Moonraker (1979)

THE CAST: Roger Moore (James Bond); Lois Chiles (Holly Goodhead); Corrine Clery (Corrine Dufour); Richard Kiel (Jaws); Michael Lonsdale (Hugo Drax)

SUPPORTING CAST: Bernard Lee (“M”); Lois Maxwell (Moneypenny); Desmond Lewellyn (“Q”); Blance Ravelec (Dolly); Toshiro Suga (Chang); Emily Bolton (Manuela); Walter Gotell (General Gogol)

CREDITS: Produced by Albert R. Broccoli; Directed by Lewis Gilbert; Screenplay by Christopher Wood; Executive Producer Michael G. Wilson; Music by John Barry; Title Song by Shirley Bassey; Filmed on location in Venice, Rio DeJaneiro, and France; Running time 2 hours and 10 minutes

MISSION: Bond and CIA Operative Holly Goodhead must stop a modern day Armageddon from erupting as Drax, obsessed with the conquest of space, sees himself as God, bent on destroying Earth and creating a race of beautiful people living in the sky, and worshipping him.


LOCATIONS COVERED:Los Angeles; Venice, Italy; Rio de Janeiro

RELEASE DATES:U.S/U.K. June 29th, 1979

BOX OFFICE: $202.7 million worldwide ($495,343,424.81 in 1998 dollars)

BEST LINES: “Any higher Mr.Bond and my ears will pop”. Stewardess to Bond with his hand going up her thigh.
“If it`s the 69 you were expecting me” Bond says to Holly about the bottle of champagne she has out.
“A trifle overpowering your scent” Bond remarks to Holly about her Christian Dior perfume that doubles as a flamethrower.
“Did I? As you said, such good sport” Bond to Drax after 007 kills one of his bodyguards aiming for Bond from atop a tree.

Review by: Michael Kersey

Following The Spy Who Loved Me, it was announced that For Your Eyes Only would be the next Bond film. However, with the success of Star Wars and Close Encounters Of the Third Kind in the summer of `77 it was decided that now was the time to boldly go where no Bond had gone before: outerspace. While putting James Bond in outerspace may be a good idea, at that particular time, it was the wrong idea. When one film tries to cash in on the success of another, rarely is the end product as good or better than the real thing.

The James Bond series, and character for that matter, is silly by nature. If you think about it, we as an audience are expected to believe that a tuxedo clad Englishman can travel around the world, seduce many ladies, escape innumerable obstacles, destroy many villians, and without so much as getting his hair messed up. So why then go and remind the audience that Bond is just a fantasy character by making light of what is already a silly premise? That`s exactly what Moonraker falls into.

The films starts off with the disappearance of the Moonraker shuttle, right off the back of a 747 in midflight. Later, in a private jet, Bond is double crossed by a buxom stewardess, the pilot,and Jaws (making his second and final appearance in the series). Bond, the pilot, and Jaws all fall out of the plane, but only Bond is without a parachute. What follows is an amazing display of free fall acrobatics, and might`ve been one of the best precredit sequences in the whole series. But the mood is ruined when Jaws, trying to open his chute, rips his rip cord apart, and flaps like a bird to stay aloft. He ends up crashing into a three ring circus (perhaps a foreshadowing of things to come?)

After getting through the precredits sequence and the titles, Bond has to investigate the disappearance of the missing Moonraker shuttle. Bond`s investigation takes him to Los Angeles where Bond meets with the owner himself, Hugo Drax. Later, Bond is introduced to Dr. Goodhead who escorts him around the complex. There`s more to Dr. Goodhead than meets the eye though. Besides being an astrounaut on loan to Drax from NASA, she`s also undercover with the CIA, investigating Drax`s connection to a nerve gas facility in Venice Italy.

Jaws later returns to the film, this time hired by Drax to destroy 007 and stop him from ruining his plans. Jaws though seems to be getting more goofy as the film progresses. Instead of playing him with earnest seriousness, the director plays Jaws for comedic effect. He`s a mute comedian in Moonraker, who now gets big laughs from the audience by twisting his face when crashing into a tram car station, or going headfirst over a 200 ft waterfall.

This script had a lot of potential to delve deeply into the mind of a man with a “God complex”. But instead, the producers opted for the easy laugh; the path of least resistance. Drax is more than just obsessed with the conquest of space. He feels he has the right to decide who looks good and fit enough to survive the onslaught of mass destruction he`s about to perpetuate on the Earth. Unfortunately, the film doesn`t give the character enough depth to be mildly interesting. When it`s all said and done, Drax is just another middle aged white man with an axe to grind.

Moore played his light hearted version of 007 to the hilt. That`s either a great thing if you are a Moore fan, or a horrible realization if you`re not. Mercifully, the character of Holly Goodhead is played by godsend Lois Chiles, a stunning Texas beauty who originally sought the role of Anya in The Spy Who Loved Me. Here she`s strong, sexy and smart, matching Bond quip for quip, move for move.

In a sense, Moonraker is the quintessential Bond film. It has every element that a Bond film should have, played to the hilt. However in doing that, it too often reminds you that it`s not real, thus spoiling some of the fantasy. In the end, it proved to be too much of a good thing, as the filmakers decided to bring Bond back down to Earth, literally, for the next James Bond film.

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