Roger Moore 1927 – 2017

by Grania

British actor Roger Moore has passed away at the age of 89 in Switzerland.

He was best know for his role as James Bond, but will also be remembered as the eponymous Saint in the 1960s TV adaptation of Leslie Charteris’ novels.

He was my favourite Bond because he played the rather ridiculous character with a Fourth Wall-breaking sense of humour. My Bond experience did not improve on reading the original novels by Ian Fleming, he’s a fossil of a character, but Roger Moore made him likeable.

With Peter Sellers

Of course, none of this matters in the end. What matters are the people you meet, and how you touch them, even if only briefly. Here’s a charming story from a fan who met him at a young age.

Expanded below:

50 Comments

  1. Posted May 23, 2017 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    For me Moore’s great roll was as The Saint. His wry decency, proficiency, integrity, was perfect, and was best on display in the early black and white seasons.

    His Bond was more diffident, a bit effete, less visceral than either Connery or the more recent Bonds. Always gracious and watchable, though.

    All the Moore Bonds with Jaws spilled over into kitsch, leaving the best of the Moore Bonds for m: “For Your Eyes Only,” which apart from a genuinely stupid opening teaser sequence, settled down quickly as one of the best crafted and plausibly workable story lines (and Topol was a hoot too).

    “Octopussy” is a runner-up here, but can’t quite make the cut because it was way too much a remake of the ultimate Bond film, “Goldfinger.”

    • Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

      I’ve always thought of Goldfinger as the archetypal Bond film, but if you examine it closely, you realise that Bond is completely incompetent all the way through. Even at the end when he is trying to diffuse the bomb, somebody else has to step in and stop him from blowing up Fort Knox.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        It’s been argued that Bond’s combination vulnerability and remaining calm, cool, and collected is precisely why it’s so popular.

      • Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

        Yes, that was exactly my take when I first watched Bond – he isn’t any good at his job – he is just really lucky.

        /Grania

        • Gregory Kusnick
          Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

          Incompetence is why M keeps Bond on the payroll. If your best agents have failed to stop a supervillain, you might as well dangle Bond out there and let him be captured in hopes of wreaking Murphy’s Law havoc on the bad guy’s HQ.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted May 24, 2017 at 8:02 pm | Permalink

            It has been noted before. Along with the fact that the evil villain mastermind doesn’t just have Bond killed instantly, he cannot resist (a) taking Bond directly to his top-secret headquarters (b) explaining his evil plan in detail to Bond because Bond is Going To Die and (c) arranging for Bond’s death in some ingeniously complicated way which offers the maximum possibilities for escape and blowing stuff up.

            Of course this is typical of the genre, Schwarzenegger et al are also beneficiaries of this quirk shared by all fictional villains.

            cr

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:57 am | Permalink

        I did like the golf game though.

        Bond’s caddy: “If that’s his [Goldfinger’s] original ball I’m Arnold Palmer!”
        JB: “It isn’t.”
        Caddy: “How do you know?”
        JB: “I’m standing on it.”

        Classic.

        Roger Moore would never have been such a cad.

        cr

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:46 am | Permalink

      I would agree that FYEO and Octopussy are the best of the Roger Moore Bond films. Moore was getting a bit older then and the couple of wrinkles added some gravitas to his appearance. Also the writers dropped the slapstick comedy characters from the supporting cast.

      Though, to me, Connery and the more recent Bonds like Dalton and Brosnan were more, um, visceral and hence credible as a licenced-to-kill 007.

      (My wife still refers to Sean Connery as ‘James Bond’).

      cr

    • Diane G.
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 3:01 am | Permalink

      “For me Moore’s great roll was as The Saint. His wry decency, proficiency, integrity, was perfect…”

      That’s so well put! I completely agree.

    • Kingasaurus
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 5:09 am | Permalink

      I’m a huge FYEO fan. I think it’s the best of the Moore Bonds. I think the story behind the opening teaser was that there was some legal tangle and they couldn’t use Blofeld anymore, so as a joke (and without naming him) they killed him off at the beginning of the movie. Another wink at the viewer that seemed to fit the Moore Bond’s temperament.

      I also think FYOE might be the only Bond film where he refused to bed a willing Bond girl because she was seemingly too young for him. A rarity.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted May 24, 2017 at 5:25 am | Permalink

        She had pigtails FFS!

        BTW, the opening titles with Sheena Easton were memorable.

        And the climbing scenes at the Mitiora monastery were gripping.

        cr

    • revelator60
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      “A View to a Kill” feels more like a “Goldfinger” knock-off than “Octopussy” (though the latter does have a scene of Bond defusing a nuke). “For Your Eyes Only” is probably Moore’s best Bondian performance. His own favorite was “The Spy Who Loved Me,” which was a great spectacular that avoided the juvenile humor and overall excess that marred “Moonraker.”

  2. Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    He got to play Bond too late, I think. I prefered him as The Saint. He got to break the fourth wall by addressing the audience directly. The series had a wonderful knowing quality to it. He wasn’t the first actor to play the role, nor the last, but he’s easily the actor most identified with the role. It was

    I never met him but those I know who did all said he was a really nice guy.

    • somer
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 1:53 am | Permalink

      My fave was The Saint

  3. Posted May 23, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    What a delightful story.

    • aljones909
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:13 pm | Permalink

      Self deprecating as well. “During my early acting years I was told that to succeed you needed personality, talent and luck in equal measure. I contest that. For me it’s been 99% luck. It’s no good being talented and not being in the right place at the right time.”

      • Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        I certainly agree with his assessment of luck. We have relatives and friends in “the industry” as they say in LA LA Land, and it seems clear that talent ranks third behind looks and luck.

      • Richard
        Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        He once said of his acting range: “Left eyebrow raised. Right eyebrow raised. I think that’s about it.”.

        What a wonderful man.

        • Richard
          Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:24 am | Permalink

          Oops. I had not read Speaker To Animals’ post below.

          But still a wonderful man.

  4. aljones909
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    His thoughts on “sport” hunting:
    http://imgur.com/caoESZu

    • Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

      Amen.

    • Taz
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

      Depends on what he means by “sport hunting”. I don’t hunt myself, but I live in Michigan where deer hunting is ubiquitous. Everyone eats what they kill, and the whitetail deer population is completely controlled.

      • rickflick
        Posted May 23, 2017 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

        I always remind people that the DNR maintains the deer population by feeding during the winter and culling (the hunt) during the fall. It’s actually not that the hunters are doing it all by themselves. Give credit where it’s due. To the hay bails dropped from helicopters at taxpayer expense.

        • Taz
          Posted May 23, 2017 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

          Absolutely. That’s what I meant by “completely controlled”. As for “taxpayer expense”, I’m willing to bet that hunting is net economic gain.

        • Diane G.
          Posted May 24, 2017 at 3:11 am | Permalink

          “bales” 😉

          I dunno, in some cases I think our eradication of natural predators was equally if not more responsible for the glut of deer.

          I, too, live in Michigan, and the hunters who are my neighbors definitely use all the meat they can from their kills. Many hunters also donate meat to soup kitchens and the like. I’m not sure any one of us who isn’t a vegetarian can weigh properly the life & slaughter of a bovine (or chicken, lamb, etc.) vs. the life and death-by-hunter of a cervid.

          • rickflick
            Posted May 24, 2017 at 5:44 am | Permalink

            I don’t like to get overly moral about hunting. The poor animals are likely unaware of the nature of their role in the game and suffer little. I just have a feeling of revulsion when I think of a human being taking pleasure in the stalking and killing of any animal. The slaughter of pigs and cattle for meat is compartmentalized for me as something no one enjoys. When a hunter shoots a deer I have the same feeling as if they shot the neighbor’s horse or dog, just for kicks, and roasted it on the grill in plain sight of the children. But, that’s just me.

    • aljones909
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

      Two of the surviving horsemen have firmly grasped the question of our inhuman treatment of non-human animals. Harris was trying vegetarianism a few months ago (due to ethical considerations). Don’t know if he’s still on the wagon. Now Dawkins in this weeks Times on eating meat: (apologies for the long post. Original is behind a paywall).
      =============================================
      “Is this what it was like, Richard Dawkins wonders, for ordinary people in Nazi Germany? “There’s a kind of laziness if you live in a society where things are just accepted. People might have been vaguely uneasy about what was going on in Germany but also thought, ‘Oh well, everyone else is doing it’.”

      What crime is it that he thinks that we, like Germans in the 1930s, are blind to? It is, perhaps, a surprising one from him: the crime of eating meat. Dawkins, 76, is not known for being a woolly, liberal, tofu-eater. He is better known for his espousal of red-in-tooth-and-claw evolutionary logic and, even more so, for his three million-selling atheist book The God Delusion. Speaking from his Victorian Gothic house in Oxford, he says that just because you don’t fear the judgment of God, doesn’t mean you don’t fear judgment.

      The judgment that Dawkins fears, as he recovers from a minor stroke, is that of history. Will the 21st century’s “speciesism” one day be viewed in the same way we view the 20th century’s racism? The world’s most famous evolutionary biologist thinks so.

      “We put humanity on a pedestal miles higher than the surrounding territory. A human foetus that has approximately the anatomy and brainpower of a worm is accorded more status than an adult chimpanzee,” he said. And chimpanzees have more rights than, say, cows. “When I pass one of those lorries with little slats and see fearful eyes peering out, I think of the railway wagons to Auschwitz.”

  5. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    Moore was by far the most gentlemanly of all the Bonds, so much so that comparing him with the others (all younger than he- 2 years older than Connery) is almost and apples and oranges comparison.

    The script-writers both gave Moore 3 very sharp and intelligent Bond girls (Octopussy, Anya Amasova from “The Spy Who Loved Me”, and Holly Goodhead from “MoonRaker”) as well as the two utterly dumbest air-head girls in the series (Mary Goodknight in “Man with the Golden Gun” and Stacey Sutton in “A View to a Kill”). Go figure.

    My favorite Moore film is the one where they decided to go for a more Connery-esque approach “For Your Eyes Only” (they felt that the campy approach had exhausted its possibilities in the previous film “Moonraker”).

    My favorite Bond remains Daniel Craig.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:48 am | Permalink

      ‘they decided to go for a more Connery-esque approach “For Your Eyes Only” (they felt that the campy approach had exhausted its possibilities in the previous film “Moonraker”).’

      Amen!

      cr

  6. Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

    He was actually a batter actor than he gave himself credit for but he always had a self-deprecating sense of humour:

    “My acting range? Left eyebrow raised, right eyebrow raised”

    “I’ve never received a nomination for an Academy Award – and that after I went to the trouble of learning two more facial expressions.”

  7. Martin X
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    I found several of “The Saint” books in my grandfather’s house when he died; these were set in the 1920s or 30s and neither the TV series nor the movie much resembled the books. In the books, he was much more of a morally gray characters.

    But Moore was also my favorite Bond, because the movies were fun and preposterous. We seem to be in the minority on that one.

    • busterggi
      Posted May 23, 2017 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      The Saint evolved as time went by, much more traditionally heroic later on though still with a wicked sense of humor.

      Moore was my favorite portrayer of the character.

  8. allison
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

    Count me also among the ‘Moore was the best James Bond’ camp. His Bond movies were both fun and funny, with only a couple of stinkers in the series. RIP

  9. Posted May 23, 2017 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    For me, Roger Moore will always be “The Saint” first and foremost.

  10. DrBrydon
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 8:38 pm | Permalink

    He was really my Bond. I think Man With the Golden Gun was the first Bond pic I saw in the theaters (and thus probably the first one I ever saw).

  11. rom
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    1) Craig
    2) Brosnan
    3) Connery
    4) Moore
    5 and the also rans

    Ian Fleming’s Bond is quite dark … Craig (his scripts?)is definitely the closest to the original character.

  12. somer
    Posted May 23, 2017 at 11:50 pm | Permalink

    Another legend gone – a great actor and obviously a wonderful man. I dislike the somewhat psychopathic James Bond character played by others but Roger Moore made him fun – and I loved him in other roles on The Saint, The Persuaders and others.

  13. Posted May 23, 2017 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think anyone ever said “Bond. James Bond” better than Moore, except perhaps Connery.

  14. James Walker
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 1:24 am | Permalink

    When I started being allowed to watch Bond films (late 70s), Roger Moore *was* James Bond for me. Later I started watching the earlier Sean Connery films and I quickly switched my allegiance to Connery, to the point now where I find Moore’s Bond films unwatchable. However, Moore was such a big part of my growing up that his passing makes me very sad. (For the record, I love Daniel Craig, I thought Timothy Dalton was underrated and I can’t watch Pierce Brosnan.)

  15. Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:56 am | Permalink

    From Craig Murray’s blog:
    A brief extract from my memoir The Catholic Orangemen of Togo

    ‘On the other side of the equation, Roger Moore came out as a goodwill ambassador for UNICEF. Fiona and I hosted a small dinner party for him. He was charming and suave, just as you would expect, with a fund of brilliant stories beginning with lines like “One day Frank, Dean, Tony and I decided to play a trick on Marilyn…” But while he played the role of Roger Moore to perfection, there was much more to him than that. He was genuinely very well briefed about children’s issues in Ghana, and was prepared not just to do the PR stuff, but to get his hands dirty helping out in refugee camps without a camera in sight. I was impressed by Roger Moore.’

    When I said get his hands dirty, I meant dig latrines. He really was a much better man than people realised. A celebrity who did not seek personal publicity for his good works, quite the opposite.

  16. rickflick
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    While I can’t deny liking watching some Bond films, I was always skeptical of such a blatantly sexist character and felt I’d outgrown him after the first film. My strong preference was for the Austin Powers character even while admitting that satire depends for it’s very breath upon the target of abuse.

    • Posted May 24, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

      Bond was a weird hybrid of old school British values and rampant hedonism. Very much a projection of the author Ian Fleming.

      • rickflick
        Posted May 24, 2017 at 8:07 pm | Permalink

        Oh. So Ian Fleming was a 13 year old boy who aged unimpressively and couldn’t get a date for 3 or 4 decades? 😎

        • revelator60
          Posted May 24, 2017 at 9:16 pm | Permalink

          Having read a couple biographies of Fleming, I can state that he had too many dates, rather than too few.

  17. darrelle
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 7:50 am | Permalink

    Sad news. My condolences to Roger’s loved ones and friends.

    Roger Moore was the James Bond I grew up with through my teenage years. The Spy Who Loved Me and For Your Eyes Only are some of my favorite Bond films. I am not really familiar with The Saint series with Roger Moore. Other than the Bond films he did my favorite movie of his is Ffolkes. I liked him in pretty much everything I’ve seen him in, even Cannonball Run.

    Regarding Bonds, I think most all of the actors have been passable but I think my favorites are Daniel Craig and Roger Moore. I think Sean Connery was just fine, but I’ve never considered him to be the iconic Bond that so many agree that he was. Even in the 80s I found most of the Connery Bond films relatively boring.

  18. Posted May 24, 2017 at 8:07 am | Permalink

    Although many here might find the likes of radio personality Howard Stern odious and disgusting, he does have a talent for interviewing celebrities. Highly recommend his interview a few years ago with Roger Moore, which is available on Youtube.

  19. Posted May 24, 2017 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Another for the “disreputable character, likeable actor” trope. (I remember reading that about Herb Edelman, who practically made a career based that way.)

  20. revelator60
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

    I grew up watching Roger Moore’s Bond on VHS and look back on him with great affection. I later got into the Fleming novels, and if I’d been an adult Fleming purist when Moore’s movies were released I might have hated them, but I could never have stayed angry at a man as charming as Roger Moore.

    David Niven’s son acclaimed praised Moore as his father’s heir and an underrated player of light comedy. I think that’s spot on. Moore was the last of his kind—the suave, unflappable, lighthearted, kindly, and very English gentleman, like those Niven used to play. There’s no one acting today with Moore’s savoir faire. He was first to deprecate his gifts, and they’re still not fully appreciated: You need talent to project dapper aplomb and skill to play with light touch. Moore did far more than lift an eyebrow—he savored his roles as he played them, knowing when to step outside character to highlight an irony and deploy his charm, that playful complicity with the audience.

    Bond would not have survived the 1970s without moving in a more comedic and lighthearted direction, and Roger was the best man for the job. And during the rare moments when the films let him show the vulnerability of Fleming’s original, he was more than up to the job (like the scene in The Spy Who Loved Me where he admits to killing his lover’s boyfriend). He was also capable of bringing out the character’s cold, dark side—look at the scene in For Your Eyes Only when he kicks a villain’s car off a cliff—though such opportunities were few. Moore enjoyed less film success outside of Bond than Connery, but he appeared in several good movies: The Man Who Haunted Himself, Gold, Shout at the Devil, and ffolkes. The world is much less charming place without Roger Moore.

  21. Paul Dymnicki
    Posted May 24, 2017 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    Check out the Roger Moore film “The Man Who Haunted Himself” a bit different.


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