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David Poland

By David Poland

Roger Moore Keeps The British End Up No More

roger_04Roger Moore was my first James Bond.

Live and Let Die was my first Bond film in a movie theater. I don’t recall whether I had seen Goldfinger or Dr No on ABC TV (Bond movies were a broadcast TV event back then). I think I had watched “The Saint” in black & white. But I loved — and love — that movie. Moore… Kotto… Geoffrey Holder… Jane Seymour. Sharks. Literally blowing the bad guy up.

Scaramanga’s Third Nipple and Hervé Villechaize weren’t played for comedy in The Man With The Golden Gun.

But there was something about The Spy Who Loved Me‘s combination of Barbara Bach, who was filthy-sexy in a way that previous Bond girls were not, and Jaws, who was not presented as funny, that somehow became Peak Bond and sent Moonraker into self-satire. Perhaps it was Moore’s age, then 52, and that Lois Chiles – even with the name Holly Goodhead – seemed to be smarter and more inherently capable than Bond. And they set big action in space. And of course, Richard Kiel’s Jaws was played for comedy in that one.

The final three Roger Moore Bond films were dragged along behind the car. Forgettable villains were cast (as casting was so critical). Moore was still a very handsome man and we were so familiar with him that we accepted that we didn’t really believe he was stronger and faster than everyone else. More of the stunts were done behind masking of some kind.

A View To A Kill was the end, with a great Duran Duran song, the amazing Grace Jones (though on the heels of Conan The Destroyer, which made the magic of who she is seem used up), and the first great Christopher Walken hair performance. But Bond seemed ready for retirement.

And Roger Moore, who would work to near the end (he is a voice in Guillermo del Toro’s Netflix series, Trollhunters), never chose to become a man in his 60s or 70s or 80s in front of the camera. Unlike Sean Connery, he seemed to have no urge to prove himself as any more of an actor than his decades of worldwide stardom suggested he was. No dying, no balding, no crying.

And so, he will be forever young, whether as Bond or as The Saint.

Roger Moore is the first James Bond to die. Sean Connery will be 87 this August. Lazenby will be 78. Goldfinger expected Bond to die… but these guys seem to live forever.

May Sir Roger Moore rest in peace.

12 Responses to “Roger Moore Keeps The British End Up No More”

  1. Spacesheik says:

    He will be missed.

    I still think of THE SPY WHO LOVED ME as PEAK BOND – where everything came together: the pre credit teaser, the Carly Simon ballad, the Marvin Hamlisch disco-ish score, the huge sets (who could forget Pinewood’s massive submarine set), the action, the globetrotting locales (Egypt, South of France etc), the gadgets, the underwater car — what a Bond that was.

    But he especially was effective as Bond in the lower key – after the excesses of MOONRAKER) – down to earth FOR YOUR EYES ONLY.

    I especially loved Roger Moore in his non Bond 70s movies as well: THE WILD GEESE, THE SEA WOLVES, FFOLKES (aka NORTH SEA HIJACK), SHOUT AT THE DEVIL, ESCAPE TO ATHENA etc.

    And he could spoof himself playing Bond as well (THE CANNONBALL RUN).

    He was the closest modern day actor who approximated David Niven’s wit and charm. I mean what other actor could’ve pulled off playing both Bond and Inspector Clouseau (CURSE OF THE PINK PANTHER). Always self deprecating, always humble. RIP.

  2. Dr Wally Rises says:

    Had he left the part after FYEO, as originally planned, then he would, I think, be remembered as the best Bond ever. FYEO makes the aging of the character part of the point and does have the end of an era feel to it, with the pre credits victory over Blofeld and Moore playing a more solemn and pensive version of the character than usual. The only reason Moore came back afterwards was because Broccoli was unable to close a deal with James Brolin. There’s a salutary lesson for the current iteration of the franchise, with a coming up on 50 Daniel Craig looking like he’ll carry on in the part after his era reached its natural conclusion. Seventies Moore was an icon and I’ll always treasure his contribution to my generation’s cinematic formative years.

  3. Greg says:

    UNICEF work for a quarter century really hits home. And as an aside with respect to nothing, he is a extraordinarily good looking man pre-Bond. Wow.

  4. Js partisan says:

    He is my favorite Bond, because his Bond isn’t an asshole. He treats people charmingly, and he doesn’t hate women. His films, may not be perfect, but he’s how I have always felt Bond should be.

  5. YancySkancy says:

    He actually did appear on camera occasionally in his later years. I saw him in the otherwise execrable Boat Trip in 2002, when he would’ve been about 74. He was the only thing remotely amusing about that gay panic-fest.

    The first Bond I saw in theaters was Diamonds Are Forever, when the bloom was off the Connery rose, so I never had a problem with Moore on principle, as some people did. I enjoyed all of his Bond films to one degree or another, except Moonraker and A View to a Kill, the latter of which I’ve still never seen. RIP

  6. Geoff says:

    RIP to the Bond I grew up with – there are few films I would watch on video again and again on video whenever I was sick at home than For Your Eyes Only:

    – Sheena Easton dazzling during the opening credits sequence
    – Topol chewing scenery with relish as Colombo (yup that was his name in the movie)
    – that ENDLESS ski chase scene which is ridiculous on paper but fun to watch Moore winking at the camera in front of the rear projection
    – that bad-ass scene where he actually kicks the henchman’s car off the edge of the cliff
    – his awkward attempts to fend off Binky, the teenage figure skater from seducing him
    – that awesome climax climbing up the mountain to get to Locke’s hideout…one of the few times it at least LOOKED like Moore was doing his own stunts

    Sir Roger Moore was a good guy who clearly enjoyed what he did – he will be missed.

  7. Triple Option says:

    The Sheena Easton song was cool but Carly Simon’s The Spy Who Loved Me holds a special place in my heart. A lot of the Bond films blend together for me but Sir Roger was the Bond of my youth. I remember my mom watching some of the older Bond films on ABC and being confused by Connery.

    I do remember watching some reruns of The Saint, too. I enjoyed them but couldn’t tell you anything about them. I was a bit older when I discovered The Avengers but the 60s espionage period has such a classic look.

    Moore is Bond to me. Not saying he’s the best but that’s who first pops to mind.

  8. Amazing piece, David. Thanks.

  9. I loved Moore as the pilot in ‘The Wild Geese’ (1978), with Richard Burton, Richard Harris and Hardy Kruger. But my favorite Moore’s character was Lord Brett Sinclair in ‘The Persuaders’, of which he directed two episodes.

  10. palmtree says:

    Octopussy has the best Bond title, and it’s a damn good Bond movie too. RIP Roger Moore.

  11. Sideshow Bill says:

    FOR YOUR EYES ONLY was my introduction to Bond because it was on HBO or Showtime endlessly when I was young. And I watched it every time. I have a hard time choosing a favorite Bond so I won’t do that. But Moore was great even in the bad films. As JS said he was charming and nice.

  12. Doug R says:

    Went to see The In-Laws with a friend. There was a trailer for Moonraker, with the getting tossed out of a plane without a parachute.
    We of course had to stick around to check that out. My first Bond in the theater. Loved that they went into space.
    Sheena Easton was hot in the song, For Your Eyes Only felt like a bit of a pull back, but Octopussy was the best Moore Bond I saw in a theater. Bond was actually a crack shot with a pistol and I saw actual emotion leaking through in the bomb scene. Watching Spectre I realized maybe most of the problems I had with Moore’s Bond were mostly due to the franchise.
    Watching some of his work on The Saint and Maverick, I could see why they cast him.

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