Roger Moore, Peace, Rest In

Rest in peace, Roger Moore.

The sad part of modern life is we mourn the loss of celebrities, but we really don’t know them as people. We only know them as their character. Carrie Fisher is Princess Leia. Leonard Nimoy is Spock. Robin Williams is . . . everything.Unknown

It is not disrespectful, therefore, to remember the passing of a beloved icon with a tip of the hat to the work they did. As such, I am certain family and friends of Roger Moore will mourn him the way I hope to be mourned when my time comes. But I, I will mourn him by remembering him as Bond. James Bond.

Moore’s Bond was different than Sean Connery’s. Connery was tough first, slick second. Connery and Daniel Craig play Bond more like Fleming wrote him. Moore reinvented the character as a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who enjoyed wisecracks and managed to do his job as a side-effect of his good time. He fit the 1970s, and his Bond was goofier, but far more playful. His bond was more sexual, carefree, and smiled. Moore wore the tuxedo better, but looked out of place in a fist fight. He could sell a scene with his eyes, and in so doing invite the audience in on a little escapism.

On that note, here are his turns as Bond from best to worst, in my personal opinion.

  1. Live and Let Die–His first movie was his best. Trains. Sharks. Crocodile farms. Exploding people. New York City. Jane Seymour.  An espresso machine. Paul McCartney. Perfect.
  2. The Spy Who Loved Me–The underwater car was brilliant. The submarine scenes were a little forced, but who cares.
  3. The Man With The Golden Gun–The film drags a little, but fun none the less. Moore is over-the-top Bond in this one.
  4. A View To A Kill–Horrible movie, but loads of fun. Moore was too old to play Bond at this point, but Christopher Walken as the bad guy was inspired. Let’s just forget about the Beach Boys in the opening escapade, but the Duran Duran theme song more than makes up for that. High Duran Duran coolness factor. (Click Here for more Duran Duran)
  5. Moonraker–The Bond book by this same name is one of my favorites. The movie was cheesy and beyond bad, however Moore makes it so much fun with his witty banter and the fun in Rio.
  6. For Your Eyes Only–Honestly, Moore feels a little stale in this film. Only the scenery of Greece saves it from complete and total failure. The plot is intricate, but all the actors are beyond bad.
  7. Octopussy–I hate this movie. The Tarzan yell is inexplicable. The Fleming short story by the same title is fascinating and spectacular. This movie is a terrible mashup of several Fleming plots and none of them work. But Roger Moore gambling and making his getaway through the streets of India is enjoyable and reminds us of why even as the worst, of the Moore films, it is still a good evening.

MY TOP FIVE JAMES BOND MOVIES

I got my Spectre tickets yesterday.  I would have bought them in May if I could have.  Oh yeah, I’m a big fan.  I like the literary Bond better than the film Bond, and Daniel Craig probably plays him more like Fleming wrote him.  I don’t know if this movie will be any good, but it looks good, and Christoph Waltz looks perfectly Blofeld-like (even though the IMBD lists his character as Oberhauser, it has to be Blofeld, right?)   I have high hopes, which is probably a mistake, yet all three of the earlier Daniel Craig Bond reboots have been outstanding.

So, in celebration, here are my top five Bond films, in order.

  • Casino Royale–a brilliant treatment of the book that defined the spy genre.
  • On Her Majesty’s Secret Service–the book was probably the best of the Bond books, and Lazenby was lackluster as Bond, but Telly Savalas and Diana Rigg make up for it, in my opinion because they were both fantastic.
  • Goldeneye–Pierce Brosnan’s first Bond appearance, and he was an outstanding Bond, but who could forget him chasing the bad guy in that Russian tank?

    How cool is that?
    How cool is that?
  • Goldfinger–Here’s a toast to Operation Grand Slam.
  • From Russia With Love–Everything you could ever want in a great spy movie, and The Orient Express.

Honorable Mentions:  Quantum of Solace, The Living Daylights, Tomorrow Never Dies, and Diamonds Are Forever.

image from http://www.thatmomentin.com

TOP THREE BOOKS: BOOKS I SHOULD HAVE READ SOONER

To quote Old Blues Eyes,

Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention.

A common regret is that every now and again I come across a book I love and kick myself over and over again for having not read it earlier in my life.  I never feel that way about a movie, a television show, a magazine story or any other kind of literature, not even poetry.  It does, though, happen with those magical things called books and those enchanted delights that surprise you and make you wish you’d read it twenty or so years ago.

I Heard the Owl Call My Name, Margaret Craven

Written four years before I was born, I should have read it in High School.  At least someone should have shoved it in my face at seminary, you’d think.  But no.  It wasn’t until last summer as I was leaving the Northwest to come back to Texas that a dear friend gave me this book as a parting gift to remember him by.  He told he he’d read it as an adolescent.  I wish I had.

I Heard the Owl Call My Name
The owl eventually calls everyone

It is a spectacularly well told story about faith, ministry, life and death all set against the backdrop of the Pacific Northwest and the relationships between white settlers and Native Americans.  I think if I’d read this book before I started ministry I’d been a been a better pastor.

Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott

Every writer should read this book.  Scratch that, every human should read this book.

More than anything else, Bird by Bird is about the creative process and enduring life’s wiggles and jiggles while still maintaining sanity and the creative spark.

It was written in 1994, the year I graduated from college.  I wish I’d read it then when the ink was still drying on the pages.  I would have probably been a more likeable person and definitely would have cultivated my work as a writer earlier in life.  I wasted nearly twenty years when I should have been writing all along.

Casino Royale, Ian Fleming

I love a good spy story.  I always have.  I’ve always loved the Bond movies, but until three years ago had never read a single Fleming book.  I picked up Casino Royale (1953) and read it and was overcome by how markedly different the literary Bond was from the one on the silver screen.   Since then I’ve read all of Fleming’s James Bond stories and can honestly say that as much as I love the movies, I love the books more.  Bond is more believable, less likeable, and more vulnerable than anything in the movies.  And yes, for what its worth, Daniel Craig plays James Bond closer to the way Fleming wrote him than any other actor.

If you want to test the movies verses the book, just read Moonraker and then watch the outlandish (fun, but outlandish) movie that is supposedly based on that novel.  They are not even in the same universe.

I wonder, what books have you read later in life that you wish you’d read when you were younger?  I’d love to hear, and I will likely add some of them on my reading list, before its too late.

 

image from desktopretreat.blogspot.com

 

TURN THE PAGE

This week I wrote the last words to my new novel about Pastor Butch Gregory and sent it to a couple of folks to proofread and also to a friend for his opinion.  The most important reader, Mrs. Greenbean, already read it and said she loved it.  So, to me it is already a success.  After these folks get finished and I make any corrections to continuity or plausibility, I”ll have to find a publisher!

Now, though,  I’m going to take a month or two off of writing before I start my next book and catch up on all my reading that I’ve  been pushing to the side.  “Let’s see, what have I got here in the pile,” he thought to himself  as he rummaged around the large stack of hardbacks, paperbacks, and magazines lying on the floor of his study.

Oops.  My bad.  Its hard to get away from 3rd person writing.  Anyway, what is stacked on my floor?

1.  A couple of Wayne Cordeiro books.  The Irresistible Church and The Divine Mentor.  Those will be great.  I love Wayne.

2.  Tim Keller’s The Meaning of Marriage.   A friend gave that to me for Christmas.  I like Keller; and I forgive him for being a Calvinist.  Notice how much he looks like Captain Picard.  I do.

3.  Launch by Nelson Searcy.  Searcy is such a self promoting hack, but his books are always insightful.   I got that book to help me think through our Silverdale church plant.

4.  Oooh, I’ve got Dr. No, Ian Fleming’s James Bond novel, sitting right over there.  I might read that one first.  I’ve made it a project to read through all the original Bond novels.  So far I’ve been very surprised at how different Bond is in print as opposed to on film.  Its not quite the same.

5.  Viral Churches.  Some book from the denomination.  Looks infectious.  By the way, why do so many church books use medical terminology, and usually yucky terminology.  Why would anyone, on the face of it, want a church that was viral?  I blame Bill Hybels.  He started it by telling all of us should be contagious Christians.

He coughed as he wondered if he might not be  getting a fever; and then he thought about how much he admired Hybels.  If only he had hair that nice, maybe he too would have a large ministry.

Sorry, there goes that pesky 3rd person again.  Now, back to the list.

6.  The Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1.  A friend gave me that as a gift.  It looks delicious; but it is so big that it intimidates me.  I haven’t had the gumption to start it yet.  It feels like the kind of thing that, if I started today, I might get finished by 2015.

7.  Oh, over there is the Biblical Archaeology Magazine I started last week.  I take a lot of magazines including Newsweek, National Geographic, and Christianity Today; but above them all BAR is my favorite.  Hands down.