Officially 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- I think you know what you’re in for as soon as you see Jaws (Richard Kiel) falling into a circus tent at the very beginning of the film.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Moonraker also plays host to one of the more menacing murder scenes in the Bond series – where Drax’s assistant, Corinne Dufour (Corinne Cléry), 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.
- 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.
- 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: