James Bond: The Moore Years

Bringing you your very own James Bond cheat sheets, we continue looking back at 007 - this time we consider the Roger Moore years...

Bringing you your very own James Bond cheat sheets, we look back at 007 – this time we consider the Roger Moore years…

Live And Let Die (1973)

Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Dr Kananga played by Yaphet Kotto

Moore’s first Bond movie was a distinctly more light-hearted affair than what had gone before. The film traded on Moore’s persona in the television series The Saint and The Persuaders and quickly set the tone for the next 12 years. Notable for its use of African American protagonists which traded on the “Blaxplotation” era of the early 70s, Live And Let Die featured the first true African American Bond girl in Gloria Hendry. An unusual pre credit sequence, that did not feature the new 007, sets up an extremely enjoyable romp, marked by a rogues gallery of memorable villains. It also features a fantastic boat chase, classic Paul McCartney theme and perhaps the silliest dispatch of the principle bad guy before or since.

Memorable scene: Bonds escape from the man-eating alligators.

The producers initially wanted an American actor for Bond and approached Clint Eastwood! He politely declined.


The Man With The Golden Gun (1974)

Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Scaramanga played by Christopher Lee

This time Bond seems to have met his counterpart in Scaramanga, an assassin for hire whose trade mark is the titular Golden Gun. Lee made the most of his shot at Bond villainy and is unsurprisingly the best thing in the film. Unfortunately there is little else to recommend it. Similarly, along with its predecessor, it latched upon a craze (this time martial arts movies) and it feels as if the plot is contrived to include it. Britt Ekland is solely eye candy and has no depth whatsoever as the main Bond girl and, as Nik Nak, Scaramanga’s henchman, Herve Villechaize was little more than a reminder of how good Harold Sakata’s Oddjob had been in Goldfinger. Much maligned, at least Roger Moore was still looking the part. But for the Moore tenure it would get better before it got worse!

Memorable scene: The famous car stunt, no CGI in those days.

Maud Adams appears as the secondary Bond girl. She would appear alongside Moore in two further Bond outings in different roles.


The Spy Who Loved Me (1976)

Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Stromberg played by Curt Jurgens

Roger Moore’s best outing as the super spy had all the ingredients right. The best pre credits sequence of them all, a top contender for best musical score, memorable villain and the sexy and capable Barbara Bach as chief Bond girl. Its secret weapon, however, lay in Stomberg’s right hand man, and the most celebrated henchman of them all, Jaws, played by the giant Richard Kiel. In fact Jaws was such a great character he was not dispatched, as is normally the case, but brought back for the next movie. Being a Moore adventure it has its fair share of silly moments, but they are handled perfectly here. No other Moore Bond movie would capture his characterisation as well. The climax plays out on a huge scale and brings to mind You Only Live Twice with its scale (both films were directed by Lewis Gilbert). It also features the second best Bond car in the Lotus Esprit and a rocket launching submarine!

Memorable scene: The opening set piece and opening titles. Perfection.

The title song, Nobody Does It Better, was the first not to bear the title of the film.


Moonraker (1979)

Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Hugo Drax played by Michael Lonsdale

After TSWLM, Moonraker was a disappointment. Falling back on the “lets see what the latest movie craze is and we’ll do that” philosophy, Moonraker tries to cash in on the Star Wars boom. The plot contrives to get Bond into outer space and by now Moore was beginning to look too old to be a superspy, much less an astronaut. Lewis Gilbert’s trademark sets were still on display and the budget was doubled from TSWLM, but the plot was just daft and Bond was starting to become nothing more than comic relief. Unforgivably, Jaws was brought back but had all of his menace sucked out of him, turning him into a child friendly buffoon who becomes an ally of Bond and gets a cute girlfriend. Another low point in the franchise.

Memorable scene: Skydiving without a parachute, 007 style!

Shirley Bassey was drafted in to sing her third and last Bond theme after Johnny Mathis pulled out.


For Your Eyes Only (1981)

Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Kristatos played by Julian Glover

A conscious effort to dial back the ridiculous concepts of Moonraker, FYEO saw Bond returning to his grittier roots, relying on his wits again rather than gadgets. To reinforce this, his swanky Lotus is destroyed early on and the subsequent car chase features a Citroen 2CV. This started a five film run for John Glen, so long the second unit director, and he tries really hard to capture Connery’s style. Moore, however, is no Connery and his Bond seems totally out of place. TSWLM proved that, given the right material, Moore was a fine 007 but he was clearly too old by this point. Julian Glover is fine as a rather forgettable villain and, as Bond’s ally, Topol lends the film a bit of class. Ultimately though, if For Your Eyes Only was a stab at reinvention, Moore should have been replaced by younger blood. In the end, it stands as a strange one-off in the Bond era of pratfalls and slapstick.

Memorable scene: After leaving flowers at the grave of his wife Tracey, Bond appears to dispatch a certain feline loving super villain.

Bernard Lee died just as filming began making this the first Bond film without “M”.


Octopussy (1983)

Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Kamal Khan played by Louis Jordan

Released the same year as the rival Connery production, Never Say Never Again, the brains behind the 13th Bond adventure felt it was important to continue with Moore in order to compete. In some respects it worked, Octopussy won the box office war, but it continued the decline of the franchise with a lacklustre story and routine action. This movie marked a new low for 007 when he disguises himself as a clown, but Moore was still incredibly popular and brought his trademark charm (it was however wearing very thin). An unmemorable villain, stunt casting with tennis professional Vijay Armitrage and the wasting of real talent in the form of Stephn Berkoff combine and make this a cynical and boring affair. The only positive is the alluring Maud Adams, stepping up as an unusual Bond girl after her short lived performance in “The Man With The Golden Gun”.

Memorable scene: The aeroplane stunt at the beginning is pretty special, otherwise nothing of note.

Moore was not going to return at first so the producers looked for a replacement. James Brolin (father of Josh) went as far as screen testing for the part. Youtube it, he was pretty good.


A View To A Kill (1985)

Bond: Roger Moore
Villain: Zorin played by Christopher Walken

Roger Moore’s last Bond saw a return to the sort of action last seen in TSWLM nearly ten years before. While not holding a candle to the classic 1976 offering, A View To A Kill was definetly an improvement on the last movie. Grace Jones provided an interesting and memorable “henchwoman” and the cast was peppered with other interesting cast choices. Patrick Macnee brought The Avengers connection full circle by following Honor Blackman, Diana Rigg and even Joanna Lumley, in a supporting role. Action star Dolph Lundgren was given his first part in a very minor role and blink and you will miss Maud Adams’s third appearance in a Moore Bond as she stands in the background in one scene.

As Zorin, Christopher Walken brings the role of the villain back to the grandstanding megalomania of old and has a great time terrorising our hero. The climax too is a standout and the theme by Duran Duran is one of the most memorable of the series. Unfortunately all of these things do not compensate for the scene where Bond shares jacuzzi love with Fiona Fullerton who, at 29, was nearly thirty years younger than the now 58 year old Roger Moore. Moore himself has gone on record as saying this was his worst Bond.

Memorable scene: The climax over the Golden Gate bridge.

Moore was not the only actor to bow out. Lois Maxwell makes her last appearance as Miss Moneypenny after appearing in every Bond movie from Dr. No onwards.


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