Friday, 9 May 2014

That's Rogertainment! Rogisode 4: Gold

The mid-1970s were glory years for our toffee-tanned hero. In the middle of the decade in which he made his best films, he was an adonis; a bronzed idol, always immaculately dressed and in fine physical fettle. Michael Caine and Malcolm McDowell might have been making better films, but neither of them had the catalogue model looks of Roger Moore. Now you could argue that that makes Michael Caine and Malcolm McDowell more deserving of your time, but this is That's Rogertainment so bugger off.

Just three months before his second Bond film (The Man With The Golden Gun, in which he looks his Bondy best) was released, Rodge popped up in Gold, a tale of greed and heroism set against a backdrop of South African gold mining, and it's hard to deny how goddamn handsome he is in it. It's as if he's in competition with actual gold to see who can look the best. He knows it too: in most of the Johannesburg-set scenes, Rodge is incapable of doing up more than a couple of shirt buttons, a look which he somehow gets away with far more successfully than I do when I emulate it in the pub at the end of our road.
It helps that Gold is directed by Peter Hunt, a man used to working with models-turned-James-Bonds after ushering the equally teaky George Lazenby through On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Hunt had also directed Moore in an episode of The Persuaders!, and knew how to make his star look good. In fact Bond alumni fill out the crew of Gold: John Glen directs the second unit and edits (as he did on OHMSS), Maurice Binder knocks up the titles, Syd Cain is production designer and Alec Mills is a cameraman. Perhaps most excitingly, Don Black writes the lyrics to the brilliant, bonkers and Bondesque theme song, which is a touching paean to the plight of the humble gold miner expressed via the medium of some absolutely bollocks-out brass:

 

After that vaguely crackers opening, Gold disappoints slightly by turning out to be a perfectly adequate drama about the heroically-named Rod Slater (our Rodge), a gold mine manager who unwittingly gets caught up in a wicked plot, devised by a suspiciously SPECTREish cabal of businessmen bafflingly led by John Gielgud, to flood the mine and tinker with global gold prices. It's zippily edited, as you'd expect from Hunt and Glen, and despite its earnestness it never gets too boring for its own good. Its questionable high point is the total annihilation of a six-year-old Patsy Kensit in an explosion aimed at her SPECTRE-disappointing father.

Unsurprisingly, Roger Moore is the best thing about it, although this is one of his roles for which he leaves his self-parody hat at home. Hunt demands that Moore plays Slater straight, and as a result he comes off as a believable patsy and a genuine hero come the climax. He gets to bark lines like "Shut up Kowalski!" and "Drop it Kowalski!" (Kowalski is a bit of a prick), while the double entendres we so love to see him wrap his tongue around are scant and given to others: "I noticed you slipped out," purrs a female conquest as Rodge climbs back into bed in the middle of the night. You can practically see the eyebrows desperately itching to climb north but being beaten back by Peter Hunt's steely glare.
It is a little-known fact that Roger Moore ejaculates champagne.
For this scene he filled a bathtub in one sitting.

A solid slice of Rogertainment then: proof that he can actually act when given good direction, but not as Rogertaining as when he's got his tongue jammed in his cheek and his eyebrows ready to ask "how high?" when he says jump. But my goodness he's a dishy devil, and if I look anything like that when I'm in my late forties (I won't, I can't afford the hair) then I'll consider myself to be a very lucky bastard.

FUN FACT! In his autobiography, Rodge fondly remembers how the arsenic in the water at the bottom of the gold mine turned his nipples a funny colour.

Rogerating:
Why am I banging on about Roger Moore? Hard to say. Here's an attempt to explain.

2 comments :

  1. Some nice on-location shooting, apparently.

    I notice Bradford Dillman and Ray Milland are reunited after Milland murdered Dillman in an episode of Columbo. Do they get to play hateful jerks here as well? Dillman, in particular, seems to me like he was born to play those kinds of roles, with his memorable turns in The Enforcer and Sudden Impact.

    I really hope you get around to reviewing Bullseye! eventually. That's Roger as we like him best, with tongue firmly planted in cheek, making a fool of Michael Caine on several occasions... and wearing a kilt.

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  2. OMG - I adore this review. My sentiments exactly. The final scene with Slater and King struggling in the flooded mine was pure suspense. Roger is a breathtakingly gorgeous man - handsome in a suit - but give me those open shirts any day!

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