The first James Bond film I saw at the cinema was A View To A Kill in 1985. It was for a school friend’s birthday party. We were due to go to the park for a game of football or cricket and later, a picnic, but the weather turned so it was decided a cinema trip was the alternative. I remember the opening sequence with Bond snowboarding to the sound of The Beach Boys and then the denouement atop the Golden Gate Bridge. For a long time, A View To A Kill remained my favourite ever Bond film and Roger Moore, a very classy James Bond.
Today, as news of Sir Roger Moore’s death breaks, I’m taken back to that rainy day when a group of kids piled into the cinema to be transported to a world of make believe. It wasn’t until much later that I began devouring every film, watching and re-watching over and over again. I still do, whenever they are on TV I just have to watch them.
Roger Moore was 57 when he made A View To A Kill, his last of seven James Bond films that began in 1973 with Live And Let Die. He had the unenviable task of following Sean Connery and George Lazenby in a role that was much sought after. Of course, Moore was much more than just a number.
He signed a seven-year contract with MGM in 1954 but the film roles he was offered didn’t garner him much notice so much so that he was released from his contract after only two years following poor box office showing for the film Diane (1956). His time after MGM found him in guest-spots on television shows before he signed another long-term contract with Warner Bros.
Pretty soon, though, Moore found fame in television. Playing the lead in Ivanhoe (1958-59), The Alaskans (1959-60) and starring as Bret Maverick’s English cousin in Maverick (1960-61). Worldwide fame soon beckoned when Lew Grade cast Moore as Simon Templar in the popular television series The Saint (1962-69) which ran for six series and 118 episodes.
Once The Saint ended, Moore starred in two films. The first, Crossplot was a spy caper while The Man Who Haunted Himself proved his acting ability although neither film made any dent at the box office. Television lured him in once again and he was joined by Tony Curtis for The Persuaders! (1971-72) where they played millionaire playboys.
Moore had actually been considered for the role of James Bond a few years earlier when it emerged that Sean Connery was stepping down but due to his commitment to The Saint, he was unavailable. After George Lazenby departed after one film and Connery returned for one more, Moore was once again approached by the producers where he accepted the role that would define him.
Moore’s Bond was very different to both Connery and Lazenby. His was very tongue-in-cheek compared to the very serious and less jokey incarnations. It suited him. He quickly became a firm favourite among fans and is still considered one of the best Bond’s of the franchise.
His other film roles, both during his time as Bond and after he had retired from the role, were less impressive. He never quite managed to hit the heady heights of his 007 persona and in later years his film roles, although plenty, were of poorer quality.
In 1991, impressed by his friend Audrey Hepburn’s commitment to UNICEF, he became an ambassador himself. But it will be as James Bond 007 that he is most fondly remembered. As that ten-year-old sat in the cinema over thirty years ago, I became a fan of not only A View To A Kill but of Roger Moore. A man who was not afraid to make fun of himself yet knew his limitations as an actor. One thing was for certain, though: Nobody Did It Better!
Sir Roger Moore 1927-2017