Nobody does it better than James Bond, as he proves yet again
in an adventure that takes him from the Egyptian pyramids
to the ocean floor and to a gravity-defying mountaintop ski
chase. When two nuclear submarines - one British, one Russian
- go missing at sea, 007 finds himself working alongside a
beautiful Soviet agent, Anya Amasova...
would appear that the best Bond films are often those that
were produced under the most difficult of circumstances (such
was also the case with From Russia With Love).
the special features reveal, a clause in EON's rights agreement
with the estate of Ian Fleming meant that only the title -
none of the characters or ideas - from the novel The
Spy Who Loved Me could be used in the screenplay. (Fleming
had all but disowned his poorly-received book, which is why
a paperback edition was never published during his lifetime.)
The movie's production was further hampered by the departure
of co-producer Harry Saltzman, who had run into serious financial
difficulties. Filming was also delayed by legal wrangling
with the producers of a rival Bond picture (which would eventually
make it on to the screen in 1983 as Never Say Never Again)
who claimed that the script for Spy used ideas from
their story. Fortunately, the enforced delay (the movie premiered
three years after the release of The Man with the Golden
Gun) enabled the creative team to refine their pre-production
- and the result is a movie of great panache and sophistication,
and certainly Roger Moore's finest two hours as 007.
notion of a third party stirring up East/West hostilities
has been done before, of course, in From Russia With Love
and in director Lewis Gilbert's previous Bond outing You
Only Live Twice. However, aside from that factor, this
is the first wholly original Bond movie plot (penned by Richard
Maibaum and Christopher Wood, the latter of whom adapted the
screenplay into a very effective novelisation).
This plot provides the springboard for some excellent repartee
between Bond and his Russian counterpart Anya Amasova (Barbara
Bach), while the need to depict a super-tanker colossal enough
to swallow up submarines prompts some of the best work that
production designer Ken Adam and visual effects supervisor
Derek Meddings have ever done.
visual delights such as the classic opening ski-jump sequence
and underwater action involving the submersible Lotus Esprit
is a stylish soundtrack by Marvin Hamlisch. Featuring the
unforgettable title track "Nobody Does it Better", sung by
Carly Simon, Hamlisch's score also adds a catchy disco beat
to the chase scenes, yet somehow manages not to sound dated!
film also establishes two new regular supporting characters,
with Walter Gotell playing General Gogol, M's opposite number
in the KGB, and Geoffrey Keen portraying the Minister of Defence,
Frederick Grey. These actors would reprise their roles in
every subsequent Bond film up to and including The Living
Daylights in 1987.
additions to this Ultimate Edition include vintage
location footage in 007 in Egypt and On Location
with Ken Adam and a film recording from the original dedication
of Pinewood's 007 sound stage, which was specially constructed
for the production of this movie. An interview session with
Moore filmed at that event is also included, though, as with
the Russell Harty interview on the Ultimate Edition
of The Man with the Golden Gun, only Moore's answers
are presented here, not the interviewer's questions. Both
the interview and 007 in Egypt fail to fill a 4:3 aspect
ratio television screen, despite being 4:3 themselves.
the plus side, this double-disc edition isn't hampered by
the slow loading speeds that affected the previous DVD release
of this movie.
The Bond makers have rarely done it better.