The Roger Moore Years, Part 2 – Rich Paschall
After four successful outings in the 1970s as British Secret Agent 007, James Bond, Roger Moore was back in the 1981 film, For Your Eyes Only. The title does not refer to secret documents. If you have not guessed the meaning (really, Bond fans?), you will have to wait until you get almost to the end of the movie to hear the famous line.
While the previous film, Moonraker, was a success at the Box Office, it was also expensive to make for its time period. The special effects looked okay, but the science fiction romp directed by Guy Hamilton was remarkably improbable, even for Bond. It was time to move on. John Glen, who had already worked on three Bond movies as film editor, was now in charge of the new production.
As was often the case for Bond films, For Your Eyes Only does not take much more that the title from the short story on which it is based. This time it is a rather complex story of more than an effort to avenge the death of a fellow agent, it has to do with finding an Automatic Targeting Attack Communicator that was on-board a sunken spy ship. This of course means underwater intrigue, which we have, of course, seen before. This time it may be pulled off a little better.
If it does not resemble the Bond creator’s story, you can still give the studio credit for a more intelligent story. Follow along closely, it is not just a tale of chase scenes or under water battles. We are again treated to an Academy Award nominated song. This time it is Sheena Easton’s turn to provide a memorable number.
The fourteenth Ian Fleming book contained two short stories in the 1966 publication. Later editions of the book contained two other short stories that had appeared in magazines a few years earlier. It was the final book by Fleming. The story Octopussy was updated for the film. Now instead of being about Nazi gold, it is about Soviet jewels. It is also an attempt by a rogue Soviet military officer to create conflict, perhaps war, between the super powers. The British super agent needs to figure out what is going on and stop it.
The 1983 movie was the 6th Roger Moore film. All of the Bond tricks and chases are on display in what should have been the last Moore film. It was well done and of course Bond saves the world from a nuclear explosion and possible war in Europe. Rita Coolidge sang “All Time High” as the Bond theme song.
In a surprise move, another studio planned to bring out a rival James Bond film in the same year. It seems Fleming had used a failed storyline developed years earlier with two others, as the basis of Thunderball. When the others were granted their rights to the story, they wanted to cash in as well. Another studio, who could not use the same title, decided to put out the Bond film but they were presented with one interesting problem. Who would be Bond?
Sean Connery was back as James Bond in the rival film, Never Say Never Again. They were wise enough to include the fact that Bond (Connery) was much older now and perhaps past his prime. Still, he is smart enough to know how to save the day. Meanwhile an older Roger Moore is performing heroics as if he was a much younger man.
Moore returns for a final turn as 007 in 1985 in A View To A Kill, which almost borrows the title and virtually nothing else from the short story, From A View To A Kill. The story first appeared in 1959 and was collected in the book, For Your Eyes Only in 1960. The movie goes elsewhere.
By now it is impossible to believe that the 57-year-old Moore is capable of the athletic feats attributed to Bond in this storyline. I am glad to see a man this age is still attractive and the object of desire. I guess it is a bit of a fantasy.
Christopher Walken is a good villain as you might imagine. Grace Jones is his companion, whom Bond is successful at seducing at one point. Perhaps the black and white physical relationship was a bit ahead of its time then. Maybe audiences were ready for it.
It is remarkable how often Bond escapes the clutches of Max Zorin (Walken), but he does, leading to the unlikely battle at the end. I will save the details in case you have not seen it. The obviously 80s film has a theme song by the obviously 80s Duran Duran. They must have been trying to attract a younger audience with that.
Reviewers were not kind to A View To A Kill, although I thought it was better than some of the other Moore films. Roger Moore himself would later state that it was his least favorite film. Perhaps he knew he stayed on for one too many.