The Music of Marvin Hamlisch — Film: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

There is something very wonderfully blasé about James Bond, you know. When he just throws that hat always hits, and hitting on Moneypenny and there is all this stuff, and is a man who just knows that he is got it no matter what. He is so cool, he is so together that he is going to be just fine, he doesn’t have to come in blasting, he just has to walk in and charm you to death. — Composer Marvin Hamlisch (1944–2012)

The third and probably finest of Roger Moore’s James Bond films is titled: The Spy Who Loved Me.

Film: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Film: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) (Actor Roger Moore and Actress Barbara Bach)

The Plot of the film:

In 1977 Britain had been seduced by disco music and the Sovereign’s Jubilee. Right from the opening scene, the spy who loved me paid tribute to both.

The film starts of with a very intense tune (Bond 77), which — to be honest with you- kind of caught the feel of something that was on the Bee Gees record, that I just loved. This intense music is the background for James Bond trying to escape from a russian team in the austrian mountains.

When his ski is off the mountain, the music stops and you are just watching this guy on free- fall.  He is floating down slowly but surely and you’re hearing only the sound of the wind in the snow-covered picks of the mountains and all of a sudden a Union Jack opens on his parachute.

And out of that, after this bombastic beginning, comes the song, you know “Nobody Does it Better” — ” Marvin Hamlisch (1944–2012)



Watch: The Spy Who Loved Me — Austria Ski Chase

With its megalomaniac villain (complete with great henchman – Richard Kiel’s Jaws), beautiful girls, exotic locations, memorable quips, death-by-shark, glorious production design, all the classic Bond ingredients are here.

Bond is tasked with investigating the disappearance of British and Soviet ballistic missile submarines and the subsequent offer to sell a submarine tracking system. Bond works alongside Major Anya Amasova of the KGB. The pair track the plans across Egypt and identify the person responsible for the thefts as shipping tycoon, scientist and anarchist Karl Stromberg.

Watch Trailer: The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)

Bond and Amasova follow a suspicious tanker owned by Stromberg and establish it is responsible for the missing submarines; the submarine in which they are travelling is also captured by Stromberg. Stromberg plans to destroy Moscow and New York, triggering nuclear war: he planned to then establish a new civilization. Bond escapes, freeing the submariners captured from the other submarines and follows Stromberg to his headquarters, which he destroys, killing the tycoon in the process





The musical score for the film:

John Barry couldn’t score the film; for the first time, the job went to an American composer, the great Marvin Hamlisch. One of the plus points of hiring Hamlisch was that he would more than likely deliver a belter of a title song, and he did – “Nobody Does It Better” remains amongst the finest of the Bond songs, up there with the Barry classics. It’s an incredibly catchy melody, classic pop arrangement, and Carly Simon’s silky smooth deliver of Carole Bayer Sager’s lyric is perfect.

Hamlisch’s score marked a real departure for the series in some ways, while retaining enough of the classic Barry sound to mean that it can certainly be considered a vintage James Bond score today. First, the departure – this was 1977, so for the first time, James Bond went disco. The album’s first score track, “Bond 77″, saw the composer mixing the classic Bond theme with his own new theme for the character, with a complete disco makeover.

Listen to soundtracks:

Soundtrack: The Spy Who Loved Me

Related content: Soundtracks, Film “The Spy Who Loved Me”










Hamlisch brought his own talents to the piece but also paid enough respect to Barry’s sound to produce a score that is distinctively his, but also unmistakably a Bond score. His song is one of the series’ finest and his score contains romance, adventure, excitement – and disco. What more could you want? – Source: James Southall

The Theme Song: “Nobody Does It Better”

This is the Bond song that nearly never was. The title only came about after chance remarks from Carole Bayer Sager:

I said to Marvin, you know, I have a great title for a James Bond film: “Nobody Does it Better” Marvin loved the title and thought that it was a really good title. So he kind of ran over to the piano and basically started to play and compose the notes for the song. The film producers went for the song but shut down the title. That was one of the things they said: Where is the title of the film in the song? And I just kind of poked it in a part of the verse “Like heaven above me, the spy who loved me, is keeping all my secrets safe tonight” When I was writing the song, I think I thought I was writing a love song to James Bond”  — Lyricist Carole Bayer Sager


Lyricist Carol Bayer Sager

Lyricist Carole Bayer Sager

Remarks from Marvin Hamlisch:

This song for sure was about James Bond. The song is very “bluesy” and what is wonderful about that is that it has a good place to grow. After it gets started you have to make room for the drums. Drums, drums, drums!

I think this song is — you know- Bond’s bible” — The Late Composer Marvin Hamlisch.


Carol Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch (1977)

Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch (1977)

Performed by Carly Simon, Nobody Does it Better charted higher than any Bond song before it. It’s also surprisingly, the only Bond song about Bond.  It was the first theme song in the James Bond series to be titled differently from the name of the movie, although the title is in the lyrics:

Watch: Carly Simon — Nobody Does It Better

Carly Simon - Nobody Does It Better The Spy Who Loved MeThe song met immediate success and is featured in numerous movies including Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005), Little Black Book, Lost in Translation and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004). In 2004, it was honored by the American Film Institute as the 67th greatest song as part of their 100 Years Series.


Remarks from Composer Marvin Hamlisch: How composing for this film came about:

An offer arrived to write the music for the James Bond thriller “The Spy Who Loved Me,” I grabbed it.

They wanted a hit title song, and they recommended the ‘hot new’ lyricist in town: Carole Bayer Sager. We met in my apartment. She was terribly attractive: dark-haired; flashing eyes. She was quick, witty, histerically funny, and fast. She took in the apartment, turned to me, and said: “I hope you don’t think I’m prying, but I’ve worked with a lot of composers in my time, and I’m wondering: what the hell is your piano doing in a box?”

Lyrics poured out of her. She had a good ear for language and a head filled with ideas. The more we wrote together, the more time we spent together. We became inseparable. I was starting to get frightened. I began to wonder: Was it possible? Could I be having a professional and a private life at one and the same time? I figured out the answer to that question when Carole moved in. We lived and worked music. We constantly turned out new songs. Carole had brought me into the world of rock and roll. No sooner had we written “Nobody Does It Better,” sung by Carly Simon, than it climbed to number 2 on the charts and was nominated for an Academy Award. We had more offers for film that we could handle now, and so we moved to California and started concentrating feverishly on song after song.

Young Marvin Hamlisch

Although  Carole seemed to thrive in Los Angeles, I felt somehow more and more that I was working against my better instincts. In retrospect, I should have pulled up stakes, gone back home, and turned every stone in New York to find another “Chorus Line.” But I couldn’t bring myself to leave Carole, and by a twist of fate, if I wasn’t going to get back east to Broadway, Broadway was going to come out west: On a hot summer day in 1978, Neil Simon called, and thus began the process for “They’re Playing Our Song” – The late Composer Marvin Hamlisch. From the book: The Way I Was

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Source: Team Marvin Hamlisch / The Music of Marvin Hamlisch