Friday, February 28, 2014

At Anorak: Shaken Not Stirred -- Five Great Character Moments in the Roger Moore James Bond Era



In keeping with my James Bond theme today, my latest essay at Anorak involves the Roger Moore James Bond era.  Shaken not stirred looks at five great character moments from that span (1973 - 1985).


"I VERY happily grew up with Sir Roger Moore in the role of Ian Fleming’s James Bond, and thus maintain a deep well of affection and nostalgia for his seven films…even if some Bond fans do not
Moore’s epoch as Agent 007 isn’t usually considered the most creatively fertile time in the franchise’s history, in part because the Bond films of the day pursued “hot” movie trends instead of initiating them, as had been the case in the 1960s.

To wit, the Bond movies of the Moore era attempted to jump on the bandwagon of Blaxploitation cinema (Live and Let Die [1973]), martial arts/Kung-Fu films (The Man with the Golden Gun[1974]), and even the Star Wars craze (Moonraker [1979]).

Despite the fact that Bond films of this time period seem desperate to pinpoint some – any — pop culture relevance, the Roger Moore efforts nonetheless boast some surprising character moments that could have been ripped straight from the novels…and Fleming’s literary descriptions of the character.

For instance, at least two films of the Roger Moore era (The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only) make explicit mention of the character’s tragic history — namely his dead wife, Tracy — a background that the last Connery film, Diamonds are Forever (1971) totally ignored.

Although it is undeniable that some James Bond films of the Roger Moore indeed tread heavily into unfortunate slapstick comedy (see: the pigeon doing a double-take at a gondola-turned-hovercraft in Moonraker), the actor’s finest moments in the famous role arrive not when he is called upon to play scenes broadly or cheekily, but rather when he is tasked with expressing Bond’s humanity.
Some of these “human” moments are small, even throwaway ones, but each one reminds the audience that 007 is not just a superhuman quipster in a white-dinner jacket.  He’s still a man who bleeds, sweats, and struggles.

In chronological order then, here are five character moments from the James Bond Era of Roger Moore..."


9 comments:

  1. Great article. I just recently finished my whole Bond marathon and my thoughts on all matters regarding are nearly spent. Suffice to say, good insight on some of Moore's finer moments and I'm glad you rank For Your Eyes Only so high, relatively speaking, as do I.

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    1. Hi Cannon, thank you for the kind words, sir! For Your Eyes Only is a great movie, and the best Moore effort, in my opinion. The final sequence on the mountain is tense in the extreme, and brilliantly filmed. The stunts are amazing. Beyond that, Moore is a bit less fresh-faced, a bit more world-weary, and it suits him. I love when he kicks the car off the cliff..

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  2. Roger Moore was and still IS my Bond. It's funny how there is this undercurrent when it comes to Bond, and fans of Bond, particularly those who grew up on him, that there is some need to apologize for this affection of his rendering.

    It is completely fair that the intellect might break him down against others for certain specifics, but sometimes these affections and fascinations defy pure logic. Roger Moore had one heck of a run. Moonraker may be the one that went a little too far - you're correct, but I simply will not lower Moore down the totem pole of Bonds any longer. : )

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    1. Good for you for owning the love of Roger Moore.

      For me, that's what these reviews/articles are about today too.

      I grew up with him as well, and as I said in a comment on Cannon's blog, I feel that whatever the deficits of the Roger Moore era, they can't be laid at his feet.

      I think he does a fine job as Bond, and he is, as we like to say, MY Bond.

      Why are some of the movies of his era not so good?

      Well, let's face it, Moore had a difficult assignment, and he accomplished his mission quite successfully. Connery started out Bond, and the films became a phenomenon. His reign, starting with Goldfinger, was a pop culture EVENT.

      But in the seventies, and after that pop culture event passed, what?

      What was the place for Bond?

      After Man from Uncle, Mission Impossible, The Saint, Get Smart, and so on...what was 007's place?

      I think we see in films such as Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, and Moonraker, the filmmakers trying to jump on the next big movie bandwagon as I write in the piece -- blaxploitation, kung-fu, outer space, etc. The films became "followers" instead of trend-setters. The films lost some of their luster.

      At the same time, however, the films became aware of the idea of parody; of satire. Roger Moore's Bond is about that too, I guess you could say. His films added ironic, knowing humor -- sometimes too much -- to the franchise in an attempt to mix things up a bit.

      After Moore left, Dalton went serious, Brosnan went epic, and Craig re-grounded everything.

      But not one of those eras would exist if Roger Moore had not successfully carried the baton into the mid-1980s, if he had not found some "place" as Bond, beyond Connery (and the failed though promising Lazenby).

      So, yes, today is Roger Moore Day!

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  3. Btw, a terrific article lending further evidence as to why he was one of the greats.

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  4. John I posted this comment at Anorak:

    John, brilliant analysis of Sir Roger Moore's 007 Bond. I too believe FOR YOUR EYES ONLY is the best film of Moore's era. It is grounded in reality and we get to see Ernst Stavro Blofeld final(?) demise committed by Bond. Which is a nice completion back to Connery's DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER attempts and Lazenby's ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE.

    SGB

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  5. Thank you, SGB, for cross-posting. I appreciate it so much. And we are in total agreement. For Your Eyes Only rocks, and Roger Moore is at his very best there. I also like that we saw the end of Blofeld, and got a reference to Tracy...

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    1. As a young boy in the '70s one of my first crushes was Diana Rigg in The Avengers television series reruns. I loved Diana Rigg being in a Bond film. It was sad to see her Tracy's demise.

      SGB

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