Roger Moore: Break the Bond and Love the Saint

Posted by Michael Pinto on Oct 14, 2009 in Cinema, Television |

Roger Moore in The Saint

Today is the 82nd birthday of Sir Roger George Moore, who sadly is known to most folks as “the James Bond that isn’t Sean Connery!” Now I know it’s a classic fanboy argument to rate each James Bond and then chastise poor Roger Moore for being too slick, too smooth and too English to be James Bond. Yet I think that’s an unfair argument because to really appreciate why Moore got the 007 role you have to go a few years back in time to 1962 when Moore made his name as The Saint.

The Saint actually pre-dated James Bond as the series of books dates to the late 1920s while Bond is a child of the Cold War era of the early 1950s. Unlike Bond our hero Simon Templar is a true gentleman who has a knack for disguise — he’s not so much a secret agent as a detective. With his model good looks and charm this in fact was THE role that Roger Moore was born to play. And he did it so well that the series lasted until 1969! In fact the series actually starts in black-and-white and finishes in color.

Roger Moore as The Saint

It takes talent to maintain 118 episodes of any show, and Moore could pack a good punch. If you haven’t seen this series you should make it a point of checking it out. My personal favorites are the older black-and-white episodes which have a wonderful magic to them. The production values on these shows is A+ and they’re almost like mini-movies.

Roger Moore in action as The Saint punching out poor Barry Morse

After you watch The Saint you’ll understand why Moore landed the Bond role in the 70s. Frankly the only other actor from that era who could have played Bond was Patrick McGoohan who did so well with The Prisoner series (which was also produced by ITV). However Patrick turned down the role due to the violence. That left Moore as the logical choice for 007.

Roger Moore as The Saint

I think the problem is that people in their hearts wanted Sean Connery to make those films forever, but frankly I think Connery was wise to not run the franchise into the ground. The James Bond films need to reflect the era that they were shot in, and as talented as he was I’m not sure how Sean would have fit into the disco era. Instead I’d suggest that Moore with his smooth touch was the ultimate 007 for the 70s. He never tried to be Connery, instead he did his version of James Bond which was really Simon Templar with some amazing gadgets and much more exotic locations.

The Man With the Golden Gun: A Japanese James Bond Film Poster

So on his birthday today don’t just cut Roger Moore some slack, but appreciate and embrace him as Simon Templar! The other thing is don’t view him as disco James Bond, but see him as the man who kept 007 cool and hip in the 70s when working for the man was very much out of style. In fact if you view some of those films within the context of their times instead of thinking of the 60s you’ll appreciate the fun that Moore had with the role.

In fact I think a more creative fanboy might ask he question: What’s the best Roger Moore 007 film? I think for me The Spy Who Loved Me would be my favorite. To me this 1977 film is disco James Bond at his very best, for starters you’ve got a strong start with the opening song by Carly Simon which is preceded by a a wonderful ski chase scene. By the way if you look at that opening scene you’ll notice that Moore is wearing a bright banana yellow jump suit. Now I ask you, could Sean Connery have worn that same suit and been seen as 007? I think not!

Happy Birthday Sir Roger Moore.

Roger Moore as The Saint

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