Roger Moore’s Best James Bond Moments
Roger Moore was the third man to portray James Bond in the official series based on Ian Fleming’s classic spy novels; today, sadly, he became the first of the six 007 actors to pass away. His contributions to the Bond franchise are enormous, but for a long time they were overlooked.
No one made more official Bond films than Moore, or held the role of Bond for more years. Arguably, he made too many films and held the role too long. By the time he retired his Walther PPK in 1985, his style of light 007 adventure had gone out of style. For many years, Moore and his Bond films were treated like a punchline, and a bad one at that.
Without Moore, though, the Bond franchise would have ended decades ago. It was Moore who convinced a skeptical public that 007 was bigger than one man, and who proved how malleable Fleming’s material could be. And while Moore’s tenure as 007 was not unblemished, he made more good movies than he’s given credit for. Thanks to his longevity, he also created as many (or maybe more) of James Bond’s greatest onscreen moments than anyone in history. Here are just a few of his many highlights:
1. The Best Cold Open in Bond History
The pre-credits cold open was a part of the Bond series from 1963’s From Russia With Love, but the concept reached its zenith in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me, which many 007 aficionados consider Moore’s finest film. After some mountaintop hanky panky, Moore’s Bond heads off to work, by skiing (of course). Some bad guys give chase (of course) and after evading them for a while (and even skiing backwards at one point [of course]) he makes a daredevil leap off a cliff. The camera holds on Bond’s falling form for what feels like an eternity, until he finally pulls his Union Jack parachute. It’s the perfect distillation of everything Bond in just three minutes.
2. An Inch Too Low
Among his many gifts, Roger Moore brought a savoir faire to Bond that no one else, before or since, has been able to match. His movies thrived on the clash between his 007’s refinement and the dirty details of his job, a juxtaposition that led to delightful scenes like this one, where Moore interrogate an arms dealer for information on an international assassin. Just watch the way Moore delivers the line “I’m now aiming precisely at your groin, so speak or forever hold your peace,” like he’s not even trying to make a penis joke. That is a rare gift.
3. Unflappable, Even When His Cheeks Are Flapping
Over the course of his career in Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Moore encountered many outlandish sights and terrifying challenges. Through it all, his Bond kept his cool. There was nothing, it seemed, that could get under his well-starched collar, something that endeared him to generations of fans. In this scene from Moonraker, Bond gets placed in a centrifuge; the bad guys basically want to spin him to death. Naturally he escapes this trap, and even as his face is nearly yanked off his face, he barely reacts.
4. Bond Never Misses
The Bond series’ penchant for megalomaniacs whose love of world domination is exceeded only by their love of explaining their plans has produced some very goofy scenes. In those situations, Moore’s imperturbable demeanor once again became a huge asset. Watch Moore play this scene, also from Moonraker, with Michael Lonsdale’s Hugo Drax. The bird hunt is a preposterous ego test, one it initially appears Bond fails — until the cutaway to the Drax henchman Bond killed instead of the bird. While Sean Connery might remain the standard all Bonds are measured against, Roger Moore’s swagger was unmatched.
5. Don’t Let the Door Hit You on the Way Out
Don’t let Moore’s (largely accurate) reputation as a polite and well-mannered Bond fool you. When his films demanded it, he went very cold and very tough. Consider this scene from 1981’s For Your Eyes Only, where Bond gives a bad guy, perched in a car on a cliff, a swift kick over the edge. Moments like this one arguably made more of an impact than similar scenes in the Connery Bonds because they were fewer and farther between. When Moore’s 007 got nasty, you knew things were serious.
6. “Not From Where I’m Standing...”
As Moore aged, he handed off more of his fights and chases to the franchise’s extremely capable stunt team, but in his early days, he was an awesomely physical action hero. I’ve always loved this fight sequence from The Man With the Golden Gun, where Moore clearly performs almost all of his own punches and falls. His one-liner to the woman as he walks out the door, complete with the nonchalant adjustment of his tie, is quintessential Moore.
7. Full of Hot Air
Roger Moore’s final Bond, 1985’s A View to a Kill, often surfaces on lists of the worst 007 films, mostly because Moore was 57 years old at the time of shooting. Looking past that detail, though, A View to a Kill is a really fun synthesis of the Moore 007 formula. Amongst its many highlights is this scene, a classic Bond escape: The villains (the amazing pair of Christopher Walken and Grace Jones) toss an unconscious Bond in a car and then drive it into a lake. Bond stirs and escapes, but the bad guys are still watching to make sure he doesn’t surface. So he hides underwater, sucking oxygen out of the cars tires until Walken and Jones depart. As Bond himself might say, the whole sequence leaves you feeling positively breathless.