A tribute on the passing of my favorite James Bond

A tribute on the passing of my favorite James Bond

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He survived all manner of close calls when he saved the world seven times but my favorite James Bond, Sir Roger Moore, succumbed to cancer earlier this week at the age of 89.

Many of my friends and contemporaries thought Sean Connery’s suave and debonair flair for the super spy with all the right moves and the smooth delivery of his “vodka martini, shaken not stirred” line was hard to top.

There was something, however, about my age when I saw the Bond films with Moore that put him at the top of my list in the 1970s and ’80s. The endless combination of gadgets and arched eyebrows made him a welcome distraction in the midst of the Cold War.

I didn’t have any particular need to delve into his psychological profile or his family history, topics the more modern films have tackled. Moore’s Bond was a man of action, staving off disaster from wealthy, eccentric and egotistical villains who often had colorful, mercenary sidekicks.

Watching Moore battle with Richard Kiel, who played the impossibly strong, metal-toothed Jaws in “The Spy Who Loved Me” and “Moonraker” was pure entertainment for me as an adolescent.

The Bond movies, which started in 1962 with “Dr. No” and are still going strong 25 films later, have had many memorable opening scenes. Told to “pull out” of his mission in Austria, Bond skis away from Russians determined to kill him, but not before shooting several of them, including the lover of someone who would later become his partner in the movie.

He escapes by skiing off a cliff, where he seems to fall for an impossibly long time, kicking off his skis and flying through the air with a red backpack that seemed irrelevant until he pulls a string and a parachute with the British flag emerges, accompanied by the blaring Bond music. Moore tugs on the strings of his parachute, as he floats toward the screen.

That’s when Carly Simon’s music takes over. I suspect we’ll hear “Nobody Does it Better” in the next week or so.

Growing up surrounded by water on Long Island, I reveled in Moore’s journey into an undersea world in a car that turned into a submarine. Moore and Barbara Bach (who played Major Anya Amasova, aka Agent XXX) battled against Karl Stromberg (acted by Curd Jürgens), whose plan involved encouraging war between the United States and Soviet Union so life could begin again in the oceans after humans destroyed themselves.

Enemies in “The Spy Who Loved Me” and for much of “Moonraker,” Moore and Kiel team up at the end of “Moonraker” after Bond convinces Jaws that the villain Hugo Drax has no need for Jaws or his bespectacled girlfriend, Dolly, in his new colony of flawless humans. When Kiel speaks at the end of the movie, saying only, “Well, here’s to us” to Dolly (played by Blanche Ravalec), his voice is almost impossibly normal and tender, adding to the ongoing tongue-in-cheek nature of these high-action films.

After Kiel died in 2014, Moore said how “totally distraught” he was at the death of “my dear friend.”

While most of us never met Moore, many fans of the franchise felt a sense of loss to hear of Moore’s death. Through his seven Bond films, Moore delivered memorable lines, often with a self-confident smirk, such as when he pushed Drax out into space, encouraging him to “take a giant step for mankind.”

While all of the seven films that starred Roger Moore weren’t equally good, there were times — especially in “The Spy Who Loved Me” — where nobody did it better.