Book Review: My Word is My Bond by Roger Moore

In 2008 Sir Roger Moore released his first book, a memoir entitled My Word is My Bond. The book is an enthralling tale that takes readers through his early childhood, his many years as a venerated actor with such prominent roles as The Saint and James Bond,  up through his present day role as an elder show business statesman and more importantly a celebrity ambassador for UNICEF.  Moore has often been described as a raconteur and this book lives up to that expectation. As a reader you feel like you’re seated with him at your favorite restaurant sipping wine as he relates colorful anecdotes of his long storied career as well as his early childhood. Born in Stockwell, his childhood was plagued by illness and having to evacuate his home town to live in Devon while the threat of bombing raids loomed over London. Moore paints a colorful portrait of his early life and career and provides a rather insightful view into the latter days of the Hollywood studio system where actors would be under exclusive contract to a film making studio and the heads of these studios wielded enormous power and control over the careers of the actors employed by them.

Moore is charmingly self-deprecating throughout holding no delusions as to his actual acting prowess.  One gets the sense that he sees himself as someone  who was extremely lucky having the right look and obtaining the right contacts, friendships, and show business relationships to mold his career over the span of decades. His one literary vice seems to be name dropping, and that is actually the one consistent flaw throughout the book.  Oftentimes an amusing anecdote is accompanied by several tangents where the name dropping can get irritating, but once you get used to it, it can get rather amusing.  Moore is also a self-confessed practical joker.  On his James Bond sets, he would often prey upon Desmond Llewelyn who played Q.  Knowing that Q’s dialogue was rather intricate and full of technobabble, he’d often get hold of the script and change Llewelyn’s lines hours before shooting forcing him to learn new dialogue.  On other occasions, Moore was a peacekeeper as on the set of The Persuaders a TV show where he costarred with Tony Curtis for 1 season as a mismatched duo who went on adventures.  When Curtis called the episode’s guest star Joan Collins the “C-word” Moore was called onto the set on his day off to diffuse the situation.

Upon getting the much coveted role of James Bond, he recalls:

I’d be the first to admit that I’d been living the good life in the previous year or so…. That was brought home to me rather curtly when Harry [Saltzman, co-producer] called me one day.

‘Cubby [Broccolli, co-producer] thinks you need to lose a little weight.’

Okay, I thought. So I started a strict diet.

The phone rang again. ‘Cubby thinks you’re a little out of shape.’

So I started a tough fitness regime.

Again the phone rang, this time it was Cubby. ‘Harry thinks your hair’s too long.’

‘Why didn’t you just cast a thin, fit, bald fellow in the first place and avoid putting me through this hell?’ I replied.

The stories he tells about making the Bond films are quite fascinating as a fan and Moore’s rather unique insight into this experience is always quite compelling and amusing:

Cubby and I visited Maurice [Binder, title designer for the Bond credits sequences featuring naked ladies ofttimes in silhouette] on his shooting stage one day and found him on his knees, lovingly spreading Vaseline over the private parts of one of his female nudes.  He said it was to keep her pubic hairs flat in front of the wind machine, so as not to incur the further wrath of the censor.

I turned to Cubby, ‘And I thought that was one of the producer’s perks?’

In a scene where Bond quips about Egyptian builders knowing full well that a representative of Egypt’s government was on set monitoring their every line, Roger suggested that he simply mouthed the line by moving his lips and not actually saying anything so that they could add the line later in post-production.  Many such stories are cleverly regaled throughout the book, however, when Roger doesn’t have something nice to say about someone he tries to keep it diplomatic by simply stating that he has nothing to say about them as is the case with Grace Jones his co-star on his final Bond film, A View to a Kill.  Jones reportedly took a large black dildo into the bed with her for their love scene, which seems to have perturbed Roger despite his penchant for practical jokes. At the same time, one gets the sense that he may have glossed over his failed marriages although he admits to sharing in some degree of fault for how they ended.  One of his ex wives spent many years denying him a divorce.

What drives the latter third of the book is his commitment to UNICEF, and we learn that despite his life of privilege Moore has done a remarkable job giving back to the world at large through his dedication to UNICEF bringing awareness to the struggle to help children in need around the globe. His major cause since he joined the organization in 1991 is to raise funds and awareness for Iodine Deficiency Disorder (IDD) in many third world countries. It’s a preventable problem that can be resolved by simply ensuring that every household uses iodized salt to avoid all sorts of maladies and mental disorders. Moore frequently meets with heads of state on behalf of UNICEF to urge them to combat IDD in their poorest communities. Roger has led a fascinating life and he is to be commended for his commitment to UNICEF. He has received many honors for his humanitarian work, and in 2003 he was Knighted by Queen Elizabeth II particularly for his work with UNICEF.  Roger Moore may not be everyone’s favorite Bond actor, but he’s lived a fascinating life.  Reading this book, you can’t help but develop a profound respect for the man. On his work for UNICEF he writes:

I’ve often been asked just how much UNICEF receives from the United Nations and why we need to raise funds.  The answer is UNICEF receives nothing from the UN, it is completely self-funded and that is why I – and others like me – go out banging the drum.  Of the money we raise, less than nine percent goes in administration costs around the world; the rest goes directly to the children

 

Bond to the Future

Author’s note: Just thought I’d whip this up for a little fun. I wrote it very quickly, so please don’t be too hard on me.  I decided to do a throwback to the novel for You Only Live Twice for a certain plot point. I just though it would be fun to imagine 1985 James Bond as portrayed by Roger Moore engaged in time travel plot as tribute to Back the Future.  It’s just a bit of frivolous fun.

It’s a little known fact that after the events of 1985’s A View to a Kill, James Bond (Roger Moore) travelled forward in time to the year 2015. Much of the screenplay has been lost, but this brief snippet is the only surviving portion. Upon returning from San Francisco after defeating Max Zorin, Bond reported to MI6 Headquarters for debriefing when he stumbled upon Q (Desmond Llewelyn) just outside the Q Branch Laboratory.  What follows are the scenes with M., Q, and Miss Moneypenny.  The rest of the screenplay has vanished from existence . . . perhaps thankfully if you’re feeling unkind.

james-bond-timeline13-200x300

Bond: What the devil is this, Q?

Q: Glad you asked 007.  It’s a time machine, and as it happens I’ve been instructed by M. to send you to the year 2015.

Bond: You must be joking.

Q: How many times do I have to tell you!  I never joke about my work, 007! Step inside and I’ll show you how it works.

Bond steps inside the vehicle

10143_1442036989685-300x198

Bond: Are you telling me you made a time machine out of a DeLorean?

Q: I figured that if I was going to make a time machine out of a car, why not do it with style?

Bond: I’d much prefer a Lotus Esprit rather than this tin container, thank you very much.

Q: Let’s get one thing straight, 007. I design things and you wreck them.  For God’s sake, I let you do your job, now let me do mine. Now, here’s how it works. Turn the time circuits on like this. This one tells you where you are, this one tells you where you’re going. This one tells you where you were.  Input your destination into this key pad and drive the vehicle. Once you achieve the speed of 88 miles per hour, you will notice a reaction and the vehicle will travel to this precise destination in time.

desmond-llewelyn-300x121

Bond: Sounds simple enough. Let’s get started.

M: You’ll find M’s mission briefing inside. Good luck 007.

Bond drives the vehicle outside the lab reaching the speed of 88MPH soon afterwards.  The vehicle vanishes from 1985 and enters the year 2015 . . . Q (Ben Whishaw) and Eve Moneypenny (Naomi Harris)greet him outside MI6 Headquarters.

Miss Moneypenny: James, thank goodness you’ve come.

Bond: Do I know you?

Miss Moneypenny: Why yes, I believe you worked with my great aunt during your time with the Double O section. My name is Eve . . . Eve Moneypenny.

Q: And I’m your new quartermaster.

Bond: You’ve still got spots

Q: You were expecting an old man in a lab coat? I could do more damage in my pajamas in the morning before my first cup of earl grey than you can in 30 years in the field.

Ben-Whishaw-Roger-Moore-300x156

Bond: Then what do you need me for?

Q: It’s your kids.  Something’s gotta be done about your kids.

Bond: I’ve got kids?

Miss Moneypenny:  You didn’t think you could fornicate with just about every skirt you encountered around the world and not have children. Did you even bother using protection?

Bond: You wouldn’t know, Miss Moneypenny, but I always know when to pull out.

Enter M. (Ralph Fiennes)

M.: Not when it came to a certain Kissy Suzuki if you recall that Japanese mission.

Bond: Ah yes . . . well it was the least I could do for her after curing my impotence I suppose.

M.: Yes, well the toad oil she served with your food worked only too well and you are now the father of one James Suzuki.

Bond: Why can’t you just get the present day me to help you out?

Q: Hello, Bond. Anybody home? Think, Bond think.  You’re 88 years old now; hardly in any shape to take on the world.

Bond: You must realize that your predecessor was never this snarky.

Q: In 2015, everyone makes a habit of being jaded and sarcastic. Don’t take it personally. I’d stay away from the internet if I were you.

M.: Enough, Q. Now, listen Bond. I believe that your son has been kidnapped by one Franz Oberhauser.  You always meant a lot to my predecessor’s predecessor and he suspected that one day you may need the kind of help that only you could provide.   You’ll find all the details you need in the mission briefing from the M. from the past who you already know. Good luck, 007. Don’t cock it up.

james-bond-roger-moore-arrives-at-the-casino_660-300x202

Bond then speeds off in the DeLorean to meet his fate.. . . The rest of the screenplay has been lost forever. . . Perhaps it’s for the best . .

P.S. This was just a quick thing I wrote for the James Bond Radio podcast website. I just recreated the piece here for your amusement.