I Once Kissed…
One bitterly cold January day at Pinewood Studios, I crawled into bed with Roger Moore. We spent three days together, locked in a very unromantic embrace, before I was sent away to cower in a cupboard. This was the iconic ‘magic watch’ scene – the opening of Live and Let Die – and I was Roger’s first Bond Girl.
In 1973, when the film was released, my character didn’t even have a name – only ‘Beautiful Girl’ on the credits. ‘Miss Caruso’ appeared by magic on the DVD, finally giving my formerly insubstantial character a fragile identity of her own.
Roger and I got on famously. He had suggested me for the part after we’d worked together with Tony Curtis in the spoof detective series The Persuaders. There was no intimacy in bed with him, despite our physical entanglement. He sported light blue boxer shorts and my 23-year-old pert posterior was shrouded in a mountainous pile of frilly knickers. In bed I looked ready for the skating rink!
In 1973, James Bond was still considered family viewing; so there was no humping or feigned orgasms with the sound man’s microphone hovering above your throat. Roger’s wife, Louisa, was floating, spectre-like, around our bed for the duration of the scene; so there was never any possibility of hanky panky down below.
There was a lot of fiddling around going on under my dress, but it wasn’t with Roger. The ‘magic watch’ required a bit of help – a thin wire, threaded through my dress’s zip, was pulled downwards as Roger ran his magnetic watch down my back. The dress, made of a coarse, dense material, kept buckling, as our special effects wizard, Derek Meddings, his chainsmoking assistant, Ian, and the ever-present wardrobe mistress all pulled and tugged beneath my legs. Many takes later, we had all become intimate friends.
I grew to detest this bright blue, pneumatic dress, in which I looked more like the Michelin Man than a sexy Italian spy. It was a great relief for all concerned when it finally fell to the floor as intended in the script. Roger kept the atmosphere light throughout the tedium of filming, and his energy, jokes and enthusiasm never flagged. He never disappeared, star-like, off-set.
Blink and I’ve gone in my tiny scene, and I don’t flatter myself that its cult status is because of my staggering acting ability or faux-italian falsetto voice. Rather, it’s Roger’s magic watch (and his own sheer magnetism) that are responsible. Roger called our humble scene one of his favourites, a compliment I really appreciate. The feeling is mutual, and the years have not dimmed the memory of one of the most enjoyable, if perhaps briefest, jobs I ever did.
Hear Madeline Smith’s podcast on the Oldie App See page 7
Magnetic attraction: Smith and Moore in Live and Let Die (1973)