Wednesday, January 09, 2008

The Spy Who Loved Me

1977, UK, directed by Lewis Gilbert

After the all-out silliness of The Man with the Golden Gun, the next entry in the Bond franchise is a considerable improvement, with a plot that pools the resources of the US, Soviet and British secret services, who find their interests suddenly aligned when the megalomaniac du jour decides to steal three nuclear submarines of varying nationalities (the opening sequence is economical and quite gripping, perhaps because it is free of the tongue-in-cheekery of the scenes featuring Bond).

It's not quite plain sailing, of course: while B-movie queen Barbara Bach is an enjoyable foil for Bond, Richard Kiel's Jaws, the iron-toothed villain, is absurb even by the standards of the series (which wouldn't stop him from returning in a later film). The film also feels twenty minutes too long, with the usual array of tropical locations (most notably Egypt on this occasion) padding out the running time. Lewis Gilbert returns for directing duties; he has more skill with the camera than Guy Hamilton, though he tends to repeat the same movements -- smooth dolly shots in particular -- with distracting frequency.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States