Roger Moore’s James Bond was more suave, less serious

 

Word has come down that Roger Moore, best known for his turn playing James Bond, has died at the age of 89.

My all-time favorite piece of writing about Moore isn’t actually about him; it’s about Bryan Ferry and his band Roxy Music.

Roger Moore as James Bond

In the “Spin Alternative Record Guide,” critic Rob Sheffield — then all of 28 or so, later to pen “Love is a Mixtape” and this year’s amazing “Dreaming the Beatles” (which isn’t just probably the best book ever about the Beatles, but one of the best books of 2017 in general) — wrote that Roxy Music was divided into two parts: the Sean Connery years and the Roger Moore years, meaning the first five albums (bleeding-edge art rock, a few with Brian Eno, beloved by hardcore) and then the final three, recorded after a band hiatus (slicker, more Romantic, all surface, total pop).

This is a brilliant characterization of both Ferry and Moore. For much in the way that later-period Roxy could write “Avalon” or “Oh Yeah,” it is impossible to see the rougher, realer Connery raising an eyebrow and delivering a one-liner the way Moore could, or in space, a la the admittedly terrible “Moonraker.”

(Bedding Grace Jones in the admittedly terrible “View to a Kill”? They probably both could have handled that one.)

And besides, for anyone between the ages of, say, 30 and 50, Moore was the guy they grew up with as Bond.

After playing bit parts in American film and TV, then doing time in the thriller series “The Saint” for 100 episodes (wherein he refined the style he would bring to his next role), Moore embodied 007 for seven films and about 2,000 (OK, 12) years.

Playing Bond as suave and corny, dashing and dopey, Moore traded in Connery’s hairy chest and weightlifter physique for a guy who flat-out refused to take himself so seriously (or maybe ever work out).

Because, man alive, if anyone deserved to be made fun of a bit, it was the character of James Bond.  This was Bond as a British Dean Martin (who himself played the spy Matt Helm) — Moore as Bond approached being a spy the way Martin approached acting, as the true player for real who truly did not give a [beep].

Moore’s Bond liked shooting people, making jokes and sleeping with any available lady, probably not in that order. Indeed, as Bond, Moore out-Martin’ed Martin-as-Helm, if that makes sense.

And say what you will about the scripts and Moore’s wry vibe, the stunts and chases in Moore’s Bond pictures, all pre-CGI, were uniformly terrific.

As far as the actual films, the best Moore Bond flick is probably, oh, let’s say “The Spy Who Loved Me,” with Barbara Bach as the Bond girl, that dope Lotus  and Richard Kiel as Jaws. (Which reminds me, Moore-era Bond had the best villains.)

I also remain fond of “The Man with the Golden Gun” (Christopher Lee killed it as the always-fun-to-say Scaramanga) and the extremely racially sketchy “Live and Let Die,” which is what happens when British people make a blaxploitation movie. Amazing theme song, though.

Rosie Carver as Gloria Hendry and Moore as Bond in “Live and Let Die.” They were kind of an awesome couple.

 

(That said, Moore’s diary about the making of “Live and Let Die’ is flat-out amazing.)

As for the others, well, “For Your Eyes Only” tried to get serious (the skiing stuff was cool), “Octopussy” was almost unforgivable trash, “Moonraker” is in spaaaace and “A View to a Kill,” while sporting one of the best Bond themes, is not good but featured Christoper Walken in a part that was supposed to be for David Bowie and Grace Jones, who is welcome in anything, anywhere, at any time.

Requiescat, Mr. Moore. You were a smooth operator. 

 

 

Watch a young Matthew McConaughey in the world’s smallest jean shorts (you’re welcome)

We were thinking that Austin icon Matthew McConaughey has had a weird few months.

He was pretty good in “Gold,” but nobody saw it.

Then in February, he said it was time for the country to “embrace, shake hands and be constructive” with President Donald Trump, which — based on the president’s current approval rating of 34 percent — many Americans are not doing. (You’ll notice we haven’t called him “Austin spirit animal” lately. That office might be up for grabs.)

Austin actor Matthew McConaughey in more recent times.

He’s in Ohio right now shooting the period crime film “White Boy Rick” (with Lorain County and Cleveland playing the role of  Detroit), and we’ll see him Aug. 4 in the movie version of “The Dark Tower,” playing evil sorcerer Walter Padik.

But today, we thought we’d take you back to the” alright alright alright” days of 1992, when our man played murder victim  and Pasadena, Texas resident Larry Dickens on an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries.”  The glory starts at around the four-minute mark. Enjoy.

 

Matthew McConaughey chills at Highball, hosts ‘Gold’ screening at Drafthouse

Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez star in "Gold." Contributed by The Weinstein Company
Matthew McConaughey and Edgar Ramirez star in “Gold.” Contributed by The Weinstein Company

He didn’t say “Alright, alright, alright.” He didn’t thump his chest, either with his fist or his Oscar (which was really too bad).

But Austin spirit animal Matthew McConaughey mingled at an invite-only cocktail party at the Highball on Thursday before introducing his new film “Gold,” his inspired-by-true-events film about a 1980s precious metals prospector named Kenny Wells who, with a geologist partner, heads to Indonesia to make his proverbial fortune.

Alamo Drafthouse CEO Tim League introduced McConaughey by big-upping not “Dazed and Confused,” the traditional starting place for talking about McConaughey, but by discussing his “intense screen presence” in “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation” (except for the robotic leg; nobody liked that leg).

RELATED: Matthew McConaughey, coach Tom Herman and Chancellor McRaven walk into a bar…

McConaughey introduced “Gold,” a project he had been developing for five or six years before getting director Stephen Gaghan to sign on, by telling a great story about his dad. When McConaughey was 17 years old, he and his dad went out to get “stocking stuffers” for the holiday season.

He and his dad head off to a parking lot, at which McConaughey Senior introduced his son to a man named Chicago John, who had a variety of items in the back of a van (“microwaves, hair dryers”). McConaughey said his father purchased an item from this gentleman. McConaughey couldn’t see what it was, but it was the sort of thing for which one peels off stacks of bills and one wraps in a bunch of paper towels.

“I don’t know if I’ve got a ferret or what,” McConaughey said. He and Matthew get back in their car, the item stuffed in the glove box. Said McConaughey Senior to son: “See if it’s still in there.”

McConaughey unwraps it. It’s a watch. “‘That’s a $22,000 titanium Rolex I just bought for $3,000,’ Dad said.

RELATED: Professor Matthew McConaughey talks about teaching at UT on ‘Late Night with Seth Meyers’

“Now, that watch was probably not worth $500,” McConaughey said, “but my dad loved a shady deal,” the sort that captures the spirit of Kenny Wells, whom McConaughey said is his favorite character he has ever played.

The extremely enjoyable “Gold” opens Jan. 27. Look for a review of the movie before that date.

RELATED: Matthew McConaughey talks UT, ‘Dazed and Confused’ and post-Oscar roles in Esquire cover story