Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Problem Is, You Never Do Anything With Me

Lois Maxwell has died at the age of 80. I always felt a bit sorry for her in some of the later James Bond movies, though my sympathy was totally misplaced: there's no reason to feel sorry for someone who has a role in the longest-running movie series of our time. But it wasn't fun to watch someone who was clearly too old for the part trade quips with various James Bonds who were also clearly too old for the part. (Granted, it would have been way worse to see a 95 year-old Roger Moore flirting with a younger Miss Moneypenny.)

The character of Miss Moneypenny in the movies is, I take it, a combination of the Moneypenny from the books with Bond's secretaries, Loelia Ponsonby and Mary Goodnight. (Just writing down those Ian Fleming character names makes me smile. The man came up with the craziest names since Dickens.) Fleming's idea was that anyone who would be a secretary in the secret service would be a little emotionally detached from the agents; she'll flirt with them but no more, because she doesn't want to get emotionally involved with a man who will probably be dead soon. Maxwell, one of those intercontinental actors who were in plentiful supply in the '50s and '60s -- she was Canadian, mostly lived in England, but appeared in American and Italian movies too (she was Amneris -- the acting, not the singing -- in the 1953 movie of Aida) -- nailed the role perfectly in Dr. No; her best part in the series was in On Her Majesty's Secret Service.


Brent McKee said...

I always thought that Maxwell had a great idea for staying in the series after she was replaced in the first Dalton film. She would be the new "M". An excellent actress whose life story would make an interesting book. It would of course include her joining the Army at age 15, going overseas with Wayne & Shuster, and probably include whatever her relationship with Ronald Reagan might have been (I heard a CBC2 announcer say that Reagan had been in love with her; true or not it's an interesting tale).

Anonymous said...

Another memorable role for her was as Richard Johnson's wife in THE HAUNTING