The Death of Roger Moore
Sir Roger Moore has died at the age of 89 on May 23, 2017. To the world and 007 fans he’ll always be remembered for his twelve-year-run as James Bond. Starring in seven films, Moore helped reinvigorate the series with his humorous, gentlemanly touch. He’d headline the Bond series throughout most of the 70’s and 80’s and be ‘The Bond’ a generation grew up watching.
There will surely be a huge amount of tributes and remembrances to happen for him. Not only for his role as James Bond, but also for his popular television, including his work in The Saint and The Persuaders. His charity work became a huge part of his life later.. He became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and helped raised millions for the charity.
From by all accounts of those who worked with and knew Moore he truly was a genuine kind man.
I was one of the many who can say he was the first Bond I saw on the big-screen. My own personal early memories of Roger is watching Moonraker on cable. They aired it a lot and so I watched it every chance I could. I loved it. I just thought he was cool, the action scenes were really neat, including the space stuff and it was great that Jaws helped him in the end. Ahh that was such an innocent time. My eight-year-old version of a James Bond review wasn’t as analytical and critical as it is today.
I recall going to see Cannonball Run when it first came out in 1981. The theater in town got it and I was allowed to go see it. By then I immediately recognized Moore as James Bond and thought it was really funny he showed up playing a goofy James Bond in it and was rooting for him to win the big race.
Then when For Your Eyes Only showed up on cable I devoured it and watched it constantly. Again I loved the action scenes and used to hum the Bill Conti score while running around and stuff. I still do that on occasion – when no one’s around within earshot.
I have this vivid recollection that always reminds me of how young I was when first watching For Your Eyes Only. After Bond’s Lotus blows up he looks at Melina and says, “Well, I hope you have a car” and he tosses the keys away. My adolescent reasoning was I would have kept those keys as a souvenir because the car looked cool and I would miss driving it.
Octopussy was the first Bond film I finally got to see in the theater and thought it was great. I remember thinking the opening with him flying the mini jet was the coolest thing ever. I bought this Octopussy magazine about the making of it, with pictures and interviews and all that stuff.
One of my most lasting memories about seeing Octopussy was asking the owners of the theater in my town if I could have the Octopussy poster when they were done with it. They gladly obliged. I’ve saved that poster since, in fact I still have it hanging up to this day. I always wanted to get an Eyes, Moonraker and A View To A Kill posters to go along with it. Maybe one day.
At that point I had already started watching the older Bond movies when they showed up on TV. ABC used to run them a lot for their Sunday Night Movies, I think that’s where I caught most of the earlier ones the first time.
By the time A View To A Kill was coming out I was more aware of a new 007 movie approaching. I remember cutting out clippings from newspapers of ads and pictures of Roger and Tanya Roberts saying ‘the new James Bond movie is coming out soon’. I was officially excited a new James Bond movie starring Roger was coming out.
It’s funny, despite today moaning and criticizing about things in those particular four Bond movies – Moonraker, Eyes, Octopussy and View – I still have a real affection for all of them. I can pop in any of them right now and have a good time watching them.
His Bond films had some spectacular, over-the-top action that is still just as entertaining today as when I first saw them. Moore was always very modest towards his acting range and his role as James Bond.
Talking about his performance as the ultra-cool secret agent he would be quite self-deprecating. Often times when asked if he did his own stunts in the Bond films he would answer, “Of course. I do all my own lying too.”
Since he retired from being 007 Roger became an easy target for fan criticism. One could easily snicker and roll their eyes at the silly fantasy adventures he would take you on. Especially in comparison to the more grounded Bonds we’ve seen since he departed.
Today grittiness and realism has became more expected by audiences. If moviegoers saw Daniel Craig driving a car that turned into a submarine their reaction would probably be more of head shaking than a theater full of cheers when Roger was in the drivers seat.
To a generation Moore was Bond. The element of fun and big-screen tongue-in-cheek entertainment he brought to the series kept it alive. When he assumed the role in 1973 it was an unsure bet if the 007 film series could successfully continue.
After Sean Connery had strongly cemented the persona of ‘The James Bond Film Character’ throughout the 1960’s and the one-shot appearance of George Lazenby, the series looked like it could possibly fade away. Some thought that Bond would forever be in Connery’s shadow, a burden he could never overcome.
With the shaky Moore start of Live and Let Die and The Man with the Golden Gun, the Bond films found their footing once again in 1977 with the extremely successful The Spy Who Loved Me. From there James Bond was back in form. The Bond films were events once again, audiences ran to theaters to watch them and Moore became the face of 007 that kids marveled to see.
That’s one thing I always think back about Roger – the amount of adulation he received from kids. Bond was a big-screen hero that kids admired. Connery and Moore were revered by little boys worldwide. After watching their movies they wanted to play secret agents. They wanted the cool gadget toys like James Bond had. They grew up watching them and it would leave a lasting impression on them.
Today, I’m not sure if young kids gravitate towards James Bond as they had in the earlier decades of the series. Sure they’ll see the movies, but after they watched Timothy Dalton and Daniel Craig did any of them ‘want to be James Bond?’.
The closest modern equivalent to that devotion I’d say was when GoldenEye came out and the video game became a huge success. Pierce Brosnan became Bond for a whole new generation of moviegoers and that game helped leave an impact on them. Aside from that, I don’t think we’ve seen the same child adulation towards 007.
After Roger retired from being 007 he would sporadically appear in a film here and there. Sadly, nothing very notable. His main focus was his work with UNICEF. He also became an ambassador of sorts to James Bond. He wrote several books, would frequently make television appearances, do interviews, speaking engagements and would always be asked about his thoughts about the latest happenings in the Bond series.
There’s some of my personal reflections about Roger. I’d love to hear others thoughts and memories of him. Bond fans with Youtube channels, podcasts, blogs have been remembering him and the legacy that he has left us with. It’s sad to hear he passed, but he’s not going to be forgotten.