So farewell then to the man who brought Bond with humour to the big screen. RIP Roger Moore, knight of the realm, and all round good egg. Double 089.
His version of Ian Fleming’s spy was memorable for capably filling the not inconsiderable shoes of Sean Connery’s James and by doing so in a very different manner.
He brought panache and a knowing smile to some of the cheesier lines of the films and still managed to maintain the air of a super spy capable of immediate and effective violence against the massed ranks of baddies.
Most people familiar with Western cinema of the last half century or so would have a favourite James Bond film. Maybe even three or four.
So while I have personal and family reasons to trumpet Connery as the best version of the agent licensed to kill, it is two of Moore’s outings that make my memory pop first.
It may be because I saw Live and Let Die (music by George Martin, Paul McCartney and Wings!) and The Spy Who Loved Me (Carly Simon sings Nobody Does It Better!) as a double bill in Perth Playhouse in Scotland for a birthday treat.
It must have been a re-release package before such things became more declasse. Or maybe it just took that long for the film to get to Scotland……since Connery wasn’t ordering the martinis anymore.
I was pre-teen and allowed to handpick three friends to take with me to face sitting for more than four hours (with a loo break and popcorn purchase between the two) in the local fleapit. Not an easy decision when so many wanted to join the exciting doubler.
So these two Roger as Bond films live long in my memory.
Whether it is the tobacco chewing Sheriff J.W. questioning just whose side James is on anyway and the New Orleans funeral-turned- celebratory-murder-mardi gras in Live and Let Die; or the unstoppable steel-toothed baddie named Jaws (played by Richard Kiel) and a Lotus Esprit that turns into a submarine car in The Spy Who Loved Me, these films are entertaining entries in the world’s longest running film franchise.
I interviewed Roger in 2012 when he was involved in a James Bond auction of memorabilia from a range of the spy films to mark the 50th anniversary for UNICEF.
He was generous with his time and dealt with a fanboy trying to be professional with a suave, debonair warmth.
He really was the “I had that Roger Moore in the back of my cab once, lovely bloke, lovely bloke”.
And he wasn’t just Bond. He was The Saint and Ivanhoe for goodness sake.
Roger, we always knew whose side you were on.