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Monday, 14 October 2013

Why Roger Moore is the best 007

Today the legend that is Roger Moore celebrates his 86th birthday. And in honour of the great man the ARCHIVE here reposts the popular post - WHY ROGER MOORE IS THE BEST JAMES BOND.

All together now
Happy Birthday to you, Happy birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Roger, Daniel Craig's got nothing on you.....

Why Roger Moore is the best Bond

It is Sean Connery who usually wins  polls to name the best James Bond, but it should be remembered that Connery was the first big screen Bond and he was making his films during a period of true Bondmania - the books had been red hot since President Kennedy named From Russia with Love as one of his favourite novels and when the Connery movies were showing in the cinemas, the UK was enjoying its status as the pop cultural capital of the world. London was swinging, The Beatles were sound-tracking the times and it also helped that there was little else being made that could compete with the glamour of the Bond movies anywhere in the world.

Connery was a superb James Bond but the longevity of the franchise and its ability to even survive the terrible miss-casting of Daniel Craig was down to Roger Moore. And Craig is indeed miss-cast - Fleming had enough trouble accepting Connery in the role but in comparison to Craig's Bond for our insurgent times, Connery's Bond seems the very definition of sophistication. What Fleming would make of Daniel Craig one can only guess but it is a safe bet his judgement would be expletive ridden.

At the time Connery's Bond movies were truly groundbreaking and whilst no one would say that he wasn't excellent in the role, he didn't have the ardous task Moore had when he stepped into the 007 shoes. Before Moore there was already one other actor who had tried to take over from Connery in the shape of George Lazenby and whilst these days his one stab at the role is fondly remembered, often considered something of a classic for the series, it was a flop at the time - fans didn't by large like him in the role. Maybe he would have improved and gone onto become one of the best Bonds - who knows? But it was not to be and Connery was brought back for Diamonds Are Forever.

Now Diamonds are Forever is an interesting film and is often called the first Roger Moore Bond film, even if it was Connery in the role. And there is some sense in this - the style of the film was far more comedic than previously, even more larger than life, so when people say that Moore brought too much comedy to the franchise they are clearly forgetting Connery's Diamonds are Forever which actually ushered in this style of Bond movie.

When Moore stepped into the role - the franchise had lost its original sheen and many people considered the series to be over - Diamonds, whilst financially successful, was not such a critical success and the thinking was that James Bond was a thing of the past, a glorious memory of Britain's final days as a super-power on the world stage. James Bond was in fact old fashioned and couldn't compete with the new wave of action cinema with stars like Clint Eastwood and Steve McQueen. James Bond was a hanger on from the British Empire and dreadfully unhip in this brave new world.

 Roger Moore proved that there was still life in the old dog and indeed his Bond movies were amongst the most successful ever made - time after time I have argued with people who have called Moore a terrible Bond and his films nonsense for this is clearly wrong and I would maintain that Moore was closer than anyone else to Fleming's original creation. And for me Moore will always be the definitive James Bond.

I thought Timothy Dalton was excellent too, as was Pierce Brosnan and George Lazenby was OK if a little amateurish at times. Daniel Craig, I think, is a great and very talented actor but I just don't think he's right for James Bond and I feel that both his Bond movies were lacking the essential ingredients that make Bond stand out from all the other action movies out there. It would be interesting to find out how many of the people who think Craig's Bond is the Bond of the books have actually read Fleming's original novels. Not many, I think.

But I digress - back to Moore.

When you analyse Moore's Bond, there's a lot of similarities between the way he and Connery played Bond - Connery also, at least from Goldfinger onwards, presented Bond as a larger than life, devil may care character and both actors were fond of the corny one liners. Of course Moore's tenure as Bond happened to coincide with a period where the comedy was becoming more important to the series, and it also helped that Moore was superb, far better than Connery, at playing for laughs.

If Moore's Bond had failed then we would never have had Dalton, Brosnan or Craig and Connery wouldn't have returned for Never Say Never Again. It was Moore that kept James Bond at the top of the box office for more than a decade and for that reason alone he deserves the accolade of the best ever James Bond.

Yep it's trendy to dismiss Roger Moore's Bond and claim that Daniel Craig is the closest to Fleming's vision but that's just bollocks. Fleming's bond was a professional killer but he killed out of choice, it was his profession and he was never the cold blooded thug as the latest films have seen fit to present him. Bond was a snob, a misogynist, and Moore brought out out all of these characterisations with the minimum of effort.

"Just keeping the British end up, sir."
Roger Moore may have made arguably the worse Bond movie in Moonraker,  but at least the film is good natured and fun, and I would rate it far higher than Quantum of Solace which was truly shit. And Moore may have gone on too long in the role, being far too old during A View to a Kill - It  doesn't change the fact that he starred in so many high-points of the series - The Spy Who Loved Me, Live and Let Die and For Your Eyes Only can stand shoulder to shoulder with the best the series has to offer. And no one, not even Connery, could deliver a quip with the style of Roger Moore. Let us not forget that not all of Connery's Bond movies were excellent - Thunderball was plodding and overlong, Diamonds are Forever was uninvolving and You Only Live Twice whilst having its moments suffered from a boring middle section. Connery did at least make three classic flawless Bond movies but then so did Roger Moore.

Roger Moore was an excellent James Bond and best not forget it.

And here we reprint another Moore/Bond based article

If Roger Moore had thought stepping into the shoes of James Bond would be a life of luxury. he was in for a big surprise.

'As the star of the picture I was given a caravan all to myself,' Moore wrote in his autobiography. 'Not a luxury Winnebago but the kind you see in motorway lay-byes selling tea and coffee. I did have a bucket in the rear though in which to relieve myself.'

One day on set an out of control vehicle collided with the caravan and obliterated the back of the caravan and Moore's bucket only moments after the star had done a number one. On screen Moore was expected to face danger with a nonchalant eyebrow, but it was dangerous enough behind the scenes. One afternoon Moore watched as his double was almost eaten by an alligator while performing the famous stepping stones/alligator scene.

'He was wearing my crocodile skin shoes and ruined them.' Moore jokingly grumbled later.

Prior to taking the part of 007 for Live and Let Die, Moore had been considering sign up for a second season of, The Persuaders, but while filming the later episodes of the series Moore had found the Bond team filming Diamonds are Forever at the same studio. Moore met the producers of the story and he had a pretty good idea that the offer of the role was coming his way. TV mogul, Lew Grade was furious when Moore signed for Bond and warned that the move would ruin the actor's career.

How wrong he was.

Lots of criticism has been leveled at Moore because his Bond was so light and more comedic than earlier films, but Connery's last Bond movie, Diamonds are Forever actually set the blueprint for the direction the series was going. In some ways Diamonds can be considered one of the Roger Moore Bond's even if it was Connery  in the role, and in truth Moore's first Bond, Live and Let Die is a far better movie than Diamonds are Forever. And the lightening  of the Bond character had actually started some years before with Goldfinger, often considered the best Bond movie. So to criticise Moore for his lighter Bond is actually nonsensical even if the comedy and outlandish elements were to reach all new highs - not necessarily an all time high.

Moonraker for instance may the worse Bond film of all, though personally I'd give that dubious honour to Quantum of Solace. But at the same time The Spy Who Loved Me is one of the best. Moore made as many good Bonds as Connery and was guilty of only a couple of really dreadful ones. To my mind the two bad Moore/Bonds are Moonraker and A View to a Kill and the failings of both movies are due to more than the leading man.

I'm a big Bond fan and I think that each of the actors who have played Bond have delivered both good and bad -  George Lazenby whose one Bond is now considered a classic managed to be both excellent and terrible in the same film.

It was during the filming of Moonraker that Moore met a young director named Steven Speilberg who was currently a hot property and the director, a huge fan of the series told that actor that he would love to direct a Bond movie. Moore told Cubby Broccoli about this but the producer dismissed it by saying Speilberg would be too expensive. And so Speilberg and Bond never happened and so the director went off and made Raiders of the Lost Ark, James Bond with a whip.


'My contention of playing Bond light is that it's all a big joke. How can he, a secret agent, walk into any bar in the world and be recognised and served his favourite tipple? It's pure fantasy,' Roger Moore

Moonraker had been rushed into production after the success of  Star Wars and all things science fiction. The movie that was supposed to have been in production was to have been For Your Eyes Only. This was a mistake and For You Eyes came after Moonraker and turned out to be one of not only Moore's best Bonds but anyone best Bonds. This was the way to play Bond tough and at the time, after growing used to Moore's light style, it was truly shocking. Awesome, we would have thought had such yelps of delight been in common usage then.

"I am happy to have done it, but I'm sad that it has turned so violent.I would love to be remembered as one of the greatest Lears or Hamlets, but as that's not going to happen, I'm quite happy I did Bond." Roger Moore

Now I've already written about why I think Roger Moore was the best Bond above, but as we await the return of James Bond to our cinema screens, in his all new thuggish  persona, we realise that the series has never truly recovered from the loss of Roger Moore.

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