It must be gently said that the graceful and elegant and always gentlemanly Roger Moore, who died earlier today at age 89, never acted in a single grade-A film of serious quality. Not once. His commitment was to deftness and smoothitude, probably because he sensed early on that he wasn’t (and never would be) a Richard Burton, Tom Courtenay or Laurence Oliver-level actor. He knew who he was and what he wasn’t. That was part of his charm.
Moore’s career peaked with The Spy Who Loved Me (’77), which was arguably the most likable of his seven half-comedic Bond films (the others being Live and Let Die, The Man with the Golden Gun, Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy and A View to a Kill). It could be further argued that the Egyptian pyramids scene was the most gripping sequence in that ’77 film, and that Moore’s best on-screen partnership wasn’t with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders but with Richard Kiel‘s Jaws….we all remember that attitude, that humor.
Moore was almost too pretty when he was starting out in the ’50s. Dandified, insubstantial. He grew into peak handsomeness in the ’70s, when he was in his ’40s and early ’50s.
Moore once said that he “only had three expressions as Bond: right eyebrow raised, left eyebrow raised and eyebrows crossed when grabbed by Jaws.”
During a December 1980 visit to London I interviewed Moore during the filming of For Your Eyes Only, out at Pinewood Studios. He was never less than polite, gracious and considerate with me. He knew I was small fry, of course, but he treated me as if I was Roger Ebert or Richard Schickel. He made time for me between takes, and never did the old “I’ll see you later, I need time to prepare in my dressing room” routine that so many actors pull during set visits. It was if I was Moore’s personal guest, and he felt obliged to give me whatever I might want in terms of quotes and at least try to make me feel comforted on some level.