For Your Eyes Only would have been a perfect sendoff for Roger Moore’s James Bond – it’s a shame it didn’t work that way. Franchises and sequels used to play a far less important role in Hollywood’s movie diet, which is partly why the James Bond movies were so popular from the ’60s onwards. They promised viewers exotic locations, action setpieces and adventure on a scale most other movies struggled to reach. Moore’s run as 007 was an especially fruitful time for the series, because – outside of the underperforming The Man With The Golden Gun – his outings were consistent blockbusters.
Moore played the British spy seven times, making him the longest-serving Bond in EON’s franchise. He brought a dry wit and charm to the role, but critiques that he was never terribly convincing with the action or physical side of the role are fair. It’s also true – and something Moore himself later confessed – that he stuck around in the role too long. He was 58 when he retired from the part, and his last two outings were among his weakest. However, his fifth adventure For Your Eyes Only (which had no M) would have been a graceful note to close on.
For Your Eyes Only Was Moore’s Last Good Bond Adventure
For Your Eyes Only was a course correction for the series, because while 1979’s Moonraker had been a resounding success, the fact it took Bond into outer space didn’t sit right with audiences or critics. The film is commonly considered lower-tier Bond to this day, so For Your Eyes Only stripped the character of his gadgets, gimmicks and outlandish villains to tell a grounded spy tale. The movie can be sluggish in places, but it’s also the last genuinely good Moore Bond outing. It has some terrific setpieces, beautiful locations and let Moore play a darker Bond than he had previously.
Moore wasn’t always a lock to star in For Your Eyes Only, with the opening scene – where Bond visits the grave of his wife Tracy – originally being intended to introduce viewers to a new actor in the role. For Your Eyes Only would have been a graceful note for Moore to retire on, and he very nearly did. 1983’s Octopussy came close to casting James Brolin as 007, with the American actor giving several screen tests. However, the production of the non-EON production Bond adventure Never Say Never Again with Sean Connery convinced producers they had to secure Moore if Octopussy was to win that box-office bout.
Moore Hated A View To A Kill
Octopussy has its campy charms, but the sight of Moore’s spy in clown makeup or swinging through the trees like Tarzan undoes the rehabilitation For Your Eyes Only (which featured fake Blofeld) attempted. Whereas Never Say Never Again wisely made Connery’s age a factor in the story, Octopussy and Moore’s last Bond A View To A Kill decided to ignore Moore’s visible aging. The actor also disliked the latter, finding it too violent and dubbing it his “least favorite” during an audio commentary. For Your Eyes Only is far from perfect, but it would have been a nice closer to the late, great actor’s legendary run with Ian Fleming’s creation.
Next: Every Roger Moore James Bond Movie, Ranked Worst To Best