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Culture

Roger Moore, the spy whom Cannes loved

© AFP file photo | Roger Moore and US actress Barbara for the presentation of "The spy who loved me" at the Cannes Film Festival, on May 20, 1977.

Text by Benjamin DODMAN

Latest update : 2017-05-23

Festivalgoers in Cannes paid tribute to Roger Moore on Tuesday, recalling the late actor as the very essence of the smooth-talking English gentleman, and one of James Bond’s finest incarnations.

News of the British actor’s death at 89 came as the world’s most prestigious film festival prepared to hold a series of special events to mark its 70th anniversary.

It followed a minute of silence observed on Cannes’ famed red carpet, in memory of the victims of the horrific terrorist attack that struck Manchester late on Monday, killing at least 22 people including children.

Moore’s death is very sad, but of course the real tragedy is what happened in Manchester,” said Andromeda Godfrey, a British actor and producer we met at the UK pavilion, a few steps away from the Palais des Festivals.

“Moore had lovely long life. He made a lot of people happy and left a great legacy,” she said. “His James Bond was so much fun; I hanker for those days, when Bond had such tongue-in-cheek humour. We could do with more of that today.”

Like Godfrey, FRANCE 24’s film critic Thomas Baurez described the late actor as his “childhood Bond”, the one he grew up with. “He and Sean Connery embodied the first generation of Bonds, one defined by a certain elegance and a touch of irony. After him, the producers really struggled to find a good 007.”

Cameraman Morgan Paupe recalled seeing “A View to Kill” (1985), the last of Moore’s seven parts in the spy franchise, in a cinema aged eight. “I’m devastated, I grew up watching his films,” he said. “He had it all: the class, the humour, the super gadgets. He was my hero, my model.”

Not everyone on the Croisette was especially familiar with Moore. “Oh yes, that gorgeous American!” said a French couple strolling along the Croisette. Another festivalgoer, all suited up for the red carpet, thought the British actor had passed away “years ago”.

Soojon Bae, of Japanese production company Synca, said Moore’s legacy was lost on most young people in his country. “But for anyone above 50 he was the real English gentleman: cool, sexy and stylish,” he added.

Enjoying a few beers in the sun, the Huys couple from the Netherlands were shocked to hear of the actor’s passing. “We’d just been discussing who was our favourite James Bond, and we agreed Roger Moore was the best, the real gentleman, even classier than Sean Connery,” they said.

Regular visitors to the Cannes festival, and the nearby Monaco Grand Prix, the Huys also recalled Moore’s passionate charity work for children with UNICEF.

“Such class, and never a scandal,” they added. “He was loved throughout the world.”

Date created : 2017-05-23

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