Tuesday, November 17, 2015
My Favorite Bond
Moore's Bond movies never take themselves very seriously; they might as well come with a disclaimer up front that says, "The following movie is just for larks." Everything that already existed in the Connery films - the megalomaniac villains, the naughtily named nymphs, the non-stop action - gets turned up to eleven in the Moore pictures. They are unabashedly over the top, and they know that we know it. Call that camp, if you like, but it makes the movies like a roller coaster ride, with the audience laughing and whooping through every twist and loop. Is fun the highest aim of cinema? No, but the Bond movies never set out to win Oscars. Roger Moore's Bond is fun to watch, and that's all he means to be. If things get rather silly at times - and they do, indeed, get very silly - that's part of the appeal.
There are other delights in the Moore Bond outings, including outrageous settings and serendipitous reversals. In Moonraker (1979), Bond becomes a sci-fi hero, cashing in on the popularity of Star Wars (1977) and other late seventies hits in the genre. Of course, what everyone remembers about that film today is Jaws, the oversized, metal-mouthed henchman played by Richard Kiel. He's a crazy example of the Bond bad guy type, but even better, he's not all that bad. He actually changes sides and helps Bond after he falls for a pig-tailed blonde. It's ridiculous, yes, but it's awfully heartening to think that even scary bad guys can have a change of heart. Grace Jones does the same turnaround in A View to a Kill (1985) when she realizes that Christopher Walken's evil psychopath doesn't care what happens to her. Along with Baron Samedi, those characters help to make the Roger Moore run stranger but also more fun. They're kooky, weird figures, and cartoonish in a Dick Tracy way, but the movies wouldn't be the same without them.