All Those Feathers And He Still Can’t Fly (1977)

Ten months in, James Bond is still going strong, as Roger Moore returns for his third sip of the Martini (shaken, not stirred) in Lewis Gilbert’s The Spy Who Loved Me.

Having previously averted war between America and the Soviets in You Only Live Twice, James Bond (Roger Moore) must be fighting some pretty serious deja vu as he sets off to do so once again. This time it is a giant boat that is at the heart of it, swallowing up nuclear submarines so that they can be reprogrammed and used to spark an Anglo-Soviet war – forcing mankind to abandon the towns and cities of planet Earth and move underwater into Karl Stromberg’s (Curd Jürgens) patented residencies. Paired with Russian agent Triple X (Barbara Bach), Bond must discover the whereabouts of the missing submarines and foil Stromberg’s plans, preferably before the mastermind’s henchman, Jaws (Richard Kiel), has the opportunity to sink his metal plated teeth into them.

So once again we sit in wait with our checklists, ticking off the requisite idiotic henchmen, tank of sharks and skirmish on a moving train, as same movie we’ve watched ten times previously begins to refold before us – seriously, is there a human being on this planet who HASN’T been thrown from a speeding train by James Bond? That sense of clawing familiarity is all the stronger this time around, as we are essentially watching a tired retread of You Only Live Twice, only with spaceships cunningly substituted with sea-ships. Yet, attacked with infectious verve and boasting a few lines and sequences which almost atone for the usual filler (namely, Bond proceeding from Point A, to Point B, to a pyramid-set MI6 office in Egypt), there is still enough to enjoy in The Spy Who Loved Me to stave off complete braindeath for at least another instalment.

For every trampoline effect during the opening credits there is a curvaceous silhouette gymnasting over a gun-barrel; for every man-eating shark there is a shark-eating man; and for every terrible sex-pun there is genuinely inspired line of dialogue – a refreshingly single entendre. Even though we are served the usual ski chase and underwater skirmish, the former smacks gobs with a daring embrace of cliff-faces while the later ingeniously replaces a man holding a harpoon with an aquatic car with anti-air defences. Yes it’s still as daft as a bag of prosthetic nipples – it’s pretty difficult to shield your pin number from a crowd of people when the combination lights up – but that’s what makes this franchise bearable – the occasionally intentional laughter.

While it’s nice to see the script paying its dues to what came before – with a surprisingly well handled reference to Bond’s late wife hinting at a trace of character hidden beneath the chauvinist veneer – The Spy Who Loved Me is not without its flaws. Beyond repetition, it is also guilty of starring one of the least charismatic actresses this side of Marion Cotillard, her Triple X wearing the same slapped arse whether she’s just lost her lover, saved the day or gotten laid, and a minor villain who is – for all intents and purposes – the stupidest creation since Oddjob and his razor-rimmed boomerang hat. The moment Jaws traps one of Bond’s innumerable leads in an Egyptian tomb and proceeds to vamp out on the poor man’s neck, it is impossible not to glimpse the inevitable invisible car in the reflection of his wood/padlock/shark destroying teeth.

Same old but with the odd glimmer of creativity, The Spy Who Loved Me invariably does Austin Powers’ job for him, only with less chest hair and a few additional dick-jokes. Nevertheless, by this point the cheesiness is so ingrained in Bond’s DNA that it sometimes feels as though it’s the only thing holding it all together. And I really, really do not have a problem with that.


About popcornaddiction
I am a psychology graduate, a News Writer for HeyUGuys/BestforFilm and, most importantly, a hopeless popcorn addict.

2 Responses to All Those Feathers And He Still Can’t Fly (1977)

  1. Pingback: October 2011 – Relax, I interviewed a pilot once! « popcornaddict

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