Bobby | Film review - England's World Cup hero Bobby Moore had 'the aura of a prince'

(Image credit: Bobby Moore Movie Ltd. © 2016.)

1966 World Cup hero Bobby Moore is the subject of stirring documentary Bobby, released to celebrate the 50th anniversary of England’s win.

And Moore really does cut a heroic figure here. ‘He had the aura of a prince’ and ‘he was an Adonis’ are the kind of phrases used about him by the film’s contributors, who include teammates Geoff Hurst and Gordon Banks, famous adversary Pelé, celebrity fans Ray Davies and Russell Brand, and members of Moore’s family.

Watching the glorious footage of Moore in his prime, you can easily see what they mean. Blond, blue-eyed and coolly composed, whether calmly wiping his palms before shaking hands with the Queen to accept the Jules Rimet trophy in 66 or nervelessly tackling Brazilian forward Jairzinho at the World Cup finals in 1970, he always looked as though he’d stepped from the pages of Roy of the Rovers.

Bobby Moore West Ham.jpg

(Image credit: Action Images / MSI)

Yet, as the film movingly reveals, his heroism didn’t stop on the pitch. Witness his recovery from testicular cancer only two years before England’s World Cup triumph, unbeknown at the time to all but those closest to him, and the dignity with which he bore terminal illness before his premature death from liver and colon cancer at the age of 51 in 1993.

Foursquare and conventional in its use of talking heads and archive clips, Ron Scalpello’s film doesn’t break the mould of sporting documentaries, but the glimpses it offers of a vanished footballing era remain fascinating.

A more innocent era, many would say, yet you can detect here signs of the changes to come. Black-and-white footage from the 60s of Moore and his first wife, Tina, the Posh and Becks of their day, are a reminder of the new glamour the game was then acquiring. One can’t imagine Stanley Matthews partying with the Beatles and the Stones.

Bobby Moore Pelé.jpg

(Image credit: Action Images / MSI)

Moore was a shining example of the working-class East End lad made good, yet the rewards he enjoyed were puny compared with the riches that would be on offer to his successors.

Indeed, when Moore’s playing days were over, there was an air of sadness and defeat to his work as coach, manager and, ultimately, as local radio pundit for London’s Capital Gold.

The failure of England’s football establishment – let alone his former club West Ham - to find a role for Moore leaves a slightly bitter taste (fellow East Ender Harry Redknapp is particularly vehement on this score), but the strongest impression the film leaves is the respect, affection and love Moore inspired on and off the pitch.

Certificate PG. Runtime 94 mins. Director Ron Scalpello

Bobby is released in UK cinemas on 27 May and is available on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital Download from Entertainment One from 30 May.

Jason Best

A film critic for over 25 years, Jason admits the job can occasionally be glamorous – sitting on a film festival jury in Portugal; hanging out with Baz Luhrmann at the Chateau Marmont; chatting with Sigourney Weaver about The Archers – but he mostly spends his time in darkened rooms watching films. He’s also written theatre and opera reviews, two guide books on Rome, and competed in a race for Yachting World, whose great wheeze it was to send a seasick film critic to write about his time on the ocean waves. But Jason is happiest on dry land with a classic screwball comedy or Hitchcock thriller.