The Dose: The Best and Worst of Roger Moore as James Bond

The Dose: The Best and Worst of Roger Moore as James Bond

The Dose: The Best and Worst of Roger Moore as James Bond
May 25
20:27 2017

On Tuesday, actor Roger Moore died at the age of 89 from cancer. Although he was known for various TV shows, movies and humanitarian work, his most tremendous claim to fame was playing James Bond from 1973 to 1985 – the longest anyone has ever spent in the role.

Last month I wrote that the “Fast and Furious” movies have “gradually become the Roger Moore-era Bond movies” of their day, which I feel is an appropriate comparison. Much like those movies, Moore is remembered by some as the ultimate gentleman spy, while others are quick to scoff at his campy, over-the-top 007.

Now some of those elbows deserve to be thrown, as Moore got just as much right as he got wrong. However, he is still responsible for the franchise’s longevity in the ‘70s and ‘80s – providing Matthew Vaughn’s biggest influence for making “Kingsman: The Secret Service.” As a lifelong Bond fan, here is my conclusive ranking of each Roger Moore outing.

  1. “A View to a Kill” (1985)

The last of Moore’s Bond movies is also his worst, as he battles an insane industrialist (Christopher Walken) bent on destroying Silicon Valley. Being the oldest actor to don the tuxedo, Moore turned 57 during filming, which paired him with love interests young enough to be his daughters and multiple stuntmen performing his action. Plus, it’s just plain boring. Say what you want about “Quantum of Solace” or “Die Another Day,” but in my estimation, this is the worst film in the entire series.

  1. “Moonraker” (1979)

The most infamous of Moore’s movies, mainly because of its ridiculous space plot and how it practically plays every scene for laughs. Created out of MGM’s attempt to compete with the “Star Wars” phenomenon, this film gave one of Bond’s greatest foes – Jaws (Richard Kiel) – a girlfriend and threw our hero into one facepalm situation after another. The only thing keeping this from being totally unwatchable is how it achieves such spectacular lows that it almost begs to be seen. Almost.

  1. “Octopussy” (1983)

Better left as a recurring gag in “Ted,” this is the one where Bond tracks down jewel smugglers to uncover nuclear warfare plans. After his fifth film literally brought him back to Earth, Moore returned to silly antics yet again, making Tarzan yells and having little chemistry with the titular love interest. By the time Bond wears clown attire to diffuse a bomb, you’ve already tuned out of a film that gets progressively worse.

  1. “The Man with the Golden Gun” (1974)

Even more unexplainable than the “Octopussy” title is how one of the cringiest Bond movies has one of the series’ best villains. It features an incredible performance from acting legend Christopher Lee, who portrays an assassin wanting to kill James Bond. Every scene with Lee is fantastic, but the corniness around him cripples the movie – including an annoying female companion and his cartoon caricature of a henchman, Nick Nack. This sidekick would later inspire Mini-Me from the “Austin Powers” series.

  1. “For Your Eyes Only” (1981)

Once the producers realized that “Moonraker” completely threw away the series’ integrity, they crafted a classic espionage plot unseen since the days of early Connery. In the last few years before Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise reignited the Cold War, Bond races against the USSR to prevent their seize of a British encryption device – which could put them in direct control of naval warfare. Paired alongside a vengeful marine archaeologist (Carole Bouquet), this is a hard-edged ‘80s revenge tale that delivers on every hallmark of Bond filmmaking.

  1. “Live and Let Die” (1973)

Best known for its classic Paul McCartney song, Sean Connery left the role a second time to pursue greater acting endeavors. Therefore, the producers introduced Moore, a TV star at the time, to worldwide audiences – whose tongue-in-cheek approach was a necessary breath of fresh air. Merging Moore’s comedy with the blaxploitation craze of the period, Bond is pitted against a drug lord planning to monopolize the heroin market in Harlem and beyond. Despite a few moments of racial insensitivity, this film holds up and entertains throughout.

  1. “The Spy Who Loved Me” (1977)

This near-perfect spy adventure aired out everything that didn’t work about Moore’s first two outings, leaving a truly great narrative that solidified everything he wanted to do with the character. During the détente period of the Cold War, Bond teams up with a beautiful Russian agent (Barbara Bach, Ringo Starr’s wife) to stop a shipping tycoon from turning the world into an underwater civilization. This film is full of enthralling stunt choreography, great comedy, breakneck pacing and intense villainy in the form of Jaws. Not only is this Roger Moore’s definitive Bond performance, it’s one of the greatest Bond films to date.

Featured Image: Roger Moore filming “Live and Let Die” on location in 1972 England. Associated Press.

About Author

Preston Mitchell

Preston Mitchell

Preston served as the Opinion Editor of the North Texas Daily from July 2016 to July 2017, and is a UNT graduate of integrative studies.

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