Remembering Roger Moore

I don’t normally feel phased by the death of celebrities, but when I saw a tweet earlier today stating that Sir Roger Moore had passed away, I literally gasped and shouted something like, “oh, no!” My mother has always had a love of James Bond films and she passed that on to me. I’ve seen every one of the twenty-four official Bond films as well as the two non-Eon feature length films and even the 1950’s American made-for-TV movie. I’ve seen a very many of them several times. Only two of Roger Moore’s Bond films came out in my lifetime (For Your Eyes Only having come out a few months before I was born), so I never saw one of his 007 films in the theater. But growing up those were the ones that were always coming on TV. We had a few of them recorded from TV on VHS and I watched them over and over again. Though Pierce Brosnan was the first James Bond I saw on the big screen, Roger Moore was very much the James Bond of my childhood.

Of course conventional wisdom holds that Sean Connery, who first played James Bond on the big screen, is the “best” Bond. And I’ll even concede that that’s probably true. But Roger Moore has always been my favorite Bond. I’ve seen some people draw contrasts today between Connery and Moore referring to Connery’s take on Bond as “a killer”. But I don’t think that’s quite right. Of course James Bond is by his very nature a killer, but it’s really only Daniel Craig whose portrayal fits what one thinks of when they hear the word “killer”. No, Connery certainly played a more serious Bond than Moore, but he could also be relied upon to frequently slide in a wry joke during his tenure. Moore’s take on Bond was to imbue him with more class and charm. He stood straighter. He traded martinis for champagne and cigarettes for cigars. Moore knew when to be coldly serious and when to engage a winking sense of humor that perfectly rode the line between tastefully, humorously silly without straying too far into absurdity.

My favorite Roger Moore Bond film is For Your Eyes Only. I think you can make a case for others, particularly The Spy Who Loved Me, but For Your Eyes Only is always my favorite of his to watch. It was certainly one of the ones I watched the most frequently as a kid along with The Man With The Golden Gun and Moonraker.

Unlike Sean Connery, for whom I could easily name a dozen films outside of the Bond franchise that I’ve seen him in and loved, Moore didn’t have many memorable film roles outside of James Bond. (I’ve never seen him in The Saint TV series.) And yet, had it been Connery who had passed away instead, I don’t think I would have felt nearly as strong of an emotional reaction. I say that not to denigrate Connery in any way. I deeply enjoy his varied film roles. But my reaction to Moore’s death spoke volumes to me about just how much I love those Bond films from my childhood and his take on the character. Thank you, Roger Moore.