Today, Sean Connery’s power as an Immortal Highlander grows a tiny bit. Roger Moore, best known as the star of seven of the James Bond films whose combined international box office totaled over a billion dollars. He also played the eponymous role of Simon Templar in the series The Saint, and between the two roles never managed to shake the typecasting of a secret agent. He passed away today from cancer in Switzerland. He was 89.
We’re big fans of the Bond series in general, (in fact, we reviewed each and every one of the Bond films in the space of a month a few years ago) but somehow none of us really loved Roger Moore the way we did the other Bonds. But, but he has a devoted fanbase to whom James Bond is and always will be the campy, always with a one liner on the top of his tongue Roger Moore. Regardless of where you rank him in your Bond pantheon, his influence was astounding.
In many ways, his films defined a very strict formula Bond was supposed to work under: fast cars, hot women, bungling racist sheriffs, one liners, stunts, and always get the girl at the end. The Austin Powers series, specifically, would not have been possible to spoof Bond if Moore had not been there to make those films. A lot of people like a lighter, more campy Bond. Indeed, many rebelled against the darker, more nuanced tone Timothy Dalton brought to the role in his first outing, leading to a more campy second outing for Dalton, and eventually the onboarding of Pierce Brosnan who specifically flipped the expectations and tropes of the character Moore had establish in his Goldeneye outing to re-establish the character for the 90's.
It’s also worth noting that Moore stepping into the Bond shoes was no small feat—fans rebelled at Connery replacement George Lazenby so totally that Connery was brought back. And when Connery made the rogue Thunderball remake Never Say Never Again, fans stuck with Moore and continued to support him for more films after that. Connery was the first Bond, but Moore cemented his legacy as a series of films where the central star could be recast. Without Moore, we would not have Dalton, nor Brosnan, and certainly not Daniel Craig.
There’s something to his films as Bond, too. While fairly braindead (and some nearly unwatchable—I’m talking about you, Octopussy and Moonraker), there’s a simplicity and fun to a lot of what Moore did on screen. There are many for whom Bond will always be Connery driving his Aston Martin, but almost just as many for whom it is Moore driving the Lotus from The Spy Who Loved Me.
Years from now, people will look back on Moore's work in A View to a Kill and recognize how ahead of its time it was-- not only when Bond "invents" snowboarding in the opening scene, but also in forseeing the rise of a Silicon-Valley-based Bond Villain like Mark Zuckerberg, played in the movie by Christopher Walken. They'll also look at Moonraker and say "They really thought this is what the future and space travel were like?"
For better or worse, Moore was a huge part of this geek's life, and many others'. Let's all raise a martini, shaken, not stirred, and pump up the volume as we listen to "Live and Let Die" to the memory of Sir Roger Moore.
"Once you were young and your heart was an open book. You used to say live and let live. . . (You know you did, you know you did, you know you did). But if this ever-changing world in which we're living makes you give in and cry-- say Live and Let Die."
Our Reviews of Moore's Bond films from our 30 Days of Bond here: