Thoughts on… Moonraker (1979)

177741Officially my fifth favourite Bond film, Moonraker (1979) is the fourth film that stars Roger Moore as the famous British secret agent. It’s often known by the colloquial title of “Bond In Space”, but there’s a bit more subtext and nuance in the film than simply being a typical space drama.

Moonraker begins as many Bond films do; he’s assigned to a mission after a critical incident, namely, finding that one of the MI6 space shuttles has been hijacked mid-mission. The blame seems to be placed firmly on Hugo Drax, a millionaire with a convenient interest in space travel. It is up to Bond to investigate the disappearance of the shuttle and put a stop to further nefarious acts against the British Crown.

I’ve probably seen the film about five or six times (the perks of having a Bond obsessive for a partner), and every time I have so many thoughts about it. The film was critically panned, but was a commercial success. Lots of people passionately dislike it, but there are some Bond fans who give it a favourable rating within the context of the series. Here is a collection of thoughts on this divisive film.

  1. This one is known as the silliest Bond film, and I would tend to agree. But I like it for that very reason. Same goes for Roger Moore. Even though he’s more cheeky than suave, I like the humour that he brings to the series.
  2. Casino Royale (1967) is technically sillier, but since that one isn’t an ‘official’ Bond film (i.e. made by Eon Productions), I can’t count it.
  3. I think you know what you’re in for as soon as you see JawsΒ (Richard Kiel) falling into a circus tent at the very beginning of the film.
  4. The theme music for Moonraker is arguably one of the most boring themes of them all. I wish they would have done something epic and space-age with copious use of synthesisers and theremins, but unfortunately, it was not to be.
  5. This film features the villain Hugo Drax (Michael Lonsdale), who seeks to create a master race on a space colony to repopulate the earth after he destroys the human race. This is probably one of the more sinister Bond villain plots, and when combined with the silliness of the rest of the film, creates a real sense of conflict and disturbance when watching it.
  6. Drax’s racism and Nazi-style agenda is a bit more heavy handed in the book, but in the book we don’t get to see Bond floating around in zero gravity, and we don’t get the amazing “I think he’s attempting re-entry, sir” line at the end.
  7. Eagle eyed viewers should keep an eye out for the double-taking pigeon in the scene where Bond is zooming through Venice on a hovercraft gondola that works on land. That’s a sentence I never thought I’d write down. But still – the pigeon is a continual source of amusement for me and it’s only in the film for approximately one second.
  8. Moonraker also plays host to one of the more menacing murder scenes in the Bond series – where Drax’s assistant, Corinne Dufour (Corinne ClΓ©ry), is killed for ‘liaising’ with Bond and accidentally leaking secret plans. Her punishment? She is sent into the forest, chased down, and eaten by Drax’s dogs. This chase scene, and the music that accompanies it, is one of the most memorable moments of the film.
  9. I read once that Jaws’ girlfriend Dolly, whom he meets in Rio de Janeiro, was initially meant to have a mouth full of shiny metal braces, but for some reason they didn’t put this in the film. I think this would have been perfect! It saddens me that this wasn’t included.
  10. I once bought some drinking glasses that look just like the hexagonal Venetian glass tubes for the space shuttle, but they’ve since all smashed bar one which is at my mum’s house for some reason.

Finally, spot the double-taking pigeon and confused dog:

31 comments

  1. Great write up. I quite like it as well, I must admit. Agree about the murder scene with the dogs: it’s really quite disturbing for a Bond film. The film, for me, has a nice sense of pace and mystery, as Bond tries to unravel Drax’s plot. When they finally get into space, I love the reveal of Drax’s space station. And regarding the double taking pigeon, that scene also had the same guy with the bottle of booze from the beach in Spy Who Loved Me. πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ Moonraker is a great film. I never noticed the parallel with The Spy Who Loved Me! That’s hilarious, and dedicated.

  2. I like it when people defend a film that has been panned, especially when they discuss why it was unpopular. My dad is the biggest fan I know and he didn’t like it much, but will show him your review πŸ™‚

    1. It’s funny, I think huge Bond fans are the first to criticise this one because of how great some of the others are. When you compare it to something as iconic as From Russia With Love or Goldfinger it can get a bit lost. But it definitely has its charms! And a super catchy title! Always happy to defend the double-taking pigeon. πŸ™‚

  3. Hahahaha. Amazing find with the pigeon.

    1. I love that pigeon! I love how it’s so dodgily edited too – what a classic.

  4. This one is utterly daft. It’s almost like a spoof at times! And yet there’s something about it that I quite like! Great write up πŸ™‚

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ It’s such a fun film. I like that it’s honest about the cheesiness that the Bond franchise constantly hovers around but never confronts.

  5. Great post. I’m working my way through them, from Dr No. onwards, already onto moore now. I saw Moonraker as a kid and loved it, but that was years ago since I watched it, so my thoughts are changing towards it, after seeing The man with the Golden Gun, which was laughable to me, so my expectations aren’t that high. The Spy Who Loved Me, just from the summary sounds very familiar to You only Live Twice. Still they are fun and better than George Lazenby’s awful outing.

    1. Thanks! πŸ™‚ Love a good Bond marathon! Lots of questionable films in the franchise but lots of greats as well! I think that’s a part of why the franchise has survived so long – constant reinvention and trying different things, regardless of whether their attempts are successfully executed or not. Good stuff.

  6. I actually think this is the most underrated Bond flick (along with Tomorrow Never Dies). I really love it, I think it is the best Roger Moore film in the series. Also, Jaws.

    1. Totally agreed! I think people write Moonraker off as a Star Wars-wannabe film, but has much more substance than that. Jaws is such a great henchman. I love how he’s persuaded to the good side with his cute girlfriend.

  7. One of the first Bond films I saw I think?

    1. It’d be a great film to start with! I think the first Bond I saw was Live and Let Die.

      1. Yeah, I’m an 80’s child, so the Roger Moore ones were my first intro’s. I’m not a huge Bond fan though so haven’t seen many of the others, other than the recent ones.

  8. I’ve only ever seen one James Bond movie because I suck and it wasn’t this one. Great write up!!

    It also sucks because YouTube is blocked where I work….

    1. Ha! Which one did you see?

      1. That Skyfall movie….

  9. I would place this 1 ahead of all the Brosnan movies any day. Main gripes: Drax & the Bond girl are weak. Jaws, the cable-car sequence & the speedboat scene – fun movie. The music is 1 of Barry’s most awesome, & Shirley Bassey is never boring! Yep, bless that pigeon! U r welcome to check out some of my movie blogs: http://bradscribe.wordpress.com/
    Cheers!

    1. Totally agreed, the Brosnans don’t have the epic quality that this one has. It’s an entertaining film whilst staying true to the Bond essence and poking fun at it simultaneously. And you’re right, the music is great! Thanks for the comment, shall definitely check your blog out! πŸ™‚

  10. […] moonraker actually quite good Yes. I think it’s quite […]

  11. […] strange obsession with this highly special and arguably terrible Bond film continues! Here’s the second review […]

  12. […] (1979) My love for this silly film is no secret at all, I’ll never get over the double-taking pigeon and the fact that the film was basically made […]

  13. […] of all films, of all time. The inclusion of the double-taking pigeon in the already ridiculous Moonraker is the most absurd thing in maybe the whole Bond franchise. Who thought this up? Who made the […]

  14. […] Jaws’ girlfriend) had braces or not – many people remember her as having them in Moonraker, but she definitely doesn’t (which is a missed opportunity in my opinion). This is but one […]

  15. Anonymous · · Reply

    She had braces in 1979 but they are gone due to Mandela effect

    1. It may well be the Mandela effect after all!

  16. Mandela effect. End of.

What do you think? Leave a comment here!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: