Why Sir Roger Moore was the greatest 007

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

In honour of its 50th anniversary, Jason Horowitz explains why - despite evidence to the contrary - Moore's slightly geriatric and caddish Bond was best

"I never do this," David Horowitz, a public relations executive for ABC, said as he picked up Roger Moore at Kennedy Airport. "Can I have your autograph for my son?"

It was 1986, and Moore was in New York City to do some publicity for the network. A year earlier, he had starred, at age 58, in A View to a Kill. It was his last James Bond film but also the first that Horowitz's son saw in the cinema. In that movie, Moore's 007 takes on Christopher Walken, an evil genius/rogue KGB operative/Nazi-experiment-gone-awry who flies around in a blimp, out of which he sometimes drops people. Moore, alternating between black and white tuxedos, Paris and San Francisco, does recon at a horse track, skis, and has a chiaroscuro sex scene with Grace Jones before saving Silicon Valley and ending up safely in a shower with yet another woman. All of this capped by a theme song performed by Duran Duran.

That combination made a profound impression on Horowitz's eight-year-old son, for whom the notion of a secret agent man who never overly exerted himself proved just as healthy a role model as an all-star first baseman who smoked in the dugout.

Click here or on "View Gallery" for iconic Bond moments in history

So when Horowitz returned home to Queens, New York after a day of shepherding Moore around the city, it caused a stir when he produced from his weather-beaten briefcase a signed promotional headshot of Moore, himself looking rather weather-beaten, with crow's feet around his eyes, a rogue's smile on his mouth, an unbuttoned white collar on his neck and rugged furrows in his Hollywood-tanned brow. The picture was quickly framed and hung above the light switch in young Horowitz's room. For years to come, a flicking on of the light revealed a scrawl on the glossy's upper right-hand corner that read, "To Jason, With my best wishes, Roger Moore."

Reader, we have bylines for a reason. I, Horowitz, Jason Horowitz, was that boy. And Moore was my Bond. What follows, in honour of the 50th anniversary of the franchise, is a defense of why Moore's Bond - slightly geriatric, addicted to eyebrow raising, caddish to a fault - was, despite all evidence to the contrary, the greatest 007.

Let's start with his strangest movie, 1973's Live and Let Die, a James Bond blaxploitation flick starring Yaphet Kotto ("Names is for tombstones, baby"), but more memorably, a recurring redneck sheriff character and the baritone-voiced actor most famous for calling 7-Up the marvelous uncola. History's other Bonds, which at the time really meant Sean Connery, would have seemed out of place in this 1970s hallucination. Moore fit right in. He put the moves on Jane Seymour by raising his eyebrows as high as his co-stars' afros.

By then, Moore was already 45 years old and on the third of his four marriages. He had served in the Royal Army Service Corps. He had appeared in movies with names like Trottie True and One Wild Oat. He had worked as a male model for knitwear (The Big Knit they called him) and played James Garner's Brit cousin in Maverick. He had become famous in 1962, as the spy Simon Templar in The Saint, reruns of which aired on Channel 11 during those acres of home-sick airtime between kung fu movies and The Godfather. He had been a playboy detective opposite Tony Curtis in a show that apparently did better in Germany, where they dubbed the dialogue with a different script. He had already tasted, in other words, a healthy portion of life.

As a result, anyone watching could sense that Moore's Bond cared more about the gadgets and the girls than the mission. Roger Moore seemed to know that trying to control the mission was futile. You just had to go with it and smile. Look what happened to poor, serious-looking George Lazenby when he made Diana Rigg Mrs. Bond: She got shot by Blofeld, and Lazenby got banished to the bordello known as cable television's Emmanuelle series.

In Moore's movies, there is none of the realistic grit or psychological tension bookended by Connery and Daniel Craig, or the trying-too-hard of Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton. Who else but Moore could accidentally inhale some treasure out of a belly dancer's belly button, make a funny face and then get into a fist/karate-chop fight. Sure, he sometimes missed the face of a guy who nevertheless went flying from the phantom punch. But once you bought in, that was a whole lot better than watching the expensive explosions that have destroyed many latter-day Bond movies.

In Moore's best film, The Man With the Golden Gun, you got duels and Tattoo from Fantasy Island. In The Spy Who Loved Me, you got a sexy spy named Triple X and a villain with steel teeth named Jaws. Moonraker featured Epcot trains and the return of Jaws, but as a good guy. In For Your Eyes Only, I don't remember, but that's okay! There's no guilt in Mooreland! In Octopussy, my favorite, knife-throwing circus twins and Faberge eggs played pivotal roles. Take Roger Moore out of these, replace him with someone with more stable eyebrows and something shaking or stirring under the surface, and the amusement is sapped.

Moore saved his sense of purpose for real life. A veteran humanitarian, he is currently speaking out in London against foie gras. But I'm happier that he is out promoting his third book about being Bond and starring in something called An Evening with Sir Roger Moore. On 14 October, his 85th birthday, he'll be appearing at the Rose Theatre in Kingston. If you are in the neighborhood, you should go. Chances are it won't be brilliant, but it will be fun.

Arts and Entertainment
The starship in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
filmsThe first glimpse of JJ Abrams' new film has been released online
News
The Speaker of the House will takes his turn as guest editor of the Today programme
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
The cast of Downton Abbey in the 2014 Christmas special
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jude Law in Black Sea

film

In Black Seahe is as audiences have never seen him before

Arts and Entertainment
Johnny Depp no longer cares if people criticise his movie flops

film

PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Scare tactics: Michael Palin and Jodie Comer in ‘Remember Me’

TVReview: Remember Me, BBC1
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
TV
News
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
art
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
books
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

comedy
Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

music
Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Christmas jumper craze: Inside the UK factory behind this year's multicultural must-have

    Knitting pretty: British Christmas Jumpers

    Simmy Richman visits Jack Masters, the company behind this year's multicultural must-have
    French chefs have launched a campaign to end violence in kitchens - should British restaurants follow suit?

    French chefs campaign against bullying

    A group of top chefs signed a manifesto against violence in kitchens following the sacking of a chef at a Paris restaurant for scalding his kitchen assistant with a white-hot spoon
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Cuba set to stage its first US musical in 50 years

    Cuba to stage first US musical in 50 years

    Claire Allfree finds out if the new production of Rent will hit the right note in Havana
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Paul Scholes column: I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season

    Paul Scholes column

    I like Brendan Rodgers as a manager but Liverpool seem to be going backwards not forwards this season
    Lewis Moody column: Stuart Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    Lewis Moody: Lancaster has made all the right calls – now England must deliver

    So what must the red-rose do differently? They have to take the points on offer 
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game