After watching For Your Eyes Only recently, we mentioned on Twitter that we thought the James Bond character suffered in the 1970′s. A lot of it had to do with Roger Moore. We feel badly saying that. It’s kind of like picking on Adam West. Both seem like nice chaps. But they also headlined projects that were campy when they really shouldn’t have been. As for Roger, he had big shoes to fill after Connery left, but he was probably the right type of guy given the direction the series was headed. Lighter, fluffier, sillier. Roger’s comedic timing was wonderful so he tended to put people at ease — something that James Bond wasn’t really meant to do. When Connery’s Bond expressed humor it bordered on maliciousness. Ian Fleming’s Danger Man wasn’t a nice guy. He feigned pleasantries when it served him. Moore’s Bond seemed like the kind of guy that would go out of his way to help old ladies cross the street.
Moore also suffered from a lack of the physicality that Connery had in spades. Connery was a bodybuilder in his earlier life and seemed to be athletically inclined. Roger Moore seemed like he performed better striding into a hotel lobby than rumbling on the pitch. Of course, a lot of the problem had to do with Roger’s age. He’s actually three years older than Sean and was 45 when he began playing Bond and was 58 when he hung up the reigns – Holy Methuselah!
There’s always going to be a debate about what Bond should look like but in our opinion, the books tend to paint a picture of features that are darker and more severe than Moore possessed. That’s not to say that Connery looked much like what Ian had envisioned. In his novels, Fleming described Bond as resembling a more handsome version of Hoagy Carmichael, but with a scar down one cheek.
Not all of the James Bond quagmire was Moore’s fault. In fact, Moore just did what was needed of him, so the real problem lies with the environment that propped up Roger. Cheesy scripting, eye-rolling gags, laughable villains, etc. Implausible situation may be part of the Bond shtick but in the mid-career movies the scenes often felt like they were set up awkwardly or poorly just for the sake of forcing a thrill (e.g., the maze at Scaramanga’s place in The Man with the Golden Gun – really? why? maybe because the rest of the movie was soooo boring?). And, of course, it was the 1970′s. How the hell is ANYONE supposed to look cool with flaired polyester pants and slip-on shoes? And that awful ski suit from The Spy Who Loved Me - was there any chance James Bond could be credible for the rest of the movie after seeing that terrible mess?
The Bond girls were reduced to waifish cocaine-era models that couldn’t act. One also had to wonder how any of them could fire a gun without shattering all of the chicken bones in their hands. The earlier Bond girls like Honey Rider and Pussy Galore at least seemed like they could do you some harm if you weren’t watching. On the other hand, Agent XXX (aka Major Anya Amasova aka Barbara Bach aka Mrs. Richard Starkey) from The Spy Who Loved Me, wasn’t even a cerebral threat let alone a physical one. We are led to believe by General Gogol that Amasova was the best agent the USSR had to offer. Hell, no wonder the USSR blew up. It’s just a wonder that it didn’t happen sooner.
So, anyway, all this bother leads to another opportunity for ratings. Here are our oh-so-credible stars for each of the Bond movies. Note: these are ratings based on a “Bond” scale, not ratings compared to other movies.
|* * * * *||Dr. No||1962||Sean Connery|
|* * * * *||From Russia with Love||1963||Sean Connery|
|* * * * *||Goldfinger||1964||Sean Connery|
|* * * * *||Thunderball||1965||Sean Connery|
|* * *||You Only Live Twice||1967||Sean Connery|
|* * * * *||On Her Majesty’s Secret Service||1969||George Lazenby|
|* * *||Diamonds Are Forever||1971||Sean Connery|
|* * *||Live and Let Die||1973||Roger Moore|
|*||The Man with the Golden Gun||1974||Roger Moore|
|* * *||The Spy Who Loved Me||1977||Roger Moore|
|* *||Moonraker||1979||Roger Moore|
|* *||For Your Eyes Only||1981||Roger Moore|
|* *||A View to a Kill||1985||Roger Moore|
|* *||The Living Daylights||1987||Timothy Dalton|
|* *||Licence to Kill||1989||Timothy Dalton|
|* * * * *||GoldenEye||1995||Pierce Brosnan|
|* *||Tomorrow Never Dies||1997||Pierce Brosnan|
|* * *||The World Is Not Enough||1999||Pierce Brosnan|
|* * *||Die Another Day||2002||Pierce Brosnan|
|* * * * *||Casino Royale||2006||Daniel Craig|
|* * * *||Quantum of Solace||2008||Daniel Craig|
|Here’s hoping…||Skyfall||2012||Daniel Craig|
Want a more in-depth analysis of our expert opinions? You’re in luck! We made a special page for you of such a thing.