Red Alert raises an eyebrow to the late James Bond star, who died in May
Self-deprecation came easily to Roger Moore. “My acting range? Left eyebrow raised, right eyebrow raised,” he’d say, playing up to an image established around the time of the ITC series The Saint, in which he played smoothie criminal Simon Templar, a jet set Robin Hood. “Roger Moore has long realised that raising his right eyebrow and turning his left profile to the camera is all that is required of him,” wrote Nancy BanksSmith in The Sun in 1969 – four years before Moore made his James Bond debut, 15-odd years before the puppet parody Spitting Image gave the same joke new life.
The playboy, the dilettante, the Man with the Silver Spoon. But Roger Moore was the son of a Stockwell copper. It was all an act – a class act, literally – and it made him the natural choice to succeed Sean Connery, even if Bond coproducer Albert Broccoli required convincing. “I thought we were scraping the bottom of the barrel,” he told interviewer Jean Rook in 1974. “[But] diet him and get rid of those damned eyebrows and he’s great. Nearer what [Ian] Fleming had in mind than Connery.”
He proved it in his first scene in Live And Let Die, a one-act bedroom farce involving M, Miss Moneypenny, Madeline Smith and a magnetic Rolex. Moore’s Bond is fully formed by the end of that one scene – no stunts, no doubles, no ejector seats. Beginning with Live And Let Die’s voodoo mysticism, and continuing with the Captain Nemo theatrics of The Spy Who Loved Me and the outright science fiction of
Moonraker, the Bond circus became ever more fantastical throughout Moore’s time… to the point of Octopussy, in which Bond attempts to defuse a nuclear bomb while dressed as a clown. Neither Connery nor any of the other Bonds could have pulled that one off, could they? But Roger Moore did, with the greatest of ease. There was always more to the Last Of The Famous International Playboys than ever met the eyebrow.
The longest-running Bond, from 1973 to 1985, Roger Moore brought magic and mischief to the role.