Previously in Part 7…
We talked about the only one time Bond, George Lazenby. Now we’ll talk about the actor who — until recently — was the longest serving Bond ever, Sir Roger Moore.
Tenure as Bond: 1972–1985
Prior to playing Bond, Roger Moore was already a well known television actor, known for his performances as Simon Templar in The Saint, Lord Brett Sinclair in The Persuaders, and Beau Maverick on Maverick.
After Diamonds Are Forever, Broccoli and Saltzman tried to convince Sean Connery to return as Bond, but he declined. After considering actors like Jeremy Brett, Michael Billington and Julian Glover, the two producers finally turned to Roger Moore, whom they had previously discussed for On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, but who had been unavailable.
Moore was cast as James Bond in Live and Let Die. While he tried his best not to imitate Sean Connery or his previous roles, the writers of the Bond films played more to Moore’s public persona by giving him more comedic material. Roger himself explained his approach to the humor by saying “to me, the Bond situations are so ridiculous … I mean, this man is supposed to be a spy, and yet everybody knows he’s a spy … it’s outrageous. So you have to treat the humor outrageously as well“.
Bond novelist Raymond Benson described Moore’s Bond as “a rather smarmy, eyebrow-raising international playboy who never seemed to get hurt“. Roger Moore was seen as the most elegant of the Bond actors. His proper voice and style gave off the air of a debonair Englishman.
Writer Andrew Spicer says “Roger Moore re-created Bond as an old-style debonair hero, more polished and sophisticated than Connery’s incarnation, using the mocking insouciance he had perfected in his role as Simon Templar … Moore’s humour was a throwaway, and certainly in the later films, verged on self-parody. It was an essential strand in the increasingly tongue-in-cheek direction of the series which became more light-hearted, knowing and playfully intertextual“.
Moore infused a number of his personal preferences into his version of Bond including:
- His tendency to raise his eyebrow when making a discovery and/or telling a joke.
- His version of Bond drove a Lotus Esprit as opposed to the traditional Bond car, the Aston Martin DB5.
- His taste for Cuban cigars. Moore’s use of cigars put him in contrast to the cigarette-smoking Connery and Lazenby.
- His wearing of comfortable safari suits for leisure.( You can seen him in one in most of his Bond films).
By the time of his fifth Bond film, For Your Eyes Only in 1981, Moore realized he was getting too old to play Bond in a believable fashion. In 1985, Moore appeared in his seventh and final film, A View to a Kill. He was 57 (his co-star Tanya Roberts was only 30).
Most critics focused on Moore’s age: The Washington Post said “Moore isn’t just long in the tooth – he’s got tusks, and what looks like an eye job has given him the pie-eyed blankness of a zombie. He’s not believable anymore in the action sequences, even less so in the romantic scenes“. When he was cast for the film, Moore recalled that he felt he was “a bit long in the tooth”. After the release of A View to A Kill, Roger Moore officially retired as James Bond in 1985.
- He was the oldest actor to play 007 (45 when first cast and 57 when he retired)
- He played James Bond in seven movies of the official EON series, the most of any actor to date.
- He is the first Bond actor whose Bond films had earned over $1 billion at the box office.
- His contract for the 007 films provided him with an unlimited supply of Montecristo cigars during filming. The bill for this typically ran to thousands of pounds.
- Despite playing James Bond in seven Bond films, he never ordered a vodka martini shaken not stirred.
- He named The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) as his favorite Bond movie of the seven he starred in.
- He has a number of favorites from his own era in the James Bond franchise.:
- His favorite gadget is the magnetic watch from Live and Let Die (1973).
- His favorite villain is Christopher Lee’s Francisco Scaramanga from The Man with the Golden Gun (1974).
- His favorite girl is Barbara Bach’s Anya Amasova (‘Agent XXX’) from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977).
- His favorite henchman was Richard Kiel’s Jaws from The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) and Moonraker (1979).
- A View to a Kill(1985) is his least favorite Bond film.
- Ironically, for an actor who played a weapons-wielding James Bond in no fewer than seven movies, Moore suffered from hoplophobia (the fear of firearms).
- He was the only actor to have played both James Bond and Sherlock Holmes.
- He is the first — and only — official Bond Actor to have passed away (Moore died on May 23rd, 2017 from cancer).
Best Bond Film: The Spy Who Loved Me
Synopsis: The storyline involves a reclusive megalomaniac named Karl Stromberg, who plans to destroy the world and create a new society under the sea. Bond teams up with a Russian agent, Anya Amasova, to stop the plans, all while being hunted by Stromberg’s giant henchmen, Jaws.
- The Times placed Jaws and Stromberg as the sixth and seventh best Bond villains (respectively) in the series in 2008 and also named the Lotus Esprit as the second-best car in the series (behind the Aston Martin DB5).
- Marvin Hamlisch‘s musical score was nominated for several awards such as the Academy Award forBest Song, Original Music Score, the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score, Grammy Award for Best Score for a Motion Picture and the BAFTA Anthony Asquith Award for Film Music (“Nobody Does It Better”) in 1978.
- First Bond movie to make significant references to Bond’s past, including his recruitment to the British Secret Service from the Royal Navy, his “many lady friends“, and his marriage to Tracy in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (1969)
- The title song “Nobody Does It Better” was sung by Carly Simon, with music by Marvin Hamlisch, and lyrics by Carole Bayer Sager. It is the first Bond theme song to be titled differently from the name of the movie that is played on the main titles, although the phrase “the spy who loved me” is included in the lyrics.
- First Bond movie to use an original villain, and not one based on a villain from the novels
- Jaws’ steel teeth would become an influence in hip-hop culture (known as “grilles” in the Houston, Texas hip-hop scene) a few decades after this movie’s release, Houston, Texas rapper Paul Wall, known for wearing grilles, paid homage to Richard Kiel (after Stromberg’s line that anyone in contact with the microfilm is to be eliminated) when he grinned in his music video for his hit single “They Don’t Know”, revealing his diamond-clad grille.
- Sir Roger Moore passed away in 2017 on the 40th Anniversary year of this movie.
Next time, we’ll discuss Roger Moore’s replacement, the classically trained Timothy Dalton.
James Bond Will Return In: TIMOTHY THE INTIMIDATING BOND!!!