Lois Maxwell, R.i.p.

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THE PLANK SEPTEMBER 30, 2007

Lois Maxwell, R.i.p.

Two things are true of almost everyone reading this post: first, you aren't quite sure who Lois Maxwell was, and second, you have seen her on film. From 1962 until 1985, over the course of fourteen movies, Maxwell costarred opposite Sean Connery (six times), George Lazenby (once), and Roger Moore (seven times) as the first and most only memorable Miss Moneypenny in the James Bond series.

Moneypenny was, of course, a loyal MI6 secretary who found herself consistently disappointed by 007's lack of romantic interest. The appeal of her character, I always thought, was two-fold: She was one of the few women in the series who truly loved Bond, yes, but she also saw right through him. In Maxwell's scenes with Connery, especially, 007 was forced to be self-deprecating or even register mild embarassment. The game was up; Moneypenny knew all of Bond's tricks, and the world's smoothest man was never less suave. Maxwell's ability to mix flirtation with maternal scolding is one of the reasons her scenes (which probably make up only 30 minutes over 24 years) were, and are, so memorable.

Finally, one of the series' appeals, at least to us die-hards, is the continuity from one film to the next. For that first quarter-century of 007's filmic existence, the movies included a wonderful array of familiar faces and locations. Which was all the more important, needless to add, considering that the leading man kept changing.

The Guardian's obit is here. Maxwell was by all accounts a fine and good-natured person, and she will be forever remembered by those of us who grew up on, and with, James Bond. R.I.P.

--Isaac Chotiner

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