In swinging London, Roger Moore is ordered by Bernard Lee to track down a model who is connected to an international conspiracy.
If you think that sounds like a James Bond movie, you’re close. In Crossplot, which was released four years before Roger Moore took over the role of 007 in Live and Let Die, Moore plays Gary Fenn and Bernard Lee is Mr. Chilmore. Gary is a playboy and an advertising executive while Mr. Chilmore is his latest client. Mr. Chilmore has ordered Gary to find a model who can serve as the new “Miss Swing,” but actually, the bad guys are using Gary to try track down a beautiful Hungarian named Marla Kugash (Claudie Lange). Kugash, the ex-girlfriend of a radical political activist, has knowledge about a conspiracy to assassinate a visiting African president. It leads to car chases, shoot outs, and a wedding that is ruined when Gary and Marla take refuge in a church.
Crossplot was an obvious attempt to cash in on the popularity of the James Bond films. At the time that Crossplot came out, Moore was best known for playing The Saint on television. Crossplot was the first film that Moore made after signing a three-movie contract with United Artists and, had the film been a success, Moore would have returned in the role of Gary Fenn and it is totally possible that he would not have been available to step into Sean Connery’s shoes when Connery announced that he was finished with the role of James Bond.
However, Crossplot was not a success and it is easy to see why. The plot was overly convoluted and it’s emphasis on “swinging” London (complete with wacky hippies) probably made Crossplot seem dated before it was even released. It is interesting today mostly as Moore’s “audition” for the role of Bond. Moore gives a very Bondish performance, complete with arched eyebrows and one liners. Moore is the best thing about the movie but it is also interesting to see Bernard Lee playing a character far less savory than M. This was also one of the many 60s Bond rip-offs to feature the beautiful Claudie Lange. Lange, who would have made a great Bond girl if she’d been given the opportunity, retired from acting in 1973, the same year that Moore appeared in Live and Let Die.