppable that he is only Dragon to survive fighting Bond and maybe the one who came closest to scaring him. That is partially due to the fact that Bond knows that no matter how hard he hits the giant, he WILL survive it and come back to challenge him again. In fact, he does return for the next Bond movie, Moonraker.
Speaking of that last point, this movie ends with "James Bond will return in... For Your Eyes Only." However, 1977 was the same summer that Star Wars was released, and every producer in the world wanted to have a space-themed hit to rival that. So, instead, they quickly scrambled together and made Moonraker since it could support a space-themed plot (it helped that "Moon" was in the title).It also features the first appearance of a wetbike - the actual prototype- in a work of fiction, before it was commercially launched.
Break Up Make Up Scenario: when Anya discovers Bond killed her lover. It takes him a full adventure and life saving to make her forgive him. This also gives us one of the very few scenes where Roger Moore's Bond seems remorseful. For hurting a woman's feelings!
But for Me, It Was Tuesday: A heroic version, Bond initially doesn't think anything about having killed Anya's lover when she asks him.
Bond: When someone's behind you on skis at 40 miles per hour trying to put a bullet in your back, you don't always have time to remember a face. In our business, Anya, people get killed. We both know that. So did he. It was either him or me. The answer to the question is yes. I did kill him.
Girl: What happened? Where are you going? Bond: Sorry. Something came up. Girl: But, James, I need you. Bond: So does England!
Continuity Nod: Perhaps because it was the 10th Bond film, or because it was the first made without the input of Harry Saltzman, or because it was the first not to be based at least somewhat on an Ian Fleming story, this film includes multiple references to and thematic elements borrowed from the previous entries, particularly the seven Connery/Lazenby films. These include:
When Major Amasova asks for a cigarette so she can knock Bond out with gas, it recalls Bond asking for One Last Smoke to trick Red Grant into opening the trick briefcase and releasing a gas. (See also You Only Live Twice.)
A tank filled with killer fish Bond (piranhas in YOLT, sharks in TSWLM - see also Thunderball) with a trapdoor above it for dropping disloyal or unsuccessful henchmen. Also, Bond disposes of The Dragon by dropping him in the tank. Jaws survives the encounter, however, by killing the shark with his teeth.
Cool Sidecar: The bad guys chase Bond with a sidecar that becomes a detachable missile steered by a joystick on the motorbike.
Darker and Edgier: Very subtly done. Although Bond gave his moral viewpoint on killing in the previous film, this is the first time his profession is openly discussed, and What Measure Is a Mook? is a running theme throughout the film. Although Dalton, Brosnan and Craig have all played increasingly complex versions of the character, this was the first step towards Bond's psychological maturity.
Distaff Counterpart: Anya Amasova to Bond. The scene where she is called on a mission while in bed with someone is in particular very reminiscent of Bond on numerous occasions (though unlike Bond most of the time, she clearly did love her bedmate at the time).
Fanservice: Major Anya Amasova in the shower on the U.S. submarine.
Faux Action Girl: Anya Amasova. She's said to be a Bad Ass Soviet spy who has never failed a mission, but in the movie she wouldn't have survived any of the numerous perils without Bond's help, and she spends the finale tied to a chair by the villain, while Bond has to come and rescue her. Of particular note is that she holds a gun on Jaws and forces him to drop the microfilm McGuffin he is carrying, then instead of forcing him to back away, she is stupid enough to walk over to HIM, bend over right in front of him, and take her eyes off him to grab the McGuffin. He immediately kicks the gun out of her hand and would have almost certainly killed her had Bond not been there.
Bond to Stromberg...with two bullets from his Walther, thanks to Stromberg having an explosive launcher under the table with a perspex tube to guide it straight into the groin of the man across from him, for the ultimate in groin attacks. After dodging the shot, Bond decides to show Stromberg what he thinks of the concept...
Handshake Refusal: Bond is told before meeting Stromberg that he's germophobic and won't shake hands. Bond holds out his hand to Stromberg anyway and is predictably rebuffed.
Hand Signals: The leader of the KGB team trying to kill Bond gestures to the others to split up and a Stromberg crewman makes a beckoning gesture to another crewman.
Ineffectual Death Threats: Indeed, Major Amasova never does kill Bond for killing her lover. By then, Bond had saved her life even when he had no other reason to.
In Name Only: Ian Fleming disliked his original novel so much that he only allowed the film to have the same name on the explicit condition that it would not be an adaptation of the novel (Which was about Bond seducing a hotel clerk and stopping her employers from burning the hotel down to collect on the insurance money).
Last Request: Bond asks Anya if he can make one before she kills him. Of course, that was before a popping champagne cork broke the tension. It was unlikely from that point she was going to actually kill him.
Lzherusskie: Barbara Bach as Major Anya Amasova. Incidentally, this movie almost single-handedly changed Americans' views of Russian women. Before it came out, all Russian women were assumed by Americans to be outright Gonks, to the point that American comedians (and especially the hugely influential Johnny Carson) could count on getting cheap and easy laughs by poking fun at the purported hideousness of Russian women. Carson admitted during a visit by Roger Moore that the movie had ruined "half his jokes".
No More for Me: A bystander when Bond drives the Lotus Esprit out of the ocean onto the beach. Who also happens to be the same character in Moonraker (as the gondola comes out of the water), and in For Your Eyes Only (as Bond skis over his table).
Several nods to David Lean's Lawrence of Arabia. Subtle at first with the desert attire donned by Bond and an homage later with the iconic theme of Maurice Jarre playing while Bond and Anya wander through the desert after the van breaks down.
A music box in the film briefly plays "Lara's Theme" from Doctor Zhivago, another magnus opus from David Lean / Maurice Jarre.
General Gogol (And his successor General Pushkin in The Living Daylights) are named after two of the most famous writers of 19th Century Russian Literature.
Shower Scene: "What's wrong, sailor. Haven't you seen a major taking a shower before?"
Sic 'em: "Let them get to shore... and then kill them."
Slap-Slap-Kiss: Surprisingly, Bond and Anya only start liking each other after lots of arguments and fighting side-by-side multiple times. And almost threw it away when Anya found out Bond killed her previous lover.
Sleep Cute: Played with. When Anya wakes up, she jerks away from Bond in anger.
Sliding Scale of Gender Inequality: This was the first Bond flick to reach Level 4 (a capable leading lady, albeit one who still needs occasional rescuing), which has held ever since. The older ones are Level 3 at best.
Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: This is easily one of the most idealistic Bond films. East and West put their differences aside to work to a common goal, Bond is an absolute gentleman to his love interest, and the tone is generally up-beat. Although it has a high death toll, many of those deaths are Heroic Sacrifices to help save the day.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Stromberg feeding his assistant to the sharks while Bach's Air on the G-String plays.
Title Drop: The theme song is called "Nobody Does It Better", but still has it ("Like heaven above me, the spy who loved me...")
Too Dumb to Live: Bond nearly gets one at the end when he leaves his PPK within reaching distance of Anya even though she had sworn a vendetta on him - this was literally the only way she could have carried it out too given how she is nowhere close to being in Bond's league.
Villainous Valor: Jaws' sheer persistence in trying to finish his mission ended up making audiences pretty sympathetic to him. Richard Kiel has mentioned seeing entire theaters cheer when he was revealed to have survived at the end.
What Measure Is a Mook?: Deconstructed. Major Amasova's lover was one of the mooks killed in the teaser, and it comes back to bite Bond hard later in the film. They even have an open discussion on the subject. Bond ultimately has a pretty good explanation in the end.
Wicked Cultured: Stromberg likes to kill minions while enjoying fine cuisine and classical music.
Would Hit a Girl: Well, not exactly hit as such, but use a (sub)surface-to-air missile on her. Was it really necessary, Bond?