Moore on half a century of 007

BOND ON BOND: THE ULTIMATE BOOK ON 50 YEARS OF BOND MOVIES by Roger Moore with Gareth Owen (Michael O’Mara)

As perhaps the most amenable of the actors who played James Bond, Roger Moore gets the job of writing (or, more likely, dictating) the text for this commemoration of 50 years of Bond movies. The pictures, of which there are many, seem to be the main point of the book, but Moore has done a pretty solid piece of work: he talks about more than his own tenure in the role, going back to the origins of the film franchise, discussing even the non-official movies (the first Casino Royale and Never Say Never Again) and bringing the story up to today and the third film to feature Bond Six, Daniel Craig — that’s Skyfall, now filling our media with hype.

The jacket flap calls Moore “the ultimate James Bond himself”, which is obviously poppycock. His Bond wasn’t much more than an update of his Simon Templar in TV’s The Saint, and during his time as 007 (1973 to 1985) the movies became ever more bloated and silly: their greatest drama was in watching Moore resist the ageing process with a range of hair dyes and Monte Carlo tans.

Still, one can’t help being fond of him. In this text he comes across as a real old Brit-thesp luvvie, chattering on heedlessly, air-kissing everyone (except Grace Jones — “she who must not be named”) and cracking jokes that are surely even older than the Bond franchise. For some odd reason of his own, Moore refers to Bond as “Jim”, “Jimmy” or “Jimbo”, which is irksome.

He is good, though, on details close to the hearts of Bond fans: the stunts, the product placement, the exotic locations, the clothes, the watches, the gadgets and particularly the cars. He is scathing about the Lotus Esprit, the glamour car that featured in two of his Bond outings. Like some movies, it was an eye-catching shell without an inner mechanism that actually worked. Taking a Lotus on location in Sardinia was predictably disastrous, but the car couldn’t even be driven from London to Cannes: it broke down in Lyon. Moore was offered a 10% discount on a new Lotus, he says with a sniff, but declined.

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Author Shaun de Waal
Shaun De Waal

Shaun de Waal has worked at the Mail & Guardian since 1989. He was literary editor from 1991 to 2006 and chief film critic for 15 years. He is now editor-at-large. Recent publications include Exposure: Queer Fiction, 25 Years of the Mail & Guardian and Not the Movie of the Week.

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