Thank You, Sir Roger Moore, for Starting My Lifelong Love Affair with James Bond Movies
It's the World Series, Super Bowl, Academy Awards, Grammys, Christmas, New Year's Eve, first day of school and last day of school all rolled into one at my house - the opening of a new James Bond movie.
I'm on the sixth 007 of my lifetime (seven if you count David Niven in 1967's Casino Royale) and I've been hooked ever since I saw my first Bond flick, 1979's Moonraker.
Watching my hero battle evil in majestic Venice, and later on Sugarloaf Mountain above Rio de Janeiro, I knew this was something I could never grow tired of. Sure that movie ended up in outer space in a plot best described as flimsy, but the man at the center of it all made it work.
That man was Roger Moore (SIR Roger Moore as of 2003), and now he is gone.
The only actor to portray the world's most famous spy, in seven consecutive movies, passed away this week at the age of 89, following a battle with cancer.
Moore's smooth, comfortable look on camera was unmistakable. His campy, sarcastic delivery was like an old, familiar song. He was no Sean Connery, and he never apologized for it.
Starting with Moonraker, I then began tracing the Bond franchise backward through Moore's earlier films in the series, before landing on Connery's Diamonds Are Forever (1971), his return to the series after bringing 007 to the silver screen nearly a decade earlier with Dr. No (1962). Now I am the proud owner of every one of the 24 films in the 'official' Bond catalog.
For past 20 years, I've made it a point to be in the theater on every James Bond opening night. My wife and I even made a trip to the Imperial War Museum while we were in London several years ago, just to catch the James Bond exhibit they had there.
As much as a Roger Moore loyalist as I was, it was easy to see why a lot of people preferred Sean Connery's more rugged approach to Moore's more debonair spin on the character, which was created by novelist Ian Fleming in 1953.
It was 32 years ago this week that Moore's last 007 film, A View To A Kill, made its debut, in May of 1985. I'll admit, by that time it was pretty apparent Moore had lost a step or two playing the part and probably needed to let a younger man take over. But if I had known Timothy Dalton was waiting in the wings, I would have begged Sir Roger to stay.
Things looked up when Pierce Brosnan finally took over in 1995 with GoldenEye. His style seemed reminiscent of Moore's charm, with a little of Connery's grit thrown in.
Brosnan did four Bond films before handing the reigns over to Daniel Craig for 2006's Casino Royale. For my money, Craig is the quintessential James Bond, with a portrayal that most embodies the flawed, dark, brooding man Ian Fleming first conjured up on the written page more than 50 years ago.
Now Craig appears to be tiring of the role, and there is rampant speculation as to whether he'll return for his fifth Bond movie or whether someone else will take over the storied franchise.
Whatever happens, James Bond fans everywhere owe a huge debt to Sir Roger Moore.
May you rest in peace, Mr. Bond...