Sir Roger Moore celebrates his 85th birthday on Sunday. Mr. Moore is a British actor known for his portrayal of James Bond from 1973 through 1985. He also starred in the popular British television series “The Saint” and “Ivanhoe.” He has been married four times. The List this week looks at Mr. Moore’s top 10 notable films and roles on TV.
- 10. The Sea Wolves (1980) — The team that made 1978’s “The Wild Geese” returned to make this star-studded World War II movie with Mr. Moore, Gregory Peck and David Niven. The film was inspired by real events. Peck leads a band of retired British patriots from a sporting club in Calcutta (now Kolkata) on a dangerous mission in 1943. The goal is to stage a commando raid on a powerful German radio transmitter on a ship in the harbor of Goa, then a colony of neutral Portugal. The film was shot in India.
- 9. Escape to Athena (1979) —Mr. Moore and David Niven lead a group of allied prisoners of war on an idyllic Greek island with a plan to escape out of prison along with a horde of Greek art. Mr. Moore plays Nazi commandant Otto Hecht, which is hard to imagine, while Telly Savalas plays the Greek resistance leader Zeno. William Holden, who was in a relationship with Stefanie Powers at the time of filming, makes a cameo in the film as a POW.
- 8. The Wild Geese (1978) —Mr. Moore teamed up with Richard Burton in this film about mercenaries who are hired to rescue a deposed African leader from a heavily guarded prison in a hostile African nation. The team members are parachuted into the jungle, and everything appears fine until they are double-crossed. Now the team has to fight its way out of Africa. This is an old-fashioned British military action thriller with a great finale. A sequel was made in 1985 starring Scott Glenn.
- 7. Shout at the Devil (1976) —Mr. Moore plays an outcast English aristocratic poacher during World War I. He joins with a hard-drinking American adventurer played by Lee Marvin and the latter’s attractive young daughter to destroy a German battle cruiser that is awaiting repairs in an inlet just off Zanzibar.
- 6. Moonraker (1979) — In Mr. Moore’s fourth James Bond film, 007 joins forces with American CIA agent Holly Goodhead to thwart an industrialist’s plan to establish a “master race” in space that would repopulate Earth after he destroys it with nerve gas. The highlights of this film include Bond being pushed out of an airplane without a parachute, boat chases through the canals of Venice and on the Amazon, a fight on top of a cable car on the way down from Sugarloaf Mountain, and a climactic battle in outer space. Although Mr. Moore is overshadowed at times by the movie’s special effects and outrageous stunts, “Moonraker” proves he has settled into the role of Bond, putting his own stamp on the character and emerging from behind Sean Connery’s shadow.
- 5. Ivanhoe (1958) — In this costume-drama series based on Sir Walter Scott’s swashbuckling novel, Mr. Moore played the chivalrous hero. Mr. Moore performed many of his own stunts. It was his breakout role. The British company ITV produced 39 episodes of 30 minutes each in black and white, and the series ran for a year from January 1958. It was very popular.
- 4. The Man With the Golden Gun (1974) — In Mr. Moore’s second James Bond film, 007 faces off with Francisco Scaramanga, the highest-priced assassin in the world, who charges $1 million per hit. Scaramanga kills people with golden bullets fired from a golden gun, thus his moniker “The Man With the Golden Gun.” On his private island in the South China Sea, Scaramanga has developed a laser fueled by solar power that destroys everything in its path, which he intends to sell to the highest bidder. To prevent this, Bond must engage Scaramanga in a duel to the death. In this underrated film, Mr. Moore emphasizes Bond’s intelligence more than his brawn, as he must use his brain and Walther PPK to outwit Scaramanga and his “golden gun” in the climactic face-off in a house of mirrors.
- 3. Live and Let Die (1973) — In Mr. Moore’s first James Bond film, 007 must stop the influx of two tons of heroin into the United States via New Orleans and Harlem from the (fictional) Caribbean Island of San Monique. The highlights of this film include Bond escaping from a crocodile farm and a speedboat chase through the Louisiana bayou. Though older than Sean Connery, Mr. Moore nonetheless brought a youthful and humorous vibe to the role of Bond that is recognizable immediately in this film. In doing so, he garnered a whole new generation of fans and ensured that the Bond franchise would continue to endure.
- 2. The Saint (1962-1969) — In this British television series based on the novels by Leslie Charteris, Mr. Moore plays Simon Templar, an affluent man of mystery who travels around England helping both friends and strangers who find themselves in major predicaments. Though it is hinted he has a criminal background, Templar nevertheless works both with and outside the law to nab criminals, thieves and spies who otherwise would escape justice. In a precursor of his role as James Bond, Mr. Moore plays Templar with cheerful good humor and sophistication while enjoying the companionship of numerous attractive women.
- 1. The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) — In Mr. Moore’s third James Bond film, 007 joins forces with Russian intelligence agent Anya Amasova to thwart a shipping magnate’s plans to ignite a nuclear holocaust in order to establish a new civilization under the sea. The highlights of this film include Bond skiing off a mountain, driving a Lotus Esprit that changes into a submarine, and having several encounters with “Jaws,” a 7-foot-2 assassin who specializes in killing people by biting them with his metal teeth.
Compiled by John Haydon and John Sopko
Sources: The Washington Times, Wikipedia, IMDb, Western Daily Press, and The Observer (England)
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