25 June 2017

Roger Moore... I Miss Him Already

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I have no clue when you'll be reading this, but for me as I write, it is the 23rd Of May 2017. Sadly this is the day that Sir Roger Moore departed our mortal world for the giant Martini bar in the sky and the day that we lost our first real James Bond. Already I've had several friends message me in condolence; my Mum phoned me up to make sure I was okay, and a work colleague gave me a hug from behind as I was sat at my desk. Although during this hug the work colleague also started to fondle my nipples so there's a good chance that it was more of an opportunistic attempt at sexual harassment than an effort to actually comfort me. If only I'd had three nipples then arguably it would have been a fitting tribute.

A few years ago I was at a party in which somebody asked me which famous people I share my birthday with. This is also an indication as to the level of 'cool' that the parties I go to are. Being born on the 14th of October, I proudly announced that I had the same birthday as Roger Moore. “Oh”, said the dullard asking, “what about any cool famous people?” It was with that that I turned on my heel and walked away. “I don't need dickheads like that in my life”, I thought to myself. I don't know why I have a love for Roger Moore that's as strong as I do, although the fact that he's a fucking legend is clearly one. Self-deprecating, funny, calm, and if his work with Unicef is anything to go by.. ultimately kind. Arguably he's the only actor that's ever gotten Bond completely right too. Most people claim that Bond should be dark and cynical as is the case in the original books. However Moore realised that it was such a ridiculous character that the only way to do it right would be to do it in a knowing way and with his tongue lodged firmly in his cheek. As a man with a claw struggles to remove his watch in Live And Let Die, Moore's Bond is clearly annoyed and so angrily refers to the man as a “Butter-hook”. I will never not laugh at that line in which Bond revels in his own ability to annoy somebody and I will never not laugh at Moore's delivery of it.

Moore's theory was that if he was having fun on screen then hopefully we'd have fun watching him. Moonraker is a proper crap film, but as he rode through Venice on a randomly discovered hover-Gondola, and to the surprise of the local pigeons, there's no denying that his theory was fucking true. I think therefore that I love Moore because he's the Bond that seems the most enjoyable to spend time with and the one that would want to spend time with you too. Unless he was about to shag or kill you, Connery's Bond wouldn't give you the time of day, but Moore's comes across like a proper lad. The kind of guy that'll swagger up to a bar to order a drink and within a few hours be surrounded by people as he rattles off stories and has a laugh. Despite this however, there's still a large amount of people that don't like him as the character and I think it's this final cherry of bullshit that endears me even more to him. The other Bonds don't really need defending because they're either universally loved or George Lazenby. However I feel the need to defend Moore because he is actually brilliant.

There's a criticism that has often been thrown at Roger Moore in which it's said that he has two singular strengths as an actor; “left eyebrow up and left eyebrow down”. Now there's two things that are annoying about this. The first is that it's clearly total bullshit. James Bond first hit the screens in 1962 with Sean Connery turning both himself and the character into a world wide phenomenon. However I'd argue that without Moore, the franchise wouldn't have lasted the almost six decades that it so far has. I mean, how the fuck do you follow in Connery's footsteps? Just look at George Lazenby's efforts, or as most people now call him.. “Who?” Roger Moore proved that, to be a successful James Bond, you didn't just have to attempt a bad Sean Connery impression. Which is lucky because it generally only takes a lisp on the letter 's', a bad Scottish accent, and a look in your eye the suggests you'll back hand a women before taking any lip from her. Instead the trick is to take the key elements of the character and decide which of them will play most to your strengths. In the case of Moore, this was his knowing sense of the franchise's own bullshit. The second reason that it's annoying that people often use the 'eye brow' quip as a critique of him is because the fucking quote originated from him!

And speaking of quips, his autobiography is entitled 'My Word Is My Bond' which is completely fitting. In many ways his Bond is defined not by his actions but his talent for delivering the one liners that were always funny even if they didn't always make too much sense. “All those feathers and he still couldn't fly” … Sorry Roger, I have no fucking clue what that means but I'll laugh simply due to the joy in which you delivered it. However when Bond points a gun at a man's dick and announces, “Speak now or forever hold your piece”, I'd say that's got to be one of his best one-liners. Speaking about that one, Moore later said that when playing on television the Americans would always censor that final word. According to him, “I suppose the Americans must just have a problem with the sound of the word piece”. It's also worth mentioning that one of the most famous lines in all of cinema is, “Play it again, Sam”, from the film Casablanca. Except it's not from Casablanca because that's a misquote. In fact, the actual quote is, “You played it for her, you can play it for me...If she can stand it, I can. Play it!” Not quite as snappy that one, is it? However the line “Play it again, Sam” is used in a movie. So next time you're at a quiz and somebody asks, “In what film is the line 'Play it again, Sam' used?”, you should answer, “It's in Moonraker and is said by Roger Moore after he's just killed a man by dropping him into a piano”.

I actually saw Roger Moore live on stage a few years ago when he was touring about with stories of his life. As he came onto the stage I was overwhelmed to see him in the flesh and began internally screaming like those video clips of foreign women who have just endured some horrific disaster. At one point a man in the audience shouted out a question to Moore about politics. I have no idea what the question was however the bald chap on stage asking Moore about his life freaked the fuck out and started screaming, “WE DO NOT ASK SIR ROGER MOORE ABOUT POLITICAL ISSUES”. I don't know why the bald chap got so angry but it was exciting as fuck. And speaking of being silenced, it's worth mentioning the interview that Moore did with a couple of super-fans and comedians Adam and Joe. Whilst hosting their BBC Radio show they introduce Moore and then promptly have a mental breakdown in front of him. It's amazing. Joe asks, “A lot of people erm... are kind of err...have lost track of the Bond's because erm...they...”, to which Adam jumps in with, “Joe's gotten overwhelmed. He's got all star struck”. Joe simply adds, “Sorry”.

It's worth mentioning too that Joe had previously written an alternate theme for Quantum Of Solace that included the lyrics, “Sometimes I wish Roger Moore would come back, with an underwater car or some kind of jetpack, or a hover Gondola and a Union Jack”. However perhaps it's the Scouting For Girls song I Wish I was James Bond that gets to the heart of how I feel, with “I've seen you walk the screen, it's you that I adore. Since I was a boy I wanted to be like Roger Moore”. And yet as the world gets used to the idea that we no longer share this planet with him, I think we all know that there's only one song that will come to be associated with him and that is Carly Simon's theme to The Spy Who Loved Me, 'Nobody Does it better'. I genuinely do love Roger Moore and so I feel it fitting to end this in the way that he wanted. When asked how he'd like to be remembered he simply answered with, "when I go, I'd like everybody to say: He lived longer than anyone I knew". I miss him already.