Give me Moore!

Posted: June 19, 2015 in James Bond

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There’s a snobbery that afflicts a certain section of Bond fandom, people who only want Bond to be like he is in the books and who pine for the halcyon days (i.e. the Connery era) when Bond films were gritty realistic spy films. Usually (but not always) the chief target of this ire is Sir Roger Moore. He’s a joke, he’s too lightweight, his films are ridiculous…etc. etc. etc.

As with most people with an axe to grind (myself included on occasion, let’s be honest) they pick and choose the facts that back up their argument. So Rog going into space in Moonraker is the nadir of the series and utterly ridiculous (just don’t mention that Connery nearly went into space ten years earlier, you know in the gritty realistic spy film about the man with a hollowed out volcano and a spaceship that ate other spaceships…) they’ll mention Rog dressed as a clown in Octopussy as the very epitome of life imitating art and a moment that completely demeans the character (but again forget Connery in yellow face as the world’s least convincing Japanese man) And let’s be honest here, whilst Roger Moore did make several of the more fantastical films, he also made For Your Eyes Only, which is probably more of a realistic spy thriller than anything in the Connery canon excepting From Russia with Love.

Personally I think Roger Moore is underrated; in particular his early films are very good, The Man with the Golden Gun is the weakest of the first three, but it’s still good fun, which I think is one of the things I do enjoy about Rog, his films, even at their silliest, are fun, and there’s a lot to be said for that. Ok Moonraker is utterly preposterous, but so what, it’s fun and utterly preposterous.

Yes Moore is less obviously dangerous than Connery, and yes Moore opted for a lighter, more humorous portrayal, yes he was in the role too long and yes the whole eyebrow thing did become a bit of a joke, and he did end up becoming something of a parody of himself (see also William Shatner, another who’s a better actor than you might think), but there’s a lot more to Moore’s portrayal than meets the eye.

For starters I think he’s more brutal and coldblooded than people imagine, and the fact that he’s suave and lightweight with a nice friendly smile actually makes his brutality more shocking than say Connery, who never does anything really unexpected.

Take his “I certainly wouldn’t have killed you before.” to Rosie and basically tricking Solitaire into shagging him(which isn’t a great moment but preferable to Connery’s ‘I’ll just lie on top of you till you give in, Pussy’ tactic), to slapping Andrea Anders around in The Man with the Golden Gun and dropping a man off a rooftop with an effortless flick of his tie in The Spy Who Loved Me, and of course there’s him dispensing with the man who killed the countess in For Your Eyes Only. He may not be as remorseless as Dalton or Craig, but the fact that he’ll kill you with a smile is almost unsettling. In fairness it’s worth noting that often Moore was against the more brutal elements of the character, but that said those characteristics are there, and for anyone who doesn’t think Moore can be nasty I suggest you watch The Wild Geese where he makes a villain swallow a consignment of heroin laced with strychnine (ok it’s not a Bond film but still, his Shawn Finn is quite 007ish.)

His acting gets a bum rap, but again I’d argue he’s a better actor than people give him credit for. Obviously he’s no Ralph Fiennes but check out his reaction when XXX mentions Tracy in The Spy Who Loved Me, or his disdain when Scaramanga implies they’re very similar, and don’t forget the weary look when a Universal Exports’ helicopter arrives to pick him up whilst he’s trying to grieve at the start of The Spy Who Love Me.

And though it’s not really relevant, you kind of get the feeling that, all things considered, he’s a fairly unpretentious and decent chap into the bargain. So go on, give in and admit that, sometimes, safari suits, judo chops and raised eyebrows are cool!

He’s also the Bond who got revenge for Tracy, which is just icing on the cake.

Four down, two to go, but who will be in fourth place and who’ll be second only to Dalton?

Bond #001           Timothy Dalton

Bond #002           TBA

Bond #003           Roger Moore

Bond #004           TBA

Bond #005           George Lazenby

Bond #006           Sean Connery

 

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