MI6 looks back to 1979 and the observations of
the press when outer space belonged to James Bond...
007 Goes Into Orbit
17th September 2007
fourth and biggest outing as Bond has split the fan community
ever since its release.
Often ranked lowly amongst most fans, the film does attract
some die-hard supporters to counter-balance the retrospective
criticism from those who forget Moonraker pulled
in record-breaking box-office numbers. Perhaps best described
as a Bond smorgasbord - something for everyone but most
of it in bad taste - the film did enjoy some popular press
attention upon release.
MI6 looks back at an original review
from Time Magazine released on 2nd July 1979, the week
of Moonraker's US release:
R. Broccoli, the major-domo
of the James Bond movies, is the proverbial Jewish mother
of cinema: he is not about to let anyone go away hungry.
In Moonraker, the eleventh 007 opus, Broccoli serves the
audience a space-shuttle hijacking, a jumbo-jet explosion
and a protracted wrestling match between two men who are
falling from the sky without parachutes. All this happens
before the opening credits. From there, it's on to gondola chases in Venice, funicular crashes in Rio and laser-gun
shootouts and lovemaking in deep space.
Meanwhile, beautiful women come and go, talking (ever so discreetly)
about fellatio. When Broccoli lays out a feast, he makes sure
that there is at least one course for every conceivable taste.
The result is a film that is irresistibly entertaining as only
truly mindless spectacle can be. Those who have
held out on Bond movies over 17 years may not be convinced
by Moonraker, but everyone else will be.
With their rigid
formulas and well-worn gags, these films have transcended
fashion. Styles in Pop culture, sexual politics and international
espionage have changed drastically since Ian
his superhero, but the immaculately tailored, fun-loving
British agent remains a jolly spokesman for the simple
virtues of Western civilization. Not even Margaret Thatcher
would dare consider slowing him down.
For Moonraker, Screenwriter Christopher Wood has had to
do little more than dream up new settings, a new heroine
and a new villain with a novel dooms day plot. Everything
else takes care of itself. This time around, the bad guy (Michael
Lonsdale) is an aerospace conglomerateur who plans to wipe
out the world's population with
deadly Brazilian orchids before hatching a master race from an
interstellar sanctuary. To stop him, Bond (the ever smooth Roger
Moore) must team up with Holly
Goodhead (Lois Chiles), a CIA
agent who picked up her astronaut's training at NASA and her
judo expertise at Vassar. Such talents come in handy as the couple
confront traditional nemeses: an Oriental thug (Toshiro Suga),
attack dogs, and Jaws (Richard Kiel), the 7-ft. 2-in., steel-toothed
goon introduced in The Spy Who Loved
Me (1977) .
Wood pulls off some witty flourishes. There are funny references
to other block buster movies (Close Encounters, Superman, Sergio
Leone westerns), as well as amusing bursts of comic-book dialogue
("Look after Mr. Bond," whispers the villain to an
aide. "See that some harm comes to him").
Rather than stage variations on Jaws'
old fiendish gags, Wood has given the character some surprising
a love interest. As always, there is no explicit gore
or sex to jolt the audience back to reality.
If Moonraker is not quite as satisfying as Spy, the best
of the post-Sean Connery Bonds, the difference is in the
casting. Lonsdale is a bit too tame; he seems to be doing
a John Ehrlichman imitation. Chiles is all too sexless.
The title song, the important kickoff for Bond movies,
is no match for Nobody Does It Better, the Carly Simon
dazzler of Spy.
Still, one does not tend to notice these failings as Moonraker
unfolds. Broccoli just keeps piling on the goodies: lush
Ken Adam sets, gadgetry and gams galore, super stunts and
effects. It may be another two-year wait for the next Bond
film, so you may as well just stuff yourself silly now.
Bond Time Tunnel