Best James Bond Scenes: Part 2
It is no secret that Roger Moore holds the record as the actor who played James Bond the most, his tally an impressing 7. There is a bevy of reasons why this was the case, the most obvious being that each one of his films was massive financial successes, the only bump in the road being his second outing, The Man With the Golden Gun, which itself speaks to the immense stature of the franchise when the film that earns 97 million dollars is the ‘bump in the road.’ There was a shift in tone that permeated in the Bond films once Roger Moore took over the mantle from Sean Connery. Whereas the latter brought toughness and grittiness to his interpretation of the famous super-spy all the while proving to be as smooth as butter, the former injected some light comedic flair. It was definitely still James Bond on the screen, but a different side was being shown to audiences, one that was softer around the edges. One of the series’ famous producers, Albert ‘Cubby’ Broccoli, is on record for claiming that by the late 1970s, they were essentially making family entertainment. Roger Moore was the ultimate English gentleman, not one to behave like a thug.
That might explain, in part at least, why Moore is rarely considered to be one of the better Bonds. The character, as he was created by the author, journalist war veteran Ian Fleming, was both sophisticated and a gritty bastard. Moore could easily be the former, much less so the latter. The unfortunate aspect about James Bond movie conversations, and in particular when the debate about ‘who the best Bond was’ presents itself, is that the actors are forever tied to the overall quality of their respective films. It simplifies someone’s choices to the point of laziness. Pierce Brosnan was the star of Die Another Day, so he couldn’t have been that good, right? Ugh. Roger Moore was, unfortunately, part of some of the franchise’s real clunkers, but that does not automatically make him a poor Bond. With all that in mind, and given Moore’s habitual cool, sophistication, and capability to deliver a great line like the best of them, Sound on Sight would like to remember some of the best moments and lines of the incorrectly maligned Moore era. A close inspection of his films and of his performances will demonstrate, quite clearly, in fact, that there is plenty to like about his 7 films, 12-year tenures her Majesty’s most trusted secret agent. Let us begin with the moments from Moore’s four outings in the 70s.
Live and Let Die
This film has earned a bad reputation for some rather silly reasons. Racist? I don’t know about you, but the character of Sheriff J.W. Pepper (Clifton James) is depicted in a far more racist, less glamorous manner than any of the African American antagonists, but is another discussion entirely. Roger Moore’s first 007 adventure has always held a special place in my heart.
Baron Samedi, an unstoppable and unexplainable force
Pretty much anything involving Baron Samedi (Geoffrey Holden) is unforgettable. He is one of Kananga’s two chief enforcers along with Tee Hee (Julius Harris). His most significant talent however is a mastery of all things voodoo, including resurrection! While he might not exactly cause nightmares for viewers, he is certainly one of the most unnerving villains Bond has ever faced. Naturally, if only one moment is to be highlighted, it has to be the very last shot in which yet another incarnation of the Baron is laughing away maniacally as he sits at the front of a train.
Boats launched into air
The action highlight of the film is when James is pursued by speed boat in the swampy deep south of Louisiana. The sequence is around ten minutes in duration and features some impressive stunt work, not the least of which occurs when not one but two boats go from one area of a river to the next by launching over a strip of land where police cars are parked and waiting for them.
Kananga’s torture methods
One of the hallmarks of the James Bond stories re the torture scenes, of which we do not get many in the films. Live and Live Die provides a rather good despite that Bond survives unscathed. Playing on the theme of Taro card reading and spiritual powers, Kananga has 007 tied to a chair with Tee Hee ready and waiting to break the hero’s fingers if Solitaire cannot correctly guess the number on the back of Bond’s watch. It does not last very long, but it is quite a well-conceived scene.
The Man with the Golden Gun
This film is host to a bevy of issues, not the least of which is humour predicated on the fact that one character is a little person (Hervé Villechaise). Nevertheless, like in all Bond films, if one looks, one will find some interesting highlights.
Car flipping from bridge to bridge
Now, this moment during the car chase between Bond and Scaramanga (Christopher Lee) can be targeted for several reasons, the most egregious being that the filmmakers thought it wise to bring back the ridiculous Sheriff from Live and Let Die. The other issue is that the stunt in question looks rather stagey. That being said, simply witnessing Bond’s car jump from one end of a broken bridge, twist in the air, and land perfectly onto the other end is a sight to behold.
Opening and closing scenes in Scaramanga’s funhouse
Once again, many can easily criticize these moments. Why would Scaramanga use a funhouse with fake saloons and gangster cutouts to liquidate his targets when he could just sneak up on them whilst travelling the world? That is an excellent question to which there is no logical answer (the film’s script is not one of its strong points). Despite that, the opening and closing scenes are rather creepy in tone and design. The set also looks fabulous, with the filmmakers doing a fine job in giving it some exquisitely spooky lighting.
Fight without honour or humility
This is a tiny, brief moment, blink and you’ll miss it. It occurs when Bond is held captive of sorts in a martial arts school. The sensei forces Bond to engage some of his best students in combat. When the first challenger approaches and performs the traditional and honourable salute by slightly bending forwards, 007 kicks him in the face! James Bond might be the good guy, but let that not entail that the good guys always play nice.
The Spy Who Loved Me
Frequently referred to as the best of the Roger Moore Bond films, The Spy Who Loved Me is epic in nearly every sense of the term, even when compared to other Bonds. The work of Ken Adam and his production crew on Stromberg’s (Curd Jürgens) underwater base is a testament to that. Without further ado, here are some of the film’s best moments
Union Jack forever
In one of the greatest moments in the franchise’s history, one that emphasizes the character’s British patriotism, Bond, engaged in a furious ski chase in the arctic, jumps off the highest cliff ever seen (the stunt was performed on Baffin Island in Canada’s arctic!) and glides to safety thanks to his parachute…sporting the beautiful Union Jack design.
The Jaws of death
There is a brief moment early in the film when Stromberg calls upon Jaws (Richard Kiel) to liquidate some targets, which is the very first time the character is seen on screen. However, the first time the viewer sees the towering foe in action is far more impressive. It happens in Egypt at night during a fancy light show near the historic pyramids, with the lighting lending the scene in which Jaws slowly yet assuredly tracks down a helpless figure a genuine eeriness. Jaws would soon be transformed into a sad form of comedic relief, but this scene demonstrates just how effective the character could be used.
Helicopter versus car
In what is arguably one of the coolest chases in the entire series, the undeniably sexy Naomie (Caroline Munro, pursues Bond and agent Anya Asamova (Barbara Bach) in machine gun adorned helicopter as our heroes flee in the always flashy and sleek Lotus Esprit. The camera work in the scene is spectacular and captures all the fantastic twists and turns performed by both vehicles. Does it make any sense that Bond could see Naomie waving sarcastically at him from so far away? Not at all, but it hits the spot when he smiles back.
Get by with a little help from friends
It’s always fun to dig for some of the smaller but no less cool moments in the Bond films. This one arrives relatively early in the film when Bond arrives in Cairo looking for some information. A stocky assassin assaults 007 on the rooftops, and after a rough brawl, Bond finally gets the upper hand. The thug is inches away from falling, were it not for Bond’s tie, which he grips for dear life. Once 007 extracts the necessary information out of the villain, he slaps away the man’s hands, forcing him to a terrible fall below. Bond adjusts his tie and admits ‘What a helpful chap!’
The title says it all. Bond and seamen of the American military pitted against Stromberg’s forces inside the villain’s vast, technologically sophisticated, and futuristic mega-submarine. Gun shootouts, grenades blowing up walls and bridges, brave stuntmen flipping all over the place, not to mention that the set itself is spectacular to see. Here is some 007 trivia: None other than Stanley Kubrick helped production designer Ken Adam light the massive set, spending about an afternoon on the set as an assistant.
From one of the most celebrated films to one of the most maligned. It’s 007 in space and beyond in director Lewis Gilbert’s follow-up to the already epic Spy Who Loved Me. Unfortunately this time the largess results in a bloated, overly silly affair. Let’s see what some of the few redeeming moments are.
As much as the opening of the previous film was supremely impressive, the pre-title sequence to Moonraker manages to trump it. Bond returns to England via jet plane after yet another job well done, but turbulence disrupts the ride when the plane’s crew turns out to be hired killers, among them Jaws! After dispatching some of the foes, 007 steals one of the parachutes and jumps, which leads to one of the most death-defying, spectacularly filmed action stunts in the franchise’s history.
G-force defeats Bond
007 is always cool under pressure, but sometimes even the legendary spy knows when something gets the better of him. When Bond visits Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale) of Drax Industries, one of the world’s leading financiers of space exploration, he is invited to take a test spin in of the compound’s g-force simulators. Of course, the machine is rigged and Bond is literally given the ride of his life. One of Bond’s trusty gadgets helps him survive the ordeal, but he is visibly shaken and stirred as he clumsily stumbles out of the passenger’s seat.
Deadly cable car ride in Rio
Granted, there are a couple of back projection shots in this sequence that are painful to watch. Nonetheless, both in conception and execution, the scene is rather solid. Bond, in desperate need of an ally, tracks down leading lady Dr. Goodhead (Lois Chiles) in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. They ride a cable car down to the city, only to realize that Jaws is riding another car heading upwards towards them! What ensues is a battle atop the cars that is perhaps better on paper than what it looks like on film, but the effort is appreciated.
Following James Bond’s out of this world experience in the financially successful (665 million, adjusted for inflation) if artistically vapid Moonraker, the series’ sole producer, Albert Broccoli, thought it best to venture in a different direction, one that would feel slightly more grounded, all the while still playing on the strengths of his star: cool wit, affable mannerism and charm. A new director in John Glenn was now on board, who would go on to direct every single entry from the 80s, including Timothy Dalton’s two adventures. A new production designer in Peter Lamont was also now in charge of sets. Both had worked their way up in the ‘Bond family business’ so to speak, and, along with the leftover story elements from the far grittier Ian Fleming novels, the 007 films of the early 80s would take on a different tone and feel from the voodoo, space travel and kung fu parody themed adventures of the 70s. Now, let us recall some of their greatest moments.
For Your Eyes Only
This is the perfect way to forget nearly everything that happened in Moonraker. For Your Eyes Only makes a deliberate attempt to set the Roger Moore Bond in a more realistic world, all things considered. Truth be told, if it were to be remade, this outing would make for a really solid Daniel Craig Bond film, which might explain why few people ever bring it up. Moore is so easily identified for being in the more ludicrous efforts that it is easy to forget that he did star in at least one movie that took itself a bit more seriously.
Death-defying helicopter tour
The pre-title sequence of FYEO is special for many, many reasons, some of which are in fact the wrong ones. For one, Bond pays a visit to his wife’s grave, one of the few times the series makes any direct references to the fact that 007 was at one time married, albeit all too briefly. Second, a familiar villain and his pet cat make a surprise appearance, and although because of rights issues his name could not be used (long time Broccoli rival Kevin McClory had won the rights to the Earnst Stavro Blofeld character by then), audiences should be able to recognize who it is. Even though the voice work is terrible, as are the puns tossed between Bond and his long-standing nemesis, the remote-controlled helicopter that carries Bond around is doing some incredible things. The scene might not hit the right tone due to some terrible writing, but the action is great.
Bond heads over to Italy in search of more clues as to the whereabouts of a sunken British submarine, but of course, his quest is stalled when the secretive villain’s minions locate Bond at an Olympic-style ski resort. The scene starts out in a very curious fashion, with our hero trying as he might lose two pursuers in a lineup that leads to a ski jump. This is something we do not see very often: a fearful Bond. What ensues is a pretty nifty chase down the slopes with Bond on skis, his main predator, Kriegler (John Wyman) equipped with a rifle as well as other thugs following by ski-doo. It is a scene that encapsulates a lot of what there is to like about FYEO: it takes a little and does a lot with it.
Too close for comfort
Yet another scene that takes a simple premise and squeezes it for all the goodness it can get, Bond and Melina (Carole Bouquet) is kidnapped by Kristatos (Julian Glover) and tied together behind the antagonist’s sea vessel. Bond and Melina are tossed into the water and dragged around just over the coral reef, with their blood drippings alerting the sharks nearby. Simple, tense, and full of danger.
Don’t look down
If it isn’t broken then don’t fix it. So goes this Bond film, including the climax, which really does not offer all that much in terms of innovation or groundbreaking action, but does everything particularly well. In order to infiltrate Kristatos’ hideout, located well above ground level on a seemingly attainable peek (other than by helicopter), 007 charges himself with the task of making the climb first. There are no musical cues, no quips, just Bond trying to make a shockingly steep climb while not being detected by Kristatos’ guards.
Octopussy, for this movie fan at least, falls in the same category as Live and Let Die in that it is often maltreated. Misunderstood might be the more apt term to employ. ‘Roger Moore was too old by then’, ‘Roger Moore becomes a clown, literally!’, ‘Louis Jourdan is a poor villain,’ and so on and so forth. Unsurprisingly, this reviewer begs to differ. Moore was definitely getting up there in the age department, but he was no less enthusiastic when playing the part. Jourdan, who plays Afghan prince Kamal Khan, is just the slimy bugger of a villain who is well matched against a Bond the likes of Roger Moore. As for the clown comment, read on…
Foreplay, love and Fabergé
This is not an action scene, but rather one in which two characters attempt to seduce one another while in actuality are only using their opposite to snatch a specific object, in this case, a stunning Fabergé egg. The characters are James Bond and Magda (Kristina Wayborn), one of Octopussy’s (Maud Adams) circus girls. It is a scene reminiscent of Dr. No in which Bond (Connery) and Miss Taro (Zena Marshall) flirt around trying to fool the other into a false sense of security. The John Barry score is beautiful in this scene, and both actors are evidently having a lot of fun. Magda’s ‘escape’, which is by using a part of her own Indian-inspired dress as a rope to get from the second story bedroom to the ground below, is the icing on the cake.
Clown saves the day
This sequence is amazing, and yes, in part because Roger Moore dresses up as a clown. Late in the film, Bond is racing against the clock to locate and defuse a nuclear bomb which renegade Russian General Orlov (Steven Berkoff, who frequently made a great Russian general. See Rambo III) had hidden with Octopussy’s circus crew, who are to put on a show in Berlin. First, there is the segment in which Bond desperately hitchhikes for a vehicle. The simplest, most mundane, and annoying things delay his finding a ride. The scene perfectly juggles comedy and tension. Once arrived at the circus tent, Bond disguises himself as a clown in order to avoid detection, which leads to one of the best scenes in the film wherein he frantically tries to warn everyone inside that a bomb is about to go off, killing all of them. Of course, why listen to the crazy clown?
A unique private jet ride
It might not seem feasible that Roger Moore could hang on to the roof of a small jet as it soars through the air at blistering speed, which is admittedly a decent reason for rejection the scene, but the concept is fantastic and there is some stellar stunt work at play in this thrilling climax. There is even a fight between Bond and Gobinda (Kabir Bedi) atop of the craft to add some spice. Good stuff.
A View to a Kill
Ah, this is indeed a difficult Bond to defend. I think that people who claim Quantum of Solace as being the worst episode in the franchise should refresh their memories by watching this film. It has few redeeming qualities, the only three which spring to mind at the moment being John Barry’s score, although that should not be a surprise to anyone familiar with his work, the presence of Patrick Macnee early in the film and San Francisco used extensively as a location. What might we find as far as solid scenes are concerned?
All hail the chef
No, that is not a typo. Audiences discover in A Vew to a Kill that only does Bond know a lot about food when ordering in the most luxurious restaurants in the world, but also when making it himself. After leading lady Stacey Sutton (Tanya Roberts) and 007 fend off attackers in her San Francisco home, our hero decides to comfort the distraught beauty with some home cooking: quiche, or an ‘omelette.’ Yes, I am straining to find memorable moments in this film.
Extreme sightseeing around Paris
Not much of the action in AVTAK is very good, but this early scene in which Bond pursues May Day (Grace Jones) around Paris has some impressive stunt work. The scene probably begins in more exciting manner than it ends, with May Day parachuting off the Eiffel tower, although 007’s subsequent pursuit by car, which, in a nice touch, is split in half at one point, does the job as well.
Battle atop the Golden Gate Bridge
The lone true great scene in the entire film is one of the last scenes. Few would disagree that when it comes to movies, it is often smart to save the best for last, but when nearly everything that preceded your final scene is utter dreck, well…Anyways, Bond and villain ‘du jour’ Max Zorin (Christopher Walken) have a go at it at the very top of the Golden Gate Bridge, making use of a quintessential element of San Francisco’s identity. Granted, there are some back projection issues, yet the filmmakers manage to pull this scene off quite nicely. A great location used to swell effect. In a film this inept, it seems inevitable that what causes Zorin’s nearby blimp to explode is laughable, thus unsurprisingly hurting the very scene I am trying to praise, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles in AVTAK.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published under our old brand, Sound On Sight. The article is part of our James Bond Spotlight.