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MGM Studios DVD presents
The Spy Who Loved Me: Special 007 Edition (1977)

Bond: "Have I ever let you down, Q?"
Q: "Frequently."



Review By: Jesse Shanks   
Published: June 28, 2000

Stars: Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jurgens
Other Stars: Richard Kiel, Desmond Lewellyn, Lois Maxwell
Director: Lewis Gilbert

MPAA Rating: PG for violence, innuendo
Release Date: May 16, 2000
UPC: 027616812926
Genre: action


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ B-A-C A

DVD Review

The Spy Who Loved Me is one of the most popular of the Bond series and it is easy to see why. Being the first Bond movie not based on the content of an Ian Fleming novel and the first with Albert Broccoli as the sole producer, the movie overcomes many legal hassles and lack of a substantial script by emphasizing the elements of the series that are the most popular. Diamonds are Forever was the first to move in the direction of the slightly campy adventurism and Live and Let Die installed Roger Moore in the lead role. Spy benefits from Moore finding his confidence as 007 and his self-assured English dandy attitude leavened with moments of cold-bloodedness.

The plot, such that it is, must have seemed very good to the producers. Somewhat of a mish-mash of Bondian elements (ski-chase with guns, scuba diver with guns, machines swallowing machines) from the earlier movies. Then they saved a lot of money by using the same story again two years later in Moonraker. First, something happens that is dastardly(submarines disappear, shuttles in MR). Then Bond is assigned to investigate, meets a beautiful female spy and forges an uneasy alliance with her (Barbara Bach, Lois Chiles in MR). His first clues are found in Egypt (Venice in MR), and leads hims to Sardinia (Rio in MR). Bond is hunted by the evil henchman Jaws (Jaws again in MR) and so on.

With such minimal plot development, the charm of and interest in the characters is crucial. Chiles was reasonably interesting in Moonraker as the CIA agent/astronaut undercover in the villain's organization. Bach, however beautiful she is, gives a poorly realized performance. The expressions on her face ranged from a blankness to a pout, with very little in between. I realize that there was a certain coldness to her character of Russian superspy Triple XXX, but still...yikes. Between her and stone-faced Roger Moore there was not much of interest going on in the close-ups! In fact, there were more facial expressions by Desmond Lewellyn in his short stints as Q than there were by the stars in the rest of the movie.

Central to the story of Spy is the tension between Bond and Triple XXX as she seeks the killer of a Russian spy who was her lover. Forced to work together as their two governments unite to investigate the mystery of the disappearing submarines, the two agents eventually come to terms with the fact that Bond was the killer and end up naked together in Stromberg's escape capsule after the destruction of the villain's lair.

Curt Jurgen's makes a distinctly fine villain as Stromberg. He is so brutal and cold that he provides an excellent counterpoint to Bond's glib determination. The producers let his character down with the reason behind snatching the submarines (wiping out humans that pollute the earth and establish a new order). But, at least it is something more than Blofeld in On Her Majesty's Secret Service (gaining recognition of his inheritance) and something slightly less than Drax in Moonraker (annihilation of all life on earth and re-population with specially selected humans - well, maybe not that much different!).

Now that's out of the way, we can talk about the special effects and gadgets! The Lotus Espirit that changes to a submarine is a winner and almost worth the price of admission. I think one of the ultimate successes of a gadget is whether the audience wants to have one just like it. I want a Lotus Espirit that changes into a submarine for my very own (with rocket launcher, please). The chase scene, which finds Bond battling motorcycles, cars and a helicopter, is simply excellent stunt work and very exciting. Stromberg's hideaway is a classic set for a James Bond movie, adding as much to our impression of the villain as the acting performance. It lends itself to several really great bits. After Bond boards the American submarine and they are captured by Stromberg's supertanker, the action sequences take place in one of the largest and most dynamic sets in movie history. The scenes are truly amazing in their grandeur and earned an Academy Award nomination for Production Designer and Bond veteran Ken Adam.

Of course, one might note that there are two nuclear explosions in the Atlantic Ocean... but then again, one might not.

This is a great action film with great gadgets, amazing sets, incredible stunts, beautiful women, and tough villains. If you add in a memorable Oscar®-nominated title song sung by Carly Simon, Nobody Does It Better, co-written by Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamilisch, an Oscar®-nominated score, and photography by Claude Renoir, nephew of French directing giant Jean Renoir, and you have a one of the best movies of the Bond series.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: Once again the wide screen anamorphic image transfer is magnificent. The crispness of the detail, the richness of the colors and the grandeur of the sets, locales and miniatures are a wonder and a pleasure.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Frenchyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Somehow the transfer of this film to Dolby Digital 5.1 contains the same faults that I have found in other releases in the 007 Special Editions. The dialogue is often very murky and has to be turned up but then the explosions, car motors and other sound effects are much too loud. There are still some very nice surround effects in the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: C

 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 32 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
3 Original Trailer(s)
6 TV Spots/Teasers
2 Documentaries
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. The Spy Who Loved Me Stills Gallery
  2. "Making of" booklet
  3. Designing Bond production design documentary
  4. Inside The Spy Who Loved me documentary
  5. 12 Radio Spots
Extras Review: Another fine collection of extras on this disc. The Inside the Spy Who Loved Me documentary is very interesting in its tales of the making of this picture. The hurdles overcome by the producer, cast and crew will amaze you. The shorter documentary focusing on production designer Ken Adam is very interesting for those wanting to know more about the look of the James Bond movies. The trailers, radio spots, TV spots all are very amusing both as bits of commercial flotsam and time capsules of the era that the movie was released. The audio commentary is very amusing as the makers of this film are very proud of their accomplishments and show off their joy in discussing it.

Extras Grade: A

 

Final Comments

Forget all the complaints about character and plot. Enjoy this movie as a fine action thriller that exemplifies the best of what makes James Bond movies some of the most satisfying escapist fare available.

 


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