Archives for posts with tag: George Lazenby

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Sir Roger Moore wasn’t the first actor to play James Bond, but the charming gentleman turned out to be the longest-tenured–and for a generation was the 007 they grew up watching.  In an era before VHS, this was the Bond you saw in the theater and heavily edited for television on ABC.  His was the voice you heard if you read the books.  And unlike Connery who publicly chafed at being typecast in the series, Moore proudly wore the tuxedo and basked in the 007 spotlight.

In the aftermath of Sir Roger’s passing, one looks at his body of work as James Bond.  He came to the role in the early 1970’s when the producers had already tried to recast 007 with an unknown, with less than desirable results (“On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” grossed less than the previous four films in the series).  Connery returned for “Diamonds Are Forever”, but it was clear he would never return to the role (see the 1983 film “Never Say Never Again”).  For a while in this stretch American (gasp!) actors were considered to take the role of the British super-spy…let’s just say the series could have gone in several different directions at the time.

Moore brought a fresh face (despite being three years older than Connery, Roger looked about ten years younger than Sean in 1973) and a certain style to the role.  If one compares the two, Connery was more of a between the tackles fullback type of 007 while Moore was a graceful halfback on the perimeter.  Sean provided power, while Roger fielded finesse.  One made the easy things look hard, while the other made the hard things look easy.  But both got the job done.

The new direction of the series followed the lead of its lead actor, from a grittier series laden with gadgets and the occasional witty aside to gadgets, asides, bigger sets and lighter moments with the occasional grit.  It was probably a smart move to create a different Bond that wouldn’t have to compete with Sean Connery’s shadow.  And Moore would wind up surpassing his friend in tenure and movies made (7 “official” films to Connery’s 6).

The actor who plays James Bond is often at the mercy of his material;  it’s tough to make ice cream out of garbage (although I’m sure Q has a gadget somewhere which does that).  It took a while for the series to hit its stride with Roger Moore in the role:  “Live and Let Die” and “The Man with the Golden Gun” both feel more like “thermometer films” (reflecting Blaxploitation and Kung Fu movies of the day) than “thermostat films”.  “The Spy Who Loved Me”  brought big Bond back in spades- and while “Moonraker” made more money and “For Your Eyes Only” was a better film, this is the quintessential Moore movie (his “Goldfinger”, as it were).  After trying to play off “Star Wars” with “Moonraker”, 007 came back to earth with “For Your Eyes Only”.  It’s a shame that wasn’t Sir Roger Moore’s exit from the role, because it would have been a great way to go out.

Initially that was supposed to be his final bow, but Sean Connery returning to a role he said he’d never take again in “Never Say Never Again” forced the producers to cough up an offer Sir Roger Moore couldn’t refuse for “Octopussy”.  He’d even return for “A View to a Kill”, which was a great song that deserved a much better movie.

So without further ado–ranking Roger’s 007 turns as 007…:

 

7–The Man with the Golden Gun, 1974.  These ratings are fluid, and I keep on rotating the bottom three depending on my moods of the day.  From Lulu’s up-tempo song to sheriff J.W. Pepper’s unwelcome cameo, this feels like a bad remake of “Live and Let Die”.  And there’s no big battle at the end, just Bond and the villain running around a funhouse.  Even more dated than Moore’s outfits:  the energy crisis subplot.  Raised Eyebrow:  the gun is the original “transformer”, made of a pen, lighter and cigarette case.  Rolled Eyes: Tatoo from “Fantasy Island” is a henchman.  “Da Plane!”.

6–A View to a Kill, 1985.  The series was running on fumes, and having a 58-year old play the ultimate action hero is not the way to provide pep.  Christopher Walken and Grace Jones were bright spots in an otherwise lame film.  Tanya Roberts is a less than awesome Bond Girl.  And playing the Beach Boys made casting Timothy Dalton a good idea for 15 minutes. Raised Eyebrow:  Duran Duran delivers one of the best songs of the series.  Rolled Eyes:  there was a dog-robot at the end.  Honestly.

5–Moonraker, 1979.  Ripped for being rather juvenile, but it tries to be bigger than Golden Gun and features a younger Moore which gives it the edge over the previous two films.  It’s basically “The Spy Who Loved Me”, but in outer space.  Michael Lonsdale is a decent villain, but Jaws with a girlfriend takes whatever terror he provided out of the equation.  Bonus points for the late Bernard Lee’s last turn as M.  Raised Eyebrow:  there’s a fantastic fight in a glass factory, and another one on an aerial tramway in Rio.  Rolled Eyes: there’s also a gondola chase in Venice that ends with the gondola becoming a hovercraft.

 

4–Live and Let Die, 1973.  They wrote the script not knowing who would be 007, just with the instructions of keeping things light like they did in “Diamonds Are Forever”.  The Tarot Card motif is pretty cool and there are a few car and boat chases, plus an alligator farm.  And the theme song!  The lack of Bond identity hurts this film, and J.W. Pepper as a redneck sheriff is cute if you happen to be 8 years old.  Raised Eyebrow:  007’s race across a back of alligators.  Rolled Eyes: the villain blows up like a balloon at the end.

 

3–Octopussy, 1983.  Many view this entry as one part 60’s seriousness combined with one part 70’s fluff.  There’s  a yo-yo saw to add tension, but also 007 swinging and shouting like Tarzan.  Louis Jourdan makes a solid villain, and it’s nice to actually see Roger Moore hit on a woman his own age (or at least within two decades).  A sassy pre-credits sequence gets things going and there’s another countdown to armegeddon 007 has to foil.  Lamest theme song of the series.  Raised Eyebrow:  the train ride to the US base.  Rolled Eyes:  Q joining 007 for a raid on the villain’s lair.

2–The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977.  Hold on–that year had Star Wars, Smokey and the Bandit and this movie???  Basically a riff off “You Only Live Twice”, but when you haven’t had a “traditional caper” checking all of the boxes in ten years the heart grows fond for a little formula.  Precisely the movie I wish they’d let Daniel Craig make, instead of what amount to four origin stories.  From the world in danger to a great ski chase, from a well-written villain to a big battle, Moore never did it better.  Raised Eyebrow:  the pre-credits ski chase was the best of the decade…and Carly Simon’s theme song answers the challenge.  Rolled Eyes: first appearance by Victor Tourjansky  in the series as “guy who is drinking during a 007 car/gondola/ski chase and double-checks his bottle to make sure he can believe his eyes”. 

1– For Your Eyes Only, 1981.  Probably next to “From Russia With Love” as the best Cold War tale in the entire series.  An older, wearier Bond has more than a few tough moments.  Moore has a good cast to work with, the action scenes are realistic and the gadgets don’t get in the way of a good story.  For those who wanted the perfect mix of seriousness and commercial appeal, I refer to 007 late in the film: “That’s détente, comrade:  you don’t have it…and I don’t have it.”  Raised Eyebrows:  the villain tries to kill 007 by running him over the reefs.  Rolled Eyes:  the pre-credits sequence starts strong but slides into silliness.  The 70’s weren’t over just yet.

 

 

 

I grew up an hour north of Boston.  I’ve covered the Marathon.  My sister was on the same block as the explosions yesterday…and my cousin’s wife was at the finish line with her 1 and 3 year old until a half hour before the blasts.  One reason why I fell into sports journalism is that it’s fun…aka the toy department… and I can try to be mildly amusing when talking about Toronto playing Tampa Bay by saying “You can call them Rays, you can call them Jays”.  Again, the focus is more on mild than amusing.  But one can’t be sarcastic about train accidents, trials or war.  I’m the comedic relief.  It’s tough when the nasty world invades my own…I was covering Otto Porter Jr’s announcement he was headed to the NBA when the Marathon went from sporting spectacle to a day of disaster.  I scrambled to reach my sister and although she was safe she was understandably shaken.  I’ve heard her happy and sad over the years–but never in terror…and as a big brother that shook the hell out of me.  I feel for the victims.  I’m happy friends and family are safe.  And I hope justice comes in finding who’s responsible for this.  Now it’s time for another press conference (Maryland’s Alex Len going pro)…and afternoon drive updates on WTOP, where I try to be mildly amusing.  To paraphrase Lorne Michaels and Rudy Guiliani, “Can I be funny?”–“Why start now?”.

Miami makes everything go down better– Seems as thought all the Nationals needed was a trip to South Beach to cure their recent ills…getting swept by Atlanta. It’s a long season, but it’s never good to be broomed at home by one of your division rivals.  Bullpen issues (13th in the National League in OBP, 14th SLG, 3rd in blown saves) catching injuries (Ramos on the shelf in a strange sense of deja vu) and the inability to beat playoff teams (1-5 against teams that made the 2013 postseason) have to temper whatever Nattitude was as full steam after the opening series sweep of the AAA Miami Marlins.  I almost want to downgrade the Marlins to a minor league city like “Dade County Dipsy Doodles” until they get their act together.  And with another three-spot against this mess of a franchise, the Marlins may be the worst thing for this club right now–giving the Nats false confidence when they still have a ways to go to get back to last year’s level.  If you win, so what– these are the Marlins.  And when you can’t beat the worst team in the league like Tuesday night, what are you to do?  A key early stretch is on the horizon–from April 22nd to May 2nd the Nats play 11 games against St. Louis, Cincinnati and Atlanta.  Brace yourselves.

Capital Blossoms– last week I compared the Capitals to the Cherry Blossoms in DC… blooming in early April before becoming an afterthought by mid-May.  Now they have been on a tear as of late… but how much of that is a byproduct of being in the softest division of the NHL (let the record show they are 14-3 against the Southeast Division)? Can this team compete effectively over a seven game series against a legitimately good team?  Tuesday’s 5-1 thumping of Toronto was the 10th out of division win for the team this season (10-14-2) in 26 games…how tired were the Maple Leafs after last night’s 2-0 win over New Jersey?  In a season that’s given us plenty of schedule quirks (like consecutive nights in Winnipeg)… the Caps have started a five game stretch against teams from Canada.  But more importantly they play their final three games at home–including a duel with second place Winnipeg Tuesday April 23rd (Jets trail the Caps by 4 points with 5 games remaining).  Eight straight wins… is there any room left on the bandwagon?

Moving Days– Sophomores Otto Porter, Jr. and Alex Len declare for the NBA one day apart while Georgetown and Maryland wish them well.  Coach John Thompson III wasn’t shocked:  “We weren’t caught off guard…we expected Otto to move on after this year.”  Coach Mark Turgeon knew it was time:  “Alex has been a pro since he set foot on campus…the way the practices, the way he takes care of himself”.  While the Hoyas and Terps would be much better next winter with Porter and Len, the lure of first round guaranteed money was too good to pass up.  Even if the 7-foot-1 Len turns out to be a project.  Even if Porter has trouble finding minutes or an ideal position for his skill set.  Each coach heralds their respective sophomore’s work ethic…which is a huge key in making the transition from college to pro basketball.  One hopes they find their way to solid organizations with non-cancerous locker rooms where they can learn, grow and thrive.

Masters– Ah, yes. Tiger’s drop and a 14 year old’s tardiness overshadowed the best weekend for an Australian since George Lazenby landed the role of James Bond.  Tiger tailed off after being in the hunt for most of the first two rounds. Was there golf karma in taking the longer drop? The US Open will be the fifth anniversary of Tiger’s most recent Major championship. Jack Nicklaus’ longest gap during his run?  He had two “droughts”– just under three years (1967-70) and just over five years (1980 PGA-1986 Masters).  One feels it’s only a matter of time before Woods wins another and with conditioning what it is now there appears to be a larger window for him to win 4 or 5 more– but for every Lee Trevino that wins a PGA at 45, there’s a Tom Watson who stops winning majors at 33.  Oh– and congratulations to Adam Scott for winning the tournament.

Standing Pat–  Broadcast legend Pat Summerall passes away at 82.  The voice of the NFL on CBS and FOX called 16 Super Bowls for the two networks over four decades.  His booming voice dominated game opens (check them out on youtube)… and his economy of words made him the perfect complement to John Madden.  In 1981, Summerall and Vin Scully were competing for the #1 play-by-play job at CBS and while Scully painted better word pictures, Summerall didn’t bring the easel as much as set the stage for Madden’s “BOOM’s” and the telestrator.  He said more in five words than most said in fifteen.  I fell for the NFL of Summerall/Madden.  And he made announcing something a 13 year old want to dream about doing.