Sir Roger Moore is the first James Bond actor to die, passing away Tuesday at the age of 89 after a short battle with cancer.*
Although he had prominent roles in TV shows including The Saint, The Persuaders and Maverick, it was as 007 that Moore gained international fame, taking over the famous role from George Lazenby.
He appeared as Bond more than anyone else, starring in seven movies between 1973 and 1985.
Bringing more humor to the role than Sean Connery and Lazenby, Moore's Bond portfolio hasn't aged well. But his knowing portrayal of Ian Fleming's spy means he nonetheless remains one of the favorites among fans.
As GoMN's resident Bond fanatic, I've ranked Moore's seven movies from best to worst.
The Spy Who Loved Me (1977)
A great theme song, Nobody Does It Better by Carly Simon, caps off the best opening sequence to a Bond movie ever as Moore escapes from gunmen on skis before leaping off a cliff and revealing the most British thing possible – a Union flag parachute.
It's also the first of two movies to feature the ultimate Bond villain, Jaws, and the love interest is played by my favorite Bond girl, Barbara Bach (Mrs. Ringo Starr). The underwater lair at the end is ridiculous, but when you're an 8-year-old is pretty much the coolest thing you've ever seen. Plus, Jaws bites a shark to death.
It also features the best Bond car – the Lotus Esprit that transforms into a submarine. Purists will say the Aston Martin DB5, but they're wrong.
Live and Let Die (1973)
This is generally considered by critics to be Moore's best Bond movie, and I almost agree. This film was seemingly on TV every Saturday afternoon when I was growing up and it's filled with famous moments.
Bond vaulting over alligators to escape certain death, the boat jump over Clifton James' bumbling sheriff, and Moore (somewhat unsavorily by modern standards) tricking Jane Seymour into bed with a rigged pack of tarot cards.
It also had a kickass theme song from Paul McCarthy, and an iconic final shot revealing that Baron Samedi, seemingly dead, apparently cannot be killed.
The Man with the Golden Gun (1974)
There'll be some who disagree with this ranking, as it's not always been considered by critics as among Moore's best. But it's worth watching for Christopher Lee's villain Scaramanga, and the awesome corkscrew jump over a creek (above).
The idea of there being a supervillain in the world every bit as deadly and suave as Bond was a great storyline, adding another element to the usual "Stop him before he destroys the world" device.
For Your Eyes Only (1981)
Even though this movie (and particularly the soundtrack) is very '80s, this was still a solid effort – and features another Lotus Esprit.
The opening sequence alone, when the Moore Bond harks back to the Connery/Lazenby era as he is confronted by Blofeld while visiting his late wife's grave, makes the film worth a watch.
The sequence ends with Bond dropping Blofeld down a very large chimney, after rejecting his offer of a stainless steel delicatessen (seriously).
An attempt to make Bond more relevant in the space age led to this pretty mediocre effort, as Bond heads to space to thwart a genocidal megalomanic. Not only was the movie sub-standard, it also spawned the annoying Moonraker Laser that killed with one shot on Goldeneye on Nintendo 64.
Still, it had Jaws, who's always fun to watch, particularly because at the end he turns good, helps Bond escape, and finds love. Ahhh.
I realize this is not a good movie, but I'll always have a soft spot for it because we had a recorded copy on VHS and I'd watch it while my parents were still in bed on Saturday mornings and there wasn't anything good on TV.
I don't care how important the disguise is, Bond should never dress like a clown. Moments worth watching include Louis Jordan's villain Kamal eating an octopus eye, Maud Adams becoming the first woman to play a Bond girl in two movies (she was a villain in The Man with the Golden Gun) and Q helping defeat the bad guys with the help of a hot air balloon cabal of female acrobats.
A View to a Kill (1985)
Roger Moore was 57 by the time this movie came out and it was all getting a little gross – particularly when he seduced Grace Jones' Mayday (who, it turns out, was the best part of the flick).
Christopher Walken hams it up as Zorin, but the plot was bad, the stunt doubles obvious, and the airship showdown finale ridiculous. Instead of watching it, just listen to Duran Duran's theme song – which is one of the best.
*I said at the top that Roger Moore is the first actor who played James Bond to die. That is true in the sense of the official Bond canon, but it should be noted that the late Peter Sellers played Bond in a spoof version of Casino Royale in 1967.