Peppered with fun facts and cheeky asides, actor Roger Moore's book looking back on the golden anniversary of James Bond on-screen is a treat for 007 fans. He takes us on a lively spin around the milestones of cinema's longest-running franchise.
Page after page of photos display the villains, the gadgets and the girls, making "Bond on Bond" a kind of 007 family album for those who grew up with the British secret agent - and never outgrew the fantasy of driving a fast car with an even faster girl on the way to saving the world.
You can still start a fight arguing whether Moore was a better Bond than Sean Connery, though that might show your age as much as your taste in 007s. Moore says he developed his approach to the character after noting a line from one of Ian Fleming's novels: "Bond did not particularly enjoy killing."
Indeed, in his seven outings as Bond, Moore brought a light humor that set him apart from Connery's more serious and at times sadistic manner.
Did you know:
- Unlike Connery, Moore's Bond never smoked cigarettes. The actor writes that he had quit a few years before "Live and Let Die," his first Bond movie.
- Actor Desmond Llewelyn, who played armament expert "Q'' in 17 of the films, was a technophobe who could barely operate a video recorder.
- Moviemakers would dress up an air base near Britain's Pinewood Studios, home to the Bond franchise, so it could stand in for air bases as needed - in Cuba, Azerbaijan and even America's Fort Knox.
- Actress Lois Maxwell contacted "Dr. No" director Terence Young, a friend, in search of a job to tide over her family in the wake of her husband's heart attack. A two-day gig as lovelorn secretary Miss Moneypenny in the first Bond film led to appearances in 14 films spanning 23 years.
- What vanquished arch-villain Blofeld and his evil organization SPECTRE? It wasn't sharks or lasers but lawsuits. Moore says a dispute over who created SPECTRE resulted in its being dropped from future films.
Other books have far more trivia and making-of material from each of the films. Moore, understandably, is most chatty about his own experiences, though he is too much a gentleman to criticize his colleagues without a smile. An exception might be one-shot wonder George Lazenby, portrayed as a bratty Bond who took the blast of fame that came with "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" all too seriously.
That cannot be said of Moore, either as an actor or as an author. No other Bond, from Timothy Dalton to more recent stalwarts Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig, has managed to make 007 quite as charming and endearing as Moore. He brings those traits to "Bond on Bond," inviting us to sit back and enjoy the ride.
Douglass K. Daniel is the author of "Tough as Nails: The Life and Films of Richard Brooks" (University of Wisconsin Press).