When James Bond is mentioned in a modern context, Daniel Craig’s Bond is probably the first that comes to mind. He’s the modern face. After Craig, the next Bond that is probably most recognized by modern viewers is Sean Connery’s. Connery started the show. While these two are probably the most discernible of the six actors to have taken on the mantle of 007, neither of them envelope the true essence of Bond, nor do either of them hold the record for playing Bond in the most films. Both of those honors belong to the James Bond of ’70s and the ’80s, Sir Roger Moore.
Moore was the first Brit to play the British spy. He might not have the craziest stunts, but that doesn’t make Craig any better. Craig’s Bond shouldn’t be able to survive half the feats he’s put through. The end of the opening sequence of Skyfall proves this point. The fact that Bond survives that episode on the train is beyond atrocious. At least with Moore you’re not constantly left wondering how he survives each scene. Generally speaking, there are three elements that make James Bond who he is: the gadgets, the scenery, and the villains. Moore’s Bond carries the very best of all of these.
Moore takes James to the most diverse locales of any of the Bonds. From Lebanon and Thailand in The Man With the Golden Gun, to Albania and Spain in For Your Eyes Only, and Germany and India in Octopussy, Moore went all around the globe to save it. Moore’s Bond even went to the moon in Moonraker. He’s the only Bond that can say that. These have the best location shots of any of the Bond films. The scene of Bond and his Soviet companion floating down the Nile in The Spy Who Loved Me comes to mind. They might not have done the best pure cinematography that Craig’s films achieve, but damn did Moore’s Bond travel the world.
Some of the Bond series’ most iconic and creative villains come from Moore’s period, too. In the Spy Who Loved Me, Karl Stromberg plans to turn the U.S. and Soviet forces against each other in nuclear war, recreating civilization in his underwater base. Hugo Drax wants to annihilate everyone on Earth and make a race of superhumans on the moon in Moonraker. Some really famous actors even played some of Moore’s villains. Christopher Lee played an assassin with a golden gun who wanted to duel 007. Even Christopher Walken got a chance to take on the spy in Moore’s last film, A View to Kill. These villains might not have had the most grounded motives, but they were entertaining and larger-than-life characters that gave Bond something interesting to go after. They weren’t your average money-grubbers or world-domination-seekers like Connery or Craig’s villains. They were funky, they were unique, and they put an unforgettable charm and quirkiness in the series.
The gadgets in Moore’s Bond surpass any of those that the other actors in the series ever got to handle. The submarine car, crocodile camouflage, the shark-inflating pellet, and the wrist-mounted dart gun are some of the most clever, funny, and entertaining gizmos that James Bond ever got a hold of. Let’s not forget the canons at the end of his skis. Those come in handy when you’re constantly being chased down the slopes of the world’s best skiing resorts.
Look, Moore’s Bond isn’t the most realistic person nor does he do the most death-defying stunts. But, Moore is the most fun (and funny) of any of James Bond and that’s who James Bond is supposed to be. The story’s not about a sociopathic, depressed, and aging drunk. That’s no fun. The realistic James Bond as a concept doesn’t work. Why does everyone know who he is? Why does he keep introducing himself as James Bond? He’s the most famous secret spy in his own universe and that’s troubling in every James Bond film that tries to play itself off as “real.” So why not play with the absurdity? Why not try to have some fun with the concept and his stories? Why not literally and figuratively send him to the moon and back? Moore did, and it made for some of series’ most notable moments.
Featured Image by Columbia Pictures