October 14, 2009


Celebrating Roger Moore’s birthday today, I keep thinking about something Paul McCartney said about admiring Elvis as a kid- that Presley “just looked perfect.” Growing up with reruns of The Saint, I looked to Moore with a similar kind of attention. Not only did he fill those stylish suits with an archetypal heroic physique, he had a perfectly gelled haircut that swooped back across his head- just as heroically. Moore brought a roguish charm to The Saint, raising an eyebrow to the camera and inviting us into that deliciously decadent world of 60s jet setters. The notion of being a jet setter didn't just seem like grist for adventure tales to me as a young boy- it seemed like a future career option! The Volvo P1800, the gentleman thief/spy, the gorgeous actresses and exotic locations. The world of Moore’s Saint was “just perfect” and introduced me, along with The Avengers, to a life-long passion for something that Roger Moore had a lot of- Style.

Roger Moore starred in the first James Bond film I ever saw on the big screen. Though the clothes (and cars) were slightly less cool to my 60-s Spy Vibe tastes, I remember being completely swept up by the soundtrack music, the gun barrel opening and title sequences, and most of all, Roger’s Saint-like charm. Though I enjoy all of the 007 actors, Roger Moore will always carry a certain degree of panache and British-ness that I hold dear. Despite periods when I though I needed 007 to be edgy and serious, I have ultimately realized that the world of 007 offers a cool and fun experience for every mood. After meeting Richard Kiel recently, I re-watched The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker as a double feature. It brought me back to those early experiences in the theater and I found myself once again cheering for the heroic, witty, and roguish Roger Moore.

Some highlight clips from Roger’s career: In an episode of The Saint from 1963 (Luella), viewers got a 9-year sneak preview of future Moore’s Bond with David Hedison (Felix Leiter). Note the hair, the suit, and those winking glances at the audience. In 1964 Roger made this Bond spoof (included as a special feature on the Live and Let Die DVD and Blu-ray disc). Moore starred with Tony Curtis in The Persuaders just before making the leap to Bond. The show grows on me as I open up to its playful tone and 70s-cusp aesthetic. Here is an especially dramatic moment for Moore’s character that offered him a bit more acting room. Lastly, the trailer from The Spy Who Loved Me. Images from the Getty Collection and the Daily Mail.

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