Sir Roger George Moore, best known for his portrayal of secret agent James Bond 007, died on May 23, 2017 from cancer. He was 89.
Moore, a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, is the longest serving Bond to date and appeared in an as yet unbeaten seven films. Of the six actors to play the iconic role he was a personal favourite. So in honour of Moore redmangoreviews will be ranking his seven Bond flicks. So shake and not stir your medium dry vodka martinis, grab your Walther PPK and let’s count them down:
#7 A View to a Kill (1985), Director John Glen
This was Moore’s final Bond film and, though he is charming as always, at 57 he was clearly too old to still be playing the role. It was especially creepy seeing him romance actress Tanya Roberts, who was almost 30 years his junior. The action scenes were dull and the plot of a Nazi-engineered industrialist plotting to flood Silicon Valley was meh. And Christopher Walken hams it up horribly as the aforementioned villain, Max Zorin.
The sole bright spot in this tired, uninspired affair is Grace Jones as sexy and deadly henchwoman May Day. This is the third Moore-Bond film by director John Glen but easily his worst. Glen is the most prolific of all Bond directors – Guy Hamilton is one less – and would redeem himself with the Timothy Dalton Bond films The Living Daylights (1987) and Licence to Kill (1989).
#6 Moonraker (1979), Director Lewis Gilbert
This entry came out two years after the first Star Wars and it was chosen over For Your Eyes Only to be the next installment because of the interest in science fiction the space opera had generated. The movie sees Bond and a CIA agent/astronaut attempting to stop an industrialist named Hugo Drax from poisoning the Earth so he can populate the world with his “perfect people.” What is it with evil industrialists?
The movie is just a little silly and relies too much on gimmicks and gadgets than actual thrills. There is a scene with the good guys and bad guys shooting lasers at each other in space which feels completely out of place and unbelievable. This is not Flash Gordon man! Michael Lonsdale’s big bad Hugo Drax is flat and boring and though Richard Kiel returns as towering villain Jaws he is much less scary and intimidating. Director Lewis Gilbert returned to helm this film after The Spy Who Loved Me but had a way better showing with his first time at the reins.
#5 The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Director Guy Hamilton
The second of Moore’s Bond films sees everyone’s favourite secret agent battling extremely skilled international assassin Francisco Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) and his dwarf manservant Nick Nack (Fantasy Island’s Hervé Villechaize). Lee is a master at playing villains and he is fun as the scowling, third nipple-having Scaramanga and the interaction between him and Moore is the highlight of the film. The movie also features Maud Adams as a Scaramanga victim and she who would return to play the eponymous Octopussy nine years later.
Of the Bond films Golden Gun is a bit action-lite though and Britt Ekland’s Mary Goodnight is one of the most forgettable of all the Bond girls. This was Guy Hamilton’s fourth and final Bond film after previously directing Sean Connery in the perfect Goldfinger (1964) and the boring Diamonds are Forever (1971), and also Moore’s first outing Live and Let Die (1973) which features later on this list.
#4 Octopussy (1983), Director John Glen
Octopussy is one of the wildest, craziest Bond movies but my goodness is it entertaining. Glen returns to the director’s chair and imbues the movie with style and energy from start to finish. In this mission Bond battles an Afghan prince and a rogue Soviet general to recover a Fabergé egg, stop a nuclear weapon and avenge a fallen double 0 agent.
Kabir Bedi plays the prince’s bodyguard Gobinda and though he is silent like Oddjob he is even more fearsome. Maud Adams, who appeared as another character in Golden Gun, plays the titular Octopussy and she oozes sexuality and strength. Throw in a circus, Bond dressing like a clown, twin knife throwing villains and a harem of deadly ladies and you have one heck of a fun Bond movie. 1983 was also the year the non-Eon Bond film Never Say Never Again was released with Sean Connery but Octopussy was way more memorable.
#3 For Your Eyes Only (1981), Director John Glen
After the science fiction craziness of Moonraker the producers decided to make things more grittier and realistic, and previous director Lewis Gilbert was swapped for John Glen. This more grounded tone is hinted at in the cold open where Bond throws a character resembling nemesis Ernst Stavro Blofeld into a smokestack.
This time 007 seeks out a missile command system together with Melina Havelock (Carole Bouquet), the vengeful daughter of murdered marine archaeologists. Bouquet portrays one of the strongest and most realistic Bond girls in the franchise and Chaim Topol is also fun as smuggler Milos Columbo. The action scenes are well done and it is all a solid affair, but it misses some of the whimsy from the other Moore Bond flicks. The title song by Sheena Easton is also quite catchy.
#2 Live and Let Die (1973), Director Guy Hamilton
Moore’s original outing as Bond is one of his very best and in Live and Let Die we get our very first taste of his trademark charm and wit. In this tale 007 battles a corrupt Caribbean prime minister and drug dealer in Harlem, New Orleans and in the West Indies. A young Jane Seymour plays the psychic Solitaire and besides being drop dead gorgeous there is also a depth of character that is rarely seen among Bond girls. The chemistry between her and Moore is downright explosive.
In terms of villains Yaphet Kotto is energetic as the evil Dr Kananga and Trinidad-born actor Geoffrey Holder is delightful as the macabre Baron Samedi. There are some great action scenes and stunt work including Bond running atop crocodiles and an amazing car flipping stunt. Bond exploding Kananga at the end with an air gun is laughably bad but it is a minor quibble. And it would be remiss of me not to mention the amazing Academy Award-nominated title song by Paul McCartney and his group Wings. This is one Bond film you should not let die. You see what I did there, and you liked it!
#1 The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Director Lewis Gilbert
I have been a James Bond fan for two decades and out of the 24 films (this figure excludes the 1967 Casino Royale parody and the aforementioned Never Say Never Again) The Spy Who Loved Me remains one of my all time favourites. In this mission Bond teams up with a Soviet KGB agent to stop a megalomaniac from starting World War III in order to usher in his underwater utopia.
There is so much to love about this film. Barbara Bach as Anya Amasova/Agent Triple X is one of the best Bond girls of all time and up there with the likes of Pussy Galore, Solitaire and Vesper Lynd. She is a smart, capable agent who can give James a run for his money and one ups him on more than occasion. Definitely not a damsel in distress. The main villain is a bit run of the mill but the unstoppable Jaws is such a fun, classic henchman. The Spy Who Loved Me is one of the most action heavy of all Bond films and the submarine assault in the third act is pulse pounding awesomeness. And the cherry on top is a car that turns into a freaking submarine! In terms of Moore-Bond films nobody does it better than the The Spy Who Loved Me.
So that’s my ranking of the seven Moore Bond flicks. Which of these is your favourite? Feel free to comment below.
For my ranking of the six Bond actors you can click here.