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View Full Version : MOONRAKER: celebrate its 30th anniversary with me


moonraker
06-25-09, 04:11 PM
The 11th EON James Bond film officially turns 30 tomorrow. The world premier was June 26, 1979 in London. The U.S. premiere was June 29, 1979.

Thirty years ago. Wow. I saw this on its opening day in the U.S. and I still remember it well. I was 13 at the time, and was now deemed eligible to see a PG-13 Bond film at the cinema. My previous 007 viewing experiences had all been on tv (the edited-for-tv versions, of course). Being able to see a Bond film in the theater was almost like a rite of passage into manhood. Well, not really but you get the idea: it was a big deal for this 13 year old boy. The show I went to was sold out. In the lobby where we waited, they passed out tri-folded color programs. The front was a replica of the movie poster. The rear had cast & crew info. Sadly, I no longer can find my copy although I know I had saved it.

There were two taglines for this one:

"Outer space now belongs to 007!"

and

"Where all other Bond's end, this one begins!"

Moonraker is arguably the boldest and most ambitious Bond film ever made. The filmmakers were given a huge budget for the time, and no expense was spared. The cinematography is top-notch, and we are treated to beautiful locales such as Venice, Rio, and the Amazon Jungle... and, of course, outer space ;). Production values for the film were top-notch, and its visually stunning presentation still holds up very well today on dvd.

The pre-credit sequence remains the very best of the entire series, in my humble opinion, surpassing even its excellent predecessor THE SPY WHO LOVE ME and its staggering cliff ski jump stunt. This time around, 007 is pushed out of an airplane without a parachute. The stuntwork here is nothing short of mind-blowing as 007 wrestles a bad guy in mid-air and steals his parachute, only to then be chased down himself in mid-air by none other than Jaws, the steel-toothed and nearly invulnerable assassin from TSWLM. Wow -- talk about starting off with a bang!

This was Roger Moore's 4th outing in the role, and by this time he had settled comfortably into it. He is really at his best here as 007, IMO. In his later films, he simply looks too old to be a believable field agent -- this problem is even heightened in the subsequent film, FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, by the stupid Bibi hotel room scene where he literally looks like he could be her grandfather. But in MOONRAKER, he still looks the part. And he's as suave, cool, witty, and charming as ever.

The dialog in this film is among the wittiest of the series. There are some truly great lines. A few that come to mind off the top of my head:

Holly Goodhead: "Come now, Mr. Bond. An 80 year old can take 3 G's."
Bond: "That's the problem with 80 year olds. They're never around when you need one."

Bond: "Can you think of a reason we shouldn't have a drink afterwards?"
Holly Goodhead: "Not immediately, but I'm sure I shall."

Hugo Drax: "You must try it [pheasant hunting], Mr. Bond. It's such good sport."
Bond: "Unless you're a pheasant."

Hugo Drax: "You missed, Mr. Bond."
Bond: "Did I?" [dead henchman falls from tree]

Hugo Drax: "Why did you break off the encounter with my pet python?"
Bond: "I discovered he had a crush on me."

Holly Goodhead: "Do you know him?"
Bond: "Not socially. His name's Jaws. He kills people."

M: "What's Bond doing?"
Q: "I think he's attempting re-entry."

I could go on and on, but I won't. Suffice it to say that the dialog in this one is a real highlight of the series.

I realize not everyone is a fan of this entry in the 007 series. The film is bold and has attitude. It's not afraid to have a little fun with itself. I always get a smile when I hear the theme from THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN play as Bond rides horseback wearing a poncho and cowboy hat to the remote British Intelligence base after he escapes from being kidnapped along with Holly Goodhead by the fake ambulance team. The filmmakers are simply having a little bit of fun here, and for me it doesn't detract at all from the film.

MOONRAKER is also the last 007 film to feature a grandiose battle between the good guys and the bad guys set against an exotic backdrop. In GOLDFINGER, we have the battle inside the grounds of Fort Knox. In THUNDERBALL, we have the amazing undersea battle. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE gave us the spectacular battle inside a hollowed-out volcano (featuring modern day ninjas, no less!). ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE gave us a snow-topped mountain battle. And THE SPY WHO LOVED ME gave us the battle inside the villain's submarine-swallowing tanker ship. Well, MOONRAKER doesn't disappoint in this area: it treats us to a wonderful battle in outer space. John Barry's musical score for this sequence really does a great job of setting a somber tone. There is one scene where a combatant has his navigational gear shot up and is seen floating away helplessly towards the sun. What a horrible fate.

After MOONRAKER, the 007 films (in my opinion) lost a lot of their ambition & imagination and settled into being routine and rather ordinary adventures. The Bond films of the 1980's are all rather bland and uninspired, and in many ways MOONRAKER feels like the last "classic" 007 film for me.

So this coming Monday night (since I'm in the U.S.), I will be watching my Ultimate Edition DVD of this movie, and I invite all other fans to also celebrate its 30th anniversary by doing the same.

N2DVD
06-25-09, 04:22 PM
My wife and I were dating when this first came out. I was waiting to go into the Navy, and she was between her sophomore and junior year of college. This was also the year of Alien and Muppet Movie, which we also saw. Always had a soft spot for this. Jaws was the first henchman to return in a second Bond film, unless I am mistaken.

devilshalo
06-25-09, 04:33 PM
Sorry.. I'm too tired from celebrating the 25th anniversary of The Karate Kid and Ghostbusters.

Mabuse
06-25-09, 04:36 PM
Wow, you are one of the only people who loves this film with zero reservations. I assume you're aware most people regard it as the worst Bond film.

and its visually stunning presentation still holds up very well today on dvd.
I also assume you are aware the effects have all been recomposited and the original (very poor) effects discarded on the latest Blu-ray release.

But I'm blad you enjoy it. I think FYEO is far better, and probably the best Moore Bond.

Jason
06-25-09, 05:58 PM
Wow, you are one of the only people who loves this film with zero reservations. I assume you're aware most people regard it as the worst Bond film.

Worse than Octopussy? Wow.

jeffkjoe
06-25-09, 06:04 PM
Let's watch the original TV broadcast on The ABC Sunday Night Movie:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sVjo3jyDYu0

rw2516
06-25-09, 06:48 PM
Although I can't share the OP'S enthusiam for Moonraker, I can relate to his first theatrical Bond experience. I was seven in 1965 and had discovered James Bond bubble gum cards at the drugstore that summer and began collecting them. I didn't fully grasp that the cards represented the first three films. I thought there was a single James Bond 007 movie and began checking the newspaper every week to see if it was playing(which led to many other cinematic discoveries). That fall the tv special THE INCREDIBLE WORLD OF JAMES BOND aired on ABC to promote the release of Thunderball. Featuring scenes from all four movies this further made me believe it was a single movie(I was only seven). Finally I looked in the paper one day, around Christmas as I remember, could be wrong, and there was the ad for Thunderball. My dad took me and it was the greatest thing I'd ever seen. Was confused though. Where were Odd Job? Dr. No? Goldfinger? and all the other stuff from my prized bubble gum cards? Finally figured it out and seeing the first three films became my goal in life. This was years before any of them were sold to television. Caught the Dr. No/Goldfinger re-release in '66. Went to YOLT when released summer of '67. Finally saw FRWL in a double feature re-release with Thunderball early in '68. Finally caught up I've never missed seeing the newest film in the theater and throughout the late 60s and early seventies went to the double feature re-issues right up to the point they stopped when ABC got the tv rights and Goldfinger premiered the ABC Sunday Night Movie in Sept. 72. Last double bill I remember was OHMSS/Diamonds Are Forever in early '73 with Live And Let Die teaser shown between the movies.

In the summer of 1965 we were on vacation and stopped at a Stucky's or Nickerson Farms, can't remember which, probably the one with the beehive. On the counter of the store part was a display box of Thunderball bubble gum cards. Oh man! These never showed up at any of our local stores. Still remember how bad I wanted and had to have them. Being seven years old sucks! Got one pack out of the pleading to my parents. They never did show up in any of the local places I bought comics and other crap.

wakwak007
06-25-09, 06:51 PM
Moonraker, you are not alone. This was my second Bond film that I saw in the theatre and at 12, I saw no flaws in the film. Over the years, my opinion of it has changed a bit. Last year, when I bought the UE edition of the film, I took a more critical look at the film and though their is a good deal of humor, mainly due to the character Jaws, it is a very good film and the first 45 minutes (aside from Jaws in the credits) is a classic Bond film. Like you I thought the dialogue was good, so was the music. In looking at the documentary, I found an interview with Cubby Brocculi who mentioned that the return of the character Jaws was due to a lot of younger kids writing campaign asking for his return, so the character was originally not in the script.... Though I do agree Moonraker is a good film, isn't IMHO better than Octopussy ( Yes, Moore was looking a little tired by than.) ;)

dhmac
06-25-09, 07:06 PM
I agree with a lot of your points, moonraker. I remember really liking this movie when I saw it in the theater back in 1979. I now rate it along with You Only Live Twice as having a preposterous plot but that is still a very entertaining movie if you can get past the far-fetched storyline. The spectacle of this one is pretty impressive (as all the Bonds directed by Lewis Gilbert are) and I think it also has some of Bond's best gadgets ever: the wrist dart gun, the watch with a small explosive in it, & especially that incredible boat that could drop mines and had a hang glider in it (that boat is the water equivalent of Bond's famous Aston Martin, IMO).

The main downside with the movie for me is the tongue-in-cheek humor, which I think is overdone (particularly with Jaws, who was so ominous in The Spy Who Loved Me but just too cartoonish here). Still, this movie is a fun ride.

I like your celebration idea and so I added it to my NetFlix queue.

hasslein
06-25-09, 07:33 PM
I've never seen it (I've only seen a handful of them, never was a Bond fan), but if Big Lots still has it for $3, I'll pick it up tomorrow and give it a view.

Paul_SD
06-25-09, 08:13 PM
I'm a year younger than the OP, and I too have very fond memories of seeing this film, and many others in that summer of 1979, at the theater.

Like all the Bond films when I was growing up, the AMC chain in my area got this one, and I saw it in what was probably the towns least impressive venue. It was on one of 8 very tiny screens with one center aisle (so no seats were ever in the 'sweet spot'), very uncomfortable chairs and a cement floor. But I had a blast with the movie, and still have a fond spot for it, despite its flaws being readily apparent now.

In fact, just a few weeks back I bought the soundtrack to this. I had bought the LP near the end of summer 30 years ago, and it was one of the rare non John Williams soundtracks that got heavy rotation on my turntable as a kid. Despite being very happy to get the Bd a few months back (so I would be able to celebrate this anniversary in style -something I won't be able to do with Alien), I think I'm just as thrilled to finally be able to listen to the score again.

Another fond memory I have associated with this movie is bumming $1 from Cindy Ryder, the very cute and remarkably buxom lass who sat next to me in 7th grade English. I used it to buy 4 packs of Moonraker bubblegum cards on the walk home from school.
I never forgot that because I was always amazed that such a cute, popular girl like that would not only talk to me but give me money if I asked...and also because I realized only later what a complete tool I was for investing more effort into scoring bubblegum cards than getting more ...uh...social with her.

I also used the Moonraker shuttle model kit as the centerpiece of a science project/display later that year.

yeah...a lot of pleasant memories with this one.

cranberries fan
06-25-09, 08:51 PM
Hey Moonraker it's the Star Wars of the Bond films it's ok but not great!

I watched it like 3 times (I love "For Your Eyes Only" for Moore Bond films).

LickTheABCs
06-25-09, 10:06 PM
we should be celebrating the anniversary of:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3228/2808187116_f16daba369.jpg

AnonomusBob15
06-25-09, 10:10 PM
PG-13 movies didn't exist in 1979. Moonraker was PG.

AnonomusBob15
06-25-09, 10:14 PM
Wow, you are one of the only people who loves this film with zero reservations. I assume you're aware most people regard it as the worst Bond film.

I also assume you are aware the effects have all been recomposited and the original (very poor) effects discarded on the latest Blu-ray release.

But I'm blad you enjoy it. I think FYEO is far better, and probably the best Moore Bond.

2nd worst. I hated A View to a Kill.

chris_sc77
06-25-09, 10:59 PM
I think i may revisit this one for the Sci-fi challenge starting next week.
I remember it being one of the weakest Bond films but hey at least it is impressive and still wayyyyy better than Quantum of Solace.

tylergfoster
06-25-09, 11:13 PM
This is one of the ones I didn't buy at Big Lots today, but I'll be back there tomorrow to get it, I hope.

Paul_SD
06-26-09, 01:34 AM
Some of my favorite quotes from the film-
Hugo Drax: Frederick Gray! What a surprise. And in distinguished company, all wearing gas masks. You must excuse me, gentlemen, not being English, I sometimes find your sense of humor rather difficult to follow.


Hugo Drax: You have arrived at a propitious moment, considered to be your country's one indisputable contribution to Western Civilization: Afternoon tea. May I press you to a cucumber sandwich?

Hugo Drax: James Bond. You appear with the tedious inevitability of an unloved season.

all delivered with Lonsdales wonderfully deadpan style.
The film can be justifiably criticized for many things, but I think Lonsdales Drax is criminally underrated in the pantheon of Bond Villains. Next to Davi's charismatic Sanchez, Drax is easily my favorite.

tsetse27
06-26-09, 07:58 AM
I have fine memory of my parents took me to theater watching Moonraker.

Even to this day, I still think the opening "free fall" stunt is the coolest thing I have ever seem on screen.

Super X
06-26-09, 12:18 PM
Wow, you are one of the only people who loves this film with zero reservations. I assume you're aware most people regard it as the worst Bond film.

As long as "View to a Kill" exists, "Moonraker" can never be the worst Bond.

FRwL
06-26-09, 03:13 PM
Moonraker is pure rollercoaster escapism. Moore is in stratospheric form. There are so many best-of moments from his era like the skydiving opening, Hugo Drax "look after Mr. Bond, see that some harm comes to him", the museum fight, Jaws re-match, or boat chase with the 007 theme playing or the MI6 headquartes and Q Lab disguised as a monk mission are the stuff of legends!

ctyankee
06-26-09, 09:19 PM
Wow, you are one of the only people who loves this film with zero reservations. I assume you're aware most people regard it as the worst Bond film.

As soon as DAD is obliterated from our memory. At least that is my choice (and the hands-down lowest of the low over at the MI-6 forum).

While my favorite Bond film is FRWL, I don't mind enjoying the other side of the spectrum, even if it's not my cup of tea. Moonraker has a terrific Bassey title song, fantastic babes and enjoyed its over-the-top story. Nothing wrong with that.

tronmaster
06-27-09, 02:50 AM
One of my favorite Bond films! I remember watching it at the Kam drive-in, it was a double-feature, Moonraker and Starcrash! Wonderful times, recently watch it on blu-ray still a joy to watch, plus you had all of those exotic locations which James Bond was famous for going to. Wow 30 years.

rw2516
06-27-09, 07:19 AM
Because of this thread I watched it again last night. First time in at least 12 years. Since dvd came along anyway. Nowhere near as bad as I remembered it. The last of the classic mold films. Bernard Lee was looking very old and tired. The score is first rate. This must have cost a fortune to produce so I can forgive the product placement. This had everything including the kitchen sink. Noticed in end credits a second, french production company was involved. Probably to help finance this over the top, no holds barred cinematic extravaganza. I throughly enjoyed it. I admit it. There are the humourous incidents that set off my "cringe-o-meter". The bird doing a double take:rolleyes:
The Jaws scenes were ok until that last comic touch(flapping of arms, the piece of classical music when meeting the "Heidi" girl, ripping off boat's steering wheel). I can believe he was thrown in for the kids. He never kills anybody. He turns good in the end. They make sure to point out he survived with the line about two survivors being picked up. If this was to leave open a possible third appearance I'm glad it never happened. Suprised they didn't give the character a saturday morning cartoon show as a hero.
Overall it's a decent entry with a few cringes scattered throughout. Way better than Octopussy, View To A Kill or Die Another Day.
Noticed in the trailer they used music from the Diamonds Are Forever score(moon buggy chase I believe). Score probably wasn't finished yet.

Anubis2005X
06-27-09, 09:01 AM
I've had this in my backlog pile for awhile, decided to throw it on last night. I've actually never seen it all the way through, and was expecting it to be beyond awful. I must say, it was pretty ridiculous, but I loved it! Was just a fun ride...

beckman307
06-27-09, 10:13 AM
I remember watching it for the first time during the ABC Sunday Night movie slot. I loved what I saw of it, and I remember pleading to stay up past my bedtime to watch the whole thing. No dice - it was off to bed after the centrifuge scene. Then after my family got a VCR, Moonraker was the only Bond film that was consistently never in at the video store.

Eventually I saw the whole movie, and while there were some cool scenes, overall it just seemed kind of silly. Dr. Goodhead? Seriously? I realize that previous Bond films had featured Pussy Galore and Plenty O'Toole, but at least those were clever. Plus, the last act featured a huge laser gun battle in space! If I'm Bond, once I get back to earth, I'm trading in my Walther PPK for a laser pistol.

While I appreciate OP's enthusiasm for this one, if I'm in the mood for a campy Bond movie, give me A View to a Kill every time.

Supermallet
06-27-09, 10:25 AM
Moonraker is the film that, in my mind, defines Moore's run as Bond. It's not my favorite (that would be a tie between The Man With The Golden Gun and The Spy Who Loved Me), but it is the last good Moore Bond (I agree with the OP that starting with FYEO Moore simply looked too old for the part).

Moonraker is loud, silly, and ultimately a lot of fun. It barely bothers to take itself seriously, but not going as far as Octopussy (Bond as a clown? Come on). Moore is perfectly suited to this kind of over the top action comedy, and he has a lot of fun jetsetting and sparring with his CIA counterpart, one of the tougher Bond girls.

There's plenty of silliness to the film (Jaws has a girlfriend, for Pete's sake), but the film pulls it off with a smirk that disarms the audience, making almost all of it work. The ending is ridiculous, but the vast majority of the film takes place on Earth and is great fun. The movie is sheer spectacle and shows Roger Moore doing what he does best. I've grown to love the movie over the years. For a long time I considered it the beginning of Bond's worst years, but now can see that it is in fact the last gasp of the classic run of Bonds, going all the way back to Dr. No. Not nearly as bad as its reputation would suggest. This was originally going to be Moore's last outing as Bond, and had it been, his tenure as Bond might not be the subject of so much ridicule.

Rad14
06-28-09, 09:42 AM
Sorry, didn't like any of Moore's Bond Movies. Always thought he brought far too much comedy and light-heartedness to the role. And INMHO, Moonraker was probably the worst he ever made. :thmbsdwn:

B5Erik
06-28-09, 09:51 AM
Moonraker is ridiculously over the top in it's 2nd half. The movie is silly and really turns itself into a spoof (which Bond movies are not supposed to do - sometimes they flirt with spoofing themselves, but other than Moonraker they rarely ever cross that line).

It's not horrible, but it's one of the weakest entries in the series. Hell, the only Bond movie I rank lower than this one is Live and Let Die.

Moore had some very good Bond movies (Spy, FYEO), and some mediocre ones (MWTGG, OP, AVTAK), but this one and Live and Let Die are two that really tarnish his tenure as Bond, IMO. Although he looked WAY too old to play Bond by the time of OP and AVTAK, which is another thing that he is remembered for as James Bond.

But even with all my criticism of Moonraker I still enjoy watching it. It's entertaining - even if it is fairly ridiculous.

dhmac
07-04-09, 12:10 PM
Here are my rambling, random thoughts on seeing “Moonraker” again the other night…


I rented Moonraker (Blu-ray) and watched the entire movie for the first time in at least a decade. I really enjoyed it – it’s for me a better type of blockbuster spectacle than something like the Transformers movies. It’s just as big and far-fetched, but it’s epic in style and doesn’t seem to be aimed at 14-year-olds with ADD. (For me, seeing Venice, Rio, and the Amazon all filmed beautifully easily beats watching ginsu-edited fight scenes between robots.)

Now, the movie. The opening segment with Bond being pushed out of a plane without a parachute is a good one, though somewhat marred by the silly Jaws circus tent gag. And the opening credits sequence was good to see again. Although I think the credit images are not among the best done by Maurice Binder, seeing his work again feels like “Old School” Bond. And hearing Shirley Bassey sing the main theme was also “Old School” Bond, as this was the 3rd and final time she sang a Bond theme.

There were a lot of other “Old School” Bond-isms in this. Such as Bernard Lee as M – he’s still by far the best M of the Bond series and really shows how the part should be played as well as how much of a P.C. disaster Dame Judi Dench has been in the role (IMO, of course). That this was Lee’s final appearance in the role stayed in the back of my mind throughout, so I watched all of his scenes very nostalgically. Another “Old School”-ism is John Barry’s score, which, while not his strongest Bond score, definitely made this movie feel like a Bond movie.

And I thought the full title of the movie actually being “Ian Fleming’s Moonraker” in the opening credits was a bit humorous because, having actually read the original novel, I couldn’t think of a single thing from the novel that even made it into this movie aside from the villain’s name. (For example on how different they are, the “Moonraker” in the original novel is a nuclear missile, not a spacecraft.)

Also I think watching Lewis Gilbert’s Bond films in order would be interesting because I did notice a clear reference to his earlier Bond film You Only Live Twice in Moonraker. Specifically, in YOLT, the bad guy’s secret hideout has a small pond with a metal bridge across it. And a button can cause the bridge to open up and the person on it to fall in the water to be killed by some predatory animal(s). So in Moonraker, there’s also a bridge across a small pond and Bond is motioned to cross it. Remembering the bridge from YOLT, Bond opts to walk around the outside of the pond. But a rock on the side flips up and flings him into the water, where he has to fight an anaconda. (This scene is followed by what I think is the best line in the movie when Drax says “Mr. Bond, you defy my attempts to plan an amusing death for you.”) Noticing that connection makes me wonder if I would've noticed more if I had watched both YOLT and The Spy Who Loved Me before this.

Speaking of Drax (played by Michael Lonsdale), I think he is one of the very best Bond villains. His droll delivery of his lines works very well. And I like that he never really tries too much to befriend Bond and is very threatening to Bond from the first scene they meet. Given how terrible a lot of Bond villains have been in the films released after Moonraker, I appreciate this return to form of a having memorable villain worthy of Bond. And Drax’s plans, although far-fetched in execution, are among the most evil of any Bond villain given that he’s not just out for money but wants to wipe out virtually the entire human race and start over again with his own master race. (Given that the Drax in the original novel was secretly a Nazi, I wonder if this evil scheme was inspired somewhat by that.)

And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, I really like all of Bond’s gadgets in this film. The interesting part is that, unlike earlier Bond films in which Q demonstrates most of the gadgets so the viewer already knows Bond has them before he uses them in the field, in this film only the wrist dart gun gets demoed. So most of the gadgets were a surprise on what they could do: the x-ray safecracking device, the explosive-carrying watch, the amazing speedboat loaded with gadgets. All were unexpected until Bond used them for the first time. And then there’s the CIA pen with a blade in it, which is not a Q-branch gadget so it’s a bit of a surprise when Bond still has it later, which meant he stole it in an earlier scene.

The Bond girls in this were ok, but none really stood out for me. I did, however, think it was an interesting reflection of the "women's lib" times of the late 1970s that it was very noticeable that none wore a bra. And at least Lois Chiles as Holly Goodhead seemed a lot more believable as a scientist than Denise Richards as Christmas Jones did two decades later.

As for the downsides of the movie, first and foremost for me is the overdone tongue-in-cheek humor. From the double-takes done by everyone (including a pigeon) when Bond’s gondola converted to a hovercraft, to the Magnificent Seven theme when Bond is riding a horse (and dressed in a poncho like The Man With No Name), to most of Jaws’ scenes – the tongue-in-cheek humor is too prevalent and ultimately hurts the movie. I think there was enough good humor in just the dialogue for these sight gags to be necessary. (However I do like the humor of when the Close Encounters theme shows up in the movie - that gag still works!)

And, as for Jaws being in this, for me the worst part of his role in the movie was his switch to being “good” in the final act and helping Bond out. All done for the love of his new girlfriend, who despite the attempts to make her look dorky, is very apparently hot. I personally only like Jaws as a villain, so the turn to “good” didn’t work for me at all. (The same goes for Darth Vader in the Star Wars movies too.)

And the final act of the movie is both dumb and too short (if being both at the same time is possible). The whole secret space station sequence is what I think most people think of when they knock this movie. The existence of it begs the question of why build the space station to house the master race when an isolated and insulated secret base on earth could do the same thing for a lot less hassle. Anyway, getting past the whole existence of a space station thing, destroying it was surprisingly easy. One minute, it’s working fine, but the next, it’s falling apart. I know it was attacked by the astronaut army guys from the American shuttle (which was able to launch in record time, BTW), but still would the station start falling apart so quickly?

I also think making the Moonrakers look exactly like the Space Shuttle was a mistake. I think it would’ve been better to base them on the conceptual space plane designs, which were a lot slicker and more futuristic-looking even in the 1970s (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spaceplane#Other_designs) than what the severely compromised design for the shuttle ended up being. I think this movie would look less dated now with a better-looking Moonraker spacecraft in it.

Another thing in thinking about Moonraker is that it falls into being a part of the “Return to Fleming” pattern in which the next Bond film goes back to being closer to the spirit of Ian Fleming’s novels after a Bond movie goes a bit overblown. After the overblown You Only Live Twice, there was a “Return to Fleming” in spirit with the following On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. After Moonraker, there was another “Return to Fleming” with For Your Eyes Only. And, more recently, after the over-the-top silliness of Die Another Day (my pick for the worst Bond film ever), there was a “Return to Fleming” with Casino Royale. I think it’s interesting that some of the better Bond films seem to be a direct result of the producers thinking the previous film went too far, so they intentionally scale things back in the following film. It makes me wonder if the later films would even exist the way they do without the previous overblown film having first been made.

Still, warts and all, I’ll take Moonraker over the Bond films of the 1980s (with the notable exception of For Your Eyes Only) because I really like Lewis Gilbert’s epic look in his Bond films to the small, almost TV-movie look and feel of director John Glen’s Bond films (who directed every “official” Bond film in the 1980s). And Moonraker is an “Old School” Bond film in so many ways that I mentioned above with more pluses than minuses that I think it’s a must-see for any Bond fan.

.

Paul_SD
07-05-09, 06:54 PM
Thanks for that great, very thoughtful, write-up dhmac.

I feel the film definitely has flaws. I'm not a fan of how Bond's sleuthing and subsequent discoveries are developed.
For instance, finding one safe in a vast mansion- and in that safe only making a record of something that has absolutely no blatant connection with his area of investigation. "I'm sure Drax's interest in Venetian glass must have something to do with why his shuttle was hi-jacked".
If Bond were more clearly portrayed as using the thinnest of clues to support a hedonistic lifestyle on his governments dime ("hey, why not go to Venice...I can use this as an excuse" ) and only then stumbling into associations that lead him to the answers, that would be one thing.
But here the story is propelled not by logical cause and event, but by a screenwriter moving pieces around the board in a more or less arbitrary fashion, with the thinnest of connective tissue. If there were a 40 man investigative team, by all means send a couple agents over to Venice to snoop around. Otherwise to put all your resources into following a blind lead makes not a lick of sense.
For this reason, I find it hard to fault the film for not 'playing it straight' in other aspects. In fact, I think it those things that help mask it's far more significant shortcomings.

OTOH, I still love Drax and the performance by Lonsdale. The thing I really like about this character is that his evil 'rule the world' plan is in the pursuit of a narcissistic aesthetic ideal, rather than in pursuit of power for its own sake, or simply more worldly goods. I find this both humorously perverse, and logically plausible at the same time. As is clear from the beginning of the film- he wants to be surrounded by beauty. Now he has the money and the means to remake the entire world along those lines- and as he says upon arrival to the space station- he will be for all intents and purposes, the new god of this new super-foxy race. It's that whole 60's/70's Bond/hedonist/Playboy Club ethos taken to its ultimate preposterous conclusion.
I don't know whether that was an intentional riff on the nazi Drax of the book (who from what I recall was motivated more out of revenge), but it does make for an interesting connection.
Speaking of the book, this has been the only Bond book I've read, and I can't say I was impressed enough to soldier on with any more of Flemings original works. In the case of Moonraker, I found the movie conception of Drax far more interesting and entertaining that the book version.

Another thing I like about this movie is the Lois Chiles Goodhead. She is usually criticized as being too cold, icy and unlikable for the romantic lead. For me, those are strengths for the character here. Those qualities help make her far more believable as a covert CIA agent, especially compared to willowy, soft spoken, frequent damsel in distress Barbara Bach passed off as a super effective Soviet agent in SWLM. I also wouldn't buy Goodhead being charmed so quickly by a 50 yr old smarmy quipster, even if they are in the same line of work- unless/until he proved himself in action -which he ends up doing on the sky car, and which then merits the change in her behavior towards him.

nightmaster
07-06-09, 02:25 AM
I love all the Bond films, no matter how "bad" they are. Moonraker is big fun and I've watched it more times than I can count since its release. Jaws is a great villain, Chiles is beautiful. Sure there are better Bond films, but this one seemed very indicative of the way Moore played 007.

moonraker
07-06-09, 10:06 AM
Thanks for that great, very thoughtful, write-up dhmac.

I feel the film definitely has flaws. I'm not a fan of how Bond's sleuthing and subsequent discoveries are developed.
For instance, finding one safe in a vast mansion- and in that safe only making a record of something that has absolutely no blatant connection with his area of investigation. "I'm sure Drax's interest in Venetian glass must have something to do with why his shuttle was hi-jacked".
If Bond were more clearly portrayed as using the thinnest of clues to support a hedonistic lifestyle on his governments dime ("hey, why not go to Venice...I can use this as an excuse" ) and only then stumbling into associations that lead him to the answers, that would be one thing.
But here the story is propelled not by logical cause and event, but by a screenwriter moving pieces around the board in a more or less arbitrary fashion, with the thinnest of connective tissue. If there were a 40 man investigative team, by all means send a couple agents over to Venice to snoop around. Otherwise to put all your resources into following a blind lead makes not a lick of sense.
For this reason, I find it hard to fault the film for not 'playing it straight' in other aspects. In fact, I think it those things that help mask it's far more significant shortcomings.


I have to disagree, Paul. The very fact that Drax has gone to all the trouble of hiding these blueprints inside a very hidden and secured safe is enough to suggest that they are very important and something that he does not want discovered. Drax has already made an attempt on Bond's life (the centrifuge chamber) so Bond has reason to suspect that Drax is up to no good. Since these blueprints are obviously something Drax wants kept secret, it makes perfectly good sense for Bond to suspect that they may play a key part in whatever Drax is up to. And since they are marked as coming from the Venni Glass Company, it's off to Venice to investigate.

In fact, I think MOONRAKER is one of the strongest 007 films of them all in terms of Bond actually following a trail of clues to arrive at and deduce the villains scheme. In FOR YOUR EYES ONLY, for example, the only reason that 007 is able to locate the villain's hideout is because a parrot happens to tell him. A parrot! Now THAT is an example of lazy screenwriting! No need for 007 to actually do any detective work, just wait for an animal to voluntarily give him the answer he needs! Just another reason, of the many, that FYEO ranks as one of the worst Bond films for me. In fact, only A VIEW TO A KILL is worse in my opinion.

dhmac
07-06-09, 01:47 PM
I'm not a fan of how Bond's sleuthing and subsequent discoveries are developed.

I was actually OK with the loose connections leading to each development in the story because almost all Bond movies are like that. With the possible exception of From Russia With Love, they all are quite poor on being proper "Spy Movies" and instead are more like "Thrillers" in structure.