British actor Rodger Moore passed away Tuesday at the age of 89. Many in the US first got to know him as Simon Templar in the TV series The Saint, however he is most well known for playing the role of MI6 Secret Agent James Bond in seven movies from 1973-1985.
He was the third man to become agent 007 after Sean Connery and George Lazenby. I personally have him as the third best Bond behind Connery and Daniel Craig. Moore’s Bond character was much more polished and smooth than the one played by Connery. However in some of his later Bond films it came off very campy. Still, he has starred in more Bond films than anyone else as 007 so let’s rank them all.
7. A View to a Kill (1985)
Moore’s last movie as 007 was also his worst. At age 57, Moore ran around the streets of San Francisco with a young Tanya Roberts in an effort to stop the evil industrialist Max Zorin, played by Christopher Walken, from detonating explosives beneath the lakes along the Hayward and San Andreas faults, which would cause them to flood, causing the Silicon Valley area to be permanently submerged underwater, therefore giving Zorin and his investors a monopoly on the microchip industry. The climactic battle in a blimp above the Golden Gate bridge was less than exciting. My favorite parts however were Grace Jones as May Day and the theme song, “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran.
6. Octopussy (1983)
This movie, besides the title, which usually just makes me roll my eyes instead of snickering, is just kind of meh. In the middle of the Cold War, Bond is tasked with stopping a plan to force Europe to disarm, by detonating a nuclear weapon (huh?) in the middle of a circus. Nothing is entirely memorable except for Bond dressing up as a clown and a reused Bond girl in Maud Adams who was in The Man with the Golden Gun four movies earlier.
5. Moonraker (1979)
A solid movie until the third act when the producers obviously were looking to cash in on the post-Star Wars money by making JAMES BOND IN SPACE!!! 007 is charged with investigating the theft of a space shuttle which leads him to Hugo Drax who wants to use the stolen shuttle and his own craft to wipe out earth with nerve gas and then repopulate it with several dozen genetically perfect people onboard his space station to create a master race. The space battle scene looks like a high school film project when compared to anything in Star Wars. With the help of Dr. Holly Goodhead (phrasing), Bond saves the day and gets to have some zero gravity sex.
4. Live an Let Die (1973)
This was Moore’s debut as 007 and he is sent to investigate the deaths of three British agents, taking him to Harlem, New Orleans, and the Caribbean in pursuit of Dr. Kananga who plans to take over the worldwide heroin trade. The producers were looking to cash in on the popularity of Blaxploitation movies at the time and it seems very heavy handed in places. However, the movie has Alligators, Voodoo, an awesome boat chase, a stunning Bond girl in a young Jane Seymour, and one of the best title songs ever, this time sung by Paul McCartney and Wings. Definitely worth a watch.
3. The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
Yes it has a weak plot where 007 needs to stop the Solex Agitator which can harness the power of the sun. Yes it has one of the most useless Bond girls in Britt Ekland’s Mary Goodnight. However, this movie does have Christopher Lee playing famous assassin Francisco Scaramanga who wants nothing more than to duel with 007. Lee is just awesome in every scene he is in and the showdown between Scaramanga and his golden gun verses James Bond and his Walther PPK was wonderful.
2. For Your Eyes Only (1981)
After the sci-fi schlock of Moonraker, 007 returned to his roots with less slapstick and a more realistic harder edge. A movie filled with Cold War implications, 007 must retrieve the missile command system ATAC before the Soviets do. Moore is great here with one of his best moments as he kicks a bad guy’s car off a cliff (with the bad guy still in it). Just ignore the teen ice skater’s crush on 007 and let Archer deal with that instead.
1. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
One of my all time favorite Bond movies, this was Moore at his best as 007. After British and Russian submarines are stolen, Bond has to reluctantly team with smoldering KGB agent Anya Amasova (Agent Triple X..cough) played by Barbara Bach. They discover a plot by Karl Stromberg to launch the submarines’ nuclear missiles at New York and Moscow simultaneously, thereby triggering World War III while he starts a brand new civilization under the ocean. As they try to stop Strombeg, Amasova discovers Bond killed her lover in Austria (during the opening sequence of the movie which concluded with an awesome ski jump) and vows to kill Bond once the mission is over. At the end, Bond is way too awesome to die so he gets the girl and saves the day.
This movie is the perfect balance of everything that makes James Bond great. Thrills, humor, gadgets, over the top henchmen like Jaws (the only character you should never play as in N64’s Goldeneye because he is too big a target), a great title song, (“Nobody Does it Better” by Carly Simon), and lovely ladies. This movie is the way I will remember Roger Moore as the classic Agent 007, Bond, James Bond.