The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Poster

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"Nobody does it quite the way you do"
Merwyn Grote29 June 2006
You don't review James Bond movies, you evaluate them, rate them according to how well they meet expectations. There are certain things one has come to expect, even demand of a Bond film and each individual effort either delivers or it doesn't. So, here are ten elements that make a Bond film a Bond film and how THE SPY WHO LOVED ME rates on a scale of 1 to 10:

Title: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME: The title seems more appropriate for a Harlequin Romance novel, and if suitable at all for a Bond film, it would have been a better title for ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE. Yet, it does finally work the word "spy" into the title of a Bond film. 7 points.

Pre-Credit Teaser: It's all very nicely done: Within a few minutes, we see a submarine stolen and its crew kidnapped; we meet the Soviet's top agent, who just happens to be -- surprise! -- a woman; and we get the added treat of one of Bond's greatest stunts, the great skiing-skydiving trick. A pretty cool way to kick off the film and set up the various story lines. 9 points.

Opening Credits: Arguably the silliest of all of Maurice Binder's efforts, the opening sequence finds 007 bouncing around on a trampoline while various miniature, and apparently naked, babes do gymnastics on the barrels of guns. (Pity he didn't come up with that idea for THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN.) Bordering on self-parody, it is nonetheless naughty and fun and colorful and oh-so very James Bond. 9 points.

Theme Song: No beating around the bush here, the song gets right to the point: "Nobody does it half as good as you, Baby, you're the best." Just what Bond is best at is open to interpretation. The music by Marvin Hamlisch is swanky and matched by Carol Bayer Sager's dreamy and only slightly sarcastic lyrics. And Carly Simon's vocals bring it all home. Maybe not the best Bond song, but right up there. 9 points.

"Bond, James Bond": Moore finally makes the role his. The number of smug one-liners have been trimmed, yet he still invests the character with humor -- plus some warmth and charm, and unexpected sadness. And we get to see a bit of Bond's vanity as he matches wits with a female agent who is his equal and not impressed by his stock-and-trade flirtations. Moore's best appearance as Bond. 9 points.

Bond Babes: The prevailing notion has always been that "Bond Girl" equals "Bimbo," which is only partly true. Most of the women Bond encounters are highly skilled professionals -- as well as being bimbos. But Soviet agent Major Anya Amasova, a.k.a. XXX, is the first Bond Girl to give James a run for his money. She's smart, sexy, capable, resourceful and it takes her almost the whole movie to actually fall in love with Bond. What will power! As played by Barbara Bach (a.k.a., soon-to-be Mrs. Ringo Starr), Anya ranks as one of the best Bond Girls, easily worthy of 9 points.

Bond Villain: Karl Stromberg (nice villainous name, by the way) is one of those mad billionaires who hopes to create a new world order by mass genocide and building a new society, this time underwater. It is pretty much a cliché character and unfortunately Curt Jurgen plays the part like a grumpy old man and can't seem to muster up even a maniacal laugh. 5 points.

Bond Baddies: Oddjob look-a-like Sandor, played by Milton Reid, puts in an appearance long enough to die a memorable death, but it is Richard Kiel who steps into the limelight as Jaws, one of the great Bond villains. If being a hulking, seven-foot tall muscle man weren't enough, he also has steel teeth and an amazingly obsessive desire to kill 007. Playing Wile E. Coyote to Bond's Road Runner, Jaws earns 9 points.

Sinister Plot: Stromberg steals a Russian and a U.S. sub, as well as a British one, with the hopes of starting World War III and destroying the civilization as we know it today. Been there, done that. 4 points.

Production values: Romantic imagery, clever lighting effects and intriguing camera angles make this the most visually appealing Bond film. In the past, the emphasis was always on the most effective way to film action sequences, but here director Gilbert Lewis strives for that little bit extra as far as mood and romance. 9 points.

Bonus Points: Connery had his Astin Martin and Moore gets a Lotus Esprit. It is not nearly as snazzy, but it does turn into a submarine and you never know when that will come in handy. 5 points.

Summary: It had been hinted at in the three previous Bond adventures, but a new sense of style is fully apparent here. The roughness and grit that many of the purists loved about Connery's films are pretty much gone in favor of a polish and panache. Whether that is being suave or merely superficial is open to interpretation, but it does set the tone and the expectations for all future Bond adventures.

Bond-o-meter Rating: 84 points out of 100.
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Commander James Bond, recruited to the British Secret Service from the Royal Navy. License to kill and has done so on numerous occasions.
Spikeopath2 June 2012
The Spy Who Loved Me is directed by Lewis Gilbert and adapted to screenplay by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum from the novel written by Ian Fleming. It stars Roger Moore, Barbara Bach, Curt Jurgens, Richard Kiel and Walter Gotell. Music is scored by Marvin Hamlisch and cinematography by Claude Renoir.

Bond 10. Allied and Soviet nuclear submarines are mysteriously disappearing from the waters and causing friction between the nations. MI6 and the KGB have a notion that a third party is responsible and stirring up trouble for their own nefarious means. 007 is partnered with Soviet spy Major Anya Amasova (Agent XXX) and the pair are tasked with getting to the bottom of the plot before the crisis escalates.

During the whole run of the James Bond franchise there have been a few occasions when it was felt it had run out of steam. 1977 and on the back of the mediocre reception and by Bond standards the poor box office return of The Man with the Golden Gun, now was one such time. With producer Albert Broccoli striking out on his own, the stakes were high, but with a determined vision forming in his head and a near $14 million budget to work from courtesy of United Artists, Broccoli went big, and it worked magnificently. The Spy Who Loved Me is Moore's best Bond film, not necessarily his best Bond performance, but as a movie it's near faultless, it gets all the main ingredients right. Gadgets and humour were previously uneasy accompaniments to James Bond as a man, but here they serve to enhance his persona, never taking away his tough bastard edge. The suspense and high drama is back, for the first time in a Roger Moore Bond film things are played right, we don't think we are watching an action comedy, but an action adventure movie, what little lines of humour are here are subtle, not overt and taking away from the dramatic thrust.

For production value it's one of the best. Brocoli instructed the great Ken Adam to go build the 007 Stage at Pinewood so as to achieve their vision for The Spy Who Loved Me. At the time it became the biggest sound stage in the world. With such space to work from, Adam excels himself to produce the interior of the Liparus Supertanker, the home for a brilliant battle in the final quarter. Vehicles feature prominently, the amphibious Lotus Esprit moved quickly into Bond folklore, rocket firing bikes and mini-subs, helicopter, speedboat, escape pod, wet-bike and on it goes. Then there's Stromberg's Atlantis home, a wonderfully War of the Worlds type design for the outer, an underwater aquarium for the inner. Glorious locations are key, also, Egypt, Sardinia, Scotland and the Bahamas are colourful treats courtesy of Renoir's photography. Underwater scenes also grabbing the attention with some conviction.

The film also features a great cast that are led by a handsome, and in great shape, Moore. Barbara Bach (Triple X) is not only one of the most beautiful Bond girls ever, she's expertly portraying a femme of substance, intelligent, brave and committed to the cause, she is very much an equal to Bond, and we like that. The accent may be a shaky, but it's forgivable when judging Bach's impact on the picture. Jurgens as Stromberg is a witty villain, but he oozes despotic badness, sitting there in his underwater lair deliciously planning to start a new underwater world. Kiel as Jaws, the man with metal teeth, he too moved into Bond folklore, a scary creation clinically realised by the hulking Kiel. Gotell as Gogol is a presence and Caroline Munro as Naomi is memorable, while Bernard Lee's M and Desmond Llewelyn's Q get wonderful scenes of worth. They forgot to give poor Moneypenney something to chew on, but in the main it comes over that the makers were reawakened to what made Bond films great in the first place. There's even a candidate for best title song as well, Nobody Does it Better, delivered so magically by Carly Simon.

The grand vision paid off, handsomely. It raked in just over $185 million at the world box office, some $87 million more than The Man with the Golden Gun. Not bad considering it was up against a record breaking Star Wars. Critics and fans, too, were pleased. It's not perfect. It's ironic that director Lewis Gilbert returned for his second Bond assignment, because this does feel like a rehash of his first, You Only Live Twice, only bigger and better. Hamlisch underscores it at times and John Barry's absence is felt there. While if we are being particularly harsh? Then Stromberg could perhaps have been a more pro-active villain? He makes a telling mark, we know he's a mad dastard, but he only really sits around giving orders and pushing death dealing buttons. But small complaints that fail to stop this Bond from being one of the best. Hey, we even get an acknowledgement that Bond was once married, and the response from Bond is respectful to that dramatic part of his past. 9/10
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Bond, Back to Basics...
After the critical and commercial beating taken by THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN, producer Albert Broccoli, now solely in charge of the 007 franchise, had to re-evaluate the series for the third time in less than ten years. Certainly, Roger Moore would never be believable in a Sean Connery-type Bond film, but couldn't some of the series' best elements be restored, and the comedy reduced a bit, to make Moore's Bond a bit more believable?

The research, which became the basis of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, took over two years to complete, and the script went through many writers before the final draft, by Christopher Wood and Richard Maibaum. With a renewed emphasis on more realistic action, Broccoli brought back Lewis Gilbert to direct; his earlier Bond effort, YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, while not a major 'hit', had featured the most spectacular action sequences of the series. With Gilbert on board, the production became very reminiscent of the Connery film (Even the concept of a supertanker 'swallowing' submarines echoed YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE, and the spacecraft-'eating' SPECTRE capsule).

As the villain, esteemed German actor Curt Jurgens was cast as Karl Stromberg, an ideal choice, as the actor, with his bulging eyes, 'fit' the role of a fish-like megalomaniac. Playing his henchman, Jaws, in an inspired piece of casting, giant Richard Kiel, complete with 'bear-trap' steel teeth, would provide Moore with the greatest danger he'd ever face as Bond. Kiel was, in fact, so good in the role (possibly the most popular villain of the entire 007 franchise), that he would return in MOONRAKER, to bedevil Bond some more. Less successful, dramatically, but still astonishing to watch would be Stromberg's 'hit woman', Naomi, played by voluptuous Caroline Munro.

In an effort to 'update' Bond into an era of feminists, the strongest, most independent love interest to appear in at Bond film to that point was introduced. Major Anya Amasova, played by Ringo Starr's wife, the exotically beautiful Barbara Bach, was Bond's opposite number on the Russian side, an equal to 007 in every way. In a pivotal scene, she would display a knowledge of Bond's past that even included his dead wife, Tracy (the first time Bond's marriage had been mentioned since ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE). Moore's reaction to her comment would be both emotional and abrupt, and demonstrated that he could do far more than just deliver witty one-liners.

From the spectacular ski chase pre-title sequence, climaxing with a parachute free fall off a cliff (love that 'Union Jack'), to Bond and Anya's confrontations with Jaws, in Egypt (reminiscent of Bond's fights with Oddjob in GOLDFINGER and Tee Hee in LIVE AND LET DIE), to the amazing Lotus that would do service on land and in the ocean, to the massive tanker battle while Bond disarms a nuclear warhead (shades of GOLDFINGER), THE SPY WHO LOVED ME would do homage to 007's previous adventures, and utilize humor in support of the on-screen action, instead of spoofing it (other than the brief use of the LAWRENCE OF ARABIA'll spot it).

And to top things off, Carly Simon's rendition of the film's title tune, "Nobody Does It Better", would become a Top Ten hit, worldwide.

Critics and audiences loved THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, hailing it as Moore's best work, and one of the better Bonds of all time. Things were, again, looking up for 007...but STAR WARS was about to debut, and things would go dreadfully amiss, when Broccoli decided to send Bond into space, in MOONRAKER...
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Roger Moore rated this as his best Bond film. I don't agree, but it's certainly an entertaining and spectacular one.
Jonathon Dabell26 December 2004
Roger Moore has always maintained that The Spy Who Loved Me is the best of his Bond films. Personally I prefer Octopussy and For Your Eyes Only, but this one certainly has its moments. The original novel by Ian Fleming was an odd-one-out in the book series, describing as it did how an off-duty Bond saved a female hotelier from a couple of nasty hoodlums. However, in this film adaptation the novel has been completely jettisoned and replaced with a story about Bond thwarting a megalomaniac from achieving world domination.

Bond (Moore) is partnered with Russian agent Anya Amasova (Barbara Bach - most beautiful of all the many Bond girls) to solve the mysterious disappearance of two nuclear submarines, one British the other Russian. They follow the clues to the underwater lair of Karl Stromberg (Curt Jurgens), an elegant and educated psychopath with a plan to destroy the world in a nuclear holocaust and retreat to his undersea empire. To add to their complications, Anya learns that her recently killed boyfriend was eliminated by Bond during an assignment.

The pre-credit sequence is among the better pre-credit sequences in the series, involving an extraordinary ski stunt which many consider to be the most breathtaking stunt ever devised for a Bond film. Moore is good as Bond, Bach stunningly attractive as his partner (though not very convincing as an actress), and Jurgens provides a suitably over-confident villain. The location work in various locations, most notably Egypt, is nicely photographed. Marvin Hamlisch provides the music, marking a change from the usual composer John Barry, and Hamlisch's score is decent enough though it does have a dated '70s quality to it when listened to nowadays. The plot is totally implausible and self-parodic (if they'd stuck to the plot in the book though, it would've been almost impossible to make a Bond movie in the expected sense of the phrase), but director Lewis Gilbert cleverly plays it with tongue-in-cheek so that the absurdness of the on-screen events becomes curiously endearing. The Spy Who Loved Me is silly, entertaining and extravagantly spectacular.
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One of Moore's finest.
eamon-hennedy18 March 2004
Undeniably one of the finest James Bond films to star Roger Moore, the film has plenty of excess, top notch special effects (for 1977) anyway, the humor less overt and left over for puns and one liners, and one of the first strong and independent Bond women, paving the way for future love interests like Jinx and Wai Lin. The Spy Who Loved Me scarcely puts a foot wrong. Sure the plot is far fetched to the extreme (an underwater building and a villain looking to repopulate the earth in his underwater city), but it has plenty of charm and is frequently enjoyable. Moore looks very confident in his performance as Bond, the one liners oozing effort and confidence, showing he has hit his stride in this, his third appearance as the character. His chemistry with Barbara Bach is in full swing, despite her odd Russian accent, and the two of them make for a great on screen couple.

This is a return to the values of many of the Bond films that were missing the last time around. The extravagant sets are back, the villain has plenty of henchman for Bond and the cavalry to fight and the gadgets are in full swing. Everything from a parachute with the Union Jack on it to the Lotus with just about every conceivable gadget at Bond's disposal. The emphasis on sight gags and overt comedy is gone and replaced with moments of genuine suspense, just check out Bond having to steal the detonator of a nuclear weapon, not to mention the superb theme tune Nobody Does it Better by Carly Simon.

It's an apt song for a series that found its footing and gave its lead actor his first classic Bond film.
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Q supplies 007 with 'Wet Nellie,' one of the most remarkable vehicles ever entrusted to Bond's tender care since Goldfinger's DB5...
Nazi_Fighter_David9 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
In the 10th James Bond film, 007 does not always win and this makes him more human... His relationship with a resourceful and beautiful Russian agent is something new for the Bond films...

Lewis Gilbert's film provides direct allusion to David Lean's epic movies, bringing back a Blofeld-type character... His name is Karl Stromberg, a shipping tycoon who despises every aspect of terrestrial civilization...

Stromberg (Curt Jurgens) enjoys hearing classical music while plotting to decimate the human population... He hijacks atomic submarines belonging to the British and Soviet navies, and plans to use their nuclear missiles to destroy both New York and Moscow… Stromberg's aquarium, of sharks and other deadly fish, is his pride and passion... 'For me this is all the world', he declares, 'There is beauty. There is ugliness. And there is death.'

Stromberg's three killers are Jaws, Sandor and Naomi…

Jaws (Richard Kiel) steals the show as the most menacing and fearsome henchman Bond has ever faced since the mute Korean assassin Oddjob in 'Goldfinger.' Equipped with stainless steel teeth, Jaws is a giant of a killer on the loose who can't be stopped or killed…

Sandor (Milton Reid) is the bald, muscle-bound assassin who tries to kill Bond at Aziz Fekkesh's apartment in Cairo…

Naomi (Caroline Munro) is Stromberg's luscious assistant and helicopter pilot who shows her 'lovely lines,' giving Bond a lewd while trying to shoot him and Anya down from the air...

Bond and his very fine Russian ally Anya are sent to Egypt to identify the traitor who is putting the microfilm of the submarine tracking system on the open market... Each agent thinks the other is behind the hijacking... They play a game of spy versus spy in the land of the Pharaohs, until it is revealed that a third party has been playing them off against each other in typical SPECTRE style...

Bond is seen sensitive and a little bit incredulous about certain topics... He is waylaid in the Alps by a posse of Russians on skis... He shots a KGB agent using a ski-pole gun, and goes over a cliff and falls and falls and falls...

Roger Moore again adopts a naval commander's uniform... He orders a Baccardi on the rocks for Anya, and impresses her when describing her life story... He comments that he maybe has misjudged Stromberg referring that "Any man who drinks Dom Perignon '52 can't be all bad."

Barbara Bach had some unfinished business to settle with 007... Her role of Anya Amasova brings the feminine touch and talent to the action... Bach is attractive, classy, stylish, intelligent, confident, very sexy, and absolutely wonderful...

The film also marks the appearance of Walter Gottel as General Alexis Gogol, head of the KGB, who (unlike M) possesses somewhat of a sense of humor... Gogol has a deep attraction for beautiful women, and would become a regular character...

Edward De Souza proves to be wonderfully ironic as the Cambridge-educated Sheikh Hosein, whose harem includes a little treasure of whom our 'man of action' announces his intention to 'delve deeply into.

"The Spy Who Loved Me" deserves its popularity for its exquisite design for Atlantis, its lovely music score, and its humorous touches… The real names of both M and Q are revealed in the movie…
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Just like Carly sings it....
Warren Hawkes15 October 1999
With Roger Moore making the part his own by this his third bond film, Albert R. Broccoli had to come up with a strong action-packed epic, if they were to attract audiences that had been spoilt rotten by 'Star Wars' the same year.

'The Spy Who Loved Me' offers no new scenarios, in fact you could easily dissect each key scene and match it to something that's been done before. There's an underwater battle like the one in 'Thunderball' a ski chase not too dissimilar to the one in 'Her Majesty's...' and even the final big shoot out is not unlike the one in 'You Only Live Twice' (which was also directed by Lewis Gilbert) but 'The Spy Who Loved me' is more than merely a sum of its parts, and when each part is handled as expertly as these, you don't seem to care if it has indeed been done before.

The film like Moore exudes a certain charm, and provides a certain amount of nostalgia looking back at it now, with it's lively 70's fashions, even Bond's theme gets the disco treatment quite superbly. Ken Adam's stunning larger than life sets fit the film's extravagant, big budget flavour perfectly. Appreciative nods must also go to some fantastically attractive women, Caroline Munro playing the enticing Naomi has to be one of the most seductive looking femme fatales to steam up a wide-screen, and more's the pity that she didn't grace it longer. Barbara Bach is equally alluring, and a fine match for Roger Moore in all sense of the word . The film also offers a wealth of laughs while not forgetting the chills and spills, Richard Keil providing all as the relentless and unforgettable Jaws. The scene where he tears open a Sherpa Van like a sardine can is particularly memorable, as is him brushing himself off after plummeting into a farmhouse from a flying Mercedes. Some fine touches of drama too, Bond's response to XXX's remarks about his career and wife are handled with compassion and reverence.

So in all everything is here you could possibly want in a 007 adventure; top stunts, beautiful women, cool villains, those gloriously huge Pinewood sets and THAT car, wrapped in an exciting globe-trotting story line where Bond has to save the world from certain destruction, accompanied by Carly Simon sveltely singing 'Nobody does it better' it's not surprising that the 'Spy Who Loved Me' is one of the most memorable of all Bond films.
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The Best of the Roger Moore Era, and One of the Best of the Entire Series
Owen Ogletree7 January 2016
This was a spectacular addition to the series and, in my opinion, the best James Bond film since "Goldfinger." It completely washes the bad taste of "The Man With The Golden Gun" out of your mouth.

Roger Moore has perfected his take as James Bond by this outing. He is suave, sophisticated, and delivers the one-liners with aplomb. He is proving to be a worthy successor to Connery. He also doesn't try to be Connery, which is a very good thing.

Anya Amasova/XXX, played by Barbara Bach is one of the very best Bond girls. Her Russian accent is incredibly fake, but she's so beautiful and has such an engaging personality that I didn't mind it. She had great chemistry with Moore.

The plot, while essentially a reworking of "You Only Live Twice," is very fun and engaging and Lewis Gilbert (the director of "Twice"), continues his style of crafting big, epic set pieces that leave you in amazement.

Carl Stromberg is a pretty awesome villain, but he is completely overshadowed by his henchmen. Jaws is a classic villain. He is super intimidating and is pretty much invincible. Bond is never quite able to put him away. He even kills a shark. Oh, my!

The action is almost non-stop and keeps you on the edge of your seat. For instance, we get to see a thrilling chase with Bond using the Lotus Esperit, the best Bond vehicle ever next to the Aston Martin, and there are many tense fight scenes with Jaws and a heck of a climax at Stromberg's lair. Let's also not forget the opening sequence with Bond skiing off a cliff. Crazy.

A fantastic addition to the series very much deserving of its classic status. Arguably Moore's best Bond film (just a hair ahead of "For Your Eyes Only"), and one of the very best of the series as well. As Carly Simon says in the wonderful theme song, "Nobody does it better" than James Bond.

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"Why'd you have to be so good"
kikvadze0330 November 2015
Warning: Spoilers
There's some kind of magic inside this movie. It's a flawless bond film that will never exhaust you even after watching 100 times. How can anyone dislike this movie? It's to Roger Moore, what "Goldfinger" and "Goldeneye" are to Sean Connery and Pierce Brosnan, his absolute best. This movie is even better than "Goldfinger" by having a villain with a bigger plan, an even more memorable henchman, an even more memorable Bond girl, much better locations and in my opinion a better Bond. From Egypt to Italy, this movie is stunning and shows why Lewis Gilbert is my all-time favorite Bond director. You can spot some similarities to my favorite Connery's film "You Only Live Twice", but it never feels like a rehash. Instead of John Bary, we have an equally great Marvin Hamlisch as the composer of the film. "Nobody Does it Better" is one of the greatest if not the greatest Bond song ever written, it's only competition is "You Only Live Twice". The song perfectly captures who Bond is. Ken Adam somehow topped his sets from "You Only Live Twice" in this one, it's almost twice as good. Stromberg's underwater base - ATLANTIS is his masterful work. He also had a bit of help from Stanley Kubrick as well. The plot is a classic cold war story, that again has some similarities to "You Only Live Twice", which doesn't bother me at all. And I haven't even talked much about the main cast yet. Roger Moore as Bond is perfect, you really feel like he's Bond. Barbara Back plays agent XXX - Anya Amasova. She is one of the greatest Bond girls of all time, even know she's not one of the best acted ones. Curd Jurgens plays a cold-hearted, menacing, dark villain - Karl Stromberg. Richard Kiel plays what is quite possibly the definitive Bond henchman, you know he's not someone to joke around with. He has big metal teeth that can even bite Sharks. Walter Gotell plays Gogol, a Russian equivalent of M who was so good, that he became a recurring character for the rest of Roger Moore Bond flicks. This movie always keeps you excited, entertained and thrilled. I give "The Spy Who Loved Me" a perfect score of 10/10 because nobody does it better, though sometimes I wish someone could.
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