And the Bond Played On

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Roger Moore, My Word Is My Bond

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You'll hear a lot about clothes in My Word Is My Bond. Moore's beautiful crocodile shoes were ruined when he lent them to a stunt double in Live and Let Die and an actual alligator took a bite out of them. He longed to keep the silk suit he wore in The Man with the Golden Gun, but after the last shot wrapped Cubby Brocolli — who produced the Bond movies — emptied a bucket of paste over him as a practical joke, destroying it. Moore also mourns Bond's gorgeous Ferragamo luggage, which was lost when a prop boat sank in Venice during the filming of Moonraker.

If you are a certain kind of reader — and I am — then your appetite for this kind of trivia is infinite. Watch Maurice Binder, who designed the movies' famous opening credit sequences, "lovingly spreading Vaseline over the private parts of one of his female nudes," to preserve their sleek sillhouettes! Watch as the film crew sprays Moore's cheeks with air hoses to simulate the G-forces Bond endured in Moonraker! Moore has a fondness for practical jokes: when Richard Harris put a rubber snake in his bed during the filming of The Wild Geese, in Africa, Moore struck back the next night by putting real snakes in Harris's boots. "The moral of this story? 'Don't f--- around with Moore!'"

There are dark moments in My Word Is My Bond, but they mostly belong to other people. Many of Moore's co-stars suffered from epic alcohol problems — look for a wasted Lee Marvin flashing back to his WWII service and laying waste to a crowd of Japanese tourists during a layover in Rome. Moore himself is almost pathologically sunny. To simulate hatred of the villains he faced as Bond, Moore pretended they had halitosis. In For Your Eyes Only, he balked at pushing a car containing Bond's arch-enemy Locque off a cliff. He didn't think Bond would do that. (In the end they shot the scene more or less as written.) "My contention about my 'light' portrayal of Bond is this," he writes. "How can he be a spy, yet walk into any bar in the world and have the bartender recognize him and serve him his favourite drink? Come on, it's all a big joke."

Through four marriages, various health crises and innumerable, authentically noble tours of duty as an ambassador for UNICEF, the most powerful moment of authentic pain in My Word Is My Bond is the death of Moore's longtime friend David Niven. Moore loathes Niven's widow, who on hearing of Nivens' death turns up drunk, her wig askew, and greets Moore with the words, "Here for the press, are you?" He writes: "I could hear myself saying, 'Just get in the f---ing house.'"

Moore does have a temper, though he rarely lets it out for a good tantrum. He reserves his ire for only an elite few, such as Grace Jones, his co-star in View to a Kill, ("I've always said if you've nothing nice to say about someone...") and Jean-Claude Van Damme (perhaps you've forgotten that they worked together in The Quest) but he's too gracious to go into details. The book's most poignant moment for me, if I'm being honest, comes when, after a full run of rehearsals, Andrew Lloyd Webber cut Moore from the lead role in the stage musical Aspects of Love at the final run-through.

But Moore's upper lip remains stiff through it all. A nice guy who finished first — or at least in the top five — he's the Obama of Bonds: no drama. It's a relief to see a celebrity really enjoying his celebrity, without having to pretend he's secretly tortured. As Bond, Moore gladly gave us all he had to give, and if that wasn't much, is that really such a crime?

Read the Quantum of Solace Review.

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