00 Saturdays Week #20 – The Spy Who Loved Me Music Review

“Nobody does it better.
Makes me feel sad for the rest.
Nobody does it half as good as you.
Baby, you’re the best.”

It’s time for another 00 Saturdays here at Film Seizure.  This week, I’ll be discussing the great music and spectacular theme song to The Spy Who Loved Me.

Theme Song

It’s surprisingly clairvoyant that Carole Bayer Sager named her song “Nobody Does It Better” because this is, without a single hesitant thought, my all time favorite Bond theme song.  It is incredibly passionate and just about as pretty of a song as you can make to dedicate it to a British secret agent.

To me, there is no more perfect song to encapsulate James Bond as a character.  It was also a perfect choice to tap Carly Simon to sing the song as well.  For as popular as Carly Simon was in the late 70s, “Nobody Does It Better” was her second biggest hit of her career (behind “You’re So Vein”) and peaked at #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart for seven weeks, while peaking at #2 on the Pop Chart behind Debby Boone’s mega-hit “You Light Up My Life”.  I bring that up because not only did that song stop a Bond theme from hitting #1 on the Pop charts for the first time, it also prevented the song from winning the Best Original Song Oscar too.

Every time I hear “Nobody Does It Better”, it constantly brings to mind all the stunts and the white-knuckled moments that Bond goes through and triumphs over to save the day.  Because of that, it’s by far my favorite song of the series.  It’s one of those songs that is so perfect for its subject matter that I could keep talking about how much I love it and how perfect I think it fits the series, but the truth is you should just listen to it again.  It totally speaks for itself.

Score

For The Spy Who Loved Me, John Barry was unavailable due to tax reasons that prevented him from working in the United Kingdom.  Instead, Albert Broccoli turned to Marvin Hamlisch.  Hamlisch won three Academy Awards in 1973 (two for The Way We Were and one for The Sting).  He was a quite popular song writer throughout his career and is one of only about 15 people who have won an Emmy, an Oscar, a Tony Award, and a Grammy and one of only two people who can also claim a Pulitzer Prize to that list too.  So I think you could say that the score was going to be in good hands.

It is, in fact, this is one of only two scores for Bond films that have been nominated for Best Original Score (Skyfall being the other).  Hamlisch did something very interesting this time out.  First, he opted to go ahead and lean a little more into the disco craze of the time.  Opting for a little more synthesized sound with heavy beats.  He even adapted the “James Bond Theme” into more of a disco sound for the opening gun barrel sequence and wove the theme into a piece he called “Bond ’77” that was a main piece throughout the movie.  In many ways it is reminiscent of some of the classical compositions that were rearranged into disco hits for nightclubs of the disco era.

It even has a rhythm very similar to a Bee Gees hit from the year before (“You Should Be Dancing”).  So it was, at the very least, going to be a popular soundtrack and very modern.  This is something that will become an ongoing thing into the 80s to incorporate a more pop sound to the music.  It really begins here with this score.  It’s a very good score and works very well with the plot and the action.

It’s one of the better Bond scores of them all to match one of the better Bond films of the series.

The Opening Title Sequence

Oh Maurice Binder…  You did it again.  Take a look at the video below.  Blow it up as big as you can and keep an eye out for something.  Just, go ahead.  Then continue on afterwards to see if you picked up the exact something I did.

There is an incredible amount of visible nudity you can see in the opening title sequence!  Mind you, this is a PG rated movie and there is nudity all over the place.  In the pre-titles sequence, we’re on board a British submarine and one of the seamen has hug up a magazine cut out image of a topless lady with big ol’ boobs.  It’s only there for a brief second, but if you’re looking to the left side of the screen, you WILL see it.  Then, later in the film, Bond and Anya board an American submarine and the captain offers Anya his shower so she isn’t just out there with the other guys in a potential hostile situation.  She’s showering and the amount of side boob you see in that scene…  Well, let’s just say you might as well see the whole boob.  There’s nothing left for the imagination.

Then, the opening titles.  You start out thinking it’s the same ol’ same ol’ with only silhouettes of naked women.  Then, they go from silhouettes to being backlit figures.  As those figures shift and turn, you can see everything.  You’re seeing whole boobs, nipples, you’re seeing what the ladies’ grooming habits are.  You’re seeing everything.  Now, I understand, the YouTube quality above isn’t as clear the Blu Ray disc I watched the movie on, but it’s there.  It is definitely there.

Now, I don’t want to be a total pervert here, but I will admit two things.  First, this is definitely my favorite title sequence of the series so far.  Second, I wonder what those filming shoots were like.  What’s the casting call like for that?  Are you flat out asking for nude models?  Do you have an agency of models that you go to and they are fashion models typically and, therefore, they are used to doing things like that?  I’m really curious.  I could probably check out the internet to find out, but I’d rather let my imagination run wild on a real complicated Variety classified ad.

In all seriousness, though…  The quality of the film itself, the beautiful theme song, and the little more playful and whimsical opening credits, it’s perfect.  Just perfect.

Join me next week for a look at the eleventh Bond film, Moonraker.

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