It’s probably unfair to call Roger Moore the Rodney Dangerfield of the James Bond series. He gets respect, but only relative to that afforded George Lazenby and Timothy Dalton. If nothing else, Moore, who took over the role from Sean Connery in 1973 (after a one-film Lazenby interruption), deserves credit for longevity. He played Agent 007 longer than anyone, starring in seven Bond films over the course of 12 years. He wore a tux and arched an eyebrow as good as anyone, even if he had the misfortune of stepping to Bond’s shoes during some awkward, transitional years.
The Bond films set trends in the 1960s. In the ’70s, it followed them, latching on to blaxploitation and science fiction and tailoring its content to suit what it thought audiences wanted. It also seemed to think audiences wanted a quippier, more gadget-focused Bond, qualities Moore could perform well. Moore had little of the anger that was just beneath the surface of Connery’s performances, but he brought his own sort of charm to the role. His best entries were those that opted for a back-to-basics approach—The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977 and For Your Eyes Only in 1981—but he kept his dignity even through the sillier efforts, even when asked to dress up like a clown in Octopussy. A lesser star might have sent Bond into early retirement.