Remembering Roger Moore (1927-2017)
The character of James Bond is immortal thanks to the long running film franchise, as well as the original Ian Fleming novels. Sir Roger Moore, the third actor to play the role, has passed away at the age of 89 after a brief battle with cancer. Beloved by many Bond fans as the actor who brought a true sense of humor to the franchise while also being a capable gentleman spy, Moore played Commander Bond in more films than any other Bond actor. Not only a terrific spokesperson for the arts and a terrific raconteur, he had a terrific charitable streak - serving as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for the last portion of his life. He brought joy to audiences and to the staff of Talk Film Society and we’ve gathered to remember the late James Bond actor.
Live and Let Die (1973) d. Guy Hamilton
For some of us at Talk Film Society, Roger Moore is “our” Bond. He was Bond during our formative years and, so whenever we hear the name, Moore is the face who comes to mind. There’s always some trepidation when replacing an actor in such an iconic role and yet Moore put on the Bond persona and it fit like a glove. His first outing as the agent licensed to kill was in Live and Let Die (LALD). This film is a slight variation from the previous Bond movies because it doesn’t focus on some international big baddie trying to take over the world, but instead on a dictator from the Caribbean, Dr. Kananga (played by the glorious Yaphet Kotto). Kananga is making and selling copious amount of H to the US and Bond is there to stop him. 007 + Voodoo = awesome.
LALD plays like a Blaxploitation film. It’s full of the same tropes, just on a much grander scale. Shout out to Gloria Hendry as one of the Bonds “girls”, (Jane Seymour is the main one). You can’t talk about this movie without mentioning one of (if not the) best Bond theme song to date, “Live and Let Die” by Paul McCartney and Wings. This song absolutely rocks the cock. I dare you to play it and not nod your head as the chorus starts. Sean Connery is a hard act to follow but I think Moore was certainly up to the task. LALD might not be the best of Moore’s Bond films, but for me, it’s one of my favorites. Sleep the good sleep, Sir Roger.
- Sarah Jane
For Your Eyes Only (1981) d. John Glen
I was raised on the Roger Moore Bond pictures, getting much of my sense of humor from the actor’s portrayal over the years. He was and remains my favorite actor to portray the world’s most famous spy; he was suave, capable, hilarious, and always able to get himself out of a jam. There are more fun Bond films that starred Moore, The Man with the Golden Gun and Moonraker among them, but never was Moore as brutal and unforgiving as he is in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only.
Bringing a hard edge that was only hinted at in previous films, this Bond is no-nonsense whatsoever. A thrilling car chase ends with a henchman’s car hanging precariously over the edge of a cliff. Bond shows no mercy, as the henchman had recently killing his local contact and friend Luigi Ferrara. With a simple push from Bond, the car tumbles over the cliff, killing the driver. It was a scene that Moore himself didn’t much care for, as the violence seemed too brutal for his tastes, but it’s one of the truer representations of Fleming’s creation in a Moore Bond picture. For Your Eyes Only, along with The Spy Who Loved Me, rank not only amongst Moore’s best outings, but some of the best for the franchise overall.
- Matt Curione
Everything or Nothing (2012) d. Stevan Riley
Back in 2012, we were all gaga for Daniel Craig and his near-sociopathic, tear-your-head-off iteration of OO7. Skyfall was on the horizon, and the Everything or Nothing documentary felt like a well-intended marketing tool to bolster the recent success of the franchise. This turned out to be a thorough and insightful documentary that gave us a rounded look into the series and the actors who brought the MI6 agent to life. Well, Connery comes off as a jerk, Lazenby got too “groovy” during the filming of his lone venture to return for a second, Timothy Dalton’s run was a mixed circumstance of “too-harsh-too-soon,” and Pierce Brosnan is the charming and grateful apologist (after all he did star in Die Another Day). It was Roger Moore who shined the brightest. While I have a hard time with some of his Bond movies, I walked away from Everything of Nothing with the impression that Moore, might be one of the history's sweetest actors. Graciously charming with all the class in the world, tipping his hat to the Saltzman-Broccoli team, and the films they made together. Moore’s only reservation was being a self-proclaimed pacifist, and all around humanitarian, but on set he was always a pro and played his super spy with a smile, he will be missed.
- Alex Miller
Spice World (1997) d. Bob Spiers
Oh my, Spice World is a ridiculous movie, but it’s never not a ton of fun. A camp classic starring the biggest pop-stars at the time, The Spice Girls, Spice World follows the larger than life group on their way to their “first” concert. Packed to the brim with cameo appearances that include Elton John, Elvis Costello, and Bob Hoskins, the best of the bunch has got to be Roger Moore. Playing Chief, the mysterious head of the Spice Girls’ record label, Moore brings his trademark wit and expertise at the delivery of a joke, playing essentially a Bond villain in control of the Girls’ lives. Throughout his career Moore constantly lampooned himself and the role of James Bond, and whereas other actors have unknowingly made jokes of themselves, you could tell that Moore was always in on it. No matter how many times he made fun of the gentleman spy’s trappings, he never sullied his own reputation. He was a smart man, who made even smarter decisions. He may be known as the “funny” 007, but outside of those pictures he was also a world-class comedic actor in his own right.
- Matt Curione
Octopussy (1983) d. John Glen
When someone asks, “are you Bond fan?” the follow up is always “well, who was your favorite?” While I swear allegiance to the house of Connery, I always stood up for anyone who played 007, and Roger Moore had a lot of distinctions as clocking in with most Bond movies, and for my money one of the best, Octopussy. The thirteenth entry in the series has everything that a Bond movie needs, cranked up to eleven. It has cold war intrigue, a charismatic villain, stoic henchmen with cool exotic weapons, globe-trotting action, fun gadgets, a slew of chases scenes, and lengthy train fights while the amiable OO7 is playing the one-man army to save the world from nuclear war. Octopussy has all the makings for another over-the-top super spy movie, but mainstay director John Glenn tightens up the action, balances the comedy; and in tandem with Roger Moore who’s at his best in this film plays James Bond with the most confident swagger since becoming an MI6 agent. It was released in 1983, at the same time as the non-EON Connery vehicle Never Say Never Again, making it “The Battle of the Bonds” and as far as I’m concerned, Moore handily won that matchup.
- Alex Miller
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) d. Lewis Gilbert
If there ever was to be a James Bond romantic-comedy it's definitely The Spy who Loved Me. The tenth 007 film pits Moore's MI6 agent against the blindingly beautiful Barbara Bach's Russian femme fatale and the two share an electric, dangerous chemistry. Roger Moore is very charming and suave here, especially with an opponent to match his winking sexuality and devilish appeal. Moore faces one of the best henchmen in 007 history as well, the killing machine Jaws (played by Richard Kiel), and enjoys every second of it. The underwater civilization plot is deliciously bananas but 007 keeps it afloat with his humor and sarcasm. Sir Roger Moore loved playing Bond, possibly more so than any other actor in the franchise, and The Spy Who Loved Me is a terrific showcase for the late actor's strength in the role.