Sean Connery died: the day he faced Roger Moore in “the battle of the James Bond”

37 years ago, in October 1983, the world’s movie theaters were the protagonists of an unprecedented “duel”. The movies Octopussy and Never Say Never were in theaters together. But beyond the competition for the box office, the real confrontation was given by the actors who played James Bond in each of them: Roger Moore, in the first, and Sean Connery, in the second.

At the beginning of the 1980s, the James Bond films, the agent 007 created by the British novelist Ian Fleming, were all the rage. And in particular in 1983, for just four months, fans of the genre had the chance to see two Bonds simultaneously. The one played by Roger Moore in Octopussy and the one played by Sean Connery in Never Say Never. This Saturday, hours after the death of the Scottish actor, this “rivalry” makes a special sense for the public and movie lovers in general.

James Bond: the legendary duel of Sean Connery and Roger Moore

That rift between those who preferred one actor and another was baptized by many, as reflected by the journalist Chris Nashawaty in his article for esquire, “the battle of the Bonds”. In one corner of the “quadrangle” was Connery, who had already played James Bond six times between 1962 and 1971. In the other, Roger Moore, who had done the same in five films between 1973 and 1981.

By 1983, Moore and Connery had known each other for a long time. They were not close friends, but the fact that two James Bond films were released almost in parallel did not affect the relationship of the two great actors.

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Adapted from Fleming’s 1966 short story Octopussy and The Living Daylights, Octopussy with Moore was the first of two 1983 films to hit theaters. Released on June 6 of that year, in the film Bond interacts with the playboy Kamal Khan (Louis Jordan) and with Octopussy, a role played by the Bond girl of that time, Maud Adams.

John Glen, director of Octopussy, invested the US$27.5 million budget in locations such as Berlin, Moscow and Udaipur, in India. An investment that would end up paying off: the film grossed US$187.5 million worldwide.

While Bond fans rejoiced at Moore’s film, the Connery-starring film was in full development. It was Micheline Roquebrune, the Scottish actor’s wife, who suggested that the film be titled Never Say Never, as a way of parodying Connery’s own phrase with which she turned her back on the role for 12 years.

Roquebrune’s smell or work of destiny, the title liked and stuck. Directed by Irvin Kershner, Never Say Never had a slightly higher budget than its predecessor with Moore: $36 million. Also this film stood out for a long list of exotic locations, such as the French Riviera and the Bahamas.

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The Connery who played 007 in Never Say Never was not the same as Diamonds Are Forever. For his debut on the big screen, on October 7, 1983, the actor retained the same charisma, but the passing of the years made him inevitably slow down.

As Nashawaty points out, Never Say Never has that bitter-sweet taste. Sweet because fans got to see Connery in the Bond shoes again. Bitter because some details left a lot to be desired, such as its collection, which, although it achieved US$ 160 million, finally lost the battle against Moore’s film.

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Sean Connery died: the day he faced Roger Moore in “the battle of the James Bond”


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