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Written by / 11/08/2015 / 1 Comment / , , , , , ,

MOORE BOND THREE: 'THE SPY WHO LOVED ME' W/ RICHARD KIEL

Spider-like Under Water City in Spy Who Loved Me 1977
Years before Quentin Tarantino used the funky TRUCK TURNER theme as part of his own KILL BILL... As if, beyond homage, it was made for that story without having been actually created for something beforehand...

The windswept theme of LAWRENCE OF ARABIA brings Roger Moore's James Bond from one desert location to another, and that's just the beginning... Actually, the middle... The middle of the beginning of a motion picture that takes us all over the place...

Signed Laserdisc by Caroline Munro and the late Richard Kiel
In fact there's so much to THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, you can watch it a dozen times and (as once pointed out by a good friend) still forget the order of events. Ironically, this venture, after Hammer Film Frankenstein/Dracula Christopher Lee played the villain in the previous MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, the 007 team created their very own Giant-Monstrous/Neck-Biting "Dracustein" Hybrid in the form of Richard Kiel as Jaws, whose very name derives from the 1975 Steven Spielberg blockbuster...

And one separate scene includes an actual shark attacking a helpless woman: What's trying to be said here is that SPY is downright epic on all counts. And yet, there's still a very personal touch throughout. The man, Bond, seems more alone and maverick than ever, despite having a gorgeous ingenue/sidekick in Barbara Bach's Agent XXX, keeping a secret grudge/vendetta that, despite her monotone delivery, makes her one of the more complicated and mysterious "Bond Girls," which doesn't mean Caroline Munro's Naomi (bitten by Chris Lee's Dracula in 1972) can't hold her own as the stock "bad Bond girl," an important part of one of many action sequences...

year: 1977 cast: Roger Moore, Curd Jürgens, Barbara Bach,
Mountainous car chases are one thing... A helicopter chasing a car is another... But a land vehicle suddenly going underwater provides a new level of visual glory...

And with all the intriguing, creative reasons for the ground and water to be covered in the first place, SPY makes for the first Moore outing to lean on espionage over genre-driven action. And on the lighter side, gadget wizard Q gets a bigger, better chance to show his worth after being somewhat neglected in the first two Moore vehicles, and even exceeds what he accomplished in the Connery films: back then, mostly complaining about his doomed hot rods.

Roger and Richard
Last but certainly not least, the main world-dominating villain and his underwater fortress is something to behold. An intense Curd Jürgens as Karl Stromberg is a great chair-sitting heavy, but pales to... you got it... the roaming henchman, Jaws, who not only takes part in some of the most shadowy, suspenseful, ultra violent and often hilarious scenes including a truck being torn to bits, he's the odds-on favorite of what's become a Bond staple: that is, fighting on a train (FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE to LIVE AND LET DIE to OCTOPUSSY to the recent SPECTRE).

According to Kiel in a Cult Film Freak interview, explaining the train bout: "They used a mini-trampoline for Roger Moore to bounce up in the air as I picked him up seemingly with little effort and attached him to a cable so I could bang him against the ceiling of the train." Well that's behind the scenes... but what we get on screen, right before our very eyes, is perhaps the most solidly entertaining Bond feature of any decade... That is, if you can forgive some of the dated disco music and an overlong third act military battle finale, where it's hard if impossible to keep score on who's winning or losing with so many soldiers firing guns at each other, this SPY is one to not only LOVE, but could possibly give even the most rabid Moore haters a reason to sit back, relax, and enjoy.

RATING: ****1/2
TRIVIA: One year later, SPY WHO LOVED ME director Guy Hamilton would direct Barbara Bach and Richard Kiel, as well as former FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE Bond heavy Robert Shaw, in FORCE 10 FROM NAVARONE that also starred Harrison Ford, the maverick hero in STAR WARS in which the next Bond vehicle, MOONRAKER (review coming soon), was obviously banking on. Also, Kiel's Bond name, JAWS, connects with Robert Shaw, who got a short-lived second-wind career after downright stealing the summer blockbuster.
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1 comment:

  1. Jaws was such a great villain.

    Great article and website.

    ReplyDelete

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