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Replacing Sean Connery in the role of James Bond was like trying to outshoot Jerry Miculek. And Roger Moore knew it. So he made the role his own. I’m not saying Moore did it better, he just did it differently.

Drawing on The Saint TV series and his license to arch an eyebrow, Moore was Bond, James Bond, from 1973 to 1985. During the twelve-year run, over the course of seven Bond films, Moore’s 007 depiction showed flashes of cool — before descending into self-parody, slapstick and camp.

As a teenager who’d found the original Connery 007 the coolest thing in the world, who grooved on Moore’s character in The Saint, who reveled in Moore’s brilliant pairing with Tony Curtis and an Aston Martin DBS in The Pursuaders, I followed the decline with increasing alarm and dismay.

In his swan song, 1985’s A View to A Kill, the elderly secret agent (he was 57) made Bond girl Tanya Roberts a soufflé while wearing an apron, then pulled a blanket over her soft focus sleeping form rather than…you know. I knew it was past time to stick a fork in Moore’s Bond. He was well and truly done.

From a gun point-of-view, Moore’s Bond’s gunfighting skills became increasingly irrelevant. Gunplay was overwhelmed by ever-more-fantastic stunt scenes, starting with the swamp boat chase in his debut Live and Let Die. Which wasn’t half as awesome as Bond simply skipping on crocodiles’ heads to escape a pond of crocs.

By the time Moonraker hit the screens (1979), the Bond franchise had become downright silly. But hey, what do I know? It was the highest grossing Bond film up until Goldeneye.

You will notice, of course, that all the Moore Bond posters (save the cool, creepy ones for Live and Let Die) feature 007 holding a gun. And even though Moore’s gun was overshadowed by special effects, the firearm remained integral to his character.

Not to put too fine a point on it, James Bond without a small, elegant firearm would be like a Clint Eastwood character without a scowl.

In fact, I’m glad Moore’s Bond didn’t stray too far off the reservation firearms-wise. It kept his films centered on the Bond dry wit, his cunning and resourcefulness, rather than John Wick-like operator operating operationally nonsense (yeah, I said it).

In that sense, I don’t think Moore’s Bond had much effect on gun sales or, indeed, the gun culture. Why would it? It didn’t glorify guns. His guns were almost a fashionable accoutrement; the secret agent could, and frequently did, use just about anything lying around to git ‘er done (as they say at MI5).

I’d like to say that Moore’s Bond made or at least kept guns cool. But, IMHO, Moore’s Bond wasn’t cool. He was suave and debonair, but he never ascended to the ranks of Sean Connery or, for that matter, Steve McQueen. I think the same failure applies to all the subsequent Bonds (ducks).

In fact, the cinematic Bond has taken a turn toward the dark side. He’s become cruel. Which is much more faithful to Ian Fleming’s literary creation, but nowhere near as compelling to this student of cool.

Anyway, I’ll say this much about Moore’s depiction of 007 and his guns: he kept the ballistic flame alive in his own special way.

R.I.P. Roger Moore. You’ll always be a saint to me.

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  1. I could picture Connery walking into a seedy dive and kicking the shit out of a bad guy.

    Moore, I could picture him being a high priced male prostitute.

    • Disagree.

      Connery would have walked in, killed the bad guy, and then taken the girlfriend as he left. Moore would have walked in, taken the girlfriend, and then killed the bad guy as he left.

      Lazenby would have killed the bad guy and then started a long term relationship with the girl. Dalton would have tortured the bad guy and then cried while taking the girl. Brosnan would have tossed a gadget at the bad guy and then taken the girl on a romantic date. Craig would have killed the bad guy and then pontificated about the meaning of life while the girl cried over her beau’s body, and then imagined taking the girl unwillingly.

        • JWM, you watched Bond from a *completely* different perspective than Miss Katy did.

          Read her comments again and see what I mean. *wink*.

          (You know, Katy, I’ve had women tell me I reminded them of Bond… 😉 )

        • Geoff said: “(You know, Katy, I’ve had women tell me I reminded them of Bond… ? )”

          Would that be Peter Sellers? 🙂

        • “Would that be Peter Sellers?”

          Yes. 😉

          “Excuse me, does your dog bite?”

          “No, my dog does not bite.”

          {The dog bites.}

          “I thought you said your dog does not bite!”

          “That… Is not…My dog…”

    • “I could picture Connery walking into a seedy dive and kicking the shit out of a bad guy.”

      That’s because he actually did it, or says the Wiki:

      “While in Edinburgh, Connery was targeted by the notorious Valdor gang, one of the most ruthless gangs in the city. He was first approached by them in a billiard hall on Lothian Street where he prevented them from stealing from his jacket and was later followed by six gang members to a 15 ft high balcony at the Palais. There Connery launched an attack single-handedly against the gang members, grabbing one by the throat and another by a biceps and cracked their heads together. From then on he was treated with great respect by the gang and gained a reputation as a “hard man.”

    • “I could picture Connery walking into a seedy dive and kicking the shit out of a bad guy.”

      Which is why he is not the best Bond.

      Roger more would pay someone to kick the crap out of a bad guy.

      Timothy Dalton would be the bartender watching the whole thing go down.

      Daniel Craig would be the cop who shows up and asks what happened.

      Pierce Brosnan is the speedo wearing Euro-spy who would pull a tiny Euro-gun out and shoot the guy between the eyes.

      Even though he is Irish, Brosnan is the consummate, uptight British spy. Blasphemy I know.

      Sean is your much cooler older brother who you hang out with in the hopes you might catch some bitch scraps.

      • Brosnan’s Bond suffered from scripts which were just unrealistic enough to break credulity, but not over-the-top extravaganzas ala The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker, or You Only Live Twice that convinced us to stop worrying about it, it’s a fun movie, just enjoy the ride.

      • I wanted Brosnan to be the next Bond back whe the first season of Remington Steele aired.

        Roger Moore’s competition for the role originally included Paul Newman. I think Newman could have pulled it off, assuming he could get the accent right.

  2. He wasn’t 45-more like 57in the finale.. I wasn’t a big fan of Moore but consider him #2. And he had a certain sex appeal all the others save Connery lacked. As in gorgeous babes throwing themselves at him. George Lazenby would be #3…the little guys and the present lug bring up the rear.

  3. He was the one with the “wife” (albeit dead). But he played like permanent-ho.

    Kinda like with Q. Can’t operate sh_t in the lab, but Go-Go-Gadget in the field, making up new uses for his gear.

    Face it. Roger Moore was the man who made you think you could love a woman with a mustache (a/k/a For Your Eyes Only Shut up, you did too.

  4. Bond, as written by Ian Fleming, wasn’t cool. He was mean and tough, not too handsome, dangerous as hell, drank like a fish, smoked like a chimney, lived hard and enjoyed his “license to kill” on a regular basis.

    “Cubby” Broccoli and Harry Saltzman schmaltzed-up and dumbed-down James Bond for the movies. But we did see some flashes of the real James Bond, especially in the extraordinarily vicious train-compartment fight scene with Robert Shaw in “From Russia With Love,” and in the Timothy Dalton vehicles (I never enjoyed Dalton’s Bond, but it was much closer to the character written by Fleming).

    Moore was a pretty boy, the anti-Bond really. Because he was a pretty boy, he was a great Simon Templar and a terrible James Bond. Of course Moore’s Bond descended into parody — it was always a parody. The producers simply didn’t figure it out in time.

  5. “By the time Moonraker hit the screens (1979), the Bond franchise had become downright silly. ”

    “What is James doing?” “I believe he is attempting re-entry.”

    Yeah, it did get kinda stupid…

    • Personally, I think that was topped by The World Is Not Enough, Denise Richards as nuclear physicist Christmas Jones, and the line “I thought Christmas only came once a year.” . I cringed. Hard.

      The best part of anything to do with that movie was the Garbage theme song video, at the very tail-end of Shirley Manson’s attractiveness….

    • I didn’t know that Moore was anti-gun but liked him over Sean Connery, who is very anti-gun. Oh well, another Hollywood leftist who plays conservative type tough guys bites the dust.

      • Recent article where he specifically states his anti gun views. Says real heroes don’t use guns… Said that he hates guns.

        • Daniel Craig said he hated guns before his first Bond-ing. Hollywood nearly shat itself with the reaction. We should make them shat more often.

    • It is a preference thing but Rambo taking out a Soviet gunship with an explosive arrow beats it in my book (or that time w/ a rock) – plus he is one of ours 🙂 I am thinking most dudes would trade either of those to have Famke Janssen wrap her legs around them . . . or Haley Berry, Ursula Andress, etc. etc.

      • I never much cared for any of the movies or portrayals, having read the books prior to. And I knew that because they were movies, industry/technical/social limitations would prevent me from seeing anything like Flemming’s Bond for a long time (if ever).

        Beyond that; I like Sean Connery’s Bond because, Sean Connery.
        Moore was cool because he drove/flew/submerged vehicles like I did with Hotwheels.
        Daniel Craig is closest sounding to the Bond in my head, while bagging the hottest and only(?) long-term Bond Girl. It’s just too bad he went from a hardcore parkour’ing terrorist face-smasher, to emo revenger who also happens to have a Noisy Cricket disguised as a PPK.

        IMHO, the literary Bond is a guy who fights like Fairbairn & drinks like Churchill, which is cool because Flemming knew the real deal and it shows in the books.
        The cinematic Bond fights like a guy who knows bad guys are going to run into his fists sooner than later, given the typical movie run-time; which he knows after hacking M’s personal laptop/phone/email… instead of Binging it.

        But real “Cool” in my book, was Stallone taking Hinds with a sweet compound bow & exploding arrows.

        And “Coolest” was Schwarzenegger going native & killing a Predator by using mud, stealth, traps, fire, punches, sharp sticks, and finally escaping a nuclear kamikaze with the girl (who he totally interrogated after kicking the general out at 10,000ft).

        I also thought Predator had the most awesome cinematic display of individual firepower with Jesse Ventura’s minigun. Even the 3-dot lasers preceding The Body’s explosion were awesome.

        And finally adding to the awesomeness; though Ventura was my most hated villian wrestler, I later found out he was a real-deal SEAL (who turned out to be a real heel).

    • “Sean Connery’s Bond shot down a helicopter with an AR-7.”

      Yeah, but Daniel Craig did it with a PPK!

      • Let’s be very clear here: Connery did not shoot the helicopter. He shot the hand of a man about to lob a grenade at him. Bad guy drops the grenade. Helo go boom.

        Craig downed a helicopter with a .380 at 200 yards while on a moving boat and compensating for rotor wash. If the movie didn’t blow so much, I would have thought that showed his bad-assery. But at that point it was just one more idiot moment in a pretentious movie.

        • In order to shoot down a helo, you merely have to prevent the pilot from doing his job for a few seconds. Shooting his thumb off with a .22lr ought to do it.

  6. “the secret agent could, and frequently did, use just about anything lying around to git ‘er done (as they say at MI5)”

    Bond was in the 00 Section of MI6.

  7. Robert
    You beat me to it. I was a big fan of The Pursuaders TV series as well. I thought I would be the only one who would remember it. Thanks

  8. I sure love my PPK/S!
    Sure it’s 1930s technology with no slide stop lever
    And it’s heavy, with all steel construction
    It’s finicky about its ammo the only hollow points it feeds reliably is golden sabers
    It loves Winchester white box target loads
    Feed it those and it is accurate, soft shooting and reliable
    My wife carries it with a crimson trace laser grip and we are confident it will it put double taps into 3 attackers with a leftover
    Our kids and grandkids will inherit this robust pistol
    Everyone should have the James Bond gun!

  9. “compelling to this student of cool.”
    i had to go back and check the author.

    i haven’t seen all the connery bond films. i’ve seen zero of the others. they should have cast john cleese instead.

    the prisoner stuff was pretty damn weird cool for its day.
    but, of course, the bishop ruled them all.

    • “i haven’t seen all the connery bond films. i’ve seen zero of the others.” OMG, you’ve GOT to be kidding me! Get busy… You may not like them all (probably won’t!), but they’re definitely worth watching at least once.

      “they should have cast john cleese instead.” Um, they did. But not as Bond… first as Q’s assistant, then later as Q himself. He played the role better than I expected.

  10. Having been born in the late 70’s, I saw most of the early Bond films (Connery through Moore) on VHS. Frankly, with no disrespect intended to Mr. Moore, he was the worst Bond until Pierce Brosnan. I say no disrespect because I blame the writers for the direction the franchise took, and not Roger Moore. You could see it beginning in Diamonds Are Forever and On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. The campiness was creeping in, but it didn’t manifest fully until Roger Moore took over the role.

    The whole being cool thing never resonated with me, at least not with Bond. The debonair image and the stupid one-liners made Bond more of an English playboy with a gun. Connery was suave, but he was also definitely dangerous, and I could never apply that term to Roger Moore’s Bond with a straight face. He was more about cracking jokes and bedding the villain’s girl, and somewhere along the way the villain would die. He was the most ridiculous Bond until Pierce Brosnan’s Bond became a combination of Hugh Heffner and Inspector Gadget (and to be clear, I blame the writers for that too). I much more a fan of the harder, somewhat nihilistic Bond that Ian Flemming wrote. To that end, Sean Connery and Timothy Dalton were my favorite Bonds.

    All that said, Roger Moore carried the character and the franchise for longer than anyone. He played the hell out of the scripts he was given, which were mostly awful (IMO). He deserves credit where it is due, and I was sad to see him pass.

  11. I thought Craig’s Casino Royal saved the Bond legacy. In turning the time back it allowed us to see Bond grow from a junior spy to someone who could be both suave and dangerous and eventually caring. The fight scene in the stairwell was very violent and then when he saw the affect it had on Vesper he became supportive and gentle.

    Moore’s Bond was just too comical and light hearted for me to enjoy. And at 57 it was hard to watch young Bond girls throw themselves at him. Really? The only scene worse than those were when Connery, resurrected in Never Say Never, in the shower with Kim Basinger. Really? At least Craig getting the girl made sense.

    • Naah, I didn’t have problems with 57 year old Moore “getting the girl.”

      When that girl in college said after the fact that she decided that she was going to, ‘get to know me better’ that night after seeing my car, it struck me that women look for different qualities in romantic partners (even short-term ones) than men.

  12. Not my favorite Bond, however.. I had the pleasure of meeting him and his wife at a book signing in Manhattan.
    His book….”My Word Is My Bond”. The line was more than a block long.
    He was gracious and a real Gentleman. R.I.P. Roger Moore

  13. Lets be honest though, the best actor in any of the Bond films was Desmond Llewelyn. He definitely had at least another movie in him. 85 and to go from a friggen car crash…

    • Death could only take Q by a sneak attack — he’d have had a gadget ready to fight it off if he’d known it was coming.


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