Dr. Judd Stevens (Roger Moore) is a mild-mannered Chicago psychologist who has never been in any trouble, so why has one of his patients and his receptionist been murdered? Lt. McGreavy (Rod Steiger), who has a personal grudge against Stevens, thinks that the doctor himself might be responsible. Dr. Stevens thinks that the first murder was a case of mistaken identity and that he is being targeted for assassination. Detective Angeli (Elliott Gould) says that he is willing to consider Stevens’s theory but can Stevens trust him? Or should Dr. Stevens put his trust in a veteran P.I. (Art Carney) or maybe even his newest patient (Anne Archer)?
An example of one of the “prestige” pictures that Cannon Films would produce in between Chuck Norris movies, The Naked Face has the potential be intriguing but both the direction and the script are too formulaic to be effective. Even though the movie does not work, it is always interesting to see the non-Bond films that Roger Moore made while he was playing the world’s most famous secret agent. In The Naked Face, a lot of time is spent on establishing Judd Stevens as being the exact opposite as James Bond. Stevens doesn’t drink or smoke and he is devotedly loyal to the memory of his dead wife. When someone offers him a gun, Stevens replies, “I don’t believe in them.” Unlike Bond, Dr. Stevens does not have the ability to come up with one liners. He barely ever cracks a smile. Moore is miscast in the role but he still does a better job than Rod Steiger, who bellows all of his lines, and Elliott Gould, who spends the movie with his head down. I don’t blame him.
One final note: As much as The Naked Face tries to distance itself from the Bond films, it does feature one other connection beyond the casting of Moore. David Hedison, who plays Dr. Stevens’s friend and colleague, also played Felix Leiter in Live and Let Die and Licence to Kill.