As one of only six actors who have portrayed Ian Fleming’s beloved secret agent James Bond, Roger Moore looks back at the legacy of the James Bond film franchise. In “Bond on Bond,” Moore reflects on fifty years of the guns, the gadgets and the girls. Here’s an excerpt.
The year 2012 not only witnesses the release of the twenty-third James Bond film in the shape of Skyfall, but it also marks fifty years since our intrepid hero first burst onto cinema screens in Dr. No.
We’ve seen six incarnations of Jim Bond —whose name his creator Ian Fleming borrowed from the author of a book entitled Birds of the West Indies —in the official Eon-produced series of films: Sean Connery, George Lazenby, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, Daniel Craig and ... erm ... oh yes, me!
It has been suggested that over half the world’s population has seen at least one of the films in what has become the world’s longest-running movie franchise; and a series in which 007 has got to know over fifty-five ‘Bond girls’, has fought over 130 villains and femme fatales, has knocked-back numerous vodka martinis, has driven five different models of Aston Martin, has visited over fifty different countries and has been armed with over one hundred gadgets and guns —a few of which he even returned intact.
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The escapism, entertainment, fun, beauty and thrills that so encapsulate each and every film were set down by the blueprint designed by producers Albert R. ‘Cubby’ Broccoli and Harry Saltzman, who helmed the early movies together before Cubby took the reins alone in 1977; which he in turn then handed over to his daughter Barbara and stepson Michael in 1995.
The combined box office of the first twenty-two films has exceeded $5 billion and while the Harry Potter and Star Wars films may come close, they have enjoyed more limited theatrical life spans whereas Bond is very much set to continue indefinitely and —who knows —maybe he too will even get a 3D retromakeover?
It isn’t just about cinema, either. I’m often told by people, friends and fans, how they regarded it as a big occasion when a Bond film first came on TV, in the dark ages before DVDs and online streaming, that is, and I’m proud to say that when, on Christmas Day in 1980, The Man With The Golden Gun premiered, it attracted (and has since held the record of) the largest ever audience of any Bond film on the box. In fact all the 007 films, not just mine, regularly attracted huge audiences on broadcast, which, incidentally, the networks usually reserved for Bank Holidays and Christmas. Coupled with those screenings, the wide and affordable introduction of VHS (remember that?) and DVD opened up an even bigger market for the films, and brought with them new audiences to the continuing franchise. There is certainly a huge loyalty in the world of 007 fans; fans who not only collect the films, but also the memorabilia, the books (such as this one, dear reader) and posters; they also anticipate news of upcoming adventures, with huge excitement, on the multitude of fan sites and forums in which they scrutinise, analyze and dissect every little detail. Of course, many on these forums insist I’m their favourite Bond, but modesty prevents me complimenting their amazingly good taste!
Although 2012 marks a golden anniversary for the series, it also marks a ruby anniversary for me. You see, in October 1972 I reported for duty as the third actor to play James Bond on screen for Eon Productions. Can it really be forty years ago? Back then I could leap out of a chair without fear of my knees cracking; could chew on a toffee without fear of losing a filling, or worse still a tooth; could admire my long flowing locks of hair; and as I swooned in front of the mirror, proudly admire my bronzed, slim torso. Ah yes, with a flex of my toned muscles and a twitch of the old eyebrow I set pulses racing across the world, they say.
These days it’s my pacemaker that keeps my pulse racing and as for my other above mentioned attributes … well, I still have my memories. When I was invited by my publisher to take a look at the Bond films from my own fairly unique perspective (well, unique in that there are only six of us) of being James Bond on the big screen, it seemed rather a taxing demand for someone who has only appeared in seven of the films, and who is not necessarily an avid repeat viewer of the others. However, by calling on a few friendships and with the guidance of one or two people, I have attempted to fill up the spaces between some lovely photos with interesting words, thoughts and memories. What I can’t remember, I’ll just have to make up.
Reprinted with permission, from Bond on Bond: Reflections on 50 Years of James Bond Movies, by Roger Moore, published by Lyons Press, an imprint of Globe Pequot Press (2012).
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