Roger Moore, an appreciation

"Hold on to the safari suit, ladies..."

The strangest thing has happened. ITV have dispensed with their usual policy, and actually put something watchable on television.

The last two weekends they have treated us to some classic Roger Moore James Bond films.

Regardless of popular opinion, Roger is clearly the greatest Bond, simply because he was the one that had to do the most acting.

Firstly, he is massively too old. No one (apart from, apparently, a swathe of bikini’d lovelies) is fooled by the hair. It has the same darkness that one can see on Silvio Berlusconi’s fuzzy noggin. A colour that simply isn’t available in nature. 

He also can’t run. Which is a bit of problem considering that’s half the Bond job. (In The Spy who Loved Me, Roger actually looks pained sitting on the edge of the bed, which is presumably due to the nagging constraints of his girdle…)

It doesn’t matter that he looks ludicrous, because it all complements the spirit of the piece. These films are not based in reality, they’re based in a world where Britain is still a world superpower and where the summit of all human achievement is based on a man’s ability to smoke cigars and make barbed ‘quips’ – mainly to an audience of stiffs. It seems like an odd thing to do – punning to the dead – but Roger likes it. (Sadly, these one-liners became a stable part of action films in the 1980s – taken to its logical extreme by Arnold Schwarzenegger in films like Commando. You may recall Arnie as ‘John Matrix’ killing a fat man in a chain-mail wife-beater with a hot air pipe and then telling his corpse to ‘let off some steam’…) But Roger is the originator, and it’s this (plus his effortless eye-brow hiking and general swagger) that makes his Bond.

Despite his obvious short-comings (when he gropes young ladies with liver-spotted hands, it’s not always pleasant viewing), Roger’s Bond does put on a damned good show. Whether he’s wandering through a desert in full evening dress or clambering over a wall in a polyester safari suit and brown loafers, there’s never a hair out-of-place. Even when he’s giving a sumo wrestler a wedgie or rabbit-punching an oblivious Richard Kiel, the densely coloured hair remains staunch. In fact, like the Bond of the Ian Fleming novels, whatever happens, Moore’s hair is unmoved.

On those rare occasions that Moore does sustain an injury, it’s only ever a ‘hero cut’ – perhaps a small line of blood emanating from the corner of his mouth – and, even then, there’s usually a blonde with a bubble perm ready to kiss it better in time for the next scene.

Perhaps most telling about Moore’s tenure as Bond, is the line in The Man with the Golden Gun, when Roger looks genuinely flabbergasted by M explaining that they have found a golden bullet with ‘007’ etched on to it. Who could possibly have done that? (Well, The Man with Golden Gun, would seem like a likely contender.) Roger pleads ignorance. 

Bond: “Who would want to kill me?”

M: “Jealous husbands? Outraged chefs? Humiliated tailors? The list is endless…”

Outraged chefs? Good Lord, Bond is basically Michael Winner…

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~ by wordwrites on August 23, 2010.

4 Responses to “Roger Moore, an appreciation”

  1. His best film is easily The Man who Haunted Himself which he plays heroically straight, even though the plot hinges on how many times he detaches his shirt’s celluloid collar. Even though it’s the sixties and no one wears them. Anton Rogers plays his best mate, I know you’ll be pleased to hear.

  2. Och Jamie!

  3. Britt Ekland stuffs a wild bikini in Goldeb Gun. “No concealed weapons” says Scaramanga: quick, efficient and undeniable and that’s Britt in her pants for the rest of the film. Well done, sir.

  4. No stunt arse either.

    No arse at all, really…

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